The Grand Prix that did not exist

March 27th, 2012

A huge number of auto races fall in complete obscurity the moment the checkered flag is waved, despite the effort and expense of the participants, often with great sacrifice. Try for example to find the complete results of most races on the internet, or even magazines.

The omission of race reports is not uncommon. What is unusual is to find a story about a race that did not happen!

Only one pair could get away with such mischief, Motor Sport Magazine, and journalist Denis Jenkinson, both British. Motor Sport is the oldest motoring magazine in the world, published since 1924, and, indeed, still exists today. Jenkinson is one of the best known, and some would say, best and most talented journalist specializing in motorsports. Author of many books, Jenkinson was also known for being the co-driver for Stirling Moss, with Mercedes-Benz in the 1955 Mille Miglia, duly won by the duo.

One of the peculiarities of Jenkinson was that he was "old school". It is true that in his later years, Jenks, as he was known, had already surrendered to modernity. But in the mid 70s, Denis, who signed his reports DSJ, resisted some winds of change that swept through motorsport. There was a famous exchange of niceties between Jenkinson and Jackie Stewart, on the very pages of Motor Sport in 1972. Jackie, who had a column in an English newspaper, strove to increase the safety of tracks, cars and racing, while Jenkinson believed that there were overreactions in certain corners, which yielded a nasty response from Stewart, published in the journal.

It is therefore not surprising that Jenkinson did not swallow the change of venue of the German Grand Prix, from the Nurburgring (Norsdschleife) to Hockenheim from 1977 on, largely due to the terrible accident that befell Niki Lauda in the 1976 GP. For Jenkinson, Nurburgring was sacred.

This was reflected in the September 1977 issue of the magazine. In addition to reports on GPs from Germany and Austria, a report appeared on page 44 entitled "Der Grosser Preis von Deutschland", which means German GP in German. In the index, one notices something peculiar - a reference to "Hockenheim Formula 1 Race", instead of the German Grand Prix. The title in the story itself is "Der Kleine Preis von Deutschland" (Small Prix of Germany), which indicates DSJ's obvious displeasure with the new location of the German GP.

It happens that DSJ, who did not sign the article "Der Grosser Preis von Deutschland", but whose style is obvious, used three pages of the magazine to chronicle the events of an F1 race that was never run! He did so in such a realistic fashion that some might insist today that the race indeed took place.

In the fertile mind of Jenks, two F1 races were held in Germany that year, the official held in Hockenheim and the popular Nurburgring race that showed traditional motorsport's resilience, surviving unscathed through the changes of the era.

Thus was created the GP did not exist.

Speedgear Racing Products

The narrative is delicious. Some clear Jenks preferences emerge. Among others, Chris Amon is called by Shadow to race one of their cars, but refuses, confirming retirement. Niki Lauda remains home, mowing the lawn. Max Mosley produces an overwhelming number of Marches for the race, as not all teams attended. Tyrrel, for example, did not field cars, although the long-retired Jackie Stewart offered to sort out the difficult six-wheel cars. And the six-wheeled March almost runs with Ian Scheckter, whose brother Jody decided to stay home, because the race did not count points towards the World Championship. Dieter Quester almost took part in a March. Emerson and Copersucar were testing, as always.

Here's the imaginary grid GP, with formation 3-2-3 (not used since 1973) and 22 cars:
1. Mass (McLaren)
2. Stuck (Brabham)
3. Hunt (McLaren)
4. Ickx (March)
5. Nilsson (Lotus)
6. Laffite (Ligier)
7. Stommelen (March)
8. Andretti (Lotus)
9. Derek Bell (March)
10. Regazzoni (Ensign)
11. Jones (Shadow)
12. Reutemann (Ferrari)
13. Jarier (Penske)
14. Tambay (Ensign)
15. Tim Schenken (March)
16. Ertl (Hesketh)
17. Merzario (March)
18. Schuppan (Surtess)
19. Lunger (McLaren)
20. Snow (March)
21. Edwards (BRM)
22. Henton (BRM)

In the sublime imagination of Jenks, Tim Schenken comes back to F1. Ickx, Stommelen and Bell, despite the March, are Top 10 on the grid. For Jenks, March was obviously the last chance to keep the independents in F1, and in his drama, the cars have a wonderful performance. In fact, Ickx, an expert on Nordschleife, starts fourth, and runs towards the front for much of the "event". Jenks also dreams about two BRM on the track, a nice idea but an obvious impossibility in 1977. With a dose of realism, the BRMs occupy the last row ...

Stuck took the lead with Brabham, but eventually loses his place to the two McLarens. Both BRM leave in the first lap, and Brian Henton almost drives away on his private March to continue in the race ...

In the end, Jochen Mass wins, delighting the German crowd, and Hunt beats the lap record of the Nordschleife.

The final result of the GP that never was:
1. Jochen Mass, McLaren M26
2. J. Laffite, Ligier
3. C. Reutemann, Ferrari
4. C. Regazzoni, Ensign
5. D. Bell, March
6. P. Tambay, Ensign
7. M. Andretti, Lotus
8. B. Lunger, McLaren
9. J. Hunt, McLaren
10. A. Jones, Shadow
11. V. Schuppan, Surtees.

The final comic note is the disappearance of Vittorio Brambilla, who left the track in the Surtees during testing. Big John was so busy with the new pupil Schuppan, that he did not notice the disappearance of the Italian. He had fallen down a ravine, and was trying to get the car out of there by himself, for two days.

For obvious reasons there are no photos of the event in the "report". The only three photos are from the 30's, illustrating Caracciola, a Mercedes and Auto-Union in the pits.

A brilliant piece of sarcasm, if you ask me.

Racing outside of São Paulo city in SP State

June 9th, 2010

This weekend a most representative event took place - a Brazilian Stockcar race was held in a street circuit in the streets of Ribeirão Preto, one of São Paulo state's most important cities.

Amazingly, it has been a couple of decades since a major car race has been held in the State outside of Sao Paulo.

In the past, races have been held in cities such as Piracicaba, Araraquara, Pirajuí, Campinas, Santos. Relatively recently, in 1984, a Formula 1600 race was run in the streets of Sorocaba.

Street racing was banned in Brazil for over ten years, starting in 1972, but before that, the last street race held in the State was held in Campinas, a Formula Vee race won by Emerson Fittipaldi.

Piracicaba has active dirt racing facilities.

Street circuit racing seem to be picking up in Brazil, especially after the successful IRL event in São Paulo, and a Stockcar event in Salvador.

Maybe this is the start of something bigger.

Brazilian drivers in British F3

December 29th, 2009

The three Brazilian drivers who won the F1 championship have something else in common: they were also British F3 champions.

In fact, several Brazilians who had success in this championship went on to have succesful careers in F1, sports cars, CART, IRL, and several other categories.

It is sad, however, that Brazilians have not shined in this championship in the past three seasons. In fact the last two Brazilians to be really successful in British F3 were Bruno Senna and Lucas Di Grassi, both of which will be in F1 next year. While it is true that Adriano Buzaid won a race last year, this is a far cry from the glorious past...

This is not the end of the world. The most successful Brazilian in F1 as of late, Felipe Massa, never drove in British F3. In fact the last F1 champion to be a British F3 stalwart was Mika Hakkinen. Jenson Button had a discrete 1999 season, while Lewis Hamilton preferred the European championship to propel his career and Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher never drove in this championship. Not all is lost.

This is a list of all Brazilian wins in British F3, from 1969 a 2009.

2009
Adriano Buzaid, Dallara-VW
Spa

2006
Bruno Senna, Dallara-Mercedes
Oulton (2)
Donington
Mugello

2005
Danilo Dirani, Lola Mugen
Donington (2)

2004
Danilo Dirani, Dallara Mugen
Croft (2)

Nelson Angelo Piquet, Dallara Mugen
Knockill
Snetternon
Oulton (2)
Silverstone
Brands

Lucas Di Grassi, Dallara Renault
Thruxton (2)

2003
Nelson Angelo Piquet, Dallara Mugen
Rockingham
Donington
Brands (2)
Silvestone
Knockhill

2000
Antonio Pizzonia, Dallara Mugen
Thruxton
Croft
Brands
Donington
Snetterton

1999
Luciano Burti, Dallara Mugen
Brands
Oulton
Snetterton
Spa
Thruxton

1998
Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara Renault
Donington
Thruxton
Brands Hatch
Oulton
Silverstone
Donington

Mario Haberfeld, Dallara-Mugen
Silverstone
Croft
Pembrey
Thruxton
Spa
Silverstone

Luciano Burti, Dallara-Mugen
Brands
Pembrey

1997
Mario Haberfeld, Dallara Opel
Silverstone
Snetterton

Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara Renault
Spa

1995
Cristiano Da Matta, Dallara-Mugen
Oulton

Helio Castro Neves, Dallara Mugen
Donington

1994
Ricardo Rossett, Dallara Mugen
Snetterton

1992
Gil de Ferran, Ralt Mugen
Silverstone
Thruxton
Silverstone
Donington
Pembrey
Thruxton
Silverstone

Oswaldo Negri Jr, Reynard Mugen
Snetterton

1991
Rubens Barrichello, Ralt Mugen
Thruxton
Donington
Donington
Silverstone

Gil de Ferran, Reynard Mugen
Brands Hatch
Silverstone
Silverstone

1990
Christian Fittipaldi, Ralt Mugen
Donington

1986
Maurizio Sandro Sala, Ralt VW
Thruxton
Thruxton
Silverstone
Silverstone
Snetterton

1985
Mauricio Gugelmin, Ralt VW
Silverstone
Zandvoort
Silverstone

1983
Ayrton Senna, Ralt-VW
Silverstone
Thruxton
Silverstone
Donington
Thruxton
Silverstone
Thruxton
Brands Hatch
Silverstone
Silverstone
Silverstone
Thruxton

1982
Roberto Moreno, Ralt-Alfa Romeo
Silverstone
Cadwell Park
Silverstone

1981
Raul Boesel, Ralt Toyota
Silverstone
Oulton
Silverstone

Roberto Moreno, Ralt Alfa Romeo
Mallory

1979
Chico Serra, March Toyota
Silverstone
Snetterton
Mallory Pk
Silverstone

1978
Nelson Piquet, Ralt Toyota
(BP Championship)
Donington
Mallory
Thruxton
Brands Hatch
Cadwell
Paul Ricard
Silverstone
Snetterton
(Vandervell Championsip)
Silverstone
Oulton
Silverstone
Silverstone
Silverstone

Chico Serra, March Toyota
Oulton Park
Brands Hatch
Thruxton
Silverstone

1975
Alex Dias Ribeiro, March Toyota
Brands Hatch
Thruxton
Thruxton

Ingo Hoffmann, March Toyota
Oulton Park

1974
Alex Dias Ribeiro, GRD-Ford
Lombard
Oulton Park
Brands Hatch
Forward Trust
Snetterton

1970
Jose Carlos Pace, Lotus Ford
Lombank
Thruxton
Forward Trust
Croft
Crystal Palace

Wilson Fittipaldi Jr, Lotus Ford
Silverstone

1969
Emerson Fittipaldi, Lotus-Ford
Mallory Pk
Brands Hatch
Brands Hatch
Mallory
Brands Hatch

The "Brazilian" McLaren M23

August 6th, 2009

I was reading an excellent blog posting on the supposed McLaren M23 owned by Antonio Carlos Avallone.

In fact, the M23 was not an M23, but rather the only McLaren M25 ever built, designed by McLaren in 1973 specifically to house a Chevrolet engine, to be used in Formula 5000. It was tested by Howden Ganley, and purchased by Avallone at the beginning of 1974. The M25 was based and very similar to the M23, and it was also similar to the wedge shaped McLaren Formula Indy of the day.

The story is real, and there is a twist. There were legal proceedings in England against Avallone, filed by David Hepworth, not by BRM or Louis Stanley as reported elsewhere, concerning a BRM P154 that had burned in a fire in a ship on the way to the Avallone promoted Copa Brasil series 1972. For a long time a fancy story circulated, saying the ship was full of European cars that were going to take part in the Copa Brasil, seemingly an excuse for weak grid that was fielded at the end of the day.

As far as can be told, the only race car that was lost in this unnamed ship was the BRM P154 of Hepworth, the Englishman who had purchased the BRM P154 program from the works (two cars, parts, etc.) because the factory had built a new Can-Am-Interseries car for 1972, the P167. In fact Hepworth raced this car in the 1972 Interseries (named BRM P154/167 in some places, for it had some updated components from P167) earning a fifth place at Silverstone. Due to insurance issues, Hepworth had filed the lawsuit to recover his loss, for the cars had been improperly insured. Hepworth won in the courts, and the M25 ended in his hands. One of the chassis of the P154 exists to this today, in fact, is on sale. Two BRM P154s were produced.

The M25 was to be used very briefly in Formula 5000. The mysterious car was entered in a single 1975 race, under Rikki Pierce's name, by a team called Renoir that included the future world champion Keke Rosberg. The car did not show in Brands Hatch, with the official explanation that "the team had not been formed. " Such ghost entries were common in F5000 races, in fact, often more cars were entered than raced.

In 1976 the car was entered by David Hepworth, who won the car in his lawsuit against Avallone, and it was driven by 1974 champion Bob Evans in the Shellsport championship, earning a second place and running in only two races in F5000. The car was equipped with a 5 liter Chevrolet engine in those two occasions.

The M25 was eventually bought by Spaniard Emilio de Villota, who put the car in M23 specifications, equipping it with Cosworth engine and racing it in the Aurora Championship in 1977 and 1978 on several occasions. The M25 was not the car used by Villota in the World F1 Championship in 1977 and 1978. Please note that Emilio had a true M23 which he used to run in the World Championship, and which won some races in British Group 8.

The M25-1 survives today and races in classic car races.

The Other Hollywood team

July 21st, 2009

The Hollywood Team is known as the most successful Brazilian racing team of the 70's. In fact, Hollywood was really Team Z, owned by Anisio Campos and Luis Pereira Bueno, and it was not the first Brazilian racing team sponsored by the famous Souza Cruz cigarette brand. The honor rests with the Olivetti team, owned by Mario Olivetti.

