A fierce G.T. race
Monza, June 28th
Every year in Italy for some time now a grand National Lottery is held all over the country, rather like the Irish Sweep and the result is joined in with a big motor race at Monza at the end of June. At first it was the Supercortemaggiore sports-car race that varied as to capacity limits each year, and then it was the Monza 500-mile track race for two years. This year the 500-mile race was abandoned for financial reasons and in its place was held a Gran Turismo race, the lottery still going on and the holders of the winning numbers had to watch a collection of Ferrari 250 G.T. cars racing round the road circuit to decide who was going to win the first prize of some 100 million lire. In addition to being limited to G.T. cars homologated under Appendix J, each car had to be the property of the entrant and licensed for the road, while drivers were limited in that no driver in Category 1 could compete. In brief this ruled out all Grand Prix drivers and all top sports car stars, leaving what the Italians like to call “gentlemen” or we call amateur drivers. The entry was divided into two categories, for cars up to 2,600 c.c. and for cars over 2,600 c.c., the winner of the Esso Cup and the first prize of 1 million lire being the fastest in the overall classification.
The race brought together one of the biggest assemblies of 250 G.T. Ferraris ever seen on a circuit, driven by comparatively well-known drivers such as the Belgians Mairesse and Bianchi, the Frenchman Cotton, the Italians Abate, Thiele, Gerini and Taramazzo down to new and unknown drivers. Altogether there were 16 Ferraris ready to start after the ravages of two days’ practice and with them in the big capacity class was Gibson with a Jaguar XK140 coupe, a 300 SL and a 300 SL roadster. The smaller group was dominated by a works Porsche, with standard plain bearing Carrera engine which von Hanstein drove, and had to “buy” from the factory before he was allowed to start, and Schiller with his own Carrera G.T. There were a few aged Fiat 8V coupes but most of the entry was of Alfa-Romeo Giuliettas from Zagato Sprint Veloces of the Italian woman Ada Pace and de Leonibus, through standard Sprint Veloces, to Leto di Priolo’s brand new Sprint Speciale, or SS, which is about to replace the production Sprint Veloce. Right at the back was a 750 Fiat-Abarth Zagato and a pair of A.G. Bristols owned by Swiss drivers.
To start the day’s proceedings a Formula Junior event was run, as is becoming very popular with Continental organisers and it was run in two heats, each of 26 laps of the Monza road circuit, all the finishers in the first heat being allowed to start in the second heat and the general result being decided on addition of times. A very good field of 25 cars lined up for the first heat and though all the cars were of Italian manufacture the drivers came from as far afield as Argentina, America, Belgium and France, as well a large number of Italians. The majority of the cars were Stanguellinis, but there was a good selection of other makes, such as Moretti, Volpini, de Sanctis and Dagrada, all except the last using Fiat 1,100 engines, the odd one being a Lancia Appia, while there was also a home-built car using a 3-cylinder DKW engine. If the aims of Formula Junior are to provide colourful and close racing then it is doing well, for with the cars painted the National colours of the drivers the start was a gay scene, and as most were using Fiat 1,100 engines the racing was close. In fact Formula Junior has rapidly developed into cut-and-thrust racing like F.3 used to be and there are some pretty harassing incidents as a result.
In the first heat a good race went on between the Italians Branca, Cammarota, and Genovese, the first on a rear-engined Moretti, the other two on Stanguellinis and the young Argentinian Borden, also on a Stanguellini, while the Swiss driver May would have been in with them had his Stanguellini not given trouble. After a pretty fierce battle the Argentine driver, who is showing great promise this season, got away from the rest of the field by a margin of 3 seconds, which can be considered a lot in Formula Junior. During this heat there occured an incident rather typical of this new racing, when Branca let go of the wheel to shake both fists at Cammarota and shout abuse as well as they passed the pits at about 90 m.p.h. They had been elbowing each other out of the way for some time and the climax came when Branca retired in high dudgeon hurling abuse at all and sundry. Of the 25 starters 17 finished and after an interval to allow cars and tempers to cool down these 17 lined up for Heat 2. Once again Juan Manuel Borden showed his marked superiority over all the other drivers and this time he won in a canter, which represented 4 seconds after 26 laps. Behind him came Zanarotti and Cammarota a mere three-tenths of a second apart, which is close enough racing for anyone. Unfortunately a bad incident occurred in this heat during a seven car dice for second place, when two of the contestants tangled with a third and crashed heavily, both Tinazzi and Crivellari dying as result. The two heats had been run at an average speed of more than 100 m.p.h., so that the faster cars must have been reaching speeds of more than 120 m.p.h. and Borden set a lap record in the second race of 2 min. 04.5 sec., equal to 166.265 k.p.h. (approx. 103 m.p.h.). Naturally enough he was acclaimed the winner on General Classification.
