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Ernie McAfee and serial#0546LM

Discussion in 'Vintage (thru 365 GTC4)' started by Mikey P, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. Mikey P

    Mikey P Karting

    Dec 1, 2003
    152
    San Ramon, CA
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    Mike Ponte
    I've done some research regarding Ernie McAfee's tragic crash at Pebble Beach in 1956. From what I've been able to gather, #0546LM was repaired and later raced by several gentlemen racers. Does anyone know where the car is now and who owns it? Any photos and history would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Chaos

    Chaos Formula 3

    Sep 29, 2004
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    Nick.
    http://www.barchetta.cc/english/All.Ferraris/Detail/0546LM.121LM.htm
     
  3. billnoon

    billnoon Formula 3
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    Aug 22, 2003
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    I bought the car from Bill Ziering late in 1996 with assistance from Ferrari wizard, Allen Bishop. Ultra neat car but the death taint was a hard marketing point to overcome.

    During inspections, under the left door was scribed a note by the restorer and the date he completed the repairs after McAfee's accident.

    I had the car out on the road and track a few times along with another of our 121LMs. Total beast with insane amounts of torque, uncontrollable horse power, ludicrously inadequate brakes, frightening handling on ancient rock-hard skinny tires! God I miss that car and what I would not give to drive it again!!!

    Today he car remains with a private collector and rarely taken out or used.

    Every year when we make the annual pilgrimage to Monterey, I park my car Sunday morning in the driveway of a private home across the street from the tree at which he was killed. There is a little placard that identifies it as the accident site.

    Regards,

    Bill Noon
     
  4. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
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    Dec 6, 2002
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    Bubba
    IIRC the late Phil Hill gives his thoughts of it, in "A Champion's View" ..

    He felt it was a handful, and the chassis never was developed by Ferrari, as they pursued other designs...
     
  5. Mikey P

    Mikey P Karting

    Dec 1, 2003
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    Mike Ponte
    Thank you so much Bill. I figured that either you or one of the many helpful members of this forum would be able to assist in this matter.

    Sad but true, it appears that with Ernie's fateful crash on April 22, 1956 marked the beginning of the end of sportscar racing as we knew it. Was #0546 always blue and does anyone out there have any color photographs of car on that tragic day?
     
  6. elads

    elads Formula Junior

    Dec 29, 2004
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    #6 elads, Mar 2, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
    Mikey, Ernie is a bit of a fascination of mine so ill try and help.

    The MAcafee racing Ferraris were both (first 750 Monza 0502M, then the 121LM) owned and sponsored by Bill Doheny. Doheney was the heir to the famous Union Oil Company -pls see "there will be blood" for a lose portrayal of Dohenie's family - sponsored Ernie's foray into car importation with the Siata 208S spyders in the early-late 50's. Both Ferarri's sported the blue with white stripes color scheme. An interesting factoid is the number sequence that Ernie carried while racing in 1954/55/56: In the H-mod class running a Moretti 750 spyder he would run car #76, in the sub 1500cc class he would run an OSCA tn Le-Mans (#1169 owned at that time by OSCA importer Harry Chapmann) with car number 176, then for the big-bore race he would run the Feraris first the 750 Monza (0502M-the only one without a headrest) in early-late 1955 then the 121LM with the race number 276. Do we sense a pattern? well, since Doheny was the owner (and if i recall correctly on the board of the company at that time) of Union 76, that was an easy way to mark the Doheny sponsored Macfee's entries. Always thought that that was a great piece of trivia.

    I was told very recently that 750 Monza 0502M was rebodied about 10 years ago, discarding the original body and replacing it by a similar shaped body by Autoposrt in Italy back on the original chassis, i was very disappointed to say the least! Always fancied getting that Monza to rest alongside OSCA 1169 which i presently own... is that true, can anybody confirm the re-body info i got? the car was auctioned about 1.5 years ago after being on sale for the best part of 3 years at various auction venues, anything?

    rgds
    elad
     
  7. elads

    elads Formula Junior

    Dec 29, 2004
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    elad
  8. Jeff Kennedy

    Jeff Kennedy F1 Rookie
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    Oct 16, 2007
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    Bill Ziering told me that when he bought the car from Chris Cord he got 2 bill of sales; one from Chris and the other from Ned Doheny. Since there was no title registration on the car he wanted to make sure that his purchase could not ever be challenged. Apparently the car ad sat at the Doheny house for years after the wreck and then Chris decided to undertake the restoration.

    I rode in the car with Bill at Riverside at one of the FOC events. One point I remember is that while lining up in the pit lane waiting for our turn to go onto the track Bill would leave a lot of space between us and the next car. The first time he moved forward I realized why; it was as if the car leaped forward in a cacophony of sound and then with a foot on the clutch and the other on standing on the brakes Bill had to stop the car before crashing into the car in front. My lips were capped for over a week after that ride.

    Bill Noon: Did you put Bill into the F2 Ferrari as part of the 121 transaction?

    Jeff
     
  9. billnoon

    billnoon Formula 3
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    Aug 22, 2003
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    No, Bill already had the F2 Dino when we met. He offered me the car after I bought the 121 LM but I was racing in Italy, missed the call and he sold the car to someone else. Too bad, it was under $200K which was fair money and a smoking deal. I won't even go into telling you how upset I am that it got away.

    As for the driving the LM, Phil Hill was the man and anything he says about the way they drove is spot on. I just remember the insanity of so much engine and such a disappointment over handling and breaking. Nonetheless I would do just about anything to get back behind the wheel one more time!

