The Monza 500-mile race
Europe has a bit of a go
MONZA, ITALY, June 29th.
WELL, well! After all the fuss and furore caused by certain members of the Union of Professional Racing Drivers last year about the 500-mile track race at Monza, a select little bunch of members of that moribund organisation, the U.P.P.I., turned up at Monza to take part in this year’s track race. Last year they tried to be movie actors, T.V. actors, journalists and orators instead of racing drivers and with one accord screamed “Down with Monza track racing” and did their best to sabotage the event.
Do you recall, Fangio said “A dangerous race,” Hawthorn said “I’m not interested in such a dangerous event,” Moss said “I’m a road racing driver, not a track driver,” Schell said “No driver could stand the physical strain of racing round the banked Monza track,” Musso and Trintignant did not say much, but threw in their lot with the U.P.P.I. Three Europeans turned up in 1957, Jack Fairman, John Lawrence and Ninian Sanderson, and they cleaned up a very large bag of gold. This year Fangio, Moss, Hawthorn, Musso, Schell and Trintignant all entered for the 500-mile race. Why this sudden complete reversal of the very strong views they held last year? It couldn’t be that they were wrong in what they said, or at least none of them admitted as much; no, the real reason was purely and simply a question of money. The prize money for the 500-mile race was once again enormous, and spread out over the whole field so that anyone who qualified and took part would be almost sure to come out on the right side. Last year the American track drivers said quite simply, “We race to win money, the harder you drive the more you win, that’s the way we live in our racing,” and what a nice open and honest attitude it was. Fair enough, the European road racing drivers decided to have a go this year in order to win some of that money, so prospects for an American versus European battle were good before the Monza track was opened for testing.
The Maserati arm having officially withdrawn from racing had some nice bits and pieces lying about to form the basis of a good track car and after some of those intriguing “secret talks” that we are always hearing about, Mr. Zanetti, the owner of the Italian Eldorado ice-cream company contracted Maserati to build a car and Moss to drive it, the big hairy 4.2-litre V8 monster, described in detail later, being called an Eldorado-Maserati. Out at Maranello the Commendatore was having his arm badly twisted by the Automobile Club of Italy, who organise the 500-mile race. Every year there is an enormous bag of gold to the most successful Italian racing car constructor, and Enzo Ferrari has quite rightly won this prize many times. For 1958, however, the rules were modified slightly, and there was a clause that stated that any manufacturer who wished to compete for the annual prize must enter cars in the 500-mile race at Monza and also the Italian Grand Prix, as well as being successful in other major International events. The result was that the Scuderia Ferrari entered for the Monza 500, but under protest. Realising that he was trapped, Enzo Ferrari quite naturally decided that if he was going to join in he’d do the job properly, and like Maserati used previous knowledge and materials to build a fiercesome 4.1-litre V12 singleseater and a 3-litre V6, and by a combination of persuasion and commands, lined up Luigi Musso, Mike Hawthorn and Phil Hill as drivers potential.
Last year one of the screams of the U.P.P.I. was that even if they had wanted to race they had no suitable cars, the Indianapolis drivers having a monopoly on the most suitable “ironmongery” for such a dice. This year the Americans brought over two spare cars which were put at the disposal of drivers representing European road racing, one being the Dean Van Lines car which won the 1957 Monza race, and the other an early but well-prepared conventional Indianapolis car, the Sclavi & Amos special. Anyone who says the organisers and the Americans are not trying to make this race a success, are being most unfair. After much hoo-ha over petrol contracts it was agreed that Fangio should drive the Dean Van Lines, but A. J. Foyt was standing by as reserve driver. The other American car was loaned to Trintignant, and once again Foyt was about the place as reserve driver, just in case. Harry Schell, in desperation to get on the “Lire Bandwagon” borrowed a very old and scruffy V12 Ferrari from the 1951-52 era of Formula 1 racing.
Once again the Monza paddock took on the colourful air that is the keynote of Indianapolis racing, for nobody has any Nationalistic ties, nor manufacturers ties, so the cars and crews are got up in what ever colours happen to appeal to the owners. The Belond AP Special of George Salih, and driven by Jim Bryan was finished in a rich yellow, with mechanics’ and drivers’ overalls to match. The Agajanian Special was as colourful as its owner, in red and gold, the whole set-up oozing dollars, while the John Zink team, headed by the builder and designer of the Zink Leader Card Special, A. J. Watson, had red and white as their colour scheme. Cars had the driver’s name emblazoned on the sides, and also the name of the chief mechanic, and if for example you saw a car with “Mechanic Frank McGurk” written on the side then sure enough when you looked up you would see a mechanic with “Frank” emblazoned on his overalls. Any form of motor racing is in truth a glorified circus act, so if we are going to have a circus, then let us do it properly like the Indianapolis crowd do. Maybe some of the colour and chromium plate was a bit too bright for more sober European eyes, but there was no denying that Monza had a cheerful atmosphere.
Activity for the race began the week previous to the official training periods, for Bertocchi was out with the Eldorado-Maserati, the Ecurie Ecosse were trying out their single-seater Lister-Jaguar and a D-type Jaguar with a large air-scoop to gather cold air onto the right rear tyre, while Seven, the Ferrari chief tester, was out in the 4.1-litre Ferrari. On the Tuesday before the event Moss put in an appearance at the track and tried out the Maserati and lapped in 58 seconds (164 m.p.h.) but looked more than a little frightened of the great 400 b.h.p. monster. On Wednesday the track was available all day for testing and the American cars began to appear and after lunch Fangio did some 150 m.p.h. laps with the Dean Van Lines, while some of the newcomers took their “driver’s test” which was a simple matter of doing a set number of laps at fixed speeds before going really fast. Jimmy Reece was out in the Hoyt Machine Special, Bob Veith in the Bowes Seal Fast Special, Eddie Sachs in the Jim Robbins Special, Jim Rathmann with the Zink Leader Card Special, all of them taking things fairly quietly, and waiting for someone to start going fast. Sachs, who is a comparative newcomer, but very fast and the winner of the last two big races in America, was being urged on to set the pace, with cries of “come on Sachs, show us how.” With no fuss he took the Jim Robbins Special out and did 168 m.p.h. for a lap, and then Fangio began to get worked up in the Dean Van Lines, doing 167 m.p.h., but almost unnoticed Rathmann turned a quick lap at over 174 m.p.h. with an unofficial 54.4 sec., and this started things humming. Sachs was soon out again doing 170 m.p.h. laps. Foyt was doing 168 m.p.h. with Fangio’s car, and Bryan tried to join in with the Belond, but its suspension was not right. Nobody really believed the speed of the Zink car, so Rathmann went out again and was just starting to do a series of 174 1/2 m.p.h. laps when a piston burnt so he switched off smartly. The Belond tried again, but was still bottoming on the bumps, so Salih took the car back to the garage to do some more work on it, and at that the first really active day ended.
