The Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometres Race
The Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometres Race
ADENAU, August 30th.
TO bring themselves in line with Italy and France in holding classic sports-car events the Germans organised a race over 44 laps of the 22-kilometre Nurburgring, the intention being to provide a gruelling race that would stand alongside the Mille Miglia and Le Mans. To anyone familiar with the Nurburgring there was no doubt at all that 1,000 kilometres was a formidable distance to cover, for both men and machines. Unfortunately, the support for this new event was not very high, but even so the entry was interesting and was divided into two groups, the first being "racing sports cars" and the second being "production sports cars," both categories having wide limits. The works Lancias were in the first group and Type C Jaguars were in the second, and all the classes were so divided, and it proved to be a very sound selection.
From the very beginning of the meeting it was clear that Lancia were taking the race seriously, arriving in their super transport, as described in last month's MOTOR SPORT, complete with four cars. These were all of the two-seater "Spyder" model, two of them being cars they used in the testing period after the German Grand Prix and the other two being new ones, very drastically modified from those described earlier. The body style was unchanged except for longer and lower radiator cowls, but mechanically there was much that was new. The V6 engines had been enlarged to 3.3 litres and the complete rear end of the car had been redesigned. The principles of the transmission were the same, with the clutch on the front of the differential/gearbox unit, but the gearbox itself was now contained in the same casting that carried the differential unit instead of being bolted on the front. This meant, that the propellershaft entered the casing at a very low level and all the gears were below axle level, with stein-up gears running up to the. differential; the gear-lever for this new assembly now being mounted on the left side of the transmission tunnel with the lever cranked. The very large inboard brakes were retained, but an entirely new rear suspension was used. This was de Dion with the de Dion tube running across in front of the differential assembly, while location of the hubs was by i-elliptic springs, normally mounted, parallel to the axis of the car, and radius rods above, lateral location also being provided by the i-elliptics, the de Dion tube having no central guide. At the front the suspension was unchanged, being by trailing arms with a transverse leaf-spring mounted high above the wheel centre line, damped by long thin telescopic shock-absorbers and, of course, the inboard front brakes were still retained, with their internal sun-and-planet wheel gearing to run them at a higher speed than the road wheels, thus increasing the peripheral speed of the drums. The spare wheel and tools were carried in the tail as the regulation forbade any tools in the pits, as at Le Mans, while the battery was moved forward into the cockpit on the passenger's side. On the driver's side of the scuttle was the oil tank with an oil cooler built into the bottom. After some dilly-dallying with drivers the two new 3.3-litre cars were given to Fangio/13onetto and Tarufli/ Manzon, while Castellotti/Bracco had the earlier 3-litre model. The fourth car, another 3-litre model of the earlier type designated the B2:3, the new ones being 1324, was used as a training car, driven by all the team drivers and altogether, including the testing earlier in the month, it covered over 150 laps of the Nurburgring without giving trouble. Using all the available practising periods the Lancia team were ready to face any opposition, but this was provided by Ferrari with Ascari/Farina in an open 44-litre, Hawthorn/Villoresi in a 41-litre coupe, and Maglioli/Carini with an open 3-litre forircylinder. The first two were the Silverstone Le Mans models, while the third car was one that ran in the Monza sports-car race in June, having a four,cylinder engine that was identical in construction to the Formula II engines, except that the nose-piece of the crankcase carried a dynamo and a vertically mounted eight-plug distributor for the coil ignition, in place of the twin magnetos. The Ferrari team did not seem to show a great deal of enthusiasm for the race, arriving late for practice and doing a very small number of laps, and when the practice periods finished with Fangio making fastest lap in 10 min. 12.8 sec., Taruffi next with 10 Min. 16.6 sec. and Ascari third with 10 min. 24.9 sec., the Modena concern seemed even more deflated, so that the over-2,000-c.c. class for " racing sports cars " did not hold the prospect of a fierce battle. The class in this group for cars from 1,500 c.c. to 2,000 c.c. contained Alan Brown with the Equipe Anglais Cooper-Bristol sports, aided by Jose Faroani. a friend of Marimon from the Argentine. Their practice sessions were cut short when Brown smashed in the front of the car
