Posts Tagged ‘Peter Collins’

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Stirling Moss guides his works Jaguar C Type through Fordwater on his way to 5th place at Goodwood sharing with 1951 Le Mans winner Peter Walker…

Britain’s first night race took take place at Goodwood on 16 August 1952. The British Automobile Racing Club hoped to emulate the commercial success of Le Mans, that classic a race of 24 hours duration of course.

The Goodwood enduro was a 9 hour event with a 3pm start to allow the spectators to see the cars in all their spectacular glory in the half light and full darkness.

Modifications were made to the circuits infrastructure by fitting floodlights to illuminate the grandstands and pits, the kerbs were given a coat of luminous paint and a beer tent was laid on, although due to post-war licensing laws it had to stop serving grog before the race ended! Sponsorship and plenty of pre-event publicity was provided by ‘The News of The World’ newspaper inclusive of £2,500 in prize money which represented a powerful incentive for the ‘local’ works teams and privateers to enter in force.

Jaguar and Aston Martin entered three car teams of C-types and DB3’s in the field of 32 cars. Both teams had much to prove. The C-Types were quick at Le Mans in June but all three cars retired with engine cooling related issues. The new Ferrari 250S and Mercedes Benz W194’s had been faster than the Jags, victorious at Le Mans in 1951, at the Mille Miglia in May. As a consequence Jaguar had designed a more aerodynamic body with a slightly smaller radiator. Jag’s cooling problems became apparent in practice, despite hasty modifications, solutions were not found pre-race. Peter Whitehead/Ian Stewart retired with a failed head gasket during the second hour, Stirling Moss/Peter Walker with engine problems in the third and the remaining Tony Rolt/Duncan Hamilton car with a head gasket failure in the fourth hour.

Le Mans 1952: #26 the Poore/Griffith Aston DB3 Spyder alongside the Parnell/Thompson DB3 Coupe, all three factory cars DNF (unattributed)

The new Aston DB3 ‘Spyders’ also failed to finish- Dennis Poore/Pat Griffith in the third hour with water pump failure and Lance Macklin/Peter Collins towards the finish with an accident in the twenty-second hour of the long, unforgiving race. The works DB3 Coupe driven by Parnell/Thompson retired in the second hour with gearbox dramas. The ’52 Le Mans was won by the Benz W194- Hermann Lang and Fritz Riess from the the sister car of Theo Helfrich and Helmut Niedermayr.

The chance to make a good showing on home turf was therefore ‘manna from heaven’.

Jaguar used the same driver combinations they deployed in France whilst Aston’s pairings were Reg Parnell with Eric Thompson, Peter Collins and Pat Griffith and George Abecassis with Dennis Poore.

Other strong entries included Pierre Levegh’s Talbot-Lago T26GS, famously for being so nearly the winner driving solo at Le Mans in 1952 before missing a gear very late in the race. Ferrari 225S’ were entered for Tom Cole/Graham Whitehead and Bobbie Baird/Roy Salvadori, a works Allard J2X for Anthony Hume and George Thomas plus a swag of Healey Silverstone, Frazer Nash Le Mans Rep, Jag XK120, Cooper T14 MG, HRG and HWM cars. In short, an interesting field that lacked only works Ferrari and Mercedes entries.

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At the start Moss, at right, as usual, won the sprint to his car, but Tony Rolt, to Moss’ right led on lap one, but he was soon overtaken by Parnell’s Aston…

At the end of the first hour the order was Parnell, Rolt, Abecassis, Moss and Baird, Ferrari 225S, then Whitehead.

Then the weather started to improve and as the track dried, the Jaguar’s pace became apparent with both Rolt and Moss passing Parnell. So, Jag, Jag, Jag, Aston, but then Whitehead crashed his C Type.

Disaster struck the Feltham team on lap 91 during a routine refuelling pit stop when Parnell’s car caught fire, burning two of the crew and team manager John Wyer. Parnell showed great leadership and strength of character, whilst his race drive was over he stood in for the injured Wyer to take over the critical team management role.

Eric Thompson came into the pits 3 hours into the race with smoke pouring from the rear of the car. Wyer and mechanic Jack Sopp pulled up the seats to investigate whilst Fred Lowndes refuelled. Spilt fuel from the last churn went onto the tail of the car and ran down onto the undertray where it was ignited by hot oil from a leaking fuel seal- within seconds the car was engulfed in flames and smoke. Wyer and Sopp suffered bad burns, Lowndes not so much but all 3 were taken to hospital whereupon Reg Parnell took charge. Aston DB3/3 was destroyed- and later rebuilt, Parnell, drove it to 5th in the 1953 Mille Miglia (unattributed)

 

At half distance the Moss/Walker Jaguar C Type led from the sister XKC of Rolt/Hamilton. The third C-type had crashed at Madgwick and retired whilst the DB3 of Abecassis/Poore had also dropped out of contention.