On Thursday the weather turned bad and it rained all day, the paddock being a gloomy scene dominated by umbrellas and raincoats and none of the Americans showed any interest in taking their cars out of the garages. In the afternoon the Maserati team arrived and Bertocchi proceeded to drive the car round comparatively slowly, at a mere 120 m.p.h. and then he handed it over to Moss, saying that it was better in the wet than in the dry, and giving him a wink. It was very obvious that Bertocchi was thoroughly enjoying the big Maserati, for he could be seen driving it at every opportunity. It was a very frightened and nervous Moss who got into the big car and was pushed off into the pouring rain, but once under way he did his best to put aside all his inhibitions about track driving and turned some laps at around 145 m.p.h. Without exception the Americans raised their hats to the British driver, for the sight of the big white Maserati thundering down past the pits at nearly 160 m.p.h. in pouring rain was awe-inspiring. Although Moss suffered badly during those few laps he not only did a fine jab of demonstrating his courage, he did an enormous amount to wipe off some of the muck that was thrown on the heads of the European “Stars” last year when they “chickened-out.” The Americans realized that now the Europeans were joining in, they were going to have a real go.
On Friday the weather was still dull and rainy and there seemed little prospect of any change, so while the Americans were saying that they would pack up and go home on Sunday if the rain persisted, the Europeans were saying they were prepared to race in the rain, and with no Americans competing they were already counting out the prize-money. However, by 4 p.m. the weather cleared up and the track dried out, so official practice began and also official qualifying. This year a driver had to do three consecutive laps at speed, the average for the three giving a qualifying speed for the starting grid. The system of timing was quite simple, for everyone who wanted to use the track could do so in their own time, but when a driver felt he was really in the mood for three very fast laps he raised an arm as he crossed the timing line. At that all other drivers on the track were flagged in, so that next time round the driver out to qualify had the track to himself and was timed for the subsequent three laps, and as soon as he was finished the track was free again. Fairman was circulating in the single-seater Lister-Jaguar, not very fast, but going nice, and straight, though the rear-end was bouncing rather badly, but Gregory in one of the D-types was simply horrifying to watch, being right at the top of the banking and getting into vicious slides, having to work away on the steering wheel all round the banking. Moss was trundling round in the Maserati, the bellow from the V8 engine sounding most impressive, and Caroll Shelby also drove, as he was “stand-in” for Moss. Hawthorn went out in the 12-cylinder Ferrari, the scream from its 4.1-litre engine sounding in complete contrast to the thumping of the 4-cylinder Offenhausers of the American cars. The Ferrari obviously had terrific power, some 430 b.h.p. being spoken of, but it has no track-holding characteristics at all and was giving the driver a very rough ride at 57.5 seconds to the lap (approx. 165 m.p.h.). Don Freeland took the Bob Estes Special round in 56.5 seconds (168 m.p.h.) and Sachs did the same with the Jim Robbins car. The track now began to get very full and Reece, Bryan, Sachs, Foyt, Ward and Moss were all going round, between 57 and 59 seconds. Bauman was out with the Agajanian Special and Thomson with the D.A. Lubricant Special, while Hawthorn was out again in the Ferrari. Sachs, Hawthorn, Moss, Gregory and Fairman all had a go at recording a qualifying speed for three laps, and then Fangio shook everyone by setting the best qualifying time of the day, with a fastest lap in 55.2 seconds (277.174 k.p.h.-172.227 m.p.h.) and a three lap average of 275.841 k.p.h. (171 m.p.h.). Just before practice finished Musso had a go in the big Ferrari and clenching his teeth and winding everything on he did a lap in 55.3 seconds (171.9 m.p.h.) so the day ended with the Americans looking very respectfully at the European opposition.
On Saturday morning Italy was her sunny self once more and the track was buzzing with activity. Ferrari bringing along his second car, a 3-litre V6 single-seater, as well as the big one. Bryan qualified the Belond Special with a speed of 275.014 k.p.h. in spite of being baulked by Bueb (Jaguar D-type) who refused to get off the track when the flag was waved at him, and Reece, Crawford, and Ward all qualified, though nothing like as fast as Bryan or Fangio. Just before lunch Veith had the Bowes Seal Fast Special well wound up and started his qualifying run with an opening lap at 54.0 seconds (176 m.p.h.) but on his second lap a rear torsion bar clamping bolt stretched and the suspension collapsed and he had a hair-raising moment as the car slid broadside down the banking.
