Atlas F1   Rear View Mirror

Backward glances at racing history

Where Upon Our Scribe, Sherman,
and Mr. Peabody Once Again Crank
Up The Way-Back Machine for 1961...
by Don Capps, U.S.A.

Which is better known as...the Season of Low Expectations or Britain Sees Red

When we left the Ferrari Dino, it was poised for its debut. In early April of 1957, the new car - '0011' - was at the Modena Autodrome for testing with works test driver Martino Severi at the helm. It was a pretty little car and got the thumbs up from Severi after he thrashed around the autodrome. Later in April, both Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins drove the car and left the track with very favorable comments about the Dino.

The Gran Premio di Napoli was held on the 28th of April in 1957. The Posillipo circuit was a twisty, hilly street circuit located in the heights of Naples. There was always excitement when they ran a race there. The Dino 156 made its first foray into competition at this race. Luigi Musso, in the number '24' Dino, joined Hawthorn and Collins in the two full-blooded Grand Prix machines, Ferrari 801's, that Scuderia Ferrari entered in the event. [Actually, they were modified Lancia D.50 machines, chassis 0005 for Hawthorn and 0008 for Collins.] Hawthorn took the pole with Collins in the center of the front row, with the Dino of Musso next to Collins! The light weight and excellent handling of the Dino put Musso ahead of all the other cars on the grid except his teammates.

At the start, Horace Gould, running his privateer Maserati 250F (chassis 2514), blasted through a gap deliberately left by Collins and Hawthorn who had been warned by Gould that he was running an extra low first gear and fully intended to lead the filed off the grid - it was a way to up his value in the negotiations for starting money. During the first lap Gould let Collins and Hawthorn past, but kept Musso bottled up for several laps before he managed to slip by. Hawthorn stopped early due to a split fuel pipe - which was spraying fuel into the cockpit - and managed to finally pip Musso for second place on the very last lap, Musso taking third. Not a bad result for an F2 car in an "F1" (usually referred to instead as "GP") event.

Ferrari was firmly convinced it had a winner on its hands. The only small problem was that it was uncertain if F2 would catch on with the organizers on the Continent. It was looking as if the British were the only folks really supporting the new formula. With not much activity for the little Dino in the offering, but with lots of other items on the plate, '0011' was pushed off to the side temporarily.

As a part of its orgy of speed surrounding the 1957 Grand Prix de Reims, an F2 event was added to the 12-hour race and the Grand Prix event laid on for that weekend. The I Coupe Internationale de Vitesse was the first major F2 event held on the Continent. The Dino was rolled from out of its corner, prepared by the race mechanics under the watchful eyes of Chief Mechanic Parenti. There were 20 cars on the grid - the Dino being driven by Maurice Trintignant; 12 Coopers of various marques with the type 43 being the latest model with the works drivers Roy Salvadori and Jack Brabham being powered by the 4-cylinder Coventry Climax FPF with all the latest tweaks; five Lotus of the model 11 and 12 (or XI and XII) sort with American Herbert MacKay-Fraser in a type 11; a Porsche 550A/1500RS with Christian Goethals at the wheel; and, a lonely OSCA with Andre Simon doing the driving chores, teammate Umberto Maglioli being unable to flog the other OSCA up to speed and therefore relegated to spectator status.

At the start, it was evident that while the Dino had more ponies than the works Cooper teammates (the main and only opposition in reality), they worked as a team to utilize the slipstream and gang up on Trintignant. It was not looking very good for the Dino until after 24 of the 37 laps had been run. There had been a fierce three-way battle lap after lap until only Trintignant and Salvadori came blasting past without Brabham. He coasted into the pits to retire, his engine having cried "Enough!" and dropped a valve in protest. The battle continued with MacKay-Fraser latching on to the pair as they lapped him. He was using the red and green duo to tow him past all the other lapped cars. On the third lap after he hitched a tow, he lost it on the long sweeper going into Gueux and crashed. The young American was killed as the Lotus left the road and was destroyed. The week before he had been very impressive in his GP debut at the Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France at Rouen.

The battle continued between Salvadori and Trintignant until about dozen laps from the end, the Climax FPE began to make some noises usually associated with mechanical mayhem and Salvadori backed off and eased around to finish in 4th place, two laps back. When Salvadori came up missing from his mirrors, Trintignant also lifted slightly and stroked to an easy victory, lapping the entire field. The British teams noted the power of the Dino, but were convinced that the Cooper route was still the path to take.

After Reims, the Dino was once again rolled off to the side at the factory. However, it was soon the object of great attention as it was apparent that the day of the D.50/ 801 was finally at an end. The Dino looked like an approach to revitalizing the GP fortunes of the Scuderia. However, that - as they say - is Another Story...

The Dino did emerge as an F2 car on several other occasions. In August of 1958, the organizers of the German GP once again ran a concurrent race for the F2 contingent with the proper Grand Prix machines. Phil Hill was given '0011' to drive in the F2 class. Hill was the fastest of the F2 cars, making the third row of the grid, 10th best time overall. Hill was six seconds clear of the fastest F2 Cooper in the field. Hill had a spectacular start and was up to seventh overall very quickly and leaving the rest of the F2 field in his wake.

