|ATLAS F1 Volume 6, Issue 31||Email to Friend Printable Version|
|Rear View Mirror|
Backward glances at racing history
Where Upon Our Scribe, Sherman,
& 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
In this chapter:
On to the Ardennes by way of the Transvaal and Kent...
The first race in South Africa since April, the Rand Trophy saw 11 entries with one being the formula libre entry of Jo Eckhoff with a 2.5-litre FPF in the rear of his Cooper T51. Scuderia Alfa entered four cars for the event. Two Cooper T45's for Bruce Johnstone and Doug Serrurier, a Lotus 15 (yes, 15) for Eugene Bosman, and a Heron for Ernie Pieterse. Ecurie Wolman had a Lotus 18 - Borgward for Helmut Menzler. Syd van der Vyver was also entered in his Lotus 18 - Alfa Romeo. Also on the grid was the Lotus 16 of Tony Kotze, and the Netuar of Rauten Hartman powered by a Peugeot 203 engine.
Pieterse grabbed the pole from van der Vyver and Eckhoff, with Johnstone and Serrurier on the second row. At the start, Eckhoff had a great start and was pursued by the others from the first two rows. The rough old circuit pounded the cars and after a great start Pieterse retired without the steering being functional. Soon Eckhoff had an oil line separate as a result of the pounding and the suspension on the Serrurier Cooper soon cried enough as well. At the finish, it was van der Vyver winning after the suspension on the Johnstone Cooper failed on the last lap when flat-out (!). Johnstone still managed second with Menzler third and Dawie Gous fourth in his Porsche Spyder RS.
The Silver City Trophy race used the full "Grand Prix" circuit at Brands Hatch. The event saw the British works teams out in full force with the usual assortment of privateers assembling in the paddock. With the Porsche team not participating, Dan Gurney was in a Lotus 18 entered by Louise Bryden-Brown and Joakim Bonnier in a Lotus 18 of the British Racing Partnership's United Dominions Trust (UDT) - Laystall Racing Team. A tour of the paddock would reveal some unique machines: the Gilby of Keith Greene was now patched up after its shunt in Italy; and, the JBW - Maserati of Brian Naylor, which was the only non-Climax FPF powered machine in the entire paddock incidentally. Stirling Moss was not in his usual Rob Walker Lotus, but partnered with Bonnier and Henry Taylor in the BRP team; Trevor Taylor was again subbing for the injured Innes Ireland at Team Lotus with Jim Clark.
Two of the BRP Lotus 18's, those of Moss and Bonnier, had modifications to the suspension to make them similar to those of the 21's used by Team Lotus as well as bodywork that resembled that of the newer Lotus as well. These were a result of the collaboration between Alf Francis and Tony Robinson, the chief wrenches respectively for the Rob Walker and BRP teams.
Thursday morning, during the first session, the R. M. (Terry) Bertram-entered Cooper T53 of Shane Summers crashed at Paddock Bend after spinning on the wet track. He spun into the concrete wall at the pit tunnel entrance. He was killed almost instantly. The accident was cleared and practice resumed. It was very much like that then.
The grid saw 24 entries line up on the 4 x 3 grid with Moss on the pole followed by John Surtees, Jim Clark, and Graham Hill, with Tony Brooks, Roy Salvadori, and Bruce McLaren on the second row. At the start, Moss was dealing with the poor placement of the pole - the pole position was on an uphill section of the track while the outside positions were on fairly level ground for the sprint into the first corner. This allowed Surtees to make a demon start and take the lead with Clark and Moss nipping at his heels. Right behind them were Hill, Brabham, McLaren, Salvadori, and Brooks. This eight car crocodile stayed like this for a third of the race distance when first Brabham and then Hill dropped out. Clark then swooped past Surtees for the lead only to have Moss do the same - and after which Fearless John abruptly spun and banged up the bodywork and rearranged some of the other major working parts. McLaren got pushed off at Dingle Dell when Graham Eden didn't watch his mirrors and gave the chop to the not very amused New Zealander.
Clark was holding off Moss for the lead, but the Lotus now had a fuel leak which was putting fuel on the Scot and causing burns from the liquid, but spraying on Moss as well. Moss lined up Clark and after a few laps passed at Clearways and drove at a 10 second victory over Clark, Brooks, Salvadori, Gurney, and the privateers Tony Marsh and Tim Parnell.
The teams made the trek into the Ardennes and to the scary 14.10km circuit laid out between the villages of Francorchamps, Malmedy, and Stavelot, but which is usually referred to as the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Memories of the previous year's event where not were Stirling Moss and Mike Taylor seriously injured during practice, but Chris Bristow and Alan Stacey were killed during the race itself. Plus, it had claimed the life of the highly talented racer Archie Scott-Brown in a 1958 sports car race. It was a place to take lightly.