Olivetti was known for almost exclusively racing Alfa Romeo products during his career, initially the FNM JK, and then the Alfa GTA, and won many races, including short, long ones and hillclimbs. However, his reign was threatened in Rio in 1969 with the arrival of more powerful purebreeds, such as de De Paoli brothers' Lola T70 and Ford GT40 of Sidney Cardoso, much faster than his GTA.

Olivetti tried to import an Alfa P33, like the Jolly team's, but the costs were prohibitive. Thus, he had to leave aside loyalty, and eventually opted for a cheaper Porsche 910, bought in Europe. The participation of a sponsor was required to bear the costs of a more expensive car, and the pilot had previous experience working with Souza Cruz, so the hook-up was easy.

In addition to Olivetti, Carlos Bravo and Antonio Carlos Quintella were appointed drivers, but Jose Moraes was the only other driver who ever raced the car besides Olivetti in Hollywood colors. Olivetti won with the car in Curitiba and a hillclimb in Petropolis, but racing in Rio was not prolific in 1970, after Interlagos reopened, so Olivetti had few opportunities to drive the German car. The greatest achievement of this car in the hands of Olivetti was the second place earned in the Brazilian 1000-Miles, 1970, shared with Jose Moraes, but by then the car had been sold to the Speed Motors team. Among members of the team was the young Andreas Mattheis at the time merely a time-keeper.

Brazilian drivers in F3, 1992

July 18th, 2009

1992 was a very active year for Brazilian drivers in international F-3. Gil de Ferran won the English championship netting 7 wins, 5 second places and 2 third places, driving the Honda powered Reynard from the Paul Stewart stables. His teammate was Brazilian Andre Ribeiro, who only scored points four times, with the best result a fourth place in the penultimate round in Truxthon. Oswaldo Negri drove for West Surrey's Reynard Honda, and his best result was a second place. He scored points on several occasions. The fourth Brazilian driver in British F-3 that year ended up being the only one to ever get the F-1, Pedro Paulo Diniz, who drove for Edenbridge in a Reynard Honda. The Sao Paulo born driver had 2 third places, earned earlier this year. He did not finish many races and one cannot say he impressed many people.

The most interesting fact of the season was the large number of Brazilians to participate in the Italian Championship. The prior year, Marcello Ventre had driven in Italian F-3, but the number tripled in 1992. Besides Ventre, Niko Palhares and Tom Stefani were also in Italian F-3, which by then had earned enough international stature, with good drivers. Among the participants that year there were Giancarlo Fisichella, Max Papis, Vincenzo Sospiri, Mimmo Schiatarella and Max Angelelli, all drivers of success in the future.

Palhares had the best performance among Brazilians, with two wins and two second places, driving a Dallara Honda. Ventre already drove a Dallara, with Alfa Romeo engine, and won the race in Mugello, also getting two second places. Stefani, from Goias state, did not have much luck, and his best position was seventh in Vallelunga.

Palhares and Ventre also participated in Monaco race, and retired.

In the Marlboro Masters, De Ferran came in 3rd, Negri was 6th, Palhares 14th and Diniz, 20th.

In Macau GP, De Ferran was the best placed, coming in 6th, while Barrichello ran in the category once again, coming in seventh, driving a Ralt Opel. Negri retired.

At the Fuji race, Palhares came in 4th, Maurizio Sandro Sala drove a Bowman Honda to 16th, Negri came in 17th. De Ferran retired.

In all, ten international F-3 wins. A good season.

The reemergence of Formula Vee, thanks to Ford

July 16th, 2009

Formula Vee collapsed in Brazil after 1969, and the few races including racing cars from the category, in 1970, were the doomed from the start Formula Brazil races. The cars quipped with 1.2 liters were simply not fast enough to strike the public's fancy, especially after the BUA Formula Ford Series in 1970. Racing in Rio de Janeiro, where the formula was popular, was also in crisis in 1970, which helps explain the outright collapse of the category.

However, the Vee cars were ideal for racing schools that sprung up in Brazil, precisely because they are not so fast and ideal to teach students the fundamentals of driving competitively.

Brazilian Formula Ford, established in 1971, was supposed to be faster than the Vees, however, with low costs, and therefore limited preparation in the Ford Corcel engine. With the announcement of Formula Super Vee for 1974, Ford felt, correctly, that FF would be considered relatively as weak as the Vees from the recent past. Thus, for 1974 the regulations prepared by Ford allowed more elaborate preparation of the engines and use of racing tires, to equate Super Vee performance. The new FFords had engines of as much as 135 HP, rather more than the sedate 80 HPs of yesteryear.

In the two years in which this regulation was valid, Formula Ford continued to perform poorly in relation to the Super Vees. To make things worse for Ford, VW decided to revive Formula Vee, now with 1.3 liter engines, so the revived category would occupy the niche of old style FF. That is, during 1974 and 1975 Formula Ford was neither one thing nor the other. It was simply an intermediate category, something not desirable for Ford, which saw it fit to re-adopt the school-category regulations for 1976.


Mario Ferraris Netto, Champion of the resurrected Formula Vee in 1975

The first championship of the new formula was the Sao Paulo Formula Vee series of 1975 featuring only four races, all at Interlagos. Participants liked the new less expensive category, and last race of the year, on December 7, featured 26 cars. The new cars were also faster than the cars of 68 and 69.

Among the cars raced in this series were several Aranae, Fitti and Rios, from the original Brazilian Formula Vee, and many Patis, the cars used by the driving school owned by Mario Pati, and Heve, Newcar, Cianciaruso and Ferraris. In the following editions of the championship several other constructors appeared, including cars manufactured in the Brazilian Northeast, where some regional Formula VW 1300 tournaments were held.

To give an idea of the difference in performance between the Vees and the Super-Vees at the end of the 1975, the Super Vees managed to lap Interlagos in about 3 minutes, while the faster Vees did 3m40s, a great difference.

The champion was Mario Ferraris Netto, who also won the last race of the year, before a large public at Interlagos. Ferraris would be the only Brazilian driver to win an international race in 1976 in British Formula Ford. Another driver who took part in this championship who shone for a short time was Fernando Jorge, which qualified third in his Super Vee debut in 1976, won a race that same year and participated in European F-3 in 1977 and 1978.

The following year the formula was renamed Formula VW 1300, and was quite successful, with full grids and great racing, until it was canceled by VW in 1980. The cars were then assimilated by a new category, Formula FIAT.

Brazilians in F3, 1989

July 14th, 2009

After the weak Brazilian performance of 1989, much was expected of Christian Fittipaldi, who won the South American Championship in the category in the previous year. The son of Wilson Fittipaldi Jr. drove a West Surrey Racing Ralt Honda, which was insufficient to bring him the British title. The year belonged to two Finns, the Mikas, Salo and Hakkinen, and the best that Christian could do was win in Donington, and get a 2nd in Silverstone and a 3rd place at Snetterton. Niko Palhares also raced in a some events of the English Championship with a VW engined Reynard and his best placing was 10th, at Brands Hatch. Jose Cordova raced twice, and his best placing was 10 °.

The big news of the year was the participation of a Brazilian in the German championship, which was becoming increasingly internationalized. Eduar Merhy Neto chose the German series, racing in several events with a Reynard Opel. He was 4th at the Nurburgring and 5th in Zeltweg, Austria.

In the Fuji race, Maurizio Sandro Sala, a driver of prestige in Japan, drove a Ralt Honda and abandoned.

1 win

Brazilian drivers in F3, 2002

July 14th, 2009

The year 2002 was not very promising for Brazilians in International Formula 3. In the English Championship, Ernani Judice began the year well, with a Dallara-Mugen Honda, getting a third and fourth places in the first and second stages held in Brands Hatch. Henceforth things did not go right, and Judice did not end the season. Fabio Carbone ran a Dallara-Renault in the English Championship and his best result, after a slow start, was a second place at Silverstone in June. It was enough to finish the regular season in 6th place. By comparison, Heikki Kovalainen ran this season, and came in third. João Paulo de Oliveira disputed the German Formula 3 Championship with Opel Dallara for the first time. His best results were second places in two races of Oberlungwitz in June. All in all, he was 12th in the championship. The best Brazilian performance was in a non-championship race, the Marlboro Masters held in Zandvoort in August. Fabio Carbone won the race, contested by drivers from all European championships, including the exciting Kovalainen and Luizzi. Carbone was the best of all, finishing the race in 39m47, 591s.

1 Win

Brazilians in Paraguay

July 13th, 2009

Every once in a while I get something super delicious in my email inbox. I got an email sent by a reader, a story I had heard but had no documentaries details. Now I have.

It concerned the opening of the Aratiri race track in Asuncion, Paraguay, on 9 May 1971. The Brazilian drivers in this case were not the better known paulistas Luiz Pereira Bueno and Lian Duarte, who had some successful excursions to Argentina in 1971, but several pilots from the neighboring state of Paraná, invited to the big event.

In all six races were held that day - five for touring cars, and one for sports prototypes.

The race for cars with smaller engine capacity did not have any Brazilians, but an Argentine won that Class A, Roberto Schwart, driving a Renault. Other participating cars were Honda and Fiat.

In category B, there was a larger number of competitors, but only four finished the race, won by local Juanbi Gill, driving a Honda, followed by Schwart, again with his Renault. Also involved were a Toyota, a FIAT and various VW sedans.

Category C was contested by two Brazilians, Luis Ruiss driving a Ford Corcel and Edi Bianchini, with a VW. None of the Brazilian finished the race, won by Denes Tomboly, who drove an Alfa Romeo, followed by two other Alfas.

Category D had two heats, with different drivers. Two Brazilians ran in the first D series, Pedro Muffato, who finished the race in second, driving a VW, and Paulo Nascimento, sixth with a Corcel. The winner was Paraguayan Alfredo Jaegli with a BMW.

Altair Barranco (second) and Luiz Floriz, with Opalas, drove in the second heat, but they were not fast enough to deter the Uruguayan Luis Etchegoyen, in an Alfa GTA. That was the most international of all races, which was also contested by the Argentine Schwart in a Torino and Paraguayan drivers.

The Brazilians ran away with the category Sport Prototypes - in fact, only Brazilians ran at all. The winner was Luiz Moura Brito, driving a Manta-VW, which also broke the lap record, 1m00s3. In second was Zilmar Beux, who drove a Ford prototype number 8. The prototype was a cut out Simca, with a Cadillac differential and Ford F600 engine (V8), and a distributor developed by the driver. Zilma was the creator of the Cascavel race track, which asphalt track was opened two years later. Pedro Muffato again drove the VW number 21, and was followed by Jose Baldo, who drove the twin-engined prototype. Baldo has lead in the early stages, but was eventually overtaken by Moura Brito. In fifth a Ford Corcel prototype, which in the past was equipped with a DKW engine, driven by Bruno Castilho and sixth, Paulo Nascimento with the same Corcel he drove in category D. A source on the Internet (the only one that mentions this event) puts Castilho in third, but two more official Paraguayan sources show Bruno Castilho in fifth among prototypes.

This was, by my calculations, the first victory for a Brazilian prototype abroad.

Below some pictures of the event, including the podium for the Sports Prototype category with Moura Brito, Beux and Muffato.
The Brazilian prototype party

Moura Brito, the big winner of the day and track record holder. The car is currently on exhibit at a park in Curitiba

The Ford prototype of Zilmar Beux

The 2- engined prototype which led the race early

Podium

Thanks to Miguel Beux

Formula Four in Brazil

July 11th, 2009

In mid-1971, it was hard for a Brazilian hard to admit, but there was no comparison between the Brazilian and Argentinean motor racing scenes. While the neighboring country had excellent championships for locally built prototypes, the Turismo Carretera cars and touring cars, it also had its own Formula 1 (with local drivers), Formula 2 and Formula 4, in addition to numerous race tracks in several areas of the country, racing in Brazil was very basic and disorganized. Formula Ford would start a few months later, and the championships for Brazilian touring and sports cars were only introduced that year and had a few races. The only tracks in operation were Interlagos, Fortaleza and recently opened Tarumã. The race track in Curitiba was in renovation, and Rio, closed. Street racing was dying.

Indeed, much of the Brazilian racing scene's momentum in 1971 was in the Brazilian south. All races of the Brazilian Touring carchampionship and most Formula Ford races were held in Tarumã. The gauchos took up racing with great enthusiasm, holding several events, including F2 and F3 tournament races.

Every once in a while there were proposals for cooperation between Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Paraná drivers raced in Paraguay, but one could not really say there was an exchange between the South American countries. The El Pinar race track in Uruguay was the scene of many races with top Brazilian drivers in the 60s, mainly gauchos, but this level of cooperation was part of history by 1971.

However, this was one of those rare events that could have started a new phase for South American racing in 1971: Argentine and Brazilian organizers decided to hold a show Formula 4 race in Tarumã, aiming a possible adoption of the category in both countries.

F4 was the most basic form of motor racing in Argentina, single seaters equipped with a Renault engine of 850 cc (the same engine used in the Gordini once made in Brazil). A typical school class, if adopted it could fill the gap left by Formula Vee, serving as a springboard for the slightly more powerful Formula Fords. The cars were cheap to maintain, so popular among competitors.

The Argentines brought 25 cars to Brazil, six of them designated for local drivers. Unfortunately only Claudio Mueller agreed to pay the 2300 cruzeiros charged to rent a car, so the race was held with 19 Argentine drivers, Mueller and Fernando Sbroglio in a Formula Ford car.

Carlos Andreetta won two heats, and overall, followed by Guillermo Stegmann and Claudio Abolalla. Sbroglio only managed a fifth place in the third heat, and Mueller did not do well.

The attempt failed. F4 was never been mentioned again in Brazil, in fact, the race was hardly been covered by the national media.

That same day the races were held for the local Touring car championship (two heats, a third canceled due to heavy rain) and a race for motorbikes. In Touring cars a rare victory for an Aero Willys in the first heat of Class B, the car driven by Sady Abe. This may have been more significant the fact that day!

Sady Abe - who said the Aero Willys could not win races?

