Petersen Archive: Tickets Please! The 1956 Santa Barbara and Pomona C.S.C.C. Road Races

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When recalling a race, the authors of Hot Rod and Motor Trend Magazines often described the “projectile machines” that “screamed down…the asphalt straightaway,” a race’s “beautiful setting for equally fabulous speed exhibitions,” and, in an unfortunate case, “the sloshing halt” of a drag race plagued by “the worst rainstorm in 30 years.” These authors, however, paid little attention to one of the most important parts of the event, one that made all of it possible. How people got in. That is, the tickets.

These tickets, from the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Archive, provided entry into three 1956 California Sports Car Club races covered by Petersen Publishing photographers Paul Sorber and Ray Brock.

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This four inch long, two and a half inch wide piece of heavy pink cardstock from the Globe Ticket Company granted spectator number 685 access to the 5th Running Santa Barbara Road Races on March 18, 1956. The California Sports Car Club, whose logo appears on this ticket, sponsored the race. As the ticket also indicated, the meet was also sponsored by the Santa Barbara Junior Chamber of Commerce.

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At the race, Motor Trend photographer Paul Sorber captured this image of Rudy W. Cleye flying around a corner in his gull-wing Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. The Mercedes brought Cleye victory in the preliminary race.

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It is hard to tell from this photograph if Ernie McAfee’s Osca reached its top speed of 118 miles per hour on the Santa Barbara course. McAfee, however, did drive the Osca fast enough to win his class.

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On September 1-2, 1956 the California Sports Car Club sponsored another round of road races in Santa Barbara. The Globe Ticket Company, whose watermark appears on these tickets, also produced the pass into the event. This golden ticket got visitor 1800 into the stands of the 6th Running Santa Barbara Road Races.

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In this trackside view, available to photographer Paul Sorber, Richie Ginther, in his smiling Porsche 550 Spyder chased Jim Firestone’s Frazer Nash Replica around the hay bales. Ginther beat Frazer in the overall race and finished in seventh place, eleven places ahead of Frazer’s eighteenth place finish.

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This was Sorber’s general view of the Santa Barbara race in which William Eschrich in his #159 Lotus Mark IX, Ken Miles in his #50 Porsche 550 Spyder, and Richie Ginther in his #211 Porsche 550 Spyder battled for first. Ginther came the closest to victory, as Eschrich did not finish and Miles finished in sixth place.

For the 2nd Running Pomona Road Races on October 20-21, 1956, The Globe Ticket Company produced this green ticket for guest number 1254. The ticket was later reused as a notepad. Handwriting on the back of the ticket noted the date, and menu, of a barbecue.

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The California Sports Car Club held this race on the Los Angeles County Fair Grounds. The fairground’s large permanent Ferris wheel is visible in the background of this photograph of an unidentified coupe.

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This time, Ray Brock photographed the October C.S.C.C. race for Rod and Custom Magazine. Here, Terry Hall in his #276 Jaguar XK-120, raced against Richard Shipman in his #331 two-toned Austin Healey, and Lawrence Clark in his #125 Jaguar XK-120.

Tickets made this all possible. Indeed, sales of these innocuous colored cards generated the money that the sponsors needed to hold the races. The logos printed on the tickets advertised both the organizations that sponsored the events and those that printed the tickets. Most importantly, however, these tickets gave racing fans access to the sights, sounds, and excitement of these races. Perhaps, then, these tickets were good for more than the “above dates only.”

By: Kristin Feay