Archive for October, 2014

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Mauro Forghieri asks Jacky Ickx about his wonderful creation on the Belgian GP grid, Spa 1970. Inboard front suspension, top rocker actuating a spring/shock, lower wishbone. Twin radius rods at rear in evidence. Single top link, and lower wishbone also used at rear. Well protected Lucas fuel injection trumpets, and low nature of engine clear (R Schlegelmilch)

Jacky Ickx awaits the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, he finished eighth amongst a fantastic battle between Pedro Rodriguez and Chris Amon on this spectacular, fast and oh-so-dangerous classic circuit in the Ardennes…

Amon left Ferrari at the end of 1969 , a team he adored and had raced for since 1967. He had been very competitive throughout in F1, Sports Prototypes, and the Tasman Series, but the Championship F1 victory he sought had eluded him.

spa 1970

Spa vista 1970 (Bruce Thomas)

Mauro Forghieri designed the all-new 312B for 1970…

The core of the design was a horizontally opposed 12 cylinder engine utilising only 4 main bearings to minimise power-sapping frictional losses. The ‘Boxer’ engine layout allowed a very low centre of gravity and cleaner airflow for the rear wing amongst other benefits.

boxer

Engine ‘Type 001’. 180 degree, DOHC, four valve, Lucas fuel injected ‘Flat 12’. Distributor, coil and Dinoplx electronic ignition. Very oversquare at 78.5×51.5 Bore/Stroke, 2991cc. 11.8:1 compression ratio, circa 460BHP at 12000RPM in 1970, rising to over 525BHP throughout the 70’s (unattributed)

Chris tested the car late in 1969, several massive engine failures convinced him to leave the team to drive a competitive car powered by the dominant, powerful and reliable Ford Cosworth DFV V8. And so it was that his Cosworth DFV powered March was beaten throughout the season by the 312B’s and in Belgium by the BRM P153 V12 of Rodriguez.

Chris’ Ferrari departure proved to be another of Amon’s poor timing decisions, his capacity for being in the ‘right place at the wrong time’ was legendary. Forghieri’s design was both reliable and fast in 1970, Ickx won three races and newcomer Clay Regazzoni one- Ferrari narrowly missed the drivers and constructors titles to Jochen Rindt, posthumously, and Lotus.

In fact the engine was brilliant, one of the greatest in F1, powering cars which took Niki Lauda (1975 and 1977), and Jody Scheckter (1979) to world titles, and in endurance form winning all the classic endurance events but the two 24 Hour races at Le Mans and Daytona. In its early form the DOHC, four valve, Lucas injected, 2991cc engine developed around 460BHP at a time the DFV developed circa 435BHP.

The chassis of the 312B was also new and whilst not a ‘full-monocoque’, the combination of aluminium reinforced space-frame tubing was very effective and forgiving to drive.

Newcomer Ignazio Giunti was the best placed Belgian GP 312B in fourth, Ickx having a variety of problems. The race was won by Rodriguez by a second from Amon with Jean Pierre Beltoise third, a further 1.43 minutes adrift, such was the pace of Pedro and Chris.

Amon set a new lap record in his chase of Rodriguez at 152MPH, but Pedro was ‘Spa fit’ having set a 160MPH lap in a 4.5 litre flat 12 Porsche 917 the week before…oh to have seen either race!

There was a chicane at Malmedy for the Grand Prix which was unused during the 1000 Km classic but all the same, 160MPH was the fastest ever lap-time of a road circuit anywhere in the world at the time.

312 b cutaway

(W Buhrer)

 

312 b spa

Jacky Ickx, Ferrari 312B, La Source hairpin, Spa 1970 (R Schlegelmilch)

 

312 b cockpit

The very cosy, comfy cockpit of Ickx’ Ferrai 312B. Lockout for reverse gear in the gated 5 speed ‘box plain to see , Momo steering wheel, Veglia instruments, just luvverly in every way (R Schlegelmilch)

Etcetera…

dfv

An all Ford DFV powered front row at the races start: Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49 wedged by Amon’s March 701 on the nearside and Stewart’s similar pole winner on the outside…Ickx the best of the 12’s on this ultimate power circuit on the second row (unattributed)