The Brazilian Lola T70's

July 10th, 2009

The two Lolas T70 that raced in Brazil had somewhat disastrous careers, and most of the time performed below the level expected of such powerful cars. When the first of them came to the country in 1969, the Lola T70 was still a car that won many important races - in fact, it won the 24 Hours of Daytona that same year.

The first Brazilian T70 was the Lola chassis SL73/133, which had belonged to English driver Robs Lamplough and was sold to Rio driver Marcelo de Paoli. Without doubt, Paoli did not have sufficient experience to drive such a powerful car, because his prior experience was limited to a little 50 to 60 HP Renault 1093. The driver also did not have reasonable technical infrastructure to keep such a sophisticated car, so, in his hands the car was relatively unsuccessful. It did win two Rio championship races, against much weaker competition, but in races with strong competitors such as the GP of Fortaleza and 1,000 km of Guanabara, the car flopped. Although it was expected in all major races from the beginning of 1970, the car was never entered, and in fact just sold for a more skillful driver, Norman Casari.

That year Casari obtained sponsorship from Brahma, and formed a strong team, which besides the Lola, painted in striking orange, fielded two Casari built prototypes, the A1 and A2. Casari was a good driver, and also experienced, but in his hands the Lola T70 also did not prosper. In the Brazilian 1000-Mile race in 1970 the car had problems right at the start and finished tenth, behind his own Casari A1. In the Brazil Cup, the car raced only once and did not finish the race.

In 1971 things did not improve much. It led and finished third place in the Race of Champions at Interlagos, but this was the car's best result. Even in its only trip abroad the Lola had troubles. The car was dispatched to Angola, to race in the 6 Hours of New Lisbon, and broke in practice, losing an easy win. Casari and Jan Balder returned to Brazil despondent.


The T70 with Wilson Fittipaldi in 1970

The other Brazilian T70 was one of several that belonged to Joakin Bonnier, who bought several T70s to race in Europe and in the USA. The car was purchased by Antonio Carlos Avallone, and contested the Brazilian Cup (Copa Brasil) of 1970, driven by Wilson Fittipaldi, winning the second race of the tournament. It never won after that. Wilsinho was to drive the car in Tarumã in early 1971, but family problems prevented his participation. Avallone, who also promoted the race, decided not to run as a precautionary measure, due to mechanical problems.

Avallone went well with the car in 1971, including a race in Buenos Aires, Argentina against several powerful cars, finishing in fourth. In Brazil, it finished sixth in the GP of Tarumã, fourth in the Union and Discipline race, second in a F-3 tournament support race in Interlagos, fourth in the 500 km Interlagos, did not finish the 12 Hours of Interlagos (partnered by Toto Porto), and was fourth in the Argentina Race, last year's race at Interlagos.

The car also finished second in the Race of Champions, a race won by Tite Catapani in a 1.8 liter Lola. When asked by Auto Esporte magazine, after the first heat why he did not pass Tite, Avallone said "I'm not willing to fight for victory, because an award of 4,000 cruzeiros is not worth risking my car and my life. I actually made a mistake at the 'S' and Tite drove away. Then I thought it was not worth trying racing him, because I would need to drive at the limit. I am 37 and no longer have a young man's enthusiasm in me." So in the words of Avallone, he let Tite win. It should be noted, however, that Avallone qualified the car 3m13.7s while Casari only did a 3m20.2s with the other Lola T70.

In the same race the car almost ended in the hands of Marivaldo Fernandes, who was dressed in overalls and ready to race at Interlagos. Marivaldo had a preliminary agreement to drive the car in the race. Shortly before the start, Avallone asked him for a 200,000 cruzeiros deposit check, as guarantee for the rant-a-drive. By comparison, the prototype built by Avallone, the Avallone-Chrysler, was sold for 80,000 cruzeiros, and the most expensive Brazilian car at the time cost 51,000 cruzeiros (automatic transmission Ford Landau). Marivaldo, who had given upon on an expensive F3 season, just dropped the matter, including his plans to acquire the car permanently. The following year the car was sold to Marinho Antunes.

Lastly an astonishing curiosity. Both cars had the same end. Both "Brazilian" Lola T70 ended burnt to the ground in practice for the 500 km Interlagos, the Casari car in the 1971 event and ex-Avallone in 1972!

Brazilians in Formula 3, 1971

July 10th, 2009

Only two Brazilians ventured into European Formula 3 in 1971, despite the category's visit to the Brazilian shores in the beginning of the year: Rio's Ronald Rossi and José Maria Ferreira Giu, both with experience in Formula Ford in the previous year. The two friends bought a pair of Brabham Fords, but the season was far from successful. They entered many races, but appeared in few, for a number of problems.

Rossi did not start at Brands Hatch, and although he qualified second for the start of his heat, in his debut in Mallory Park, his best results were a pair of 4th places at Brands Hatch and Mallory later on the year. Giu achieved the same feat (4th place) in his last race at Oulton Park and netted two 5th places. At that time there were no professional teams of F-3, as today, so drivers had to do basically everything.

The two drivers also participated in the first Brazilian F-2 temporada, the end of the year, without much distinction. As a consolation, the duo took part in a F-3 race in the obscure Danish town of Silkeborg, and did a creditable 1-2. The poorly supported race was a non-championship event, of course.

1 victory

The Simca (almost) Formula Junior car

July 10th, 2009

When the Simca team was formed, it had a big problem. Simca cars were heavy, without enough power, and generally lost races to the only other car in its category, the FNM JK. As the team could not simply rely on the Simca Chambord or its variants, it had to compete with any other car to avert shame.

During a short time the team used a Cyro Caires owned and driven Maserati engine equipped with a Simca engine to compete in the category B of Mecanica Continental. The car raced little, but won its "category" on occasion.

When Formula Junior was established in 1962, the team bought one of the single seaters from Chico Landi, equipping it with Simca engine and mechanical components. Obviously, with more than 2 liters the car was not a true Formula Junior. It was adopted as part of Mecanica Continental and was raced a few times by Jayme Silva. It ran twice in the 500 km Interlagos and other Mecanica Continental races, without ever threatening the powerful former F-1 cars equipped with Chevrolet engines. It was put aside from 1964 one, for Simca no longer needed the monoposto - the Simca Abarths, which would be the winningest car in Brazilian racing from the end of 1964 to 1965, had arrived.

A curious career

July 8th, 2009

Some drivers' careers seem to follow a certain logic, while others seem to defy any kind of reason. Let us say that the career of Marcros Troncon falls in the latter category, for it is certainly curious.

Troncon had driven karts since the 60s and was in fact Brazilian kart champion. In 1974, he decided to move on to cars, at 25 years of age. He debuted in the sport at the opening of the Goiânia race track, in a race for Division 4 sports cars, and won the lower displacement class, class A, in a Royale. He won but did get the championship points, since the chassis was disqualified for being foreign, but Troncon is pleased to say that he won the last really competitive D4 race in Brazil.

Troncon then settled into the Formula Super Vee, but did not participate in the first two races of the championship. He gave his Polar a debut in the third race of six, in Interlagos, but although he won only one of three heats that day, he won overall. At the time, Lameirão led the championship with ten points of advantage over the nine Troncon had scored.

Troncon won two points from a fifth place in Cascavel, and in the final race, in Interlagos, he was the driver with the worst chance to take the cup. The impossible happened. Ingo Hoffmann, Chico Lameirão, Nelson Piquet, Ricardo Mansur, all did badly, and Troncon won the race overall, without winning a single heat that day! He won the first Super Vee championship, and three of his first five car races!

All expected Troncon to excel in 1975, but the driver surprised again. Instead of winning races, Troncon had a single second place in the championship final race, and finished down the table. That same year he debuted in Formula Ford, without impressing as well.

In 1976, with a better set up in Formula VW 1600 (the new name for Super Vee), with the Philips Team, Troncon improved somewhat, but the victories did not come.

Troncon was during that time one of the most active drivers in Brazil, running in Division 1, Division 3, Formula Ford, Formula VW 1600, FIAT, Stockcar. But no titles.

Troncon came back to winning ways in 1977, in Formula VW 1600, winning three races, but lost the title to Alfredo Guarana. As a consolation, Troncon won the Drivers Ranking sponsored by Auto Esporte magazine, for he scored points in other categories, including Formula Ford.

From 1978 onwards, Troncon remained prolific, but never again won the Formula VW 1600. At the beginning of 1979 he called for major changes in the regulations (suggesting the use of VW Passat engines), claiming that two or three engine tuners (not his tuner, by the way) completely dominated the category.

However, he shone again in Formula 2 Brazil, after a long hiatus away from the victories, winning the championship in 1983. He also used an Chevrolet Monza engine in his Heve in the same category in 1984.

Willingness to commit

May 25th, 2009

The current Formula 1 fighting is a governance issue, in essence, the fact that Max calls the shots, the teams spend the money and Bernie makes tons of cash. The teams want to do it all, so there will obviously be resistance from Bernie and Max.

Only Ferrari, Williams and McLaren have been in the game long enough before the emergence of Bernie kingdom. As for McLaren, it changed hands in 1980, by which time Bernie had a firm grasp on F-1. Thus, most cannot even suggest that Bernie has deceived anybody - he has not. Formula 1 was such poor business way back, that Ferrari paid Chris Amon only US$25,000 to do F1 back in 1969.

Bernie takes the position that drivers come and go, in fact, he expressed no worries that people would stop following F1, when Senna died. Drivers to him are replaceable. Maybe the same can be said of Bernie - if he did not take F1 in the direction it has taken, somebody else would have done it, and done even better. Who knows. If, if, if. If does not solve anything right now.

The reality is that Mr Ecclestone is almost 80 years old, and unlikely to retain the same stamina and will to negotiate forever. Sooner or later debilitating sickness comes, and he will have to let go. One of the most important questions is, who will take over? This is an unspoken key issue right now.

As for the teams, they state they have "willingness to commit" to Formula 1 on the long term. As any law student will tell you, this means nothing. Willingness is not the stuff binding agreements are made of. The reality is car manufacturers want a stronghold on Formula 1, yet, many of them don't know if they are going to be in the sport much longer. The "willingness" totally evaporates with decisions of Boards of Directors, whose function is maximizing shareholder value, rather than ensure Formula 1 continues alive and well. Does anybody think the Toyota and BMW boards would approve the continuation of their respective F1 programs, if they continue performing as they did in Monaco? I don't think so.

There lies a major problem - manufacturers show "willingness to commit", while the FIA is committed to the future of F1. Manufacturers will continue without F1, the same cannot be said of the FIA. Formula 1 teams represent a minuscule portion of car manufacturer revenues, however a disproportionate share of spending. Sure, it improves their image, but the people who will fight for the continuation of F1 are the independents, whose core business is car racing.

On the short-term, I reckon a compromise will be found at least for 2010, but the FIA will continue to push for a way to lure small teams.

Honestly, the FIA and Bernie are reaping what they have sown. In the 90's they did everything in their power to attempt to transform F1 into a manufacturers' game only, basically destroying sports car racing in the process, and now they are stuck. The monster they created is trying to eat its creators.

What is really going on with Ferrari?

May 21st, 2009

Suddenly Ferrari is all ticked off with racing with more humble outfits. At the same time, it hints it might take up sports car racing, where, aside for Audi, Peugeot and Aston Martin, the competitors are all of the Formtech, RML e Epsilon Euskadi league rather than Renault, Toyota and BMW.

The competition's tradition never seemed to bother Ferrari. When an energy drink manufacturer decided to buy not one, but two F-1 teams, Ferrari did not raise any objection. When the Indian beer magnate bought a F-1 team, from an almost failed Dutch carmaker, who in turn bought the team from a Canadian-Russian who seemed totally out of place in F-1, nothing was said of the lack of pedigree of these owners. In fact Ferrari even provided engines to these competitors.

Sacrilege of sacrileges, apparel maker Benneton owned a F-1 team for many years, which beat Ferrari quite often in the 90's. Nothing was said about that, or when Toleman, an industrial concern joined F-1 in the early 80's.

In the late 80's, when a large number of weak F-1 teams began fielding F-1 cars, such as Euro-Brun, Rial, Onyx, AGS, Andrea Moda, Life and Coloni, Ferrari stayed mute.

Suddenly it is adamant it cannot race against the likes of USF1 and Lola.

There are several issues involved. Ferrari is obviously gone in one of its slumps which in my view have to do with the dismantling of its highly competent management team (Todt, Byrne, Brawn, all gone). The team is a shambles, and it seems that every race asinine mistakes are made. This type of press now, the "we are leaving F1" show, is actually good, for it deviates from the heart of the problem which is, Ferrari is doing badly. Very badly. Brawn averages 14 points per race, SEFAC has scored a total of six.

As for the "sports car" thing, it would not be a novelty. Back in the early 90's, when a certain Alain Prost proclaimed Ferrari's F1 offering to be a truck, suddenly Ferrari fell in love with sports car racing again, after turning its back on it in 1973, and created the Ferrari 333 that saved the day for the Cavallino until MS came on board.

If Ferrari finds it beneath it to race against Formtech, RML e Epsilon Euskadi in F1, which it termed a jolly GP3, I would say it should not go into sports car racing and mix it with Epsilon Euskadi, Pescarolo and etc. In GT racing there would be even less depth and driving talent.

What the Scuderia should really do is get its act together. The real fear is that suddenly small, well oiled and well run teams, with talented people, can overpower the might of Ferrari and McLaren, and the Toyota's bucketful of yens.

Which is exactly what is happening in 2009.

Silly Points Decision

March 17th, 2009

It could be worse. Had the medal system been adopted in Formula 1, I would be extremely upset right now, so maybe this was a political measure, ad extremis. A MOR decision.

I for one, like the Formula 1 tradition, and do not like it to be meddled with. I would rather have Brabham, Lotus and BRM in Formula 1 now than the likes of Force India and Red Bull.

Therefore, although the points scheme has changed a few times since 1950, the reality is that the world championship has been decided on the basis of deep, multiple level strategy. Until now wins have been necessary, but so are points. Now, it becomes a simplistic winner of more races takes the title.

