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Lella Lombardi


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#1 yulzari

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 10:56

Can anyone confirm a memory I have of Lella Lombardi?

I was told by (?) that she spent her season with March complaining that her car (and IIRC it was a year old one updated and renumbered) felt unstable in right hand corners but she was ignored as a newcomer in F1. At the end of the year Ronnie Peterson gave it a run for some reason and reported the same so it was stripped down before being rebuilt for sale. When they checked out the rear tub bulkhead it was found to be cracked and had probably been so since the previous year. I wonder who had it the previous year?

If so she was better than I thought and I thought she was worth a place on the grid by merit anyway.

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#2 kayemod

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 11:07

It would have been easy to find out who previous owners/drivers had been by rubbing through the many layers of paint on the monocoque.

#3 yulzari

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 11:55

It would have been easy to find out who previous owners/drivers had been by rubbing through the many layers of paint on the monocoque.

You may say that, but I couldn't possibly comment.........

#4 Allen Brown

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 12:19

Very nearly. Peterson inherited Lombardi's old 751 (now renamed as a 761) when he joined the team for 1976 and he did indeed report the same handling problem. His performances were unimpressive until the car needed to be retubbed after he crashed it. With a new tub, his performances were transformed so Mosley sent someone to look at the old discarded tub and found the cracked bulkhead. He later apologised to Lombardi, but it was too late to rescue her F1 career. Anyone who saw her race in F5000 in Britain or Australia will tell you how good she was.

#5 kayemod

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 12:24

He later apologised to Lombardi, but it was too late to rescue her F1 career.


Did he offer a refund?


#6 charles r

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 12:56

Didn't Frank Williams have the same problem with Patrick Neve's car, or am I making that up?

#7 D-Type

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 15:13

And Fangio at Indianapolis?

#8 P.Dron

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 15:48

And Fangio at Indianapolis?


Are you suggesting that he found the car unstable in the right-hand corners?

#9 D-Type

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 16:01

The story I read said that he was unhappy with the handling of the car. 'They' put it down to his lack of experience at the Speedway. Another driver tried the car and also failed to qualify it. When the team later checked the car thoroughly they found it had a cracked frame.

But this could be an urban myth.

#10 yulzari

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 16:34

Didn't Frank Williams have the same problem with Patrick Neve's car, or am I making that up?

Does make me wonder if it was the same chassis, Neve, Lombari then Peterson renumbered as required. Perhaps those in the know about each season's chassis can comment?

#11 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 18:20

Very nearly. Peterson inherited Lombardi's old 751 (now renamed as a 761) when he joined the team for 1976 and he did indeed report the same handling problem. His performances were unimpressive until the car needed to be retubbed after he crashed it. With a new tub, his performances were transformed so Mosley sent someone to look at the old discarded tub and found the cracked bulkhead. He later apologised to Lombardi, but it was too late to rescue her F1 career. Anyone who saw her race in F5000 in Britain or Australia will tell you how good she was.


Did she drive two March 751's during the 1975 season? Was the "cracked" one the one she drove at the end of the season? 751/1?

Vince H.


#12 Cavalier53

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 19:19

And Fangio at Indianapolis?

From Fangio's (auto)biography (co-)written by his manager Giambertone: "we were told it was a 1958 model but, in reality, we would find out it had been built in 1956".

my translation from French 1961 "ma vie a 300 a l'heure"

Now please respectfully return to Lella Lombardi and her achievements, i'd love to see some reference to her potential before she stepped into the March I saw her driving in Zolder.

#13 racinggeek

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 19:24

Very nearly. Peterson inherited Lombardi's old 751 (now renamed as a 761) when he joined the team for 1976 and he did indeed report the same handling problem. His performances were unimpressive until the car needed to be retubbed after he crashed it. With a new tub, his performances were transformed so Mosley sent someone to look at the old discarded tub and found the cracked bulkhead. He later apologised to Lombardi, but it was too late to rescue her F1 career. Anyone who saw her race in F5000 in Britain or Australia will tell you how good she was.


