Posts Tagged ‘Juan Manuel Fangio’

JMF trying to stay warm at chilly Silverstone, 5 October 1970…

In this day and age of every Tom, Dick and Irving recording their every exploit from the bedroom to the mountain top it’s instructive to look at just how far we have come in camera packaging over four decades or so.

Patrice Pouget is just about to shoot some action footage from a precariously mounted camera atop the svelte tail of a Maserati 250F for a documentary on the great mans life. ‘Fangio’, directed by Hugh Hudson and narrated by the champ himself was released in 1971.

I must watch it.

Credit…

Terry Disney

Tailpiece…

 

(B Howard)

The Light Car Club of Australia achieved a major promotional coup by securing Juan Manuel Fangio’s attendance at the fiftieth anniversary of the first Australian Grand Prix held at Sandown, Melbourne on 10 September 1978…

Here (above) the great man ponders his car during practice. Fangio raced a Mercedes Benz W196 2.5 litre straight-eight engined Grand Prix car, the design with which he won his 1954 and 1955 World Championships- whilst noting the two wins he took in Maserati 250F’s in 1954 before joining Mercedes from the French Grand Prix.

JMF wanted to drive in a Polo-Shirt as he did in the day but the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport would have none of that, hence the overalls over his normal clothes.

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

Fangio W196 on display behind the Sandown grandstand- the ‘Interstate Betting’ is a function of the place’s prime function- donkey races (mouserat159)

(S Dalton Collection)

Fangio hooks the big Mercedes into Dandenong Road corner at Sandown (I Smith)

The Sandown event created huge interest far beyond the racing fraternity, including articles in such unlikely places as the ‘Australian Womens Weekly’, normally the province of the Royal Family, cooking recipes and similar – such was the mans immense global stature decades after his last championship win in 1957. He won five F1 titles of course- in 1951 in an Alfa 159, 1954/5 Benz W196, 1956 Lancia-Ferrari 801 and the final in 1957 aboard a Maserati 250F.

It was the Argentinian’s first visit to Australia, he had planned to race in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games GP at Albert Park, a race won by Stirling Moss in a Maser 250F, but in the end conflicting commitments scuttled the idea. He returned to Melbourne in 1981 and came to Adelaide twice I think, the sight of him blasting along Adelaide roads during the wonderful 1986 ‘Eagle On The Hill’ run from the city up through the Adelaide Hills to the top of Mount Lofty is not something any of the large number who saw it will readily forget either. He drove a Mercedes sports-racer, a 300SLR on that occasion. If memory serves he may have boofed an Alfa Romeo Alfetta 159 of the type he raced in 1951 at Adelaide doing a demo- by that stage he would have been well into his late seventies mind you.

Fangio contested a ‘Race of Champions’ at Sandown which included Jack Brabham aboard his 1966 championship winning Brabham BT19 Repco ‘620’, and former Australian Champions Bill Patterson in a Cooper T51 Climax and Bob Jane in a Maserati 300S. Both were cars they had raced in period and retained.

(mouserat159)

All eyes were on the Fangio, Brabham ‘battle’ over the three lap journey of course, the footage well known to most of you says it all in terms of the speed and spirit in which the cars were driven, note that JMF was 67 at the time and had suffered two heart attacks in the years before his visit.

(C Griffiths)

The sight and sound of Fangio driving the big, noisy W196 on the throttle, kicking it sideways in the manner for which he was famous lap after lap in practice around Sandown’s third-gear Shell Corner onto Pit Straight is forever etched in my memory. He could still boogie at that stage- well and truly.

As you all know, normally the paddock is a hive of activity with mechanics and engineers getting on with necessary preparation of their steed for the next session or race. Sandown’s then layout afforded those in the paddock a great view of the cars on circuit from or near the pit counter. On the occasions that Fangio was on circuit the tents in the cuddly-small Sandown paddock were empty as drivers and mechanics watched Fangio strut his stuff. It was simply not to be missed whatever the competitive needs of the moment were.

It’s always funny to re-live discussions of ‘that weekend’ with fellow enthusiasts as so many of us were there from all over this vast land, all having a different experience or highlight but equally excited recollections of it all despite the elapse of forty years. As a student at the time I was there from the meetings start to finish, it was sad when it was all over, I was very conscious of the fact that I had witnessed something special.

Fangio was the President of Mercedes Argentina and owner of two dealerships when he visited Oz and had to ‘sing for his supper’ over the week he was here. He did a range of promotional events, dinners and drives with motoring writers to promote, mainly, the ‘Benz 450 SEL 6.9 which was the range-topper at the time, a snip at $A68,500 in 1978.

