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Memoir: Pebble Beach 1953

Bill Pollack was impressive in the black Carstens Allard with its red wire wheels and white-wall tires. Here he approaches Turn 1 while leading. Photo: Michael Jacobsen

All six events at Pebble Beach’s fourth renewal were memorable for those lucky enough to be there, but ’53 was really special for two important reasons. That year began the new MG era of domination, the Ken Miles era, and for those present at the start of West Coast road racing and who still ran MGs, the return of MG to the forefront was like a free pass to heaven. Another era ended as well, the era of the Carstens Allard. Few individual racecars have had as much charisma as the black Allard with the red wheels and white sidewalls. Besides, my mother, Dorothy, thought Bill Pollack was the cutest driver of all.

The course itself, as all know, was spectacular and tricky, and many difficult bends don’t show on the circuit map. When I drove my Singer 1500 around at speed in the fall of 1960, even that car jumped clear across the road at the first dogleg of the downhill section, going maybe 65! Many pine trees grew mere inches from the pavement’s edge, and only Portola Road—the front straight—from the last turn to after the finish line was wide enough for three cars.

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