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|The Meaning of the Red Candle|
|Written by Administrator|
From Bobby Fisher, July 2011:
Friends - I just had to share this story. I just read “The Meaning of the Red Candle.” I started racing with NoCal SCCA in 1970 and won the Regional B-Sedan championship in 1970-71. In 1972, with our victory in The 12 Hours of Sebring, I turned pro in 2-litre prototypes and we pretty much dominated the World Manufacturers’ Series at Daytona, Watkins Glen, Le Mans, and Sebring after that and for several years. We also were dominant up and down the West Coast. I loved the corner workers – who made it possible for me to succeed – and I think they enjoyed and liked me.
When they came together after one of my more “colorful” victories and presented me with the “red candle,” it meant as much to me, and perhaps more, than it meant to them. When I found myself in a deal with Porsche for the first street 930 in the U.S. (I had been racing against the 930 turbos in the World Manufacturers’ Championship as they were in development) and took delivery in Port of Oakland in December 1975, I put a red candle on the back window before driving the car. Insurance. I still own that 930, am on the sixth engine by Andial, and the red candle remains on my rear window after 215,000 miles! The corner workers are in my heart, the red candle has been a daily reminder of my good fortune, and I am grateful for having had the experience of driving for the pride of NoCal SCCA. Thank you. As ever,Bobby Fisher
The following is the story of San Francisco's legendary red candle. A friend of Bob Leip gave me a printed copy of the story many years ago. For years the story was told at the end of day worker gatherings or at start/finish. You can choose to believe it or not, but those that believed really felt there was some mystical power about it. The decals that were given out had all the flames hand painted and they were never sold, they were given away.
Bob Liep was one of the old turn workers back in the day, when we had so many corner workers that we had to have worked “X” number of regional events in order to “qualify” to attend a Pro event because of limited passes at those events. In those days, many of us used to travel extensively out of region to work races in exotic places such as Road Atlanta, Blackhawk Farms, and Holtville.
Bob was a well-known and fondly remembered part of those days, from the white magic of the red candle and the stickers (the very first ones were round and 2” in diameter) to the tales of legendary parties at Road Atlanta. I had not seen or heard from him since sometime in the 70’s and I’m saddened to know he has been gone so long.
At the peak of the candle's popularity it even made the mainstream enthusiast magazines. Road & Track used to do road tests of significant race cars. At the end of those tests they published a specification page with a schematic drawing of the test car at the top. On at least one occasion, and I think more, the candle sticker could be clearly seen, drawn in, in the schematic, on the left front fender, just as it was on the real subject vehicle.
by Bruce Brunner, SFR Volunteer
It all started innocently enough just prior to the 1972 ARRC. Bob Leip, a turn marshal from the San Francisco Region was preparing for the trek across the country to some obscure race track in Flowery Branch, Georgia. His wife asked if he'd like to take something with him to ensure that he would enjoy himself. Since his wife claimed to be a witch, and Bob was sure she had supernatural powers, he said "Sure, I'd love to". He then received a candle. It was red. Bob was told the candle works in this manner:
The next few days of travel were almost unbelievable. Bob would light the candle and the next day would be perfect. When Bob wouldn't light the candle the next day all kinds of little things would go wrong like the transmission in the motor home, little things like that. By the time he got to Atlanta, Bob was freaked out. The first night a group of San Francisco region workers were sitting in the motel room when Bob started to light the candle. The laughter was disheartening. So Bob told the story up until that point. Then everybody really started laughing. The next night Bob decided not to light the candle. The following day was a deluge. That night while watching TV the weatherman said, "If you think you've seen rain wait until tomorrow". Bob said BS and lit the candle. The next day there wasn't a cloud in the Georgia sky. For the next week it was the same thing all of the time. When Bob lit the candle everything was just fine the next day. When he didn't light the candle the next day was a disaster.
By this time the candle was beginning to receive notoriety. Towards the middle of the year Bob received a jacket from all the turn workers. It had a large candle embroidered on the back with the legend SCCA CHAPLAIN and the name Father Robert embroidered on the front. After an incredible Can-Am in October at Laguna Seca, Autoweek said, "There must have been a sorcerer on the Monterey Peninsula this past weekend". The workers knew who it was.
During the winter of 1973-1974 a number of workers and drivers began to get together for some interchange. Someone suggested a decal be made of a candle and thus the official good luck symbol of the San Francisco region's turn workers was created. At first it caught on relatively slow. Then the stories began. "I swear I was going backwards into the guardrail at turn 4, counting how much it would cost to repair the damned thing, and then it stopped. I didn't hit anything. It must have been the candle". "Look at my car. It's a total disaster, except where the candle is. I'm going to repaint the car as a giant candle." "Since I put the candle on, I haven't DNF'd a single race". One Formula V driver had been racing for seven years. He'd never finished better than third. But he always finished third. Third in all the races; third in regional points; third in national points; third in the ARRC. He put a candle on the car and won his next race. The first win of his career.
Obviously lots of these things were mostly coincidence, or were they? Would you take the chance? Just one word of caution. The candle goes on the left front fender or as close to that as possible. Once on the car it'll do it's job if you help a little. But whatever you do, don't get upside down and put it out. Then your in a world of trouble.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 July 2011 )|