(C Griffiths)

Postscript…

The 1978 AGP, held to F5000, was a race of attrition won by Graham McRae in his see-through perspex cockpit McRae GM3 Chev from John David Briggs and Peter Edwards in Matich A51 Repco and Lola T332 Chev respectively.

In fact it was an entirely forgettable AGP- very bad accidents hurt both Garrie Cooper, Elfin MR8 Chev and Alan Hamilton, Lola T430 Chev. These very high speed shunts, together with a tangle that eliminated second placed Jon Davison’s T332 and Vern Schuppan’s Elfin MR8 Chev on lap 28- and a broken head-gasket for pole-sitter John McCormack’s unique ex-F1 McLaren M23 Leyland conspired to rob a race which had lots of potential.

An arcane end to this piece.

It’s a long story, but a decade or so ago, an Australian enthusiast ‘discovered’ in contemporary newspaper reports that a very short race named ‘Australian Grand Prix’, was contested on an oval layout at Goulburn’s racecourse, New South Wales on 15 January 1927.

This race was shortly thereafter recognised by many, but not all historians as ‘the first Australian Grand Prix’ thereby replacing the previous event which held that honour, the ‘100 Miles Road Race’ held at Phillip Island in 1928, later recognised as the first AGP.

So, Juan Manuel Fangio was here in 1978 to celebrate the fifty-first AGP not the fiftieth…

https://primotipo.com/2017/04/14/1936-australian-grand-prix-victor-harbour/

Photo / Other Credits…

Bruce Howard, John Stoneham aka Stonie, Chris Griffiths, Stephen Dalton Collection

Tailpiece: I wonder which particular W196 chassis Fangio ran here in 1978?…

(mouserat159)

Big butt isn’t it? All fuel and oil tank, its an object lesson in Vittorio Jano’s design intent with the D50 Lancia to get the fuel between the wheelbase via his pannier-tanks. I’ve a vague recollection this particular chassis was fitted with a 3 litre SLR engine for demonstration purposes rather than the GeePee 2.5? Interesting the way the body comes together too.

Finito…

 

Reg Hunt, second from right, and his band of merry men fettle his Maserati A6GCM at his 182 Brighton Road, Elsternwick, Melbourne car dealership prior to the late March, Moomba races in 1955…

The car is being readied for the Labour Day long weekend, Moomba Races at Albert Park in which Reg did rather well. He won the Saturday 50 mile ‘Argus Cup’ from Doug Whiteford’s Talbot Lago T26C and Ted Gray’s Tornado Ford V8. On the Sunday he won the first heat of the ‘Argus Trophy’ and was well ahead in the 100 mile final when the Masers crown wheel and pinion failed, giving the win to Whiteford.

Otto Stone, racer/engineer looked after this car, it appears a few ‘technicians’ have been grabbed from Reg’s dealership workshop for this photo taken by the crew of  ‘The Argus’ newspaper. The publication was a major sponsor of the race meeting as reflected in the silverware won by Reg, no doubt they published an article encouraging the crowds to come and see the ‘KLG Maserati, the fastest car in Australia’.

I’ve written several articles about this very fast and supremely talented English born Australian racer/businessman who retired way too early. See here; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/19/reg-hunt-australian-ace-of-the-1950s/;

and here, the ’56 Argus Trophy; https://primotipo.com/2014/10/01/1956-argus-trophy-albert-park-reg-hunt-and-lex-davison-maserati-250f-and-a6gcm-ferrari-tipo-500/

there’s more- the ’55 AGP @ Port Wakefield; https://primotipo.com/2017/07/28/battle-of-the-melbourne-motor-dealers/

After a successful season racing a Cooper 500 in the UK in 1954 Reg travelled to Modena and acquired this ex-factory chassis ‘2038’ to race back in Australia.

Toulo de Graffenried aboard his 2 litre Maser A6GCM ‘2038’ in the Goodwood paddock during the Lavant Cup meeting- an event he won on 6 April 1953 from the Roy Salvadori and Tony Rolt Connaught A Types. I wonder who the driver behind the car is? (Getty)

‘2038’ was originally built as a 2 litre F2 car in 1953- raced by Emmanuel de Graffenreid.

