Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.
Just before filming began on Rebel Without a Cause, actor James Dean driving a Porsche 356 Speedster, won the first formal motor race he entered, a qualifying race during the California Sports Car Club event at Palms Springs, California, USA. The following day he finished second in the main event.second overall in the Sunday main event. Dean also raced the Speedster at Bakersfield on May 1–2, finishing first in class and third overall. His final race with the Speedster was at Santa Barbara on Memorial Day, May 30, where he started in the eighteenth position, worked his way up to fourth, before over-revving his engine and blowing a piston. He did not finish the race. During the filming of Giant from June through mid-September, Warner Brothers had barred Dean from all racing activities. In July, Dean put down a deposit on a new Lotus Mark IX sports racer with Jay Chamberlain, a dealer in Burbank. Dean was told that the Lotus delivery would be delayed until autumn. As Dean was finishing up Giant's filming, he suddenly traded in his Speedster at Competition Motors for a new, more powerful and faster 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder on September 21 and entered the upcoming Salinas Road Race event scheduled for October 1–2. He also purchased a new 1955 Ford Country Squire station wagon to use for towing the new Spyder to and from the races on an open wheel car trailer. According to Lee Raskin, Porsche historian, and author of James Dean At Speed, Dean asked custom car painter and pin striper Dean Jeffries to paint Little Bastard on the car: "Dean Jeffries, who had a paint shop next to Barris did the customizing work which consisted of: painting '130' in black non-permanent paint on the front hood, doors and rear deck lid. He also painted "Little Bastard" in script across the rear cowling. The red leather bucket seats and red tail stripes were original. The tail stripes were painted by the Stuttgart factory, which was customary on the Spyders for racing ID." Purportedly, James Dean had been given the nickname "Little Bastard" by Bill Hickman, a Warner Bros. stunt driver who became friendly with Dean. Hickman was part of Dean's group driving to the Salinas Road Races on September 30, 1955. Hickman says he called Dean "little bastard", and Dean called Hickman "big bastard." Another version of the "Little Bastard" origin has been corroborated by two of Dean's close friends, Lew Bracker, and photographer, Phil Stern. They believe Jack L. Warner of Warner Bros. had once referred to Dean as a little bastard after Dean refused to vacate his temporary East of Eden trailer on the studio's lot. And Dean wanted to get 'even' with Warner by naming his race car, "Little Bastard" and to show Warner that despite his sports car racing ban during all filming, Dean was going to be racing the "Little Bastard" in between making movies for Warner Bros. When Dean introduced himself to British actor Alec Guinness outside the Villa Capri restaurant in Hollywood, he asked him to take a look at his brand new Porsche Spyder. Guinness thought the car appeared 'sinister' and told Dean: "If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week." This encounter took place on September 23, 1955, seven days before Dean's death. He died Dean on September 30, 1955, near Cholame, California. Dean was traveling to a sports car racing competition when his "Little Bastard" crashed at the junction of California State Route 46 (former 466) and California State Route 41. He was 24 years old.
James Dean - 1955 Porsche 356 Super Speeder