Archive for April, 2017

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Brandon and Alan Brown, ‘Ecurie Richmond’ drivers with capped patron Jimmy Richmond, a haulage contractor from Nottinghamshire and mechanic Ginger Devlin at Silverstone 14 July 1951…

It’s the British Grand Prix meeting, the cars the latest Norton engined Cooper MkV 500cc F3. The motors were tuned by the highly rated Steve Lancefield and Francis Beart. The very competitive drivers were first (Brandon) and second in that years Autosport F3 Championship from the JBS’ of Peter Collins and Don Parker. They didn’t win at Silverstone though, Stirling Moss won in the new Kieft CK51 from Ken Wharton and Jack Moor.

The Ecurie Richmond pair netted 16 major victories and 41 heat wins in a marvellous 1951 season. The Brands Hatch Junior Championship in ’51 was taken by Cooper mounted BC Ecclestone.

Ecurie Richmond progressed to F2 in 1952 with Brown’s Cooper T20 Bristol achieving the great marques first championship GP points with his 5th place at Bremgarten in the Swiss Grand Prix, F2 adopted as F1 in 1952-3 of course. Heady days indeed…

Credit…

GP Library, 500 Owners Association

repco

The Story of the Repco-Brabham V8 Racing Engine as conveyed in Repco Technical News Volume 12 No 2, November 1965…

This gem is from Michael Gasking’s Collection and is reproduced in all of its glory, this is the 1966 Tasman/F1 engine later more commonly referred to as ‘RB620’, its internal Repco Parts Co project code was ‘620’. It will be difficult to read on your ‘phone, a bit easier on a larger device!

We have covered this engine already in primotipo, click on the links at the end of the article for these stories. Just a couple of ‘editorial comments’ or observations.

repco-1

RB620 and F1…

No mention is made of the engines F1 application so late in the piece, the new 3 litre F1 began on 1 January 1966. Brabham and Repco were playing their cards, understandably, close to their chest. Remember the RB620 V8 first ran in a car at 3 litres not 2.5, at Goodwood before racing in the non-championship South African GP, at Kyalami on 1 January 1966.

Melbourne motoring journalist Chris de Fraga, well known and respected by generations of Victorian enthusiasts is credited with first reporting Repco’s F1 plans in the Melbourne ‘Age’ in early October 1965, a report denied by Repco at the time. This document dated November 1965 was presumably circulated in that month or the following one.

repco-2

repco-3

repco-4

Jack’s Lovechild…

Brabham’s parentage of the project is ignored in this largely technical treatise of the engine, Jack’s involvement not ‘front and centre’ in this public document given the need for F1 confidentiality.

repco-5

‘The Men’…

The duo credited with the engine in the brochure are Chief Engineer of the Repco Parts Group, Frank Hallam and Project Engineer Phil Irving, the only guy missing, as stated above is Brabham. Its worth musing for a bit about the roles these three men played in the championship winning RB620.

In simple terms Jack was the engines conceptual designer- he pitched the Repco board a simple engine using the F85 Olds block as a base whose completed dimensions were to fit the existing BT19 chassis. Phil designed it, inclusive of its drawings. Jack provided both conceptual design and practical feedback to Phil on regular visits to Irving who was based near Brabhams early in 1964 as he progressed the engines design. All of the ‘RB620’ drawings were done by Phil and signed by him according to ex-Repco engineer and Repco Historian, Nigel Tait who has seen and reviewed them all in the process of archiving them with RMIT University, Melbourne, in recent years. Hallam was Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. General Manager and Chief Engineer. His role was primarily a management one although he had engineering oversight, his direct design and engineering input into RB620 something Hallam has sought to grab a greater share of down the decades.

After Irving’s death, Hallam in his book ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ comprehensively dumps all over Irving and seeks to take more credit than he is due for the ‘RB620’ engine inclusive of positioning Irving as its ‘draftsman’ – ‘draftsman casual’ in the employee list in his books Appendix. In fact all of the ‘Drawing Office Personnel’ listed are described as ‘draftsman’ despite several being degree qualified engineers. Hallam, on the other hand, formally qualified as a motor mechanic, lists himself as General Manager/Chief Engineer. The positioning he inaccurately seeks to convey is clear. In that context its interesting to see Phil’s title as ‘Project Engineer’ in this Repco publication of the day.