By 9pm the drivers had switched their headlights on, the spectacle of racing at Goodwood at night was fantastic but within half an hour of that a half shaft broke on the Rolt/Hamilton C Type which , allowed the remaining Aston of Collins/Griffith through, that car was then overtaken by the quick Ferrari 225S driven by Bobby Baird and Roy Salvadori.

Half an hour later Jaguar’s collapse was complete when the leading Moss/Walker car entered the pits with a broken rear radius arm that would take nearly an hour to repair. It is said that Jaguar boss Sir William Lyons was blissfully ignorant of all of the dramas which befell his team as he had retired to Goodwood House from the pitlane to enjoy what appeared to be a certain win!

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The doomed Parnell/Thompson Aston DB3/3 earlier in the race prior to its demise (Getty)

In a race of rapidly changing fortunes the Baird/Salvadori Ferrari 225S had gone from from 4th to 1st in little more than an hour, but in a final twist of fate, on its last pit stop, the jack intended to lift the car sank into the patch of tarmac, softened by the earlier Aston DB3 fire! The loss of time was sufficient to let the Collins/Griffith DB3 into the lead with just an hour of the race to run. That pairing duly won despite an exhaust valve breaking an hour before the events end, from the two privateer Ferrari 225S’ driven by Cole/Whitehead and Baird/Salvadori.

Collins in the winning Aston DB3 early in the race (unattributed)

The Telegraph reported that ‘The Nine Hour had all the ingredients of a classic race; the changing weather, the drama of the pit fire and a dramatic fight for the lead, not to mention the fact that so many of the cars were competing on home soil. Yet the spectators were distinctly unmoved, many only arriving once the night racing began, and few staying for the duration. These were people who attended Goodwood for a grand day out – a nine-hour endurance race, where the leader wasn’t always obvious, was simply too long’.

‘When the Nine Hour race returned the following year it did so without any newspaper sponsorship to offer pre-event coverage. Spectators numbers fell as a result and with them the carnival atmosphere that made Le Mans such a success. Those who did go frequently left when it got dark, defeating the event’s raison d’être. It didn’t matter that the racing was first class (Aston would win again in ’53 and, after the race skipped a year, scored a third victory at what would be the last Nine Hour race in ’55) if nobody was there watching it. Perhaps the British will always see night racing as too good an excuse for a holiday abroad.’ the Telegraph concluded.

There was no World Sportscar or Manufacturers Championship in 1952, that competition started in 1953. However the classic race spoils went to Mercedes Benz W194/300SL at Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana with a Ferrari 250S victorious at the Mille Miglia and a Lancia Aurelia B20 at the Targa Florio

Vaino Hollming Jag XK120 leads Pierre Levegh Talbot-Lago T26GS then the Lawrence Mitchell Frazer Nash High Speed, Goodwood 9 Hour (Getty)

Aston Martin DB3 Technical Specifications…

Ex-Auto Union design team member Robert Eberan-Eberhorst first worked for ERA when he come to the UK post-war. He was contracted for 3 years from November 1930 to design a sports-racer for Astons which was to use the AML LMB 2.6 litre 6 cylinder engine and a David Brown 5 speed gearbox.

He chose a period typical ladder frame chassis design, the main members made from 16 guage, 4 inch chrome-molybdenum tubes with substantial cross bracing by three 14 guage 5 inch tubes.

Front suspension was similar to the DB2- trailing links, transverse torsion bars, piston type shocks and a roll bar. At the rear a more sophisticated De Dion rear axle was deployed. This was constructed from three steel sections welded together and was located by a Panhard Rod and parallel locating links. The upper links ran fore and aft, the lower links angled. Each of the lower links engaged by serrations with a transverse torsion bar. Armstrong double piston dampers were used. The car weighed circa 2165 pounds/980Kg with 9 gallons of fuel.

(Autocar)

Steering was by rack and pinion with 2 turns lock to lock, brakes were Al-fin drums, inboard at the rear. Spoked wire wheels were of course used with Rudge-Whitworth knock-off hubs.

The DB3 first raced in 2580cc form, with triple 35DCO Weber twin-choke carburettors. The alloy, DOHC, 2 valve head engine developed 133bhp @ 5500rpm. The gearbox was a DB S527, 5 speed with overdrive top gear, from July 1952 a DB S430/63R 4 speed box was used.

Into 1952 the engines ran Weber 36DCF carbs making 140bhp @ 5200rpm, still way too little. By the 1952 Monaco GP a 2922cc engine developed 147bhp @5000rpm but any increase in capacity of the LB6 engine was impossible as each pair of bores were siamesed.

