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Herrmann to beat Moss - '55 Mille Miglia


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#1 Mal9444

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 09:53

While looking for something else about Hans Herrmann I came across this, on the Daimler-Benz website, in connection with the 1955 Mille Miglia:

‘“Pace yourself. Moss will probably go off at such a rate he’ll have no brakes left for the last third. If you keep your speed up but go easy on the car, you’ve got a chance.” Hans Herrmann well remembers the words of his navigator Hermann Eger. He recognized the benefits of a more circumspect driving style.
‘In the early part of the race all went well. He quickly advanced to second place behind Stirling Moss and was able to hold on to this position. Herrmann knew that if he could save his brakes he would be able to attack Moss on the last few miles, since by the end of the race his team-mate would have worn his brakes out. The car with the start number 704 was running beautifully. After a stop to refuel in Rome the breakneck pace continued. Then suddenly the car’s filler cap popped open, however, showering driver and navigator with fuel. As gasoline seeped into Herrmann’s racing goggles he was blinded to the corner ahead, collided with the rock wall and came to an abrupt halt. Immediately navigator Eger leapt out of the car to escape the potentially explosive situation. The pair’s Mille Miglia was over.
‘“It is the only race result of my career that still haunts me today. We would have caught up with Moss,” he says with utter self-belief. “We were after him all the way. Moss’s brakes were down to bare metal by the time he crossed the finishing line. And he knows we were on to him.” ‘

While this apparently extraordinary statement is made on his Wikipedia (I know, I know…) entry:

‘Hans was quick in the 1955 Mille Miglia with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, comparably or even faster than Moss…’

In fact Herrmann started 18 minutes before Moss, at 0704. Jenk’s account relates that at the first fuel stop at Pescara the race order was ‘Taruffi, Moss 15 seconds, Herrmann, Kling, Fangio’ indicating that Moss had already made up at least some of that 18 minute deficit. Jenks goes on to recall that they eventually passed Herrmann by the roadside at the Futa Pass, the result of the above-mentioned accident, but there is no indication of for how long the car had been by the roadside.

All of us who race anything have our ‘if only’ stories – but I have never before heard any suggestion that (given equal machinery, which is the case here) Herrmann was a serious threat to Moss in any race, let alone the ’55 Mille Miglia.

What do the experts think?

Is Hans' claim (by all accounts he is a charming and modest man) to be taken seriously? Or is it a case of 'well, if that's what floats your boat, feel free...'



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#2 Doug Nye

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 10:17

Hans is indeed an exceedingly good guy - and one in whom the competitive flame still burns very brightly. Take his recollections accordingly, and treat them with due respect. That IS the way he recalls the event. But whichever way you slice it, Moss did the deed, and Herrmann did not...

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 19 August 2009 - 10:19.


#3 kayemod

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 10:32

Hmmm...

Not doubting anything you and Herr Herrmann say Doug, but 19 GPs and just a single podium? Racing against Sir Stirling in equal Mercedes 300SLRs? As soon as I saw the name though, that photo flashed into my mind from the 1959 German GP at Avus, Hans crouching on the track, with a somersaulting BRM several feet above him. Anyone who got back into a car after that is a very brave man indeed.

Blush. A quick edit to correct misspelling of the man's surname, es tut mir leid Herr Herrmann!

Edited by kayemod, 19 August 2009 - 11:05.


#4 RobertE

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 10:43

While there was nothing inevitable (there never is, let's face it) about 722's win, it's fair to say that the level of preparation which went into the Moss/Jenkinson effort was extraordinary, even by the standards of the Mille Miglia. The prospect of Stirling cooking his brakes anywhere on the circuit short of the last stretch is, even at this distance, unlikely, though - nothing to do with the car, more to do with the driver. HH's bravery is legendary (I agree re. his career post- the AVUS incident) but the fact that his navigator merely counselled what he did does not mean it was correct. As I compiled the race record for the biog. I could find no example of Stirl. withdrawing from a race due to having sha**ed the brakes. At least, not that I can recall...

#5 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 11:04

I would think that the Targa Florio would have been harder on the brakes...

Is there anything in the reports about Moss and Collins having done theirs in during that race? And I don't for a moment think they spared the ponies (or the picks) that day.