Many of you would know the class of the 2 litre 1952/3 F2/Grand Prix formula- F2, which at short notice became the category to which championship Grand Prix events were run in 1952/3 given the paucity of cars at the start of 1952 with Alfa’s withdrawal from GP racing and BRM’s non-appearance- were the simple, fast, 4 cylinder Ferrari 500’s. Especially chassis ‘0005’, the car raced by Alberto Ascari to a record number of wins and two World Championships in 1952 and 1953. That chassis was sold to Tony Gaze and later Lex Davison, it was an iconic racer in Australia in the fifties.

The great engineer Giacchino Colombo joined Maserati from Alfa Romeo for a consultancy which ended about June 1953, he first applied his magic touch to the 1953 A6GCM, squeezing closer the performance gap between the Maser and Ferrari 500.

He changed the engine from being square to oversquare, a bore/stroke of 76.22x72mm, squeezing a few more revs and raised the power of the 2 litre, DOHC, 2 valve, 40 DCO3 Weber carbed, Marelli sparked six cylinder engine to circa 190 bhp @ 9000 rpm. Other tweaks were to the suspension- the inclusion of an A-bracket to better locate the rear axle and brakes. Otherwise the Maserati 4CLT derived twin-tube chassis with hoop shaped bracing at the front and cockpit area, quarter elliptic sprung rigid rear axle with ZF slippery diff, twin front wishbone suspension and excellent Valerio Colotti designed 4 speed gearbox, which mated directly to the engine, were unchanged.

By the end of 1953 it seems fair to say that the high-revving Maser was better suited to the high speed circuits than the Ferrari 500, and whilst  the Maser may have had an edge in top speed the De Dion rear end of the Ferrari put its power down more effectively than the ‘cart sprung’ A6GCM. Maserati would remedy this shortcoming with the design of the 250F of course.

The talented Swiss Baron’s car was mainly entered by Enrico Plate’s team. His best results in 1953 were first placings in the Lavant and Chichester Cups at Goodwood, a heat of the International Trophy at Silverstone and the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring in May. He was also victorious at the Freiburg Hillclimb in Switzerland.

At championship level his best result was 4th in the Belgian GP when the car was a works rather than a Maserati-Enrico Plate entry. The car was also entered by the works at Zandvoort, the Dutch Grand Prix, two weeks earlier using a new chassis- the car first raced at the Siracuse GP on 22 March 1953. It raced on nine occasions with the original frame.

A chassis of the same number is said to have been raced and crashed by Fangio at Monza on 8 June 1952, breaking has neck. The great man crashed 2 laps into his heat as a result of being fatigued after travelling from the Ulster Trophy race, where he drove a BRM. He flew from Belfast to Paris but could not take his connecting flight to Milan due to fog. He drove a Renault 750 borrowed from Louis Rosier all night  to contest the non-championship GP of Monza Auto Club. He arrived exhausted, started the race from the back of the grid and crashed on the events second lap having run wide at Lesmo, and then thrown out of the car.

Mind you, other sources have the chassis used that day as ‘2034’…

Harry Schell contesting the non-championship Berlin GP at The Avus in 1954 aboard his Maser A6GCM ‘2038’. 8th in the race won by Karl Kling’s Mercedes W196 (Getty

Rebuilt with a Maserati 250F engine, the car was raced during the new 2.5 litre F1 in 1954 by Harry Schell as a private entry with the exception of the Pau GP, when it was works entered. Schell’s best results in 15 races was a 1st in a heat of the Circuit de Cadours, France, 2nd in the GP di Roma at Castel Fusano and 3rds at Aintree’s Daily Telegraph Trophy and the Circuito di Pescara on the wild Pescara road course beside the Adriatic.

Schell’s last drive of the car was at Aintree on 2 October, ‘2038’ was sold to Hunt shortly thereafter and was soon aboard the ‘Oceania’ heading for Port Melbourne. Reg was reported as pacing Station Pier anxiously like an expectant father as he waited an hour for the notoriously ‘Bolshie’ Melbourne waterside workers to carefully unload his precious car on Friday 31 December 1954.

Click here for my article on the Maserati 250F, which includes the evolution of these magnificent single-seaters from A6GCM to 250F;

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

In the best tradition of this series of cars, the A6GCM and 250F, there are quite a few variations on the chassis theme, that is, which one is which.

I reference the 8W: Forix records as the most authorative source drawing together research of recent decades, particularly the exhaustive, scholarly, work of David McKinney and Barrie Hobkirk. The sharing and debating of evidence on the internet is a luxury not available to earlier 250F authors. Click below for all of the detail you could wish for, chassis by chassis and author by author including the way the views of the same author changed over time as more exhaustive research was undertaken allowing them to re-appraise conclusions they had earlier reached.

