Jul 22 2009

Grand Prix Motors Mystery Solved!

Last week we had a lively discussion concerning the futuristic "Grand Prix Motors" tow-car hauling its Effyh midget race car through the streets of Bridgehampton in 1951. I believe the mystery of who owned these cars has been solved.

Tony Carroll, Secretary of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America, Inc., called and put me in touch with Harry C. Reynolds, who had just completed an book on the Formula III Racers. Harry immediately identifed Charles (Chuck) Kotchan as the owner of both cars. He described a photo showing Chuck in his Effyh. The caption for this photo in his soon-to-be published book will read:

" Here we see Chuck Kotchan and the Effyh, probably in West End, Lynbrook, Long Island, where Kotchan was based. The 1951 Ford Tudor sedan’s relevance, apart from a size comparison, is unknown. Note towing eye protruding through the Effyh grille, presaging the modern day IMSA requirement."


Joel Finn's spectacular book "Bridgehampton Racing from the Streets to the Bridge" provides further confirmation. This photo from the book shows the #77 Effyh racing during the 1951 Hayground Cup Race. Joel notes:

The Hayground Cup Race was scheduled for 500cc Formula III single-seat, open-wheel race cars. This would be the inaugural outing for cars of this popular European Formula in an American Road Race...John Fitch, driving an Effy owned by Charles Kotchan, was in a class of his own and cruised around at an average speed of 71 mph.

What was the relationship between Jim McAllister from the tugboat family and Grand Prix Motors? Research indicates there was none except for similar names of their companies based on Long Island. McAllister was one of the owners of Grand Prix SSR based in East Setauket.


November 2, 2009 Update: This Grand Prix Motors ad promoting the Effyh 500 was printed in the 1951 program guide for the Bridgehampton Sports Car Road Races.

Thanks everyone for your contributions to help solve the "Grand Prix Motors" mystery!


Jul 23 2009 Robin K 1:51 PM

This is beyond cool.  Always wanted a pic of my dad in one of his cars.  Thanks!

Jul 25 2009 Howard Kroplick 1:00 AM

Hi Robin:

Thanks for checking in. Do you have any more details or photos of your father’s wonderful tow-car?




Jul 25 2009 guy 2:41 PM

Please ask Robin Kotchian if she has any recollection of what happened in the years following Fitch at Brlidgehampton in 1951. An Effyh (which I’ve owned for many years) was resurrected from the horse barn at Brynfan Tyddyn in 1954 by Jack DuPont and I purchased the car from Senator Wood’s estate after he did a major rebuild.

Jul 25 2009 Jack Mayes 5:00 PM

I own an Effyh as pictured.  I acquired it in 1976 in Southern Illinois. The engine & gearbox were removed when it was owned and raced by Bill Rutan. in New England…I purchased them from him in about 1978 and the numbers matched those on the nameplate.  With the exception of missing suspension covers, the car appears to be identical, down to the rollbar details.

Does anyone have the data on the car shown, or its history after Kotchian?  Bill may be able to shed some light on this…where he got it and who it went to next.  1951 to 1976 owners are missing.

Aug 03 2009 guy 4:30 PM

Did you get the news photo of the Breese from 1915 that I sent earlier. Also perhaps the Kotchan offspring can solve the mystery of the early years of the Brynfan Tyddyn Special.

Aug 23 2009 Robin K 7:51 AM

Sorry, I have no photos or info on my dad’s cars, although I would not be surprised if he hadn’t designed the shell for the tow-car.  He was a mechanical engineer and designer.  Wish I could be of more help, but his racing days were before my time.

Sep 20 2009 Howard Kroplick 2:24 PM

Hi Robin:

Thanks anyway. The design of the tow-car was way ahead of its time.


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