#6 Sebastian Tombs

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 11:56

Yes, well there is a lot more to this which would lend some credence to Herrmann's recollections of events. Moss was supposed to be the hare according to Mercedes team strategy and Alfred Neubaeuer, not, obviously, to give his team mate a better chance (!) but to blow up or knacker the brakes on the Ferraris, notably Taruffi, but also Maglioli, Marzotto, and Siginolfi in the 375's and Castellotti in the big-banger 4.4. Not the most well-thought-out strategy since, as has been said, SCM was very kind on brakes! Herrmann and the other Mercedes drivers would have been aware of this "strategy" and might even have believed it, HH's co-driver appears to have done. Times prove conclusively that Moss did not ease up in the final stages. Neither is there any reporting that the brakes were down to the rivets, but I expect they were. HH is a gentleman and we should not begrudge him his musings about the "Day he could have beaten Moss" Short of Moss DNF'ing he couldn't, and that's that. :)


#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 13:17

Didn't I make my point strongly enough?

Here we have a car that has brakes that last through the Targa, a race that would have been brutal enough on brakes driven reasonably hard. But they evidently lasted on this car when it was driven much harder than that.

Let's look at it another way. The Short Madonie circuit would have repaid hard braking with measurably better lap times, but apart from a few (admittedly important) sections of the Mille Miglia the thousand miler was more of a power and sheer guts kind of race.

Moreover, Moss and Jenkinson had practised the course to death, so Moss was able to use the brakes less than his competitors. It's a perfect example of the truth of Fangio's famous statement being able to apply to a set of circumstances. "More accelerator, less brake."

#8 D-Type

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 17:27

But Jenkinson recorded that they finished the race with no linings left and "metal on metal" brakes. See A story of Formula 1, it may also be in his classic Motor Sport piece. (I'm posting at work so I can't check it out now.)

I have never seen any reference to the Targa car wearing out its brakes. But as you say this is surprising. Maybe the Mille Miglia experience led Daimler-Benz to change to harder linings.

#9 Sebastian Tombs

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 19:45

[quote name='Ray Bell' date='Aug 19 2009, 14:17' post='3800610']
Didn't I make my point strongly enough?

No, not really. Thanks for expanding it :well:


#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 20:00

Not sure what you mean by that smilie...

But I'm sure what I said would be correct.

#11 kayemod

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 20:04

But Jenkinson recorded that they finished the race with no linings left and "metal on metal" brakes. See A story of Formula 1, it may also be in his classic Motor Sport piece. (I'm posting at work so I can't check it out now.)

I have never seen any reference to the Targa car wearing out its brakes. But as you say this is surprising. Maybe the Mille Miglia experience led Daimler-Benz to change to harder linings.


I'd be surprised to read that any car finishing the 1955 Mille Miglia did so with very much remaining in the braking department.


#12 Roger Clark

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 21:35

Moss won the Gran Premio Nuvolari for fastest time over the final section Cremona - Mantua - Brescia. Not the most demanding section of the course but still not suggestive of a car with failing brakes. It is true that the brake linings had gone (and probably before the Futa Pass!) but the Mercedes was designed with fully automatic adjustment so that clearance between drum and lining remained constant as the linings wore.

#13 ensign14

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 21:39

Wasn't the Cremona-Brescia bit fairly flat out?

#14 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 21:46

I have looked at the Jenkinson article as reproduced in "Jenks" and there is no reference to the condition of the brakes at the end of the race. At the beginning, mechanics pushed the car up onto the ramp to spare the clutch as that was a weak point of the SLR, and Jenks warned Moss to also be careful with the brakes until they had warmed up. I have read, elsewhere, that at Le Mans the SLR brakes had to be warmed up before hard braking for Mulsanne, or the linings would crack.

#15 Roger Clark

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 21:57

Wasn't the Cremona-Brescia bit fairly flat out?

Yes, that's what I meant by it being fairly undemanding. It might be worth quoting a bit from Jenkinson's "A Story of Formula 1"

"We had done brake lining tests during practice and it was thought that 7 millimetres of lining would be sufficient, but after the 1,000 mile race the front brakes had no linings on them at all and a large proportion of the alloy brake shoe had worn away. Thanks to the automatic adjustment the shoes had gone on moving out towards the drum long after the lining had been used up .... we had noticed a change in the brakes some 300 miles before the end of the race.... had we known that all the linings were gone I doubt whether we should have come over the Futa and Raticosa mountain passes as quickly as we did."