Sure, my countryman Felipe Massa would have won last year's title, if the winner of more races walked away with the title. But my other countryman Nelson Piquet would have lost two of his three titles, and so would Niki Lauda. Other folks like Keke Rosberg, Denis Hulme, Mike Hawthorn would have lost their respective single titles as well.

When the latest points scheme was adopted, the idea was to increase competition for the title. In a couple of occasions it worked beautifully, such as in 2003 and the down to wire 2007 season. There is a danger of a win-bust attitude being adopted by certain drivers, which might actually result in nasty accidents. After all, the winner of five races and 50 points night walk away with the title if his nearer competitor has 4 wins, but 100 points. This does not seem a well balanced situation at all.

I do not believe the FIA will reverse itself this year, of course. Maybe if this new method for deciding the championship turns out to be a fiasco, the decision might be reversed next year.

Names in F1

March 15th, 2009

This year there will be three Sebs in F1, Buemi, Bourdais and Vettel. The unusual thing in this is that the name Sebastian has been rather rare in F1 and racing in general until recently. In fact, there is a cyclical nature in surnames in F-1, just like in society in general. There was a time it seemed that every French driver was Jean-Pierre, then Erics and Philippes sprung about all over the place.

John, in all its linguistic varieties has been by far the most prevalent name in F-1. Its popularity is decreasing, and the last representative of johnhood is Giancarlo Fisichella.

However, for a time it seemed you needed to be a John to win an F-1 title. No less than 3 of the 50's champions were named John. In fact, Johns ruled F-1 from 1954 to 1960 ! (Juan Fangio from 54 to 57, John Michael Hawthorn 1958, and John (Jack) Brabham, 1959 to 1960).

Here is a list of surnames of drivers that have won at least one F-1 race. the Indy 500 has been omitted from this list.

JOHN - (Jackie) Stewart, Surtees, Watson, (Michael) Hawthorn, (Jack) Brabham, Herbert
JEAN - Alesi
JEAN-PIERRE - Beltoise, Jabouille
GIANCARLO - Baghetti, Fisichella
GIANCLAUDIO - Reggazoni
JUAN-MANUEL - Fangio
JUAN-PABLO - Montoya

PETER - Gethin, Collins, Revson
PEDRO - Rodriguez
PIERO - Taruffi

JOSEPH - Siffert
JOSÉ - (Carlos) Pace, Froilan Gonzalez
GIUSEPPE - Farina

MICHAEL - Schumacher
MIKA - Hakkinen
MICHELE - Alboreto

JACQUES - Laffite, Ickx, Villeneuve

RICCARDO - Patrese
RICHARD - Ginther

ALAIN - Prost
ALAN - Jones

LUIGI - Fagioli, Musso

CARLOS - Reutemann
CHARLES - (A.S.) Brooks
KARL - (Jochen) Rindt

JAMES - Clark, Hunt

PATRICK - Depailler, Tambay

FELIPE - Massa
PHILIP - Hill

ALBERTO - Ascari
ALBERT - (Francois) Cevert

STIRLING - Moss

JOAKIN - Bonnier

JOCHEN - Mass

FERNANDO - Alonso

RUBENS - Barrichelo

AYRTON - Senna

GERHARD - Berger

INNES - Ireland

RALF - Schumacher

EDWARD - Irvine

DANIEL - Gurney

MARIO - Andretti

DENIS - Hulme

EMERSON - Fittipaldi

ANDREAS - (Niki) Lauda

OLIVIER - Panis

GUNNAR - Nilson

KEIJO - Rosberg

KIMI - Raikkonen

JARNO - Trulli

JENSON - Button

BRUCE - McLaren

THIERRY - Boutsen

ALESSANDRO - Nannini

NELSON - Piquet

GILLES - Villeneuve

JODY - Scheckter

NIGEL - Mansell

LORENZO - Bandini

DAVID - Coulthard

WOLFGANG - Von Trips

DAMON - Hill

NORMAN - (Graham) Hill

LODOVICO - Scarfiotti

VITTORIO - Brambilla

HEINZ - (Harald) Frentzen

MAURICE - Trintignant

RENE - Arnoux

DIDIER - Pironi

ELIO - De Angelis

LEWIS - Hamilton

BENGT - (Ronnie) Peterson

ROBERT- Kubica

HEIKKI - Kovalainen

SEBASTIAN - Vettel

Winning debutant

March 14th, 2009

The biggest question, as the beginning of the Formula 1 Season approaches is whether Brawn will pull off a win from its debut. It is now the best of the Mercedes engined cars, and it has shown the pace to beat Ferrari. Therefore, a dream Brawn win is not at all impossible.

It would not be the first time, though.

Back in 1977, a new contender graced the Formula 1 field, the Wolf-Ford, driven by no other than highly touted Jody Scheckter, who by that stage of his career had finished the championship in third place twice, plus won four races for Tyrrell.

One could argue that Wolf was not really a debutant, as there was a car widely referred as Wolf-Williams the year before. To start with, the Wolf Williams was neither a Wolf, nor a Williams, it was in fact a Hesketh. The 1976 Williams was as much a Wolf, as the 1972 Lotus was a JPS. Wolf sponsored the team. Walter had bought a share of Williams' team, who in turn decided to field the Hesketh 308C. It was not, by any stretch, a successful endeavor. Jacky Ickx did finish third in one of the cars in the Race of Champions, but all the car did was damage quite a few drivers' reputations, including Ickx, Arturo Merzario and Chris Amon.

Wolf then bought the entire team, and wanted to keep Williams as its manager. Frank did not like the idea, and by 1977 had left the team that appeared in Argentina for the first time. Frank would field a March in 1977, starting in the European races.

Scheckter qualified in eleventh place, but the 1977 Argentina race reminded many of the 1955 sun drenched, balmy affair. Back then drivers could relieve each other, which was not the case in 1977. Mechanical and physical failures abounded in Buenos Aires, and, with a few laps to go Jody, who was fast and consistent enough, and apparently heatproof, found himself with only Carlos Pace in front of him. The Brabham-Alfa cockpit was like a furnace, and the Brazilian began losing pace (sorry for the wordplay) and was passed by the South African.

Wolf would still see victory a couple of other times during 1977 and a runner-up position in the championship. However, by 1978 the fire was gone, Scheckter's performance was lukewarm, and the arrival of James Hunt in 1979 did not restore the team's competitiveness. The Englishman quit midseason, and his place was taken by Keke Rosberg. Wolf's adventure ended that season, and the assets were bought by the Fittipaldi team.

Brawn GP surprises

March 14th, 2009

The surprise of the week has been the staggering pace of the Brawn-Mercedes challenger. The team has been the talk of the paddock, blogs and the press worldwide, for a good reason. The full demise of Honda F1 was given as a sure thing as little as two weeks ago, when Ross Brawn declared the management "buyout".

Another surprise was the hiring of Rubens Barrichello, instead of Bruno Senna, nephew of GP legend Ayrton Senna.

It seems clear that Honda's major handicap was indeed the engine, which most pundits consider to be 40 to 50 HP short in relation to Mercedes. From there came most of the speed, in addition to smart new chassis design the team had been working on since late 2007.

The terms of the management buyout were not disclosed, but it seems quite clear to me that little or no money changed hands. To close the team, the Honda factory would surely need to pay quite a few million dollars to Brawn and other top personnel, in contractual rescission penalties. So, the likely scenario is that a gentlemen's agreement was reached, and rather than paying the millions in fines, ownership of the Honda team is now in Brawn and company's hands. With no money involved, you see.

Mercedes-Benz has been highly cooperative during the deal, supposedly having been compensated by FOM. It seems likely that Honda might have let the new team keep some or all of the Honda TV rights for 2008, to fund operations in the short-term.

So, while Brawn is a quick car, and might actually pull a debut win like Wolf in 1977, it does not have a major sponsor yet. The stage of any sponsorship talks is proprietary information, but the face evidence is, there is none. Brawn F1 is on its own, with no factory or magnate to back it.

Therefore, it seems to me that in spite of the great speed and spirit demonstrated by the new team, it will need to find a major sponsor in a haste. Any money submitted provided by FOM and TV rights will surely vanish rather fast, and to my knowledge, none of the new owners is deep pocketed. Of course, the exceptional speed demonstrated is a great selling point.

The Brawn-F1 saga thus continues.

Dieter Quester

January 5th, 2009

Talking about long lasting drivers, Quester still races his beloved BMWs to this day, and most recently won the Silverstone 24 Hours. Had BMW decided to go for it in F-1 during the 60's Dieter would obviously be one of their drivers. Quester is mostly known for his touring car exploits, but he was quite effective driving BMW powered Formula 2 cars. In fact, he was third in the 1971 championship that featured, among others Ronnie Peterson, Carlos Reutemann and Francois Cevert, and did well in the 1970 BMW works team that featured Jacky Ickx and Jo Siffert, among others. However, he was a little bit old when he made his debut driving a Surtees in the 1974 Austrian Grand Prix.

He did well to finish 9th, but not enough to impress other team managers. He was never even considered for further Formula 1 drives, and he spent the rest of his career driving sports and touring cars, such as BMW, Mazda, Ford, Porsche, Osella, Sauber but mostly BMWs. He only raced single seaters in local Austrian events after his one and only Grand Prix.

5/30/1939, Vienna, Austria

Starts:1

Points: 0

Wins:0

Poles:0

Fastest Laps:0

Austrian Quester is mostly known as one of the top Touring car drivers ever, having won the European Touring Car championship four times, in three different decades. However, for some time he had single seater aspirations as well, mostly due to his strong association with the BMW marque. This company ran a full factory program in 1969 and 1970, with its own chassis, and then provided a BMW engined March chassis for Quester in 1971. In 1969 Quester was entered in the German GP’s F2 section, but his entry was scratched following Gehard Mitter’s death in qualifying. By 1971 Quester had become one of the top F-2 drivers, finishing the championship in third place, but no F-1 offers were forthcoming. Eventually, Quester had a single GP start, in the Austrian GP of 1974, driving one of team Surtees’ cars. He qualified 23rd out of 31 entries, and finished 9th. He had no further opportunities, but continues racing in top level sports cars these days, well into his 60’s!!

OTHER CATEGORIES

Quester continues to race to this day, recently winning a 24-Hour race in England.

He has raced mostly BMWs during his long career, but has also raced the following:

F-2: March/BMW, Lola/BMW, BMW, Chevron and Surtees

Touring cars: Ford (DTM)

Sports cars: Abarth, Mazda, BMW M-1, BMW 320 (Group 5), Porsche 911, Porsche 996, Lola T70, Osella, Sauber-Ford, Sauber-Mercedes, Chrysler Viper, Ferrari, Lucchini-Alfa Romeo

VITTORIO BRAMBILLA

December 13th, 2008

Born 11/11/1937, Monza

Deceased May 26, 2001

Starts:74

Points: 15.5

Wins:1

Poles:1

Fastest Laps:1

The over enthusiastic Brambilla was definitely a fast driver on his day, however unpolished. By the time he made it to Formula 1 he was a veteran, having began in motor sports all the way back in 1957. For a while he acted as mechanic for older brother Ernesto, who flirted with Ferrari in the late 60’s, to no avail. Vittorio ended up racing again, in spite of advancing age, and became known as the Monza Gorilla in Formula 3 circles. He soon jumped to Formula 2, eventually becoming one of the few drivers in the 1973 season to challenge dominating Jean Pierre Jarier. Driving a Beta sponsored March BMW, Brambilla won two rounds of the championship, and in some tables appears as runner up in the championship (regulations were very confusing that year, with two levels of races, other tables show Mass as runner up). This convinced his sponsors that Brambilla had to be in Formula 1 in 1974, and he was signed up by March as of South Africa. In the early part of the year, Hans Stuck appeared to be one of the season’s finds, but his star soon flickered, and by mid season Brambilla and Stuck were on equal footing. The 741 was not much of a good machine, but after qualifying 13th, Brambilla took 6th place in Austria. Then came the 1975 season. The 741 was used in the first two races of the season, run uncompetitively. However, as soon as the 751 took to the race tracks, a new March team and Brambilla emerged. He qualified 7th in South Africa, retiring with mechanical problems, and went a couple of places better in Spain, qualifying and finishing 5th in the season’s first “half race”. Then he surprised all by qualifying 5th in Monaco, a “driver’s track”, then further astounded his critics qualifying 3rd in Zolder and running a few laps in the lead. Unfortunately, he qualified well, but barely finished. Then in Sweden, Brambilla scored pole position, and run away with the race but a drive shaft broke finishing off his chances. He was suddenly a man to be reckoned with, and in fact, he continued to race competitively all year, ending up the winner of the rain shortened Austrian Grand Prix. Unfortunately most people remember than in the cool down lap an overly excited Brambilla crashed his car and bent his wide nose in front of surprised and wet fans. He had made his mark, for better or for worse. For 1976, Brambilla would remain in the March team, which initially ran Brambilla and Stuck. Then, for Long Beach, Ronnie Peterson was signed, and suddenly Brambilla was no longer the fastest man around. He continued to qualify in the top ten with great frequency, in fact, he only failed to do so in four races that year. Matters became worse when March decided to field a fourth car for Merzario, spreading resources thin. A number of retirements ensued, including several collisions, one of them involving team mate Peterson in Britain, and all Brambilla could do was another 6th place in Zandvoort. For 1977 he left March, and went to Surtees, never a very good career move. However, the TS19 was not a bad car the year before, and Brambilla managed to qualify close to the top 10 most of the year. He appeared less feisty than in the year before, and scored points three times, including 4th in Belgium. Surtees retained Brambilla and his Beta sponsorship for 1978, but by then the TS19 was no longer competitive. Vittorio did not qualify for the street races, and managed to score points for the last time in Austria. Then he was involved in the Monza accident that resulted in Ronnie Peterson’s death, keeping him out of the race tracks in early 1979. All the same, at that point Brambilla was yesterday’s news, and unlikely to be signed up by any team on a regular basis. He was involved in the early phase of Alfa Romeo’s return to Formula 1, racing in the last three races of 1979 with a season best o 12th in Monza. He was used by Alfa Romeo a couple more times in 1980, retiring in both instances, bringing the curtain down on his G.P. career. He continued racing sports cars competitively that same year, but age had caught up with him, and he quit motorsports in 1981. He died in May 26, 2001, a relatively young 65.