The entry was The Usual Suspects plus a few of the assorted privateers for flavor:
2, 4, 6 - SEFAC SpA Ferrari, Wolfgang von Trips, Phil Hill, & Richie Ginther (Ferrari Dino 156)
The pits at Spa saw some items that had the tongues of the Scribes wagging and the pencils scribbling. Among the tidbits were these juicy morsels: the vee-eight from Coventry Climax, the FWMV, was absent despite a strong rumor that it would be there at least for some running in. The McLaren T55 (F1/11/61) had been virtually rebuilt since it crashed at Brands Hatch. The Climax FPF in the Clark Lotus 21 was using S.U. carburetors instead the usual Webers. The half-shafts of the Team Lotus cars were now Hardy Spicer units with sliding splines and normal universal joints in place of the rubber ones that had been used. Also on the Lotus front, Innes Ireland was back in the saddle after being roughed up at Monte Carlo. Reg Parnell offered Surtees the option of using either the regular car or the Siracusa streamliner, the latter also with a Colotti gearbox. BRP did the opposite and brought two drivers and only one chassis, but it had the new bits seen at Brands Hatch as was being called an 18/21. Porsche were back to the F2 cars after the 787 didn't impress at Zandvoort. Rumors floating about seemed to indicate that the new eight-cylinder engine which they hoped to have ready by this race, was in deep trouble with serious cooling problems. Scuderia Centro Sud patron Mimo Dei was delighted with both his rapidly developing new Cooper chassis and his driver, Lorenzo Bandini. Alf Francis had fitted all the bits seen at Brands Hatch to the Walker Lotus and it too was now dubbed an 18/21. Jack Lewis now had a Mark II FPF for his Championship debut. Tony Marsh had several gathered 'round looking at the Cooper-ERSA gearbox that Mike Knight had modified for his Lotus and with a fifth speed to boot. All the factory Dinos were of the 120-degree variety as at Zandvoort and the one lent to the ENB was fitted with a 65-degree version and painted a livid hue of yellow.
There were 16 entrants invited - translation: guaranteed starting money - for the race and another three positions with starting money attached open the fastest of the non-works teams. There would be several Wooden Spoons for this part of the proceedings.
The Friday session was held in fine weather late in the afternoon, almost early evening. Like the session on Saturday it was scheduled to be a two hour romp through the countryside. While some mused aloud as to why there was not an earlier session on Friday or another session on Saturday, the officials of the R.A.C.B. seemed to be content with the arrangement. As soon as Race Director Rene Baken opened the circuit to the cars, they swarmed onto the track. The privateers were gunning for starting money and the works teams for clues as to how to find the best way to stick with the Ferraris once they got on the track.
Barely had the session got serious then there was another of those long silences that make those in the pits cringe. In this case it was the BRP pits that got the bad news. Cliff Allison, fighting not only for a starting position for the team on the grid, but teammate Henry Taylor for the nod to drive the car in the race, was running extremely well - and fast thanks to the new mods to the car - when he lost the Lotus at Blanchimont. The Lotus hit the bank, rolled - throwing the hapless Allison out of the cockpit and unto the road surface, where the wildly somersaulting car bounced off the scenery and struck him as he laid on the track, the car finally coming to rest on the bank opposite of where it originally impacted. Allison was indeed fortunate to survive the incident as help was on the scene almost immediately, but those on the scene had little serious medical equipment to help Allison. The same black Ford ambulance that was used for the similar grim tasks of the previous year was dispatched from the pits in a counter-clockwise fashion since the track was blocked by all the cars of the drivers who had stopped to assist or unable to continue due to the crash. It took the ambulance 15 minutes to reach the site and Allison was near death by the time he was picked up. In addition to the trauma resulting from ejected from the car and striking the track surface, both legs were very badly broken. It would be a miracle, but Allison somehow survived the accident. The accident also served notice as the complete uselessness of the roll-bars fitted since the regulars did not define parameters for the strength of the devices - unlike the U.S. Auto Club for its Championship Cars, only that one be fitted. Fortunately, the roll-bar in the Allison Lotus bent back over the engine cover otherwise it could have killed the unfortunate driver or trapped him in the car as it destroyed itself.
After a 45 minute halt, the cars resumed and were soon back zipping around the circuit. The gap between the Ferraris and the others was significant, being anywhere from five to 15 seconds. Graham Hill managed to sneak into the slipstream of one of the Dinos and was "fastest in class" as the wags put it. Until the very end of the session, it appeared that Gendebien would be the pole, but he nipped on the last lap by von Trips, who put in a flyer. Phil Hill was third fastest ahead of Graham Hill, with Gurney, Surtees, Brooks, and then Ginther. Ginther was having some difficulties with his machine, but not really pressing it either.
