|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
In this chapter: April Showers on the Road to Monte Carlo
The 3rd of April saw a total of three Formula One races and an Intercontinental Formula event, four events on the same day. The reason for such a wealth of F1 events was that there was simply not much choice for race organizers when it came to open-wheeled racing: F1 or Formula Junior. There was no Formula 2, and the Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) dropped 500cc Formula 3 along with F2. (Note: F3 was actually dead by 1957 everywhere but the UK, where it eventually slowed to a halt by the 1960 season.)
The first event we will cover was the Coronation "100" at Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. The usual fascinating group of cars showed up to do battle over the Roy Hesketh circuit. The race saw Bruce Johnstone win his second race of the season, in the Scuderia Alfa Cooper 45 (F2/22/57) - Alfa Romeo. He was trailed by Jo Eckhoff in a Cooper-Climax FPF and by Doug Serrurier in another Scuderia Alfa-Copper/Alfa Romeo. This was the last race in the South Africa series until July. Johnstone was now enjoying a healthy lead over Syd van der Vyer: 24 points to 12 points.
There were two other F1 races this day, one at Pau - the Grand Prix de Pau - and the Glover Trophy at Goodwood. I will start with the race at Pau. The twisty 2.76km circuit ran through the streets and the Parc Beaumont of the pleasant French city in much the same form as it had since 1933. The race rated the presence of the reigning World Champion Jack Brabham in the works Cooper 53-Climax FPF. Team Lotus splint its efforts and went with Jim Clark in a Lotus 21-Climax FPF to do battle.
Always rapid on the Pau circuit, Maurice Trintignant turned up in a Cooper 45-Climax FPF (chassis F2/9/58) entered by Scuderia Serenissima. These three filled the front row in that order. With Porsche not entered for either race, Joakim Bonnier was moonlighting with Scuderia Colonia driving a Lotus 18-Climax FPF along side entrant Wolfgang Seidel. Although Brabham pipped Clark for the pole, when the flag dropped it was all Clark from then on.
Clark won the race leading all 100 laps and also set the fastest lap for his first F1 victory. Bonnier was second with Lorenzo Bandini trailing in third, his Scuderia Centro Sud Cooper 51-Maserati two laps back. Trintignant provided the excitement. His clutch failed and he was forced to start from the rear of the pack as they left him in their dust. From dead last, he roared back to fifth and was gaining on those ahead of him when the ignition started acting up and he then retired with a dead engine after 71 laps.
Pau also saw the debut of the Emeryson-Maserati machines of Equipe Nationale Belge. Built by Paul Emery, the cars were ordered essentially as the result of the performance of John Turner at the F2 event at Montlhery the previous October.
Turner was running with the leaders when he spun off. He got back on the track and managed to make a rousing comeback drive to catch the leaders. This duly impressed one and all, especially with the car starting on the front row. Unfortunately, the comeback effort was greatly expedited by Turner not using the chicane… The performance impressed Jacques Swaters of the Equipe and the team ordered several chassis for the new formula. At Pau - and subsequent events - they were bog slow, even in the hands of a driver as talented and skilled as Olivier Gendebien. The Maserati 150S only managed to eeek out perhaps 140bhp at best. Later use of the Climax FPF did little to improve things.
At Goodwood, Stirling Moss, in the Rob Walker Lotus 18-Climax FPF was on the pole a second clear of John Surtees in his Reg Parnell/Yeoman Credit Cooper 53-Climax FPF followed by teammate Roy Salvadori. Next up and filling out the front row of the grid was Graham Hill in the bulky BRM P57-Climax FPF. Team Lotus representative Innes Ireland found himself on the second row next to the BRM of the wonderful Tony Brooks and the Lotus 18-Climax FPF of Henry Taylor entered by the UDT-Laystall/British Racing Partnership team. On the last row was the very pretty Gilby of Keith Greene.
