Archive for December, 2015

marvin

Alan Moffat finesses his big, powerful ‘works’ HO Falcon around the tight, technically demanding confines of Sydney’s Warwick Farm February 15 1970…

This will be a support race for the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ F5000 Tasman series round, am intrigued to know who won this ‘Series Production’ encounter. Perhaps a Holden Torana GTR-XU1, WF more suited to the nimble but powerful 3 litre/186cid Holden 6 than the 5.7 litre/351 cid V8 ‘Big Henry’?

Moffat won the ‘South Pacific Touring Car Championship’ series conducted over the four Australian Tasman events but i wonder if he won this round?

Photo Credit…

Doug Eagar

w125

(Alan Fearnley)

Teammates Rudi Caracciola and Manfred von Brauchitsch #10 battle for the lead roaring by the ‘Hotel Beau Rivage’ in their Mercedes Benz W125…

This image is Alan Fearnley’s ‘Battle of Beau Rivage’ from his book ‘The Classic Car Paintings’ and ‘depicts a dramatic battle amidst the architectural wonderment of the principality pre-war’, von Brauchitsch won the race against team orders. Caratch won the European title in 1937, both he and Bernd Rosemeyer, Auto Union mounted, won 4 races apiece but Rudi had the larger points haul.

Manfred’s nickname was ‘The Unlucky Bird’, when he had this chance for a race victory he was not going to let it slip away. He said later in life that Alfred Neubauer, Mercedes famous team manager did not have much to do with him afterwards for the rest of his career. It was one of the few races Caracciola lost to another Mercedes that year.

The Mercedes W125 was Fearnley’s favourite machine ‘it seems to embody all the visual impact that a Grand Prix car should have’, his painting is a superb, dramatic work.

Check out my article on the Mercedes W125;

https://primotipo.com/2015/08/11/mercedes-benz-w125-1937s-dominant-gp-car-and-rudy-uhlenhaut/

Credit…

Alan Fearnley

 

racing car show

(David Lawson)

Lotus stand at the ’69 Racing Car Show, sports-racer Type 47 and F3 Type 59 to the fore…

Both models are Loti i always had a hankering for, there were several 47’s which raced for years in Australia in  a variety of classes and a 59 won the Australian Drivers Championship, the ‘Gold Star’ in 1970.

fittipaldi

Emerson Fittipaldi contesting the 1969 Guards Int Trophy at Brands Hatch on 1 Sept 1969. His Jim Russell Lotus 59 Ford was 3rd to Reine Wisell Chevron B15 Ford and Tim Schenken BT28 Ford, all racing in F1 in 1971; Emerson and Reine for GLT Lotus, Tim for Brabham (unattributed)

Back to the UK in 1969; the works ‘Gold Leaf Team Lotus’ 59’s were raced by American Roy Pike and Brit Mo Nunn (later Ensign F1 designer/supremo) with Aussie Dave Walker in a ‘Lotus Components’ entry (the constructor of Lotus customer racing cars)

Emerson Fittipaldi raced a Jim Russell Lotus 59 entry winning the ’69 British championship and making his GP debut at Brands Hatch in 1970.

dave walker monaco

Dave Walker in the GLTL Lotus 59 during the 1970 Monaco F3 GP, 9 May. He is threading his 8th placed car thru typical Monaco carnage. Tony Trimmer won in a Brabham BT28 Ford, Walker dominated F3 in 1971 including a GLTL Lotus 69 Ford Monaco F3 GP win (Simon Lewis)

47 paintinfg

The Oliver/Miles GLTL Lotus 47 is depicted ahead of the Bonnier/Sten Axelsson Lola T70 Mk3 Chev 6th and winning Ickx/Redman Ford GT40, Brands 6 Hour, 7 April 1968, the day of Jim Clark’s death (Michael Turner)

The 47 was raced in the 1968 Brands Hatch 6 Hours in GLTL colors by Jackie Oliver and John Miles finishing in 10th place in the race won by the Ickx/Redman Ford GT40.