The very well known F1 engine designer and manufacturer John Judd joined the Repco Brabham Engines Maidstone design team at Jack Brabham’s behest in 1966. He pretty much unwittingly walked into a storm in terms of the final breakdown in the progressively declining working relationship between Hallam and Irving. Judds arrival at Maidstone was unannounced by Frank to Phil, the design leader at the time, thereby lighting the fuse for a final confrontation which was becoming increasingly inevitable.

Judd got the ‘rounds of the kitchen’ from Phil when he joined RBE according to both Phil’s autobiography and Frank’s book but Judd has this to say about Irving’s contribution to ‘RB620’ in a recent ‘Vintage Racecar’ magazine interview;

‘When Jack returned (to the UK) from the (1966) Tasman  series, he asked if I could go to Melbourne almost immediately, and work with Repco designing parts toward the next year’s engine. That lasted for about four months and I was back again for six months in 1967 working on the 1968 4-cam engine.’

‘The original 1966 engine had been designed almost 100% by Phil Irving of Velocette and HRD fame with input from Jack and Ron Tauranac, but Phil didn’t fit in well with the Repco corporate structure and fell out with his boss Frank Hallam. My insertion into an already fragile situation led to Phil leaving after I had been there two months or so, and to his replacement by Norm Wilson. Looking back at Jack’s 1966 World Championship winning engine, I believe it was largely the product of one man, Phil Irving, to an extent that is and will remain unique.’

Don’t get me wrong, Hallam played a vastly important role in marshalling Repco corporate resources to assemble the men and modern machines to build World Championship winning engines in 1966 and 1967. He was also a wonderful foil between the demanding requirements of the Repco Board and the daily dramas in Maidstone of building and servicing racing V8 engines so far from Brabham Racing Organisation’s Guildford base. But his contribution is more management than engineering detail of RB620 when objectively looked at in the context of all the published evidence and the views of those there at the time.

The antipathy between Irving and Hallam was and is well known, few Repco people want to go ‘on record’ about the topic, which is both understandable and frustrating at the same time. They, rightfully, recognise the contributions of both men. Irving’s book is respectful of Hallam, Hallam’s of Irving not so and was published well after Phil’s death- the shit-canning of Irving is grubby and un-Australian really. If you are going to ‘have a crack’ do so when the other dude can defend himself. Hallam’s book was contracted by him from Simon Pinder, the author. It is not objective as such (neither is Irving’s autobiography of course) but does add much to fill in the RBE story, the long interview with ’67 RB740 designer Norman Wilson is gold for example,  but the books quality varies from gold to ‘merde’ depending upon the chapter. One needs quite a lot of Repco knowledge to pick the chapters to treasure and those to treat with rather more circumspection.

Nigel Tait told me that Jack Brabham was very angry with a fair bit of the contents of the book- it would have been a good idea for the great man to have read its contents before writing the publications foreword! I will explore the relationship between Irving and Hallam, and Hallam’s claims, in detail, soon. In short, this Repco corporate piece puffs up Hallam’s racing background and downplays Irving’s, ‘twould be interesting to know who ‘signed off’ the content of this document before it’s publication.

Enjoy ‘The Story of The Repco-Brabham V8 Racing Engine’, its sensational. Wish I had it when Rodway Wolfe and I tackled the articles linked below 2 years ago!, having said that we have included a good bit of granular stuff not included in this official publication, so read together are not a bad crack at the ‘RB620’ subject…

Bibliography…

Repco, ‘Vintage Racecar’ magazine, ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ Simon Pinder

Credits…

Michael Gasking Collection

Tailpiece: Repco Brabham Boys, Longford, March 1966…

Phil Irving, with collar and tie chats to Brabham whilst Frank Hallam at right susses the Brabham BT19’s suspension. Not sure what Roy Billington is up to. Note the long inlet trumpets of the Tasman 2.5 RBE620 V8. Its the engines 3rd race, South African GP then Sandown Tasman the week before Longford. Jack was 3rd with overheating and low fuel, Jackie Stewart won in a BRM P261 from Graham Hill’s sister BRM. Its 6 or 7 March 1966. BT19 was Jack’s F1 championship winning 1966 car, still in Oz owned by Repco (oldracephotos.com/Harold Ellis)

 

 

hawthorn

(Klemantaski)

 A study in concentration, Mike Hawthorn at work and on the way to fourth place at Aintree, Lancia Ferrari 801, British Grand Prix 1957…

But Mike was hardly ‘the main game’ in this race, a pivotal one in GP history.

