Sun, Sand, and Speed: An Atmospheric Look at the 1955 Bahamas Speed Week

by | Apr 3, 2019 | Car Culture & Events

Photos: Tom Burnside

Sun, Sand, and Speed: An Atmospheric Look at the 1955 Bahamas Speed Week

by | Apr 3, 2019 | Car Culture & Events

Photos: Tom Burnside

Who doesn’t enjoy a work-sponsored conference conveniently organized near the beach? Even 1950s race car drivers, whose profession was perhaps the most glamorous of all time, looked forward to a tropical work trip. From 1954 to 1966, Bahamas Speed Week served that express purpose. Positioned at the end of the racing season, it attracted top drivers and cars for a week of spirited racing and partying.

Motorsports photographer Tom Burnside, whose collection is now available on the Revs Digital Library (, captured the energy and aura of the event in 1955, from the unloading of the cars on the docks of Nassau to Ferraris speeding past on the Windsor Field Road Course.

Enjoy the trip back in time, with not a cruise ship in view.


A Ferrari is unloaded in Nassau for the upcoming races.


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Pit crews assist in unloading a race car from the cargo ship.

An aerial view as a race car is pushed off a cargo vessel at the Port of Nassau.

One horsepower vs. 270 hp.

How times have changed. The #12 Jaguar D-Type is driven off the ship and into town.

No current-day owner of a Jaguar D-Type would allow their car be transported in such a precarious position, but back in 1955, it was just a tool for racing.

Even though the sun must be in his eyes, Alfonso de Portago still looks effortlessly cool behind the wheel of his Ferrari 750 Monza.

Alfonso de Portago in a different Ferrari, taking a drive around Nassau.

Alfonso de Portago poses for a picture at the wheel of his #13 Ferrari 750 Monza in the Port of Nassau.

Spectators watch as racers stage a parade through downtown Nassau.

Drivers gather while waiting for their cars’ pre-race tech inspection.

Sir Stirling Moss poses with three female members of the pit crew.

A choice assortment of Porsche 550s await the start of the races at the Windsor Field circuit in Nassau.

A Porsche 550 undergoes tech inspection.

An elevated view of the pits at Windsor Field as drivers and crews prepare for the upcoming races.


Cell phones have come a long way since 1955.

Posing for the camera in a Jaguar XK120.

Two drivers discuss strategy before their race while sitting on the #78 Cooper MK VII. The man in the hat is presumably Cooper driver H. Whitney.

It’s unclear how the bucket will help this flooded Abarth Spyder.

And they’re off…

Jack Rutherford driving the #58 Jaguar D type at full speed.

Duncan Black speeds by in his number 4 Ferrari 375 MM competing for the Nassau Trophy.

The #171 Ferrari 375 Plus driven by Howard Hively.

A panning shot of the #26 Porsche 550 driven by Johnny Mantz.

The #98 Ferrari 375 Plus driven by Jack McAfee racing down the straight at Windsor Field.

Tom Newcomer behind the wheel of the #99 Allard J2 Chrysler.

Aerial shot of a Porsche 550 as it cools down after a few hot laps.

Jim Kimberly roars the #5 Ferrari 121 LM around a corner at Oakes Field.

Alfonso de Portago (right) accepts a trophy at the conclusion of Bahamas Speed Week.

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