Stopping for fuel and champagne...

During his archive movie film researches, my colleague David Weguelin once found fabulous footage of Fangio’s great drive in the 1957 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, one sequence of which features Jean Behra making a pitstop in his works Lightweight Maserati 250F. We see him leap from the cockpit and eagerly wash his face and hands with soap and hot water from an enamel bowl proffered by his wife. By the time his ablutions were complete, his car had been refuelled and its wheels and tyres had been changed – and so he scrambled aboard and was push-started back into the fray.

During that same race Bruce Halford – the Torquay hotelier-turned-Formula 1 owner/driver – finished 11th in his privately-entered 250F. In Weg’s German-commentary film footage, Bruce is seen several times, but every appearance is accompanied by Germany’s answer to Murray Walker identifying him in the commentary as ‘Brass Helldorf’.

Well, good old ‘Brass’ used to enjoy reminding us of how privateer F1 racing could be at that time. One anecdote featured the Spanish nobleman Francisco Godia-Sales in that same race, running his Maserati 250F from the adjoining pit. At one stage ‘Paco’ Godia pulled sedately to rest, and like Behra alighted from his car. As his mechanics refuelled it and checked the tyres, the Spanish gentleman’s
gentleman stepped forward to place an enamel bowl, warm water and towel before his master on the pit counter. And after ‘Paco’ had enjoyed a quick wash, a silver tray was then offered on which stood a glass of champagne. With that drained, the mechanics had completed their work and were bawling ‘Avanti!’, at which Godia started towards the car. But he then hesitated, looked back at his man and the empty champagne flute, and he made the big decision. “No – I’ll have another glass first…” And according to ‘Brass’, he did.