Chassis ‘2038’ was never allocated a 250F number when fitted with the 2.5 litre engine- although chassis ‘2503’ is the number occasionally cited. Nye concludes in relation to ‘2503’ ‘Serial never applied to a true 250F’, McKinney ‘Never built as a 250F’, Pritchard ‘Number not used’.

Given the foregoing, to be clear, ‘2038’ was built in 1953, or 1952 as a 2 litre A6GCM. Fitted with a 2.5 litre 250F engine, but otherwise the same in specification, ‘2038’ is one of the ‘interim A6GCM/250F’ chassis.

http://8w.forix.com/250f-redux.html

Reg Hunt in the Maser A6GCM during the Albert Park, Moomba meeting in late March 1955 (unattributed)

The car arrived in Melbourne in late 1954, Reg soon shook it down at Fishermans Bend before popping it back on a boat to contest the 1955 NZ GP at Ardmore. He was immediately on the pace qualifying 4th, was 2nd in a heat and ran 2nd to Prince Bira’s 250F until fading brakes slowed him, finally finishing 5th.

Back in Australia the car was the quickest device around winning the Victorian Trophy at Fishermans Bend, the Bathurst 100 scratch race and was hot favourite for the Australian Grand Prix at Port Wakefield in October but was slowed by a cam follower problem- he was 2nd to Brabham’s Cooper T40 Bristol having led initially.

In November the car won two events at Fishermans Bend- the ‘Racers Trophy’ and ‘Lucas Trophy’ both from Lex Davison’s HWM Jaguar. Lex was soon to acquire the Tony Gaze Ferrari 500/625 with which he is so readily associated.

Official extricate Neal from the badly damaged Maser towards the end of the AGP at Albert Park (unattributed)

The Maser was sold to Melbourne haulier Kevin Neal after Reg’s 250F ‘2516’ arrived in early 1956- the car was badly damaged in the ’56 AGP at Albert Park when Neal lost control during a shower of rain late in the race.

Looking as elegant as ever, beautifully repaired, the car reappeared again at a minor sprint meeting at Eildon in country Victoria in 1960. The car was sold to Melbourne’s Colin Hyams in 1962, he used it occasionally, and then passed to the UK in 1965 through the hands of Colin Crabbe and Dan Marguiles to Ray Fielding in Scotland in 1972. After many years owned by him and his Estate ‘2038’ now resides in a private Swiss collection.

Reg Hunt aboard ‘2038’ at Easter Bathurst 1955. He won the A Grade scratch race and the scratch class of the Bathurst 100 setting the fastest time, an average of 77.8 mph. He was expected to take the lap record but was hampered by lack of his tall diff ratio, this component was damaged at Albert Park the month before. Here Hunt is exiting Hell Corner to start his run up the mountain (AMS)

Reg Hunt in 2017…

This photo and those of the Maser which follow were taken by David Zeunert, President of the Maser Club of Victoria- many thanks to David for sending them in to round out the article. The photo was taken early in 2017 at Reg and Julia Hunts home on Melbournes St Kilda Road- they have a floor in an old historic building. Reg is a spritely, fit 94 and David says is still working in Real Estate Apartment Development with his grandson. Trophy is ‘The KLG Trophy’ with two Masers in is base (D Zeunert)

Etcetera…

Reg only raced the A6GCM for not quite a year, here is the ad for its sale in Australian Motor Sports February 1956 , I rather like the ‘no idle curiosity’ bit! (D Zeunert)

The photos below via David Zeunert are of the car at home in Switzerland.

Bibliography…

‘Historic Racing Cars in Australia’ John Blanden, 8W Forix.com, ‘Maserati: A Racing History’ Anthony Pritchard, Australian Motor Sports

Photo Credits…

Fairfax, GP Library, Australian Motor Sports, Michael Hickey/Museum of Victoria, David Zeunert Collection

Tailpiece: Brake Enginner, Bart Harven, Reg Hunt, beautifully cast Maser brake drum and sublime A6GCM- circa 240 bhp from its 2 valve, Weber DCO carbed, DOHC 2.5 litre, 6 cylinder engine…

Etcetera: ‘2038’ The Movie or TV Star…

(MOV)

A mystery to solve folks! Since posting the article, reader Michael Hickey posted these amazing photos of ‘2038’ in an Australian movie, or perhaps more likely, TV show on the primotipo Facebook page.

