Harry Blanchard

Harry Blanchard

13/6/1929 - 31/1/1960

<br />Born in Burlington, Vermont, Harry Blanchard ran a multi-marque dealership in Greenwich, Connecticut specialising in British sports cars. He was also heavily involved in the early days of racing and rallying and was a regular on the American and Canadian scene in the late-fifties.

He raced a Porsche 550A Spyder (141) that was built in 1958 and raced in hill climbs by Ernie Vogel and Herbert Kaes, Ferdinand Porsche's nephew. The car was successful but was returned to Zuffenhousen and refurbished in 1959 when it was sold to Blanchard.

The factory made around 35 550A's. The A's were more competitive due to the space frame construction, better suspension and a 5-speed transmission.

On July 25, 1959 Harewood Acres in Canada hosted the first Sundown Grand Prix. The O'Keefe Sundown Grand Prix was a 6 hour race that began in the daylight and finished in the dark. Harry Blanchard and Roger Penske covered 254 laps in the Porsche RSK to take the victory in the 50-car field.

In September Harewood Acres hosted a Stock Car vs. Sports Car Race on September 19-20. The Stock Cars were completely outclassed by the sports cars and only Bob Duell, a regular local racer from New York State, seemed to be even trying to uphold the honour of the NASCAR fraternity. Few of the promised big name stock drivers appeared, Lee Petty was the only one. The race was won by Blanchard in his Porsche RSK.

In 1959 he took third place in the non-championship Watkins Glen GP and was a class champion that year.

He also bought a 1959 Porsche 356 Carrera Speedster (84936) which he took to wins at Montgomery, Thompson and Harewood Acres, Canada.

At the 12 hour race at Sebring he drove a Lancia Appia Zagato with Skip Callahan.

He was invited to race his Porsche RSK in the inaugural US GP at Sebring in 1959 to make up the numbers. Dan Gurney was not in the field for the first GP on U.S. soil in 43 years, though future U.S. World Champion Phil Hill and 5 other Americans were. The only one of the 6 to finish was Blanchard, who finished 7th in his only F1 start, four laps behind the winner Bruce McLaren. McLaren became the youngest driver to win an F1 race and Jack Brabham secured the driver's championship by pushing his Cooper across the line to finish 4th. The U.S. GP never made another visit to Sebring.

At the Bahamas Speed Week in December he came second in the 2 litre race behind Michael Taylor in his Lotus-Climax XV.

In January 1960 he travelled to South America for the Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometre race. Sharing a Porsche 718 RSK with Wolfgang Seidl, he crashed on the first lap, the Porsche somersaulting several times. Blanchard was killed and what could have been a promising career had been cut short.

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