Sweeping victory for Porsche
Nurburgring, Germany, May 28th
What the entry list for the annual 1,000-kilometre race on the Nurburgring lacked in quality it made up for in quantity. As it was held only two weeks before Le Mans the Ferrari team did not enter any 330P4 cars, nor did any of the agents enter their 330P3/4 cars. Ferrari sent a token entry in the form of a Dino with 2.4-litre V6 engine, as used in one of the Grand Prix cars last year, and Filipinetti borrowed a works 18-valve Dino for his entry. The big Dino was driven by Scarfiotti/Klass and the Swiss entered one by Muller/Guichet, but neither car survived practice, since the works car broke its engine and Guichet had the 2-litre catch fire in practice; he got out unharmed but the car was burnt out, which made one or two “knowalls” keep quiet and stop talking about Monte Carlo. Another entry that was lost in practice was the latest Ford Mirage with 5-litre Gurney-Weslake Ford V8 engine, which Dick Thompson put off the road and damaged severely, he being all right. A G12 Ginetta was also crashed badly, the driver Markey being injured.
At the head of the entry was the Chaparral 2F002 that raced at Monza and it was performing really well on the Nurburgring, Spence making fastest practice lap in 8 min. 31.9 sec., which included a new piece of road just before the start line plateau which takes the form of an S-bend, putting 25 metres on to the length of the circuit and adding 8 to 10 seconds to a fast lap time. The reason for this newly constructed road, beautifully built with graded corners, and not just marked out with straw bales or temporary barriers, is to slow the cars as they breast the Tiergarten hump and start the concrete pit area. Modern road-holding and speeds have gradually made it possible to take the old Tiergarten right-hand bends at over 150 m.p.h., which has meant not only very high speeds through the pit area, but big cars on the limit of adhesion as they breast the rise. The new road layout, with a gentle left, followed by a very tight right and a tight left, has knocked the speed down to about 85 m.p.h., so that the really fast cars are still accelerating through the pit area. Next fastest to the Chaparral was Surtees with the works Lola-Aston Martin V8 in 8 min. 39.6 sec. which he did without sticking his neck out and as this was the first race for this fine new all-British Group 6 Prototype, it was most encouraging. The remaining Mirage, with 5.7-litre Holman and Moody Ford V8 engine, driven by Ickx/Attwood, could not quite break 9 minutes. In the Porsche camp Huschke von Hanstein was assembling a veritable army of drivers, like a general preparing his troops. He had six Porsche 910 prototype cars at his disposal, three with 2.2-litre horizontally opposed 8-cylinder engines and three with 6-cylinder 2.0-litre engines. They all use Bosch fuel injection and are air-cooled, but the 8-cylinders have two camshafts to each bank and the sixes have single camshafts, being basically 911 type engines. The Hanstein army was cleverly arranged with seven German drivers and five “foreigners” and each car had at least one German driver. The 8-cylinders were driven by Mitter/Lucien Bianchi, Herrmann/Siffert, Stommelen/Ahrens, while the sixes were driven by Schutz/Buzzetta (a Porsche driver from America), Neerpasch/Elford and Hawkins/Koch. The 2-litre Porsches were keeping a wary eye on the Autodelta Alfa Romeo team of Tipo 33 cars, which were being driven by de Adamich/”Nanni Galli,” “Geki”/Baghetti and Bussinello/Zeccoli but it was obvious that they lacked a top-class driver, though de Adamich was the fastest, but not fast enough.
From this point onwards, down the list of entries, things developed into the biggest and most miscellaneous collection of cars and drivers ranging from semi-professionals to shiny and pink “club racers.” Some were experienced in real long-distance racing and had suitable machinery, others had no experience at all and had very unsuitable machinery for such an important and arduous event and one is tempted to wonder on what grounds some of the International licences were issued. They came from Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Great Britain, and it is doubtful whether more than 50% had much idea of the task they were tackling, or whether they much cared, many of them appearing to be on holiday. In the “big boys” class the fastest practice lap by Spence was 8.31.9 and the slowest, by Ickx, was 9.00.4, less than 30 seconds difference in 22.8 kilometres. In the 2-litre Prototype class the difference was over 3 minutes, in the 1,600 c.c. Prototype class it was over 1 min. 20 sec., in the 1,300 c.c. Prototypes it was 1 min. 36 sec. in the Group 4 sports class over 3-litres it was better, at 50 seconds, but in the 1,600 c.c. sports class it was nearly 2 minutes and in some of the smaller G.T. classes it was over 2 minutes. Not only were these variations between the fastest and slowest cars in the various classes too large to be reasonable, but this was taking the fastest driver in each case; if you took the fastest driver in one car and the slowest in another, in the same class, the difference was really impossible. It was not a question of being dangerous, but it was unreasonable for those people who were out to win to have so many “moving chicanes,” on the circuit and it lowered the overall standard of what is supposed to be a classic long-distance race. There was exactly 4 minutes difference between the fastest practice lap by the Chaparral and the slowest of the S800 Honda coupes, and this in an 8 1/2-minute lap!
