1955 James Dean Signed Registration for his tragic final race.
Undoubtedly the most significant James Dean automobile document ever is this signed entry form for the race James was destined not to attend – the October 1-2 Salinas Road Races. Dean died en route to the Salinas races on September 30, 1955, in the legendary “Little Bastard” Porsche 550 Spyder that he was to race in the event. An intriguing observation of James Dean came from his good friend, actor Rod Steiger: “He gave me his prized copy of Death in the Afternoon… Every line that dealt with death was underlined in red pencil… Dean didn’t really give a s**t about movies. All he wanted to do was say the lines and get the hell into the car.” Quite an assessment of the two-time Oscar nominee. Dean’s acting being second only to his fascination with racing is quite a revelation, but to those who knew him, his dedication to the sport was without parallel. Having raced in three prior events in Palm Springs, Bakersfield, and in Santa Barbara, Dean entered the 1st Annual Salinas Airport Sports Car Races with high hopes. He placed 3rd at Palm Springs & Bakersfield, and moved to 4th at Santa Barbara before blowing a piston.
The young actor was known on the tracks by other drivers and not exactly taken seriously as throngs of fans followed him everywhere, hindering Dean’s reputation with fellow racers. He had a lot to prove. Competing at the Salinas track would have undoubtedly provided Jimmy with the racing credibility he deserved. Though he was contractually prohibited from racing while shooting the movie ‘Giant’, once filming wrapped in Texas, Dean prepared for the Salinas races, completing this very entry form at the last minute. The registration deadline was September 18, Jimmy completed his entry blank on September 19, and mailed it on September 21, paying a $5 late fee. Dean filled out the form meticulously, in his own hand, in black ballpoint, listing his friend and Porsche dealer John Van Neumann as his pit partner (Neumann had sold Dean the “Little Bastard”), signing his name twice, in addition to printing it twice in his own hand. The entry form required a Standard Medical Report, to which Dean wrote: “I have sent all of this to you.” He signed twice at the base of the form as both “Driver No. 1” and “Owner.” The two-sided 8.5″ x 11″ form displays four tack holes and minor areas of glue residue along top border, three mailing folds with a half-inch tear along top left crease, and moderate age-toning, but is otherwise in very fine condition. Dean’s signatures are large and clean and the documents have been tastefully framed.
This is a rare and expensive piece of Hollywood and Porsche history.