Jul 16 2009

In Search of “Grand Prix Motors” and Its Amazing Tow-Car

I love a good racing mystery...especially one that is not easily solved by a Google Search. To recap, last Tuesday, I posted a film of the 1951 Bridgehampton Cup Race. What captured the attention of many viewers was the unique custom tow-truck hauling a racer at the 9-second mark of the film. Yesterday, we established the racer being hauled was a Swedish EFFYH. But, what was "Grand Prix Motors"?

Guy Frost of Roslyn, New York recalls that Grand Prix Motors was owned by James McAllister of the famous tugboat family. David Belden of Woodstock, Connecticut also remembers; "One of the tugboat McAllisters ran a Grand Prix Motors or some such name in E. Seatucket, LI in the '80s and into the '90s at least. They were a Ferrari dealer among others. I got my first ride in another of their brands, a Delorean (last also), there while stopping to pick up a motor from Ted Wenz who had his engine shop out back. I don't believe there was a connection with the 1950ish operation but I suppose there might have been."

The 1989 New York Times obituary for James McAllister noted; "Besides owning two automobile agencies in East Setauket, L.I., Mr. McAllister was an avid racer of vintage sports cars. He stopped racing Maseratis when he was 75 years old.


Finally, I searched the 1951 clasified ads for "Grand Prix Motors" using the New York Times Proquest. I discovered the two addresses that were printed on the custom tow-car; 536 Merrick Road, Lynbrook and 125 Northern Boulevard, Great Neck. Although there was no match to McAllister's East Setauket shop, the Great Neck "Grand Prix Motors" ad was promoting the availability of the "EFFYH" Swedish midget racing car.

We are getting closer to unraveling the mystery of Grand Prix Motors and their wonderful custom tow-car!


Jul 20 2009 Robert E. Richer 4:31 PM

Howard…Like Topsy, this thing is growing.  Jim McAllister was a dear pal, and a wonderful driver during his VSCCA days.  I remember when I was president of the VSCCA, I used to worry about such an old guy driving such hot cars…particularly the Maserati.  Now that I am in that age bracket, it doesn’t seem very old at all.  He was indeed a Ferrari dealer, and imported I believe the first Boxer into this country.  It was a totally illegal car, as it didn’t comply with emissions or safety requirements, so he couldn’t sell it. But he used to love to slap dealer plates on it, take it on the LIE at about three in the morning, and just open ‘er up.  It is nice to know that his son, a VSCCA member, runs the tug company, and was at the helm of one of his tugs when it recently nudged the totally refurbished USS Intrepid back into its birth on Manhattan’s Hudson River.

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