against a tree, due to the steering becoming disconnected. No personal damage was done and much hard work got things straight in time for the race, but this lack of practice prevented them getting anywhere near the team of 2-litre Maseratis run by the factory. Two of these cars were the Mille Miglia models, while the third was of the same type, but fitted with a beautiful Vignale body. This car had recently finished second in the Pescara 12-hour race and was the latest MG to be built, having the dual ignition six-cylinder engine with twin magnetos, while the earlier cars had twin coil sets. All three were left-hand-drive open two-seaters and the chassis were identical to the G.P. cars. One of the earlier models had been purchased by Bertoni and he shared it with liermann Lang, while the second was run by the factory and driven by Marimon and Giletti. The Vignale-bodied car was lent to Hans Herrmann, the German " new boy," with Jack McAfee as co-driver. Lang showed his mastery of Nurburgring by making fastest lap in 10 min. 57.6 sec., some 20 sec. faster than Giletti, while Herrmann had hardly had time to get used to the new car before he handed over to McAfee who promptly wrote the front end off against a bank. Some hard hammer and lever work straightened things out in time for the start, but not so neatly as the Brown &pipe dealt with the Cooper. Against these four were a trio of 11.M.W.-engined Veritas with all-enveloping bodies, being early models. The 750 c.c.-1,500 c.c. class was perhaps the most interesting of the lot, for it contained three Kieft-M.G.s entered by the Monkey Stable, and driven by Keen/Pope, Mayers/ Griffiths, and Line/Llewellyn, being the all-enveloped cars with the central driving position that had already had experience of the Nurburgring. Supporting them were Lionel Leonard and Illakeley with a Tojeiro-built Leonard-M.G. and they had opposition from Italy and Germany. The Italians producing three 1,350-e.c. Oseas driven by a mixture of Italian and German national drivers, while Borgward entered two factory cars with BechemIlfelfrich and Brudes/Hammernick, supported and, at the same time, opposed by a works Porsche, driven by Trenkel/Schluter. Thanks to sonic brilliant driving by Michael Keen one of the Kiefts was second fastest in the training. Bechem being fastest with the Borgward. There was a further class for" racing sports ears" up to 750 c.c. which received only two runners, a hotted-up French-owned 4ev Renault that was awfully slow and Kornossa/Arnold with a very pretty little Scampolo built by Komossa that was a scale model of an open 300SL Mere6des-Benz, using 5.00 by 13 in. tyres and powered by a 750-c.c. B.M.W. motor-cycle engine.
There were five classes in the production category and the over2,000-c.c. Class contained an impressive trio of Type C Jaguars entered by Ecurie Ecosse and driven by Scott-Douglas/Sanderson, Ian Stcwart/Salvadori, and Jim Stewart/Lawrence. With them were the Belgian Type C Jaguars of Laurent/Gendebien and Roosdorp/Ulmen and a normal 120 driven by two Belgian amateurs, while the only non-Coventry product in the class was a drophead coupe 2.5-litre Ferrari driven by Iiignolo/Gatsonides. In the class from 1,300 c.c. to 2,000 c.c. there was only one British entry, the Le Mans Replica Frazer-Nash of Currie/Beamnan, and competent handling saw it well ahead on practice times, its opposition being six 1,500-c.c. Porsches, those of Frankenberg/Ringgenberg and Metternich/Einsiedel,t he Germans, and lieuberger/Seiler, the Swiss team, being the most serious, though Kurt and Walter Zeller were going well with a 2-litre Ferrari coup6. A 1900 Alfa-Romeo saloon driven by Martignoni/Mantovani completed the class. In order to encourage the standard Porsches the class for over 750 c.c. cars was finished at 1,300 c.c. and this resulted in seven standard Porsches making up the total entry, the fastest in practice being that of Goetze/ Godsey, this car being fitted with Goetze's own type of wheel that has a rubber centre piece between the hub and rim, which was claimed to assist cornering to high degree, working so as to keep the wheel in contact with the road more surely than the suspension alone. To complete the very mixed entry for this 1,000-kilometre race there were four cars in the 750-c.c, class, a 4cv Renault, a Dyna-Panhard coupe and two Gutbrod two-strokes. In order to get the whole event into the hours of daylight the race commenced at 7.30 a.m. and a Le Mans start was used, with the cars lined up in order of capacity in the two groups. Observing at a point about two-thirds of the way round the course the start could be heard echoing across the valley as the pack raced round the swerves and down the hills on the opening lap. As they climbed the hill to the Karussel and then twisted and turned through Hohe Act. Esbach and Brunchen the scream of the 12-cylinder Ferrari drowned everything. Ascari was driving and, the other two works cars having
