I got up at 7:30 am to a very cloudy sky and a lot of wind. Upon arrival at Zandvoort the weather seemed to clear a bit but it the wind was still strong. For my friend Stefan this was his first visit to the Historic Grand Prix, and he was amazed by what he saw and heard. All the different types of race cars, classes but also the different types of teams. You have the teams with a big budget standing next to the guy who’s saving all his money to do a couple or maybe even just one race or event a year. Big luxury trucks and hospitality units next to the bearded race fanatic with his old beat-up Landrover and trailer. A lot of them are English, I love the English car culture and race passion. It is surpassed by none and there is always a great sense of humor. But there were also… Continue reading
HOW A MURDER CAUSED THE FIRST CAR RACE EVER
Sorry for this interruption before moving on to my Louwman story part 2, but today DSJ will tell you a detective story not to be missed. Louwman part 2 will follow soon of course! – RAV
History is often seen as boring, but history also hides many beautiful stories which should be told. Here is one of such stories!
Many people know that Gavrilo Princip unchained the first World War with his murder of Franz Ferdinand. But how many people know that the first car race ever was also unchained by a murder? Probably not so many!
One of the French newspapers of the 19th century, Le Petit Journal, was known for its fast reporting of spectacular events. But in 1894 … Continue reading
THE BRUTAL AMERICAN 20-LITRE V-4 FRONT WHEEL DRIVE CHRISTIE RACING CAR OF 1907
Forget the Beast of Turin! This brutal Chistie front wheel drive racer is much more EXTREME! It is possibly the most exciting and elusive racing car ever. It not only is front wheel drive, but also has a huge and extraordinary transverse V-4 engine of almost 20 litres! It is as if it comes from another world, with its four large pots, riveted crankcase and big and short exhaust pipes, almost blowing their flames in the face of the driver.
Late in 1903 John Walter Christie, an American mechanic, engineer and inventor, started designing extraordinary vehicles with the most unusual engines and transmissions. His point of view wasn’t as common as others … Continue reading
10 HOURS NEXT TO STIRLING MOSS PART 4
Without any warning the car spun and there was just time to think what a desolated part of Italy in which to crash, when I realised that we had almost stopped in our own length and were sliding gently into the ditch to land with a crunch that dented the tail. “This is all right,” I thought, “we can probably push it out of this one,” and I was about to start getting out when Moss selected bottom gear and we drove out – lucky indeed! Before we could point the car in the right direction we had to make two reverses and as we accelerated away down the mountainside. I fiddled about putting the safety catch back on the reverse position of the gear-gate, while we poked our tongues out at each other in mutual derision.
At the Siena control we had no idea of whether we were still leading or not, but Moss was quite certain that Taruffi would have had to have worked extremely hard to catch him, for he had put all he knew into that last part of the course, he told me afterwards. Never relaxing for an instant he continued to drive the most superb race of his career, twirling the steering wheel this way and that, controlling slides with delicateness of throttle that was fairy-like … Continue reading
10 HOURS NEXT TO STIRLING MOSS PART 3
Just beyond the control were a row of pits and there was 723, Castellotti’s Ferrari, having some tyre changes, which was not surprising in view of the way he had been driving. With a scream of “Castellotti!”, Moss accelerated hard round the next corner and we twisted our way through the streets of Ravenna, nearly collecting an archway in the process, and then out on the fast winding road to Forlì. Our time to Ravenna had been well above the old record but Castellotti had got there before us and we had no idea how Taruffi and the others behind us were doing. Now Moss continued the pace with renewed vigour and we went through Forlì, waving to the garage that salvaged the SL we crashed in practice, down the fast winding road to Rimini, with another wave to the Alfa Romeo service station that looked after the SLR that broke its engine. I couldn’t help thinking that we had certainly left our mark round the course during practice … Continue reading
10 HOURS NEXT TO STIRLING MOSS PART 2
A week before the event we went to Stuttgart to try out the actual car we were using in the race, and several laps of the fast Hockenheim circuit convinced us that we had a truly magnificent 3-litre sports car under us, the eight-cylinder fuel-injection engine giving well over 290 bhp on normal pump petrol, and the car geared to give a maximum of 170 mph at the peak revolutions of 7,500 rpm, though we were given no ultimate limit, should the car wind itself over this downhill. On this SLR the seats were made to measure for us, being cut-and-shut just like a tailor would make a suit, while every detail in the cockpit received our personal attention, and anything was altered to our desire without question. When we finally left the racing department at 5 pm on Tuesday, April 26th, we had the pleasant feeling that we had just left an organization that knew no limit to the trouble they would go to in order that we might start the Mille Miglia with everything on our side.
Next day we flew to Brescia and when we went round to the garage in the evening the cars were already there, having been driven down in the fast racing lorries overnight. We were now satisfied with almost everything we could think about; we had practised wheel-changing over and over again, in case we had tyre trouble, and I would add that we impressed the Mercedes-Benz mechanics … Continue reading
10 HOURS NEXT TO STIRLING MOSS PART 1
On May 1st motor-racing history was made, for Stirling Moss won the 1,000-mille Mille Miglia, the first time in 22 years that this has been achieved by a British driver, and I had this great privilege of sitting beside him throughout this epic drive.
But let us go back to the beginning, for this win was not a fluke on the spur of the moment, it was the result of weeks, even months, of preparation and planning.
My enthusiasm for the Mille Miglia race goes back many years, among the reasons being the fact that it is permissible to carry a passenger. This event is for all types of road-going cars, from family saloons to Grand Prix type racing/sports cars, and when I had my first taste of the lure of the Mille Miglia as a competitor last year, with Abecassis in the HWM, I soon set about making plans for the 1955 event … Continue reading