In 1969 the works team raced the Lotus 62 with the GM derived Vauxhall/Lotus LV220 DOHC 4 valve engine, the 47 powered by the venerable Ford/Lotus twin-cam, a Hewland FT200 gearbox used in place of the standard Renault unit.

Whilst the 62 looked a bit like the 47 it shared a few body panels only; its spaceframe chassis was bespoke (2 built) and engines as noted above totally different.

47 silvers

John Miles Lotus 47.  ‘Silverstone Players Trophy’ meeting 27 April 1968 (Simon Lewis)

lotus 47 cutaway

Lotus 47 cutaway; backbone chassis, front suspension upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units. Rear suspension top link, lower wishbone and radius rods. Engine Ford/Lotus twin cam 2 valve, power depending on spec from 160-190bhp. Gearbox Hewland FT200 5 speed , Brakes ventilated disc all round (unattributed)

Photo Credit…

David Lawson, Simon Lewis

 

Seasonal Salutations One and All…

Posted: December 24, 2015 in Obscurities

santa 1

The first use of a car by Santa to deliver gifts, 1896?! Make and model unknown, Benz my guess…

I hope wherever you live you have an enjoyable festive season with family and friends.

In Australia it’s our Summer Holidays so the whole joint closes down for a few weeks. We have the comatose excitement of cricket and lots of fun in the sun, which is great.

I’m off to Margaret River on the West Australian Coast; it’s a long flight from Melbourne across the big wide, dry continent and then a three hour drive drive from Perth. But you overseas folk should have it on your ‘must visit when I go to Oz’ list given it’s mix of wineries and food scene, coastal scenery and drivers roads, massive caves and beaches. Sure, there are a few sharks but the West Australian Great Whites are discerning diners, they seem to mainly eat lawyers!

I will continue to post over the coming weeks but the emphasis will be ‘quickies’ rather than features.

Even though 40% of the stuff I write about is Australian my ‘biggest market’ is France; other top-10 countries in order of size are Australia, US, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, Spain and Brazil. So, our little community is truly global, thank you all so much for reading the thing wherever you live.

I continue to enjoy writing it so will stick with the eclectic approach which is a function of the photos I find being the inspiration for an article.

Which brings me to some ‘thank-you’s’ for the year especially the photographers who have been so helpful and supportive; John Ellacott, Dick Simpson, Lindsay Ross, Rod MacKenzie and David Blanch in Australia, John Holmes ‘The Roaring Season’ ‘across the ditch’ in NZ and The Cahier Archive and Louis Klemantaski Collection for the more International stuff.

A foundation of the magazine is the Repco story and Peter Brennan’s restorations, many thanks to Rodway Wolfe and Peter for allowing me to write about these topics and the material they provide.

Stephen Dalton both contributed articles and is hugely helpful with his extensive library and advice on correcting the occasional boo-boo.

John Medley’s Chamberlain article and ongoing support and encouragement has been fantastic as is Pat Ryan’s enthusiastic fizz; both these guys have a wealth of Pre-War Oz knowledge which is not my strength. To my surprise i have written much more about older stuff rather than play to my personal strengths which is 1960 to the present but it’s simply more fun to research and write about what you don’t know rather than what yer do!

Autosport’s ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ is a good place to lose yourself for weeks, check it out. Its content rich for research especially on the obscure; the expertise especially on Australian Stuff of regular contributors Ray Bell, John Medley, Stephen Dalton, Kevin Drage and the Oz photographers above has added great depth and the perceptions of ‘those there at the time’.

Most of all, thankyou for reading it!

I am active on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram so if you need a ‘daily fix’ pop Mark Bisset and primotipo.com into the relevant search engines and the names should pop up. Of these FB is the best as there is often dialogue about the posts which is often interesting.

Finally, I get asked all the time ‘wot cars would you like the most’, my contribution to this endless enthusiast debate is as follows, it’s not around the cars I would invest in just the stuff I would have to own and race! Sadly i’m not Nick Mason so none of the purchases are imminent! Am very interested to know the lists of others.