Altogether 69 cars lined up for the Le Mans-type start and it would have done a lot of drivers good to have surveyed the line-up critically, for the order was by practice times. Many drivers would have crept quietly away with rather red faces had they looked to see who was ahead of them on the line-up, taking into account drivers, cars, and driver/car combinations. Well ahead of all the Group 4 sports cars, irrespective of engine size, was Ben Pon driving a Carrera Six belonging to Swedish driver Axelsson, and ahead of a lot of larger engined cars was the tatty-looking Alfa Romeo Giula TZ coupé of Teddy Pilette, while a pair of standard 911S Porsches were way ahead of a lot of specially built racers. Unlike Le Mans where the starter is at the top of the line so that the tail enders can barely see him, the A.D.A.C. starter is positioned half-way along the line of cars, and a few seconds after the flag fell the track appeared to he full of white Porsches, with Siffert away in front. Nothing happened in the Chaparral for a long time, as Phil Hill was struggling into his safety-harness, while next to him Surtees was trying in vain to get the Aston Martin engine going, its vintage-type magneto not responding to the cranking speed of the starter. By the time these two got going the track was so full of cars that they had to wait for a gap. A bit further down the line Ickx was in the same trouble with the Mirage so that these three were all mixed up with the “club racers” when they got under way.
With a clear track ahead of him Siffert wasted no time and made the most of the situation, leading comfortably from Stommelen and Mitter in the other 8-cylinder Porsches, then came Neerpasch and Hawkins in 6-cylinder Porsches, and accompanied by a gasp from the vast crowd as Phil Hill thundered by in the Chaparral, headlamps ablaze. Just how many cars he had got by on that opening lap no one will ever really know, but it must nave been at least half the entry and he had been passing them on all sides. With five Porsches still in front of him he set off on the second lap, picking them off one by one, during which time he recorded the fastest lap of the race, and was already catching and lapping the tail end of the field. In spite of practically coming to rest while two “club racers” had a battle without looking in their mirrors, Hill lapped in 8 min. 42.1 sec. and was in third place by the end of the lap, and in sight of Stommelen. Surtees had got up to eighth place fairly easily and settled for that, sitting back and seeing how the horde of Porsches progressed, while Ickx had the Mirage in thirteenth place but was not making much more progress. Andrea de Adamich was leading the Alfa Romeo team, just behind Surrees, and was followed by Pon in the Swedish Carrera Six, leading the Group 4 cars, which included a lot of Ford GT40s, but Schlesser in the first of the Ford France GT4Os was at the pits having a front spring unit changed and looking at the steering. By the end of the fourth lap only Siffert was ahead of the Chaparral and Hill seemed to be easing up and settling for second place. The order was Siffert (Porsche 8), Hill (Chaparral), Stommelen (Porsche 8), Mitter (Porsche 8), Neerpasch (Porsche 6), Schutz (Porsche 6), Surtees (Lola-Aston Martin), Hawkins (Porsche 6), Ickx (Mirage), de Adamich (Alfa Romeo), Pon (Porsche 6), Dechent (Porsche 6), Baghetti (Alfa Romeo), Bussinello (Alfa Romeo). Then a long gap before the rest came, led by Greder (Ford GT40) ahead of Nelson (Ford GT40), Pilette (Alfa Romeo Giula TZ), Crabbe (Ford GT40), Greene (Lotus 47) and Walter (Ferrari LM). The miscellany that followed was led by a Swedish-driven Porsche 911S, while a vast number of the “club racers” were already in the pits with various ailments, four laps of the Nurburgring being more racing miles than some of them normally accomplish in a whole season of racing!
