James Garner has died. (July 20, 2014)

Fans of racing history are delighted that James Garner’s “The Racing Scene” film is now available for sale on DVD. We just received our copy and enjoyed it immensely! We ordered it from Bonanza.com for $11.99 and had it three days later. A little background on this documentary. UPDATE 12/20/13 You can now watch The Racing Scene instantly on Amazon here!

The film begins with Jim Garner and Scooter Patrick competing in the 1968 Baja 1000 in their Vic Hickey-built Ford Bronco but quickly shifts focus to Garner as owner of the American International Racing (AIR) team. The concept was developed by documentary film and motorsports writer William Edgar who had previously worked with ABC Sports director Andy Sidaris for a TV special about Craig Breedlove, the first man to reach 400 mph, 500 mph and 600 mph. According to Edgar, “We set out to make our auto racing version of The Endless Summer.” Viewing Hollywood’s efforts at race movies as disappointments, the team’s goal was to “make racing on the screen really racing.” Along with producer Barry Scholerand fellow racing aficionado James Garner, the team began work in early 1969.

The documentary largely revolves around closed-course races at January’s 24 Hours of Daytona with Garner’s two Lola T-70 coupes.  The Ed Leslie/Lothar Motschenbacher car finished 2nd and his Dave Jordan/Scooter Patrick driving duo finished 7th.  The film and race team had gotten off to a very acceptable start.  The film picks up in March, at the 12 Hours of Sebring the 1969 Formula A series where they entered a John Surtees open-wheel car on Labor Day at Lime Rock Park. The result there was largely just a test of the car and they felt they had it perfected for St. Jovite (Montreal) where a spectactular crash nearly killed Scooter Patrick and ended the racing action for the team and this documentary.

Shot with an economical 35mm Moviola, film quality is not the best but certainly is viewable and the noise adds a measure of nostalgia. A little over 90 minutes, it’s heartwarming to know that a film which had been buried for years is now available on DVD. We highly recommend it.

For more reading and insight, be sure to visit Louis Galanos’ article “Maverick at 1969 24 Hours of Daytona!”

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