163bhp was achieved from an engine with 35DCO twin-choke Webers and connecting rods with offset big ends at the Goodwood 9 Hour in 1952.

Bibliography…

Article by Chris Knapman in ‘The Telegraph’ April 2011, ‘Aston Martin: The Racing Cars’ Anthony Pritchard

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Klemantaski Archive, Don Price, Autocar

Tailpiece…

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(Allan Fearnley)

Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins looking confident with the speed of their Ferrari Dinos prior to the Silverstone start…

Into 1958 the relationship between Enzo Ferrari and Peter Collins had soured a bit as the chief felt the Brit was not as competitive as he had been, he was dropped to the F2 team at the French GP. Mike Hawthorn’s intervention and Luigi Musso’s death at Reims made his position more secure. Nevertheless he was feeling plenty of pressure at the time…

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Peter Collins takes his last win, Silverstone 1958, Ferrari Dino 246 (unattributed)

Collins started the British GP from 6th on the grid, with Moss’ Vanwall on pole, but Collins blasted through from the second row to lead Moss, Hawthorn, Schell’s BRM P25, Brooks Vanwall VW57 and Salvadori, Cooper T45 Climax.

Collins increased the lead steadily with Moss and Hawthorn comprising the lead group. Stirling’s engine blew on lap 26 leaving Peter leading from Hawthorn. Stuart Lewis-Evans was 3rd but was soon passed by Salvadori. Collins won from Hawthorn, Salvadori and Lewis-Evans’ Vanwall VW57, four Brits!

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Peter Collins being congratulated aboard his Dino after the event. Its July 19, he was dead 3 weeks later, Nurburgring on 3 August (Hutton)

Credit…

Allan Fearnley, Hutton Deutsch

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Louise Collins susses husband Peter’s fabulous Ferrari 335S in advance of the start of the ’57 Mille Miglia…

It was a victorious race for Ferrari but otherwise disastrous on every level given ‘Fon de Portago’s accident and it’s consequences, click here for an article about both this race and the big Ferrari;

https://primotipo.com/2014/12/17/peter-collins-mille-miglia-1957-ferrari-335s/

Credit…

Mondadori Portfolio

Tailpiece…

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Peter Collins photographed by Louis Klemantaski aboard their Ferrari 335S during the ill-fated 1957 Mille Miglia…

This stunning, evocative shot, one of motor racings’ most famous, was taken by acclaimed photographer Louis Klementaski who ‘navigated’ for Collins capturing the essence of the event and times which seem so long ago.

Klemantaski picks up the story in ‘Automobile Year 44’…’In the fateful Mille Miglia of 1957 I was in the Ferrari Team in the car driven by Peter Collins, a 335 Sport. This model was the ultimate achievement of Ferraris’ creativity of that period. Peter said it was the best handling sports-racing Ferrari he had driven so far. It was certainly the most powerful and I had to adjust my course notes accordingly’.

‘ This photograph was taken as we went through a series of hairpin bends in the Abruzzi Mountains on the way to l’Aquila and Rome. There were no trees around and Peter could see the whole road for quite a way ahead, so I was able to take some time off from giving him signals as to the severity of the next corner and take some shots of the cockpit and him in action. As the G-forces were considerable, I had to make the exposure on the right-hand corner, so that I would be thrown outwards and away from him. We had no seat belts in those days and it was very difficult not to impede Peter on occasion. In those very tight corners first on one lock and then the other, Peter could cope without changing the position of his hands on the wheel, which was just as well, as the corners came up with remarkable rapidity. This is my favourite Ferrari photograph because it was of a Ferrari in action, taken from a Ferrari cockpit- and how much closer to the spirit of these wonderful cars can you get?’

Scuderia Ferrari entered five cars in the 1957 event... 315S models for Piero Taruffi (his car fitted with a 335 engine) and Count Wolfgang ‘Taffy’ von Trips, and the latest 4 litre quad-cam 335S models for Collins/ Klemantaski and Marquis ‘Fon’ de Portago and Ed Nelson. Finally, a 250LWB was entered for Olivier Gendebien and his navigator M Washer.

Taruffi won the race and then retired with Von Trips in second. The Collins car retired at the 5 hour 3 minute mark with a broken driveshaft. Sadly, and infamously de Portago/ Nelson perished in a gruesome accident also which took the lives of nine spectators, five of whom were children in the village of Guidizzolo, Lombardy, 110 Km east of Milan.

Some reports say de Portago should have changed his tyres earlier, a blowout the cause of the accident. The race was banned as a consequence, and so ended a tradition which commenced in 1927, the event run 24 times from then until 1957.