The firm of Gilby Engineering was a small shop run by Sid Greene, former WW2 RAF fighter pilot. Greene was known as the "Wingless Wonder" for good reason: he had lost an arm in a boyhood accident and not only becoming an accomplished pilot, but racing cars as well from time to time. When his son Keith showed signs of promise as a driver, Greene hired Len Terry to pen a car for the younger Greene to race in the new formula.
As with most Terry designs it was a striking machine to look at, especially low since the engine was canted to lower the cars profile. In early testing, the machine seemed very promising. Bruce McLaren tried it and was soon down to within 0.1 second of the F2 lap record at Goodwood. Needless to say, that caught the attention of many in the trade and much was expected. The constraints of a tight budget were to prove too much, alas, and for many and sundry reasons the Gilby never lived up to its initial promise, although the potential was clearly there.
In the Glover Trophy, Surtees gave as Moss all he could handle and then some. Until the half distance mark it was strictly a two car race: Surtees leading and Moss all over him. After a Serious Attempt to pass Surtees failed, the Moss Lotus had its FPF go off-song and Moss faded to eventually wind up in fourth place behind Salvadori in third. Surtees was the clear winner in a wonder drive, winning his first F1 race scarcely a year after his first drive in a four-wheeled racing machine! Although Surtees won the F1 class at Snetterton, it was essentially a "class" win in the mixed F1/Inter-Continental race. This was the real McCoy. Second place Hill turned inn a quiet and under-appreciated race with a machine that was not exactly the best looking product that BRM ever produced.
Earlier in the day, the Inter-Continental Formula race, the Lavant Cup, was run. It had a total of nine entries and all appeared, raced, and finished (sorta). Bruce McLaren put his works Cooper-Climax on the pole, with Stirling Moss in his Rob Walker Cooper-Climax, Graham Hill and Tony Brooks filling out the front of the grid in their BRM P48's. Dan Gurney was next up , heading the second row, driving a Lotus 18-Climax entered by Mrs. Louise Bryden Brown.
On the last row was, of all things, a Scarab driven by Chuck Daigh! Amazing, Gurney took the lead with an incredible start from the second row. Moss had the Colotti gearbox jump out of gear as the flag fell and was at the back of the pack, but was he soon ripping through the pack. McLaren had managed to pass Gurney, but Moss went past and that was that. The Scarab was another that got an excellent start, but various problems caused it to fade back through the pack to eventually finish next to last. Moss won from McLaren with Hill third. Gurney tried a move on McLaren at the very end, but discovered the limits of adhesion the Dunlops provided were closer than he thought and crashed without any real harm to car or driver.
The Grand Prix de Bruxelles was run on the Heysel circuit, which ran through the site of the 1958 World's Fair. The event was arranged to be run in three heats, each heat being 22 laps. As was the practice in those days, entries were invited from some and offered to others; this is a polite way of saying there were teams which were guaranteed a place on the grid while other teams either had to meet a stipulation of some sort (such as no starting money) or get in only if an invited team dropped out.
This arrangement had the effect of sending Jack Lewis in the H&L Motors Cooper 53-Climax FPF home - despite turning a lap during practice a second faster than Stirling Moss - while John Campbell-Jones driving his Cooper 51-Climax FPF got into the race when the Scuderia Colonia Lotus 18-Climax of Maurice scratched when the crown wheel and pinion packed up. Why? Seems Campbell-Jones was first, alphabetically, on the list of reserves. Ah, the wiles of race organizers…
The Porsche team showed up and captured the pole, Joakim Bonnier, and the outside front row position - Dan Gurney, sandwiching Bruce McLaren in the Tommy Atkins Cooper 53-Climax between their Typ 718/2 Porsches. The ENB Emeryson-Maserati machines showed up to fill out the back of the grid, three cars for Olivier Gendebien, Lucien Bianchi, and Willy Mairesse. The race results were to be determined by a points system, not by aggregate time. In the previous year's event, this lead to Stirling Moss having a better aggregate time, but losing to Jack Brabham on points. Things such as this made life so much more interesting Back Then.
