|ATLAS F1 Volume 6, Issue 37||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:
The next round in the Championship was that of the Germans; which, interestingly enough, followed on the heels of the GP der Solitude run two weeks previously. The Solitude race had ended with Innes Ireland of Team Lotus spoiling the party for the Porsche team in its own backyard. Porsche nevertheless felt that the result at the Nürburgring would be more to their liking. The previous GP von Deutschland was run using the 7.747km Sudschleife rather than the usual 22.810km Nordschleife. It also saw Porsche written into the record books as the victor of the GP der Deutschland, albeit that the event was an F2 event with Joakim Bonnier leading Wolfgang von Trips across the line, both in Porsche machines. In fact, the last GP von Deutschland to be held on the Nürburgring was in 1958, the 1959 edition being run in West Berlin on the AVUS.
The 1961 German race also carried with it the title - for whatever it was worth - of being the "Grand Prix d'Europe/ Grosser Preis von Europa." Keep in mind that at this point in time, it was merely an additional title tacked on to an existing race, not an event unto itself. Whatever the other merits of the event were, the sixth round of the Championship saw a huge entry funnel into the paddock. As the winner of the last four rounds and unfortunate not to win the other - although it must also be mentioned that things got evened out at Reims thanks to Giancarlo Baghetti - Ferrari was the center of attention with its only rival in that department being Porsche. While the smart wagers were clearly being laid on for a Ferrari win, many of the home crowd were very optimistic about the silver Porsche machines. However, more than a few side bets were being placed on Stirling Moss...
The Nürburgring is a huge course, with each lap some 22.810 kilometers of corners, curves, straights, dips, humps, hedges, a banked curve ("Karussell"), and lots and lots of opportunities to get it wrong. It had been the site of more than a few remarkable races, such as: Tazio Nuvolari asking to make it "Italia uber alles" after defeating the German teams in 1935 - as well a member of his entourage providing the record of the Italian national anthem which was used in the victory ceremony; the mind-boggling performance of Bernd Rosemeyer in the 1936 Eifelrennen where he rocketed around the track in weather so foggy visibility was only a few meters in places - only a year after his first start in a four-wheel racing car; and, the epic 1957 race where Juan Fangio caught and then passed an amazed Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins in what even Fangio called his best race.
The entry looked like this:
1, 2 - Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren: Cooper Car Company, Cooper 58 - Climax FWMV and Cooper 55 - Climax FPF
The Cooper team rolled out their new car - the 58 - which carried the new Climax vee-eight FWMV in the rear. The engine (ET 892/1205) was delivered to Surbiton on the 27th of July and the work immediately started to place it into the new chassis. The combination hit the track at Silverstone on August 1st - Tuesday - with both Brabham and McLaren running laps in the low 1min 38sec bracket. On Wednesday, the new machine was loaded into the transporter and headed for the Nürburgring paddock.
The intricate exhaust system of the FWMV had many muttering about what a plumbing nightmare it would probably be. However, the new Climax already had more horsepower than the FPF and that was what was important to most of the onlookers. Another point about the FWMV that captured the eye of many was the use of the new Lucas transistorized ignition system: the black box had finally reached Grand Prix racing. The Lucas technician was kept hopping.
On the news from paddock front, the Belgian "Wild" Willy Mairesse was in the fourth Ferrari factory entry, a 65-degree engine as per usual for the extra Dino. Porsche, the last hold-out for drum brakes on the GP grid, had discs all the way around on the Gurney 718/2 during practice but reverted to drums for the race. Masten Gregory had finally tired of the usual Lucky Casner nonsense and jumped to the British Racing Partnership run by Ken Gregory and "Pa" Moss and the team had other commitments that weekend which kept him of the grid. Ian Burgess - now production manager at Surbiton - stepped into the Cooper originally slated for Gregory. The Reg Parnell team brought their streamliner along once again in addition to their usual cars.
During the first practice session on Friday morning it was Bonnier heading the time sheets being the first under the 1958 Moss lap record of 9min 09.2sec with a 9min 06.6sec lap, with Phil Hill, Moss, and Brabham being next up. In the Ferrari pits, a new Dino engine was being placed in the von Trips car after it made some gurgling noises and ceased to function effectively. Seidel visited the trees when his suspension failed, but without any injury to the German driver albeit the Lotus was a big roughed up. The Friday afternoon session saw the nine minute mark breached for the first time: Phil Hill cranked out an 8min 55.2sec lap that succeeded in giving even the brave Californian a severe case of the Wide Eyes and Blinks. Bonnier and Gurney were next up and so giving the home crowd reason to be hopeful, while Clark and Brooks headed Brabham when the times were posted. Seidel got back out on the circuit in the spare Team Lotus car - the appropriate funds being exchanged for the privilege, naturally. That Clark was tentatively on the front row was not a bad showing for his first appearance at the Nürburgring.