 

rindt

Out into the Ardennes Forest …Rindt from Ickx, Beltoise, Brabham in the distance and the yellow speck Peterson…Lotus 49 DFV, Ferrari 312B, Matra MS120 V12, Brabham BT33 DFV, and March 701 DFV (unattributed)

 

pedro spa

But Pedro Rodriguez won the day in the BRM P153 V12…over the years there have been rumours the BRM engine was ‘fat’ that day, but these have been scotched by Doug Nye amongst others. Also, Pedro was supreme at Spa and Tony Southgates’ P153 and ’71 P160 BRM’s were fast, if not always reliable race-winners (unattributed)

Photo and other Credits…

Bruce Thomas, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Illustrations by Werner Buhrer

Checkout Allan Brown’s great oldracingcars.com description of the cars and chassis by chassis history; https://www.oldracingcars.com/ferrari/312b/

Finito…

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Reg Hunt, Kevin Neal and Lex Davison launch their ‘Italian Stallions’ off the line at the start of  Albert Parks’ 150 mile ‘Argus Trophy’…

Hunts’ #2 Maserati 250F won the race from Davisons’ #4 Tipo 500 Ferrari with Neal #3 third in Hunts’ old Maser A6GCM. Thats Tom Hawkes in the ex-Brabham ‘Redex Special’ #7 Cooper Holden Repco making its debut with that engine at this meeting. Arthur Griffiths in the ex-Davison 1954 AGP winning #5 HWM Jaguar is on row two. Further back is Bill Wilcox in the ex-Jeff Scorer, ex-works/Gaze #9 Alta and Bill Craigs’ ex-Whitehead, Holden engined and rebodied # 11 Alta.

There were two racing carnivals at Albert Park in 1956. This ‘Moomba’ Meeting (Moomba is still a marvellous annual Melbourne late Summer festival) in March and the Australian Grand Prix meetings after the Melbourne Olympic Games in the last weekend of November and the first in December. Similarly, the ‘Moomba’ meeting was held over two weekends, race days were Sunday 11 and 18 March 1956.

In  many ways the image symbolises an era of single seater racing just underway in Australia, the dominance of the current ‘Red Cars’ from Italy ending a period when the Australian Special, and older ex-works European cars held sway.

Racing at Albert Park…

Barry Green in his wonderful book ‘Glory Days’, writes that their was a strong push to race at Albert Park in 1934. The Light Car Club of Australia, (LCCA) the promoter of race meetings at Phillip Island were aware of the ‘Islands growing unsuitability with its loose gravel surface as speeds increased. Extensive negotiations secured Albert Park as the venue for a race meeting to celebrate the Centenary of Victoria in 1935.

The ‘Sun News Pictorial’ one of the Melbourne daily tabloids, and then as now a good thing in which to wrap ones fish n’ chips, announced the event on June 4 1934.

In doing so the ‘paper lit the fuse of naysayers who brought about the events cancellation, but not before racers Arthur Terdich, Bill Lowe, Barney Dentry, and Cyril Dickason in Bugatti, Lombard, and Austins respectively, lapped the track with mufflers fitted to prove noise wasn’t the issue…

Post war things were a little different and a partnership between the LCCA, the Army who had a facility at Albert Park, and Victorian Labor Senator Pat Kennelly were more successful.

The three provided the combination of race organisation and promotional ability, logistical capability, the Army being able to ‘man’ Albert Park, a site of some 570 acres, and political power and influence.

For all three groups the ability to raise funds in the aftermath of World War 2 was important. For the army funding for war widows and orphans, for Kennelly the ability to finance much needed improvements to the park to improve the local amenity for the working class community, and for the LCCA, the improvement of motor racing.

And so, the 1953 Australian Grand Prix held at Albert Park over 64 laps, 200 miles in total was won by Doug Whiteford in a Lago-Talbot, the last AGP win for French Racing Blue…

1953 was the commencement of Albert Parks ‘first phase’ as a race track lasting five short years until November 1958 when the naysayers again held sway…until 1996 when again the political pendulum swung in the sports and business’ favour, Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett ‘snatching’ the race from Adelaide…

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Lex Davison #3 HWM Jag, Stan Jones #2 Maybach, and Doug Whiteford in the winning Lago-Talbot at the start of the 1953 Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, the venues first race meeting on November 21. Cec Warren #6 Maserati 4CLT, Frank Kleinig #7 Kleinig Hudson 8, W Hayes #10 Ford V8 Spl, and a badly smoking  Ted Gray #11 Alta Ford V8 (AGP website)