Tony Brooks and Stirling Moss shared a Vanwall to win at home, thereby scoring the first world championship victory for a British car, the beginning of a period of dominance by British teams, largely undiminished for the last 50 years. Also noteworthy and equally epochal was the appearance of two Cooper T43 Climaxes driven by Roy Salvadori and Jack Brabham.

Behra led from the start but Moss passed him before the end of the first lap, then came Brooks, Hawthorn, Collins, four Brits in the first five.

Moss’s Vanwall started to run roughly so he pitted, taking the wheel of Brooks sister car, who was summoned to the pits, Moss rejoined 9th and started carving his way through the field. By this stage Jean led from Hawthorn, who was unable to challenge the Frenchie, then came Lewis-Evans, Vanwall, and Collins. Moss was soon up to 5th aided by mechanical failures which befell Fangio and Collins.

Poor, Jean, his clutch exploded whilst in the lead, Hawthorn ran over some of the schrapnel the Frenchman dropped, puncturing a Continental. Stuart Lewis-Evans then momentarily lead but was quickly swallowed by Moss, Stuart’s throttle linkage broke but it mattered not, Moss won the race from Musso, Hawthorn, Trintignant/Collins all in Lancia Ferrari’s with Roy Salvadori in the little 2 litre Cooper T43 5th

image

Credit…

Louis Klementaski, GP Encyclopaedia

long beach

(Klemantaski)

Clay Regazzoni oblivious to the ‘Queen Mary’s existence as he races to victory from pole in his Ferrari 312T, US Grand Prix West in March 1976…

I’ve never been to the place but Chris Pook’s idea was a great piece of entrepreneurship.

His first 1975 event, a marvellous demonstration of what is great about F5000 was followed by a championship GeePee in ’76. The other thing that captured my imagination about the place was the Depailler in-car Tyrrell footage. If you weren’t a PD fan, I always was, you had to be so after seeing him flick the 500bhp beastie through the Long Beach boulevards as though it were a 100bhp Lola T342 Formula Ford. The ability that separates the greats from the rest of us. Check it out if you’ve not seen it, look again if you have!;

longbeach clay

Nice portrait of Regga in 1978, Shadow Ford. Looks like a a Bell photo shoot ! (Getty)

Regga, a GP driver with a personality, they seem to breed it out of ‘em these days, anodyne boring liddl’ fuggers they all seem to be. The Swiss Italian had a great weekend in California winning from teammate Niki Lauda’s 312T and Depailler’s Tyrrell 007 DFV, the sound of which (Tyrrell 008 anyway) screaming in protest you can see, hear and feel in the footage above.

Tailpiece: Niki Lauda prepares for the off in the other Fazz 312T, 2nd place for the plucky Austrian reigning champion…

longbeach lauda

Niki Lauda contemplates changes to his Ferrari 312T during Long Beach practice. Mauro Forghieri’s 312T-T4, jewels of cars, circa 525bhp @ 11000 rpm at this stage of the 3 litre flat-12;s long front-running life (Schlegelmilch)

Credits…

Klemantaski Collection, Rainer Schlegelmilch

One of our online friends, Rob Bartholomaeus, sent me these excerpts from the program of the ‘S.A. Centenary Grand Prix’. I was going to add them to the article I wrote about the race quite a while ago, but they were too good to disappear without trace within an existing article, so here they are…

Then I started thinking about history and the recording, interpretation and restatement in relation thereto.

There was no ‘Australian Grand Prix’ held in 1936 or 1937.

The 32 lap, 240 mile ‘South Australian Centenary Grand Prix’ was held on 26 December 1936 and down the decades, no-one seems to know who started it, has been acknowledged as the 1937 AGP despite being held on 26 December 1936 and despite not being called the AGP at the time.

