1 December 2015
JAMES BYRON DEAN
By Lee Raskin, Author of James Dean: On The Road To Salinas
Jimmy telephoned his friend and insurance agent, Lew Bracker advising him that he was trading his MG TD for a new 356 Porsche Super Speedster and he would need some new coverage immediately.
Lew Bracker and Jimmy relaxing on the set of Rebel Without a Cause, March 1955. Photo: Lew Bracker/Lee Raskin collection.
Braker recalled, "Jimmy picked me up in this little white thing that I had never seen before. It looked like a bathtub with a hole in it. He said "Get in." So I got in and I really had no idea what a Porsche was at the time, or even how to pronounce it... 'Por-sha.'
Bracker continued: "After Jimmy took possession of his new Speedster, he headed up to Mulholland Drive to get to know his 'racing car.' In 1955, Mulholland Drive was a sparsely populated, 19-mile twisting switchback road high above Los Angeles. It connected Laurel Canyon on the east, above Hollywood, to Topanga Canyon in Woodland Hills on the west. Bracker recalled: "This was the ideal road course to get in 'seat time' and to learn all there was to know about the Porsche's shifting and braking, and its tendency to over steer in the tight turns."
Jimmy racing his Porsche 356 Super Speedster at Palm Springs in March 1955. He won the novice race on Saturday and finished second overall in the Main Event on Sunday. Photo: Lee Raskin collection.
At high speed, Jimmy's Speedster could enter a curve with the rear end drifting toward the outside of the road. A touch of throttle, a slight turn of the steering wheel and the tail would swing back to a straight line for resumed acceleration. Jimmy quickly discovered the Speedster was a thoroughbred racecar.
Bracker also recalls, "Jimmy not only wanted to learn to drive the Speedster well, he joined the California Sports Car Club to become a real road racer."