Edited by Roger Clark, 19 August 2009 - 21:58.


#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 05:49

So the wear rate was high in the mountain passes... as it would be throughout almost the whole lap of the Short Madonie circuit in Sicily...

When Moss looked at his watch, I wonder if Jenks spared any thought for that 7mms of linings?

The fact that they mention a thickness, of course, indicates that their testing had been to put just enough into the brakes to do the distance. It's possible, therefore, that the Targa had seen much thicker linings. And, as mentioned, possibly harder ones as well.

#17 Roger Clark

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 07:17

So the wear rate was high in the mountain passes... as it would be throughout almost the whole lap of the Short Madonie circuit in Sicily...

When Moss looked at his watch, I wonder if Jenks spared any thought for that 7mms of linings?

The fact that they mention a thickness, of course, indicates that their testing had been to put just enough into the brakes to do the distance. It's possible, therefore, that the Targa had seen much thicker linings. And, as mentioned, possibly harder ones as well.

The 300SLR's brake linings were made of two materials so so that a harder one become effective if wear was excessive.

Daimler-Benz were nothing if not thorough and you can be sure that the learned lessons in the Mille Miglia which would have been applied well before the Targa Florio,

#18 ZOOOM

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 01:14

For years and years I have wondered why Mercedes didn't use the "air brake" that was used at Le Mans, in the MM....

ZOOOM

#19 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 06:57

For years and years I have wondered why Mercedes didn't use the "air brake" that was used at Le Mans, in the MM....

ZOOOM

Possibly because it was more suited to sustained braking from very high sppeds than the continuous on-off from relatively low speeds required on a mountain pass.

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#20 D-Type

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 22:18

Hermann was selected by Mercedes Benz as they obviously considered him the best of the postwar German drivers, ie ahead of Von Trips. In 1954, his debut GP season, he took a 3rd and a 4th, so he was no slouch. But I feel that the Monaco GP crash took away that vital edge as bad crashes sometimes do. Although he turned in respectable performances in Porsche and Borgward sports cars he didn't fulfil his early potential

Could he have caught Moss in the MM? He thinks so. If he was conserving his brakes he might have been faster over the final third of the race. Does anybody know how far behind Moss he was at the time of his crash?

But we'll never know.


#21 Roger Clark

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 05:39

Could he have caught Moss in the MM? He thinks so. If he was conserving his brakes he might have been faster over the final third of the race. Does anybody know how far behind Moss he was at the time of his crash?

But we'll never know.

5 min 48 seconds behind at Florence.

#22 longhorn

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 13:57

Moss then covered the Florence-Bologna section in 1 hour and 1 minute and was nearly 28 minutes in front of Fangio who was suffering with injector problems. Given the very high average speed of the final section to Brescia, it is most unlikely that Herrmann would have caught Moss, regardless of the state of Moss' brakes.

As an aside, I was looking again at the results of that race in Lurani's Mille Miglia. Whilst the Moss and Jenkinson performance in covering the 1000 miles in 10 hours 7 minutes and 48 seconds was fantastic, and, never bettered, consider another performance. Cipolla in an Isetta completed the course in 20 hours 8 minutes and 9 seconds. This in a 250cc car, which, in standard form, did 0 to 30mph in around 30 seconds and had a top speed of 45mph. Now, I imagine that Cipolla's car was faster than standard but it was still a great achievement. Jenks thought so in his Motor Sport musings. Truly, heros all.

#23 ZOOOM

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 16:17

Cipolla in an Isetta completed the course in 20 hours 8 minutes and 9 seconds. This in a 250cc car, which, in standard form, did 0 to 30mph in around 30 seconds and had a top speed of 45mph.


On the other hand, with a top speed of around 45MPH.... he probably didn't use up HIS brakes either...
I'm jus, sayen....
ZOOOM


#24 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 17:07

5 min 48 seconds behind at Florence.


