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Vintage Motorphoto: In The Beginning
by “Satch” Carlson

Vintage Motorphoto grew from the passionate avocations of Dale LaFollette, long-time manager of Portland International Raceway (now retired). “My interest in automobile racing started when I was in high school,” he says. “And at age nineteen I began to amass a library on the history of racing that serves me well today for photo research.”

In his early twenties, LaFollette volunteered with the local Jaycees to bring about what is now called Portland International Raceway, spending a decade caring for his family, helping friends tow sports cars to races up and down the west coast, and providing “color” announcing for racing events broadcast on radio. Oh, yes: Those days also involved autocrossing, rallying, drag racing, go-karts, and finally trials motorcycles to occupy his spare time.

He was appointed Manager of Portland International Raceway in 1973 and also began constructing sculptures of old race cars out of copper and brass––and trading many of them to artists such as Peter Helck and Bill Motta for original automotive paintings. Photography was also a deeply abiding interest at this time, and when he lost the workshop space necessary for metalwork, LaFollette turned to professional photography of race cars, selling Cibachrome photos through art galleries and automotive art galleries as well as supplying magazines with editorial photography. In 1986, in conjunction with Swede Plaut of Auto Art, he won a “DESI” award from DESIGN:USA magazine for a poster created to announce an automotive art show.

The collector-car “crash” of 1990-1991 closed many automotive art galleries, some so suddenly that representative work disappeared––including many of LaFollette’s art photographs––and he resolved to establish a gallery of his own. “I wanted a gallery that would specialize in photography,” he says, “and, even more revolutionary, I would purchase all the inventory, avoiding the hassles of consignment. Without realizing it, I started to lay the groundwork for Vintage Motorphoto.”

As his reputation grew, and his encyclopedic knowledge of racing history was recognized by a broad motorsports public, LaFollette was selected to the Nominating Committee for the Motorsports Hall of Fame in Novi, Michigan, a position that he holds today. In his constant search for motoring books, he occasionally noticed racing photos for sale. “One find led to another,” he says, “and soon I owned more photos than I could possible display on my walls. Finally, in 1995, my daydream was about to become a reality: The first Vintage Motorphoto catalog was two pages long and held about seventy photographs––my entire inventory!”

Meanwhile, specific inquiries can be made in regard to any currently-available materials by phone, fax, or the Internet.
Copyright © 2009 Dale LaFollette's Vintage Motorphoto