Graham Howard in his introduction to the seminal, defining, authoritative and entirely wonderful ‘The 50 Year History of The Australian Grand Prix’ (HAGP) describes the reporting of motor racing in the early days in Australia as being ‘casual to the point of useless’. He then cites as an example of the lack of precision in reporting the AGP ‘the wonderful way in which a race staged in 1936 as the South Australian Centenary Grand Prix could, within a few years, acquire not only Australian Grand Prix status, but rank as the AGP for 1937’.

Go figure.

There is some ‘competition’ globally as to which countries have ‘the longest continuous’ Grand Epreuve, the French have the oldest which was first held in 1906.The Italian commenced in 1921, Belgian in 1925, German GP in 1926 and the Australian in 1927- these races are the longest continuing GP’s. The US and Britain for example, don’t qualify in ‘the longest continuing’ as both had big gaps when the event was not held despite the races being first run in 1908 and 1926 respectively. I’ve given the Germans a free kick as they were ‘black-balled’ till 1950 post-war, you can take them off the list if you are not as generous in spirit as me in your ‘longest continuous’ definition!

As in Australia with the 1936 ‘South Australian Centenary Grand Prix’ and the 1928 ‘100 Miles Road Race’ at Phillip Island, both later appropriated as Australian Grands Prix, some of the events globally were not held as ‘The Whatever Grand Prix’ at the time they were conducted either. Rather they were adopted later as such, as part of the continuum of the countries premier road racing event in that year. The first American GP, at Savannah, Georgia was ‘The 1908 Grand Prize of The Automobile Club of America’ and the first British GP held at Brooklands was entitled ‘1 Royal Automobile Club Grand Prix’.

In recent times an Australian motoring historian, David Manson whilst trawling through some Sydney newspapers in the early 1980’s discovered that an Australian Grand Prix was held in Goulburn, 200Km from Sydney on 15 January 1927.

This 6 lap event was won by local racer Geoff Meredith in a Bugatti T30. 7 cars contested the races on an oval dirt layout, 1 mile and 75 yards long around the Goulburn Showgrounds. The contest comprised 2 heats and a final between the quickest pair.

Whether a six lapper lasting 6 minutes 14.8 seconds between 2 cars on an oval dirt course is a ‘Grand Prix’, even in the Australian context of the time, let alone the European one is debatable. The fact is, an event named, styled, promoted and run as the ‘Australian Grand Prix’ ‘for all powers racing cars’ was contested in Goulburn on 15 January 1927.

John Lackey has edited a stunning little book titled ‘A History of Australia’s First Grand Prix’ with contributions by a number of people including the highly respected John Medley, one of the authors of HAGP, it’s a must for any Australian enthusiasts library. One of the reasons the book is significant is Medley’s coverage of the event and it’s competitors but more so his perspective of the role motorcyclists and their clubs had in paving the way for car racing in Australia- they were the true racing pioneers Medley records. It’s not a perspective I’d read before. More about this race meeting another time.

To the point of David Manson’s hugely significant discovery the first AGP was acknowledged as being the ‘100 Miles Road Race’ held by the Victorian Light Car Club for cars of no more than 2 litres capacity, at Phillip Island on 31 March 1928. The race on a rectangular, 6.5 mile dirt road course near Cowes was later appropriated as the first AGP despite the name. The first AGP held under that name was also promoted by the Victorian Light Car Club at Phillip Island in 1929. The VLCC staged the event annually at the island until 1935.

As a result of the 1927 Goulburn event discovery, the HAGP published originally in 1986, was reprinted to add the 1927 AGP as it’s first chapter in 2015.

So, its a fact that the first Australian Grand Prix was held on 15 January 1927. Its a fact the ‘South Australian Centenary Grand Prix’, later appropriated as an Australian Grand Prix, I have no issue with that, was held on 26 December 1936. The event, won by Les Murphy’s MG P Type as matter of fact is the 1936 Australian Grand Prix not, without wanting to belabour the point, the 1937 Australian Grand Prix.

Adding the 1927 GP to the new edition of HAGP updated and corrected history, which, as we can all see from the very late discovery of the Goulburn event is a living, breathing thing. Why not also have altered the date of the Australian Grand Prix of 1937 and call it what it factually was and is- ‘The 1936 Australian Grand Prix’. HAGP is ‘The Bible’ on these things, an opportunity was lost, sadly.