been withdrawn just before the start, with no reason given, he was Alone in keeping the Lancia team at bay. Hard on the open Ferrari's tail eame Tama, then a gap of 25 see: and there followed Fangio and Castellotti and a long while later came Jimmy Stewart leading the rest Of the field, with Lang not far behind and Keen going at a phenomenal pace through the corners and keeping in front of two of the Maseratis. Salvadori was some Way back having spun round on one corner and Sanderson was handicapped by having to drive a standard Jaguar 120, for in practice Scott-Douglas had got his feet mixed up in the pedals of the Type C and looped it over and over, damaging it so badly that it could not be repaired in time for the race, so the Ectirie Ecosse .substituted the normal 120 that Douglas was using as personal transport. Next. time round Ascari and Tarufli were way out on their own and the long string of cars following them were more or less in the same, order, except for a few drivers who had made bad starts, but were now in their proper positions in the procession, such as Herrmanu who was behind Jimmy Stewart, and Bechem who moved the Borgward forward nine places. Lang had dropped out on this lap with a broken oil pipe and two laps later Fangio had come to rest out in the wilds with a fuel pump that would not function. l'arulli overtook the Ferrari and Castellotti began to close up and it was pretty obvious that the Lancias had got the huge Ferrari at their mercy, for as they swirled through the twists and turns they appeared to be having a comfortable ride in comparison with Ascari whose motor car looked a bit of a handful. By six laps the Ferrari was running third behind the two Lancias and then there was a vast gap before anyone else appeared in sight, and when the remainder of the field did appear it was still J. Stewart leading with Salvadori not far behind ; then came the Maseratis cf Herrmann and Giletti and, most impressive of all, there came Keen in the. Kieft-M.G, right on Giletti's tail. The Leonard-M.G. was out with a broken steering arm and two laps later the Kieft's excellent run came to an end when a rear hub centre plate broke up, K.een's cornering abilities being too much for the strength of the car. Reviewing the classes at ten laps it was seen that Ascari was back in between the two Lancias, Taruth still loading on class and general classification, Herrmann was leading Giletti in the next, class, with Brown third, having taken over front Faroani who was not going very quickly, while Carini in an Osca had taken the lead when the Kieft fell out, though the Borgward of Bechem was gaining rapidly. Among the production ears J. Stewart was still leading from Salvadori, with Gatsenides third and Sanderson fourth. Ulmen had gone into the ditch twice and retired, and Gendebien had broken a piston on his Type C. The other Belgianowned Jaguar, the normal 120, was still going round in a wild manner a long way back. Among the 2-litre ears Currie had the FrazerNash well in the lead from the 2-litre Ferrari and the Porsches, and the small Porsches were still in a tight bunch, with Hoesch leading. The race now settled down and as the laps passed by drivers changed over, cars were refuelled and the steady business of an endurance race began to assume importance. After 12 laps Farina took over in the big Ferrari. but could not make any impression on the Lando, and other drivers either speeded up the ears or slowed them down, depending on their abilities. It was interesting to watch the effect as various teams changed drivers, some changes. made no difference to the' position of the car, nor the Nvity it went through the winding section past Pflatzengarten, others came through noticeably faster or depressingly slower. The problem of choosing drivers for a long distance race is a very serious one and it is not easy to get a pair of drivers of equal calibre. At the end of lap 15 the two LanCias stopped for refuelling and change of tirivers, the two cars now being comfortably ahead of the Ferrari, but when they came to restart neither car would go for both butte s ha I gone completely flat and it was quite impossible to turn the engines. As all spares had to be carried on the car and push-starting was forbidden both cars had to be withdrawn and the Ferrari sailed past into the lead, now with no opposition whatsoever. This was indeed a bitter blow for Lancia for they had shown dearly that they were far superior to the 41-litre Ferrari. It appeared that the batteries had become overheated and boiled dry and while sufficient current remained to operate the ignition system, there was not enough to turn the starter. As a race the event now ceased and it is-as just, a question of endurance and reliability, so interest now rested on the class leaders rather titan the general classification. In the " racing sports class," the Ferrari was alone in its category, Marimon took over front Giletti and was way ahead of the other Maserati now being driven by McAfee, Bechem/Helfrich had command of the 1,500-c.c, class with the Borgward, leading the works Porsche and the Oseas. the remaining Kieft new being way back, driven by Mayers/Griffiths and Koinossa was all alone in the baby class. Ian Stewart had taken over from Salvadori and kept the Car
going at the same pace which put it ahead of the other Ecosse Jaguar now with Lawrence at the wheel. Whether Currie or Beauman drove the Frazer-Nash made no difference to its commanding lead in the 2-litre class, ahead of the German-owned Ferrari and all the Porsches.