While it appeared as though Hill had settled for second place behind Siffert what had actually happened was that he had miscounted the number of Porsches he had overtaken and was convinced he was leading, figuratively pouring scorn on his pit crew when they signalled him that he was second. He went for a number of laps thinking he was in the lead until the pit signals convinced him that he must be wrong, whereupon he speeded up and sure enough there was another white Porsche ahead of him. At the end of lap 7 it was 8 seconds ahead; at the end of the next lap he was right on its tail, and took the lead as they started their ninth lap. During this time the Lola-Aston Martin has disappeared in a most spectacular fashion, for the right rear wishbone broke as Surtees was plunging down the steep Fuchsrohe flat out in top gear. In a series of lock-to-lock slides he kept control of the big car and brought it to rest at the bottom of the hill, somewhat shaken, having narrowly missed the Swiss Porsche Six of Steinemann which had been abandoned earlier with a broken driveshaft After nine laps Hill was leading comfortably from Siffert, the two of them way ahead of everybody else, Mutter and Stommelen were third and fourth, close together, followed at some distance by Neerpasch, Schutz, Ickx, Hawkins, de Adamich, Pon and Dechent, the rest being way behind by a lap or more already.
The two leading cars were expected in for fuel and a driver change at the end of eleven laps, and there was consternation in the Chaparral pit when they saw their car heading towards them in a panic stop. The German crowd cheered as Siffert’s Porsche came into view to go by into the lead, but the cheer changed to a groan as the white Porsche also headed for the pits! Hill was in early as he had felt, rather than heard, a nasty rumbling from the transmission, and Siffert was in because his engine seemed to suddenly lose power. While this pandemonium was taking place the other two 8-cylinder Porsches went by and then Herrmann was off in the Siffert car as nothing could be done. The Chaparral was refuelled, the rear hub nuts checked for tightness and Spence got in and started the engine. As the engine revs rose and the torque converter transmitted the power to the automatic gearbox the car gave a great hiccough and stalled. Twice it did this, as though a powerful handbrake was holding it back and on the third time it got away but had hardly reached the South Turn before Spence knew it was all over. He drove slowly along behind the pits with a terrible “mangling” noise coming from the transmission and that was the end of the Chaparral, and a groan went up from the thousands of American servicemen all round the Nurburgring. The Porsche team were equally concerned for Herrmann was overdue and when he appeared he drove into the pits and the 8-cylinder was wheeled away before the engine destroyed itself, for there was something very wrong inside. The two “aces” had driven each other into the ground in a splendid battle, but the race was only a quarter of the way through. Apart from the Mirage in their midst the Porsche team were in full command, but Ickx was finding his job very hard work for the cockpit was terribly hot and the circuit had become very oily and slippery and he was getting worn out. However, he got up to third place before stopping for fuel and for Attwood to take over, but he could make no impression on the two 8-cylinder Porsches out in front. The Stuttgart team were not over confident, for one 8-cylinder engine had gone sour, so there was no reason why the others might not go the same way.
In the GT category the private Porsche owners were in trouble for the wheels on the 911S models were cracking under the cornering strains. As the fancy cast alloy 911S wheels only have narrow rims, the racing 911S models have been using wide-rim pressed steel wheels with spacers, but nearly every one of them was showing cracks, so there was a panic for spare wheels. In the big Group 4 class there was a nice little private race going on between the Ford GT40s of Crabbe/ Pierpoint, Nelson/de Klerk, Greder/Giorgi and the Ferrari LM of Walter/Ditzler, but Nelson fell back from them when an oil pipe from the gearbox to the cooler came loose and needed tightening. The Chris Barber entered Lotus 47, driven by Keith Greene had been going really well, up with the big, Group 4 cars, until it lost all its water and cooked the engine.