In the first heat, it was Bonnier all the way. The rear deck at the start and the front of the Porsche in their mirrors was about all the competition saw of Bonnier. He finished over a minute clear of second place Roy Salvadori in his Cooper-Climax. Moss had engine problems and was in and out of the pits, finishing many laps behind the winner. Although it escaped everyone else, nearly half way through the heat the organizers announced that Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, and Willy Mairesse were all being assessed a one minute penalty for jumping the start! This suddenly put John Surtees and then Roy Salvadori into second place - the latter when his teammate had the gearshift lever break.
In the second heat, Moss was still plagued by engine problems, Surtees now had a properly operating gearshift, and Bonnier motored off smartly at the start. However, Surtees was now flying and soon caught Bonnier and started to challenge for the lead. Unfortunately, in an effort to pass the Porsche, he touched a rear wheel when Bonnier bobbled, they both spun off and banged into each other bending wheels and suspension on both cars, putting them out of the race. Then Salvadori had the engine start knocking and pitted. This left Brabham and McLaren circulating uncontested in first and second, which is how they finished. Tony Marsh in his Lotus 18-Climax was well over a minute and a half behind the two when they crossed the finish line.
In the third heat, Moss finally had a car with the engine running properly once the fuel pump was replaced, and scorched from the rear of the grid to only lose out at the finish by a mere 0.1 second to Brabham when the flag fell. McLaren dropped back and settled for third when the he had to contend with the gearbox jumping out of gear. Overall, it was Brabham and McLaren first and second. In third was the fine effort of Tony Marsh, with the Emeryson of Lucien Bianchi a surprising fourth. Fifth was a tired Cliff Allison in a UDT-Laystall/BRP-entered Lotus 18-Climax: Allison had had to contend with a stiff gear lever which left him with painfully blistered hands.
On 16 April, there was a minor event at the Aspern circuit outside Vienna. Suffice it to say it was Stirling Moss in a Rob Walker-entered Lotus 18-Climax by a significant margin, but not so much as to humiliate the competition or disappoint the crowd. Showmanship and sportsmanship were not necessarily viewed as incompatible then. Wolfgang Seidel was second in his usual Scuderia Colonia Lotus 18-Climax and Ernesto Prinoth was third in a Lotus 18-Climax (chassis 913) entered by Scuderia Dolomiti.
The next race up was the British Automobile Racing Club's (B.A.R.C.) "200" at Aintree. Per usual, Stirling Moss was give the race number "7. " Not per usual, Moss was on the outside of the ninth row of the grid! Rob Walker had taken temporary use of the Cooper 53-Climax (chassis F1/6/61) usually driven by Jack Lewis for H&L Motors. Alas for Moss, since the engine simply didn't have any power during practice and then a bearing failed which did little good to the bottom end of the engine after the first lap. On the pole was Graham Hill in a BRM-Climax, much to everyone's surprise.
The new works Cooper, the 55, was introduced at the race. It was slimmer, tidier, and lighter than the customer cars built for the season. Indeed, the Reg Parnell modified cars were very similar to the new works cars, at least externally. A major change for the Cooper team was the use of a six-speed gearbox from this point onward. At the time, it was not realized the team was running a six-speed gearbox since no one noticed or asked and John Cooper wasn't telling.
The new Coopers were filled out the rest of the front row, Brabham and then McLaren. Surtees and Clark were on the second row. The race was run in very wet conditions, which gave Dunlop an opportunity to try their new rain tire. At the start, Clark made a demon getaway and was second at the end of the first lap, but was then passed by McLaren and the Cooper duo waltzed off into the distance followed by Hill and Surtees at the finish. Clark was out of contention despite a great start when the electric got wet and the engine was deprived of any poke that it had.
The sensation of the race and the only thing that kept form being a snorer was the amazing performance of Masten Gregory. With the Camoradi International Cooper 53-Climax unable to get in a trouble-free practice lap, Gregory started at the very back of the grid on dry tires. Starting on the 11th row of the grid, he was 17th at the end of the first lap and passed four more on the next lap including Dan Gurney. Gregory was ripping through the corners, the tail hanging out, spray flying, arms crossed in opposite-lock as he charged around the course. He was ninth by lap six, sixth on lap 18 and then took fifth on lap 42. It was a jaw-dropping performance and all the more so since despite everyone's expectations, he kept it on the track. Many team managers looked at Gregory with a new opinion of his talent as a result of this race.
