Ferrari monopoly and Manufacturers’ Championship win
Kristianstad, August 12th.
Last year was the occasion of the first really big race in Sweden and the Kungl Automobil Klubben dealt with it so well that this year the FIA granted them permission for the race to be included in the series for the Manufacturers’ Championship for sports cars. Once again the rectangular circuit at kristianstad, in the south of Sweden, was used, widened in places since last year and with some of the more severe humpbacks removed. There being only two manufacturers who count for anything in the series of races held for the championship, namely Ferrari and Maserati, the entry list for the Swedish race was almost entirely Italian. The only ray of hope from Great Britain were three private D-type Jaguars, no works cars from Coventry, nor from Feltham being entered.
Having things all their own way, the two Italian teams played a sort of schoolboy game where the two leaders made up sides, on the one hand there being Ugolini with 10 drivers gathered round him and on the other hand Scularti with 11 drivers on his side. Ugolini had five 300S Maserati sports cars to deal out, a well as a new 41/2-litre V8 model, while Scularti had three 12-cylinder 31/2-litres and two four-cylinder 31/2-litres for his “side.” The “Modena Tridents” were Moss, Behra, Taruffi, Schell, Maglioli, Villoresi. Musy, Godia, Bonnier and Simon, while the “Cavalli Rampantis” were Fangio, Castellotti, Collins, Gendebien, de Portago, Hill, Trintignant, von Trips, Hawthorn, Hamilton and Manzon.
During the two practice sessions on Friday and Saturday before the race everyone in each team drove all the team cars, and neither team manager really decided who was going to pair with whom. Being over a distance of 1,000 km there had to be basically two drivers to one car, with a limit of three hours maximum at one stretch for any one driver. It was quite permissible to change any driver to any car in the team at any time during the race, whether his original car was still running or not, so that the event was obviously going to be one between team managers. The Ecurie Ecosse were going quietly about their business with two D-type Jaguars and Flockhart, Sanderson, Titterington and Lawrence as drivers, while the two Whiteheads were sharing Hamilton’s private D-type Jaguar. None of these could cope with the Italian teams, for this was an out-and-out free-for-all race with no hampering restrictions. To make the field up to a reasonable number there were four Monza Ferraris, a 4.5-litre 12-cylinder, one of the fabulous “Argentine” 4:9-litre 12-cylinders, a “Testa Rosa” 2-litre, an Austin-Healey 100S, a Mondial Ferrari and five Porsche Spyders, all this lot being privately owned.
During the practice the Maserati team thrashed round in their new “monster,” the 41/2-litre V8, and it went very fast but suffered from insufficient brakes. This brand new car was the chassis used in the Mille Miglia with 31/2-litre six-cylinder engine fitted, now modified as to suspension geometry, and fitted with the new power unit for which it was originally designed, The V8 is virtually two enlarged 2-litre blocks and heads, each with twin camshafts, and in the centre of the vee are four double-choke Weber carburetters specially made for the engine. Running at 6,100 rpm, this vast power plant produces 360 bhp and proved to be remarkably trouble-free, though installation of the oil tank and pipelines caused a great deal of leakage, swamping the back of the car in oil. The car looked more or less like a normal 300S except for an enormous bulge on top of the bonnet that was as high as the windscreen, the driver looking along one side of this. The reason for the bulge is the height of the carburetters and intake pipes above the engine, while under the bonnet there was little room to spare with twin ignition units and water and oil pumps all mounted on the front of the crankcase. Four short stub pipes protruded from each side of the car just behind the front wheels, and though this monster went very fast it was one of the ugliest racing/sports car’s perpetrated for a long time.
At midday on Sunday there was a strong wind blowing and the sky was dull as the two teams assembled their ranks. The private owners hoped they would both blow each other to bits, letting some unsuspecting pair win, for on the result of this race hung the result of the Manufacturers’ Championship. The start was Le Mans type, with the sensible modification of putting the fastest cars, not necessarily the largest capacity ones, at the head of the line. Leading off for Maserati, all on 3-litres, were Moss, Taruffi, Villoresi, Godia and Musy, and for Ferrari were Collins, Trintignant and von Trips with 12-cylinders and Hawthorn and Castellotti had four-cylinders. For the Ecurie Ecosse Titterington and Flockhart led off, the latter with the Le Mans winning car, and Peter Whitehead led off in the green Jaguar. As far as the factory teams were concerned, nobody really knew who would take over which car after the first driving spell, whereas the poor private owners bad no choice.
Collins was first away and all but two of the 27 starters got away, Gilberte Thirion having trouble starting the Ecurie Belge Porsche and Rouselle having difficulty with the Monza Ferrari from the same stable, both getting away before the leaders had covered more than half a lap. A long line of red cars screamed past on the opening lap, led by Collins, with Moss, Hawthorn, Musy, Trips and Villoresi following on. Taruffi was missing already, and so was Flockhart, it transpiring later that the Jaguar had locked its brakes and slid into the Maserati, Flockhart being able to drive back to the pits later and continue, poor Taruffi having to walk hack. Castelloti had not made a very good start and was working his way through from midfield to his proper position in fifth place, but apart from this nobody looked capable of passing anyone, the procession going round and round, with a total of 153 laps to cover.