When the Mirage had stopped for fuel it had lost third place to the Porsches of Schutz/Buzzetta and Neerpasch/Elford, for they had stopped long before, and at half distance Porsches were 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8, the Mirage being fifth, so it was just a question of which Porsche was going to win. Only one Alfa Romeo 33 was left, that of Bussinello/Zeccoli, but it was going rather slowly, so de Adamich/ “Nanni Galli” took it over, their own car having gone out with broken suspension, while the third Alfa had retired with gearbox trouble. Around the half-distance mark all the fast cars refuelled once more and changed drivers, but the Stommelen/Ahrens 8-cylinder Porsche had been sounding rough for some time and was now withdrawn with deranged timing of the injection pump. With the 6-cylinder Porsches refuelling early, Attwood suddenly found himself in second place, behind the Mitter/Bianchi 8-cylinder Porsche, but it was obviously only temporary, until the Mirage stopped for fuel. In the thirtieth lap the Mirage disappeared, having stopped out on the circuit with both offside tyres flat, after running over some sharp stones on the edge of the track, so now it really was a Porsche benefit, but all was not well for the Mitter/Bianchi car was misfiring with its battery going flat, so at lap 35 it stopped to have a new battery fitted; there was obviously trouble in the charging department. By this time there were only 39 of the 69 starters still running, the Vesty/Gaspar Ferrari GTB had first broken a wire wheel and then stopped abruptly when the gearbox fell off! The works Mini Marcos of Jackie Bond-Smith/Joey Cooke had blown up its engine, the second works Marcos of Garton/McNally had run out of fuel, luckily in the pit area, and was wearing its tyres out, but was still running. The Nelson/de Klerk GT40 had been switched off smartly and retired when all the oil pressure disappeared, the Dibley/Sutton Lotus 47 with 2-litre Climax engine retired with brake problems, the Pon/Axelsson Porsche retired with broken suspension and numerous others just quietly gave up the unequal struggle, the Walter/Ditzler Ferrari LM stopped at its pit with a broken rear hub race, but had done enough laps to hold a high place even though it was no longer running.
As the final laps drew near the Neerpasch/Elford Porsche was slowing dramatically with a broken valve, and this let the Hawkins/Koch car, that was handling badly, catch up and take third place, so that it was a pretty tired collection of machinery that was heading for the finish, for the leading car driven by Mitter once more was discharging its battery rapidly and was down to a very slow lap time, with Buzzetta and Koch keeping station with him, the Neerpasch/EIford car struggling along behind. With less than half a lap to go the 8-cylinder Porsche came to a halt, leaving the two 6-cylinder cars to head for the finish together, with Buzzetta just finishing in front. The sick car of Neerpasch/Elford made it home on the same lap, but everyone else was a lap or more behind, the Mitter/Bianchi car having completed 43 laps before the Alfa Romeo of Autodelta, it was classified fourth overall and the last survivor in its class.
In the Group 4 sports class the Crabbe/Pierpoint Ford was all set for a class win when all the brakes disappeared and it did the last lap brakeless, to miss victory by less than 30 seconds, as shown in the results. In the G.T. class three German-driven Porsches 911S models were virtually in sight of each other at the end of more than seven hours of racing. Had the Pilette/Trosch Alfa Romeo TZ coupé not had overheating troubles it would have been nearer eighth or ninth than its final lowly position of 15th. The Chevron with 2-litre B.M.W. engine had run reliably and well to finsh 9th overall, but could not compete with 2-litre Porsches, even Group 4 ones. The Enever/Poole M.G. “B” finished yet another long-distance race as a fine example of reliability and good preparation. It has now completed 1,000-kilometre races at Monza, Spa and Nurburgring and many competitors trying to tackle serious racing would do well to give a close look at the preparation that goes into this private entry.
With 69 cars setting out to do a 1,000 kilometres it was remarkable that so few suffered accidents and it says a great deal for the safety aspect of the Nurburgring, even though it seems horrifying on first acquaintance. – D. S. J.
Rolls-Royce & Bentley international pageant, Goodwood (May 20th)
Organised by the 20-Ghost Club, V.S.C.C. (Rolls-Royce Section), R.-R. E.C., Midland R.-R.C. and B.D.C., this event was quite unique. A repeat of that held in 1964 to mark the 60th anniversary of Rolls meeting Royce, it attracted 12 cars shipped over specially from America and goodness knows how many Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars. A conservative estimate would be 800 and no doubt in due time Stanley Sedgwick, President of the B.D.C., who rather specialises in such statistics, will tell us the exact number, divided into types. Suffice it to say that there was an ample number to form the most comprehensive representation of all R.-R. and Bentley models from 1964 onwards, such as could not be formed anywhere else in the World and the like of which will never be seen again – unless the same organisation repeats this wonderful Pageant a few years hence.
Torrential rain in the morning could not dim the magnificence of this spectacle, although one felt extremely sorry for the Judges working out who had won the Concours d’Elegance prizes. Fine weather, even some sunshine, helped the vast afternoon programme along. It embraced a demonstration of 200 selected ears (divided into groups of practically every model of each make, parading past in time with a well-informed technical commentary), a display by R.-R.-engined Royal Armoured Corps vehicle’s, a fly-past by a R.-R. Merlin-engined Supermarine Spitfire from the Historic Flight of the R.A.F. (much appreciated, especially in view of the gusty conditions and low cloud), the presentation by Her Grace the Duchess of Richmond of the prizes in the elegance competition and stable-of-cars contest and, finally, a grand three-abreast parade of almost all the R.R. and Bentley cars in the programme. This was surely great value for the 7s. 6d. entry fee charged to the public, who arrived in force.