That's pretty much how I remember it, from either Max or Robin Herd, not sure which off the top of my head, recounting it to Mike Lawrence in his book on March. Also seem to recall from the book that when Lella was complaining about the car -- heavy understeer going in, then snap oversteer -- they had Vittorio take it out for a lap or two, after which Brambles would come in and say, "No problem," after which Max or Robin said to Lella, "Well, you say it handles badly, but Vittorio says it's good and he's a couple seconds quicker to boot." Although it was sort of implied that the Gorilla just went out and thrashed it around without concerning himself with how the beast handled, and the speaker admitted the team pretty much killed Lella's potential F1 career.

#14 LittleChris

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 00:04

Very nearly. Peterson inherited Lombardi's old 751 (now renamed as a 761) when he joined the team for 1976 and he did indeed report the same handling problem. His performances were unimpressive until the car needed to be retubbed after he crashed it. With a new tub, his performances were transformed so Mosley sent someone to look at the old discarded tub and found the cracked bulkhead. He later apologised to Lombardi, but it was too late to rescue her F1 career. Anyone who saw her race in F5000 in Britain or Australia will tell you how good she was.


As far as I'm aware the three times Ronnie crashed that year ( during the race) were at Kyalami ( brake failure approaching Crowthorne? ) , Monaco ( Tabac I think ?) & at he Ring when he pre-empted Manfred Winklehock's 1980 effort by going straight on rather than turning right immediately after the hump at Flugplatz).

From what I remember he did virtually no testing that year due to lack of budget so I assume the accident Allen refers to happened during a race weekend .

His 1976 results with March were :

Q F

Kyalami 13 Acc
Long Beach 6 10
Jarama 16 Ret
Zolder 10 Ret
Monaco 3 Acc
Anderstorp 9 7
Paul Ricard 6 19
Brands Hatch 7 Ret
Nurburgring 11 Acc
Zandvoort 1 Ret
Monza 8 1 :clap:
Mosport 2 9
Watkins Glen 3 Ret
Fuji 9 Ret

So at what point was it discovered that there was a crack in the bulkhead ? From the above it's not obvious to me








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#15 Tim Murray

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 05:33

As far as I'm aware the three times Ronnie crashed that year ( during the race) were at Kyalami ( brake failure approaching Crowthorne? ) , Monaco ( Tabac I think ?) & at he Ring when he pre-empted Manfred Winklehock's 1980 effort by going straight on rather than turning right immediately after the hump at Flugplatz).

He also crashed during the Belgian GP when Reutemann slowed suddenly in front of him. According to the Mike Lawrence book this destroyed the monocoque, so it had the new one for Monaco. Here's how Pete Lyons saw things in his Autosport Monaco GP report:

March had completed a new type 761 chassis, which would be the sixth, and given it to Ronnie Peterson. It was set up with the original front suspension geometry (more inboard top pickups) and also with Girling brakes all round. Initially it also had a long wheelbase (gearbox spacer) but a shortage of the right spare bits meant that Ronnie had to go back to the normal dimension.

...

The brand new blue-and-yellow March looked as smooth, steady and unspectacular as had the red Ensign. It steered as well round the corners as any four-wheeler, and when the power came in it drove the car forward simply and tidily.

“We have this car set up properly for him,” said his Swedish mechanic Ake Strandberg. “When his car is not exactly right, when the adjustments are only good enough and not perfect, he can feel it and it puts him off.” Ronnie’s explanation was simpler:”I never liked the other car, I always said there was something wrong with it. This one feels very nice. Besides, I like Monaco, it’s a driver’s circuit.”

As suddenly as that, Ronnie Peterson was a factor again after more than a year in the cold.



#16 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 06:20

At the 2008 Monaco Historique, Mike McKee joined us at the Casino grandstand on the Saturday. In 1976, Mike paid 750 pounds for "Monaco Fine Arts Gallery" to appear on Ronnie Peterson's March; I said he got a better deal in 2008...he paid nothing to have it on Peter Williams' March !