RENE ARNOUX

December 13th, 2008

7/4/1948, Ponctharra, near Grenoble, France

Starts: 149

Points: 179

Wins: 7

Poles: 18

Fastest Laps: 12

One thing that strikes me the most about Arnoux’ career is the fact that he posted 18 pole positions, most achieved during his time with Renault. He was also fast in races, getting 12 fastest laps, and sufficiently cool headed to win 7 races. However, there is an abyss between champions and those that frequent the sport’s footnotes. Although he won in lower formulae, including F-2, Arnoux seemed to miss that ingredient that would have made him the first French world champion. Having driven for Martini in Formula Renault and Formula 2, it was not surprising that Arnoux was named driver when the French constructor decided to take the step up and go F-1 racing. The Martini contender was not the worst car of 1978, but it was far from good, based on old concepts, so no success came Arnoux’ way. Rene failed to qualify a few times, and the team packed its bags and went home before the end of the season, leaving Arnoux free to run Surtees’ last outings in F-1. The short-lived association was not successful as well. Renault had debuted in formula 1 in 1977, initiating the turbo era. The early days were difficult, but by late 1978 the Regie found it had sufficient resources to run two cars, so Rene was hired as the second driver. The debut could not be worse: DNQ in Argentina, Rene actually raced, as of one of the qualified cars was unable to make the start. Until Monaco Arnoux was qualifying mostly around midfield, with no sign of competitiveness. Then it all came good in Dijon. Arnoux qualified second, posted fastest lap and won the race, after a tremendous battle with Gilles Villeneuve. His teammate Jabouille won the race, so Arnoux’ day seemed to be coming sooner than later. Arnoux went one better in England, finishing 2nd. In Austria he got his first pole position and 6th place, plus another 2nd place in Watkins Glen. Although he got no wins, Rene scored more points than Jabouille, so things looked up. For 1980 Arnoux was back at Renault, repeating his Argentine jinx. He did get his first win in Brazil, followed by another success at South Africa, so all of a sudden he looked like a championship contender. However, there was a slump in performance after Long Beach, and the Renault’s competitiveness was restored only by Austria, where Arnoux scored pole again. His last points of the year were in Holland, so although the year started in a promising fashion, it ended as a bit of a bummer. For 1981, Arnoux had a new team mate, Alain Prost, who soon proved to be the fastest of the two. The first half of the year was terrible for Arnoux, including a DNQ in Belgium. He had four poles that year, but scored only in three occasions, with a season best 2nd place in Austria. Team mate Prost, on the other hand, had three wins. Arnoux continued at Renault, in 1982, and continued to score many poles, but the beginning of the year was terrible. He finished 3rd in South Africa, but had eight retirements, including five in succession. His redemption came in France, when Rene won from the pole but this did not sink in well with the team. Renault management wanted Prost, who was still in the hunt for the championship, to win the race. So the end of Rene at Renault seemed obvious. Arnoux made the best of it, finishing 2nd in Germany and winning another race in Italy. However Ferrari had lost both of its 1982 drivers, so they were more than happy to team Tambay with the unemployed Arnoux. He was quickly on the pace, posting two early season third places, and by Detroit had began a series of 3 straight poles. Suddenly he became the man to beat in the second half of the season, winning 3 times and finishing 2nd twice. He ended up third in the championship, with his former teammate Prost being just nipped by Nelson Picket for the world title. So a lot was expected of Arnoux in 1984, but although he scored regularly, there were no further wins, and even the characteristic poles were gone. He appeared for Ferrari one last time, in the 1985 Brazilian GP and then was sacked by the Italian team, replaced by Johannson. He took a year sabbatical, and was then hired by Ligier for 1986, where he stayed the rest of his career. That first year with Ligier was not bad. Although the car was not top notch material, it was fair and the drivers could score points with some regularity and qualify in the top ten. However, team leader Laffite had a serious accident in England, and the team’s spirit seemed to vanish after his departure. In 1987 Arnoux joined the ranks of also-rans, although he finished 6th in Belgium. He normally qualified midfield, and spent most of the year retiring. By then he was getting an annoying reputation among top drivers, due to his insistence in not using the rear view mirror. Ligier was in obvious trouble, after an Alfa engine deal fell through, and the Megatron (former BMW) engines seemed insufficient to do the job. For 1988, Ligier changed engines yet again, adopting the normally aspirated Judds. The team’s performance dropped further and there were no points on the scoreboard. The end seemed to be near, and indeed 1989 was his last season. Ligier changed engines yet again, using Cosworths, but the oversubscribed 39-car entry meant more competition for a space under the Sun. Arnoux began to fail to qualify with some regularity, and although he got a final helping of points with 5th in Canada, he took the most sensible decision, retiring from the sport. He would still race in other categories, including a recent outing at GP Masters.

STUCK, HANS JOACHIN

December 13th, 2008

1/1/1951, Grainau, near Garmish Partenkirchen (Germany)

Starts: 72

Points: 29

Wins:0

Poles:0

Fastest Laps:0

The 30’s seemed to be so far away when young Stuck appeared on the scene. These were the days of German drivers such as Rosemeyer, Caraciolla, Lang, Von Brauchtisch and another man with a familiar name, Hans Stuck. The latter was, of course, Hans Jr.’s father, one of the most effective drivers of Auto Union cars, who raced well into his 60’s. So there was some expectation that Stuck might revive the German flag in GP racing, when he was hired by March for the 1974 season. The first couple of races were rather normal, typical learning curves for a young debutant. By South Africa though, Stuck had qualified a wonderful seventh place and finished 5th, earning his first points. In Spain he finished 4th, so right at the start of the year he had accumulated 5 points, more than the highly rated Jody Scheckter. The rest of the season did not go as well, though. The spark that was shown in these two races seemed to be gone, and spite of three other top ten grid starts, Stuck was not closer to the front the rest of the year, in fact, dnq twice. Above all a BMW driver, Stuck was slated to drive in the USA in 1975, so he was out of F-1, However, he retained his ties to March, and ended up appearing in five races at the end of the year. Again, Stuck showed the hallmark of his GP career, inconsistency. He was extremely fast in qualifying for the German and Austrian GPs, but totally indifferent in his other outings, mostly retiring. Even so, he was called back by March for the 1976 season. Hans did really well in Brazil, finishing 4th, but his performance dropped to the indifferent level, specially after the arrival of Ronnie Peterson in the team. In Monaco, though, Stuck qualified an excellent 6th and finished 4th, proving he was indeed skilful. After other indifferent outings, Stuck found qualifying pace in several of the last races of the year, including a 4th place start in the tragic German GP, the last one held in the Nordschleife. Mostly he failed to turn these scintillating qualifying performances into results, although he managed to score an additional 2 points from 5th in Watkins Glen, a race track where he seemed to excel. So Hans was not back on the grid for 1977, although he was called by March to race one of its by then hopeless cars in South Africa. Then a big opportunity arose. Brabham seemed to be on the verge of a turn around that year, with Alfa Romeo 12 cylinder engines. Lead driver Carlos Pace had led races, and appeared to be one of the favorites for the title, until disaster struck in the form of a light airplane crash. Pace and the other plane occupants died, leaving a spot open in the Brabham team. Ecclestone decided to give Stuck a chance. Again the pattern arose: in certain tracks, such as Monaco, Stuck seemed destined for bigger things; in others, he would qualify midfield and have lackluster performances. He did score points in 2 of the first four races for Brabham, but these were 6th places and nowhere near the form shown by Pace or Watson. The pressure was on Stuck, and he realized he had to perform to save his single seater career. He did well for a stretch, scoring points in three straight races, including two podiums, but by Holland he was off the pace again. Then in Watkins Glen his big day: Stuck qualified 2nd, and come race day, it rained: Hans was a known rain meister. He shot right into the lead and had his fifteen minutes of glory in F-1, however, ended up crashing and retiring. He did not show the same pace in the last two races of the year, and ended up replaced by no other than World Champion Niki Lauda. So Stuck went out looking for work in 1978, and found a berth at Shadow. This did not seem so bad, as Shadow had finally broken into the winner’s circle in 1977, however, the team underwent major upheaval early in 78: many of the top personnel left to form Arrows, including lead designer Tony Southgate. So soon it became clear that this would not be an easy year, and indeed it was not. Stuck barely qualified midfield most of the year, and finished in the points a single time, in Brand Hatch. Again in a spurt o qualifying bravado, he started 8th in Canada, but collided with Fittipaldi, so that was the end of that. For 1979 Stuck did not have many options besides joining the German ATS team. This was obviously a ‘survival” move at best, and besides a heroic 12th place grid spot in Monaco midseason, and improving qualifying pace towards the latter part of the year, it appeared the game was up for Stuck in F-1. He did manage another good performance in Watkins Glen, scoring 2 points in his last GP. He continued a long career driving sports cars and touring cars for several manufacturers (mostly German), avoiding single seaters until a recent appearance in the GP Masters category, where he drove with distinction. Germany would need to wait a few more years for a GP hero, but boy was it worth the wait!

OUTSIDE FORMULA 1

Stuck was runner up in the European Formula 2 Championship, 1974. He won the European Touring Car Championship and the DRM in 1972. He won Le Mans twice,

OTHER CARS:

Formula 2: March-BW, Brabham Ford, Ralt

Sports Cars: BMW (3.0 CSL, 320 Grup 5, M-1, V12), Sauber-Ford, Porsche (956, 962, 911, 911 GT1), Audi, Sehcar (Ford, BMW), Kremer Porsche

Touring cars: BMW, Opel, Ford, Audi

SCHENKEN, TIM

December 13th, 2008

9/26/1943, Sydney, Australia

Starts: 34

Points: 7

Wins:0

Poles:0

Fastest Laps:0

Judging from the press Schenken got in 1968, one would expect him to be world champion by the early 70’s. In fact, Tim had swept every one before him in F-Ford and Formula 3, winning in one year more races than most people win in a career. Things started to get tougher in F-2 though. Needless to say, F-1 was no piece of cake either. Tim got his first break driving the De Tomaso for Frank Williams, replacing Brian Redman. To his credit he managed to qualify the car all four times he appeared, a better performance than Redman’s. This was sufficiently good to attract the Brabham team, which signed Tim to replace Jack Brabham. The early part of the year was a bit tough, but in Britain Schenken qualified 7th. This was followed by three other top ten starts, plus a good helping of points from 6th in Germany and a swell 3rd place and podium in Austria. By the end of the year Schenken was back to the bottom of the timesheets, and was not retained by Brabham. In F-2 he showed a good turn of speed, and was one of the top drivers in the category. Leaving Brabham seemed right, as the team was obviously on a downward spiral, while Team Surtees, which Tim joined, seemed to be on the way up. The beginning of the year was not bad: right on his first race, Schenken scored a 5th place in Argentina, followed by eight place on the grid in South Africa and good placings in the Bristh non championship races. Henceforth, Schenken’s performance dropped, in spite of two very “racy” 5th grid positions in England and France. The relationship between Schenken and Surtees, known for being difficult, did not gell, and by the end of the year Tim had been shown the door, qualifying 32nd and dead last in the USA. For 1973 Schenken was already out of a regular drive in F-1, although he remained in the limelight in Formula 2 and Sports Car racing with Ferrari. He was one of several drivers to have the displeasure of driving an Iso Marlboro that season, in his case in Canada, finishing 14th. For 1974, Tim was going to back on the frame, with an ambitious project. Rondel (Ron Denni’s F-2 team) had been planning an entry in F-1, but wisely gave up along the way, the project being picked up by no other than Ron Tauranac, the Australian that ran Brabham in 1971, before selling to Bernie Ecclestone. The new team was going to be called Trojan and in spite of the principal’s credentials, seemed to be a little short on funding by the time it appeared in Spain. The car also looked somewhat bulky, and it soon became clear that this would not be the instrument to revitalize Schenken’s F-1 career. He did manage to finish 3 times, including two tenth places, but also failed to qualify a couple of times. The project would not survive beyond Monza, so for the North American races Tim was free. As usual, Lotus planned to field a 3rd car in Watkins Glen, and Schenken was named to drive it. Another lost opportunity this was. Schenken qualified only 27th out of 30 and was the first reserve. He ended up starting anyway, but was disqualified in what amounted to be his last GP. Schenken continued racing a few more years, mostly driving assorted Porsches and Sports cars for the Georg Loos team, finding some success at this level. Eventually he founded the Tiga Racing concern with Howden Ganley , and continues to be involved in the sport to this day, in a managerial role.
Cars driven outside of Formula 1:

Formula 2: Brabham, Surtees, Motul, Alpine, March

Formula 3: Chevron, Brabham

Sports-cars: Ferrari, Porsche (935, 934, 911 Carrera), Mirage, Ford GT40, Chevron, Matra-Simca

Touring cars: Ford Escort

Can-Am/Interseries: Porsche 917

Espionnage is bad - how about downright theft???

December 7th, 2008

I am always amused when people saw "what is this world coming to", whenever they hear reports of crimes, accidents, basic societal decay, as if to say the world was that much better say, 50 or 100 years ago, than today. Most cities had a terrible feces smell just a relative short while back, most of the world had no running water, much less sewage lines, politicians used to put contracts on their nemesis in many parts of the world instead of bad mouthing them, and sexual crime has always been bad. Just to a name a few things.

Many people had a very unusual response to last year´s Stepney-gate, the spy saga that rocked the F-1 world this season. As if all types of such improprieties never took place, and decay had finally arrived in the hitherto pristine waters of Formulaonedom, fifty seven years down the line!!!

The following borders on the comical, and it just goes to show that bad things happened in F1 in the past too, although this was not an "inside job".