1. 1931 Alfa 8C2300 Corto Sports/Road
.Who needs a Bugatti when you can have a Jano Alfa? Any ‘Monza’ series Alfa would do. In fact anything designed by Jano would be nice!

Click here for Alfa Monza article;

https://primotipo.com/2014/10/09/antonio-brivio-targa-florio-1933-alfa-romeo-8c2300-monza/

tazio

1932 Mille Miglia, Nuvolari/Guidotti Alfa 8C2300 DNF accident. Borzacchini/Bignami won in another 8C2300 Spider (unattributed)

2. 1955 Jaguar XK D Type Sports/Road
.So hard to chose between all the 50′ sporties; Maser 300S, Aston’s DB3S and DBR1, Ferrari 335S and TR

Click here for D Type article;

https://primotipo.com/2015/01/17/le-mans-1957-d-type-jaguar-rout-ron-flockhart-racer-and-aviator/

frank

Frank Gardner, Jag D Type, Mount Druitt, Sydney 1958. It all looks ‘pretty chilled’ dunnit, from this ‘clubby scene’ sprung some world class drivers of whom FG was one (John Ellacott)

3. 1957 Maserati 250F F1
.’Nuff said ‘the’ quintessential front-engined GP car? Lancia D50 my next choice, not as pretty as the Maser but much more ‘edgy’.

Click here for 250F article;

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/21/stirling-moss-monaco-gp-1956-maserati-250f/

maser 250f

Fangio in his 250F chasing Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins Lancia Ferrari 801’s, German GP 1957. A famous, Fangio win (unattributed)

4. 1965 Ford GT40 Sports/Road
.So hard to choose between 1960’s Lola T70, Fazz P4/512S, Chap 2F and various Porsche’s!

69 gt40 first shot

Ford GT40 Mk1 ‘1075’ on the way to the second of its two Le Mans wins in 1969 for Ickx/Oliver, Rodriguez/Lucien Bianchi won in the same chassis the year before (Getty)

5. 1965/7 Lotus 39 Repco Tasman
.The ex-Clark Coventry Climax FPF engined chassis fitted with Repco ‘740 Series’ Repco 2.5 litre V8 to me the best looking 60’s single-seater of all, with apologies to Dan’s Eagle T1G!

39 surfers 68

Leo Geoghegan in his Lotus 39 Repco in the Surfers Paradise Tasman form-up area in February 1968. Brabham’s BT23E Repco alongside, Clark’s Lotus 49 DFW and Rodriguez BRM P126 to the rear. Clark won the race.Article on the 39 in the ‘pipeline’ @ present (unattributed)

6. 1970 McLaren M8D Chev CanAm
.Bruce’ last masterpiece and sadly the car in which he died.

Click here for M8D article;

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/01/peter-gethin-mclaren-m8d-chev-can-am-1970/

gethin

Peter Gethin from teammate Denny Hulme, both in M8D Chev’s and Chris Amon in the March 707 Chev in the distance, Laguna Seca? (unattributed)

7. 1970 Ferrari 312B F1
.Fellow ‘class of 1970′ Lotus 72 more edgy but just love that whole series of Flat-12 engined Fazz’.

Click here for 312B article;

https://primotipo.com/2014/10/03/ferrari-312b-jacky-ickx-belgian-grand-prix-spa-1970/

ignazio

Ignazio Giunti, Ferrari 312B, Spa 1970. 4th and best placed of the Ferrari’s in the epic contest between Pedro Rodriguez BRM P153 and Chris Amon’s March 701 Ford. Sadly a lost talent, he died in a pointless accident in the Buenos Aires 1000Km race the following January (unattributed)

8. 1973/5 Lola T330/2 Chev F5000
.Grew up loving these beasts, T330/2 one of the most successful racing cars ever

Click here for the first of a series of article on the T330;

https://primotipo.com/2014/06/24/lellas-lola-restoration-of-the-ex-lella-lombardi-lola-t330-chev-hu18-episode-1/

bartlett color sidways

Aussie Kevin Bartlett with the style for which he was renowned. Here subbing for Brian Redman in the Haas/Hall Lola T330 Chev @ the 1973 Laguna Seca L&M US F5000 Championship round DNF . Article on this in the pipeline (unattributed)

9. 1990 Ferrari 640 F1
.Anything more recent too ugly and complex.