There is an interview of Herrman in the August 2009 issue of Vintage Racecar, in which he answered a question about the '55 Mille Miglia as follows: "The development of that race showed that only Moss and I came into the question of winning. Unfortunately, I had the bad luck that the tank lid at the Rome refueling was not shut properly. After about 159 kms, the lid burst open, momentarily I lost control, hit a rock, and the petrol poured all over me and my codriver Herman Eger. Because of that incident, Moss was the winner ahead of Fangio. Moss drove the last 160 kms virtually without brakes, and we would have beaten him easily."

#25 kayemod

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 17:50

"...Moss drove the last 160 kms virtually without brakes, and we would have beaten him easily."


Reminds me of the famous response by Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington, no disrespect to Hans Herrmann intended, but "If you believe that Sir, you will believe anything".


#26 bradbury west

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 19:14

Reminds me of the famous response by Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington,


or possibly the one given by Mandy Rice-Davies.

BTW the state of a race car at that point, with a resounding win, was of no consequence, surely, as ACBC would point out in later years.

Roger Lund

Edited by bradbury west, 22 August 2009 - 19:16.


#27 longhorn

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 19:55

On the other hand, with a top speed of around 45MPH.... he probably didn't use up HIS brakes either...
I'm jus, sayen....
ZOOOM



Quite. But the point I am making is that of a comparison between a 3 litre straight 8 capable of around 170 mph with acceleration to match, presumably high fuel consumption but with a reasonably large tank, crewed by an ace driver and fearless navigator with notes, and, a 250cc single cylinder which averaged almost 50 mph, crewed by only a driver, had low fuel consumption but only a 3.5 gallon tank.

#28 D-Type

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 21:05

These Isettas intrigue me. Some had a co-driver which must have been cramped! Does anybody have a picture please?

#29 Mal9444

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 09:00

Moss then covered the Florence-Bologna section in 1 hour and 1 minute and was nearly 28 minutes in front of Fangio who was suffering with injector problems.


In fact, Moss beat Fangio by 31 minutes overall. Which means that Moss, driving with a navigator and pace notes, was some 2 seconds a mile quicker than Fangio, driving alone. Which must mean in turn that, given that not even Fangio could have known every complex corner and blind rise in the 1,000 miles and thus must have had to have been more cautious in such sections than Moss, there must have been other sections where Fangio was going even quicker than Moss, rough engine or no. I have seen it written elsewhere that Fangio's drive was in its own way even more epic than that of Moss and despite being an ardent Moss fan would find difficulty in dismissing such a proposition.

IIRC, Moss and Jenks overtook Fangio, who had started 24 minutes in front, at Florence, where the later was stopped at the Mercedes pit having the troublesome injector pipe attended to (DCN's book - Fangio 'had limped into Florence...') Imagine the race that would have developed had Moss and Jenks caught up with Fangio (with the engine now on song) actually on the road.




#30 Doug Nye

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 09:16

The Daimler-Benz team member nobody has mentioned yet, and the one to whom SM and Jenks fully expected at best to finish second, or even third also behind Fangio, was experienced Mille Miglia old hand Karl Kling... When they saw his car - crashed by the roadside - at Rome they realised their chances had just improved.

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 23 August 2009 - 09:18.


#31 longhorn

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 09:47

These Isettas intrigue me. Some had a co-driver which must have been cramped! Does anybody have a picture please?



I imagine that carrying a co-driver would have had a serious impact on the power to weight ratio. There is one picture of Cipolla in the Lurani Mille Miglia book but I can't find any other Isetta pictures at home.

Meanwhile an Isetta Mille Miglia image search on Google brought up

http://images.google...rge/5050328.001

http://images.google...h...ille-m.JPG

There are probably more.

Cipolla was number 3 in the 1955 event, so started at 12.03am and finished at 20.11.09pm. By comparison, Moss & Jenks had a lay-in, as they started at 7.22am and were back at teatime - 17.29.48pm.

#32 longhorn

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 10:09

The Daimler-Benz team member nobody has mentioned yet, and the one to whom SM and Jenks fully expected at best to finish second, or even third also behind Fangio, was experienced Mille Miglia old hand Karl Kling... When they saw his car - crashed by the roadside - at Rome they realised their chances had just improved.

DCN


Doug

I agree that the other three Mercedes were in contention but Moss was always ahead of them. Surely it was Taruffi's Ferrari which posed the biggest threat after Castellotti went out.