He found the shots on the Museum of Victoria website but they are devoid of details. Tony Matthews thought the ‘driver’ of the car may be Bob Hope- it certainly looks like him. I’m not sure that he did any movies in Australia though. The ‘driver’ could be Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell, a distinguished but now deceased Australian actor. He was in dozens of movies throughout a long career, the most iconic perhaps ‘The Castle’. I don’t recognise the babe, mechanic or baddie.

The crook only has a little gun- ‘yerd reckon they would give him a big one. Lovely A6GCM front suspension detail shot tho! Finned brake drum, forged upright and upper and lower wishbones all clear, as is roll bar. Shocks are Houdaille (MOV)

I can’t make the films Tingwell appeared in work with the photos mind you. Which means it isn’t Bud or perhaps the scenes are from a TV show. You can just make out Reg’s name on the car in the first shot, the limited caption information dates it as October 1955. TV didn’t commence in Australia until the second half of 1956. All ideas or the definitive answer appreciated!

Finito…

 

image

Juan Manuel Fangio eases his Maserati 250F through Tatts Corner,  Aintree, Liverpool during the 1957 British Grand Prix on 20 July…

Fangio qualified 4th but retired on lap 49 with engine problems, its an amazing shot ‘the maestro’ looks so relaxed at the wheel. Its the cover shot of a book i have, much of my library is in storage, a real pain in the arse in terms of access to research material, maybe one of you have the same book and can recall the title?

The race itself was a Vanwall benefit; Moss lead then took over Brooks car when his own engine went off song, Stewart Lewis-Evans Vanwall also lead briefly before being passed by Moss, he and Brooks shared the win from the Lancia Ferrari 801’s (LF801) of Luigi Musso and Mike Hawthorn.

image

Stirling Moss in Tony Brooks Vanwall VW57, Aintree 1957 (Michael Turner)

This article is pieced together around a swag of photos of Fangio aboard Maserati 250F’s in 1957, in many ways the combination defines the 1950’s for me. The greatest driver of the decade in its quintessential car, it may not have been the fastest of the era but for sure it provided a platform for so many drivers from journeymen (and women) to gods, to strut their stuff.

Monaco, 19 May 1957…

Between Moss who left Masers to join Vanwall and Fangio who left Ferrari to join Maserati the seven 1957 championship rounds, ignoring Indianapolis, were mopped up by those two drivers- Juan with 4 wins and Stirling 3.

fang monaco spares

Fangio’s Maser 250F being unloaded from its transporter in Monaco

Fangio made the 250F sing, the car was towards the end of its long competitive life with the great Argentinian extracting all it had to offer. He was at the height of his powers, I don’t doubt he retired at the right time, he was 46 years of age by the end of the season after all.

Having said that it would have been fascinating to see if he could adapt to mid-engined cars, I don’t doubt he would have had he raced on for a few more years. But best to retire at the top, and alive. So many elite sportsmen and women do that one season too many, Michael Schumacher for one, Fangio did not.

fang monaco 1957

# Carlos Menditeguy DNF spin and #34 Giorgio Scarlatti DNF oil leak in the Officine Maserati garage, Monaco 1957. 250F x 2

Fangio popped his 250F on pole in the Principality but Moss led into the first corner with Fangio behind him. Sterling went off and crashed at the chicane on lap 4 with Collins, LF801, taking exasive action and hitting a stone wall as a result! Fangio managed to get through without a problem and Brooks Vanwall braked hard only to be rammed up the chuff by Hawthorn’s Fazz.

Only Brooks was able to keep going- but he was 5 seconds behind Fangio by the time he was up to speed again. Jack Brabham was up to 3rd late in the race in his little Cooper T43 Climax. It was a portent of the 1958 breakthrough win for a mid-engined car by Moss in Argentina, but had to push the car home as result of fuel pump failure, Jack was classified 6th, with Fangio ahead of Brooks, Masten Gregory in a Maserati, Lewis-Evans Vanwall and Trintignant LF801.

fang monaco

Fangio during Monaco practice in Giulio Alfieri’s 250F V12. The 60 degree, DOHC, 2 valve, 24 plug, Weber fed 2.5 litre engine developed circa 300-320bhp at a dizzy 10500rpm, about 50bhp more than the venerable inline 6 but the power was all at the top of the band. The engine had conrod and valve spring troubles early in its development too. Behra raced one in the Italian GP, he chomped thru tyres, such was the engines power and then retired with a lubrication problem. The engines time would come, but not for a decade!