The Saturday morning session - which started at 0700 (as in 7am) - saw Brabham in the new Cooper close in on the nine minute mark, but missing by only a blink: 9min 01.4sec. Moss was 0.3sec behind that followed by von Trips, Graham Hill getting in a ripper, and Phil Hill now cruising and still faster than most anybody else. Clark was unable to improve on his earlier times since the steering broke and was sent into the trees when it was virtually demolished, although the Scot walked back to the pits unharmed. This meant Seidel was back in his car which was being rebuilt by the harried team mechanics.
The grid, pole position on the right of the grid:
The fine weather of all three practice sessions vanished Sunday morning. The support race for GT cars was run in foul conditions, the rain making life exciting for the contestants. In the meanwhile, the already tired mechanics were fitting the Dunlop D12 rain tires on rims instead of the usual R5's or D9's. The Dunlop technicians looked distinctly second hand amidst all the fevered activity. As mid-day approached the skies turned merely leaden and allowed the scheduled performance of the U.S. Air Force Europe flight demonstration team, the Skyblazers, to take place. By the end of their performance, the sky was tuning blue and activity went from feverish to frantic in the pits. What tires to use? Ferrari was advised by Dunlop to use the dry R5 tires, the Parnell cars were on D9's, BRM had Hill on D12's and Brooks D9's, Team Lotus sallied forth on D12's, Brabham with D12's on the front and D9ís on the rear, and Moss on D12's. The genial Dutchman de Beaufort used a set of Continental tires since there weren't enough D12's to go around.
Juan Fangio lowered - versus the usual raising - the flag and the race was on with Brabham first of the line with Moss, Bonnier, Gurney, and Graham Hill in pursuit. The odd combination of tires caught Brabham out as the fronts bit and the rears didn't and off the road resulting in sudden and massive oversteer and went a very Black Jack into the hedges. The car was barely dinged, but refused to restart and when the battery gasped it last anemic wheeze this left Brabham a relatively short hike back to the pits. In the meanwhile, Phil Hill caught and passed Moss just after the Flugplatz, but just after the Karussell Moss slipped by the American to retake the lead. In third was the amazing Herrmann, all the way up from the third row. Bonnier pitted with a rear wheel bent and de Beaufort popped in to replace the Continentals with Dunlops. Graham Hill found himself in the wrong place going into the South curve and became a spectator when Herrmann refused to blink. He banged into the side of Gurney and the BRM exited the race over the banking.
Moss was now motoring away from the remaining Hill with von Trips now in third. And the astonishing Clark was now in fourth and driving like a German in his own neighborhood. Ireland had his Lotus decide to sacrifice itself to the Nordic gods and so broke the pipe leading to the fuel pressure gauge and became a funeral pyre, its smoke being clearly seen from the paddock. Ireland the Scot was fortunate to leap from the car just before the tanks exploded, the car - 933 - taking a number of pines with it to the gods.
Moss held his lead over the pursuing Ferrari drivers who commenced to push each other as the track dried, von Trips getting by Hill on lap eight and turning in a new lap record of 9min 01.6sec in doing so. Within two laps, von Trips and Hill had reduced the margin to barely 10 seconds with the two swapping places at the South curve and then again at the North curve on the next lap, Hill setting the fastest lap of 8min 57.8sec in the process. As lap 12 started, Moss was less than seven seconds clear of the hard charging Ferrari drivers. But, Moss being Moss, he increased his lead on the next two circuits, but they were still within striking distance and the crowd of a quarter of a million were yelling and screaming encouragement - some for fellow countryman von Trips and others for Moss and yet another group for the popular Hill.
However, rain started to fall on parts of the circuit with three laps left and then over the entire circuit by the last two laps. This gave Moss the edge he needed, but he was also nursing his by now badly worn D12 rain tires. As only Moss could, he extended his lead as the last lap started to 15 seconds over Hill and von Trips. As the two jockeyed for position and setting each other up for the final straight, they both entered the Antonius bridge area off the line they had previously used and found a puddle that nearly ruined the race for both of them. They both swerved and skittered about with von Trips recovering just a blink faster than Hill to salvage second place to Moss the Maestro. Unnoticed in all this was that Clark had been gaining on the Ferrari duo once the rain started. Another magical performance by Moss at the expense of Ferrari. However, with Monza next, even Moss was looking for as many four leaf clovers as he could find...
The Championship standingss:
And now, for the other events...
