The month in MOTOR SPORT
APRIL 14: Eric Bernard returns to F1 carrying out a three-day active suspension test for…
Ferrari Win but Lola-Ford Fast
Adenau, May 31st.
The annual 1,000-kilometre race held on the Nurburgring this year celebrated its 10th anniversary, and did so with the largest entry imaginable, ranging from works Prototype Ferraris down to a 700-c.c. B.M.W. Special. While the race itself is of vast proportions, starting at 9 a.m, and going on until well after 4 p.m., during which time the leader covers 44 laps of the Nurburgring, it is true to say that the event as a whole becomes a way of life for nearly a week. Drivers who have not before raced at the circuit start arriving early in the week to drive round and round and learn the 22.81-kilometre track, teams arrive early to put in some pre-race testing, spectators with nothing else to do arrive early just to watch, and official practice and scrutineering go on during Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The nearby village of Adenau is packed out with racing people, as are many outlying villages, and for many days the sole topic is the “1,000 kilometres,” the interest and excitement of which build up into the Sunday climax of the event itself, at which an estimated 300,000 paid to spectate this year.
Every year there is enough action and interest during the days before the race to fill a complete issue of this magazine, and this year was no exception, but the days were overshadowed by two fatal accidents in which Brian Hetreed crashed his Aston Martin and Rudolph Moser crashed his new Porsche 904. From an entry of over 100 cars many were eliminated long before the race began, either with mechanical trouble or by accidents, and it was rather obvious that there were a lot of cars in the hands of inexperienced drivers that were proving “too fast for owner.” Naturally, one cannot list all the happenings to all the teams and private entries both during practice and the race, even if one knew the details, and many of the details that one did hear do not bear repeating or would take too long. The huge entry was divided up into two categories, Prototype GT cars and Homologated GT cars, with numerous sub-divisions into capacity classes. The overall race picture was a simple one for it lay between the works Ferrari team of two 3.3-litre V12-cylinder rear-engined open 275P cars, driven by Surtees/Bandini and Scarfiotti/Vaccarella, supported by an identical car on loan to the English Maranello Concessionaires and entrusted to Graham Hill/Ireland, and the works Porsche team of two 904 coupés fitted with 2-litre flat-8-cylinder engines, driven by Bonnier/Barth and Davis/Ginther. An unknown quantity that could well upset form was a lone entry front the Ford Motor Company of a Lola-Ford GT Prototype with 4.2-litre push-rod vee-8-cylinder engine, driven by Phil Hill/McLaren. Should all these contenders for victory have trouble, then any of the private entries such as the Equipe National Belge with a 275LM Ferrari Prototype, or any of the GT Ferraris or Porsches, could well come into the picture, or even the A.C. Cobras of the Shelby or Willment teams.
By the time practice was over the Porsche force was reduced by Barth having crashed one of the Prototypes due to brake troubles, and two private 904 Porsches had been wrecked. Gardner had crashed in one of the Willment Cobras when the engine seized, the Sicilian driver Arena had crashed one of the Shelby Cobras, Protheroe had crashed his competition E-type, and Spence had crashed Ian Walker’s brand new Lotus Elan coupe that Arundell was to have shared. These disasters, coupled with mechanical ones such as the Beckwith/Warner Lotus Elan that suffered valve-seat trouble and numerous entries that did not arrive, whittled the final list of starters down to 81, which was still an enormous number of cars to line in echelon for a Le Mans-type start, thankfully in order of practice times; there was still a tricky business here for there was no guarantee that the driver who had made the fast practice lap was going to do the first stint of driving, so that there were many cars that were higher up the ranks than the ability of the driver justified. For a change the Ferrari team were in good order, having suffered few setbacks during practice, but the two works cars were split by Phil Hill in the Lola-Ford V8. Surtees had done 8 min. 57.9 sec. for his best lap and Hill had done 9 min. 04.7 sec., which was most encouraging for the first race for this new Prototype. The Porsche team had replaced their crashed Prototype with a standard 904, actually the one that had won the Tarp Florio, and shuffled their drivers, putting Bonnier/Ginther in the 8-cylinder car and Davis/Barth in the 4-cylinder one. Ferrari had also done a reshuffle, being intent on winning the GT category, and had put Lucien Bianchi from one of the rear-engined Prototype coupés to a 1964 GTO with Langlois van Ophem of the E.N.B., the other works GTO being in the capable hands of Parkes/Guichet, but between these two cars at the start were the Porsche 904s of Linge/Mitter, Pon/Koch and Casner/Hobbs, the last being a Stirling Moss entry, as well as the Cobra of Bondurant/Neerpasch and the E-type Jaguar of Lindner/Nöcker.