Unfortunately, an old Ferrari bugaboo reached out and kicked Hill: the brakes. While others had moved or were moving on to disc brakes, Ferrari still retained drum brakes. Early on in the race, Hill started to realize that the brakes simply weren't up to the task and adjusted accordingly. He continued to leave the F2 field behind, but was concerned about the brakes holding up through the race distance. On lap six, he spun on some oil dropped in the Adenau section.

In the course of the spin, he used the scenery on the edge of the track pretty much as cushions in a pinball game. The Dino was pretty beaten up by the contact, but it was still running. The impact damaged the shocks and cracked an oil pipe. The oil from the split pipe got on to the rear wheels and Hill still somehow managed to keep it on the track and between the hedges. The car was virtually impossible to drive, but Hill hauled it to the line for fifth in the F2 class and 9th place overall. The F2 class was won by New Zealander Bruce McLaren who literally welded together his car (chassis F2/12/58) from a pile of tubes in the weeks prior to the race. Unfortunately, this was also the race that saw Peter Collins crash to his death.

In April 1959, Dino '0011' was rolled out to compete in the Gran Premio di Siracusa on Sicily. After some modifications over the Winter, including new Fantuzzi bodywork, Jean Behra was all set to take on the competition, mainly Stirling Moss in the Borgward-powered Coopers entered by the British Racing Partnership. Moss pipped Behra for the pole, but Behra led off the line and had the lead at the end of the first lap. Then Behra and Moss commenced to swap the lead back-and-forth, back-and-forth, a real ding dong fight. On lap 30, Moss squeezed into the lead. As Behra was working on taking the lead back, he got tangled up in traffic and spun. The nose of the Dino hit a wall putting a good-sized dent in it. Behra got '0011' finally pointed in the correct direction and lit out after Moss. The Frenchman took the vee-6 up to over 10,000 as he was hammering after the Cooper-Borgward. The lap record was shattered and ended up at 1min 59.0sec (four seconds faster than the qualifying time Behra had set in the Dino). Despite his efforts, Behra could do no better than finish second to Moss.

At Monte Carlo that same year, on 10 May, the organizers opened up the grid to F2 cars and so '0011' made the trek to the principality to compete in the Grand Prix de Monaco after the dents and dings from the Syracuse race were pounded put of the bodywork. Cliff Allison was given the driving chores for the Dino. Three F2 cars managed to qualify for the race: Allison in the Dino; Bruce Halford in a Lotus 16; and, Wolfgang von Trips in a Porsche RSK/718. To make a long story short: they all crashed at the Ste. Devote corner as they were dicing on the second lap! The von Trips Porsche hit oil, went into a skid and was slammed into by the other two F2 entrants. The little Dino was once again rolled off into a corner.

In March 1960, '0011' returned to Sicily for that year's edition of the Gran Premio di Siracusa. Or rather a car bearing the same chassis number. The Dino had been extensively revised with the small tubes of the original 1957 car now replaced with a frame using larger tubes. Wolfgang von Trips was given the assignment to represent the Scuderia at the Gran Premio di Siracusa and performed his duties well. He qualified on the second row, but stayed with the leaders and survived as they dropped out. Innes Ireland in a Lotus 18, Jack Brabham in a Cooper 43, and Moss in a Rob Walker-entered Porsche 718. Near the end, it started to rain and von Trips slowly gained on Moss since the Porsche as now a beast even for someone like Moss. When the Porsche engine dropped a valve, von Trips took the lead and crossed the line for the win.

At Monte Carlo, chassis '0008' in the Dino series appeared. What immediately set it off from its ancestors was the location of the engine: it was in the rear! Richie Ginther managed to get it into the race and finished in sixth place despite a lengthy stop to investigate some loud noises from the transmission.

At the Grosser Preis der Solitude - or Solituderennen as it more commonly known - in July, the new '0011' reappeared as did '0008' which now had a F2 spec engine in the rear of the car. Phil Hill was in the conventional car and von Trips in the new car. The various British machines smoked '0011' and Hill wound up on the fifth row of the grid. However, von Trips put '0008' next to the pole sitter, a young newcomer in a Lotus 18 from Scotland driving for Team Lotus, Jim Clark...

The work done to '0008' since Monte Carlo was extensive. The engine was revision of the original Dino engine that new chief engineer Carlo Chiti had worked with Vittorio Jano to modify for the new formula to take effect the following year. Provision was now made for a starter, the transmission revised, the suspension modified, and the bodywork smartened up. It was a very pretty rear-engined racing car. And it looked not only fast, but there was no mistaking it for anything but a Ferrari.

In the wet during the first practice session, von Trips was a staggering 30 seconds faster than any of the others! In the dry conditions, Clark finally won the pole, but by only half a second. In the race, it was essentially a nine car brawl until after half distance when it became a fight between Hans Herrmann in his works Porsche 718 and von Trips. In the end, after trading fastest laps for several laps, von Trips had the poke to get the lead and hold it across the line.

The new rear-engined Dino 156 made one final appearance in 1960, in the Gran Premio d'Italia at Monza. The event was boycotted by the British teams when the organizers announced the use of the full 10km oval and road circuit for the race. When the British teams followed through on their threat, it was somewhat slim pickings for the field. Ferrari put von Trips in '0008' and assigned Richie Ginther in 2.5-litre Dino to tow him around. Needless to say, the Dino won the F2 class.

Next time: we finally make it to 1961!

Click here to read the first installment of this series

Don Capps© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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