The day after the German GP, there was a mad dash as many of the drivers rushed to Brands Hatch for the Inter-Continental race. This was to be the next to last scheduled race for the formula, the next round being the successor to the highly successful and popular Formula Libre races run by dynamic Cameron Argetsinger at Watkins Glen, New York and on the calendar for early October. As usual Moss was on the pole. The early laps saw Moss and Surtees battle for the lead with Brabham and Graham Hill right in the middle of it as well. Surtees got onto oil aid down by Gino Munaron and crashed coming out of Clearways. Then Moss had the gearbox fail, letting Brabham into the lead which he held to the end. Clark managed to capture second after the Hill BRM stopped for fuel, both being a lap down to Brabham.
The Rand Winter Trophy at Grand Central was the swansong for the circuit as it was now to be replaced by the new Kyalami circuit. It was run in two heats and the winner being determined from the aggregate time. In the first heat, leader Bruce Johnstone had a battery cable come loose on his Scuderia Alfa Cooper 45 - Alfa Romeo which necessitated a stop out on the circuit. The resulting pushstart ended his race although he would still enter the second heat. Syd van der Vyer in his Lotus 18 - Alfa Romeo battled Doug Serrurier in the Scuderia Alfa LDS - Alfa Romeo down to the wire and pipped Serrurier by a mere 0.1sec at the line with Ernie Pieterse third in another Scuderia Alfa entered car, the Heron - Alfa Romeo. In the second heat, Johnstone took the lead on the first lap and won the heat easily. The final results were van der Vyer in first followed by Pieterse, Serrurier, and libre winner Neville Austin in a Jaguar D Type.
There was a brief diversion into Scandinavia for races in Sweden and Denmark. At the Swedish race, only 14drivers were invited to compete on the very tight course, with one a non-starter (Yngve Roqvist, brother of rally driver Ewy Roqvist) and two others not showing up. Moss and several others were also competing in the Tourist Trophy that same weekend and so it was bit hectic, Moss ending up stating the United Dominion Trust/ British Racing Partnership Lotus at the back of the grid, his partner on this occasion being Carl Hammarlund. The 30 laps fell short of 100kms by about 10kms, but Moss won from Bonnier and Surtees. The most notable aspect of this event was the unfortunate accident to Geoff Duke which resulted in some very serious injuries and effectively put paid to the great two-wheelers four-wheeled career in GP cars.
A week later in Denmark, the tiny Roskildering - just a tad over a kilometer, but with four hairpins! - saw pretty much the same crew come into town. There was one heat of 20 laps on Saturday and two heats of 30 laps on Sunday, the winner being decided on the aggregate time. In the drizzle on Saturday, it was Moss squeaking one out against Brabham with Ireland third. After the Saturday night partying, the first of the Sunday heats saw Ireland and Brabham going at it for second behind Moss - they both had a big spin when they touched when a passing move went awry - which ended when the gearbox in the Brabham Cooper broke. So it was Moss, Ireland, Salvadori, and Surtees. In the third heat, Moss ran way from the field with only Ireland staying close with Salvadori and Clark following. Overall it was Moss first with Ireland second, Salvadori third, and in fourth Henry Taylor, returning to the fray after his Aintree accident. A few notes are in order concerning this event: de Beaufort didn't have an entry but showed up anyway and was happily accepted; and, cars still running completed the race distance much as the practice at Indianapolis, which saw lapped cars still running while Moss was in victory circle.
Then there was the race on the short airfield circuit, only a week prior to the GP at Monza. Scuderia Ferrari claimed the date was too close to the GP and didn't enter the event, which allowed only 14 starters from the 25 who actually showed up to race. While most of The Stars managed to qualify, Ireland won the Wooden Spoon when his Lotus 21 just missed making the grid: although quicker (60.2sec) than Roberto Bussinello in the de Tomaso - Alfa Romeo (60.4sec) and Giorgio Scarlatti in a Lotus 18 - Maserati (61.6sec), Ireland was unfortunate enough to have the vowel in the wrong place in his surname.
Juan Fangio acted as the starter and flagged the field off with Gurney and Bonnier getting the drop on everyone. While Moss, Graham Hill, Salvadori, and Surtees got past Bonnier when the Swede had a momentary problem with the gears, Gurney was flying. But, Moss was flying quicker and overhauled him on the 12th lap to take the lead. Except for Bonnier catching and passing Gurney not too far past the half way point, the only other moment was when Hill lost a comfortable fourth place when he ran over a part of the Maserati engine that detonated in the rear of the Centro Sud Cooper driven by Lorenzo Bandini and blew a tire, which allowed Clark into fourth at the finish.
|Don Capps||© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.|
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