Whilst the 250F was in the Autumn of its life Maserati were still developing the thing, not least with a 2.5 litre, quad-cam, 2 valve, Weber carbed 300 odd bhp V12. Fangio is putting some development laps into the thing at Monaco above.

The engine raced only once at championship level at Monza 1957, but suitably evolved in 3 litre, fuel injected form won a race or two mounted in the back of Cooper’s T81 and T86 in 1966/7. (Wins for Surtees ’66 Mexican GP and Rodriguez ’67 South African GP, both in T81’s)

An interesting Australian sidebar to this Maser V12 is Frank Gardner and Kevin Bartlett testing a 2.5 litre variant in the butt of a ‘cut and shut’ Tasman Brabham BT11A in February 1966. Sydney Alfa/Maserati dealer and former Australian 1960 Gold Star Champion and AGP winner Alec Mildren used his impeccable Maserati connections to score the engine which the team sussed as an alternative to the venerable Coventry Climax 2.5 litre FPF  which was the Tasman staple moteur at the time. Simply put the engine was like an on/off switch in terms of its power delivery, then blew, which rather settled the matter of a ‘Warwick Farm 100’ start. A story for another time.

fang monaco

Fangio, quayside at Monaco in 1957, enroute to victory. He won in Argentina, Monaco, France and Germany. The Vanwalls won in Britain, Pescara and again in Italy at Monza; Moss/Brooks, Moss and Moss

The thing that always amazes me when looking at photos of Fangio is just how relaxed at the wheel he is. It’s key to great lap times, if you are that tense that your butt-cheeks grab the seat cover as you alight your racer you are definitely not going to feel what your steed is doing to extract the best from it! I remember Frank Gardner talking to me about this very point several decades ago.

When the laconic Aussie all-rounder returned home in 1975, in that first year he drove Bob Jane’s Holden Torana Chev Sports Sedan and fronted the Jane/Gardner Racing Drivers School at Calder. He wasn’t there much. In fact ex-Aussie F3 driver/mechanic and later Hardman F2 designer/builder Jim Hardman did most of the driver instruction aided by Andrew Newton, who also raced with some success. Both of them looked after the fleet of Elfin 620B Formula Fords driven by the bright eyed hopefuls, of whom i was one.

Anyway, on this particular frigid July day ‘ole FG was in effusive mode telling me about both the car setup advice and driver coaching he was giving to a well known fellow who had not long before jumped up from Formula Ford to F5000-105bhp to 500bhp is a big step.

His central point in talking about ‘the big car challenge’ was all about relaxing in the car- having soft hands and gentle feet and just being able to, as a consequence of not being so tense, feel what the car was doing and therefore be able to push the thing to its limits by  better sensing said limits when reached…Easy to say of course, harder to do especially when you have 500bhp of fuel injected Repco-Holden V8 shoving you ferociously towards the horizon!

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FG would have approved of Fangio’s relaxed demeanour in a car. Don’t confuse my meaning with the ferocious competititiveness and delicacy of control that went with the outer calm one can see here!

Fangio never looks anxious whether he is being closely followed at Monaco in third gear or drifting through the very high speed swoops of rural France at over 140mph in fifth.

It was magic to observe Fangio’s car control at close quarters when he was 67 years old and booting his W196 Benz sideways lap after lap in third gear through Sandown Park’s Shell Corner, only 30 metres away, during ‘The Fangio Meeting’ in 1978. The sight of this grand man of racing flicking the bellowing, powerful straight-8, silver beastie around is forever etched in my memory.

Cool, calm, collected, composed and FAST! Exactly as he was in 1957…

French GP, 7 July 1957…

The classic was held at the super fast Rouen-Les-Essarts road circuit in Grand-Couronne and Orival, northern France.

There are so many wonderful 250F shots of Fangio in 1957 drifting the sublimely forgiving chassis at well over 140 mph on public roads through wooded hillsides. I’m not suggesting, in describing the car as forgiving, it was easy my friends!

fang spa

Crusin’ in having set pole i wonder? Rouen 1957. The lines of the 250F in 1957, here it’s Fangio’s ‘regular ‘Long nosed, lightweight’ chassis ‘2529’ spec are perfect, inch by sculpted inch. The cars epitomise everything great about Italian racing machines. Alfieri’s ’57 lightweight chassis was 40% stiffer than in ’56 with greater rear weight bias-48/52% front/rear. The 250F was maybe not quite the fastest tool in the 1950’s shed but it was close to it, enduring and capable of winning the 1954 and 1956 titles in addition to ’57 with more luck or the right bloke behind the wheel all season! No-one was going to beat Fangio in a W196 Merc in 1955 i don’t think

Fangio was fastest from Behra and Musso also on the front row. Behind them were Schell 250F and Collins then back a row Salvadori, Vanwall VW57 Hawthorn and Trintignant. At the jump Behra lead but Musso soon got ahead. Fangio was 3rd then Collins and Schell giving chase and then a fast-starting McKay-Fraser, BRM P25. Fangio worked his way past Behra on lap 2 and then took Musso for the lead on lap 4.