Click here for 640 article;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/24/gerhard-berger-and-the-innovative-ferrari-640/

noige

Nigel Mansell wins the 1989 Brazilian GP in the Ferrari 640 3.5 V12. John Barnard designed and innovative in terms of its semi-auto’box (unattributed)

10. 1992 McLaren F1 Road
.My token road car but surely the greatest ever?! Anything by Gordon Murray will do as well.

mcl f1

Credit…

Time Life Pictures, The Cahier Archive, John Ellacott, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Merry Christmas!…

santa 2

 

brabham op circuit

(R Rice)

Jack Brabham shakes down his 1968 Tasman contender the Brabham BT23E Repco for Sydney’s media at Oran Park, 14 February 1968…

Nestled in the back is Repco’s latest ‘RB740’ 275bhp 2.5 litre V8, the Tasman variant of Brabham’s successful 1967 F1 3 litre (330bhp) engine. Denny Hulme took the title from Jack in a BT24.

jack, op

Brabham in the OP pitlane February 1968 (R Rice)

Jack raced the car only at Warwick Farm and Sandown in a very limited ’68 Tasman campaign. The car stayed in Australia; purchased by Bob Jane it was raced by John Harvey, John lucky to survive a huge accident at Bathurst in his first drive of the car after a raer suspension failure. Eventually converted to an F2 car with a Ford twin-cam engine the car was restored in the early-eighties and soon after sold overseas.

barbham op

Jack Brabham at Oran Park, Sydney 1968. He might have raced a Holden Touring car there in the mid-seventies but didn’t in his ‘heyday’. Built in the ’60’s 60Km west of Sydney near Camden, OP was extended in 1974 hosting the F5000 1974 and 1977 AGP’s. Subsumed by Sydney’s western sprawl ‘Oran Park Town’ will house around 25000 people and is in process (R Rice)

bt 23e wf

(Brian McInerney)

Brabham in BT23E in the Warwick Farm pitlane several days after the cars Oran Park debut. The car in front of Jack’s is Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P261, behind him is the nose of Piers Courage’s McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 car, third in the race.

Jack was 7th in the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ on 18 February Jim Clark ran away with the race from teammate Graham Hill’s identical Lotus 49 DFW.

Click here for an article on this meeting;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/14/warwick-farm-100-tasman-series-1968/

At Sandown on 25 February Clark again won the race and the title, Jack’s Repco engine failed. It was a bit of a portent of the year he and Jochen Rindt were to experience with Repco’s, Cosworth DFV challenging new quad-cam 32 valve RB860 V8 which was as problematic as its RB620 and 740 brothers had been reliable…

Credit: R Rice, Brian McInerney, Wirra

Tailpiece: Jack’s BT23E cruisin’ the Warwick Farm paddock…

brabham bt 23e

Brabham, Brabham BT23E Repco, Warwick Farm Tasman meeting 1968, all gorgeous in its turquoise/gold stripe livery (Wirra)

 

 

Lucas…

Posted: December 20, 2015 in F1, Fotos
Tags: ,

lucas

Who hasn’t owned a Pommie car or three and cursed Lucas ‘The Prince of Darkness’!? Nice 1969 ad from Automobile Year 17…

gonzalez silverstone

(Louis Klemantaski)

Froilan Gonzalez plays with the limits of adhesion of his victorious Ferrari 375 V12 at around 140mph. Copse Corner, Silverstone, 14 July 1951…

The dominant force in Grand Prix racing in the immediate post-war period was Alfa Romeo, the pre-war ‘Alfetta’ voiturettes progressively modified to remain winners; they had not been beaten since 1946.

