9th Annual Bahamas
“Carnival Of Speed”
The “Annual Nassau Speed Weeks” held in the Bahamas beginning in 1954 and staged thru 1966 featured a generous mixture of races and recreation. The organized races attracted wealthy competitors and fans to the Bahamas after the American and European racing seasons were over and before the traditional tourist season for the islands began. This vintage film, now available on DVD, captures the spirit and laid-back camaraderie of those bygone days and shows the great drivers of the era competing in a variety of cars in several races held during the 10-day “Carnival Of Speed” on the 41/2 mile Oakes Field airport circuit carved out of the jungle outside Nassau.
Included on this rare 28-minute B & W film, produced by Whitmore Productions for Raybestos Corporation, is footage of the top US and European drivers, including Roger Penske, Phil Hill, Innes Ireland, Bob Grossman, Lance Reventlow, Lorenzo Bandini, Masten Gregory, Marvin Panch, Deril Deringer, Lloyd Ruby, Dan Gurney and Hap Sharp.
The DVD begins with the arrival of the cars and competitors by ship and plane. The Ferrari 250 GTO dominated sports car racing in 1962 and plenty of them made the trip to Nassau to compete against the best sports cars of the day! Many Porsches, Corvettes, Alfa Romeos, early Cobras and even a NASCAR Ford filled the large fields that year. You’ll see Scarabs and Lotus Sports racers also among the competitors!
The social side of Speed Weeks is remembered as parties and night sports are featured in a short “travelogue” of Nassau hot spots and tourist attractions!
The main focus of the film however, is on the Speed Weeks’ featured races: the Pan American Formula Juniors, the Bahamas Cup 10-lap ladies race, the 25-lap Nassau Tourist race (won by Roger Penske), and finally the big race of the week, the Nassau Trophy Race, featuring a dramatic 63-car “LeMans Start”! During the trophy race, Penske flips and a rain storm makes driving treacherous, contributing to several spins into the jungle area! Innes Ireland is the eventual winner. A young Chris Economaki is shown in the scoring booth, gathering stories for SSN! Dave Pauling does a Raybestos commercial to close out the film! Great and historic viewing for vintage sports car fans!
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