Notes From The Archives – Don Dickey
February 22nd, 2018 by James Chartres
Words by: Gary Horstkorta
Perhaps Don Dickey’s first race as a Novice class driver was an indication of what was to follow in the succeeding years. The event was the opening race of the 1952 season at Stockton Airport on August 24th. Dickey arrived with a nicely prepared XK-120 Jaguar which was entered in the first race of the day a ten lapper for all classes. Dickey took an immediate lead which he never relinquished, cruising home to his first victory. This would be his only race of the year.
For 1953, Dickey made the switch to a Porsche 356 Coupe for this first race of the new season at Pebble Beach in April. The under 1500cc group was comprised of forty-five cars, mostly MG-TDs along with a few other marques including two other Porsches. In only his second race and in a new car, Dickey finished fourth.
One month later he tackled another new venue for him, Golden Gate Park. Having completed two races, he was no longer classified as a Novice and would now face stiffer competition including Ken Miles and Pete Lovely, He finished eleventh in class and thirteenth overall. Dickey raced at Stockton, passed up Moffett Field and finished the year at the two and a half hour race at Stead Air Force Base where he suffered a DNF.
1954 and 1955 saw Dickey race a somewhat limited schedule competing at Pebble Beach , Santa Clara (6th), March Air Force Base (13th), Buchanan Field (8th) and Sacramento (13th in a VW Special). However in the following three years, 1956-58, Dickey was very active with a full schedule of events. In 1956 Dickey upgraded to the new four-cam engine Porsche Carrera with great results. He raced at Pebble Beach (3rd in class), Santa Rosa (1st in class), Buchanan Field (4th in class), Arcata (1st in class), Sacramento (1st in class) and Palm Springs (1st in class). He finished in the top ten in every race with three thirds and one win. At the end of the season, he traded the Carrera Coupe for a new Carrera Speedster.
For Dickey, 1957 began not in the SF Region but at the 1000 Kilometers at the Nurburgring, Porsche had taken notice of his loyalty to their cars and also his sparkling results which brought about an invitation to race in Germany. Teamed with fellow American Hains Christian in a Porsche Carrera, they suffered a DNF on the 32nd lap. The balance of the year he raced at Cotati (6 hr, DNF), Sacramento (1st in class), Laguna Seca (8th in class) behind four Porsche RS, two Lotus 11 and John Barneson’s Porsche GT. One week later he finished the season at the Riverside National where once again he was up against the Porsche Rs and Lotus 11s, this time he coming home in 6th.
With two of his most successful seasons behind him, he embarked on his most ambitious race schedule in 1958 with events beginning in March and running into November. With races at Stockton, Palm Springs, Tracy, Laguna Seca, Riverside, Vaca Valley, Santa Barbara, Minden and Pomona, Dickey amassed an amazing series of results. While never finishing below sixth place, he won six races in class along with one second, one third, three fourths, one fifth and two sixths. With this string of successes, Dickey won the Production 1500cc Pacific Coast Championship a fitting end to a great season.
Over the next four years, Dickey raced a limited schedule of local events as he wound down his career. Interestingly, Dickey’s first Porsche Carrera which he sold at the conclusion of the 1956 season was sold to a private party who used the ex-race car as daily transportation for the next four years. Unfortunately the car was expensive to maintain so he put the Porsche in storage which lasted forty years. After retiring from his career, the owner decided to revive the car and used it for occasional outings and car shows.
In 2009, the owner was invited to show the car at the Pebble Beach Concours in the Postwar Presentation Class where it took a class award. Three years later, the owner decided to sell the car which passed through a couple of owners and now resides in a private collection in Switzerland.
Words by Gary Horstkorta
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