Ferrari had achieved success at Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio and now took an alternative Grand Prix design path to Alfa and BRM for the 1951 season in building cars powered by a normally aspirated 4.5 litre V12 rather than the supercharged straight 8/V16 route of his rivals. Instructive had been the reliability and speed of the Talbot-Lagos despite the cars relative lack of sophistication given the French machines road-car origins.

gonz

Gonzalez, Silverstone 1951, Ferrari 375, the burly Argentinian master of this car. Note exhaust system of the V12 and twin radius rods locating rear axles (unattributed)

Ferrari’s Type 375’s were first entered at the Pescara Grand Prix on 15 August 1950, but were not ready. The cars made their championship debut at Monza on 3 September 1950 with entries for Alberto Ascari and Dorino Serafini. Ascari qualified 2nd and was dicing with the lead group of Fangio and Farina both 158 mounted, before retiring on lap 21 with engine overheating.

Click here for an article on the Type 375 i wrote a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/10/vi-gran-premio-del-valentino-april-1952-ferrari-375/

In order to test the cars over a full GP distance,375’s for Ascari and Serafini were entered for the GP do Penya Rhin, at Pedralbes, Barcelona on 29 October. The cars finished 1/2, no Alfa’s were entered but the cars completed a GP distance without problems. With further development over the winter the 375’s were ready for 1951.

british alfa pit

Alfa Romeo pit British GP, Silverstone 1951 (unattributed)

By 1951 the supercharged Alfa’s, designated ‘159’ developed around 410bhp from their supercharged 1.5-litre engines, while Ferrari had been working on a twin-plug version of the 4.5-litre V12. It wasn’t as powerful as the Alfa but it was more efficient, less fuel meant less pit stops.

Alfa ignored most of the early season non-championship races. In their absence Ferrari 375’s won at Siracuse and Pau on 11 and 26 March, Gigi Villoresi the winning driver on both occasions. Ascari won the San Remo GP on 22 April.

The Alfa’s finally appeared for the ‘BRDC International Trophy’ race at Silverstone on May 5, but the works Ferari 375’s did not. Fangio and Farina each won a heat for Alfa with the final held in torrential rain led by Reg Parnell’s Ferrari 125/375 when the race was ended after 16 minutes on lap 6.

alfa 159 engine

Engine and brake detail of the Alfa Romeo 159, Silverstone 1951. 1.5 litre two-stage supercharged straight-8 (unattributed)

The first 1951 Championship GP was at Berne for the Swiss Grand Prix. Ascari was suffering from a burn to the arm received during a Formula 2 race at Genoa the weekend before and Villoresi slid off the road in wet conditions. Progress was indicative of Taruffi’s Ferrari second place splitting the Alfas of Fangio and Farina, first and third.

At Spa, a jammed wheel at a pit stop cost Fangio his second successive win, Farina took Belgian GP win for Alfa Romeo from Ascari and Villoresi in Ferrari 375’s.

The French Grand Prix was a furious battle between Ascari and Fangio, both of whom changed cars with Fangio taking the win for Alfa. Ascari’s 375 had gearbox failure and Froilan Gonzalez, who had led the race briefly and pitted to refuel, was asked to hand his car over. Fangio took over Luigi Fagioli’s Alfa, JM’s car failed on the first lap of the race. This was Gonzalez’ first race for Ferrari. Just before the French Grand Prix, Enzo Ferrari had approached him to replace the unwell Piero Taruffi. The Fagioli/Fangio car won the race from the 375 of Gonzalez/Ascari.

gonzalez french

Gonzalez in his first Ferrari drive, he lead the French GP at Reims before offering his 375 to Alberto Ascari, the pair finished 2nd to the Fangio/Fagioli Alfa 159 (unattributed)

Froilan recalled the French GP in Gonzalez ‘The Pampas Bull’; ‘The dream was to be very brief. I was utterly determined to make my mark at Reims in the Grand Prix de France and after a tough battle I managed to lead the race. But when I stopped at the pits to refuel (Ferrari Team Manager) Ugolini told me to hand over my jewel to Alberto Ascari who had walked back to the Ferrari pits after his own car had broken down’.