Its all about history, it’s recording, interpretation and restatement, which I think is about where I came in. Sorry to be a pedant, but it’s just plain wrong and always has been. That the 26 December 1936 SA Centenary GP is ‘generally accepted’ as the 1937 AGP does not make it right let alone factually correct.

I know such a change wouldn’t contribute to world peace, it doesn’t really matter, but just sayin’…

Credit…

Rob Bartholomaeus Collection

Bibliography…

‘The 50 Year History of The AGP’ by G Howard and Ors, ‘The 1927 Australian Grand Prix’ Editor John Lackey, ‘A History of Australian Grand Prix 1928-1939’ by John Blanden

Tailpiece: Geoff Meredith aboard his Bugatti T30 at Goulburn during his victorious AGP meeting in 1927…

Whilst a top NSW driver of the day at places like the daunting Maroubra Speedway in Sydney, Geoff Meredith was a Goulburn local, a sheep grazier from nearby Windellama. His 2 litre straight-8 Bugatti T30 won a purse of £50- a ‘Grand Prize’ at the time, the Bug, is, happily still in Oz. Meredith died of pneumonia he contracted by exposure to the elements at the Isle of Man, he was in a support role to a group of Australian riders less than 12 months after his AGP win (unattributed)

 

image

Brian Redman looking pretty relaxed  prior to the start of the Monza 1000 Km on 25 April 1972…

It was a happy weekend (and year) for Ferrari, the Ickx/ Regazzoni 312PB won from the Jost/Schuler Porsche 908/3 with the sister SEFAC Fazz of the two great mates Petersen/Schenken third. Brian’s car was out on lap 32, the car was co-driven by Arturo Merzario.

Redman had a good year though, he won at Spa, a supreme test of high speed finesse, with ‘Little Art’ and at the Zeltweg 1000 Km paired with Ickx. Merzario took another win as well, Targa a big challenge, this time of speed and accuracy on the unforgiving, difficult to learn ‘Little Madonie’, in the singleton Ferrari entry he shared with rally ace Sandro Munari.

image

Ickx, Peterson and Redman lead away, Ferrari 312PB’s, gloomy Monza 1000Km 1972 (unattributed)

The only race of significance they didn’t win, didn’t enter for that matter was the one which mattered most, Le Mans. Ferrari chose not to enter due to the difficulty the team had in making its 3 litre F1 adapted flat-12 last 24 hours, a problem Matra didn’t have with its far less successful in F1, V12! Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo won Le Mans in a Matra MS670, Matra breaking through for a long awaited French win at Le Mans. The fact that arch rivals Ferrari were absent made the win no less satisfying…

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece…

image

 

 

ach 1

Achille Varzi in need of a ciggie after a great win in his Bugatti T51, 1933 Monaco Grand Prix…

Varzi started racing on motorcycles, in 1928 he established a partnership racing a stable of Bug T35’s with Tazio Nuvolari, his career, which flourished with Alfa Romeo is a story for another time.

ach 2

The race was held on 23rd April 1933 and is significant as the first GP in which practice times determined grid positions rather than a ballot.

In one of the greatest grands prix ever, Tazio Nuvolari’s Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Monza and Varzi’s works Bugatti duelled throughout the race swapping the lead many times. The result was determined on the last lap when the great Mantuan was disqualified for a push start after his car caught fire, an oil line split and ignited! Baconin Borzacchini was 2nd and Rene Dreyfus 3rd in Monza and T51 respectively.

Credits…

Hulton Archive

Tailpiece: Varzi and Bugatti T51…

ach 3

 

dino trak road

I always figured this is what Ferrari ownership is all about. Having rather attractive young ladies throwing themselves at you?!…

Clearly this little minx is keen on Pininfarina’s stunning coachwork if not the size of the drivers wallet. What is it my ‘little sabre-toothed tigress’ tells me, ‘even you ugly blokes look good standing on your wallets’.

