- Actor and motorsport journalist Tim Considine died on March 3 at the age of 81.
- Best known for roles in my three sons and the early Disney TV show Spin and MartinConsidine was also a serious and prolific motorsport journalist.
- His greatest works were about Americans driving in F1 and Le Mans.
Tim Considine, whose early life as an actor overshadowed his later and larger work as a motorsports journalist and writer, died March 3 at his home in Mar Vista, California, at the age of 81.
Considine is better known to the general public for his acting, including everything from my three sons to Spin and Martin and what he would jokingly call “The Slappee” when George C. Scott hit him with a couple of backhands in the film patton. However, he was far better known among motorsport enthusiasts for his intricate and well-researched books on racing. His two greatest works were American Grand Prix Racing and Twice around the clock: Americans in Le Mans.
Considine spent years working on each one, creating interviews, race reports and local news clips, and using his own memories to create wonderfully detailed portrayals of great races and racers from years past. Americans at Le Mans says every American who has ever driven on the Sarthe between 1923 and 1979. It was typical of the exhaustive work Considine lavished on his subjects.
Americans is perhaps his greatest motorsport achievement. He has put 28 years of his life into writing, researching and interviewing the American drivers, team owners and crew members who have raced at Le Mans for nearly six decades. The result was a work filled with compelling race reports, wonderful anecdotes and hundreds of fascinating stories you’d never heard before and couldn’t find anywhere else. Considine spoke to the great racers himself, many of whom were friends: Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Bob Bondurant – even Roger Penske.
Penske recounted the time he was driving a Ferrari mounted by Luigi-Chinetti alongside Pedro Rodriguez and finished third, until he missed a shift coming out of Mulsanne Corner and the engine blew up. “(Joe) Bonnier was behind me in a (Porsche) Spyder and with all that smoke he went into the trees and started. I remember he was mad as hell at me.”
Also from Yanks: When Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt drove Luigi Chinetti’s Ferrari 275 LM in 1965, the car was shod with grippy experimental Goodyear tires that had to be changed every hour. This saved them from the gearbox weakness of similar Ferraris that year and resulted in them winning the race.
“It’s all about the stories,” Considine said when he gave me an advance copy of the Le Mans Work. “It’s hard to choose, but I think my very favorite quote comes from a dentist, Dr. Edwin Abate, a San Jose amateur who paid $25 to drive a Porsche 935 rented from Barbours in 1979 PL Newman/Whittington Brothers year. Heavy rain in a 935 at Le Mans!
“Abate said, ‘I remember driving down the Mulsanne when one wiper was running and a flash went off at the end of the Mulsanne. I said to myself, ‘Dear Mother Maria, if I get killed here, that’s it… I can’t help it, I really love it here, it’s great!‘ He looped in practice, slipped towards the end of the race but finished eighth overall and second in the IMSA class won by Newman. The magic of Le Mans.”
Another favorite from this book, and typical of the stories Considine tracked down that no one else ever got, was this: Briggs Cunningham needed a team of signalmen to man the signs at Mulsanne Corner. Someone called the US Embassy in Paris and was put through to the embassy transportation officer, a well-known racing enthusiast, who was calling his teenage American son.
“Get four of your friends together, you’re going to Le Mans!” They arrived on Vespa scooters, found the Cunningham team, got the sign and drove out to the Mulsanne corner. The boys’ story is told in sleepless detail, including one of the youngster’s romance with a local French girl. Considine actually tracked down one of the boys – now men – somewhere in South America, obtained previously unpublished photos, and gave the episode a full page in Volume 1.
Yes, Volume 1. There are three volumes of this book alone; together they cost $350 when they came out four years ago.
His other great work American Grand Prix Racing, was released in 1997. It’s the definitive story for all Americans in this primarily European form of motorsport.
While we may know about Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti, and some may even know about Bob Bondurant’s years in Formula 1, there were actually 141 Americans who raced in what used to be called Grand Prix but is now Formula 1 is known to be the pinnacle of motorsport. Considine covered them all. For this book he needed seven years of research, which overlapped with Le Mans.
His life’s work also included numerous contributions car week and other magazines over a long and prolific career.
He is survived by his 43-year-old wife Willet, son Chris, brother and fellow actor and writer John, sister Erin, and grandchildren Ethan and Tyler.
“He was absolutely the best man I knew,” said his son Chris.
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