In the afternoon Trintignant was out in the Sclavi & Amos, finding this typical Indianapolis car a bit like a lorry after driving Coopers, Freeland beat Bryan’s qualifying time, but Fangio’s time of the day before was still best. Then Musso went out in the 4.1-litre Ferrari and in the most amazing display of courage and determination made a new fastest qualifying time with 281.077 k.p.h. (174 m.p.h.) for the three laps. Watching this effort from the north banking was almost as frightening as it must have been for Musso driving it, for by no stretch of imagination would the Ferrari be said to have had suitable suspension, and it was in full-lock slides right round the top of the banking, with inches of daylight showing under the wheels, while Musso wrestled with the steering in a win-or-bust battle. Phil Hill had been going round in the V6 Ferrari but it just did not have enough power for the track and was only a little faster than the best Jaguar, so he then had a go in the 12-cylinder car and found that much more exciting. Hawthorn just would not put his heart into driving the Ferrari and could not approach Musso’s times or speeds, while Moss was flogging steadily round in the Maserati, still rather frightened or the track through having spent so much time talking himself out of the event last year. With Musso making fastest time with the Ferrari the Americans were really shaken, and Sachs went out again to try and do something about it, but though he improved on his previous times he could not approach the speed of the Italian car though he did equal Fangio’s speed. Veith was the only one who upheld the honour of Indianapolis, making second best qualifying speed, with a best lap only one-tenth of a second slower than the Ferrari. Rathmann could not repeat his earlier fast laps for the engine was still rather tight, his mechanics having done a first-class job of repairing it, and he settled for a relatively slow qualifying time of 274.512 k.p.h. A minimum qualifying speed of 240 k.p.h. had been set by the organisers and for a long time Bueb could not reach this figure, and in the meantime Fairman broke a rod on the 3.8-litre fuel-injection engine in the single-seater car, so the Ecurie Ecosse were far from happy. Practice closed with everyone having qualified, and with Musso still the fastest of all, which was not only a great boost for the Italian populace, but also for the organisers and the American drivers, for they knew they were going to have to try hard to beat Musso for he seemed to have taken to this high-speed driving in a big way.
On race day the weather was really hot and the race was arranged to be run in three separate Heats of 63 laps each, with 13 hours between Heats, during which time the cars could be worked on as required. There were 19 entries in all, 10 American track drivers on Indianapolis cars and 9 European and American road racing drivers on a motley collection of cars, from Italy, Britain and America. The order of lining up on the starting grid for the first Heat, which was sponsored by ESSO was in accordance with the qualifying times set up in practice, so it was a very proud Musso who sat in the front row with the big red Ferrari 4.1-litre. While the cars were being warmed tap prior to this first race it was discovered that the Dean Van Lines car had a cracked piston, so the engine was torn apart and though the start was delayed a bit it was not enough to get the car running again, so Fangio had to be a non-starter. A rolling start was used, behind a vast white Ford Fairlaine, and the cars went round the opening lap in the following order,
Veldt (Bowes Seal Fast) 278.857 k.p.h.
Sachs (Jim Bobbins) 275.841 k.p.h.
Bryan (Belond AP) 275.014 k.p.h.
Thomson (D.A. Lubricant) 269.682 k.p.h.
Ruttman (Agajanian Special) 268.578 k.p.h.
Crawford (Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze) 263.641 k.p.h.
Hill (Ferrari V6) 259.468 k.p.h.
Gregory (Jaguar D) 254.293 k.p.h.
Schell (Ferrari 4.1-litre) 245.586 k.p.h.
Musso (Ferrari 4.1-litre) 281.077 k.p.h.
Fangio (Dean Van Lines) Non-starter 275.841 k.p.h.
Freeland (Bob Estes) 275.180 k.p.h.
Rathmann (Zink Leader Card) 274.521 k.p.h.
Ward (Wolcott Fuel Injection), 268.735 k.p.h.
Moss (Eldorado-Maserati) 264.553 k.p.h.
Reece (Hoyt Machine) 263.188 k.p.h.
Trintignant (Sealvi & Amos) 258.591 k.p.h.
Fairman (Lister-Jaguar) 246.376 k.p.h.
Bueb (Jaguar D) 241.960 k.p.h.
appearing in sight low on the north banking and still in formation, travelling at about 80 m.p.h. As the flag fell it was the red Ferrari that shot off into the lead and Musso screamed it round the very top of the banking, leaving the Americans wondering which way he had gone. On lap 1 the Ferrari was well ahead, followed by Sadie, Rathmann, Bryan and Freeland, with Phil Hill on the smaller Ferrari leading Veith, Thomson and Musso and this was what everyone had, been longing to see, for the European cars were making the Indianapolis boys hurry along. On lap 3 Sachs got up alongside Musso and they ran wheel to wheel at well over 170 m.p.h., neither giving way; while Rathmann was close behind, followed by Bryan and Freeland. On lap 4 Musso was still leading, but on the next lap Sachs took the lead, but the gallant Italian driver did not give up and he fought Sachs and Rathmann as hard as they fought him, so that these three drew away from the rest of the field. On lap 8 Rathmann took the lead and on the following lap they came off the north banking in such a close bunch that it was a pack of slower cars passing the pits, travelling at a mere 160 m.p.h. and the three leaders went through this lot without lifting off, so for a brief moment the wide Monza track seemed full of cars and it was almost impossible to see where they all went; there was passing on right and left and Musso went right down the pit area, a few feet from the wall, scattering mechanics and marshals, but determined not to lose contact with Sachs and Rathmann who were weaving their way through the cars in the centre of the track.
Somehow all three got through and it was Musso who led once more as they went round the south banking, but next lap Rathmann was back in the lead. This may not have been Grand Prix racing, but it was motor racing and there was no quarter being given, for the race average was close on 170 m.p.h. Meanwhile Bryan and Freeland were still in very close company, the two yellow cars, the Belond and the Bob Estes seemingly very evenly matched, while further back Moss was keeping the Eldorado-Maserati on the tails of the cars of Ward and Veith, but Hill had dropped out with a defective magneto on the V6 Dino-engined Ferrari 3-litre. Rathmann took the lead on lap 11 and though he maintained it after that, he still had the bright red Ferrari and the dark red Jim Robbins Special very close behind him, and on lap 17 Sachs got his car right up alongside Rathmann in a do-or-die attempt to get the lead, but it was no good, the Zink car was too good and on lap 20 Sachs coasted into the pits with a connecting rod sticking out of the side of the engine on the Jim Robbins car. Meanwhile Musso had worn himself out completely, for he had not been in a very fit state before the event, and fighting the uncontrollable Ferrari round the bankings was more than anyone could hope to do for very long at the speed he was going. He had done a wonderful job and really shaken the Indianapolis drivers, but now his race was run and he dropped back into 2nd place, making despairing signs of fatigue as he passed the pits. Behind him Bryan was running the Belond Special comfortably in third place for Freeland had overstretched the Bob Estes Special and a camshaft drive had broken, while there was more trouble further back when Ward retired with a broken chassis and split exhaust manifold, leaving Moss ahead of Veith in 4th and 5th positions, but a long way behind the leader. However, for both place there was still a strong battle waging between Ruttman and Thomson, these two having been wheel-to-wheel since the beginning of the race.
