Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Scribblings of thoughts that popped into my head and felt I needed to share.

Remembering Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen as Lieutenant Frank Bullitt in the 1968 American crime action film – Bullitt. Image © respective owner.

34 years have passed since cancer took the life of Hollywood legend and icon, Steve McQueen. The quintessential cool, anti-hero, left us at the young age of 50 back in 1980, but his presence, style and energy continues to be felt now and for the foreseeable future.

The Great Pumpkin Waltz

It’s the Great Pumpkin Patch!

Starting with Baby Boomers in 1966, the Halloween classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz, has been a must-see tradition in or home since I can remember.

Growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s, television viewing wasn’t like it is today, what with satellite, cable TV and the internet being so prevalent in our homes. It was limited to 3 major networks and a handful of independent stations. I remember that the highlight of the fall and early winter seasons would be all the holiday TV specials that would air and none was more anticipated during the Halloween season than the Charles M. Schulz classic. I remember my brother, sister and I rushing home and finishing our homework, doing whatever chores needed to be done and finishing our dinner in record time, just to be ready – on the couch, as 8pm came around.  We would be so excited and thrilled i our pajamas as the first scenes came up on the screen of our families RCA TV – tuned to CBS channel 2.

For several years, through elementary school, junior high and even high school, nothing was more special during the month of October – just short of Halloween night itself, than to watch this classic animated TV special. As I got married and raised kids of my own, the VHS and later DVD copies of this timeless tale, helped continue the tradition with them during the month of Halloween. It’s uniqueness, a little less now as we have the option of watching it when and as many times as we wanted, unlike the days as boy when you had one day and time to watch it.

One of the best things about “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, is the wonderful music that was performed by the Vince Guaraldi Sextet. The hauntingly, beautiful “The Great Pumpkin Waltz,” that plays throughout the show. Other notable favorites in include “Breathless”, “Graveyard Theme”, “Trick Or Treat”, “The Red Baron” & “Fanfare”.  Guaraldi’s wonderful jazz compositions are a strong component of what made this and other Charlie Brown specials stand out among what people would consider them as child’s TV shows. It gave it more “art” appeal, which put it in a category above other TV animation of the time. The music has stood the test of time and can be listened to outside of watching the animated shows.

The soundtrack for “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was released that same year and has been long been out of print. Luckily for us, we can hear all of the great music through You Tube.



[source: You Tube]

Friends of Steve McQueen Car & Motorcycle Show – 2014

Steve McQueen's 1956 Jaguar XKSS - D-Type. (On display courtesy, The Peterson Museum) ©  2014 Victor Varela

Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS – D-Type. (On display courtesy, The Peterson Museum) © 2014 Victor Varela

The Friends of Steve McQueen held their “Thomas Crown Affair” themed car and motorcycle charity benefit on Saturday, June 7, 2014, at the Boys Republic in Chino Hills, California. The event is in it’s 7th year and is co-chaired by Chad McQueen and Ron Harris.  The event helps raise funds to support the Boys Republic and also pays tribute to the iconic actor and racing aficionado.

The day began with the typical “June Gloom”, which made the light very neutral, when I was hoping for some morning light to capture the cars being displayed.

1951 Vincent Black Shadow, owned by Mike Begley.  ©  2014 Victor Varela

1951 Vincent Black Shadow, owned by Mike Begley. © 2014 Victor Varela

The show didn’t disappoint as there was a great variety of cars and motorcycles being displayed.  As the theme was from McQueen’s movie, “The Thomas Crown Affair”, the original 1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow two-door sedan and the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider were present and displayed.

This particular car shw is special for me as I have been a fan of McQueen’s, since I first saw the movie. “Le Mans” when I stayed up late one evening to watch it on the late, late, late show.  McQueen was one of a very few actors who could stand on his own in the racing world. Many have tried and failed, but Steve was the real deal and has the respect and admiration from both the film and racing world.

Kerry Morse's 1997 Porsche GT1 (chassis 101) ©  2014 Victor Varela

Kerry Morse’s 1997 Porsche GT1 (chassis 101) © 2014 Victor Varela

This year’s show featured many notable motorcycle and automotive entries, including a 1951 Vincent Black Shadow; a 1966 BMW R69S; a 1969 Norton Commando; a 1970 Porsche 911-6 GT; a 1997 Porsche GT1 (chassis 101); a 1993 Bugatti EB110 GT; the original “Mooneyes”, the “00″ 24T Ford Roadster – owned and operated by the Alcala family since 1953; along with several Ford Mustang “Bullitt” editions.

I ran into Urban Outlaw and Porschephile, Magnus Walker, who brought his custom 1972 Porsche 911 72STR as well as long time show supporter and artist, Nicolas Hunziker, creator of the official show paintings/ posters, displayed his 1968 Porsche 911T Sports Purposes as well.

1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider used in “The Thomas Crown Affair". ©  2014 Victor Varela

1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4S NART Spider used in “The Thomas Crown Affair”. © 2014 Victor Varela

My favorite car from this event has to be McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS, D-Type.  In 1957, Jaguar offered the remaining unfinished D-Types as XKSS versions. Their extra road-going equipment – which including a second seat, trimmed interior, side windows, passenger-side door, full-width framed windscreen and windscreen wipers, folding bonnet and bumpers – made them eligible for production sports car races in America.   Jaguar had 25 of these cars in various stages of completion when a factory fire destroyed nine of them.

The 2014 Awards List.