It was extremely pleasant to lunch in the Rolls-Royce tent with Mr. and Mrs. W. O. Bentley. It was an eye-opener how fast the Montagu Motor Museum’s 1909 Silver Ghost Rolls-Royce tourer, which our Alfa Romeo happened to follow as far as Petersfield on the homeward journey, got along.
To attempt to describe in detail the cars which were present in such profusion defeats me, but the superb programme contained a supplement of the entries giving chassis and registration numbers and make of bodywork of them all. This programme itself is a beautifully illustrated souvenir of a great occasion, with road-test reports on different Rolls-Royce and Bentley models, explanations of different body styles, specifications, tabulated Bentley racing successes from 1921 to 1933, production figures for the various models, biographies, articles, Dunlop vintage and veteran tyre charts, etc., and a splendid colour cover. It would be well worth while to try and obtain one of these programmes and copies may still be available for 5s, post free if you apply to 100, Cromer Street, W.C. 1, marking the envelope R.-R./Bentley Pageant Programme.
The entire inside of Goodwood was filled with the cars listed therein and the only gate-crasher I saw was an Austin 1800. Quick inspection of the Paddock revealed a quite fantastic variety of Rolls-Royces, from a Gurney Nutting Wraith with zip-up leather covers over its running board-mounted spare wheels, to a coupé with wooden wheels and railway-carriage door handles, from a vivid blue early Silver Ghost tourer to a shooting brake with gun-cases above the back wheels and an impressive black and white P. II James Young coupé. There was a 1928 P. 1 with odd pointed-tail sporting bodywork, a vast saloon with noisy tick-over. a P. I Windover limousine with lining on its bonnet, Col. Rippon’s 1924 Twenty Rippon coupé immaculate even to its sump cowling, Valentine’s canary yellow P. I coupé with disc wheels and searchlight, Bromley’s prize-winning Gurney Nutting Sedenca Wraith in basketwork finish, and a P. III limousine entered by W. J. Oldham, author of the forthcoming book about Claude Johnson. The first parade contained Langton’s 1904 car two 1905 models and in all 18 Edwardians. At the other end of the scale there were ten Silver Shadow/Model-T. Bentley team cars were represented by half-a-dozen superb specimens, covering the period 1924-1929 and racing drivers from Duff-Clement to Birkin-Chassagne. One magnificent R.-R. was chauffeur-driven round the circuit and dogs were frequently seen completing the ensemble. But what is the use of continuing? They were almost all there. Even to a selling plate enclosure for cars offered for sale by Club members, this motley collection including two being traded by a clergyman. Russ-Turner’s ex-Birkin blower-4 1/2 rumbled round blushing under Belgian honours (111 m.p.h. timed over the kilometre), but is still not back to single-seater form as I implied last month, and has tyres of a size that would have puzzled Sir Henry.
At the other extreme, to portray the sort of transport common in England when Sir Henry Royce was born in 1863, a four-horse stagecoach, impeccably presented, made a brisk lap of the Goodwood circuit.
Most certainly this was a day to remember for all time and an event which reflects the greatest possible credit on all those who make it possible, not forgetting Castrol and Dunlop, and His Grace the Duke of Richmond and Gordon who loaned Goodwood for the occasion. – W. B.
National Alvis day (May 21st)
No report or results of this event had reached us by Press day and an attempt to contact the Secretary elicited the information that he had changed his address.
Corgi have brought out a very convincing model, 3 1/2 in. long, of the Formula One Cooper-Maserati. It is remarkably detailed for a simple die-cast toy, and catches admirably the big engine protruding from the cooper’s tail. The V12 engine, gearbox, exhaust system, suspension members, cast wheels and wide-track tyres are all faithfully reproduced, and the car has driver, steering wheel, windscreen, mirrors and rollover bar. It is finished in Rob Walker’s dark blue with Maserati emblem and racing numbers and is likely to be purchased by as many grown-up enthusiasts as by children. No. 156 in the Corgi Toys series, it costs 5s. 9d. retail in the U.K.
Corgi also offer a Dodge Kew-Fargo livestock carrier complete with animals, No. 484, which is 4 1/2 in. in length and priced at 9s. 6d. – W. B.