Nurnberg, Germany, June 29th.
The 200-mile race organised by the very enthusiastic Motorsport-Club, Nurnberg branch of the A.D.A.C. was run in two 41 lap heats of the Norisring with the final results arrived at by the addition of times for the two heats. The Norisring is a simple flat circuit around the vast Nazi rally field that is now a sports stadium, with a fast but wiggly bit around the classic concrete Nazi edifice and a very fast out-and-back leg with a hairpin at the end, and an average speed of around 110 m.p.h. for the 3.94 kilometres. As the Norisring race stands on its own feet, without any Championship props, it does not have to conform to as many rules as other races and is open to Groups 4, 6 and 7 without capacity limits, so that a Can-Am car could take part. Bonnier and Redman, the latter in Sid Taylors Lola, were both using 6,200-c.c. engines, Hailwood had an ex-Gulf Ford-Mirage with 5,700-c.c. engine, and Piper ran his rebuilt 4-cam P4 Ferrari of 4,200 c.c. With the Sports Car Championship already won, Porsche have started disposing of some of their 938 cars, and they delivered three Spyders to the Norisring, for Dean, Soler-Roig and the Gentian B.G. Racing Team. Dean’s car was the one driven by Mitter and Schutz in the A.D.A.C. 1,000 kilometres race at the Nürburgring and was driven at the Norisring by Elford, while Koch drove the B.G. Team car. A fourth Spyder 908 of the Austrian Porsche factory was driven by Stommelen, and they were all prepared and run by factory mechanics. Other cars of interest among the entry was a 3-litre Alfa-Romeo 333 from Autodelta, driven by Giunti, the 3-litre V8 Serenissima making its first appearance with new 3-valve per cylinder engine and open wedge-shaped bodywork, on the old McLaren chassis and driven by Williams, and the one and only non-homologated McLaren M6 GT coupé driven by Prophet. The rest of the field was made up with various private Porsches, Ford GT40, 5-litre Lola-Chevrolets and Type 33 Alfa-Romeos. Such is the pace in sports car racing, even among private owners, that last year’s 910 Porsches can barely keep up.
There was no holding the big Lolas and even Elford and Stommelen with the ex-works Porsches could only just keep up, with no hope of getting in front. The lone 3-litre Alfa Romeo was well able to mix it in with the Lolas and Porsches and Giunti made fastest practice lap, but in the race his challenge faded when the gearbox went wrong. In the first heat he broke the connecting tube universal joint between the gear lever and the gearbox; this was quickly replaced and he then bent the replacement rod! In the second heat, with the first rod repaired the gearbox selectors finally locked solid and that was that. Bonnier was in great form with his yellow Lola T7o Mk. 111B and led the Alfa Romeo and the two Porsches of Elford and Stommelen in the first heat, while Redman was held up by the Porsches; having been behind them at the start. When he finally got by he soon closed up on Bonnier, but his drive was not easy, as the fuel-injection throttle slides were sticking, giving him a tick-over of 4,000 r.p.m.! This meant taking the two hairpin bends with the clutch depressed and letting it in at precisely the right moment. He eventually got by Bonnier, after many attempts as they disappeared behind the great concrete grandstand, holding about 20,000 people, but when they reappeared Bonnier was back in front, for Redman had misjudged his declutching act in the heat of the moment and muffed the hairpin bend. There were only a few laps to go and by taking his Chevrolet engine to 6,700 r.p.m. Bonnier just kept in front to the finish, winning by a few lengths. Attwood in Piper’s green Lola-Chevrolet would have challenged the Porsches had not a plug lead come adrift, calling for a pit stop. Piper’s Ferrari spent a long time at the pits with trouble with one end of the rack and pinion steering.
While the start for heat one had been the normal three-two-three arrangement, the second heat was in pairs according to the first heat finishing order, and was a rolling start behind a Porsche 911 Targa pace car. Once again the big Lolas dominated the race until Bonnier’s engine broke with a valve and piston making contact, and Redman then had the race all to himself, even though Elford was doing heroic things on the corners to make up for the Porsche’s lack of speed. He hung on to the Lola for all he was worth, but Redman is not a driver to get worried and finished just the right distance ahead of the Porsche without straining the Chevrolet engine. Among the ranks there was quite a bit of bumping and banging, with fibreglass splitting in all directions, for Hailwood smashed the front of his Ford-Mirage into the rear of von Wendt’s Porsche 907 and Stommelen got sideways on and caused Koch to smash the front of his 908 against the barricades. Attwood got up into third place until someone got in his way and he spun, but recovered to finish fourth. Prophet’s poorly prepared McLaren did not survive the first heat, a head gasket blowing, and a similar trouble beset Muir in Gartlan’s Lola-Chevrolet. Taylor in the Team Elite Lola did not last the first heat, due to the engine breaking, and the Malcolm Guthrie Racing team had an expensive day, as apart from Hailwood damaging the Ford-Mirage, the Hewland gearbox played up and stuck in top gear and the clutch burnt out, while Guthrie’s own GT40 broke its engine rather expensively. The Serenissima V8 also had engine trouble, ending in a broken head gasket in the first heat.
A crowd of around 50,000 people flocked into the Nurnberg Stadium on this warm but cloudy afternoon and they certainly had their money’s worth of interesting racing, but were no doubt surprised not to see a Porsche victory. Last year the Porsche works entry lost because of unreliability, this year they were out-performed, but it would seem that 200 miles is still a long way to race a Chevrolet engine, when it is a basically standard unit prepared by small-time tuners, with the exception of the Sid Taylor Racing car.—D. S. J.