The line of starters stretched for such a long way that the starter had to position himself halfway down the line so that everyone could see him, and when the flag fell there was more excitement in the next few minutes than there has been in the whole length of some races. Surtees roared away into the lead, but Phil Hill was a long time fastening his safety-harness and then took off in a full-lock power slide into the midst of the pack. Olthoff in Willment’s surviving Cobra had the carburetters catch fire as he started off, and as the flames would not be sucked in he had to find a way through the traffic-jam to park beside the track and get to work with a fire-extinguisher. Meanwhile, Bondurant in one of the works Cobras had been struck in the rear by Nöcker in the silver E-type Jaguar, and the big American car had spun through 360 degrees without clobbering anyone, continuing on its way with a crumpled rear end. This had caused a great number of the runners to come to a stop, and those that had made poor starts, such as Bianchi, Hobbs and Piper, were all held up by the momentary traffic-block. All this was before the first corner and somehow it sorted itself out and a very mixed field jostled its way off on the opening lap. Bondurant did not go for before his right rear tyre deflated and he had to stop to try and bend the crumpled bodywork away from the tyre. Half-way round the first lap the Lancia Flavia coupe of Cella spun and was struck by a Porsche 904, and once more the rear end of the field had to make a crash stop to avoid the accident, and by the end of the opening lap fast drivers like Bianchi had got nowhere at all, he still being in 56th position. Out in front, Surtees was running away from all possible opposition, there being no one to approach him, but Phil Hill was in second place with the blue and white Lola-Ford V8 coupé, followed by Scarfiotti and Graham Hill in Ferraris and Bonnier in the 8-cylinder Porsche. After that came Parkes in the new GTO Ferrari, Davis and Pon in Porsche 904s and Schlesser in the works A.C. Cobra that he was to share with Attwood. Next time round the Frenchman had disappeared, for his Ford V8 engine had stopped and he spent 20 minutes searching about before he discovered a broken l.t. wire to the coil. The other blue and white Cobra was limping round on a flat tyre and the Willment one was covered in fire-extinguisher foam, so the American challenge in the GT category was looking a bit sad.
It did not take long for the issue to settle itself in a complete Ferrari domination, for Bonnier had trouble with sticking throttles on the Porsche, and after a brief stop out on the circuit he came into the pits for a much longer one, which put the car out of the running. Phil Hill kept in contact with the Ferraris for a time but difficulties with gear selection began to drop him back a bit; however, he was the only one to keep the red cars in sight. Surtees completed 14 laps in the lead before he came into the pits to refuel and hand over to Bandini and had pulled out more than a minute lead, but Graham Hill, who had been in second place since the fourth lap, went by before the Italian driver set off. The second works Ferrari also came into the pits after 14 laps and Vaccarella set off with refilled tanks, and at the end of the next lap it was Graham Hill’s turn to refuel and for Ireland to take over, but before the car was under way again the two works cars had gone back into first and second positions. The Lola-Ford V8 had made a fuel stop and driver change at the end of 11 laps, but on lap 15 it was overdue and when it eventually appeared McLaren headed for the pits. Every time he put the power on the rear end seemed to “kneel down,” and it was found that the left-hand rear suspension mountings were breaking up, so the car had to be withdrawn, but at least it had shown good potential. The three Prototype Ferraris now had no opposition at all, but Bandini was not going as fast as Surtees had gone, so that Vaccarella had got by into the lead, and now Ireland was beginning to mix it with the two Italians. Although the three cars were identical and from the Ferrari factory, the Maranello Concessionaires’ one was being run as a private entry as equally interested in winning the race as were the factory-controlled ones, so an interesting dice ensued. The Ferrari team manager suggested to Ronnie Hoare, who was in charge of the Hill/Ireland car, that as Ferrari cars were in the first three places he should slow his car down. However, Hoare did not agree with this and suggested that Dragoni slowed down the two factory cars instead!