After the first hour of this procession the only change was that Hawthorn overdid things momentarily and let Trips get past into third place behind Collins and Moss, while the leading Ferrari was blowing out smoke from the off-side exhaust manifold due to a small leak dripping on to the pipes. It did not seem to be serious as Collins was continuing to lap in 2 min 28 sec, looking quite calm, this being about his average practice time, so it was obvious that everyone was pressing on even though the gaps between cars remained fairly constant.
Godia went off the road before very long and was pushed back on by the locals, and later he stopped and handed over to Bonnier, but the Swede did not get far before the car packed up. Musy retired with a broken gearbox and Flockhart gave the dented Jaguar to Sanderson. Just before 2 pm the leaders began to make routine stops for fuel and driver changes, and as refuelling had to be done with funnels and open churns there was plenty of excitement. Trintignant in sixth place gave over to Phil Hill, and Collins to Gendebien„ during which time vast quantities of oil were poured in and Moss went by into the lead, followed by Trips, Hawthorn and Castellotti in that order. Hawthorn made a brief excursion into the undergrowth, so that when he handed over to Portago clods of earth and grass dropped off the bottom of the car, and at 2.30 pm, after 60 laps, Moss and Trips both made pit stops. The Maserati took on fuel and oil and had the rear wheels changed, and Behra set off without losing the lead. Meanwhile the Trips car took on fuel and oil and Collins took over, and last of all Castellotti stopped and handed over to Fangio.
All these major stops were spread over some 45 minutes and when all the pandemonium had died down Behra was in the lead for Maserati, followed by Fangio in a four-cylinder Ferrari. Collins on a 12-cylinder, Gendebien in the 12-cylinder that was still losing oil, Hill on the remaining 12-cylinder and Portago on the other four-cylinder. The rest of the runners were nowhere at all, though two Swedish drivers, Lundgren and Kvarnstrom, were doing well with a Monza Ferrari, and Nottorp and Andersson were running very regularly with the vast 4.9-litre Ferrari. The Ecurie Ecosse pit stops were as neat and quick as at Le Mans, and Lawrence had taken over from Sanderson on the Le Mans winner, while Titterington handed over to Flockhart.
What looked like being a long procession suddenly turned into confusion, for Behra ran out of brakes and made two stops for adjustments, Gendebien found the oil leak getting worse and stopped to refill, letting Manzon have a go. However, he did not get far before the engine protested about having been run with low oil level and stopped with a bang. Collins and Hill both went off the road due to the resultant oil patch, and Portago was sideways on for a long while, during which time Flockhart managed to avoid him by a small margin. Hill motored on through the shoulder-high corn until he found a way back on the road, and Collins lost much time trying to get out the way he had gone in. All this resulted in Fangio taking the lead, with Hill second, Portago third and Collins fourth. The Maserati team were now right out of things, though Schell was fifth in the car Villoresi started with and Behra was struggling round in sixth place. Flockhart then suffered a real Brockbank of an engine blow-up when a rod broke, and Ugolini decided to put Moss into the Villoresi/Sehell car to try and improve on their poor fifth place. The pit stop was a classic, for fuel and oil were put in while the rear wheels were changed. Everyone got in everyone else’s way, fuel was slopped about all over the place, one mechanic was tripped up by another lifting the jack at the wrong time, and amidst shouting and sweariing, pools of oil, petrol and water Moss eventually got away. Then Behra decided he was getting tired of driving without brakes and came in for Villoresi to take over. There was another petrol and oil splashing episode, with gallons of petrol all over the car and the ground, and then suddenly there was a “boomph” and the whole lot was on fire. The Italians turned and fled and but for the prompt action of the fire brigade, who were ever at the ready, the whole pits might have gone up in smoke. After a few tense seconds all was peace again and the Maserati lay under a heavy covering of foam and most of the pit staff had been foam-covered as well. The explosion had split the tank of the Maserati so it was wheeled away into the dead car park.
Moss was making no ground at all on the Ferraris and even when they began another series of refuelling stops he could not improve on his fifth place. The order was Fangio, Portago, Hill and Collins, and by 5 pm all the Ferraris had undergone another change of drivers. Castellotti took over the leading car, Hamilton took over from Portago. Trips went back into his own car from Collins, and Hill returned his car to Trintignant. By the time all this shuffling had been completed the order was Castellotti, Trintignant, Trips and Hamilton, in respectively, four-cylinder, 12-cylinder, 12-cylinder and four-cylinder Ferraris, and in the meantime Moss had disappeared down an escape road at high speed with no brakes whatsoever on the Maserati. Sanderson had withdrawn the remaining Scottish Jaguar with a horrid noise in the rear axle, and this left the Swedish-driven Monza Ferrari in fifth place. Then Castellotti came by making gesticulations and while his pit crew were trying to decide what he meant the engine blew up on the far side of the circuit, so now the order became Trintignant, Trips, Hamilton, with the Swedish Ferraris and the D-type Jaguar following on but a long way back.
It was all over now and Ferraris slowed their remaining cars to be sure of completing the last hour of racing, and with the race in the bag and victory in the Manufacturers’ Championship the Ferrari team ticked off the last laps of this not very exciting race. Of the other cars, the Porsche Spyders just went on and on as they have a habit of doing, the Picard/Vidilles Monza Ferrari retired with a broken gear-change mechanism, the Belgian one wrecked its engine, and the Austin-Healey of Flower/Somerset just went round for 1,000 kms. trying to keep out of the way of everybody, even the Porsches.