|ATLAS F1 Volume 6, Issue 39||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:
As the Italian GP at Monza rolled around, Ferrari pretty much had a lock on the Constructor's Championship and two of its drivers Wolfgang von Trips and Phil Hill were in a battle for the Driver's Championship, the German leading the American by the score of 33 points to 29 points. With two events remaining on the calendar and the two having already scored in five events each with only the best five of eight events being counted they were both looking at the prospect of having to start dropping points.
Von Trips had a fourth place finish at Monaco he could drop with a finish of third or better with then a second place he could use, either Belgium or Germany, if necessary. Meanwhile Hill had two third place finishes at Monaco and Germany he could improve upon. The edge seemed in the German's favor since a win with Hill second would net him score of 39 points to Hills 31 points and the German the Championship; a win by Hill with von Trips second would result in von Trips still leading 36 points to 34 points. Much depended on what the results at Monza were. The pressure was on both drivers to win, von Trips to clinch and Hill to keep his hopes alive. Only if von Trips scored no points and Hill won could he take the lead in the Championship, not a very likely scenario.
In the meantime, the situation concerning the final round of Championship was resolved. It had been scheduled for the November timeframe, was now scheduled for early October. The venue, which had rather vague perhaps Riverside or Sebring and perhaps not, was now firmly established as Watkins Glen. The Championship was to pay its first visit to New York in this the first year that the Indianapolis 500 was not a point-paying event in the Championship.
After the boycott by the British teams for the 1960 event when they refused to race on the 10km combined road circuit and oval layout being used once again this year there was no similar problem this year. Indeed, anything but! The entry list was huge and the number of starters guaranteed to rival that of the Indy 500.
The entry looked like this:
2, 4, 6, 8 - Phil Hill, Wolfgang von Trips, Richie Ginther, Ricardo Rodriguez: Ferrari SpA SEFAC, Ferrari Dino 156, a 65-degree engine for Rodriguez
62 - Lorenzo Bandini: Scuderia Centro Sud, Cooper 53 Maserati 150S
64 - Ernesto Prinoth: Scuderia Dolomiti, Lotus 18 Climax FPF did not appear
66 - Menato Boffa: Menato Boffa, Cooper 45 Climax FPF did not appear
68 - Andre Pilette: Equipe Nationale Belge, Emeryson Climax FPF did not qualify, too slow, best lap during practice was 3min 11.6sec
72 - Gaetano Starrabba: Prince Gaetano Starrabba, Lotus 18 Maserati 150S
Practice was the usual shambles with 33 cars actually showing up for the race. The concerns about the track which led the British teams to boycott the race last year, were strangely muted. Enzo Ferrari was present for practice as part of his annual outing at Monza. Phil Hill and Dan Gurney drove to the race tonight and arrived just before the start of the first session on Friday. There were two Climax FWMV-engined cars in the paddock for the race. In addition to the Cooper 58 for Jack Brabham which was still suffering from overheating woes which seemed to defy cure Rob Walker rolled in with one of the teams Lotus 18 cars which had one of the new vee-eights dropped into the engine bay. The tow car was Walker's Facel Vega HK500, which certainly made it one of the more extraordinary tow cars in GP racing.
There were Lotus 18's everywhere underfoot it seemed along with the usual scads of Coopers of varying types. It was a fascinating array of machinery in the paddock and easily one of the most varied for many years before or since. Jack Lewis was there originally with the hope of talking his way in the gate. When the Centro Sud entry for Natili didn't materialize and Pirocchi, who was originally thought to be a part of the Mimo Dei entry was entered by the Pescara club instead, Lewis was in the race.
Needless to say, practice was Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari Ferrari. Although Ginther was the fastest on Friday, von Trips took the pole with an excellent performance on Saturday. But it was the sensational younger Rodriguez brother who was the focus of much of the attention. He was fast both days and looked quick, causing some anxious casting of eyes about the Ferrari pits. Hill was not in a good mood and not happy with his car and the engine in particular. At the end of practice on Saturday, he insisted on an engine change and after the usual shouting, arm-waving, gestures, stomping, and rolling of eyes which are customary for such transactions, finally got his way.