‘Recalling it now I suppose it was understandable. Ascari was more experienced in the Grand Prix arena than I, and since he was now available, it was obviously more sensible to let him take over. But at the time I was mystified and wounded. I assumed I had in some way failed one of Ferrari’s mysterious tests. Yet nobody would tell me where I had failed’.

‘I was just as puzzled when Enzo Ferrari sent for me. Puzzled and timid, for Ferrari was a powerful experienced man of the world while I had only recently arrived in Europe I had no idea how to address the ‘sacred monster’ of the motoring world when I was led into his office. I managed to say ‘Good morning’ in Spanish and then stood there speechless, wondering why I was there and what to do next. Don Enzo, realizing my embarrassment, helped me out by smiling and shaking my hand. And to my utter amazement he – the greatest figure in world motor racing – actually congratulated me for what I had done at Reims. I was even more astounded when he suddenly asked me: ‘Would you like to sign a contract to drive for the Ferrari team?’ I can feel even now the almost painful thumping of my heart. This just isn’t true, I told myself.’
british ascari

Ascari cruising the Silverstone pitlane, Ferrari 375 during practice DNF lap 56 with ‘box failure (Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo brought 159’s to Silverstone for Fangio, Farina, Consalvo Sanesi and Felice Bonetto. Ferrari brought three Type 375s for Ascari, Villoresi and Gonzalez with Peter Whitehead in Tony Vandervell’s  ‘Thinwall Special’ Ferrari…

Talbot returned with three T26C 4.5-litre, straight-6 cylinder cars. Maserati relied on ageing 4CLTs for David Murray and John James, while Philip Fotheringham-Parker raced an older 4CL. ERA had Bob Gerard and Brian Shawe-Taylor and Joe Kelly was in his Alta.

british ferrari drivers

Scuderia Ferrari drivers Silverstone 1951; Gigi Villoresi left, Alberto Ascari and Froilan Gonzalez, all remarkably ‘well-nourished’ by driver standards of today! And older of course (Getty Images)

BRM turned up on the morning of the race having missed practice. Reg Parnell and Peter Walker started from the rear of the grid as a consequence.

british walker

Peter Walker’s BRM Type 15, 7th being given a shove during practice (unattributed)

John Bolster of Autosport commented about Gonzalez’ speed and technique; ‘Thursday found me walking round the circuit, trying to work out how on earth these boys get round the corners the way they do. My stopwatch was busy in my hand, and I had a conversion table, so it was with immense excitement that I observed that Froilan Gonzalez had lapped at 99mph. His next tour looked even faster and, yes, the magic 100mph had been topped at last!’

‘The interesting thing is that he brakes later than anybody else, actually enters the corner faster, and gets through in an immensely long drift. He has none of the ease in the cockpit that Farina exhibits, and certainly does not follow the same path every time. Unlike all the other drivers, he changes down without gunning his motor, and yet there is no clash of gears and the box stands up to the treatment. John Wyer and I listened to this for lap after lap at Woodcote, and were fair amazed. A phenomenon, this Froilan!’ Bolster observed.

gonzalez portrait

Froilan Gonzalez Ferrari 375, Silverstone 1951, lovely portrait of the Argentinian Champion (unattributed)

Gonzalez lapped Silverstone in 1 minute 43.4 seconds and was on pole, a second quicker than Fangio’s Alfa. On Friday the track was damp and those times prevailed. Froilan’s time was set without the latest the latest twin-plug V12 fitted to Ascari’s car.