Australian social ducumentary photographer Rennie Ellis captured a 1974 Toorak Road, South Yarra, Melbourne ritual that is still played out pretty much the same way 40 years on…

Photo Credit…Rennie Ellis

moss 1

(Bert Hardy)

Stirling Moss sets off on his first test laps of an ‘orrible looking Mercedes Benz W196, Hockenheim 4 December 1954…

Stirling Moss started the 1954 Grand Prix season, the first year of the 2.5 litre formula with a customer Maserati 250F acquired with family resources and some trade support. By seasons end he was Officine Maserati’s ‘team leader’ albeit unsigned by them for 1955 which rather created an opportunity for others.

Mercedes re-entered Grand Prix racing from the ’54 French Grand Prix and quickly, again, became the dominant force. The idea for this article was finding some Bert Hardy ‘Picture Post’ images of Stirling Moss’ first test of the W196 at Hockenheim on 4 December 1954, the precursor to him joining the great marque for 1955.

Some quick research uncovered an article written by Mattijs Diepraam and Felix Muelas on 8w.forix.com, a great website if you haven’t tripped over it by the way.

It’s a ripper article the contents of which they sourced from Ken Gregory’s and Stirling Moss’ books. Rather than re-invent the wheel I have truncated their article a smidge without taking away their interesting, nitty-gritty of circumstances around Stirling and Alfred Moss, and Moss’ Manager, Ken Gregory’s deliberations and negotiations about ‘the boy’s 1955 contractual commitments.

‘The Hockenheimring, was still raced anti-clockwise like they do at Indianapolis when Stirling Moss flew in to test the car that was the class of the field from the word go at the 1954 French GP.

After a few laps he knew. And then there was that handsome offer made to Ken Gregory. Mercedes simply wanted Moss and the effort to get him was meticulously planned. It left Gregory gaping at the negotation table – as he readily admits in his highly entertaining 1960 book ‘Behind the scenes of Motor Racing.’

‘And still it almost went wrong – although knowing Neubauer cum suis a plan B and even plan C would have been rushed out of the Untertürkheim premises forthwith. The first thing Moss and Gregory noticed of Mercedes-Benz interest was a brief and factual telegram by Daimler-Benz AG enquiring about the availability of Stirling Moss for 1955.’

“CABLE WHETHER STIRLING MOSS BOUND FOR 1955 STOP. OUR INQUIRY WITHOUT COMMITMENT – DAIMLER-BENZ.”

‘Stirling’s gut reaction was no. He had a signed contract with Shell-Mex and BP for 1954 and 1955 and was sure of a sponsorship clash with Mercedes suppliers, Castrol. Beside that, the contract was a done deal and he would not think of dissolving it so shortly after he had given his word – of which, in Stirling’s view, the contract was merely a written confirmation. He didn’t have time to think about it anyway, as he was due to leave for the US, to race in the so-called Mountain Rally.’

moss 3

Moss relays to Rudy Uhlenhaut left and Karl Kling what its like out there, car far less forgiving than the 250F Moss raced in 1954. Stirling has done plenty of laps by the look of his face (Bert Hardy)

‘Gregory thought otherwise, and after consulting Alfred Moss, decided to go Stuttgart himself. On the advice of Stirling’s dad, Ken armed himself with monstrous demands, to act like a tough British cookie and see what happens. It was a total shock to Gregory to find that Herr Neubauer, the long-time Mercedes boss, was infinitely better prepared for the meeting. Not only did the overbearing team manager come up with the most remarkable details of Stirling’s career – he also came up with a figure that would amount to Moss’ salary, a number that froze Gregory to the ground and left him gasping for air until he got on the flight back to England.’

‘Before leaving he convinced Alfred Neubauer to pair Moss with Fangio in the new 300 SLR sportscar, and of giving Stirling a test before anything was signed. The rest of the deal was ironed out on the spot. The Shell and BP matter was conveniently postponed until after Stirling’s arrival.’

‘On his return Gregory phoned Stirling in the States, having tracked him down in the Rootes building in New York. Initially an irritated Stirling reiterated his view on the contract with Shell and BP but then Ken told him about the contract terms – the sportscar pairing with Fangio, the permission to race his 250F in non-championship events – and, of course, the money involved. An honourable human being he may be, Stirling is only human as well. This was too good to be true.’

