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Look, Mom, Look! Ray Seher Holds on to Finish Seventh?

Updated: By Ivan Požega: Ray Seher in a C-type Jaguar trying his hardest to keep all four on the ground at Sacramento, California, in 1955.

Update: Reader Bob White set sent in the following email and press clipping published before these races were run in Sacramento:

“Regarding the March 8, 2011, posting about Ray Seher racing a Jaguar in 1955. I’m 75 years young and have lived in Sacramento all my life. After looking at the photo, I said to myself that I’m pretty sure the building in the background is one of the livestock barns at the old State Fairgrounds. So I did a bit of research and here is more information about the race. The article is from the “Sacramento Bee” Oct 18, 1955 issue.

Editors note: Further research resulted in finding that Ray Seher finished seventh in one of two races in his class at this meet without a crash or a DNF (did not finish) being listed. Apparently he was able to recover and complete this race or practice session?

11 responses to “Look, Mom, Look! Ray Seher Holds on to Finish Seventh?

    • It looks like what you are calling a brace is actually two exhaust pipes that are in front of the rear wheel. The exhaust pipes may be angled up, giving the impression that they are touching the ground.

      Behind the car, it looks like there might be an Ahrens-Fox fire engine. I see what appears to be a hose reel at the left, the chrome sphere for smoothing the air pressure from the pump, and possibly a fireman as well.

  1. Illusion? No.. those are exhaust tips as stated by others here. Also you can see the driver positioning himself upright, and likely turning the wheel hard left to keep from turning over.

  2. In the strictly “for whatever it is worth” department. While this is a bit out of my era wheel house, I do spend a lot of hours studying old photographs (mostly black and white) looking for obscure details and historic tidbits. In that course, I have spent many hours looking at “trick photos” which were very popular for some times in the first half of the past century. Quite a few such “action” shots were made of model T Fords playing “Auto Polo”. Many of those very cleverly staged.
    My first glance at this picture sent red flags waving wildly. A couple things at a first look didn’t look “right”. The first thing is that I can’t see any reason for the car to be on two wheels (and probably neither can anyone else). And those two “posts” looked very suspicious. Upon closer inspection, however, I also came to the conclusion that the “posts” were more likely exhaust pipes. I figured the angle of the shadows, and looking at the “posts” , there is no shadow where it should be had they been touching the ground supporting the car. Although in the shadow, the ends of the pipes cane be more or less seen, and they are not on the ground. The only apparent conclusion is that they are in fact not posts, and are entirely within the car’s shadow. Hence, likely, exhaust pipes near the bottom of the car’s body.
    The direction of the car makes it unlikely that the car went onto two wheels entirely on its own accord. Most likely, it ran into the hay bales out of the photo’s scope, and launched the right side into the air. The driver was probably working frantically to regain control when this picture was captured. Given the limited information we have at this moment, we may assume he succeeded (most of those drivers are pretty great!), since he apparently completed a race later.
    It takes a lot of force to raise a car that way. Even hay bales can do a lot of damage. Hopefully, the car was not seriously damaged and continued racing that day.

    The fellows in the background are quite interesting also. The one toward the white building looks to be trying to decide which way to run! While the fellow behind the tree seems content to just watch. A fraction of a second earlier, he was actually in greater danger had the driver failed to pull the car back onto his side of the hay bales.

    My final observation. This appears to be a fantastic capture of a remarkable moment in time. I find it reminiscent of the famous picture of Raymond Mays looking st his Bugatti’s wheel as it passes him!

    • On the right edge of the photo, you can see a little cloud of airborne hay next to the bystander’s leg. That kind of confirms your guess that the car was launched by colliding with hay bales moments before the shot was taken.

  3. Not being sure what was actually used here, I dare say the photo is a pretty lucky shot considering the film speeds available at the time. Kodak had just come out with the new E2 process Extachrome, but it had an ASA of 32, and a recommendation of 1/50 sec shutter speed at F11 in daylight like this. To me, the sharpness here is fantastic for an action shot caught on the fly with a camera of that era. Would be interesting to find out what film and what kind of camera was used. Just a great shot!

  4. The Nevada State Journal of November 5, 1955 helps to confirm that this is driver Ray Seher . There is a photo of him in a Jaguar C Type with the number 100c on it at the California State Fairgrounds. Unfortunately the photo is too poor to reproduce here. Excepts from this article are below. And the winner of the big car main event that day? None other than Phil Hill in a Ferrari Monza.

    “Brake trouble and a black flag that cost two minutes running time dropped Renoite [sic] Ray Seher into second place in Class C and seventh over-all last weekend at sports car races staged at the Fair Grounds in Sacramento.”

    “While only three of the bigger cars finished on the ‘fantastic’ course laid out among buildings and partly on the horse track at the California State Fair Grounds, Seher was running third over-all in his Jaguar when he was black flagged, indicating something was hanging loose on his car. It turned out to be a section of rubber air hose and nothing serious, but the enforced pit stop cost him two minutes time and four places in the final standings.”

    Reinhold Ray Seher was born in Fresno, California in 1910, he served in the U.S. Marines in the 1930s, he was a salesman for a paper company, and eventually he owned a company that sold scales in Reno, Nevada for at least 25 years. He died in Oregon in 1997. Surprisingly, there was nothing written in his obituary regarding his auto racing.

  5. The list of entrants includes nearly a dozen very well-known west coast drivers, plus 2 ‘auslanders’; Paul O’Shea from NY, & Freddy van Buren from Mexico City. Pretty good lineup for a ‘local’ SCCA National race!

  6. The second most astounding thing about this post is the note about the F III 500cc DOHC engine having an 18 to 1 compression ratio!

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