On lap 26 it was all over, for Musso could go no longer and he drew into the pits, staggered from the car and slumped onto the pit counter, completely spent after a truly heroic fight. The Firestone tyres on the car were getting badly scrubbed due to the sliding round the bankings, so all four were changed and it was found that the spokes in the rear wheels were breaking up. This stop let Bryan into 2nd place but not close enough to challenge the leader, and it also bought Moss up into 3rd place, the big Maserati now rumbling round very regularly. Hawthorn took over the Ferrari but there was not the enthusiasm in the English driver that there had been in the Italian, and it did not look to be the same car, cruising round at the back of the fast cars and not making up any ground on them, which was a pity after Musso’s valiant efforts in the opening stages; Hawthorn was not right at the back, for Reece, Trintignant, Crawford, Fairman, Schell and Bueb were tailing along, many laps behind the leader. Like many a European event the race settled into a procession between laps 27 and 47, with Rathmann circulating a comfortable 10-15 seconds ahead of Bryan, and both a lap ahead of Moss, Veith, Ruttman and Thomson. Next came Hawthorn, and on lap 43 Musso lapped the big Ferrari and for a time the two European drivers ran side by side, and Moss slowed a little so that Veith began to close up on him. Half a lap away the leader was about to lap Rathmann in the Agajanian Special who was a little ahead of Thomson in the D.A. Lubricant car. Between laps 43 and 57 there was a fine object lesson in track racing, for Jim Rathmann was lapping faster than all the others and as he lapped the Agajanian Special Troy Ruttman got into his slipstream and hung onto the Zink Leader Card car. This manoeuvre got him away front Thomson with whom he had been racing since the beginning and towed him nearer and nearer to Moss and Veith. He had been lapping at the same speed as they, and now this tow in the slip-stream of the Zink car was bringing him closer to them. Meanwhile, due to lack of concentration and running in company with Hawthorn, whom he had just lapped, Moss lost 3rd place for Veith went by while he was not looking. On lap 52 the leader caught up with Moss again and Ruttman went by with him, taking 4th place from the Maserati, and on lap 57 the same manoeuvre happened with Veith, so that Ruttman was now 3rd, having got in the slip-stream of the leader while in 5th place. This very clever piece of track-driving was all wasted on the next lap for the car ran short of fuel and Ruttman stopped at his pit and he fell back to 7th place. Jim Rathmann, looking remarkably comfortable and untroubled completed the 63 laps at an average of 269.178 k.p.h., and he was followed by Bryan, Veith, Moss, Thomson, Hawthorn, Ruttman and the rest, fourteen of the 18 starters still being in at the end of the first Heat. Out for good were Sachs, Freeland and Hill, while Ward was able to repair the Wolcott Fuel Inj. car in time for Heat 2, but the Dean Van Lines was still not ready for Fangio to race.
After an interval the cars lined up in pairs again, in the order of finishing fleet 1, this time behind a Lancia Spyder driven by Villoresi, and this race was sponsored by MOBILOIL. The Ferrari was still going perfectly and Musso took over again, while A. J. Foyt replaced Trintignant in the Sclavi & Amos car. The pairs of driver were in the order, Rathmann/Bryan, Veith/Moss, Thomson/Musso, Bauman/ Reece, Foyt/Cratsford, Fairman/Schell, Gregory/Bueb, and this time Musso could not hope to get into the lead from the third row of the rolling start. Rathmann had no trouble at all in this Heat and after only 3 laps had drawn out a comfortable lead, but for 2nd place it was a different story. No matter what anyone might say about track racing there is no denying the fact that the racing can be so close at times that the cars are almost touching. Veith, Musso, Bryan and Moss were nose to tail for 2nd place and the pace was hot, so much so that after a while Bryan dropped back, leaving Veith to battle against the two Europeans. Quite clearly Moss realised that anything Musso could do, he could do better, and the Maserati was a far better track car than the Ferrari. Lapping at 57 seconds (167 m.p.h.) the Ferrari and the Maserati really had a go at putting the Bowes Seal Fast Special in its place, but Veith eventually got the better of them and after 12 laps began to draw ahead. Meanwhile Bryan was being harried by Ruttman and Foyt was not far behind. Musso became exhausted once more and gradually dropped back, while Moss was content to settle for 3rd place, and after 19 laps the Ferrari stopped at the pits for new tyres and this time Phil Hill took over. At 20 laps the order was Rathmann, Veith, Moss, Ruttman, Bryan and Foyt, the rest of the runners having been lapped by the leader, though Hill was now travelling fast and making up time for the Ferrari’s pit stop.