The Big Red Italian Cars…

I wrote about Reg Hunt a while back, https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/ .He was an Englishman with a family background in the motor-trade, who came to Australia in 1949. By 1953 his ealerships were doing well enough to return to the UK for a season of F3, in a 500cc  Cooper Norton Mk8 in 1954. He did well against the best and arrived back in Oz, razor sharp and with a big, red, modern, ex-works Italian car…

His ex-Gonzalez Maserati A6GCM started life as 1953 2 litre chassis # 2041 but was renumbered # 2503 after a 250F engine was fitted for the new 2.5 litre F1 which commenced in 1954. Sold to Harry Schell for that season it arrived in Australia late in the year and was first tested by Hunt at Fishermans Bend before being raced at Ardmore for the 1955 NZGP where he popped it on the front row along with Prince Biras’ 250F. Bira lead the race from start to finish, Hunt fifth in a field which included the Whitehead and Gaze Ferrari 500/625’s.

Hunt was stiff not to win the 1955 Australian Grand Prix in the A6GCM at Port Wakefield, a broken cam-follower slowing him and handing victory to Jack Brabhams Cooper Bobtail.

Not to be outdone, and needing to remain competitive, Lex Davison, the 1954 AGP winner acquired his good friend Tony Gazes’ Ferrari 500/625, the car fitted with a 625 engine enlarged to 3 litres. These Lampredi designed, big-bore 4 cylinder DOHC engines a mainstay of Ferrari single-seaters and sports cars throughout the 50’s.

In recent years, having passed into the ownership of the ‘Wheatcroft Collection’ in the early 60’s, the car has been identified as Tipo 500#5, Alberto Ascaris’ 1952 and 1953 World Championship winning chassis, the ‘winningest’ chassis of all time with at least ten Grands’ Prix victories…but at the time Davo had just acquired a competitive car which would be very kind to him in years to come.

It was Lexs’ first meeting in the car, a change in gearing a mistake in set-up which blunted the cars performance, but the promise of the combination was undeniable.

Having made such an impression with the A6GCM Hunt had no trouble convincing Maserati to part with a more recent mount, securing Jean Behra’s 1955 factory 250F, chassis #2516, the car winning non-championship Grands’ Prix in Pau and Bordeaux in that year.

Hunt won both the feature racing car events of the Moomba meeting. Davison second in both and Neal third in one, DNF in another, in the car the Melbourne transport business man was to buy from Hunt.

Before long Stan Jones also acquired a 250F, a more recent spec car than Hunts’.

The mid-engined F1 Coopers were not far away, but for the moment, a wonderful era of modern ‘Big Front Engined Red Racing Cars’ had arrived in Australia…ending with the 1959 Australian Grand Prix, but we will come to that !

al park

Reg Hunt leads Lex Davison , Maserati 250F and Ferrari Tipo 500, Albert Park ‘Moomba Races’ March 1956. Check out the trees, kerbs, and very thick chain wire fence on these everyday suburban roads within the park! Crowd of over 70,000 in attendance (museumvictoria.com.au)

 

park map

Albert Park Road Circuit 1950’s. Length 3.13 miles, direction of travel the opposite to the modern circuit which is true to, if not identical to the spirit of this fabulous, historic venue. Barry Green ‘Glory Days’

 

british gp

Alberto Ascari #5 in the Gaze/Davison Ferrari Tipo 500/5, alongside Froilan Gonzalez #24 in the Hunt/Neal Maserati A6GCM/2041/2503 at the start of the 1953 British GP at Silverstone which Ascari won. #8 is Mike Hawthorn, behind him #7 Luigi Villoresi both in Ferrari Tipo 500’s. The wheel on the far right is Fangio in a Maser A6GCM. The blue car beside Hawthorn is Onofre Marimon also in a Maser A6GCM. The green car behind Villoresi is Tony Rolts Connaught Lea Francis , and beside him the green car with white noseband is Ken Whartons’ Cooper Bristol. (Mirror Archive)

Credits…

‘Glory Days’ by Barry Green; oldracephotos.com, museumvictoria.com.au, AGP Website, Mirror Archive

Finito…