The three-cornered dice continued unabated, with Ireland thoroughly enjoying himself and leading as often as not, while in the pits Surtees was not enjoying seeing all his earlier efforts thrown to the winds. This situation went on until lap 27, when Bandini arrived at the pits unexpectedly as he felt he was running out of fuel. The ensuing pandemonium was such that it could have only been an Italian pitstop, but somehow disaster was averted, and Surtees set off in the car with refilled tanks and new rear tyres. At the end of lap 28 Vaccarella was leading from Ireland, with Surtees catching up fast, and nobody else was in the race as regards the overall picture, but the Parkes/Guichet GTO Ferrari was next, hotly pursued by the Linge/Mitter Porsche and the Pon/Koch Porsche, these three racing for the lead in the GT category. The way things were going up at the front of the field it was beginning to look as though they might eventually be racing for the overall win as well, but time alone would tell. At the end of the 29th lap Vaccarella came into the pits on schedule for refuelling and new rear tyres and to hand over to Scarfiotti, and it was seen that Ireland was now overdue. Surtees was signalled to be nearing the completion of the lap, so the pit work slowed up noticeably and there was much wiping of the windscreen until the second works Ferrari appeared in view, and then Scarfiotti was permitted to rejoin the race, just as Surtees went by into the lead. Ireland was then seen coming over the brow of the hill before the pits, but he was on foot, for his car had run out of petrol a few hundred yards before the top of the hill. The regulations did not permit any petrol to be taken out to the stricken car and the Maranello Concessionaires’ pit realised this and began to pack up rather sadly, but then an official told Graham Hill that he could take a can of petrol to the car, so off he went and returned a little while later to have the tanks filled before going back into the race. Not for long, however, for the official was at fault and the race control soon gave the car the black flag and brought it in again. It was then discovered that the reason it had run out of petrol was because a tank had split, so all the efforts were in vain and the car was wheeled away to the dead-car park. This left the two works Ferraris in complete control, with the works GTO fluctuating between third and fourth places with the Porsches, depending on who was driving and the time taken for refuelling. Parkes was outstandingly fast when at the wheel and could leave Linge well behind, but Guichet in the GTO was not as fast as Mitter in the Porsche, so a driver change tended to reverse positions, and meanwhile the orange Porsche of Pon and Koch was equally fast no matter which driver was at the wheel, so the car was a continual menace to the other two.
Out in front Surtees was happy once again, for there was no question of Scarfiotti beating him, and they merely had to run in team formation and reel off the laps that lay ahead. On lap 32 this satisfactory situation was dealt a mortal blow when the righthand rear axle shaft on the Surtees car broke off flush with the hub carrier, and the wheel and hub parted company from the car. Luckily it was on a comparatively slow and twisty part of the circuit and the car took a quick header into the bushes, coming to a quicker stop and leaving Surtees unhurt, but it was a severe blow to the Ferrari team. This presented the Scarfiotti/Vaccarella car with an unchallenged victory, providing nothing else decided to break, and Scarfiotti slowed right down, touring round for the final laps, for he was still more than a whole lap ahead of the GT cars. Parkes had had his situation eased, for the Linge/Mitter car had been put out of the running by a broken oil pipe, which had caused some dicey moments for other competitors in the neighbourhood. Bianchi and van Ophem in the second works GTO Ferrari had worked their way steadily through the field until they reached fourth position, but they could not catch the Porsche of Ben Pon and Gerhard Koch, which was going perfectly. Over most of the mountain circuit the sun had shone all day long, which was most unusual for the Eifel mountains, but just in case anyone got over-confident a short sharp shower of rain fell in the area of the Karussel and Hohe-Acte in mid-afternoon. It caught many drivers unawares and gave rise to a few momentary panics, and Maglioli spun off into the ditch with the 275LM Ferrari rear-engine coupe that he was sharing with Rindt.
As far as the overall race was concerned it had been a Ferrari benefit, although not a simple one, for various outside influences had intervened to spoil complete success, and throughout the entry there had been continual excitement and drama, toils and troubles, success and failure, and space does not allow a full description, but a résumé of some of the highlights follows, class by class – for each was a separate race in itself.
Class 2 – for GT cars up to 1,300 c.c. – was a complete walkover for the team of rear-engined Abarth-Simcas, with their highly-tuned 4-cylinder twin overhead camshaft engines, the Rene-Bonnet opposition not being fast enough.
Class 3 – for GT cars up to 1,600 c.c. – looked as though it might have been a three-cornered battle between the Giulia TZ Alfa Romeos, the 1963 works Porsche Carrera of Klaas/Greger and the Lotus Elan hard-top of Whitmore/Hegbourne. It turned out to be an easy victory for the Alfas as the Porsche was not quick enough and Whitmore had a rear stub axle break early in the race, before Hegbourne had even had a drive.
Class 4 – for GT cars up to 2,000 c.c. – could hardly fail to be a Porsche victory for there were twelve 904 coupés, including Davis/Barth, who had been transferred from the Prototype class on the morning of the race. Privately-owned cars driven by Swiss drivers finished second and third behind the works-supported one of Pon/Koch, while the Stirling Moss-owned car driven by Casner and David Hobbs finished fifth. It had a good run but was badly delayed in the opening laps by the various incidents around the circuit and could never make up the ground lost. The Davis/Barth car led the class in the early stages until Davis spun off into a ditch.