Vince H.

#17 Peter Morley

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 10:10

Didn't Frank Williams have the same problem with Patrick Neve's car, or am I making that up?


Patrick Neve crashed 761-7 in testing for the Belgian GP and they discovered that it had orange paint underneath - e.g. it was built round a 751 tub (the most likely candidate being 751-3).
That might have been more of a surprise to the sponsors than it was to Frank since the build sheet said that the monocoque was an updated 751 and 'manufactured from as many second hand components as possible'!!
A new tub was built up (no idea if they recycled some of the previous tub components or not) in time for the Belgian GP that was so important to the driver and his sponsors.

Around that time Frank apparently charged drivers/sponsors the cost of a full Cosworth engine rebuild and then had the engines rebuilt by someone else (cheaper), so acting surprised that his 'new' chassis had previously been used would have come naturally...


#18 LittleChris

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 22:41

He also crashed during the Belgian GP when Reutemann slowed suddenly in front of him. According to the Mike Lawrence book this destroyed the monocoque, so it had the new one for Monaco. Here's how Pete Lyons saw things in his Autosport Monaco GP report:


Thanks Tim

#19 seccotine

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:22

The same happened to Rene Arnoux in Martini's only F1 car.
Steering was hard and heavy and each time Arnoux complained, he was dismissed because he was a debutant.
It is only when the season was over that the problem (mechanical) was identified.

Poor Lella. That bad 1975 season seriously damaged her career.

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#20 Peter Brennan

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Posted 22 April 2013 - 11:24

I was hoping that her F5000 career would be brought up, I remember her running a Matich A50 circa 1975 in Australia. Does anyone have any recollections of the period in Europe. I am restoring her 1974 Shell Luxembourg Lola T330. Pete

#21 LotusElise

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Posted 07 November 2016 - 17:03

Bumping an old thread to save starting a new one here - 

 

I'm looking for personal recollections of Lella, from people who met her, knew her or watched her race. This is for a writing project.

Apart from one Motor Sport article from last year, there is very little written that tells us what she was like as a person, what she was like to work with, or even what her driving style was like. 

So, memories, anecdotes, recollections - anything you want to share?

If you'd rather PM or email, that's fine.



#22 GMiranda

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Posted 07 November 2016 - 20:16

Bumping an old thread to save starting a new one here - 

 

I'm looking for personal recollections of Lella, from people who met her, knew her or watched her race. This is for a writing project.

Apart from one Motor Sport article from last year, there is very little written that tells us what she was like as a person, what she was like to work with, or even what her driving style was like. 

So, memories, anecdotes, recollections - anything you want to share?

If you'd rather PM or email, that's fine.

It sounds nice :clap:



#23 Dave Ware

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 22:21

The July 1975 issue of Road and Track has a profile about Lella Lombardi, written by Peter Windsor no less  It's not quite what you're asking for but it might be useful if you don't have it.  I can scan it and email it to you if you don't happen to have that issue handy (insert appropriate emojy here...)

 

This profile does not have something I remember reading about her, in which she talked about (sitting in a wagon in the early evening, I think) with a young man who wanted to marry her and she had to choose one life or another.  I would suspect that the article or interview was in Autoweek, since that is the only other publication I read at that time.  I would not be able to search my Autoweeks anytime soon however.  Perhaps someone else can help with that.

 

Once you're done with the project, I'm sure a lot of people here would like to read it if you can share it.



#24 E1pix

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 02:29

Yes please, LotusElise, I'd be on the "would love to read what you write" list also!

Good Luck. I'd be able to search my magazine archives from that time period, but they're all being cataloged and used by someone else while we travel. Sorry!

#25 RA Historian

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 14:28

Motor Sport had an article on Lella about a year ago give or take. Wish that I could be more specific, but I have to leave for an appointment right now and do not have the time to go into my library and flip through a dozen or more issues.