At. half-distance the Ferrari of Ascari/Farina was still circulating on its own, over a lap ahead of the next car, the Maserati of Maritnon/ Giletti, who in turn were followed by Stewart/Salvadori and Stewart/ Lawrence on the Scottish Jaguars. In fifth place was the factory Borgward Of Helfrich/Bechem, followed by the Currie/Beauman Frazer-Nash, the factory Porsche and the first of the Oseas. The gruelling circuit was still causing trouble and Brown was delayed a long time out on the circuit while he put back an oil filter that had come adrift, McAfee limped into the pits with a broken oil pipe' that had caused all the bearings to run and Mayers brought theK kit in with smoke coming out of the dynamo, but sufficient battery left to continue the race. The Frazer-Nash was still running perfectly and its only rival, the 2-litre Ferrari, ran out of fuel on the' far side of the course, due to a miscalculation of the fuel consumption. Refuelling went on at regular intervals, the drivers helping in some cases, while the Ecosse Jaguars had the advantage of two pressure hoses for their team, which " Wilkie " managed to get into the Jaguar filler orifice, thus doubling the flow. In the Ferrari pit Ascari was busy operating the fuel hose before taking over for his final spell at the wheel and Hawthorn was iI1 the Frazer-Nash pit acting mechanic as his entry had been withdrawn. With tcti laps to go Salvadori began to close up on Giletti, who was driving the. Maserati in second place, and the Italian pit waited until the. Jaguar was dangerously close and then speeded up their car and kept a safe distance in front, and rather than risk losing a class win at this late stage Salvadori was signalled to ease up and be content with third place in the general classification. The other Ecosse Type C was in the. pits with the front suspension mountings broken so that the whole front end was flopping about in a most dangerous manner. Calculating that three more laps would be sufficient to qualify for second place in the class, David Murray sent Lawrence off in the car to circulate slowly and gently until Salvadori had completed the 44 laps, for the race was not finished until the leader in each class had covered the whole distance. Farina took the leading Ferrari round for the last few laps and finished the 44 laps to win the general classification with boring ease, but for second Place Giletti and Salvadori were still only half a minute apart and the two pits were watching each other closely to see the instant any signal was given to speed up for a final " do or die " burst. No signal was given however, and on the 43rd lap the Maserati engine packed up, only nine kilometres from the finish and Salvadori sailed by to take second place. While this excitement was going on the Frazer-Nash, with Beauman driving, had come to rest out on the circuit with all the symptoms of a broken rear axle, but the co-driver and the mechanics went in search of the car, diagnosed the trouble as a broken A-bracket, and sent Hermitian on to cover the remaining four laps as fast as possible, in spite of the rear axle flopping loosely about, as they were still leading their class. It says much for the. Frazer-Nash that it covered three laps of the Nurburgring in top gear, As every time Beauman changed gear there was 'a risk of the axle falling off altogether, so he stayed in top.
One by one the remaining runners came in, some still going well,. others limping along hoping to get home before they subsided completely. Although Ascari/Farina completed their 44 taps in under 81 hours, it was more than two hours later before the last car was flagged in, as the regulations insisted that each class winner should complete the total distance. The three Ecosse Jaguars were greatly relieved to stop racing, for Salvadori had been going round with only the tail holding the fuel tank in place, the mountings having broken, and when he stopped he discovered his front suspension. was broken up as badly as Lawrence's Type C, while the standard 120 had collapsed a wheel in the last half lap and finished by sheer luck. The Frazer-Nash had suffered no ill-effects front its flapping rear axle. but could not have gone on much longer as the propellershaft rubbing on a cross-member was all that was holding it in place, while the remaining Kieft Was boiling and using a lot of oil. The' factory Porsche and Borgward scented quite unperturbed by 44 laps. of the Nurburgring, as did the Ferrari coupe of Vignolo/Gatsouides. that had not even got an oil stain on the floor carpets. Among the, standard Porsches the race for the lead continued until flag fall, with only 55 •sec. separating the first two after more than 10 hours. of racing.
As a race the Nurburgring 1,000 kilometres was not an exciting sneeess, but as a feat of endurnnce of both drivers and machines it was excellent, and many people discovered faults or weaknesses.
in their ears that have never appeared elsewhere. Being so full of corners of varying severity and containing all types of gradients, both up and down, the Nurbargring is calculated to break up the best cars, so that in a long distance race a manufacturer could learn a great deal. Let us hope that next year the 1,000 kilometres will have the support of more manufacturers' teams, as well as the private owners.