Legends

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

On paper, it looked wonderful. In the autumn of 1956, Giuseppe Bacciagaluppi, President of the Automobile Club of Milan, invited Duane Carter, Competitions Director of the United States Auto Club, to Monza, and in his mind were the seeds of an idea: a match race between the best of America and the cream of Europe.

A banked track had been added at Monza, first incorporated into the existing road circuit for the Italian GP in 1955, but the GP drivers were not enamoured of it. For one thing, suspension travel was completely used up as the cars were pressed into the banking; for another, the surface was extremely bumpy.

Bacciagaluppi, concerned that the banking might prove a costly white elephant, was looking for new ways to use it, and his idea appealed to Carter. Thus, plans were laid for a ‘Trophy of Two Worlds’ the following June, on the banked track only.

In April, USAC star Pat O’Connor went to Monza with Firestone’s test car, a roadster fitted with a 5.5-litre V8 Chrysler, and ran 226 miles, putting in a best lap of over 170mph. The following month, he took the Indy pole at just short of 144mph. By any standards, Monza was going to be one fast race.

Once Indy was done, 10 of the roadsters were transported from New York to Genoa by ship, while the drivers and mechanics travelled later, and in rather less style.

The flight, from New York, was in an old DC3 charter plane, refuelling in Newfoundland, Gander and Shannon. When they alighted finally at Milan, sustained only by elderly sandwiches and lukewarm coffee, they had been aboard for 26 hours.

Once in Italy, they were dismayed to find they would effectively be racing against themselves. The European ‘challenge’ had petered out.

There were two problems. First, there were no existing cars capable of taking on the roadsters on this banked oval track, the F1 drivers pointing out, reasonably enough, that a roadster wouldn’t have been too wonderful at somewhere like the Nurburgring; second, the Europeans were concerned about the likely speeds.

So they decided to boycott it, and the only cars to take on the Indy brigade were three Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-types ‘fresh’ from Le Mans.

Jimmy Bryan apart, the major US stars at Monza were O’Connor, Tony Bettenhausen, Eddie Sachs, Troy Rudman, Johnnie Parsons and Bob Veith, and once they started practising seriously, spectators witnessed raw speed quite unknown at the time. Bettenhausen, in the fearsome supercharged Novi, ultimately took the pole with a lap of over 177mph.

In the absence of the European stars, the crowd was disappointing, around 20,000, but were entranced by the wheel-to-wheel racing. In furnace conditions, Bryan chewing cigars throughout won two of the three 63-lap heats, and placed second to Ruttman in the third, thereby ensuring overall victory, at the astonishing average of 160.1mph. A month earlier, Sam Hanks’ winning average at Indianapolis had been 135.6.

The Monza banking, though, had given the cars a fearful beating.

Between heats, the Indy mechanics worked feverishly, welding up shock absorber mounting-points and split fuel tanks. By the end, only three roadsters were still running; next time, the mechanics said, they would know what to expect.

The 1958 Monza 500 was altogether different, for now there was sizeable European contingent, with specially-built cars from Ferrari and Maserati, and drivers such as Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Luigi Musso and Phil Hill. The greatest of them all, Juan Manuel Fangio, was down to drive the Dean Van Lines roadster, and he qualified third. Again it was blazing hot, and this time spectators turned out in force, not least because Musso had put the 4.1-litre V12 Ferrari on the pole, at over 174mph. He led the early laps, too, fighting with Jim Rathmann, Bryan and Ruttman, but the primitive Ferrari gave him a dreadful time on the banking, and ultimately, completely spent, he handed over to Hawthorn, who had no taste for this kind of racing.

After his own, 3-litre, Ferrari had blown up, Phil Hill was also drafted in to take his turn in the 4.1.

“Once Musso had worn himself out, it finally boiled down to where Hawthorn and I were doing all the driving, and that meant mostly me, because I got along best with it, for whatever reason. I was expecting the worst, and found out it wasn’t really that bad. Musso got exhausted in the first heat, because it was hot as hell that day, and he was getting cooked in the cockpit. Back then, the typical Ferrari way of cooling things off was to cut a bigger hole in the bodywork, so by the time I got into it, there were enormous volumes of air going through it.

“When I started to sort of like it, Mike would say, ‘Why don’t you do another stint?’ The Italian press thought we were fighting over who should drive in fact, he was leaning down into the cockpit, tightening my safety belt even more!

“Hawthorn knew it was going to be his last year, so he hated anything that was new, you know, and each time he’d finish something like that, he’d say, ‘Well, there’s another race I won’t have to drive again’. It was the same with the Targa Florio.”

Hill was in a curious position in this ‘Two Worlds Trophy’, an American, yet part of the European squad. “It was pretty much a ‘them and us’ deal but mainly ‘them’, because there weren’t enough of ‘us’!

“We got on fine with most of the USAC guys, but I really didn’t care too much for Bryan. He acted like the whole culture was incomprehensible, and he just wanted to blow these Italian puppies off and go home. I remember him criticising me for carrying an umbrella, as if there was something effete about it! Like, a real man gets wet, you know.” Unlike team-mate Hawthorn, Hill quite enjoyed the race. “I didn’t mind it. It seemed easy as anything: you just tore around, and the car did it its own thing. You just sort of guided it when it started getting out of hand, and that was all there was to it. It was a dumb job driving around there don’t let anyone tell you it took any great skill. It was just a matter of keeping it pointing in the right direction.

“The only thing that was bad was the heat, and the terrible bouncing on the banking. We were third overall, and I was pretty pleased with that.”

That weekend was the first time Hill, or any of the ‘European’ brigade, wore a seat belt “We put one in the Ferrari,” said Phil, “after Dan Gurney and I had watched Musso on the banking in practice, and saw what he was going through I mean, the guy was damn near getting thrown out!”

Gurney, spectating that weekend, was astonished by Musso’s courage. “That car was not handling well on the banking it was kind of dancing up there, right ready to go out of control, and he just left his foot in it, and tied to do it, anyway. It was really just raw bravery. I guess he was doing it for Italia.”

Hill remembers that Hawthorn and Collins gave Musso a very hard time at Ferrari, and he had sympathy for the Italian. “They were still at the end of that ‘Brits-hate-the-Eyeties’ sort of thing went back to the war, I guess. There was definitely something between you Brits and the Italians, and I don’t think Peter and Mike liked any of them. They ripped Luigi up one side and down the other.

“As well as that, he had been ripped up in the press quite a bit he had more than his share of Gazzetta dello Sport. And the following weekend, at Reims, he was trying to keep up with Mike, and he killed himself.”

At Monza, no-one had any answer for Rathmann, who won every heat, set an overall average of 166.72mph, and collected $40,000. Bryan placed second, followed by the Ferrari, then Ray Crawford and Jimmy Reece. Moss, at the wheel of a Maserati sponsored by the Eldorado ice cream company, ran well in the first two heats, but then had a huge accident in the third, when his car’s steering broke on the banking. At the time, Moss was fighting with an American rookie who had taken over the Sclavi and Amos Special from veteran Maurice Trintignant His name? A J Foyt. This second `Monzanapolis’ race was judged a great success, and as the Indy drivers flew back to New York, they expected to be back in 1959 for an even more competitive race. Sadly, the Automobile Club of Milan had lost money again, and the saga of the Monza 500 was at an end.

Related articles

Related products