Another sports car racing pioneer has left us as Bill Pollack has passed away just nine days after marking his 92nd birthday. After serving as a B-26 bomber pilot in WWII, Pollack became a key figure in the post-war California sports car culture, and began racing in 1950. He won the Pebble Beach Cup in 1951 and the Del Monte Trophy in 1952 with a Cadillac-Allard J2 owned by Tom Carstens, and other victories came his way at venues such as Golden Gate Park (above), Torrey Pines, Stockton, Madera, Paramount Ranch, Carrell Speedway, Willow Springs, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and Laguna Seca, so that he won a dozen of the 60 races he started during the nine years he raced.
On those legendary tracks Pollack raced against legendary men as well, stars like Phil Hill, Elliott Forbes-Robinson, Ernie McAfee, Carroll Shelby, John von Neumann, John Fitch, Ken Miles and Lance Reventlow. He was also acquainted with a number of part-time racers from the Hollywood entertainment industry, stars like Steve McQueen, James Dean, Donald O’Connor and Mel Tormé.
He is credited with designing the challenging Willow Springs Raceway in California’s high desert, and his book, Red Wheels and White Sidewalls: Confessions of an Allard Racer, published by Brown Fox Books in 2004, tells most of his story.
Because he realized that the decade of the 1950s was a special time for racing, Pollack and compatriots Phil Hill and Art Evans founded the Fabulous Fifties Sports Car Club to ensure that that history would not be forgotten. Not being a fan of organizations, however, he told one and all that it wasn’t really a car club and its members were not really members.