Lap 11 - Grand Prix Crosses the Finish Line
In his own words, Sy sums up his go at
sports car distribution:
I started Grand Prix hoping that it would
underwrite some of my racing expenses. That did not work out.
It was a secondary business as I was very busy with Weathermatic
at the time. Absentee owners don't seem to profit much in the
car business. I started it in 1961 and closed it in 1963. It
was a headache which didn't provide any assistance to my racing
He maintains "I don't know anything
about the used [or reconditioned] engine issue" mentioned
earlier in this article as a possible contributing factor to
the close of Grand Prix: "You would put in an order and
Colin would send you what he could which was often not what you
had ordered. But I was never aware of used engines. I am sure
I would have known about it if he did this."
My visit with Sy Kaback in the winter of
2002 provided me the opportunity to review his scrap books of
racing memorabilia. Page after page of photos and clippings finally
brought me to a page with the heading "Lost Causes."
It was sad to see letterhead and labels bearing the Grand Prix
name and logo were featured on this page.
Sy goes on to explain the gentleman race
driver's situation in the early 60's the end of an era
in which any sports car racer of sufficient means could buy a
competitive car, and mix it up with the best drivers and cars
the world had to offer:
It might be interesting for you to know
that when I was racing cars it was sort of the last period when
an individual could decide to go racing. Everyone I knew who
did this wound up "hocking the ranch" to do this. There
were a lot of unhappy wives. And they didn't do it for long.
But they could do it. Nowadays, if someone wants to go racing
they need factory sponsorship. The same thing was true when I
raced sailboats. In racing both cars and sailboats, the guy with
the best equipment was usually the guy who won. You needed to
get a new car every year and might go through 2-3 engines or
other expensive parts during a season. With sailboats, you needed
a new boat every couple of years and a new set of sails every
season. It would break the bank, but in my day an individual
still could do it. Increasingly, sponsorship is taking over sailboat
racing as well."
The close of a truly wonderful era in motor