All proceeds from the 2014 Friends of Steve McQueen Car and Motorcycle Show, benefit the Boys Republic, 1907 Boys Republic Drive, Chino Hills, California. For more information, visit Friends of Steve McQueen.

Bonnet from Ben Maccabee's 1971 Jaguar E-Type.  ©  2014 Victor Varela

Bonnet from Ben Maccabee’s 1971 Jaguar E-Type. © 2014 Victor Varela

View the gallery of the images from this event here: Victor Varela Photographer.

A series of my images and a report were published at Sports Car Digest, the leading international online journal for sports, racing and vintage car enthusiasts.  You can view it here:  The Friends of Steve McQueen Car & Motorcycle Show 2014.

Purchase Prints…
If you would like a print for your wall at home, office or race shop, I offer quality prints of the images you see here and others that were captured during this event. You can purchase them here: Photo Store

[source: Friends of Steve McQueen]

The unauthorized use and/or duplication of any editorial or photographic content from without express and written permission from Victor Varela, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Remembering the King of Cool

The King of Cool.  (image © 2013 Victor Varela)

Steve McQueen – The King of Cool. (image © 2010 Victor Varela)

It has been 33 years since the passing of Hollywood legend and icon Steve McQueen, a victim of cancer.  The cool, anti-hero, race car driver and film star, left us at the young age of 50, but his presence, style and energy continues to be felt now and for the foreseeable future.

Coronado Speed Festival & Sports Car Digest

Robert Ryan's 1968 McLaren M6B.

Robert Ryan’s 1968 McLaren M6B.  (image © 2013 Victor Varela)

Phew!  It’s been a bit of a struggle to get back into the swing of things, after eight days of fun, family, exploring, eating and a little bit of work on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  Once home and after updating client’s websites, addressing a mailbox full of e-mails and going through images in Lightroom, I gave myself some time to post something exciting here on my blog, that happened while I was away.  I had my images from the 2013 Coronado Speed Festival published on the leading international online journal for sports, racing and vintage car enthusiasts – Sports Car Digest!


Alex Curtis' 1955 Mercedes 300 SL during Sunday practice.

Alex Curtis’ 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.  (image © 2013 Victor Varela)

Before I left for the weekend in Coronado, I received a phone call from friend and f/8 Motorsports Photography Workshops instructor, Dennis Gray, who asked for some images of the event for the HMSA annual (Historic Motor Sports Association, is the sanctioning organization for the Coronado Speed Festival).  They were requesting an assortment of track and “pit candy’ shots of the weekend to be included with the other HMSA events.  I happily agreed and before we ended the call, he also asked if I could cover the event for him as he had another event to photograph and could not make it to San Diego.   It would be for Sports Car Digest and would consist of about 120 images and a report of the weekend’s activities.  To say that I was excited and honored about covering this event for Dennis, a photographer with his experience, credentials and reputation, is, well… an understatement.  It was such a great moment for me! To have my abilities as a motorsports photographer, validated by Dennis with this request, well I can tell you I had a 48 hour grin on my face.  I greatly appreciate that he had the confidence in my abilities to ask me to cover the event for him.

Thank you, Dennis!

It was a great event and weekend of vintage racing with the various race classes that participated, as well as an open paddock where the cars and drivers prepared for their track time. With all the vendors, food stands, car club corrals and several military vehicles and aircraft on display, fans their families and friends, had a lot to see, eat and experience throughout the warm and sunny Southern California race weekend.

The track was a bit difficult to use as a back drop for all the fantastic cars that participated during the weekend, but I found several good spots around the track to capture them.  The morning light offered some beautiful lighting as is evident in the image above of the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.  The mid-day sun wasn’t too bad for capturing images as seen by the image below of the beautiful, young lady and Fred Lacorte’s 1950 Oldsmobile “88” Convertible.



Fred Lacorte’s 1950 Oldsmobile “88” Convertible is a girl magnet.  (image © 2013 Victor Varela)

Once I returned from San Diego, I was on a tight deadline because of the trip to Oahu at the end of the week.  I post processed, organized, captioned and sent the images and report to Dennis, Jamie Doyle – founder & editor of Sports Car Digest and Bill Wagenblatt at Track Thoughts for the HMSA annual.

I was in contact with Jamie and Dennis during that weekend, about the possibility of having the images published on SCD (although Dennis had asked me to cover the event, it was up to both Dennis and Jamie to approve them for publishing) and when they would be on the site.

On October 2nd, I woke up to another beautiful morning in Oahu and checked the Sports Car Digest website and found the image of Robert Ryan’s 1968 McLaren M6B and the following copy…

Report and photos by Victor Varela The Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California, played host once again to the thundering symphony of vintage race cars at the … Read Full Story

Wow!  What a great feeling it was to see one of my images on the front page of Sports Car Digest!

I have to thank Jamie for the opportunity and the prestige of having my images and report on his fantastic website.  Hopefully, I can make future contributions to Sports Car Digest and maybe other online and printed publications in the very near future.

Fell free to click the image or link below to see my image gallery & report.

Read Full Story


SCD Coronado wp



I Miss You, Dad.

My heart is heavy and full of sorrow, as this 16th of June, marks another Father’s Day.

It is not going to be like the others that we spent with my Dad, for now with his passing, this day will never be the same for me. It will now be a day to honor and remember the man who gave me so much and asked for so little. The love, adoration and respect that my brother, sister and I gave to him, was all he ever really asked for on the many Father’s Days we spent with him.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you and I miss you so very much.

Tu Hijo,









(images © 2013 Varela Family Archive)
(music video via You Tube © respective owner)