    Cheers,

    Bill
     
  10. Mikey P

    Mikey P Karting

    Dec 1, 2003
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    Mike Ponte
    I'd like to thank everyone for their wonderful insight and factual data regarding Ernie and his last drive in anger with #0546. I have to agree with Bill and Jeff..the handling and breaking characteristics of #0546 were marginal at best, however not much is written regarding the actual cause of Ernie's accident. Was it a simple case of the car getting away from him or is there more to story. Also, with the extensive damage done to #0546, was the car ever re-bodied when the repair work was done? The photos recorded at the scene show major side impact damage. It's a wonder the vehicle was ever put back to running condition.
     
  11. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Mar 4, 2005
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    #11 wbaeumer, Mar 3, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    MOTORRACING featured the tragedy.

    Ciao!
    Walter
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  12. Ed Niles

    Ed Niles Formula 3
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    #12 Ed Niles, Mar 3, 2009
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  13. Boudewijn

    Boudewijn Moderator
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    #13 Boudewijn, Mar 3, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    This photo, less sharp being part of a much larger photo taken through the trees surrounding the circuit at Pebble Beach, shows Ernie a few minutes before the fatal accident.
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  14. Miltonian

    Miltonian F1 Veteran

    Dec 11, 2002
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    Jeff B.
    There's a very good color picture of McAfee in the 121 at Pebble, just before the accident, in the article on his life in "Sports Car International", 10/90, but the picture is split onto two pages.

    There was a thread about him on Atlas TNF a while back, and his granddaughter joined in the discussion.
     
  15. Chuck Queener

    Chuck Queener Karting

    May 18, 2006
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    Ed,

    I thought you gave/sold all your stuff. I look so young!!! :)

    CQ
     
  16. aimeemelissa

    aimeemelissa Rookie

    May 5, 2009
    1
    Good Afternoon,

    This might be a bit strange, but I am actually Ernie's granddaughter - due to many unfortunate circumstances I have been able to collect very little information about him, as most personal family photographs have been destroyed, and my mother was only an infant when he passed. I was looking for people who know of him, who knew him, etc - anyone who knows more than what I can just find online. I have digital copies of the article "Ernie's Place" from Sports Car International, and a series of small articles by Gus Vignolle, but that's just about it.

    Thank you so much!

    Aimee
     
  17. Napolis

    Napolis Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Welcome and Good Luck!
     
  18. elads

    elads Formula Junior

    Dec 29, 2004
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    HI Aimee,

    In Tony Adriaensens's 8V book, there is a large section dedicated to your grandfather, it goes into details about him, his business and has fantastic, archive quality pictures of him, as he was preparing for the 1954 Panamericana, i am not exaggerating by saying that there are at least 50 pages dealing with Ernie and his work.. PLs send me a PM if you care...

    rgds
    Elad
     
  19. Ashman

    Ashman Two Time F1 World Champ
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    #19 Ashman, May 5, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    An account of the accident in Robert T. Devlin's excellent book, "Pebble Beach, Racing Through the Pines 1950-1956/Concours d'Elegance 1950-1979" (Newport Press, copyright 1980) says that he was trying to lap John von Neumann's Ferrari coming into turn 6 and he missed a downshift, hit the brakes hard, locked up the brakes and fishtailed, and "it veered left initially and then to the right, grazing some haybales and skimming the drainage ditch that bordered the track. The rear end of the car was high off the ground when it struck a pine tree. The point of impact was the driver's door and McAfee was killed on contact. Judging from the 125-foot skid marks, the brakes of the big 4.4 liter Ferrari had locked up and there was simply no where for it to go on the narrow tree-lined circuit."

    Prior to the accident, Devlin wrote that McAfee, who had started well back, was "really hot, overtaking cars at a terrific rate and reaching 110-115 mph on the downhill straight."

    This was the second race of the day for McAfee, earlier he drove an OSCA MT-4 in the Pebble Beach Cup for under 1500 cc modified cars, where he started well back in the grid but gradually moved up through the pack into first place before a screw came loose in the distributor and he had to retire the car on lap 22.

    This photo of Ernie McAfee in the earlier race is copyright Newport Press from the Pebble Beach book by Devlin:
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  20. elads

    elads Formula Junior

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    #20 elads, May 6, 2009
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  21. Mikey P

    Mikey P Karting

    Dec 1, 2003
    152
    San Ramon, CA
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    Mike Ponte
    Thank you all for your great replies. Ernie was truely one of the great gentelman racers of the 50's that left us too soon. Like Bill, I too will plan on paying my respects at the accident site upon my yearly return to Monterey this year.

    As for Aimee, it would be great to keep this thread going every now and then with stories and photos of Ernie and his racing career. I can't think of a better way to memorialize her grandfarther and the host of others who were brave enough to drive those great cars in anger..
     
  22. richardowen

    richardowen Formula Junior

    Apr 2, 2004
    835
    Montreal, Canada
    Is it possible to get this in a legible size? My e-mail is supercars@gmail.com

    Thanks!

    Rich
     
  23. Ed Niles

    Ed Niles Formula 3
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    #23 Ed Niles, May 6, 2009
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  24. Ed Niles

    Ed Niles Formula 3
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    Sep 7, 2004
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    Sorry, I meant 1974.
     
  25. PSk

    PSk F1 World Champ

    Nov 20, 2002
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    Pete
    Is this the same sort of car that Ascari died in?

    Pete
     

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