Formula Junior — Heat 1 — 26 Laps — 149.5 Kilometres:
1st: J. M. Borden (Stanguellini) 55 min. 12.0 sec. — 162.500 k.p.h.
2nd: R. Cammarota (Stanguellini) 55 min. 12.4 sec.
3rd: C. Genovese (Stanguellini) 55 min. 14.2 sec.
4th: A. Tinazzi (de Sanctis) 55 min. 52.5 sec.
5th: R. Lippi (Stanguellini) 56 min. 22.0 sec.
6th: P. Carpenter (Stanguellini) 56 min. 40.4 sec.
Formula Junior — Heat 2 — 26 laps — 149.5 Kilometres:
1st: J. M. Broden (Stanguellini) 55 min. 00.2 sec.
2nd: G. Zanarotti (Stanguellini) 55 min. 04.2 sec.
3rd: R. Cammarota (Stanguellini) 55 min. 04.7 sec.
4th: R. Revol (Stanguellini) 56 min. 39.2 sec.
5th: C. Genovese (Stanguellini) 1 lap behind
6th: P. Carpenter (Stanguellini) 1 lap behind
1st: J. M. Borden (Stanguellini)
2nd: R. Cammarota (Stanguellini)
3rd: R. Revol (Stanguellini)
Lap record: J. M. Borden (Stanguellini), in 2 min. 04.5 sec. — 166.265 k.p.h.
The Formula Junior races had seemed pretty rough and fast, but they were nothing to what followed when 16 Ferrari 250 G.T.s and the Porsches, Fiats and Alfa-Romeos were let loose. Straightaway, Alfonso Thiele who is an associate of Abarth in Turin went into the lead hotly challenged by Carlo Mario Abate, who has been doing great things in Italian rallies and hill-climbs, and Fritz d’Orey a Brazilian having his first taste of European racing. Behind them, one after another came Taramazzo, Toselli, Mairesse, Gerini, Schild, Bianchi, Noblet and Cotton and the noise made by all those 12-cylinder Ferrari engines passing the pits at full speed was truly fantastic. These “gentlemen” private-owners were giving no quarter and the crowding on the corners was pretty close, so that after only three laps d’Orey was pushed into the bushes, to continue with a bent front end. Behind all the Ferraris came von Hanstein in the 1,600 c.c. Carrera Porsche trying in vain to get rid of Ada Pace who was driving her 1,300 c.c. Giulietta incredibly fast, and holding the Porsche on the straights. Just after half-distance in this 52-lap race the rains came, and thunder and lightning swept the Monza Autodrome, with rain falling so heavily that the track was flooded to many inches depth. This completely broke up any further attempts at dicing for it was too easy to have an accident on one’s own, without the added hazard of close company and Thiele now had a certain lead over Abate. There had been little groups of Ferraris running together but in addition to the rain many of them had to stop and change the left rear tyre, for average speeds in the dry had been over 173 k.p.h. (approx. 108 m.p.h.) and it had played havoc with the standard tyres. The torrential rain continued, maximum speeds dropped by 30 m.p.h. or more as drivers strained to see into the flying spray, for there were still plenty of slower cars running; even the Porsche Carrera which was now leading the 2,600 c.c. class seemed slow in comparison to the 3-litre Ferraris, while the 300 SLs and the XK140 were right out of the picture. As he was completing his penultimate lap Cotton ran slap into the tail of the little Fiat-Abarth which was travelling flat-out in a cloud of spray. The Fiat was telescoped into a tangled ball of metal, the driver getting away unhurt, while Cotton continued to finish the race with the whole front of his car smashed beyond recognition. Bianchi bent the Ferrari that Gendebien had lent him, but not too seriously, and Stangl crashed his 300SL roadster. A lot of very wet and second-hand-looking G.T. cars finished the race and eventually the rain stopped and things dried out and the comparative handful of spectators who had paid to watch this “gentlemen’s” race went home, not at all convinced that Gran Turismo racing was the way to use the Monza Autodrome at the end of June, to decide the National Lottery. A lucky ticket holder in Rome had drawn Thiele’s number in the Lottery and became very rich overnight, winning 100,000,000 lire (approx. £60,000).
G.P. of the Lottery of Monza — Gran Turismo — 52 Laps — 299 Kilometres
1st: A Thiele (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 1 hr. 53 min. 56.2 sec. — 157.455 k.p.h.
2nd: C. M. Abate (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 1 hr. 54 min. 04.2 sec.
3rd: W. Mairesse (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 1 min. 54 sec. 50.6 sec.
4th: P. Noblet (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 1 lap behind.
5th: W. Seidel (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 1 lap behind.
6th: R. Cotton (Ferrari 250 G.T.) 1 lap behind.
Fastest lap: A. Thiele (Ferrari), on 12th lap, in 1 min. 55.9 sec. — 178.602 k.p.h.