Class 5 – GT cars up to 3,000 c.c. – was an all-Ferrari affair with the 1964 GTO of the factory supported by the similar car of the Belgian Equipe. David Piper shared his GTO with Tony Maggs, and they would have been nearer the leaders had Piper not had an early pit stop when he thought something had gone wrong with the rear suspension as the car seemed to handle in an unusual manner. Nothing could be found amiss and the car ran perfectly for the rest of the race!
Class 6 – GT cars over 3,000 c.c. – included the A.C. Cobras and Jaguar E-types. The Lindner/Nöcker car had gearbox trouble, Sutcliffe was pushed off the road in his E-type when Hitchcock spun his Cobra and collided with him, the Lumsden/Sargent car was not handling well due to some suspension modifications not working out as planned, and the Banks/McNally near-standard coupé had a pretty steady run and profited by the troubles of others. Of the Cobras the Bondurant/Neerpasch car had trouble on the opening lap, as already described; it limped back to the pits for a new wheel and tyre and to have the bodywork bashed out, but had to stop later to have a rear shock-absorber replaced which had been damaged due to the bumping along on a flat tyre. After running well for a time it was refuelled and Neerpasch took over, only to have an oil pipe break before he completed a lap. The Schlesser/Attwood car was delayed by the broken l.t. wire and after this was fixed it ran for quite a time until the throttle linkage came adrift; this was fixed and it made up ground rapidly to finally catch the E-type of Banks/McNally and win the class. The Olthoff/Hawkins Cobra had its fire put out after the fracas at the first corner, and some time later Olthoff went back with some tools and repaired the burnt fuel pipes and drove the car round the whole lap back to the pits. There had been no serious damage, so it was tidied up and put back in the race many laps behind the rest of the runners, and the two drivers pressed on to good effect but were delayed by further troubles. A front shock-absorber bolt broke and had to be replaced, and then a front-wheel bearing broke up. As the inner race could not be removed from the stub axle the whole unit was changed and the car was running as well as ever at the finish of the race.
Class 7 – Prototypes 1,000 c.c. – had a motley collection of tiny cars in it which included some pathetically slow B.M.W.s modified by a local agent, and was won through sheer doggedness by a Diva coupé.
Class 8 – Prototypes 1,300 c.c. – was a clean sweep for the Dick Jacobs’ team of M.G. Midget coupes, one with a 1,275-c.c. B.M.C. engine and the other with a very hot 1,293-c.c. engine with dry-sump lubrication. Both cars were impeccably prepared and ran like little watches to finish first and second from Marcos, Austin Healey, Alpine-Renault, Rene-Bonnet and Diva opposition.
Class 9 – Prototypes 2,000 c.c. – was an inevitable and hollow victory for the lone 8-cylinder Porsche of Bonnier/Ginther. After their throttle-sticking troubles had been sorted out, and a brief moment of alarm when Bonnier thought the rear suspension was falling off, the car finished running well, but two laps behind the overall winner of the race.
Class 11 – Prototypes over 3,000 c.c. – saw the first appearance of the rear-engined coupé Ferraris that should have been homologated by now. The 3-litre-engined version has been abandoned and production has begun on 3.3-litre versions, but as yet they must run as Prototypes, designated 275LM Berlinetta. The Belgian-owned one driven by Dumay/”Beurlys” went out with a broken front suspension mounting, and the Austrian-owned one driven by Maglioli/Rindt went out when the Italian driver spun off the road. Coundley and Fairman were driving the Costain-designed Lister-Jaguar that ran at Le Mans last year, but from the start were plagued with rear-suspension troubles that finally resolved themselves into a broken de Dion tube. The Iso Rivolta A3 Grifo, with Chevrolet V8 engine, had a not very fast but trouble-free run in the hands of Noblet/Bernay, and given more b.h.p. could well make quite a showing. The remaining four entries in this class were the stars of the race and their story has already been told.
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, the happenings that took place in and around Adenau and the Nurburgring during the week of the 1,000 kilometres race would more than fill a book, and no report can hope to do full justice to the whole affair. The 10th race in the series was a sad one as it resulted in the loss of two drivers, and was notable for an unprecedented number of crashes, caused either by driver error or mechanical failure, and this may encourage the organisers to select their entries more carefully next year. It was my intention to comment on the number of small British cars that were black-flagged during the race for bits falling off or infringement of rules, and also on the broken wheels or stub axles among the small British cars, but as the works Ferrari of Surtees went out with a broken stub axle and a World Champion received the black-flag for infringement of rules, I must leave it at that.
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