On lap 24 a new Stirling Moss began to appear and for the next twenty-one laps one saw the wonderful sight of a truly great driver allowing his inner-self and inborn skill and courage to take full command and throw off the worry and fright that he had allowed to build up around him prior to this race. It all started when Troy Ruttman went past, for Moss had seen him try to drive a sports car at Sebring in the past and to be overtaken by an inferior driver was more than he could stand. He opened out the Maserati VII engine and regained his lead, but then Bryan went by and at that point Moss realised that you did not have to be a big hairy man to race against these Indianapolis boys, little Stirling Moss with skill and courage was quite sufficient and he then started to mix it really close with Bryan and Ruttman and as they lapped the slower cars he followed them through impossible gaps and sat right in their slip-streams round the bankings. This three-cornered dog-fight was going on at lap speeds of 168 m.p.h. almost the same speed as the leader Rathmann was circulating at, and for lap after lap Moss battled away against the two big Americans, both these drivers’ stature making even Mike Hawthorn look quite small when they all stand together. The Maserati was a match for both the Belond and the Agajanian Specials and there was never more than a few feet between the three cars. Moss discovered that in track racing it was every man for himself, YOU did not move over and let your rival through, if he wanted to get by he had to find a way by and you raced as close as you could, even to the point of interlocking wheels if necessary. It was tough and rough, and the real Stirling Moss had suddenly realised that he could play it that way, the timid Moss of the pre-race days was pushed to one side and Bryan and Ruttman were made to sweat it out. During the twenty-one laps of this wonderful display of hard racing, with all three really pushing each other, they had numerous occasions on which they had to lap groups of slower cars and at one time Foyt, Reece and Crawford were passing the pits and about to lap Fairman in the Lister-Jaguar, when, “Woosh” the Belond, the Maserati and Agajanian swept through them on all sides and there was the incredible sight of seven cars all travelling between 160 and 175 m.p.h. in a solid hunch heading for the narrow banking, with poor Jack Fairman completely surrounded by thundering great track cars. If anyone had the impression that Monza racing was dull they should have seen just that one sight, while similar things were happening all round the track. Meanwhile Rathmann was sailing round its the lead, having twice received the “slow” sign from his pit, to which he replied with a despairing gesture that indicated “but I am going slow”—he was still lapping at over 165 m.p.h.
On lap 55 Moss was still between his two American rivals, but he then saw that one of the rear tyres was nearly worn right through, so he reluctantly had to ease up and let them go for the remaining few laps, but it had been a memorable race for 3rd position. Hill had been driving the Ferrari hard and fast and he got up to 7th position only to have to make another stop for tyres, losing two positions in the meantime and had the race gone on for another lap he would have regained his position. Eleven cars finished this second Heat and the winner’s speed was down on Heat 1, being 266.388 k.p.h. but nevertheless much faster than last year’s race, while Veith, Bryan and Ruttman finished on the same lap as the leader in that order, with Moss 5th., Foyt 6th and Reece, Crawford, Hill, Fairman and Bueb following in that order. Three cars gave up for good, Thomson with a broken crankshaft, Ward with a broken chassis frame and Schell with “mechanical boredom.” Fairman blew up in a big way as he crossed the line so that though he was classed as a finisher, he could race no more. After another interval during which the Ferrari needed nothing doing to it at all in the way of repairs the cars lined up for Heat 3, sponsored by SHELL and with a Giulietta Spyder as pace car. At last the Dean Van Lines car was ready and Fangio took his place right at the back of the field, so the line up was, Rathmann/Veith, Bryan/Ruttman, Moss/Foyt, Reece/Crawford, Hawthorn (in the Ferrari) with a space beside him that should have been Fairman, Bueb/Gregory, and Fangio bringing up the rear. When everyone had got their engines running the pace car set off and the field trickled off after it, all that is except Moss for the Maserati was giving trouble getting into gear. This was a pity for Moss was all set for another battle against the leading American drivers and this trouble at the getaway lost him nearly half a lap, for the field were rolling and the start was given as they reappeared down past the pits. With no European cars near the front Rathmann, Bryan and Veith got stuck into a close battle on their own and for the next 18 laps the spectators had a perfect exhibition of high-speed track racing.
These three drivers knew each other well so that each had to try and pull out something new in order to gain an advantage, but Rathmann was equal to anything the others could do and for the first 17 laps he was first across the line every time. As there was a prize of some £30 for the leader on every lap throughout the race, Veith and Bryan were trying hard to wrest some of the money from Rathmann. They were lapping consistently at more than 171 m.p.h. sometimes ending the lap in line-ahead formation, other times almost line-abreast, but always Rathmann had the advantage by a few inches. The average speed rose to 172 m.p.h. (277 k.p.h.) and for one happy moment Bryan led the race, on lap 18 and collected 230 for his efforts, but that was the only time, for Rathmann was back there ticking up the thirty quids every time round. This battle rather overshadowed the rest of the runners, but Hawthorn was cruising round with the slower Indianapolis runners such as Crawford and Reece, while Moss was making up for his bad start and this time stormed past Hawthorn and did not wait to say anything to him. The Maserati was lapped steadily at 165 m.p.h. which was impressive enough in itself, but to see the three leaders lap Moss on the north banking as if he was a rabbit at the end of the field was quite remarkable. Fangio had done one lap and retired at the pits with a faulty fuel pump, which was a truly ignominious withdrawal for the great man after his efforts in practice and the work done by his mechanics during the day. After 24 laps Hawthorn stopped for a change of the left front tyre and Phil Hill took over and made the Ferrari rush along, though it was 400 r.p.m. down since the beginning of the day due to a dying battery for the coil ignition. Even so, it hurtled past the slower cars and Hill was gaining ground visibly. The pace of the leading trio was so fast that everyone else was lapped at least once and only Foyt and Moss were fast enough not to be lapped twice. On lap 29 Veith was missing, leaving Rathmann and Bryan out on their own, for the Bowes Seal Fast Special had broken the right-hand stub axle and as the wheel started to wobble about, being retained in place by the brake disc held in the caliper. Veith lifted off and lost height on the banking. Just as he was coming to rest on the grass and earth at the foot of the banking the whole wheel, hub and brake disc fell off and the car came to rest with the driver shaken but unhurt. Bryan realised that he just could not cope with Rathmann and the very fast and reliable John Zink car, so he settled for 2nd place and dropped back a bit. As the leader went round on his 40th lap, six seconds ahead of Bryan, the rest of the field were in the order, Foyt, Moss, Crawford, Hill and Reece, with the lone Jaguar of Bueb way behind.
