Along came a Spyder.
Picked up a rider.
Took him down the road to eternity.
He came of age during the Mikan era and played a little roundball himself. But fast cars were what James Dean liked best.
The immensely popular young actor lost his life in a car crash on September 30, 1955 when he drove off a California highway and slammed into a tree. Dean was on his way to participate in the Salinas Road Races while driving the Porsche 550 Spyder he was going to drive in the races.
The hand-written registration form for the race that Dean would never attend will be auctioned by Heritage Auction Galleries on April 5.
"This is truly the most compelling James Dean document ever to come to auction, priceless in its significance to Dean and his following worldwide," said Doug Norwine, Director of Music and Entertainment Auctions for Heritage.
The form, inscribed in black ballpoint pen, bears Dean’s printed name twice. The entry form required a Standard Medical Report, to which Dean wrote: "I have sent all of this to you," as well as preferred racing numbers. Dean chose numbers 3, 23, and 303, and signed twice at the base of the form as both "Driver No. 1" and "Owner."
Having raced in three prior events in Palm Springs, Bakersfield, and Santa Barbara, Dean entered the Salinas races with high hopes — he placed third at Palm Springs and Bakersfield, and moved to fourth at Santa Barbara before blowing a piston. The young actor was known on the tracks by other drivers and not always taken seriously – throngs of fans followed him everywhere, hindering Dean’s reputation with fellow racers.
"He had a lot to prove," Norwine said. "Dean autographed items are exceptionally scarce – not surprising, considering the brevity of his career – and extremely desirable among collectors."
The document is available for bidding in Heritage’s upcoming auction, as well as George "King of the Kustomizers" Barris’ recreation of "Little Bastard" (the Porsche 550 Spyder in which Dean lost his life), and Dean’s personally owned screen-worn watch from East of Eden.
(OK, we know it’s not your traditional form of sports memorabilia, but it does offer a nice excuse to post one of our favorite Eagles tunes)