‘According to Gregory his stance immediately made an about-turn. And this is where Stirling’s own account of things takes off in his 1957 book In Track of Speed… “I was to receive the sensational and most encouraging news that the German Mercedes firm was ready and anxious to sign me as one of their official Grand Prix team for 1955. It is not easy, now, properly to analyse my feelings when the news reached America. I had gone over there to compete in the Mountain Rally, and had driven a Sunbeam in a trio of cars which won the team prize. When I heard of the Mercedes offer, I was a little awed, a little bewildered, and very pleased. With all my experience, I had not done a lot of real racing in the Grand Prix series on cars which stood a real chance. True, I had led the Maserati team for the latter half of the year, but to have a place in that all-conquering team – and I felt in my bones that it would all-conquering – was to give me a unique personal opportunity.”

And this is the November 22 entry for Stirling’s diary: “Up early, called on Jaguars, then to Rootes, where Ken called and told me of the fantastic Merc offer. Wow!”

Enough said.

moss 2

Neubauer projects and Moss listens and talks to Uhlenhaut (Bert Hardy)

Hockenheim Test and Build-up…

‘Between November 22 and December 3 lay a couple of weeks that became a string of field days for the press. The latter date would be the day of Moss’ return flight to London where he would meet up with his father and manager, the three of them flying straight through to Frankfurt for the planned test on December 4. In the meantime, Jerry Ames of Downtons, the British publicity agent for Mercedes-Benz did everything to alert his Fleet Street colleagues on the arrival of the important test, and this caused a flurry of reports on the Moss-Mercedes case. Did he have a verbal agreement with Maserati? What about the Shell/BP deal? How much would Neubauer be willing to fork out? And where were the principles of a man that had stated that he wanted to win the World Championship in a British car?’

‘All of it was fairly benign, though. From the US, Stirling had already released a carefully worded statement about his ambition to win the Championship in a British car but that there was very little hope in doing so the following year, and that as a professional racer he really had no other option than to accept the offer. These words were generally accepted as sincere. On the day of the test, however, the press were dealt a red herring by a wicked Neubauer. Although the news of the test was carefully leaked by Ames, leading to Picture Post magazine sending their feature writer Trevor Philpots and star photographer Bert Hardy on a plane to Frankfurt the very same day, the two Brits were picked up by a Mercedes-Benz driver pretending to have no knowledge of English and driven off in the wrong direction. It left Neubauer in the safe knowledge that Moss would say yes to them first before the British press could get hold of a possible no. The Picture Post duo were only allowed onto the Hockenheim grounds by the time the serious business was long underway.’

‘And so Stirling arrived at Hockenheim undisturbed to find everything thoroughly prepared for his test. And that’s understating things- to Moss and his party thoroughness was redefined. Mercedes chief engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut had seen to it that the car had every aspect modified to Stirling’s build and style. So that was one excuse out of the way. Then there was Mercedes regular Karl Kling to set a yardstick – one that was set at 200kph just days before by the same Kling. But there had been a recent rainstorm, so that when Stirling did his reconnaissance laps on a 220A saloon, then switching to the 300SL gullwing sportscar, the track was still wet. These first laps soon created a dry-ish line on which Moss got his first hand on the W196.’

‘He thought it (the W196) was uncompromising, as any Mercedes driver would reveal. He admitted as such to a watchful Ken Gregory. “Stirling was not immediately at home with the Merc, and while Kling was circulating he told me he thought it was a very difficult car to drive; it was ‘fighty’, inclined to oversteer, and much more sensitive to handle than the Maserati, though the power, he said, was ‘fantastic’.” Despite being confused by the peculiar transmission at first he felt confident that he could master the car. He got down to a 2.15 – comparing to an average of 201kph – a time that was later equalled by Kling on a track still drier. A previously nervous Uhlenhaut was by now beaming with pleasure. A short discussion followed with Alfred Moss and Gregory, after which Stirling concluded that he should take Mercedes up on their offer, assuming that the sponsorship clash between the oil companies could be solved – and indeed it was solved in a most gracious way, with Bryan Turdle, competitions manager of Shell-Mex and BP, not hesitating to release Stirling from his 1955 Shell commitments.’

