Tim Considine, Racer at Heart, Motorsports Author and Actor, Has Died

Photo credit: Rodrigo Vaz
Photo credit: Rodrigo Vaz
  • Actor and motorsports journalist Tim Considine died March 3 at 81.

  • While best-known for roles in My Three Sons and the early Disney TV show Spin and Marty, Considine was also a serious and prolific motorsports journalist.

  • His greatest works were about Americans who raced in F1 and Le Mans.

Tim Considine, whose early life as an actor overshadowed his later and greater work as a motorsports journalist and author, passed away March 3 at his home in Mar Vista, California, at age 81.

Considine is better known to the general public for his acting, including everything from My Three Sons to Spin and Marty and what he would jokingly call, “The Slappee” when George C. Scott gave him a few backhands in the movie Patton. But he was far better-known to motorsports enthusiasts for his intricate and well-researched books on racing. His two greatest works were American Grand Prix Racing and Twice Around the Clock: Yanks at Le Mans.


Considine spent years working on each one, eking out interviews, race reports, and local news clips and using his own recollections to create wonderfully detailed portrayals of great races and racers from years gone by. Yanks at Le Mans recounts every American who ever raced at Le Sarthe between 1923 and 1979. It was typical of the exhaustive work Considine showered on his subjects.

Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives - Getty Images
Photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives - Getty Images

Yanks is perhaps his greatest motorsports effort. He poured 28 years of his life into it, writing, researching, and interviewing the American drivers, team owners and crew members who raced at Le Mans over almost six decades. The result was a work full of riveting race reporting, wonderful anecdotes, and hundreds of fascinating stories you hadn’t heard before and wouldn’t find anywhere else. Considine spoke with the great racers himself, many of whom were friends: Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Bob Bondurant—even Roger Penske.

Penske told of the time he co-drove a Luigi-Chinetti-entered Ferrari with Pedro Rodriguez and was running third up until he missed a shift coming out of Mulsanne Corner and blew the engine. "(Joe) Bonnier was behind me in a (Porsche) Spyder, and with all the smoke, he went off into the trees and wrecked. I remember, he was mad as hell at me.”

Photo credit: Amazon
Photo credit: Amazon

Also from Yanks: In 1965, when Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt were paired in Luigi Chinetti's Ferrari 275 LM, the car was shod with gripless experimental Goodyear tires that had to be changed every hour. This wound up saving them from the transmission weakness of similar Ferraris that year and lead to them winning the race.

“It's all about the stories,” Considine said when he gave me an advance copy of the Le Mans work. “It's hard to choose, but I think my favorite pull quote of all was from a dentist, Dr. Edwin Abate, an amateur from San Jose who paid 25 large to drive one of Barbour's rent-a-ride Porsche 935s in 1979, the P.L. Newman/Whittington brothers year. Big rains in a 935 at Le Mans!

“Abate said, ‘I remember going down the Mulsanne, with the one wiper going, and lightning going off down at the end of the Mulsanne. I said to myself, ‘Dear Mother Mary, if I get killed here, that’s it ... I can’t help it, I really love it here, it’s magnificent!’ He looped it in practice, slid off near the end of the race, but finished eighth overall and second in the IMSA class won by Newman. The magic of Le Mans.”

Another favorite from that book, and typical of the stories Considine rooted out that no one else ever got, was this one: Briggs Cunningham needed a team of signal workers to man the Mulsanne corner signboards. Someone called the U.S. embassy in Paris and got patched through to the embassy transportation officer, a known racing enthusiast, who called his teenage American son.

“Round up four of your friends, you’re going to Le Mans!” They got there on Vespa scooters, found the Cunningham team, got the signboard and scootered out to the Mulsanne corner. The boys’ story is told in sleepless detail, including one of the youth's romance with a local French girl. Considine actually tracked down one of the boys—now men—somewhere in South America, got previously unpublished photos and gave the episode a whole page in Volume 1.

Yes, Volume 1. There are three volumes of that book alone; together they cost $350 when it came out four years ago.

Photo credit: Amazon
Photo credit: Amazon

His other great work, American Grand Prix Racing, was published in 1997. It is the definitive history of all the Americans in that mostly European form of motorsport.

While we may know about Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti, and some may even know about Bob Bondurant’s years in F1, there were actually 141 Americans who raced in what used to be called Grand Prix but is now known as Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsport. Considine covered them all. That book took him seven years of research, which overlapped with Le Mans.

His life’s work also included numerous contributions to Autoweek and other magazines over a long and prolific career.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Willet, son Chris, brother and fellow actor and writer John, sister Erin, and grandchildren Ethan and Tyler.

“He was absolutely the best man I knew,” said his son Chris.