The two Climax vee-eights were struggling and displaying a great thirst which did not bode well. The Lotus installation seemed to work a tad better, but the engine was clearly still not quite au point. It was a message delivered loud and clear when von Trips blew the Brabham car off on the straights. Moss was soon back into the FPF cars and slipstreaming as only he could, but the car simply was too slow for any realistic chance in the race.
The new BRM, however, seemed to be running fairly well . Only Hill as in Graham got track time during practice, but he was running better than expected. Indeed, the car handled well and the engine performed quite well. However, it was still brand new and suffering from various teething problems vapor lock in the fuel injection system, oil surge. After a successful run in practice, the team reverted to the FPF-engined car, but Hill was allowed to use his time set in the vee-eight for the grid.
Innes Ireland sportingly handed over his Lotus 21 to Moss since Moss still had a shot at challenging the Ferrari drivers for the win, if not the championship he could count any and all points towards his score and he had tweaked the Ferrari teams tail twice this season already. The Lotus 21 was much quicker than the Lotus, Clark had his in amongst the Ferraris and set the best lap for a four-cylinder car, pipping the Bonnier Porsche for Best in Class honors.
Only Pilette in the Emeryson was sent home so there were 32 cars on the grid, formed up in 16 rows of two, which covered nearly 250 meters from the front to the rear of the grid. No reason was given for the departure from the usual 3x2 or 4x3 configuration, but some cynics remarked that it certainly couldnt have been to prevent any of the non-Ferrari teams from catching a tow
When the flag dropped for the start, Rodriguez was already rolling something which could have only made Louis Chiron smile and was away when von Trips was just that blink of an eye slower. Although Phil Hill was not as fast off the grid as Rodriguez, von Trips, Graham Hill, or Ginther, he soon seized the lead and was followed by Ginther, von Trips, Moss (!), Rodriguez, and Clark across the line on the first lap. The von Trips Dino was clearly not as fast as the Hill and Ginther machines and on the second lap Clark had caught a ride as they came out of the second Lesmo and then sped down through the Curva del Serraglio and into the Curva del Vialone and along the straight into the Curvetta. Clark had a great slingshot and moved to the inside to pass von Trips. For some reason we will never know von Trips suddenly bobbled and turned into the Lotus, touching the left front wheel. The Lotus crashed heavily into the embankment
The Ferrari careened out of control, started rolling tossing von Trips out onto the edge of the circuit and bounced up the embankment and struck the wire mesh spectator retaining fence and tumbled back down to the bottom of the embankment and slid out onto the track. The Lotus was heavily damaged, and Clark somehow stepped out shaken, but unharmed. Unfortunately, von Trips had been killed instantly when he was ejected from the car and struck the ground. At the top of the embankment, 14 spectators were dead or dying from the impact of the car into the mesh fence. Scores of others were also injured, the exact number being uncertain, but it was easily in the 40's if not higher.
The race continued. On the very next lap at the same spot, Bonnier and Surtees collided when Bonnier slowed to avoid the Ferrari which was still sitting on the circuit. On the fourth lap, Baghetti finally came to grips with the track and while catching up with the remaining Ferraris, set the fastest lap of the race.
There were many battles going on through the field. Brabham was hanging tough with the Ferraris, but was outmatched and friendless once Baghetti got away from him. Moss was in a dicing match with Gurney and the two BRM teammates were working together and keeping Lewis from getting too close.
Gregory retired with suspension damage from when he hit some of the debris from the wrecked Ferrari. Ireland then found himself without any gears as the result of the chassis breaking due to the pounding from the oval section of the circuit. Ginther was leading Hill from time to time to give him a tow and save the engine. While they knew that von Trips was out due to a crash, they had no idea as to what had happened, the incident being well behind them. Besides, Taffy had crashed his share of Ferraris before and come back to drive another day.