Four laps later and Moss was missing, and for a moment things looked ominous for the yellow warning flag was put out. The Maserati had been going round the south banking when something in the steering box sheared and as the wheel turned freely the car slid up the banking, hit the retaining steel rail, burst both right-band tyres and broke lumps off the Halibrand magnesium wheels, and then slid to the bottom of the banking, spinning round as it did so, and coming to rest in the soft earth. A pale and shaken Moss stepped out, thankful for the strength of the retaining guard rail and for the solid build of the big Maserati, for a normal Grand Prix car would have flown to pieces under the impact. The race as such was now virtually run and won by Rathmann, a remarkably cool and collected driver of a well-built and perfectly prepared racing car. A rather chagrined Bryan came home second and an elated Phil Hill arrived 3rd with the Ferrari 4.1-litre, followed by Crawford and Reece. In this heat Ruttman was completely out of luck having to retire early, while Foyt broke down just before the end. The winner’s speed was 269.404 k.p.h., even faster than the first Heat, due to the homeric battle that went on in the opening stages, and after adding up the results of the three Heats the General Classification was sorted out, Rathmann’s overall speed for the 500 miles being 268.311 k.p.h., making it the fastest motor race ever run.
All told the winner of the 500 collected over £11,000—no wonder the U.P.P.I. members gathered round this year.
Although the race was won at record speed the fastest race lap by Bryan was three-tenths of a second slower than his fastest lap in last year’s race. The all-time lap record for Monza still stands to Bettenhausen (Novi V8) with a time of 53.7 secs, recorded in practice last year. The 1958 event saw no one below 54 secs.
There have now been 1,000 miles of racing on the banked track, plus all the practice, and not one drop of blood—so much for the pessimists who boycotted the race last year.
Some people are hard to please. With cars lapping at over 170 m.p.h. and only inches apart there were still people who were unimpressed—”It’s not racing” they said!
A certain well-known monthly magazine recently suggested Class A racing for single-seaters using “sports car” components. At Monza there were three, the Maserati V8, the Ferrari V12 and the Lister-Jaguar 3.8-litre. Where was the 3.7-litre single-seater Aston Martin?
A lot of people are getting mixed up on the difference between the art of high-speed driving and motor racing. Grand Prix racing is the demonstration of driving skill, Monza is motor racing.
The Indianapolis crowd have a sense of humour that is different which makes a change. Harry Schell was bleating about time race being “Stupid and silly” and a voice was heard to say “How’d he know, he was so far behind he didn’t even see it.”
Notes on the cars at Monza
There is no doubt at all that the car that really stole the show in the paddock was the Belond AP Special, designed by George Salih and built by himself and Quinn Eperley. Although not a new car, having won the Indianapolis 500-mile race in 1957 as well as this year, it was an interesting new style in track cars and one that has since been copied, though the only one of its type to appear at Monza. Apart from its interesting mechanical layout it has a finish which one can only describe as “motor show” though this does not really do justice to it, for it is better than that. The cleanliness is apparent both in design and construction and the detail finish is functional and scrupulous, even to such things as pipe lines that have to pass through the alloy bulkhead screwing on to unions which are firmly attached to the bulkhead, rather than passing through rubber grommets, while the cockpit is finished to such detail that there are carpets attached to the flooring. As remarked last year the oil-tightness of the Indianapolis cars is something we could well do with copying in Europe, and the cockpit finish on the Belond Special showed complete faith in the oil-tightness of the engine and gearbox. Technically the car struck a new note at Indianapolis in 1957 for it has the 4-cylinder Meyer & Drake Offenhauser engine lying on its side, 18° from the horizontal, giving a bonnet line and frontal area that would do credit to a Lotus, and this with a 4.2-litre engine.
The chassis is a typical Indianapolis “roadster” type of space frame, with the transmission line set to the left and the driver sitting on the right, the whole assembly having a very low centre of gravity, while front and rear axles are conventional rigid one-piece type, located by Watt-linkages, Panhard rods and Jacobs-ladders, and suspension is by torsion bars back and front. Lying the engine over on its side was not as simple as it might sound, for there were many oiling problems to solve, but Salih managed all this in 1957, as proved when Sam Ranks won the 500 that year, and the speed and reliability was again proved by Jim Bryan winning the 500 this year. The Salih principles are obviously meticulous care and attention to detail, and it was interesting to see him inspecting the piston crowns and valve faces, through the plug holes with, the aid of a medical throat inspection lump, while similar care and attention had gone into the design of the car, one instance being the ensuring of a good flow of cool air across the rear axle gear housing, from a scoop on the left of the cockpit and an exit in the fin on the tail of the car. Obvious confidence in gear ratio calculations for flat out driving, and the reliability of the engine were shown in a complete lack of instruments in the cockpit, the dashboard merely holding an On-Off switch for the magneto. It is an interesting sidelight that at the recent Indianapolis race, three other cars turned up for practice built around the horizontal engine layout, but they all suffered from oiling troubles. At first Salih was reluctant to tell them how he got over the problems, but when he saw that they were not going to have a chance to qualify he relented and put them wise to the scavenging problems connected with this engine position. This helpfulness is typical of the Indianapolis racing crowd, and it is something we could well do with in European racing.
Finished in rich yellow celullose the Belond car really impressed everyone who saw it, and on race day its pit crew and driver were all dressed in yellow overalls, and though this appeared a little gaudy to some European eyes, it had to be admitted that the whole set-up looked extremely tidy and efficient. That it is not merely a case of fancy-dress and showing off was indicated at Indianapolis for they change all four wheels and refuelled in 40 seconds, including giving the driver a drink. This sort of immaculate turn-out and efficiency might well be copied by certain European teams.