Jean Pierre Jarier had a nasty accident in the first lap of the Argentine GP of 1974, denting the tub of his Shadow DN1 quite badly, to the point that chassis 8A would be useless for the next race in Brazil. The chassis was taken to the next stop in the calendar anyway, although Shadow had to hurriedly ship another tub from England, much to the annoyance of the Brazilian customs authorities, who could not understand the need and did their utmost to bar entry of the chassis in the country. Eventually, the replacement tub came into Brazil legally, and Jarier was ensured a place in the race.

A picture in an Autosprint magazine of the time shows the bent chassis lazying about under the scorching January sun, against the pit garage wall in Interlagos. Apparently nobody was caring much for the tub ended up being stolen. Yes, you read right, stolen.

As late as 1994, Shadow owner Don Nichols still seemed very upset with the tub's disappearance, although DN1's were not that rare, eight examples were built. But it was his property, after all.

There is no official word on the whereabouts of the missing Shadow DN1, although wild stories circulate in Brazilian racing circles to this day. Lest anyone jump to conclusions, this had nothing to do with the Brazilian formula 1 project.

So, you see, Formula 1 is not this cocoon, where every one respects each other, that some people purport to be. The theft of the DN1, as I said, was likely not an inside job at all, as Shadow was a second-year builder, the DN1 was anything but revolutionary, and people had bigger fish to fry than study the last year Shadow tub. Exchanges of drawings by disgruntled employees, illicit photographs and hiring of competitor's staff with the sole intention of finding secrets have all been reported by F1 insiders.

I will say, it is harder to hide dirty work these days, for any length of time.

Mr. Nice Guy

December 7th, 2008

In a recent interview on Motor Sport, Mario Andretti was aked who was his best teammate. Without missing a beat, he said Ronnie Peterson. He was also asked who was the worst. Without hesitation, Mario said Nigel Mansell. I suppose Nelson Piquet would concur with that...

Emerson Fittipaldi was asked the same two questions in a 1981 Interview by Auto Esporte magazine. He also said Ronnie was his best teammate. This is rather striking, considering the intense rivalry between the drivers in the 1973 season. As for the the worse, Emmo said David Walker was a very strange individual.

Ronnie had several other teammates in his years in F-1: Niki Lauda, Andrea de Adamich, Nanni Galli, Alex Soler Roig, Jacky Ickx, Tim Schenken, Brian Henton, Jimmy Crawford, John Watson, Vittorio Brambilla, Hans Stuck, Arturo Merzario, Gunnar Nilsson, Patrick Depailler. He also drove for Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and BMW in Sports cars, sharing winning cars with Tim Schenken and Andrea de Adamich.

Great in F3, Bad in F1

December 7th, 2008

On the subject of David Walker, he was one of a few drivers who were outstanding in Formula 3, but had a disastrous F-1 career. Australian Walker drove for Lotus in F-3 in 1970 and 1971 and won a multitude of races. He got his first few F-1 chances at Lotus in 1971, without lighting any fires, but at any rate, was signed for the 1972 season. He was the worst performing teammate to a world champion ever. While Emerson Fittipaldi won five GPs (and 4 non official F1 races), Walker did not score any points at all, in fact never looked like set to do so all year. Not surprisingly, Lotus dropped him like a hot potato at the end of the year.

Jan Magnussen was a steamroller in F-3, and seemed set to a nice future in F-1. He got his first break in the category driving for McLaren in the Pacific GP of 1995, starting 12th and finishing 10th, which was not a bad debut. A Stewart driver in the lower formulae, Jan got the call to partner Barrichello in the debuting team in 1997. The Stewarts perservered with him for two years, and Jan did not show any pace at all. Granted the 1997/98 Stewart were not very good. A 6th place was the best he could do, but Jackie Stewart was appalled with what he called poor work ethic, coupled with love for cigarettes and strong drinks. Magnussen would not be considered for any further F-1 drives, but when on to have a successful sports and touring car career.

Brian Henton simply dominated F-3 in 1974, and ran in F-1 between 1975 and 1982, in a variety of machines, including his own entered Marches. He was never competitive in the top category, although he was a good F-2 driver as well. His major feat in F-1 was posting the fastest lap in the British GP of 1982, driving for Tyrrell, although many question the realiy of such fast lap to this day. At the end of the season, he packed up for good.

On the other hand, a few drivers were very poor F-3 performers, but managed to win big in F-1. For instance, Niki Lauda and Nigel Mansell. Different strokes for different folks.

The Ups and Downs at Williams

December 7th, 2008

I guess it is hard to say you feel sorry for a guy whose team has won the World Championship of Drivers seven times, and more than one hundred races. However, it must not be easy being Frank Williams, because of all the ups and downs he has gone through in almost 40 years in the F-1 game.

The beginning as a privateer was rather auspicious. With Piers Courage doing the driving, Williams was by far the best privateer team of 1969, with two second places on the book. Then came 1970. With a purpose made De Tomaso chassis, not only did the performance drop tremendously, but Courage died in an accident at Zandvoort. Then Williams went through some very difficult formative years, initially with Marches, in 71/72, eventually with his own Iso Marlboros. Although the laughing stock of the field in 1973, by 1974 the Isos were doing a bit better, with Arturo Merzario doing the driving. Then, in 1975, loss of Iso sponsorship, and another drop in performance. However for the first time the Williams name was used in a car, and in a race of attrition, a Williams made the podium in Germany.

Then Williams sold a stake in his team to Canadian tycoon Walter Wolf, in 1976. Equipped with the latest Hesketh chassis, the team had a pitiful performance, although drivers such as Jacky Ickx, Chris Amon and Arturo Merzario had driven for the outfit during the year. At the end of the season, Wolf ended up taking over the team, which named only Wolf in 1977, won first time out.

Never giving up, Williams regrouped and ran a March for Patrick Neve in 1977. That same year, Williams made ties with Saudi sponsors, which allowed him to build a chassis of his own for 78, with Alan Jones onboard. That was a fair season, but the second half of 1979 was awesome. Clay Regazzoni finally won the first race for Williams, followed by other 4 by Alan Jones. Williams had perfected the Lotus ground effects concept, and went from a dead team, two years earlier, to star of the field.

From 1980 to 82 Williams won many races and two titles, the last against stronger opposition, then came 1983. Williams had only normally aspirated Cosworths for his car, while much of the field was running more powerful turbos. Eventually Williams got Honda turbo engines, which were fully sorted out by 1985.

By 1986, Williams was clearly the fastest car, but the nasty intrateam battle between Mansell and Piquet meant the title went to McLaren. Williams won again in 1987, but ended up losing the Honda engine for 1988. Honda wanted to equip Senna's car (which would be a McLaren) and wanted to continue supporting Nakajima, who was at Lotus. So Williams was left with down on power, normally aspirated Judd engines for 1988.

Renault was going back to F-1 in 1989, and chosing Williams was a no-brainer. The first two years were not great, but by 1991 Williams was again the class of the field. Mansell ended up winning the title handsomely in 92, Prost in 93, and finally, Senna was contracted for 94.

Senna died but Williams remained competitive, winning further titles with Renault engines in 1996 and 97. Then, Renault decided to quit F-1, and again, Williams was left without a factory engine contract for 1998 and 1999.

Eventually, Williams got together with BMW, which most expected to be a very long term relationship. Theoretically, the partnership had everything going for it, but the partners did not see eye to eye, and eventually BMW left Williams, which was back to Cosworth power in 2006 (shades of 1983...).

Now Williams is running Toyota engines, but feels somewhat marginalized in the customer car situation. The reality is that Williams is not a factory team, it is a 2000's version of a "privateer" so it is simply the best of non-factory teams, which might not be sufficient to ensure its long term future.

But, you see, Williams is a phoenix, rising from the ashes quite a few times...

Chassis Types Galore

December 7th, 2008

Nowadays we have grown acostumed to a very orderly F-1. Fairly constant entry lists, the same teams all the time, unchanging car numbers during the year, etc. Normally, chassis types are introduced before the season starts, and they are raced during the course of a full season. Back in the old days, teams normally introduced the year's type in the beginning of the European season, so often cars raced in South America and South Africa were from the previous year. Under normal circumstances, teams raced a couple of different chassis during the course of the years.

1972 was a very unusual year due to the proliferation of different chassis types raced by several different teams. BRM, which raced as many as five cars in a few races, had trouble keeping a consistent fleet of cars. It raced the 1970 BRM P153 a few times, using it in the Marlboro Country schemes, but mostly used the BRM P160, which was introduced in 1971. It also tried the BRM P180, introduced in 1972, which did not work well. BRM won its last two F-1 races that year, both with Beltoise in Monaco (P160) and the Race of Victory at Brands Hatch (non-championship, P180).

Brabham raced three cars for most of the year, and used the BT33, BT34 and BT37. Junior driver Wilson Fittipaldi Jr. raced the BT33 and BT34, while Graham Hill and Carlos Reutemann mostly raced the BT37. Reutemann won the Brazilian Grand Prix and had pole position in Argentina in the one-off lobster claw BT34.

Tyrrell used a very unusual chassis numbering scheme. Up until the 006, the numbers given indicated actual chassis numbers, rather than type numbers, with incremental stages of modification. Thus, although it looks as though Tyrrell was the champion of diversity in 1972, having raced 002, 003, 004, 005 and 006, these actually represented two chassis types only: 002 through 004 was one type, 005 and 006 another.

March had an unusual situation, as a provider of chassis to outside teams. The works team initially raced a March 721, which later on received two different designations, although they were all different cars, 721X and 721G. The 721 was meant for customers such as Frank Williams, Eifelland and Mike Beutler, and it was an upated 711. 721X was supposed to be a revolutionary March, but turned out to be a total failure, a waste of Ronnie Peterson's talent, and it was dropped after a few races. The team then modified its 722 (formula 2) design as a Formula 1 racer, designating it 721G. Want more? Well, Frank Williams fielded a 711 for Carlos Pace.

March private entries

December 7th, 2008

March was present in F-1 in three distinct times, the first of which lasted from 1970-1977. During that initial period, March was the major provider of chassis to privateers. In fact, in its very first season, March provided chassis to several teams, in addition to running a 2-car works team. The most important privateer team that year was Tyrrell, which fielded cars for current champion Jackie Stewart, Servoz-Gavin and Cevert. And Tyrrell was indeed the last privateer team to have won a Grand Prix, the Spanish GP of 1970. In addition to Tyrrell, Andy Granatelli (STP) fielded a March 701 for Mario Andretti, who raced in a few events, finishing a best 3rd place. Colin Crabbe/Antique Automobiles also fielded a 701 for Ronnie Peterson, and Hubert Hahne also bought a 701. The latter became very flustered when he could not get the car up to competitive speed to qualify for the German GP, claiming March provided him a defective car. When Ronnie Peterson drove his car and immediately got it up to a relatively competitive pace, a despondent Hahne quit racing.

For 1971, the main March privateer was Frank Williams, who fielded a 711 for Henri Pescarolo. Henri scored a few points, but most importantly, posted the fastest lap at the Italian Grand Prix, which for many years stood as the fastest racing lap in a Grand Prix. Jean Max also drove a Williams March 711 in France. Francois Mazet drove a Jo Siffert entered March 701 in France, Skip Barber drove a Gene Mason entered March 711 in Holland and the North American races, and Mike Beutler was entered in a March 711 sponsored by his stockbroker friends Clarke-Mordaunt-Guthrie, in a few races. Shell Arnold entered a March 701 for Jean Pierre Jarier in Italy.

Frank Williams again fielded Marches in 1972, a 721 for Pescarolo and a 711 for Pace. The debuting Brazilian was the only one to score points in the team. Beuttler again drove a 721 in several races, while the Eifelland team entered a modified March 721 for Rolf Stommelen. The unusual bodywork car is sometimes referred as an Eifelland. Skip Barber again fielded his 711 in the USA and Canadian Grand Prix.

Mike Beuttler was again sponsored by his stockbroker friends (plus Durlacher), quitting F-1 at the end of the year. The most competitive March 731 privateer was unquestionably James Hunt, entered by Hesketh, in a car engineered by Harvey Posthlethwaite. While the works team scored no points, Hunt got a couple of podiums, coming very close to victory in the USA, scoring a fastest lap as well. Team Pierre Robert entered a 731 for Reine Wissel in Sweden, while LEC Refrigeration entered a 731 for David Purley in a few races.

Hesketh entered the March in the first two races of the year, eventually fielding the proprietary Hesketh in 1974. Mike Wilds failed to qualify a Dempster International 731 in England. Although the entry lists were overly subscribed for many 1974 races, there were fewer March privateer appearances than in previous years.

In 1975 it was much the same. In fact, the only privateer March to be fielded that year was a 751 entered by Penske for Mark Donohue. Penske was having problems with his own chassis, and the competitive March (at least in Brambilla’s hands) appeared a good benchmark to learn more about F-1. Donohue raced it only in England and Germany, scoring points in Silverstone, then was killed in Austria.

For 1976 March had two works teams with a total of four drivers for many races. Peterson was back in the team, but both he and Stuck were nominally entered by Theodore Racing in Long Beach. Basically, there were no private March entries in 1976.

This was more than made up for in 1977, when a flood of 761’s appeared outside the works team. Arturo Merzario raced an example under the Team Merzario banner, managing to qualify it 14th out of 32 in Belgium, which was the highlight of the year. Brett Lunger was entered by Chesterfield Racing in a few races, eventually changing to a McLaren M23. After losing his team to Walter Wolf, Frank Williams entered a 761 for Patrick Neve from the Spanish GP on, managing a 7th in Italy, the closest a March came to scoring that year. RAM Racing entered 761s for Boy Hayje, Mikko Kozarowitsky Andy Sutcliffe and Michael Bleekemolen, without setting the world on fire. Brian Henton entered a 761 under British Formula 1 racing for himself and Bernard de Dryver. At the end of the year, March discontinued its Formula 1 operations until 1982.

National colors

December 7th, 2008

Racing national colors is the stuff of legends in car racing. Until commercial sponsorship became prevalent in Europe, and such a necessity, during the late 60's, many teams took great pride in displaying their national colors in their race cars.

