ST. PETERSBURG, FL.-
For the first time in its history, the MFA
will exhibit a classic racecar. The Tracta Athe only car of its type in the world will be installed in the glass Conservatory March 24 and will remain on view through April 7.
Tracta of France made only two cars in 1929 to race at Le Mans. The Tracta A to be exhibited placed first in its class and seventh overall. It is a front-wheel drive vehicle, with a four-speed transmission with overdrive, that was designed specifically for the challenging Le Mans racetrack.
The car could reach speeds up to 90 mph. Except for a new coat of paint and new tires, everything is original. Reflecting its expert craftsmanship, the car still drives beautifully. The car will actually be driven from the lender, the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum in Pinellas Park, to the MFA.
The Tracta A is a technological tour-de-force for its time and is a masterpiece of design, said Museum Director Kent Lydecker. We are grateful that the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum has allowed us to bring this car to our spectacular Conservatory on the downtown waterfront.
Tracta was active between 1926 and 1934 and was a pioneer in developing front-wheel drive. The cars, chiefly built in limited editions for racing, were designed by Jean-Albert Grégoire. They were known for both their success on the track and for their sophisticated look. A Tracta car was immediately recognized by racecar enthusiasts of its day and still is by automobile historians.
The Tampa Bay Automobile Museum has an impressive collection of vintage cars and vehicles that demonstrate creativity and engineering mastery. Vehicles are selected for their historic significance. Among them are innovative front-wheel drive and rear-engine cars of the 1920s and 1930s.
America has enjoyed a romance with the car since the first were produced. The Museum has numerous artworks featuring cars. John Sloans Cliff Dwellers Country (Cave Dwellers Country), 1925, is one of the most popular and humorous. It shows a large group of children (perhaps one family?) climbing into a small, open car in the New Mexico landscape. There is no way these children could possibly cram into the car.
Sloan, one of Americas most noteworthy twentieth-century artists, may have a more serious purpose in mind. The car is in the center of the composition, but the natural world dominates. The mountains, in particular, overshadow the car and the people and appear much more substantial and permanent.
For select community events, the MFA has placed contemporary cars in front of the building, but a vintage racecar has never before been put on view as an artwork in its own right. It will be clearly visible to passersby on both Beach and Bayshore Drives. The Tracta A is breaking new ground at the Museum, just as it did so many years ago at Le Mans.