The car was designed and built by the Salih/Eperley team before the 1957 Indianapolis race and they then looked for a financial sponsor, and found it in the Belond exhaust system and silencer company, hence the name given to the car. If the Belond car impressed for detail finish, the Wolcott Fuel Injection Special took pride of place for originality of ideas. Financed by Roger Wolcott, a wealthy industrialist, this car was thought up by Herb Porter, who acts as chief mechanic, and Luigi Lesovsky, a Californian special builder. At Indianapolis transverse weight distribution is an important factor both for cornering and for tyre wear and one way of tackling the problem is to preset the torsion bars in the static position so as to lessen the effective weight transfer under cornering loads. The builders of the Wolcott car decided to tackle the problem in a different way and concentrated on the disposition of known loads. One of these is the driver, for it is a fixed weight from start to finish of the race, and another is the engine, but to have both of them on the left of the centre line of the car, for cornering anti-clockwise at Indianapolis was not easy, unless the driver sat high up above the propeller shaft. They solved it by sitting the driver as low and as near to the left rear wheel as possible and setting the engine in front of him but at a big angle to the axis of the car and as far to the left as practicable. This meant having two universal joints in the propeller shaft instead of the usual one, and having both running constantly out of line, the rear axle being a standard Halibrand unit but with the final drive gears fixed to the axle tube on the right instead of the left as with most Indianapolis cars. This layout left little room for the driver’s feet alongside the two-speed gearbox on the buck of the engine, so the clutch pedal was done away with and a lever on the floor operated the clutch for getting away from rest. Once in motion it was a simple matter to change into the higher gear without using the clutch, and this meant that the space alongside the brake pedal could be used for a foot rest, for on these cars the driver really has to brace himself firmly.
That Porter and Lesovsky are not content to follow general trends is shown by the whole car, the chassis of which is a space frame to their own design, but they also have an Offenhauser engine converted to 3 litres and fitted with a centrifugal supercharger which they run on certain shorter speedways in America, but for Indianapolis and Monza they used a 4.2-litre Offenhauser. Due to the left hand engine mounting, and wishing to avoid having the exhaust alongside the driver, the camshafts are interchanged and the Hilborn injection system is on the left of the engine and the exhaust manifold on the right, this being possible because the Offenhauser is symmetrical design. Another man with individualistic ideas about the usage of the regular Indianapolis components is A. J. Watson and the John Zink Leader Card Special was built by him for Mr. Zink, and driven by Jim Rathmann. This car ran at Monza last year and was once of the three to finish the whole 500 miles intact, and like George Salih the Belond builder, A. J. Watson is a great one for meticulous care and attention to detail. His car has a space frame designed by himself, and has a conventional upright engine mounting, well to the left of the centre line of the car, but the chassis itself is set some inches to the left of the centre line of the tyre track, the object being to introduce a transverse static weight loading of something like 60/40, the aim being to increase the adhesion of the inside wheels on the corners at Indianapolis, Milwaukee or Darlington tracks where these cars race. Like Salih the designer of the Zink car has faith in his engine building and rear axle ratio calculations and the space on the dashboard normally occupied by a rev.-counter was covered with a cardboard disc on which were pencilled figures reading to 9,000 r.p.m. and with an arrow pointing to the 9, while the space for a water temperature gauge was covered by a notice reading, “The Name’s Ed.”. These car builders are serious and skilled mechanics, but not so much that they’ve lost their sense of humour. The Agajanian Special, owned by J. C. Agajanian a pig-farmer and big business man, was a new car, very similar to the one he brought over in 1957, having a Kuzma chassis, noted for its strength and reliability, in which the Offenhauser engine was set so far over to the left that there was room under the bonnet for another engine alongside it.
The Offenhauser is noted for its simplicity of design and construction and the complete absence of external pipes and fittings looks strange to eyes used to the messy exteriors of European engines. Other cars using Kuzma chassis frames were the D.A. Lubricant Special owned by a group of people in industry in Dayton, Ohio, and driven by Johnny Thomson, the Scavli & Amos Special built and owned by two people of those names, and loaned to Trintignant for the Monza race, and the Dean Van Lines Special owned by Al Dean who runs a long distance lorry business. This car won the 1957 Monza 500 when driven by Jim Bryan and for this year was loaned to Fangio. Four cars used Kurtis-built thassis frames, these being the Bowes Seal Fast Special, owned by the manufacturer of tyre repair “goo” and similar substances, the Hoyt Machine Special, the Jim Robbins Special and the Maguire Mirror Glaze Special, while to complete the list of twelve Indianapolis cars there was the Bob Estes Special, owned by a man of that name who is a big agent for Lincoln and Mercury cars. This car used a chassis frame designed and built by the chief mechanic to the team, Jud Phillips.
As explained in the report of the 1957 Monza race all these cars used Offenhauser engines and two-speed gearboxes, and Halibrand axles rear-end drive gears disc brakes, steering gear and magnesium wheels, but the way gears, components are utilised, modified, located and prepared all show the individual treatment of each builder and mechanic. Although all twelve cars were using the 4.2-litre Offenhauser engine it is worth noting that the standard “over the counter” Meyer & Drake built Offenhauser 4-cylinder engine is of 4,5-litre. capacity and it is up to each car builder and engine tuner to convert it to 4.2 litres or 3 litres as in the case of the blown Wolcott engine whether they achieve this by shortening the stroke or enlarging the bore, or a combination of the two, depends on the man responsible for the preparation and his pet theories. For example, A. J. Watson has a theory about connecting-rod angles and long strokes, and the engine in the Zink car uses a very long stroke crank, but a shortened cylinder block and small bore, and the timing gears for the camshaft drive and the gear housing are off a 3.6-litre Offenhauser engine, modified to fit his special engine. George Bignotti, the builder of the Bowes Seal Fast Special, likes to have the intake bell-mouths of his Unborn injection system out in the cold air, and with the normal mounting on the right of the head and the engine set well to the left of the frame this would not be possible, so he has reversed his camshaft layout and the bell-mouths protrude from the left of the bonnet and the exhaust pipes run across the car and out of the right side.