#26 LotusElise

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 16:41

Motor Sport had an article on Lella about a year ago give or take. Wish that I could be more specific, but I have to leave for an appointment right now and do not have the time to go into my library and flip through a dozen or more issues.

 

I have that one. It's the most in-depth article about her I've read.

 

Any personal recollections are more than welcome.



#27 D-Type

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 13:05

Coincidentally, this turned up on Facebook today (I hope the link works!)

https://www.facebook...10454937437314/


Edited by D-Type, 10 November 2016 - 13:07.


#28 LotusElise

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 17:37

It won't let me look.



#29 AJB

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 10:31

Quote:-

 

Sorry, this content isn't available at the moment
The link you followed may have expired, or the Page may only be visible to an audience that you aren't in.


#30 D-Type

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 21:46

Oh heck!  It's the usual Facebook permissions problem.  Presumably the person who posted it, Stefan Schmidt, shared it with friends only.  You could try sending a message to Stefan Schmidt explaining your interest and asking where he found the clip.  Possibly it's on U-Tube and a search for "Lella Lombardi" might find it.



#31 SJ Lambert

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 09:24

image.jpg

#32 bill p

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 14:26

Bumping an old thread to save starting a new one here - 
 
I'm looking for personal recollections of Lella, from people who met her, knew her or watched her race.
If you'd rather PM or email, that's fine.


I've sent you a PM about a feature in the April 1975 Car & Driver

Bill P

#33 D28

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 19:16

I've sent you a PM about a feature in the April 1975 Car & Driver

Bill P

I sent LE a PM about an article I had read years ago in a US mag. It described Lella mixing it up with Lloyd Ruby in a F5000 race. Do you happen to know if this is the issue?  I would love to read it again it was great journalism.



#34 E1pix

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 19:29

Lella Lombardi and Lloyd Ruby in the same sentence.

 

Wow, that I do not recall. Awesome driver pair, apart or together.  :up:



#35 D28

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 23:33

Right. The gist of the story, and I think it may be in that C&D issue was that Lella And Lloyd met at a USAC/SCCA F5000 race, probably OMS in 1974. Unintimidated by the tough USAC runners, Lella tried Lloyd on the outside. Anyway they were both present there in Eagles she finished 14 and Lloyd 17. She was also at Riverside about this time in a Lola, finished 9.

That is all I know and I have never been able to source the original story; still I never forgot it and she has remained an interesting character since.

Really looking forward to whatever LS comes up with.



#36 JacnGille

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 01:46

Lella Lombardi and Lloyd Ruby in the same sentence.

 

Same sentence?????? Same race!



#37 E1pix

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 02:47

I got that part, too. :-)

#38 Tim Murray

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 05:22

I think the race would have been the California Grand Prix at OMS on 1st September 1974. Lella and James Hunt were invited by California Ferrari importer Francisco Mir to race a couple of his cars, sponsored by Mr Marty. Hunt drove a Lola T332 and Lella the Eagle FA74 (chassis 004) currently regularly raced here in the UK by the Lyons family.

Lloyd Ruby was driving his turbo-Offy-engined Eagle Indycar, so the battle between him and Lella must have been interesting. Unfortunately I don't have a decent report of the race. Results here on the ORC site:

http://www.oldracing...php?RaceID=L74E

#39 E1pix

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 12:57

Thanks, Tim.

50 entered, 44 qualified. Think I'll sit on the beach and wax nostalgic now. :-(

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#40 D28

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 14:21

Right, that also was my source for the race report. The other race Lella entered at Riverside she drove the LolaT332 Chevrolet   and  Hunt is listed there in an Eagle-Chevrolet so it seems possible they switched cars between the 2 races.

She beat Hunt that day 9th to 14th, actually both times.  Ruby was not entered at Riverside,

 

Likewise I have not been able to locate a race report, still looking.


Edited by D28, 13 November 2016 - 14:25.


#41 D28

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 20:20

Thanks to  bill p   I was able to read the Charles Fox story, Car and Driver Apr 1975. Not the one I recall, but one with an even better anecdote from  the USAC hard cases, mentioning   Super Tex himself. 