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The view at speed…somewhere in Italy! Klemantaski shot from the Collins 335S (Louis Klemantaski)

The Mile Miglia was started by Count Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti… after the Italian Grand Prix was moved from their home town of Brescia to Monza. They chose a race from Brescia to Rome and back, a figure-eight course of 1500Km or 1000 Roman Miles.

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1957 Mille Miglia course, the race won by Piero Taruffi, Ferrari 315S, from Taffy Von Trips in a similar car and the Scuderia Ferrari 250GT LWB of Gendebien/ Washer

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Fon de Portago/Ed Nelson in their Ferrari 335S go thru the Futa Pass on their fateful ’57 Mille run. (Yves Debraine)

Various courses were used over the years with many of the greats of the day winning. Tazio Nuvolari Alfa 6C 1750 in 1930 and 8C 2300 in 1933, Rudy Caracciola in a Benz SSK 1931, Achille Varzi Alfa Monza 1934 and Alberto Ascari in a Lancia B24 in 1954 included.

Over the years Italians won the race the most, from 1953 to 1957 the event was a round of the World Sports Car Championship, Stirling Moss famously winning navigated by ‘Motor Sport’ magazines’ Denis Jenkinson, the pair setting the fastest ever time of 10 hours 7 minutes and 48 seconds.

The team covered six reconnaisance laps, Jenkinson making ‘pace notes’ on a scroll of paper contained in an aluminium housing. Dennis ‘calling’ the corners and the stunning ability of Moss resulted in an emphatic and famous 1955 victory in their Mercedes Benz 300SLR.

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The 1957 Ferrari 335S…was a development of the 860 Monza and 290 MM sports racers of 1956.

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The Collins/ P Hill Ferrari 335S at Le Mans 1957, DNF engine failure on lap 2 (Unattributed)

A tubular steel chassis frame was fitted with independent unequal length wishbones, coil springs and hydraulic shocks at the front. A de Dion rear axle located by twin radius arms, transverse leaf spring and hydraulic shocks was fitted at the rear.

Drum brakes were used all round, steering was by worm and sector. A strong 4 speed transaxle took all the torque of the big V12 with 6X16 inch and 7X 16 inch tyres fitted front/rear, the whole lot weighing a relatively light 880Kg dry.

The 335 Sport was the height of development of Ferraris’ complex but powerful 4 cam front-engined sports cars which won the World Sports Car Championship in 1957, defeating arch rivals Maserati in the process.

Ferrari 335S cutaway

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Side profile of the Hawthorn Ferrari 335S on the exit of Tertre Rouge corner Le Mans 1957. He shared the car with Luigi Musso, and again DNF due to engine failure (Louis Klemantaski)

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4 litre V12 engine of the Collins 335S during a Mille Miglia pitstop (Louis Klemantaski)

The engines of the 290, 315 and 335S were primarily designed by Vittorio Bellantani…the ex-Maserati engineer received assistance from Vittorio Jano, some elements of the engine having a passing design relationship to Janos’ fabulous D50 Lancia V8 of 1954/55. Jano of course came across to Ferrari from Lancia in the deal which ‘saved Ferrari’s bacon’, devoid of a competitive Grand Prix car at the time.

The 60 degree all aluminium V12 displaced 4023cc with a bore/stroke of 77X72mm. DOHC were deployed with 2 valves per cylinder. Six Weber 44DCN carbs fed the engine with twin plugs and four coils providing the spark. Maximum power was 390bhp @ 7400rpm.

The Klemantaski Archive quotes Phil Hill as saying ‘the 335S was the best front-engined car ever built by Ferrari and certainly the fastest’.

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Cockpit of restored 335S ‘0764’ . 4 speed rear mounted transaxle, worm and sector steering. (Unattributed)

 


 

Etcetera…

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Scuderia Ferrari in Brescia before the 1957 MM start. #534 Collins/Klemantaski, #531 de Portago/Nelson, #417 Gendebien/Washer, #532 Von Trips and the privately entered Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa of Gino Munaron

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Piero Taruffi in the winning 335 engined Ferrari 315S. MM 1957. This very successful driver retired after winning the event then writing ‘The Technique of Motor Racing’, a rather good book! (Unattributed)

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De Portago and Peter Collins in colored beanie before the MM start. Louise Collins in the striped blouse at the rear (Louis Klementaski)

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de Portago and Nelson leave the Rome control in 4th place (Louis Klemantaski)

Photo Credits…

Louis Klemantaski Archive, Yves Debraine, G Cavara cutaway drawing

Tailpiece…

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An equally stunning shot as the one at the start of this article. It reflects the fanatical Italian crowd and their proximity to the cars. Its poignant for that reason as it is one of the last shots of ‘Fon’ de Portago before the fatal accident which took his and ten others lives. Ferrari 335S ‘0676’ Mille Miglia 1957. (Unattributed)

Finito…