The Saturday afternoon session again saw excellent weather, it being warm and clear. The times so far were running 14 to 20 or more seconds off the best times of the previous year's pole time of 3min 50.0sec set by Brabham. No one seemed to be able to crack the four-minute barrier, the best time in the Friday session being exactly 14 seconds off Brabham's 1960 time. During this session it got serious. After the Friday session, the Dunlop tire technicians asked the Ferrari team to reduce the amount of negative camber they were using at the rear because they were alarmed at the high heat build-up and wear they discovered after looking at the tires. The change made the cars handle better with further benefit of better tire wear.
The Porsches had looked twitchy in the Friday session and it seemed worse in this session, Bonnier and Gurney sawing at the wheel as the cars darted about the track. The Lotus team not only looked slow they were slow. For a multitude of reasons the cars just didn't work well at Spa. Surtees proved why he was called Fearless John and cracked off a lap three seconds faster than his best of the previous day The BRM cars seemed by far the bast of the Climax-powered cars, with Graham Hill and Tony Brooks really flying. Indeed, the Bourne team seemed to be knocking on the door and were within reach it seemed of the Ferraris. However, with perhaps 20 minutes left in the session, out came the four Dinos and the paired off with von Trips and Phil Hill approaching the four minute mark. The sign went out to pit after the third lap, but Hill stayed out a lap and got the only sub-four minute lap of the session.
The organizers released these figures as a result of the weigh-in during scrutineering :
455kgs - Lotus 21 (Bianchi & Ireland)
So, when the shambles was over and the times tallied, Burgess, Marsh, and Seidel were handed their Wooden Spoons as were de Beaufort and Bandini, but the latter two elected to start anyway. ENB did a side deal which saw the Lotus 18's of Marsh and Seidel given a coat of yellow distemper and re-numbered for Mairesse and Bianchi respectively. It was hoped by several jaundiced observers that it would rain just to see what would happen to the hasty paint jobs of the ENB entries.
Here is how the 3 x 2 grid finally looked:
Race day was warm, but hazy and overcast. More than a few the hope that it would not rain. While a few admitted they hoped it would since at least they would be going slower when they crashed... There was lengthy parade lap where the drivers were driven around the circuit in apparently whatever seemed handy, the Belgian Gendebien being perched on a 300SL for instance while Gregory was crammed into a Skoda! Race Director Baken conducted a stern lecture during the drivers' meeting that followed the parade lap and then the cars were wheeled out on the gird. The engines were started at the "30 Seconds" board, but then the 30 seconds stretched out and nightmares of 1958 were just entering the thoughts of one and all, when the "Five Seconds" board appeared and then the flag dropped.
They swept down Eau Rouge and then up to du Haut, then to Burneville and Malmedy, down the Masta and through the kink and then to Stavelot and up to la Carriege, through Blanchimont to Seaman and then around la Source and back past the grandstands, the pits, and the finish line. And it was three red cars and a yellow one in front - Phil Hill, Gendebien, Ginther, and von Trips - with Surtees and Graham Hill right behind them. The next time around there was great cheering from the partisan Belgian crowd as Gendebien flashed by in first followed the other three Dinos. After swapping the lead among themselves for awhile for both their own entertainment and that of the crowd, the order settled down and the race saw Phil Hill and Taffy von Trips repeat the same margin at Zandvoort - about a second - only with the positions reversed. They were followed by Ginther and Gendebien giving Ferrari an extraordinary result of filling the first four places in the finishing order. They were followed by Surtees, Gurney, Bonnier, and Moss.
After no end of problems during practice, Clark stopped after the first lap to have his gearshift mechanism attended to: in a later stop a bolt was replaced but with little effect. McLaren pitted several times with the engine cutting out due to some sort of fuel feed or ignition problem and finally parked it when it stopped. As it turned out the cause was the poor machining done by the Weber folks which allowed the float to be fouled while running on the circuit, but seeming perfectly normal when in the pits - Alf Francis pointed the Cooper team in the right direction for the post-mortem. The pace caught up with the Climax engines and Ireland had his puke its oil at the Masta Kink - and he was fortunate he didn't collect anything solid when it let go, only just avoiding a spin. Brabham had his FPF explode right in front of the pits so he was spared a long walk back. Gregory pitted with the oil gauge showing no pressure, but it turned out that the gauge was defective and he returned to the fray. The fine performance of the BRM team unraveled when first Brooks and then Hill pitted when the heat build up melted the insulation on the spark plug wires causing no end of problems. Near the end of the race, the Ferraris trailed the Lewis Cooper for several laps as he put up a great effort to stay ahead of them before he yielded to the inevitable. The FPF of Moss never seemed to sound right the entire race - it seemed to sound flat - and so Moss had to slog around hoping for the best. There was a quick shower on the back portion of the course, but the road never got very wet and it was gone almost as quick as it appeared.
Championship Standing after three events:
|Don Capps||© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.|
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