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The perfect race car crosses the finish line in first place and then falls to pieces


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#1 Roger Clark

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 12:52

The TNF member Panzani has the above quote as his Atlas signature, attributed to Ferdinand Porsche. I have also seen it attributed to Colin Chapman (often, but with no evidence), and to L H Pomeroy (by his son). Does anybody know wheher any of these gentlemen did utter the phrase, and what wsa the first authenticated use?

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#2 rdrcr

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 18:10

I always thought that this quote was from Innes Ireland in speaking about the Lotus cars...

I was curious, so I did some checking... and I found this reference:
"Famous Quotes From F1"

... in '59 I ran out of brakes four times -- and I don't mean they didn't work very well, I mean I had none. Like the main oil line had sheared. You know, so that oil, you know, when you put your foot on the floor, the oil just went squirting out into the atmosphere. I'd always believed that Colin was close to genius in his design ability and everything, if he could just get over this failing of his of making things too bloody light. I mean, Colin's idea of a Grand Prix car was it should win the race and, as it crossed the finishing line, it should collapse in a heap of bits. If it didn't do that, it was built too strongly.

-Innes Ireland

#3 David Beard

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 18:36

Originally posted by rdrcr
Like the main oil line had sheared.

-Innes Ireland [/B]


"like"?????

I thought Innes spoke much more elegantly...that sounds like a modern British teenager.

#4 dolomite

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 20:24

At the 1967 USGP Jim Clark's Lotus 49 had a rear suspension link break on the last lap and he crossed the line to win with that wheel almost falling off. One of the newspaper reports the next day is supposed to have included a photo of this, captioned 'The ultimate race car - it breaks at the finish line!'

#5 panzani

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 21:30

I've 'stolen' the above [as well as below, after this post...] mentioned quote from Formula1 site's 'Engine/Gearbox' page, which states on its very first paragraph:

The engine and transmission of a modern Formula One car are some of the most highly stressed pieces of machinery on the planet, and the competition to have the most power on the grid is still intense. The development of racing engines has always held to the dictum of the great automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche that "the perfect race car crosses the finish line in first place and then falls to pieces. " Designing such engines is always a balancing act between the power that can be extracted and the need for enough durability to get to the chequered flag.

(The full page can be found at http://www.formula1....nfo/11/467.html)

I'd just trusted the source and I can see that Innes Ireland states it was a Chapman ditto. Perhaps Colin was quoting Ferdinand, perhaps he was the author himself, I'll try to get more info. I've googled a little with no success.

Anyway, this quote fits my thoughts regarding 'racing' like a hand made tailored suit... ;)

Originally posted by Roger Clark
The TNF member Panzani ...

Thanks for that; I have neither the knowledge nor the background you do have here at TNF, but I'll ask for my TNF badge after that, it made me very proud!

#6 VAR1016

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 21:43

Originally posted by David Beard


"like"?????

I thought Innes spoke much more elegantly...that sounds like a modern British teenager.


Quite so David.

In fact - and I may be wrong here - Innes Ireland always sounded rather like Roy Salvadori to me.

Bring back those elegant tones I say - Neville Hay at Goodwood is a beacon in this regard!

PdeRL

#7 CJE

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 02:06

Here's a quote more in line with the Porsche philosphy:

From Road & Track, 1973, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche;

While touring Harrah's immense 1400-car auto collection in Reno, his guide apologized for the complete absence of Porsches. "I understand," the doctor replied, "My cars were built to be driven and they're still on the road."


:)

#8 rdrcr

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 02:29

Originally posted by David Beard


"like"?????

I thought Innes spoke much more elegantly...that sounds like a modern British teenager.


Yeah, good point there... :|

I've contacted the source where I linked that finding and perhaps we'll see some sort of response as to his source. I could have sworn I've read that from quote from Ireland before, but in my brief searching could find no other reference.

#9 Ralliart

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 06:43

In the '77 South African GP, Niki Lauda ran over a piece of poor Tom Pryce's roll bar, which dented the underside of his front wing and eventually lodged itself in the left hand water radiator. Lauda, in "Flat -12" by Alan Henry, recounts, "I felt a bump, but I wasn't sure what the problem was. For a couple of laps I gently loosened my shoulder straps so that I could sit up a bit in the cockpit and see over to check the front wing. Once I'd satisfied myself that it was OK, I sat back, tightened my belts and pressed on." Towards the end of the race his car began to overheat and, for the final few laps, the oil pressure warning light flickered on. After taking the checkered flag as the winner, Lauda stopped to inspect. In the paddock, Ermanno Cuoghi discovered the Ferrari 312T2 had only four of the usual 12 liters of water left in the cooling system. In "My Years With Ferrari", Lauda, after going into detail, concludes with, "...instead of 14 liters of water there were only three, instead of eight liters of oil, only one and a half. Normally, the car would just stop, in such conditions." Another example would be the '65 Le Mans 24 Hours. The leading Ferrari 275LM of Rindt/Gregory experienced mechanical trouble in the last hours when the differential, as Alan Henry wrote in "Jochen Rindt", "began to break up to the accompaniment of painful grinding and grating in the transmission. For the last few miles Gregory took to declutching and coasting through the corners, only gingerly applying the power when the car was pointing in a straight line. The differential broke up for good as Gregory drove it into the paddock after taking the checkered flag."