Collins got past Behra and the order remained unchanged at the front all the way to the flag with Fangio winning from Musso and Collins. Behra slipped behind Hawthorn, giving the Lancia-Ferrari 801 a 2-3-4 finish behind Fangio.

fanf french

Hang on…Fangio indulging in one of his signature, oh so fast, oh so subtle and oh so wonderful, delicate, four wheel drifts. Poetry in motion innit!? Wonder who or what he tapped?

Germany, Nurburgring, 4 August 1957: Greatest GP of all?…

Fangio’s heroic drive at this most demanding of circuits proved to be his greatest ever drive and one of the best in the history of Grand Prix racing.

Fangio took pole with Hawthorn, LF801 Behra, 250F and Collins LF801 completing the front row. Then came Brooks, Schell and Moss on Vanwall VW57, 250F and Vanwall VW57. At the start Hawthorn and Collins battled for the lead with Fangio and Behra giving chase. On lap 3 Fangio passed Collins and soon led. Collins then passed Hawthorn and chased after Fangio with the great man edging gradually away.

fang germany

Nurburgring 1957: Hawthorn and Collins, L Ferrari 801, Fangio and Behra 250F, then Moss and Brooks Vanwall VW57, Masten Gregory’s white Maser 250F, Lewis-Evans Vanwall VW57 and the rest…

A slow mid-race pit stop, scheduled for 30 seconds, lasted 1 minute and 18 seconds. One of the mechanics dropped the wheel hub nut under the car, it couldn’t easily be found! This left Fangio a minute behind the two Ferraris but then the chase was on! He drove absolutely at the limit, at the ragged edge of the cars capabilities, chasing down the two much younger men.

Fangio famously broke the lap record 10 times and passed both Collins, and then Hawthorn on the penultimate lap. Fangio won the race and in the process, his 5th and final World Title in a drive still spoken about in reverential terms and forever remembered whenever the great GP races are considered.

Pescara GP, 16 August, The Coppa Acerbo…

The FIA included the Coppa Acerbo, Pescara GP in the World Championship for the first time given the cancellation of the Dutch and Belgian GP’s early in the season due to squabbles about money. The daunting, dangerous 16-mile road circuit on the Adriatic Coast, still used then for non-championship events was the longest ever for an F1 race.

Ferrari didn’t bother to send 801’s for Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins as the World Championship had already been won by Fangio and partly as a protest against Italian government’s move to ban road racing following Alfonso de Portago’s, Ferrari 335S Mille Miglia accident earlier in the year. Local boy Luigi Musso convinced Ferrari to lend him a car however, which he entered as a privateer. Shades of NART entries in the 1960’s when Ferrari wanted to protest, but not too much!

fang pescara

Shot at left shows Fangio’s Maser having a rear wheel replaced after spinning on Musso’s engine oil and danaging it

The Pescara battle was between Maserati and Vanwall and resulted in a Maserati pole for Juan-Manuel from Moss’s Vanwall VW57 and Musso’s ‘private’ Ferrari 801.

Musso took the lead but Maserati 250F privateer Horace Gould hit a mechanic who was slow to get off the grid. Brooks retired his Vanwall VW57 early with mechanical troubles. Moss took the lead from Musso on lap 2 from Fangio in 3rd but the field thinned as the heat took its toll; Lewis-Evans, Vanwall with tyre failures, Behra 250F engine failure. Then Musso disappeared on lap 10 when his engine blew, the oil caused Fangio to spin and damage a wheel. When Fangio rejoined, Moss had an unassailable lead, he won the race ahead of Fangio, Schell in 3rd ,Gregory 4th and Lewis-Evans 5th.

Fangio won the World Championship on 40 points from Moss and Musso on 25 and 16 points respectively. Maserati 250F, Vanwall VW57 and Lancia Ferrari 801.