#33 Doug Nye

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 08:27

No argument with that - but, I repeat, SM and DSJ expected Kling to pose a greater threat (i.e. in the context of this thread, than Herrmann).

DCN

#34 Gary Davies

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 09:15

Judging by this pic, I'm starting to wonder if Stirl had other options for the race beyond Mercedes-Benz and DSJ.

Posted Image


#35 kayemod

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 09:37

Judging by this pic, I'm starting to wonder if Stirl had other options for the race beyond Mercedes-Benz and DSJ.


Given Sir Stirling's reputation, I can sense a caption competition coming on.


#36 Catalina Park

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 10:15

Nice hubcaps.

#37 longhorn

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 11:20

No argument with that - but, I repeat, SM and DSJ expected Kling to pose a greater threat (i.e. in the context of this thread, than Herrmann).

DCN



Yes, I agree, particularly judging from his performance in the 300SL Mercedes in the 1952 event, his first Mille Miglia, where he led from Aquila to Florence and seemed as though he would win right until the fog came down in the final stages. Herrmann meanwhile, had won his class in both 1953 and 1954 in the 1500 Porsche, actually finishing 6th overall in the latter event. Impressive performances but not in quite the same league as Kling.

#38 Roger Clark

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 16:37

I imagine that carrying a co-driver would have had a serious impact on the power to weight ratio. There is one picture of Cipolla in the Lurani Mille Miglia book but I can't find any other Isetta pictures at home.

Meanwhile an Isetta Mille Miglia image search on Google brought up

http://images.google...rge/5050328.001

http://images.google...h...ille-m.JPG

There are probably more.

Cipolla was number 3 in the 1955 event, so started at 12.03am and finished at 20.11.09pm. By comparison, Moss & Jenks had a lay-in, as they started at 7.22am and were back at teatime - 17.29.48pm.

Just for the record, and I'm sure everybody will thank me for pointing this out, Cipolla started at 21:07 the day before. The early starters did not have race numbers derived from their start time.

Cipolla was the third of four Isettas to start, furiously pursued by four 2CVs, and a large pack of snarling Fiat 500s. The very first starters were the diesels (four Fiat 1400s and four Mercedes) and the lone entrant in the 250cc sportscar class, Fanciullini's Fanciullini. He took 16 hours to reach Rome, over five hours more than Cipolla, arriving almost hour after Moss and Jenkinson. I hope he was alright when they overtook him. Sadly he failed to make it back to Brescia.

Edited by Roger Clark, 24 August 2009 - 16:38.


#39 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 22:01

That is interesting information, Roger, and I thank you for that...

As for the smaller cars and the slower cars and the various little private entries, I can't help thinking that the report I've posted previously goes a long way to describing the passion and excitement there must have been among those people.

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#40 longhorn

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 08:43

I didn't know that either. I had thought that the numbers always represented the start times - even those that started before midnight. Thanks for the clarification.

#41 Roger Clark

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 11:28

I didn't know that either. I had thought that the numbers always represented the start times - even those that started before midnight. Thanks for the clarification.

Most years they did, but 1955 was an exception. THe early cars started at 30 second intervals - that may have been the reason.

In 1955 there was a number 01, (Gorrini's Fiat 1400 diesel), 1 (Anselmo's Isetta), 001 (Rapetto's Fiat 1100). Rapetto started at one minute past midnight.

#42 Alan Cox

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 18:47

I can't bring up the photos posted by longhorn, so I tried these

http://images.google...t...DN&start=60

http://images.google...htt...l=en&sa=N

http://images.google...t...N&start=160

#43 ensign14

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 22:38

Roebuck's column in this month's Motor Sport quotes Moss as saying he completed the last 83 miles at an average of 161mph. Not much need for brakes there then.

#44 kayemod

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 08:47

Roebuck's column in this month's Motor Sport quotes Moss as saying he completed the last 83 miles at an average of 161mph. Not much need for brakes there then.


You must be one heck of a fast reader, my copy only came through the door two minutes ago (with the best MS cover ever!)


#45 longhorn

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Posted 28 August 2009 - 08:53

It was certainly a very fast section, but not that fast. Between Cremona & Brescia they averaged 198.496 kph, including stopping at Mantova to have the route card stamped. Equates to 123.34 mph. But as you say, it wouldn't have added much to the wear on the brakes.