Friday, July 06, 2018

a quick history of the Revs Institute, the SCCA, and where the Briggs Cunningham collection ended up

C. Miles, Sam, and Barron Gift Collier Sr (what a name) were founders of the Automobile Racing Club of America in the 1930s. 

How'd they get rich enough to do that? Well, Barron was an early seller of advertising on subways and street car advertising, and rolled his money into south Florida real estate investing. He was the states largest landowner at one point, 1.3 million acres.

He brought the first telephone service, first railroad, first newspapers, and first bus company. He constructed the Tamiami Trail through the Everglades from the Lee County to the Dade County line. For this last feat, connecting the two coasts of Florida, the County was named in his honor. With the advent of mosquito control and air conditioning, the Sunshine State began its run as the fastest growing state in the union.

 That property was something the family made money on with developing, and now it's known as Collier County.

He had interests in other pursuits, like the national Boy Scout movement. In New York, serving as special deputy commissioner for public safety, he introduced the use of white and yellow traffic divider lines on highways.

Meanwhile, using the money for fun, his bothers got into racing cars. Hardcore.

The club’s stated purpose was to revive European-style road racing in America at a time when all top line racing here was conducted on ovals. The Colliers also became the MG importers and C. Miles raced in Europe a few times in the 1930s, an extreme rarity for an American at the time.

Although the ARCA wasn’t always either an artistic or financial success, some impressive events were held with members entering European GP machinery. The real contribution of the Colliers was to have the vision to promote road racing in America when there was none. The ARCA was shut down after Pearl Harbor and never revived.

 However, after World War II, several members including George Weaver, C. Miles and Sam were influential in turning the fledgling Sports Car Club of America’s mission from preserving older sports cars to promoting racing. Within a decade, sports car racing became a major sport in the U.S. with some SCCA events rivaling the Indianapolis 500 in attendance.

They organized the first road race at Watkins Glen, and then headed to Le Mans, and wrote that up in Road and Track. Soon after Sam was killed racing at the Glen, and then a memorial race was held at an airfield in Florida, which became the 12 hours of Sebring

Then Miles was born, got hooked on cars, started a collection of Porsches he raced, then bought the Briggs Cunningham collection, etc etc bingo, the Revs Institute.

I didn't set out to write a complete history, just the beginnings. Like I said, quick history

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