There is a bit of a revival going on. Ferrari, of course, continues to display the Italian red, which it has (for a few exceptions, such as when the works cars were entered as NART entries in some races in the 60's) worn since day one. Spyker, which is owned by Dutch concerns and individuals, displays the orange color, the same color used by Carel Godin de Beaufort in his Ecurie Maasbergen Porsches. Toyota is sponsored by Panasonic, however, the car's theme is obviously Japanese. Lastly, McLaren-Mercedes carries two nationalities, but the team has largely adopted the engine maker's silver national color.

Certain colors have not been displayed for a while. Belgian yellow was very common, so was French baby blue, a color which has been discreetly used by Renault in the last few years, mostly mixed with Yellow or other colors. The last F-1 team to use British racing green has been Jaguar, which failed tremendously. The color was proudly worn by a victorious Bentley in Le Mans, although, these days, one cannot really tell which is the real nationality of a company. Jaguar is after all owned by American Ford, and Bentley by German VW!!!

Even violet was displayed with certain pride in an Egyptian sports car during the 50's. The color has been mostly absent from racing circles since.

The most interesting story concerns German Silver. You will notice that all old German racers were white. In the early 30's, Mercedes was going to take part in a race, but the properly painted race car was damaged. All they had was an unpainted, virgin metal silver body laying about, and that is what they used. Since then, silver has been adopted as the German race color. However, notice that BMW has always used white...

If the A1 series does prosper, there might be a resurgence of interest in racing colors.

Customer cars in the 70s

December 7th, 2008

Things have changed immensely for Formula 1 teams. Up until the early 70s, Formula 1 teams were basically forced to build cars for other formulas, racing them as works teams or selling them to customers. The extra income was necessary, until commercial sponsorship matured in the mid 70s, and Bernie Ecclestone expanded the Formula 1 concept into a more viable proposition.

Lotus, for instance, built Formula 3 and Formula 2 cars, selling them to customers in the early part of the decade. Lotus F3 cars were very common in 1970/71, rare by 1973, when Lotus had built the last non-Formula 1 car, the Formula 2 that became known as Texaco Star. There was some talk of a Formula Indy Lotus in the early 80's, but it never materialized.

Brabham was a major race car builder, in fact the cars were very common in F2, F3, Formula Atlantic, and even in Formula 5000. The Brabham BT40 was the last formula 2/formula 3 from that constructor, in 1973, and a Brabham BT43 Formula 5000 that briefly hit the race tracks.

McLaren was pretty much involved in F5000, in 1970, in fact, it was the most successful builder at the time. A McLaren M25 one off F-5000 car appeared in the mid 70s. McLaren also became involved in Formula Indy, winning two Indy 500 races (1974 and 1976) with the works team, and several other races. Among others, Penske used McLarens for a while. This involvement lasted until the end of the decade. McLaren also built a Formula 2 car for the 1972 season, winning the final race at Crystal Palace. McLaren was also involved in the Can Am series, staying as a works team until 1972, and winning the 1970 and 1971 titles.

It could be said that March was a race car builder who also happened to be in Formula 1. In fact, pretty much all F-1 Marches from 1972 on were based on the F-2 car, not the other way around. March was very successful in F-2, winning many titles between 1971 nd 1983, and in F-3, a category it left in 1981. It also built Formula Atlantic and Formula 5000 cars, in addition to sports cars.

Surtees had some success in F-5000 from the onset, winning a title in Europe (Van Lennep, 1972) and being competitive in USA (runner-up, Posey, 1971), also winning the 1972 F-2 championship (1972, Hailwood). It left F-2 in 1974, concentrating in Formula 1 with no great effect. It should be noted, however, that a Surtees F-1 won the British Group 8 championship of 1977, with Tony Trimmer.

Shadow began in F-1 in 1973, and it was active as a works team in Can Am, Formula 5000 and the revised Can Am, as of 1977.

Matra built F-1 cars until 1972, but it was concomitantly active in Sports-cars, in fact much more successful in the latter category, winning titles in 1973/74.

Ferrari had been in F-2 and Formula Tasman until 1969, but from 1970 until 1973 it built only Sports Cars out of Formula 1. In fact, it built more than 25 of the Ferrari 512, to meet Group 5 regulations. From 1974 on, it built only F-1, until the early 90's, when the Ferrari 333 was released.

Other constructors that were involved in F-1 in the 70's, but also built cars for other formulas or categories were Lola, Trojan, Ralt, Penske, Parnelli, Merzario, Martini, Ligier, Tecno, Bellasi, Alfa-Romeo.

Jody Scheckter a guy full of surprises

November 27th, 2008

Jody Scheckter had a very unusual Formula 1 career, full of surprises. He literally burst into the scene, a very fast, unruly driver in his first outings with McLaren in 1972 and 1973, proving extremely crash prone. He had a famous come together with Emerson Fittipaldi in France, while leading, caused a pile up in the first stages of the race at Silverstone, plus crashed in Canada. His mount was great, a first year McLaren M23, and he could have scored quite a few points. After all, smooth driver Jacky Ickx in fact scored a podium at the Nurburgring in his first try.

Then Jody was hired by Tyrrell for 1974. He was obviously not a first pick. Tyrrell was indeed a very conservative type of guy, at the time very much used to constant success. Unfortunately, things went from excellent to bad at the end of 1973. Tyrrell won the driver's title at Monza, then lost both Francois Cevert and Jackie Stewart at Watkins Glen, one dead, the other retired. I find it unusual that Tyrrell would hire two relatively inexperienced drivers for 1974, but that is what he did, after Chris Amon failed to strike Ken's fancy.

Suriprisingly, the explosive Jody became a very sedate driver, in fact, he was not that fast in the early 1974 races. Only after the new 007 came onboard the results appeared, and by the end of the year he became quite the opposite of the 1973 Jody, a reliable driver who was expected to score points. The transformation was amazing, but quite a lot of the speed was gone - forever.

A couple of years more with Tyrrell proved inconclusive, then he was surprisingly hired by Wolf, for 1977, and more surprisingly still, won the first time out. A third surprise, he continued on the pace for the rest of the year, becoming runner up to Niki Lauda.

Then another surprise in 1978. He continued at Wolf, and all that pace and reliability disappeared. At the end of the year he was hired by Ferrari.

At Ferrari, he picked up the pace again, although he had a very tough internal battle, as his teammate was the extremely talented and fast Gilles Villeneuve. On the strength of reliability, a favorable scoring system and some luck (Williams did not debut its new challenger FW07 before), Jody finally became world champion, although not a dominating one.

Then good ole Jody sprung yet another surprise in 1980. All the fire was gone, his performance was pathetic, although, admittedly, that year's Ferrari was no piece of cake. By the end of the season he failed to qualify for a race, ending up with the worst year-after performance by a current world champion. Not surprisingly, Jody retired, although he claimed he still had plenty of offers.

He retired before reaching 30 years of age, never racing again.

Arturo Merzario

November 27th, 2008

Being an Italian driver in F-1 in the early 70's was not an easy thing. At least Arturo Merzario got to drive for Ferrari in 1972 and 1973, although the latter year was the worst season in record for the Cavallino Rampante, bar the disastrous 1980 season. His most extraordinary feats in Formula 1 were during the 1974 season, when he took the weak Iso Marlboro to a third grid place in South Africa, plus drove in the top ten for most of the season, often qualifying in front of fancier machinery. Fourth place in Italy was a good prize for a job well done.

Merzario is one of the few drivers to have scored a point in his Formula 1 debut for Ferrari in Brands Hatch, in 1972, and in spite of showing quite a turn of speed in sports cars, his Grand Prix career fizzled after 1975. He only drove quite uncompetitive machinery from that point on, except for a good handling March in Brands Hatch in 1976 and the Shadow for a one-off appearance in Austria, 1977.

He also took the foolhardy step of building his own car, soldiering on for two years, before downgrading to Formula 2. One might consider Merzario a madman for this, but he must have been one of the very last true sportsmen in the GP paddocks. Diminutive Merzario was one of the men who saved Niki Lauda in the 1976 fiery crash at the Nurburgring, a fact that has been acknowledged by Lauda, who meet him in 2006 to "celebrate" the 30th anniversary of his second shot at life. Plus, Arturo, in spite of being in his 60's, still loves racing, and races here and there.

Born on 3/11/1943, Civenna, Como, Italy

56 Starts

11 points

0 fastest laps

0 poles

Merzario is the son of a wealthy Italian contractor who began racing in 1963. By the late 60’s, he became well know for his exploits in the race Circuito di Mugello, winning the race in 1969 and attracting Ferrari, who hired him for his 1970 Sports Car team. Although Merzario was paired with such luminaries as Chris Amon, he did not fare badly and continued on the works team in the next year. In 1970 and 1971 Merzario won some minor races for both Ferrari and Abarth, and by 1972 was ready for the big time. Having won two World Makes races, Merzario was called to race for Ferrari in the British GP. He did splendidly by finishing 6th, as a result of which, he was paired with Ickx for the 1973 GP season. The beginning of the year was good: although he did not qualify well, Art earned two 4th places, in Brazil and South Africa, that netted him 6 points, leaving him well ahead of the tables for a while. But this was a terrible year for Ferrari, a transition year, and Merzario ended up not racing the full season. Before the end of the year, Ickx left the team, and Merzario represented the team well in some final races, but no more points came his way. He was not to be called for the next season, among other things, due to his lack of team spirit in the Nurburgring 1000. Dropped by Ferrari, Merzario was hired by Frank Williams, who fielded the Iso Marlboros. These were the laughing stock of the field in 1973, so not much was expected of Merzario in this mount. He did surprise quite a few people, often qualifying in the top 10, including a stupendous 3rd place grid slot in South Africa. He raced forcefully, and won points on two occasions for Frank’s outfit, in South Africa and a popular 4th in Italy. In 75, Merzario was back in Williams’ cars, which performance level dropped tremendously. The year was very good in sports cars, driving for Alfa Romeo, but not so in F-1. Before the end of the year Merzario left Williams, allegedly due to disagreements over money, and was a guest in the Fittipaldi team at Monza. For 1976 Merzario raced a 4th March works car, and did well in a couple of races, running in the points in Brands Hatch before dropping out. Eventually he was rehired by Williams to replace Ickx, but the old Hesketh cars were just as bad as the Iso Marlboros of 1973. Henceforth, Merzario would no longer be competitive in F-1. For 1977, Merzario decided to field his own March 761, and did relatively well enough to place better than both works cars on many occasions. He was also invited to race for Shadow in Austria, run well but was overshadowed (no pun intended) by Alan Jones’ debut win for the Anglo-American team. Merzario’ car was by far the fastest of an armada of Marches filling the entry sheets that year, and maybe this gave Merzario the notion that he should built his own car, which he did for 1978. This was the beginning of the end for Merzario in F-1. His F-1 effort was at best naïve, the car’s appearance tatty, and worse of all the thing was based on the old March 761, which itself was an evolution of the old Marches of 1971! Art actually managed to qualify for a few races this first year, but nothing close to points paying positions or finishes came his way. For 1979, the undersponsored Merzario lingered on. He tried to build a wing car, changed the appearance of the car for the better, but it went slower! In an uncanny move, he bought the remains of the Kauhsen team, which managed to perform even worse than his team. By the end of the season the writing was on the wall. Technology was becoming ever more complicated in F-1, and simply putting together a Cosworth/Hewland special was not sufficient to even make the fields. Merzario decided F-1 was way above his means, and decided to enter F-2 racing, which he did for many years.

MERZARIO OUT OF F-1

ARTURO MERZARIO

Born in Civenna, Como, 11/3/1943

Merzario started his career in hill climbs in Italy, mostly driving Abarths, and he featured as a starter in world championship events as early as 1963, racing an Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ to 12th in the Coppa Inter Europa Race. He also drove Abarths in the European Touring Car championships, with good class placings to his credit, mostly with Abarth 1000’s. By 1969, Merzario was making a name for himself as a Sports cars driver, still with Abarth, and a win in Mugello propitiated his hiring by Ferrari in 1970. Driving a 512 with Amon, Merzario got a best 4th place in Brands Hatch. Merzario also took part in the inaugural European 2 year championship, with an Abarth, of course, and won in Mugello, was 2nd in Enna and Nurburgring. In 1971, Merzario added single seaters to his menu, driving a Tecno in F-2 events, without success. He shared the Ferrari works prototype in which Giunti lost his life in Buenos Aires, but spent most of the year in Scuderia Montjuich 512’s, without success. He continued to take part in 2 liter events, with Abarths, earning a victory in Vallelunga. He also won an Interseries event with a Ferrari 512 in Imola. In 1972, Merzario won his first two Makes events, both with Ferrari, SPA with Redman, and the Targa Florio, with rally driver Sandro Munari, not before embarrassing many 3-liter machines with astounding drives in early season events with a 2 liter Abarth. He continued his run of success in 2-liters, this time winning three races and the European championship outright. In 1973 Merzario continued to be a works Ferrari driver in Makes, but a 2nd place in Le Mans (with pole position) was the best he could do. He was back in the Abarth, in the liter championship, winning at the Nurburgring again. Let go by Ferrari, Merzario began 1974 in the best possible fashion: he won Monza, with Andretti, aboard an Alfa Romeo, a 1-2-3 sweep. Merzario was the fastest Alfa driver all year, but unfortunately, things went downhill from Monza on. The Alfa was also raced in the Can Am event, but it was no match for the larger engined Can Am cars. Arturo also raced the Abarths in 2 liters, which by now had been renamed Osellas: this was not a succesful year in 2 liters, a category that was utterly dominated by Alpine Renaults. Merzario continued with the Alfas in 75, then run by WKRT, and in fact, won four races, mostly partnered by Jacques Laffite, and also resumed his activities in F-2, racing for Osella. His best result in the category was 2nd in Misano, in a non-championship event. Alfa mostly took a sabbatical in 1976, but ended up doing a few events, earning Merzario a 2nd in Imola with Brambilla. He also raced an Osella 2 liter in Monza, to no great effect. In Group 5, Merzario did Daytona in a Nascar Dodge Charger, and a few events in a Swedish entered Camaro. He was slated to share a BMW 2002 with Pal Joe, in Vallelunga, a DNS. He continued to race the Osella in F-2, occasionally, and had a 2nd place in Santa Monica, only behind Stuck in the factory March. Arturo was back with Autodelta, in 1977, and had a successful season winning four races of the World Sports Car championship. However his only real opposition was teammate Brambilla. He did the Mugello race in a Porsche 934, co driving with Bianco, and was also 3rd, in the Monza ETCC event, driving and Alfa GTV with Amerigo Bigliazzi, only behind two much more powerful BMWs. Merzario returned to F-2 in 1978, driving for the Fred Opert team on occasion, obtaining a 5th place in Misano. In 1979, Merzario took part in the Procar BMW championship, but this was not a successful venture. In 1980, Arturo had changed his team to F-2, and continued to try to make the thing work – well it didn’t. Sometimes he drove, sometimes he was manager/designer, but by 1984, with the demise of F-2, thus ended the international Merzario racing team. From 1985 on, Arturo concentrated on Italian sports car racing, with good success for many years, with machines such as Symbol, Lucchini, and others. He also took part in the 1994 Italian GT championship, driving a Ferrari again, an F40! In 1995 he changed his mount to a Maserati Ghibli, with a best 5th place. He continued with the Maserati in 1996, fihinishing a best 3rd place in Magione. He also won the inaugural MaseratiBi Turbo cup in Imola, 1995, and raced in the Porsche Super Cup. With the death of the world championship in 1992, European Sports Car racing was a in state of disarray, and the few existing sports car races accepted entries of small bore local machinery, and an European Sports Car championship was created. Thus, rising like a Phoenix, Merzario was back in big time racing, in fact winning a race in BRNO, in 1997, aboard a Centenari Alfa Romeo, also finishing 2nd in Jarama, in front of much faster machinery, such as a couple of Kremer Porsches and a Courage Porsche. He was back with the Centenari in 1998, finishing 4th in Paul Ricard, and racing a Gaiero-Al;fa Romeo in Misano. and Donington. By Anderstorp, his mount was a Picchio-BMW, the same car raced in Nurburgring. In 1999, Merzario was seen aboard the Tampoli-Alfa Romeo, with a best of 5th in Monza. He also drove a Debora BMW in Kyalamy, but this was a DNF. The years had caught up by 2000, and Arturo was not back for more in the European Sports Car Championship. He continued to race GTs, including a Ferrari F355 in 2002, a Porsche 996 in local Italian events, and the variety continued, including a BMW Z3 in the Belcar championship, raced in Most, Czech Republic. But he is slated to drive in the 2005 FIA GT Championship, racing a Ferrari 360 Modena!!!! One can say many things about Arturo, but not that he does not love racing!