Then Brabham was out as was Graham Hill. Rodriguez pitted and after they looked at the engine it was wheeled away. Baghetti soon followed when smoke started billowing from the engine compartment. This left Hill and Ginther all along at the front stroking along looking to finish the race. Moss and Gurney were having a real ding-dong for what had now turned into a battle for third. Bonnier pitted and soon retired. Then Ginther began to drop back and soon was out when the engine muttered its last and died.
Everyone's attention was perking up when it was realized that if the Hill Dino followed the others into oblivion and Moss did the impossible once again, he was move past Hill in the points standings! And Lewis was steadily moving up the chart on merit just not through retirements, the Cooper looking very good all around the circuit.
Then the Moss Lotus had a wheel bearing break up while on the banking and even the Maestro was hard pressed to keep the car under control. It was with mere six laps to go and he was working on Gurney for taking second place in hopes of it becoming first place. As the 430km race came to a close, Hill crossed the line for first place and also as the 1961 World Champion. Only after he was in the victory circle and had received his garland did Hill discover what had happened to von Trips. And that he was also the 1961 World Champion.
And now for the other events...
The race at Zeltweg was held over the runways and taxiways of the local air base. It was simply two parallel straights with a hairpin at one end and an awkward bit at the other which didn't qualify as a true hairpin. The race saw a good turnout, with Team Lotus, Bonnier in a works Porsche, and virtually all the privateers present or accounted for the amazing Jack Lewis being a notable absentee. Ireland took the pole with teammate Clark along side from Surtees and Brabham in his own Cooper 53, which he had used in the Inter-Continental Formula series. Although Clark led initially, Ireland soon took the lead and lapped the field with Brabham second, Bonnier third, and Clark fourth after three pit stops to correct steering damage from the rough surface.
The Gold Cup saw a crowd of at least 65,000 show up for the event on an overcast day with lots of drizzle. The Walker team decided to run the ugly, but fascinating Ferguson P99 for Moss rather than one of the usual Lotus 18 machines. McLaren sat the Tommy Atkins Cooper on the pole with Moss, Graham Hill, and Clark filling out the front row. Hill also tried the Ferguson in practice the highlight of which was Fairman arriving late in the works Emeryson entry and missing practice and being refused a starting place something which put tongues aquiver with veiled comments about the lack of proper sporting spirit being shown by the organizers.
Clark led off the start on a wet track after the heavy Ferguson was slow off the line since even Moss the Magnificent couldn't overcome the weight deficit. However, on the wet track the Ferguson and Moss were both in their element and by the sixth lap Moss was in the lead and gone. Brabham was second, McLaren third, and with Brooks in his last race in Britain fourth, followed by Masten Gregory in fifth.
It was Moss' fifth Gold Cup, and for Grand Prix racing it was the first for a four-wheel drive car and the last for a front-engined car. Although the Ferguson did a campaign Down Under during the 1963 season, it never reappeared in F1. It was also, sadly, to be the last win for Moss in Britain.
The Lewis-Evans Trophy meeting was an opportunity for the privateers to shine since the teams were off in America. It was run as a national event so the lack of non-British drivers was not unremarkable, only Bernard Collomb showing up from the Continent. He then loaned his Cooper to John Campbell-Jones for the race. An interesting entry was the Lola Mark 3 of Scuderia Light Blue for Hugh Dibley. It used a bored out Ford engine that was a true hodgepodge of 105E and 109E pieces and parts. It was the first appearance of a rear-engined Lola in F1.
Tony Marsh sat on the pole with Mike Spence in an Emeryson along side (which speaks volumes for his talent...), along with Keith Green in the Gilby and Tim Parnell in his Lotus 18 filling up the front row. Marsh was two seconds clear of Spence and over 30 seconds clear of Maurice Charles and Dickie Stoop sitting on the back row. When the flag fell, Marsh motored off and won by a minute. Spence was second followed by Parnell and Greene.
|Don Capps||© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.|
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