Credits…

All photos by Louis Klemantaski/Getty Images, Michael Turner

Tailpiece: The Maestro, Karussell, Nurburgring, Maser 250F  chassis ‘2529’ German Grand Prix 1957, history being made. Majestic shot…

fang germany, karu

 

monaco fan moss

(Maurice Jarnoux)

The Mercedes Benz 1955 1,2; Fangio and Moss in W196, 22 May 1955…

Mercedes had three 1/2 finishes for the year; at Spa and Zandvoort when Fangio led Moss and at Aintree where Moss led Fangio. At Monaco things were looking good for another but JM’s car broke a rear axle on lap 49 and Moss had an engine failure in the closing laps of the race (lap 80 of 100).

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(Jarnoux)

Maurice Trintignant (above) took a somewhat lucky, but well deserved win in his Ferrari 625 from Eugenio Castellotti’s Lancia D50, the Italian putting in a charge in the final stages of the race trying to catch the Frenchman.

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Ascari and Castelotti in D50’s ahead of Behra’s 250F, later in the race but before lap 80 when Alberto took his afternoon swim (Jarnoux)

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Moss discussing the Mercedes teams prospects with its legendary engineer/test driver Rudy Uhlenhaut during Monaco practice. This car was comprehensively rooted later in the day when Hans Hermann had a bad accident, hurting himself as well as the W196. Andre Simon was brought into the team to race the spare (GP Library)

This was the famous race in which Alberto Ascari crashed his Lancia D50 into the harbour perhaps distracted by Moss’ engine problems in front of him late in the race. He popped to the surface unharmed but was killed several days later testing a Ferrari sportscar at Monza.

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Ascari’s D50 cruises past Lance Macklin’s Maser 250F, DNQ. Ascari 2nd on the grid (unattributed)

 

It was a pivotal time in the history of GP racing; Ascari’s death robbed Lancia of the driver around which its GP campaign was built and Gianni Lancia’s lavish race program was quickly driving his company into insolvency.

The famous ‘handover’ of Lancia assets to Ferrari occurred later in the year, solving Enzo’s immediate need of competitive cars. The ‘sponsorship’ in the form of an annual contribution to the Scuderia’s budget from Fiat laid the foundations of a strategic partnership which, via ownership of the road-car division from 1969 and ultimate acquisition of the company upon Enzo Ferrari’s death continues today.

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Louis Chiron 6th let’s teammate Gigi Villoresi 5th Lancia D50 past whilst Jean Behra’s equal 3rd placed (with Cesare Perdisa) Maser 250F threatens (GP Library)

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Farina’s Ferrari 625 4th about to be swallowed by Ascari’s Lancia D50 (GP Library)

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That! high speed Mercedes transporter, Monaco 1955 (GP Library)

Credits…

Maurice Jarnoux, GP Library

Tailpieces…

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Moss heading up the hill from Ste Devote,  Monaco 1955, Mercedes W196 (unattributed)

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The master in the lead; Fangio led from pole until transmission dramas intervened on lap 49, Benz W196, Monaco ’55 (unattributed)

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Juan Manuel Fangio wins the first F1 Grand Prix at Pau. Maserati 4CLT/48, 10 April 1950…

He is ahead of Luigi Villoresi’s Ferrari 125, 2nd. Louis Rosier was 3rd in a Talbot-Lago T26C.

The first championship Grand Prix for ‘Formula 1’ introduced at the start of 1950 was the British GP held at Silverstone on May 13.

Fangio, somewhat fittingly is therefore the first winner of an F1GP albeit a Non-Championship one! Farina took the Silverstone race in an Alfa 158, the car of 1950/51.

Credit: Keystone-France

Tailpiece…

pau gp

 

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(Klemantaski)

I chose these two shots of the thousands of the great Argentinian as they demonstrate his delicate touch and judgement at very high speeds…

The first is driving the Alfa 159 for his beloved ‘Alfa Corse’ at Reims on 1 July 1951, his first championship winning season. He is clipping the inside grass on the back section of this French Grand Prix road course in the Champagne Region.

The second is at Bremgarten driving the Mercedes Benz W154 bang on line during the Swiss Grand Prix on 22 August 1954, also a title winning season of course.

Marvel at the finesse, it’s as clear in these neutral or slight understeer shots as the many high speed oversteer shots many of which are at Reims at well over 125mph…

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(Klemantaski)

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1954 French, Reims GP: Victory in #18 Mercedes Benz W154 upon its debut (Klemantaski)

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Fangio, French GP, Reims 1954 (Klemantaski)

Credits…

Klemantaski Collection, Maurice Jarnoux

Tailpiece: Mobbed in Milano, 1 September 1958…

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(Maurice Jarnoux)