THE FAILURE OF THE REBORN CAN AM

November 21st, 2008

By Carlos de Paula

It is not very difficult to figure out the reasons for the failure of the reborn Can Am series. Although things started reasonably well around 1977, by 1982 the Can Am series was dead, and what remained was a laughable series, nowhere near the 60’s power house.

To understand why the reborn Can Am did not quite work out, it is necessary to understand why the original Can Am did in fact work out, in spite of the fact that most racing was processional and McLaren dominated the series from 1967 to 1971.

1. Impressive Cars - In spite of McLaren’s, and later Porsche’s domination, the Group 7 cars were very impressive with engines of as much as 8 liter displacement and enough regulatory freedom do built cars such as the 1970 fan Chaparral and the turbo Porsches of 1972-1974. In fact, a lot of experimenting went on, such as with aerodynamic devices, and it could be said that the early Can Am was technologically more advanced than Formula 1, and undoubtedly more so than the Indycars of the day. In the revived Can Am, at best some weird cars appeared. The fendered formula cars were not pretty and failed to capture the public’s imagination. In the latter years, even Group C and fendered Formula 1 cars were allowed, but by then driver quality was questionable, and the series was doomed to failure.

2. Money - In the mid 60s, until the early 70’s, millionaire driver contracts were no where to be found in Formula 1. Top drivers such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, John Surtees, had to race all over to make money, and the Can Am series paid hefty prize money for the day. Unfortunately, Clark did not survive during the heyday of the Can Am, so he never raced in the series. The new Can Am followed the underfunded Formula 5000 prize scheme.

3. Name Drivers - Given the large purses paid by the original Can Am, several prominent Formula 1 drivers, such as Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Denis Hulme, Jackie Stewart, Pedro Rodriguez, Jo Siffert, raced regularly in the Can Am series, and so did American drivers from other disciplines, such as A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney and Mario Andretti. In the revived Can Am, name drivers were normally unemployed or underemployed Formula 1 drivers, certainly not top drivers of the day, and these name drivers would normally stay only a year in the series.

4. Field depth - cars - In the original Can Am, only large displacement cars were allowed to race. When 5 liter machines became ever scarcer in the new Can Am, the SCCA allowed fendered Formula 1 cars and even 2 liter sports racers to make up the field.

5. Field depth - drivers - Very top few drivers committed to the series for any length of time, the notable exception being Al Holbert. So there was no core top driver group to offer to the public. Top teams such as VDS and Hass, changed their drivers every year, thus alienating the fan base. However, some very good drivers raced in the series, such as Al Unser Jr, Geoff Brabham, Peter Gethin, Gilles Villeneuve, Keke Rosberg, Alan Jones, Jaky Ickx, Teo Fabi, Bobby Rahal, but never all on the same year.

6. Competition from other series - As the new Can Am was emerging, the Indy Car feud was erupting, which resulted in the creation of CART in 1979. The new Indy Car championship was obviously emphasizing the addition of road racing tracks to the schedule, in an attempt to overcome Formula 5000’s failure. In that the new series was successful, retaining the old oval courses, adding street courses and luring the road racing tracks, which eventually all went CART’s way. Not only did the tracks jump ship, but so did the top teams such as VDS and Hass, leaving a sorry group of amateurish teams behind. The CART series was not the only one drawing blood from the Can Am. he IMSA GT series was growing in stature in the early 80’s, eventually taking over as the most prominent professional sports car series in the USA.

7. Poor management. One could rightfully argue that the SCCA had no business plan for the new Can Am, and that in the short space of a few years, racing in general had become more professional. The club was still trying to do things 60’s style, but racing had matured as a business. It held on too long with the series, and in hindsight, it should have discontinued it after 1983 at best, keeping the Trans Am as its single series. There was an attempt, latter on, to revive the name a third name, which was also unsuccessful.

LUIS PEREIRA BUENO's F1 CAREER

November 19th, 2008

Born 1939, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Starts:1

Points: 0

Wins:0

Poles:0

Luis Pereira Bueno was one of Brazil’s prominent racers during the 60’s and 70’s, and a contemporary of the Fittipaldi brothers and Carlos Pace. He raced successfully in Europe, in F Ford during 1969, winning many races, but considered himself too old to pursue an international career further. He went back to Brazil, continuing his winning ways in sports cars and touring cars, and managed a berth in the inaugural, non championship Brazilian GP of 1972. In this car, a March, he finished 6th. For the next year, Bueno scrapped enough of a budget to rent one of Surtees’ year old cars. In his single world championship entry he did not disgrace himself. He qualified last, but soldiered on to finish 12th. He continued racing in Brazil until 1975, briefly returning to race in the Stock Cars series in the 80s.

Cars driven out for Formula 1

Formula 3: Lotus

Formula-Ford: Merlyn

Sports Cars: Porsche, Bino Prototype, Hollywood-Berta, Alpine, Willys-Interlagos

Touring cars: Renault, Ford (Maverick, Corcel), Chevrolet (Opala)

GIJS VAN LENEEP'S F1 CAREER

November 19th, 2008

Born 3/16/1942, Bloemendaal, Holland

Starts:8

Points: 2

Wins:0

Poles:0

Fastest Laps:0

IF YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE OR INITIATE A DISCUSSION ON THIS DRIVERS' CAREER, CLICK HERE
It all started to come good for Van Lennep in 1970. After a few years driving various Porsches and even the DAF Formula 3 device, Gijs rose to some prominence in 1970 driving for the AAW team, in the World Championship of Makes. In the same year when he won the Le Mans 24 Hour race for the first time, 1971, Gijs got a sponsored drive at Surtees, debuting in the Dutch GP. He qualified 21st and finished 8th, in a very wet race. He also practiced for the USA GP, but Sam Posey ended up driving the car. After a year away from Formula 1, Van Lennep was one of several drivers to drive for Frank William’s Iso Marlboro in 1973, initially in the Dutch Grand Prix. He did very well, finished 6th and was the first driver to score points with a Williams designed and produced car, the recalcitrant Iso Marlboro. Gijs got a couple more rides with Williams that year, Austria (9th) and Italy (retired). Williams used Van Lennep’s services again in 1974, with less success, even though that year’s Iso Marlboro was actually a better car. In Belgium he finished 14th, and failed to qualify at Holland. The Dutch HB Bewaking Alarm company sponsored the Ensign team in 1975, and Van Lennep was a clear choice as driver. He run three times with the team, finishing all three races. In the German GP, which turned out to be his last Grand Prix, Van Lennep finished 6th and also gave Ensign its first point ever. After that there was no Formula 1 for Van Lennep, who would still get a second Le Mans win in 1976, retiring for good from the sport.

VAN LENNEP'S CAREER OUT OF FORMULA 1

Dutchman Van Lennep had a short but significant career. He began driving Formula Vees in his native Holland, and in the mid 60’s he was Daf’s Formula 3 driver also racing a Brabham Ford on occasion. He eventually graduated to more powerful machinery, namely, assorted Porsche sports cars for Ben Pon’s team, which he raced in assorted events in the World Championship of Makes. He eventually made it to the Porsche works team in 1967, but ended up racing for privateer teams again, in 1968 and 1969, trying his hands in Abarths and Alpines, in addition to the ubiquitous Porsches. Overall results were poor in those years. By 1970, Van Lennep had been hired by the Finnish AAIW Racing team, a second rate privateer Porsche specialist. Gijs also raced an Abarth on the 2 Liter championship, on occasion, finishing 3rd in Mugello. His performances were enough to entice Martini Porsche to hire him for 1971. Van Lennep did win Le Mans in 1971, with Helmut Marko, which placed him much in evidence. However the 5 liters were outlawed for 1972, and Gijs ended up racing for Jo Bonnier’s team, which Lola 3 liter cars were fast, but unreliable. The highlight of Gijs year in the Makes championship was scoring fastest lap in Le Mans, the event in which team boss Bonnier lost his life. However, Van Lennep also decided to take on F-5000 in 1972, and did well enough to win the European championship, driving a Surtees and winning two events. He continued to race in F-5000 in 1973, with much less success, but was hired by the Porsche works to develop the Porsche Carrera Turbo. Van Lennep again had a significant victory, winning the last edition of the Targa Florio valid for the world championship, sharing the Carrera Turbo with Herbert Muller. This was also the first world championship win by a Turbo car. Van Lennep continued to race the Carrera in 1974, finishing Le Mans in second place. He also finished 6nd, in a Kremer Porsche, in the 6 Hours of Monza of 1974, valid for the Euro GT Championship. In 1975, Gijs raced an assortment of Porsches in the Makes championship, from an elderly 908, to a GT 911, with several co drivers, including old pals Kinnunen and Herbert Muller. In 1976, Van Lennep was slated to drive in Le Mans with Jacky Ickx, in the Porsche 936. This turned out to be victory number 3 for Jacky, # 2 for Van Lennep, and the last race of his career. What a way to retire!!

WILSON FITTIPALDI JUNIOR'S F1 CAREER

November 19th, 2008

Born 12/25/1943, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Starts: 36

Points: 3

Wins:0

Poles:0

Fastest Laps:0

Wilson arrived in F-1 in F-1 on the strength of younger brother Emerson’s good performances of 1970 and 1971. Actually Wilson had tasted F-1 driving a spare Lotus in the non-championship Argentine GP of 1971, but his world championship debut took place in Spain, in 1972. Driving a BT33 car, Wilson finished 7th and qualified midfield. He led the first lap of the first Brazilian GP (non championship) and finished a couple of other times near the points paying positions in 1972 (another 7th in Germany and 9th in France). This was nowhere near brother Emerson’s stellar championship season, though. All the same his performance was good enough to be called back by Brabham for 1973, initially driving the year old BT37, eventually graduating to the BT42. Wilson did better this year, finishing 6th in Argentina, earning his first point. He raced extremely well at Monaco, dropping out in the latter stages of the race while in 3rd, and got another couple of points in Germany. He was outshone by fellow Latin American Reutemann, and dropped a bomb in the racing world, when he announced he would build the first Brazilian F-1 car. The Fittipaldi brothers had already built many racing cars in Brazil, including a double engined VW Bettle, but nothing near F-1 power. Wilson did race once in F-1, in 1974, driving in the non championship Brasilia GP, but spent the rest of the year building his dream. However, designing and building a F-1 race car in Brazil was no easy task, as he tried to use Brazilian suppliers as much as possible. The Ford engined car was unveiled in late 1974, and appeared very slick. The slickness did not work on the race track, and the race version was much different (and uglier) than the car presented to the press. The debut was not very auspicious: a crash with fire in Argentina. This was followed by a thirteenth place in Brazil. The car did not qualify in South Africa and Monaco, and Wilson had an accident in Austria, hurting his hand, when the car was performing best (it posted the 20th fastest time out of 30). He was out of the Italian GP, handing the car over to Merzario, and appeared for one final race in the USA. Wilson shocked the world again, announcing the signing of brother Emerson for the 1976 season, never again seen in F-1. He continued to race well into the 90’s, managing to win races in partnership with son Christian.

Cars driven out of Formula 1:

Formula 2: Brabham

Formula 3: Willys Gavea, Lotus

Sports cars: Willys Interlagos, Alpine, Porsche (917, 911), Lola T70, Lola T210, Ford GT40, AC-VW, Fitti-Porsche, Karmann Ghia-Porsche, Chevron

Can-Am/Interserie: Porsche 917

Touring cars: Renault, Chevrolet (Opala), Alfa Romeo GTA, VW, Fiat Abarth, VW Bi Motor