image

Neubauer and a thoughtful Moss, the most recent of so many stars the German worked with (Bert Hardy)

Maserati Intervention…

Then came another thing to be solved. During the test a telegram arrived for Neubauer. It came from Commendatore Orsi of Maserati, claiming he had a contract with Moss and that Mercedes should back off. The claim was understandable as Moss had quickly become the lead Maserati driver since his display at the 1954 Italian GP and Orsi wasn’t particularly keen to see the second best driver of the world go off and team up with Fangio, doubling Maserati’s task. But Moss Sr and Gregory were able to convince the Germans that Stirling had in fact not agreed to anything, not even verbally. And so Stirling Moss was announced as the number two Mercedes-Benz driver for 1955 shortly after.’

‘For Moss the choice of Mercedes was obvious…The British manufacturers were a long way from threatening the establishment, and the new Climax engine was still not ready. Mercedes-Benz by all means were. And they showed it at that December 4 test. It had been a test with a thoroughness previously unseen by British drivers. But also one with immaculate attention for the human being inside the driver. That was Mercedes-Benz too. This is Stirling’s own recollection of the comfort he was supplied with as soon as he got back to the pits: “What really impressed me was that as I clambered out of the car, rummaging in my pockets for a handkerchief or rag to wipe my face, a mechanic suddenly appeared, bearing hot water, soap, a flannel and a towel! Out there in the middle of the desolate Hockenheimring this was forethought I could hardly credit. I thought then that to be associated with such an organization could not be bad…”

 Checkout my article on the Mercedes W196…

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/09/mercedes-benz-w196-french-gp-1954/

Photo Credits…

Bert Hardy

Bibliography…

8w.forix.com article ‘How Stirling Got His Mercedes Breakthrough’ by Mattijs Diepraam and Felix Muelas

Tailpiece…

image

Neubauer, Alfred and Stirling Moss toast 1955 success, a year of bitter sweet for the great marque, Le Mans not in their wildest, worst dreams (Bert Hardy)

 

image

Look at the detail; magneto, injection trumpets, rocker cover, throttle linkage, Moto-Lita steering wheel, Smiths chronometric tach, just so period. Top shot, the open garage door gives the photo another dimension to it (Denniston)

Peter Revson and McLaren’s Teddy Mayer looking frustrated and wistfull, respectively, at Peter’s Lola T220 Chev during the ‘Klondike 200’ Can Am round at Edmonton, Canada on 25 July 1970…

Revvie drove Carl Haas’ factory Lola T220 Chev with great speed if little reliability in 1970, switching to McLaren for 1971 and mopping up the championship in the M8F.

He then vaulted back into F1 to complete the ‘unfinished business’ he had first started in Europe a decade or so before. Peter’s platform to do so were his performances in McLaren Indy and Can Am cars in 1971/2.

image

Revson during the ‘Klondike 200’, Edmonton, Canada 1970, Lola T220 Chev (Denniston)

McLaren had a good weekend in Edmonton, a one/two for Denny and Peter Gethin. Revson qualified his twitchy, challenging Lola 9th and retired from the race on lap 31 with an oil leak. His best results for the year were Q2’s at Mid Ohio and Road America, he finished 2nd at Mid Ohio. He achieved two Q3’s at Riverside and Laguna Seca, finishing 3rd at the latter.

Revvie may have only finished eighth in the 1970 Can Am Drivers Pointscore but his speed and potential was blindingly obvious to Teddy Mayer…

Credits…John Denniston

image

(Denniston)

 

 

Doncha lerv Can Am cars in the nuddy?!…

Eric Broadley’s Lola T220 Chev laid bare for the world to see in the Edmonton paddock. Aluminium monocoque, ally ZL1 Chev, the sheer scale of these engines somewhat camouflaged with bodywork in situ. Just how high they sit in the chassis, and the consequent driving challenges which flow from the physics in relation thereto very clear!

Click on the links attached for more of my Can Am articles, the Lola T260 one has more technical details about the T220.

Tailpiece: Revson aboard his McLaren M8F Chev during the Molson 200 weekend, 26 September 1971…

image

Twelve months later in the middle of a great season for Revson. Works M8F, Denny won with Peter 12th after problems from pole (Denniston)