 

Describing the start at Riverside Fox says:

 

"She came off the seventh row round the outside, picked off three cars and tucked her Lola T-332 back in again feet before bridge. A J Foyt bit extra hard on his Spearmint and muttered from the sidelines, "You mean that's really a girl?"

 

Great writing something missed today, about great driving from Lella Lombardi.


Edited by D28, 14 November 2016 - 02:05.


#42 Peter Brennan

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 20:44

Thanks to  bill p   I was able to read the Charles Fox story, Car and Driver Apr 1975. Not the one I recall, but one with an even better anecdote from  the USAC hard cases, mentioning   Super Tex himself. 

 

Describing the start at Riverside Fox says:

 

"She came off the seventh row round the outside, picked off three cars and tucked her Lola T-332 back in again feet before bridge. A J Foyt bit extra hard on his Spearmint and muttered from the sidelines, "You mean that's really a girl?"

 

Great writing something missed today, about great driving from Lella Lombardy.

Fantastic , love AJ quote. She was an awesome driver , came here in mid seventies and toweled up our guys at the AGP, she ran third to Kev Bartlett & Max Stewart. My current ride is her Lola T330 HU-18, No idea how to post a pic, sorry. Hope someone else can.



#43 E1pix

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 01:05

You're a lucky fellow, Peter. Your car's been posted around here a few times and it's a real beauty!

Enjoy it. :-)

#44 SJ Lambert

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 04:06



Fantastic , love AJ quote. She was an awesome driver , came here in mid seventies and toweled up our guys at the AGP, she ran third to Kev Bartlett & Max Stewart. My current ride is her Lola T330 HU-18, No idea how to post a pic, sorry. Hope someone else can.

 

 

Never get tired of looking at Lella's Lola Peter!!!

 

 

DSC2859.jpg



#45 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 04:58

Fantastic , love AJ quote. She was an awesome driver , came here in mid seventies and toweled up our guys at the AGP, she ran third to Kev Bartlett & Max Stewart. My current ride is her Lola T330 HU-18, No idea how to post a pic, sorry. Hope someone else can.

I do remember reading a period article and KB was very complimentary about her. There was also a pic, probably podium of KB, Max and Lella and she seemed about half the size!! At the very least she had a weight advantage!

Whose car did she drive? and how good was it at the time? I watched that race on TV as most of us did and my memory was a measured very competent drive. I suspect the car was not the best at the time.

And yes I know you own it now Peter.



#46 Librules

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 10:33

Lella drove a Matich in Australia, possibly owned by Kevin Loy at the time?  .  That Lola was driven by her in Europe.in '74 from memory.



#47 Cappo

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 11:37

Lella Lombardi one of the few successful Grand Prix drivers, sadly she died of cancer early in her career, she spun at Dunlop in the wet and clipped my camera bag as I was walking back to the pits, scared the shite out of me!

 

A few pictures, lovely lady to talk to, very sad she passed away from cancer so early.

 

 

lella2-1.jpg

 

lella3.jpg

 

lellac-u.jpg

 

f500016b-w.jpg


Edited by Cappo, 14 November 2016 - 11:39.


#48 D28

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 14:45

Mario was a firm supporter, recognizing a kindred racer when he saw one, and he was able to speak with her in her first language. On the other hand James Hunt asked to be disassociated from her when they were team mates for the 2 US F5000 races. Maybe he feared being beaten by a woman and he was, both times.



#49 MCS

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 14:48

Is not the last picture Colin Hyams in his "deconstructed" Lola early in 1973?



#50 MCS

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 14:50

Mario was a firm supporter, recognizing a kindred racer when he saw one, and he was able to speak with her in her first language. On the other hand James Hunt asked to be disassociated from her when they were team mates for the 2 US F5000 races. Maybe he feared being beaten by a woman and he was, both times.

 

I find your comments regarding Hunt strange, to say the least.  That said, I would be interested to know where this information came from.

 

Thanks.