To the motor-racing enthusiast it is always very satisfying when a manufacturer brings out a new production model that has been directly derived from racing experience. To see a factory experimental car taking part in a motor race and then later to see the identical thing being offered for sale as a production machine, makes everything fit into place and makes sense of motor racing. This is one of the interesting facets of long-distance Sports Car racing, especially when proper manufacturers take part and factory prototypes are run. It also makes a nonsense of any suggestions about holding Sports Car classic races for production cars. By all means have your classes for production machines, but there must always be an experimental category for one-off prototypes.
At the Austrian 1000 Kilometre race last June there was a special Porsche 911 taking part, under the entrant Paul Strahle; it was clearly a factory car, with factory engineers, drivers and mechanics with it, and it was running in the prototype class. It’s main departures from standard homologated GT were an engine of 2.7-litres, wider wheel rims, a spoiler on the tail, and an anti-lock braking system. Obviously, it was no match for the pure prototype 3-litres, such as the 312P Ferrari or the Lola T280, and it was not meant to be, but it was being run to prove Porsche’s latest development work on the 911 series. At the recent Paris Motor Show a new Porsche for 1973 was exhibited, called the Porsche Carrera RS (Rennsport). The flat-six-cylinder engine of 90 x 70.4 mm. gives 2,687 c.c. capacity and it develops 210 horsepower (DIN) at 6,300 r.p.m. giving this special 911 a top speed of close on 150 m.p.h. It uses Bosch fuel injection and runs on 91 Octane petrol. The light alloy wheels are 6J x 15 and the rear engine hatch has a spoiler incorporated in it, being made of fibre-glass. The only thing missing that was used on the prototype car in Austria is the anti-lock braking system, cost and complication not yet permitting this to be put into production. During practice for the Austrian race two different engine compartment lids were being tried, one with the spoiler just below the rear window and in front of the entry for the engine cooling air, and the other with the spoiler half way down the lid, behind the air entry. It is the latter one which has been put into production.
The name Carrera dates back to the mid-fifties, in the days of the old 356 Porsche series, and comes from the Carrera-PanAmericana, or Mexican Road Race, a marathon event that lasted a number of days, running the whole length of Mexico. It was an event with a brief and glorious history, cut short by the world repercussions that followed the 1955 Le Mans accident. It was in this Mexican race that Porsche race-proved their first own designed and built engine. This was their air-cooled flat-four with twin camshafts to each bank of cylinders, driven by shafts and bevel gears. Up to this point Porsche car engines were all derived from Volkswagen engines (themselves a Porsche design anyway). The four-cam engine was known as the Carrera, and when it was put into production in the 356 Coupé and 356 Speedster, the model was called the Carrera. The racing had been done with the Open Spyder RS with mid-engine layout. Some people think that Porsche have done the wrong thing calling their new 2.7-litre car the Carrera, feeling that the name belongs to the past and to history, and to a landmark in Porsche development in which the name had some substance. That is all a matter of opinion. What is significant is that the new Carrera follows Porsche overall policy of development through racing, which is the thing that all motor racing enthusiasts applaud loudly, and when 500 have been built it will be homologated for GT racing.
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Enzo Ferrari does occasionally get caught out, like under-estimating the ability of Keith Duckworth and the Cosworth-Ford V8 Grand Prix engine, but it is rare. Where he is seldom caught is in being ready, and once again he has demonstrated this by running a 1973 sports car in a race already. In the 500-Kilometre race at Imola, held the weekend after the Italian GP, Ferrari entered two cars, one was a normal 1972 model 312P driven by Merzario, but the other was a prototype for 1973. Basically it was the same layout as the existing 312P but it incorporated various minor detail changes, in the light of lessons learnt during 1972, and showed that Ferrari was all ready for the first long-distance Sports Car race of 1973. During the 500 Kilometre race the new car had a few teething troubles, notably with the brakes, and Merzario won with the older car, Ickx being second with the 1973 prototype. For the record the results were as follows:
Imola 500—Two Heats and Final of 204.9 kilometres
1st : A. Merzario (Ferrari 312P—1972) .. 1 hr. 7 min. 56.2 sec.—180.414 k.p.h.
2nd :J. Ickx (Ferrari 312P—1973) .. .. 1 hr. 9 min. 01.1 sec.
3rd : A. de Adamich (Alfa Romeo 33TT/3) .. 1 hr. 9 min. 04.3 sec.
4th : R. Jost (Porsche 908/3) .. 1 lap behind
5th : M. Casoni (Lola T280) .. .. .. 1 lap behind
6th : H. Galli (Lola T280) .. .. .. 2 Laps behind
Fastest Lap : A. Merzario (Ferrari), 1 min. 40.1 sec.—187.207 k.p.h.
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The relentless march towards overall uniformity envisaged by George Orwell in his classic hook “1984” and pursued with vigour by Governments and Authorities everywhere, has some keen followers within the CSI and the GPDA. One relentless onward charge, with little thought other than the ultimate goal is in the matter of motor racing circuits. It won’t be long now before it will be a case of “when you have seen one, you will have seen them all” and the races on these uniform circuits will he just as uniform. At a recent meeting of the Circuit and Safety Sub-Committee of the CSI a list of circuits due for the “chop” was drawn up. Officially these circuits are to undergo an official inspection, with recommended modifications to bring them in line with 1973 circuit specifications. Two of these circuits are on public roads and are only used once a year, so the chances of the organisers being able to afford all the necessary alterations to satisfy the CSI are pretty remote: The two circuits concerned are Chimay, in Belgium, and Brno in Czechoslovakia and in the GPDA News-sheet their death-knell is sounded. The rather pompous communication from the GPDA says “Both circuits have regrettably taken their toll of human life during 1972 and must be extensively modified before permits for races are issued in 1973. Having laid down safety specifications for permanent race tracks it is simply no longer possible to excuse other circuits on the grounds that they are only used once a year and in consequence it is not practical for them to be up-dated to the standards laid down by both the CSI and ourselves”.
In this communication there is no mention made of circuits that do comply with their safety requirements that have also “regrettably taken their toll of human life” to quote the GPDA’s own words. The last part of their quoted statement more or less sweeps away the circuits of Chimay and Brno, saying “We have decided that they are no longer wanted”. The GPDA is crying out desperately for new members in order that the subscription fees will fill their coffers and keep them in business, and are probably wondering why very few Formula 3 or Saloon Car drivers are showing an interest in joining. The last time a Formula One car raced at Chimay must have been about 1952, and I cannot even remember when a Formula One car raced at Brno, yet the Grand Prix Drivers Association have condemned these two circuits as unsafe, in the interests of protecting Formula Three and Saloon Car drivers who have been racing on these circuits continuously for two decades or more.
A little while ago there was some agitation by racing motor cyclists over the way the CSI/GPDA combine were making circuits safe for cars, which automatically made them unsafe for motorcycle racing. The motorcyclists suggested that they ought to get together with the car drivers and see if there was not some way both parties could be satisfied. Nothing came of this suggestion, for with the pressure of the racing season both parties were more than fully occupied. However, at one point the GPDA more or less pushed the idea to one side by saying that “conditions today made it virtually impossible for cars and motorcycles to be raced on the same circuits, with equal safety measures”. They did not say as much, but it was quite obvious that all circuits were being made safe for car racing and the motorcycle racers would have to go somewhere else and play. This selfish attitude has come to the surface again in the matter of Chimay and Brno. They are more or less saying that racing can only take place on permanent circuits, designed, built or modified, to the overall master plan. Uniformity, here we come, with our CSI/GPDA banner held high, waving in the uniform breeze. — D. S. J.