Gonzalez; ‘Ferrari had the gift of instilling confidence in its drivers. Although I was still very inexperienced I arrived at Silverstone for the 1951 British Grand Prix feeling that I really belonged in the Scuderia Ferrari, feeling eager also to pit my car’s power against the almost unbeatable Alfa Romeos – and my own skill against the world’s greatest racing drivers. Silverstone was the meeting place for international statesmen, industrialists, and millionaires, all looking for excitement’.
british program

Silverstone was the first time an Alfa Romeo had not been on pole position since the world championship began the year before…

Around 50,000 spectators arrived at the Northhamptonshire circuit on the Saturday, eager to see a great contest between Alfa, Ferrari and BRM.

start

Start of the GP with Gonzalez, left on pole Fangio and Ascari #11 on the outside. Ferrari 375, Alfa 159, Ferrari 375 (unattributed)

Felice Bonetto made the best start from seventh, the front row delayed with excessive wheelspin,  and lead at the end of lap 1 but Gonzalez took over with Fangio chasing.

Gonzalez; ‘As we passed the pits for the first time I noticed that both the Alfa and Ferrari team managers were signaling the same instructions, which were in effect that we should drive our own race. The alarming start meant that team tactics must be abandoned. ‘Go for the lead’ came the urgent message and soon as I saw that I went flat-out. By the next lap I was leading’.

british bonetto

Felice Bonetto Alfa being chased by #12 Gonzalez Ferrari and #1 Farina Alfa 159 with #11 Ascari Ferrari just in shot (unattributed)

‘I could not hear them but I had the feeling that the British crowd had forgotten their usual restraint. They were jumping and waving and, it seemed to me, yelling like mad. ‘Pepito. You are ahead of the Field Marshals,’ I thought, and kept my foot hard down on the accelerator pedal. Then suddenly my rear-view mirror showed a red car, growing bigger and bigger. A signal from my pit as I shot past told me it was Fangio’s Alfa Romeo. ‘Pepito. Don’t do anything foolish. Don’t panic. Even Fangio will have to do a re-fuel.’
Within 15 laps, Fangio was five seconds ahead of Gonzalez. the duo were 44 seconds ahead of third-Farina who was scrapping with Ascari from Bonetto and Villoresi. It was Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari. The fuel stops would settle the issue.
british gonz color

Nice color panned shot of Gonzalez on the way to victory. Shows the big, butch lines of the Ferrari to good effect, the delicacy of touch required to drift the thing at 140mph readily apparent, and appreciated!  (unattributed)

Gonzalez hit the straw-bales at Becketts but gradually closed on Fangio to retake the lead on lap 39. At the end of lap 48, Fangio pitted and Gonzalez came in 13 laps later. Ascari had retired with gearbox trouble and Gonzalez climbed from his car and offered it to his team-mate.  Ascari refused and urged Gonzalez to continue. The stop took 23 seconds, Fangio’s 49  seconds, JM had his rear wheels changed and his fuel tank filled. The gap between the leaders was then 1 minute 19.2 seconds.

british pitstop

Pitsop for the thirsty Parnell BRM Type 15 ; passing is the Farina Alfa being closely watched by Alberto Ascari, astride the white line, retired from the race. The balding Raymond Mays looks away from the BRM , to Mays right beside ‘the copper’ is journalist and racer John Bolster (unattributed)

‘When Fangio caught me in the 10th lap I let him overtake, placing myself directly on his tail. We traveled in tandem, our two cars seeming to be roped together. Even when he increased speed we remained like this, driving like men pursued by the Devil himself. There was a moment of danger around the 25th lap when I took Becketts Corner too fast and hit the straw bales. But this made me keener than ever and I set off again after Fangio. I began to close on him, having been perhaps 5 or 6 seconds behind him with both of us averaging about 97 mph until, on the 39th lap, I eventually took him. Towards the end of the race I was more than a minute ahead of him’.

british gonz fangio

Gonzalez leads Fangio during their great Silverstone race (unattributed)

‘Motorsports’ August 1951 issue described the events as follows: ‘Try as Fangio could and did, it was over. Gonzalez came round, crash hat and visor in his left hand, waving them to the crowd.

