Piecing together this history of Marchbanks Speedway and Hanford Motor Speedway has been rewarding thanks to the wonderfully detailed memories so many people have shared of the track and the wildly diverse forms of racing there.
That includes John Isom, who photographed three races at Hanford: the 1967 and the spring and fall 1968 Champ Car races. What’s special about Isom’s photos is they were shot with a Rolleiflex twin-lens 2.8E2 professional camera, utilizing medium format (2-1/4-inch x 2-1/4-inch 120 film. For those who aren’t shutterbugs, the Rolleiflex is a tidy camera with a unique design.
As Isom told me in an email, “Where the twin-lens Rollei shined was in shooting close-ups of the cars and drivers in the pits, and the configuration of the hooded ground glass screen on the camera permitted me to easily obtain photos when the subjects were totally unaware of my presence!”
While the Rolleiflex was not ideal for shooting track action, the vivid color and crispness of Isom’s photos is amazing, moreso considering they were taken nearly a half century ago. These images capture wonderful moments between drivers, race prep in the pits, and rich detail of the design and technology of Champ Cars.
“I can vividly recall taking many of the shots, and talking and joking with the drivers, many of which are no longer with us,” Isom said.
Isom got his start shooting races at a CRA sprint-car race at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in 1956, where he later captured on film the aftermath of a horrific 1962 Champ Car accident when a car catapulted over the front grandstand cyclone fence and plunged into the crowd, injuring 29 people. He also has terrific photos from1960s-70s race action at Phoenix International Raceway and the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento, as well as many more images from the Hanford races. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
GALLERY: To see 30 of John Isom's photos full frame and with detailed captions, view this gallery of images from the 1967-68 Hanford Champ Car races. Or skim the slideshow below for a sampling.