8 March 2010

Classic tracks

Although the novelty factor is undeniable, we are still finding TVNZ's belated screening of James May's Top Toys curiously compelling viewing, with a surprising amount of art parallels. In epidode one there were oversized KITSETS, then there were large meccano bridges. Another goodie is the recent episode where a classic motor racing track was revived to its former glory using vintage aerial photography and Scalextric slot cars. Sounds a bit like a Billy Apple project, albeit without the slot cars.

For Billy Apple's Bruce & Denny Show, seven classic tracks, raced by the legendary team of Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme during their 1967-1968 victorious sweep of the Can-Am series, were recreated. These were produced from period aerial photographs to determine the exact outline of the tracks as they were at the time, then all converted to the same scale and rotated to true north. Featured tracks are ELKHART LAKE (Wisconsin, now Road America), BRIDGEHAMPTON (New York, now a golf course), MOSPORT PARK (Ontario, now Mosport International Raceway), EDMONTON (Alberta), LAGUNA SECA (California, still active), RIVERSIDE (California, now a mall) and STARDUST (Las Vegas, now the suburb of Spring Valley but fondly remembered).

May's programme is underpinned by a similar sort of social archeology. In this episode he pays tribute to Brooklands, the first purpose-built motor racing circuit in the world but out of action since 1939. Although SECTIONS of the track remain, along with a museum, the most action around here takes place on the Mercedes Benz test track that resides in the MIDDLE of the old track. May sends his slotcars across housing and industrial estates, fences, a river, pond, through corporate offices and across a road in order to recreate the BROOKLANDS circuit. At 2.7 miles in length, Brooklands now holds the record for the world's longest slot car set.

Image: Billy Apple, Paying Tribute. The Race Tracks, 1967, screenprint on paper, 521 x 843mm, 2008. Courtesy the artist and Two Rooms.

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