This Month on the International Racing Scene

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The first day of June will see the 1,000-kilometre race take place on the Nurburgring, organised by the A.D.A.C., as distinct from the A.v.D. who organise the German G.P. on the Nurburgring. While attracting the major factory teams the A.D.A.C. have always tried to encourage the newcomer and the amateur, and thanks to the length of the Nurburgring circuit they can take as many as 80 cars at the start. This gives a good opportunity for British Club drivers to have their first taste of foreign racing and their first long-distance event, but unfortunately too many of them go to Germany thinking it is just another race. Even one lap of the Nurburgring in practice requires more preparation than a season of amateur Club racing, and there are many hopeful amateurs who arrive in Germany straight from the previous weekend’s Club meetings and then wonder why something goes wrong within half a lap. Just driving fast from the start to the bottom of the descent at Adenau will take more out of a car than a whole weekend of British racing, but there is nothing like learning the hard way. The real race will be between Porsche and Ferrari, with the odds on Porsche as they are on their home ground and will have a very large team as well as support front numerous private teams.

With the Belgian G.P. cancelled on June 8th the Formula Two race at Zolder should get a star-studded entry. This race was to have been on June 1st but took the Grand Prix date after the cancellation. It will be run on the rather unsatisfactory system of two heats with the addition of places deciding the results, so that the event could be won by someone who does not win either heat. The artificial Zolder circuit is in the Belgian Province of Limburg, which gives the event the title of the Limburg G.P.

On the other side of the Atlantic the first day of June sees the start of the 1969 Canadian-American Challenge Cup series, known in brief as Can-Am. As one would expect the series starts in Canada and the first race is at Mosport in Ontario, to be followed a fortnight later by a race at Mont Tremblant, or St. Jovite. in Quebec.

June 8th sees the German hill-climb at Rossfeld, the second round in the European Championship, and with Porsche not supporting the hill-climb events this year Ferrari should be unchallenged. The special 2-litre car built by Ferrari is powered by an engine derived from his 1965 Formula One car, and is a horizontally opposed water-cooled 12-cylinder unit with two camshafts to each bank. The body/chassis unit is similar to the 312P car, as is the suspension, but the rear end is enormously wide and the works driver Peter Schetty finds it all too easy to bounce the rear wheels on the apex of hairpins.

Mid-June will see the Le Mans 24-hour race take place in spite of possible French political problems, and it will run from Saturday, June 14th, through the night to Sunday, June 15th. At the time of writing it looks as though the traditional starting time of 4 p.m. might be advanced even as far as midday on Saturday, but 2 p.m. is more likely. This most classic of all long-distance sports-car races will see the Porsche versus Ferrari battle reach its ultimate peak with Matra not far behind, and even in front at the finish. No matter what personal likes and dislikes Le Mans arouses in people it is still the ultimate in long-distance events and the one that every manufacturer hopes to win one day. To the French it is a National holiday, like Derby Day to the British or Indianapolis to the Americans, and even without the incentive of a strong Matra entry the French public will be there in their thousands. Money will be made, money will be lost, confusion will reign and people will complain, but Le Mans can only be Le Mans, and when it is all over everyone will sigh and say “Thank goodness it is only once a year”, but few people will want to miss it.

Just one week later, and on Saturday which is unusual, the Dutch G.P. takes place at Zandvoort on June 21st. The Dutch organisers have not been making money in recent years, and no-one organises races for fun, so the race is being held on a Saturday, instead of Sunday, to see if a bigger crowd will attend. Zandvoort is a fairly simple and safe circuit, the organisation presents little in the way of difficulties to spectator and competitor alike, and while lacking in character the Dutch Grand Prix is a friendly meeting. If any 4-w-d. Grand Prix cars are ready the Zandvoort race would be the one for an initial try-out as it presents no problems to the drivers and they could concentrate on learning the new 4-w-d technique.

On the day after there is a Formula Three race at Rouen and a Formula Two race at Monza. The Rouen meeting was going to be a big affair until the Calendar showed it was clashing with Zandvoort; and the Monza race is the annual National Sweepstake with millions of lire going to the lucky ticket holder who draws the winning car. In the French mountains not far from Lyon on the same day is the third round in the Mountain Hill-Climb Championship with the event up the classic Mont Ventoux peak. While all this is happening abroad Brands Hatch will be staging the 6-Hour Saloon-Car race for our round in the European Saloon-Car Championship.

In spite of rumours that the very fast Reims circuit was to be dismantled, the last weekend in June sees races there for Formula Two and Formula Three. The projected 12-hour sports-car race has been cancelled, and while this event was unique in that it started at midnight, so that the opening laps in the dark defied description, it was always too soon after Le Mans to really achieve success. Those Formula Three runners who are not flat-out at Reims will be at Mallory Park, whizzing round and round at the International meeting at the Leicestershire circuit—D. S. J.

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