#10 RTH

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 07:49

Originally posted by rdrcr


Yeah, good point there... :|

I've contacted the source where I linked that finding and perhaps we'll see some sort of response as to his source. I could have sworn I've read that from quote from Ireland before, but in my brief searching could find no other reference.


I have an interview on tape of Innes on that occasion and you have reported him virtually word perfect - he was a bit agitated remembering how Chapman's car put him close to death on many occasions , so his phrasing was a bit uncharacteritic - but you are quite correct.

#11 rdrcr

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 12:46

Originally posted by RTH


I have an interview on tape of Innes on that occasion and you have reported him virtually word perfect - he was a bit agitated remembering how Chapman's car put him close to death on many occasions , so his phrasing was a bit uncharacteritic - but you are quite correct.

Hoo-yeah :clap: rdrcr gets one! ;)

Thanks for the confirmation on that Richard....

#12 Geoff E

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 13:01

Originally posted by David Beard


"like"?????

I thought Innes spoke much more elegantly...that sounds like a modern British teenager.


It's much more widespread than that! I saw an Open University programme on TV a couple of years ago :o and two Chinese people were interviewed. The first one punctuated her sentences with "y'know" whereas the second, younger one used "like" in precisely the same manner. I still prefer "erm" myself. :)

#13 panzani

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 13:11

I've emailed the source I've used [formula1.com] and perhaps they will answer with their source...

#14 Barry Lake

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 13:13

The modern F1 cars have got it just right.

How often do you see them slow dramatically as they approach the finish line and swerve across towards the pit counter?

Presumably mechanical failure prevents them from maintaining full pace until they cross the finish line. :D

#15 panzani

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 13:53

I've just found an article here in Atlas, written in 2000 by Mr. Richard Burns, stating 'Lotus supremo Colin Chapman who followed the principle that a racing car should fall to pieces as it crosses the finish line '. The article is here.

Perhaps he was just following Porsches' principle, perhaps it was his principle, but anyway I'll leave my signature without the ownership for a while...

#16 Barry Lake

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 15:26

I'm surprised no one has yet brought up the 1950s Belgian Grand Prix when the first three (or four?) cars broke in various ways as they finished the race.

Sorry, I don't have the time to go and check the details right now. I think it's probably been discussed on TNF in the past. A search might turn it up.

#17 Roger Clark

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 23:21

The race Barry is thinking of is the 1958 Belgian Grand Prix, in which the first three (Brooks' Vanwall, Hawthorn's Ferrari and Lewis-Evans' Vanwall) all met terminal problems as they crossed the line. There are those who say that if the race had been one lap longer it would have been won by Cliff Allison. However, knowing the probability of a Lotus 12 completing any given race lap, I think that Harry Schell would have scored BRM's first win. :)

#18 panzani

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 16:22

Well, I've just received the following answer from formula1.com staff:

Thank you for your email. According to our sources, Porsche is correct.

No doubt many people, including quite possibly Chapman, have used the quote
since, as it is such an excellent quote.

formula1.com



Even though they confirm Porsche as the author they do not share their sources...

I'll try to dig a litte more on this.

#19 Paolo

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 17:13

Originally posted by dolomite
At the 1967 USGP Jim Clark's Lotus 49 had a rear suspension link break on the last lap and he crossed the line to win with that wheel almost falling off. One of the newspaper reports the next day is supposed to have included a photo of this, captioned 'The ultimate race car - it breaks at the finish line!'


A picture of the event is on Doug Nye's "Theme Lotus" (probably the best motor racing book I ever read)

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#20 panzani

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 18:29

Well, I think we should have searched 'inside' AtlasF1 for this quote at first... :blush:

Here we have the following paragraph:

The unwritten Formula One asserted itself above all else at the beginning of the post-war Grand Prix era, and was formulated as follows with regard to racing car construction by the genius german constructor Ferdinand Porsche: "The perfect racing car crosses the finish line first and subsequently falls into its component parts. " The philosophical background to this surprising piece of wisdom is that if the car is still functional after having done its work, then the constructor was guilty of using over-dimensioned components...


I've found also this link.

Now we have three sources [AtlasF1, F1Live.com and formula1.com] stating the quote pertains to Ferdinand Porsche.

My signature was just updated. ;)

#21 Wolf

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 18:38

Is there any reason why Pomeroy as a source isn't looked into? There is a mentopn of that quote in 'Design & Behaviour...', so I'd sav Pomeroy vs. Porsche should be discussed...;)