Shelby McLaren 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C
Shelby McLaren had grown up listening to his father and grandfather tell stories about some of the most legendary moments in motorsport. Shelby’s grandfather had started working at Aston Martin when he was only 15 so by the time Shelby’s father was a young boy he was in and around the Aston Martin workshops. In 1933 Shelby’s father was old enough (at 16) to travel with the Aston Martin Racing Team to the 11th Grand Prix of Endurance, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Aston Martin was hoping to put in a good show at the event but it wasn’t to be the success they had hoped for.
As a small boy Shelby would sit and listen to his father recount the story of that trip to Le Mans. The excitement, passion and wonderment in his voice was inspired by one car, a car that would take 1st, 2nd & 3rd at that race in 1933 and a car that would dominate Continental racing for years, the Alfa Romeo 8C.
Shelbys father often said that motor racing was very different when he was young and he had a clipping from a newspaper recounting a moment from Le Mans in ’33, it was pinned to wall of the family workshop. It read:
‘Just before 7am a brief shower swept the track. Odette Siko (driving an Alfa Romeo) was caught out on the fast approach to Indianapolis. Going off the road she was flung out as the car ricocheted off the trees so violently that two fell onto the track, partially blocking it. The car rolled and caught fire. Landing on a policeman, she was taken to hospital under observation, with a broken wrist and minor burns.
The triple podium achieved by Alfa Romeo at that race in ’33 was a historic finish and Shelby often thought of this story when reflecting on a similar finish from his recent memory of the ’66 Le Mans race and the triple podium of the Ford GT40’s. Even more significant is that the Alfa Romeo 8C broke the track record that day and set an average speed over the 24 hours of 137kmh. Not bad for a team that had repaired a leaking fuel tank with chewing gum!
In 1962 Tri-Ang Scalextric made the decision to hark back to a much earlier time in motor racing and released the 1933 Alfa Romeo C8 (C65) and the 1928 Bentley 4.5 (C64). The Alfa Romeo proved to be very popular and was released for 8 years in the Scalextric range. The car is available in numerous colours including red, dark blue, light blue, the yellow French version and even a chrome finish. The 8C was also re-released in 1992 (C306) in a collaboration with the BBC TV show, The Power & The Glory and therefore the Scalextric box appeared with the same name and labelling. Do you remember the Alfa Romeo 8C?