All the cars are painted in the owners’ individual colour schemes, varying from the brilliant yellow of the Belond and the gold and red of the Agajanian, to the maroon of the Jim Bobbins and the white of the Sclavi & Amos. For anyone who enjoys a colourful scene this collection of Indianapolis cars was indeed a feast of colour, and with drivers and mechanics usually to match it was not difficult to see who was concerned with which car. To the uninitiated all this “paint and powder” may have looked like a lot of Hollywood ballyhoo, but a few minutes watching some of these chaps working on the cars and then watching the drivers lapping the Monza track at well over 170 m.p.h. soon proved that it was anything but a carnival. This year Ferrari and Maserati joined in the battle and built special cars for the job. Stirling Moss, B.P. fuel company, and Mr. Zanetti, the owner of Eldorado Ice-cream all got together and poured vast quantities of Italian lire into the Maserati factory and Engineers Alfieri and Colotti worked day and night for 20 days to produce a truly magnificent machine. The basis unit was a V8 Maserati sports car engine reduced to 4.2 litres, complete with four overhead camshafts, four double-choke Weber carburetters and 16 sparking plugs, and set up to run on alcohol. This wonderful looking power unit was mounted in a special single-seater space-frame built of oval and round section steel tubing and using a lot of the knowledge gained with the 4.5-litre sports car raced last season. The front suspension was by double wishbones and coil springs, identical to the sports car, but with stronger steering arms and track rods, while the back suspension was a very robust version of the Grand Prix de Dion layout with transverse leaf spring.
The engine was mounted 9 cm to the left of the centre line of the car and drove through a special clutch via an open propeller shaft to a new two-speed gearbox mounted at the rear. This was a simple spur-gear arrangement and behind were a pair of bevels which turned the drive through a right angle and from the output shaft a pair of straight-cut gears raised the drive up so the axle height. The final drive pinion was fixed solidly to a short shaft in the rear drive casing, with a universal-joint taking the drive out through massive half-shafts to each wheel, there being no differential. The driving seat was mounted very low, alongside the propeller shaft and the gear lever lay horizontally high up by the driver’s left hand. The brakes were off a 3957 Grand Prix car and the hubs had been modified to take Halibrand alloy wheels, including the six-pin drive fitting, while two large Houdaillle shock-absorbers were mounted on each side at the rear. The bodywork followed the general lines of a Maserati Grand Prix car, except that the tail had a fin on it, and the whole car was cellulose and immaculate white, with various Eldorado advertisements on it. Short open exhaust pipes stuck out of each side of the car and the whole thing had the air of being an impressive and thoroughly track-worthy fiercesome monster. With the 4.5-litre sports Maserati design now being useless, since the F.I.A. bombshell at the beginning of the year of a 3.-litre limit on sports cars, this V8 single seater was the obvious answer for track-racing.
Enzo Ferrari and the Maranello drawing office decided to tackle the problem from two sides, in fact, in typical Ferrari fashion. Their motto must surely be “If you design a sufficient variety, one of them must be right.” Digging back in the files they unearthed the drawings a 1950-51 Grand Prix car, of the era when Formula I was for 4.5-litre unsupercharged cars or 1.5-litre supercharged ones, and they built a chassis frame to the Saille layout as the successful 4.5-litre car of those days. A rear suspension, de Dion with transverse leaf spring, and gearbox/differential unit was made, identical to that used on the old Formula I car, the only difference being that the gearbox which lies under the driving seat contained only three forward speeds. The front suspension was similar to that used on the Grand Prix Ferraris of the pre-Lancia days, as were the front brakes, though coil springs were used, as on the 250 GT Coupé Ferraris. Into this chassis was fitted a 4.1-litre V12 cylinder engine, having four overhead camshafts, twin plugs, and six double-choke Weber carburetters. This was one of the engines used in the works Ferrari sports cars of last season, which like the Maserati V8 has been useless since the F.I.A. 3-litre limit ruling came into force. This Ferrari engine was fitted with coil ignition, using a 12-cylinder distributor on the back of each inlet camshaft, four coils and a battery mounted in the cockpit. Being a sports car engine there was provision for a starter motor and this was coupled to a two-pin plug located under a hinged flap on the side of the body. To start up, a trailing lead from a vast battery trolley was inserted through the flap and plugged in and a button on the instrument panel pressed. The body on this car was a cross between the current Grand Prix Ferrari, the old Super Squalo and the earlier 4.5-litre Grand Prix car, and while the result was not exactly aesthetic it looked functional and was devoid of any advertising matter, names, or fancy colour schemes, being finished in the usual rough Ferrari red paint.
The other approach to the problem by Maranello was to take a normal Dino Grand Prix chassis, as used in present Formula 1 racing and fit it with the Dino 296 vee 6 sports car engine that ran at Silverstone last May, this unit being mounted at an angle to the left as on the Dino Grand Prix car. Double shock-absorbers were fitted to each corner and the springs and wishbones were strengthened, as were the steering arms and track rods, while at the back an experimental arrangement of coil springs was used, these operating between the de Dion tube and the chassis frame. At first these springs were bonded into a solid block of rubber, while the coils at the front were rubber covered but not in a solid block. Later all these were replaced by normal coil springs, and telescopic shock absorbers were fitted inside the front ones, in addition to the double Houdaille shock absorbers. The body lines of this car followed presentday Ferrari Grand Prix car practice but the cockpit was fitted with an enormous wrap-round Perspex screen.
Ecurie Ecosse had a Lister chassis fitted with a 3.8-litre Jaguar engine and gearbox, but instead of the usual all-enveloping Lister bodywork, they had fitted a fairly narrow single seater body, with wrap-round screams and head fairing, the exhaust pipe coming out of the side and running up over the rather wide flat tail. The driver sat on the right and the oil tank filled the left of the cockpit, the gearbox and prop-shaft being down the centre of the Lister chassis, as in the normal sports car. The Lister suspension was suitably strengthened both front and rear, being the normal double wishbone and coil springs front, and de Dion and coil springs rear, with inboard disc brakes at the back. Front wheels were Dunlop disc and rear ones were wire-spoke, in order to get a wide rim base to mount over-size tyres. In addition the Scottish team had two normal D-type Jaguars, devoid of unnecessary equipment and fitted with enormous air scoops just above the right rear wheel. A panel was cut out of the tail, about where a rear lamp is normally fitted, and the flow of air through the scoop over the right rear tyre and out through the tail, dropped the temperature of the tyre sufficient for there to be no more worries about running continuously at maximum speed.
To complete the field of nine European cars Chinetti brought along a very old and very tired looking 4.5-litre Ferrari from the 1952 Grand Prix era, said to have a 4.1-litre engine in it.