‘Ferrari with the unblown 4.5-litre had at last broken the might of the two-stage supercharged 159 Alfa Romeo, as they have been threatening to do since Monza last year. Froilan Gonzalez had driven impeccably and is now in the front rank.

‘Fangio drove like the master he is, but couldn’t catch the Ferrari, nor could his longer pit-stop explain the 51 second gap and he was the meat in the Ferrari sandwich. And how these Argentinians drive!’

british win

Froilan Gonzalez takes the Silverstone chequered flag to record an historic personal and team win, Ferrari 375 (unattributed)

Villoresi was third after Farina retired at Abbey Curve, with smoke billowing from the engine compartment but the failure reported as ‘clutch’. Bonetto was a further lap behind the Ferrari in fourth.

british farina

Farina’s Alfa 159 hors ‘d combat on lap 75 with a failed clutch (unattributed)

Reg Parnell was 5th in the BRM with Walker 7th. The BRM drivers completed the race burned by their exhausts and dazed by fuel vapours. In the hurry to complete the cars for the race, the exhausts hadn’t been properly insulated and the drivers were ‘cooked’.

brm

The BRM Type 15′ s get away at the start; Walker left 7th and Reg Parnell #6 5th (unattributed)

‘It was very confusing’ said Gonzalez aftewards, ‘But very exciting. Everyone was shouting and talking; the mechanics saying over and over again that the Alfa Romeos had been beaten. Then I was taken to meet the Queen and given a laurel wreath. Of course, I understood little of what was said but it was a very nice feeling to have all those people congratulating me.

‘On the winners podium I was embraced warmly by Fangio. That meant a lot to me. Then they played the Argentine National Anthem. I had never experienced anything like this before. When I saw my country’s flag being hoisted, it was just too much for me and I cried. That moment will live with me for ever.’

british wife

Gonzalez being congratulated by his wife and crew after the historic win, the enormity of it all still to set in (unattributed)

Enzo Ferrari’s dogged determination to win Grands Prix with his own cars was achieved against Alfa Romeo, for whom for many years he lead their pre-War racing programs. It was the first time the Alfas had been beaten since the first post-war French Grand Prix in 1946.

At the end of the season, Alfa Romeo applied for a significant increase in their government grant, the company still within the control of the agency which took it over after its insolvency pre-war. It was refused and the team withdrew from Grand Prix racing, a return finally made with the provision of engines in 1970 and more wholistically as a team in 1979.

In his Richard Williams biography, Enzo Ferrari said of his first Ferrari GP victory: ‘I cried for joy. But my tears of enthusiasm were mixed with those of sorrow because I thought, today I have killed my mother’…

Etcetera…

alfa paddock

Alfa’s in the Silverstone paddock; #3 Consalvo Sanesi 6th, #1 Farina DNF (unattributed)

start 1

Front row makes a poor start; #12 Gonzalez, Farina  better away and Ascari #11 on the right with Fangio’s Alfa almost beside Ascari and Felice Bonetto, Alfa coming up quickly behind Fangio (unattributed)

ascari farina

Alberto Ascari from Giuseppe Farina Ferrari 375 and Alfa 159, Silverstone 1951, both DNF (unattributed)

pitstop

Gonzalez supervises his Ferrai pitstop whilst Ascari, right, looks on having sportingly declined to take the car offered to him by Froilan allowing him to take the well deserved win (unattributed)

Bibliography…

f1fanatic.co.uk, grandprixhistory.org, Team Dan, silhouet.com, J Perez Loizeau and Ors ‘Jose Froilan Gonzalez:The Pampas Bull’

Photo Credits…

Louis Klementaski, Getty Images, Michael Turner art

Tailpiece…

britsi art

Painting depicts Gonzalez’ pursuit of Fangio with a blue Talbot-Lago T26 ahead (Michael Turner)