Our last race in April is the Gran Premio di Siracusa, held on the 25th. Why the 25th, a Tuesday? To celebrate the Allied landings on that date in 1943, which was a holiday in Sicily. The British teams rushed to Sicily from Aintree to join the Porsche team already there as well as a few of the other privateers who passed on Aintree. And, a new privateer, Federazione Italiana Scuderie Automobilstiche (FISA), was also there. FISA was a scheme created by the Italian Auto Club and a confederation of racing teams to create opportunities for rising new Italian drivers to participate in F1.
Ferrari put a Dino 156 - chassis 0008 - on loan to FISA for the event at Siracusa with several other entries planned as well. The driver chosen to pilot the Dino was Giancarlo Baghetti, who had only a few seasons (three) of racing behind him, but he had impressed several sponsors of the FISA scheme with his performances in a Dagrada FJ the previous season.
As Dan Gurney watched Baghetti come to terms with the Dino, he grew more concerned. Suddenly, despite having an older 65o engine rather than the new 120o engines that Ferrari had shown at a test session at Monza, Baghetti was flying. When the usual shambles was over, it was Gurney on the pole, but Baghetti next to him and only 0.1 second back of the pole time! John Surtees was on the outside of the front row in a very tricked up Cooper dubbed the 53VR (chassis F1/4/61). The "VR" stood for "Very Rapid" which it certainly was. Although the British teams weren't taking Baghetti very seriously at first, the Porsche team was.
The Porsche team more or less fell into F2 and then F1 as just a seemingly natural thing to do. The Typ 718/2 was a development of the wonderful 718 RSK Spyder, the pesky Porsche that gave Ferrari, Jaguar, Maserati, and Aston Martin fits from time to time in sports car races, and beating them on occasion. The 718/2 made its debut at Monte Carlo in 1959 and eventually there were five chassis built (01 through 05).
Although campaigned during 1959 on occasion, Porsche managed to get Rob Walker to field a 718/2 for Stirling Moss during the 1960 F2 season and the works was very pleased with the results. Not much to look at - the car reminded me of a silver potato on wheels when I first saw it - it was an effective weapon for the F2 wars. The car was powered by the great 547/3 twin cam engine.
At the start, Surtees got away first followed by Gurney and Bonnier. Baghetti got sideways going into the first corner, but managed to collect it and narrowly missed being hit by the howling mob roaring straight at him. This dropped the Dino all the way down to seventh place, behind Innes Ireland, Jack Brabham, and Graham Hill. While Surtees and Gurney were swapping the lead back and forth the first several laps, Baghetti was like a Man on a Mission. A surprised Surtees and Gurney found the red Ferrari in their mirrors by five. Unfortunately for Surtees the drive to the fuel pump sheared and his race was soon over.
On lap six, Baghetti blew by Gurney for the lead. Needless to mention, the locals were going crazy. Gurney stuck with Baghetti as they drew away from the rest of the field. At the mid-point of the race, Baghetti was balked when trying to pass some of the backmarkers. Much to his dismay, Gurney was soon passed by Baghetti who seemed to just pass the Porsche effortlessly. Then Gurney encountered a problem that plagued the 718/2 series, gear selection and eased back until it sorted itself out. When Gurney tried to put on a charge late in the pace, the Ferrari easily pulled away.
At the finish, Baghetti had a lead of five seconds over Gurney who was followed in third by teammate Bonnier with Brabham, Salvadori, and Clark trailing far behind. The British teams had come to Sicily thinking that things weren't so bad. Perhaps the Porsche was a problem, but numbers would tell. To have Baghetti devastate them in his first drive in an F1 car did not go down well. Worse yet, it was an older model of what they would soon face from the factory.
Suddenly, things didn't look so bright any more…
|Don Capps||© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.|
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