Go Climb A Tree

Alta, George Abecassis, Prescott Hillclimb

Photographers sometimes have to find unusual places to get the “right” shot. To take this one, Louis Klemantaski climbed up into a tree by the side of the Prescott hill climb course in May 1939. Taken from above, the attitude of the car combined with the twists in the road give a true impression of speed.

The driver here, George Abecassis, was a really talented amateur driver who continued his racing career after the War and often got a factory “ride” in important races such as the Mille Miglia and Le Mans. At Prescott he was running his four cylinder supercharged Alta “voiturette” car and in this photograph he is really trying hard coming out of the Prescott Esses. He is obviously trying to get more opposite lock on to correct the power-induced slide. He has released his left hand from the wheel so that his right can pull it around further. The twin rear wheels were often used for hill climbs and on wet tracks where they gave better traction to benefit from the torque of the Alta’s supercharged motor.

This Alta had a someway distressing origin. It was built in 1937 for Philip Jucker who entered it for a race on the Isle of Man, but suffered a fatal crash during practice. Abecassis purchased the wreck and had it rebuilt, thereby obtaining a competitive car at a fraction of its original cost. The Alta still exists today.

Abecassis had a long and very successful racing career which has been lovingly described in his son David’s excellent book A Passion for Speed. And now for a bit of shameless commercialism. We have some special limited edition copies of A Passion for Speed available on our website (http://www.klemcoll.com/publications/19.aspx) and will give you a 50% discount if you say that you heard about it here.

Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection

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One comment

  1. jim sitz · · Reply

    This photo really captures the feeling of speed. When i discovered his work in British magazines in 1949, that stirred my own interest. Later I met Klemantaski in Italy when he partnered up with Peter Collins. After much correspondence thru the years we traded photographs(mine of Peter)
    he sent me this very same print, the Alta up the Hill, My long time dear friend Jesse Alexander admired it so much
    I passed it on to him in 1980 or so

    Jim Sitz
    G.P. Oregon

    Like

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