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When can a racing driver just give up?


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#1 Van Diemen Driver

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 22:54

When can a professional (!) racing driver walk away from his job during a race and has this happened often? Unacceptable danger (rightly or wrongly but as perceived by the driver) is a good reason in my opinion. Lauda stopping in the rain at Fuji 1976 is an example of this.

Jos Verstappen gave up his A1GP race in Laguna Seca after he was penalised with a drive through twice. The first penalty was given after a wrong judgement by the stewards of the race (according to the Dutch press) and the second was speeding in the pitlane during his first penalty. He thought he had no reason to continue anymore or something. Anyway, he was not very fortunate.

I can remember the outcry when Mansell gave up in his last Grand Prix for McLaren. Are there more examples of drivers just giving up?

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#2 Don Speekingleesh

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 23:02

Hill parked it at Suzuka 99 I think.

#3 D-Type

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 23:37

How about he1975 Spanish GP? There were serious concerns about the safety of the circuit. Emerson Fittipaldi, the reigning World champion, refused to start the race; in support his brother Wilson withdrew after covering one lap; and Arturo Merzario withdrew after another lap 'because the car was too small for him'.

And I have read that Mike Hawthorn's clutch failure at the Nurburgring in 1958 following Peter Collins' fatal accident was somewhat suspect.

#4 MoMurray

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 00:03

14 guys at Indy last year...

#5 Wolf

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 02:16

Dunno, Hawthorn example might be the case of deliberately abusing the equipment to the point it fails, that's the way I always looked at it*. I will not judge whether that is better or just abandoning the car and walking away (in latter case no wanton destruction is involved, but looks, hmm, bratish). I think the latter view was generaly adopted when few seasons ago Kenny Roberts jr. parked a 'perfectly good' Suzuki motorcycle in a race and walked away- it was percieved as unprofessional (and childish?). Apparently, he was frustrated that his bike was uncompetitive and decided to call it a day.

* in all honesty, he's far from being my favourite driver ever, but I woud not utter a word against his course of action- under the circumstances, it might have been the wisest decision

#6 theunions

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 06:06

Bobby Issac's last Winston Cup appearance.

#7 Ralliart

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 06:32

In the '75 Spanish GP, on Friday, the only drivers to go out on the circuit, practice having been cancelled, were Jackie Ickx and Arturo Merzario. The drivers didn't want to practice on Saturday but the organizers threatened to impound the cars and they went out, Merzario 20 seconds slower than the next slowest, Lombardi, with Emmo (almost) 14 seconds slower than Merzario (I believe Emmo drove around with one arm in the air at one point). Emmo (who, after three rounds, was leading the championship) didn't part in the race but Merzario did, driving one lap before retiring along with Wilson Fittipaldi.

#8 Twin Window

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 08:13

When James Hunt retired from the 1979 Monaco GP he also retired from the sport, and later that season Niki Lauda quit during the first day of practice in Montreal.

#9 ivandjj

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 08:45

prost in the rain adelaide 89'

prost in the rain silverstone 88' or was ill handling retirement reason?

i believe there were reports that prosts car was undamaged and he could have continued in suzuka 89' after clash with senna but he tought that job is done.

did anyone else park it in the rain since lauda? dont think so. but still you see that pro racing driver Can walk away when it rains, dunno if he should :rolleyes:

#10 WHITE

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 08:58

Originally posted by Ralliart
In the '75 Spanish GP, on Friday, the only drivers to go out on the circuit, practice having been cancelled, were Jackie Ickx and Arturo Merzario. The drivers didn't want to practice on Saturday but the organizers threatened to impound the cars and they went out, Merzario 20 seconds slower than the next slowest, Lombardi, with Emmo (almost) 14 seconds slower than Merzario (I believe Emmo drove around with one arm in the air at one point). Emmo (who, after three rounds, was leading the championship) didn't part in the race but Merzario did, driving one lap before retiring along with Wilson Fittipaldi.



I remember that race very well ! Fittipaldi, pretend to have some problem not to qualify for the race, that is way he drove with one arm in the air. His brother Wilson and Merzario, didn't want to race there either but to simply avoid problems with the organizers, they decided to start though they immediately retire.
As far as I remember, is was nor Merzario who go out on the circuit on friday but Brambilla. Mind you that Ickx was not a GPDA member and so he was not tied to any decision taken by the rest of drivers.
I also remember that, even though Fittipaldi did not qualify for the race, the organizers, in an attempt not to upset fans, were prepared to let him race, but when they tried to find him at his hotel, he had already left for switzerland.

#11 Catalina Park

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 09:13

Originally posted by ivandjj
did anyone else park it in the rain since lauda? dont think so. but still you see that pro racing driver Can walk away when it rains, dunno if he should :rolleyes:

Lauda was not the only driver at Fuji to park their car due to the rain in 1976.

#12 James Page

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 09:30

Originally posted by ivandjj
prost in the rain adelaide 89'

prost in the rain silverstone 88' or was ill handling retirement reason?

i believe there were reports that prosts car was undamaged and he could have continued in suzuka 89' after clash with senna but he tought that job is done.

did anyone else park it in the rain since lauda? dont think so. but still you see that pro racing driver Can walk away when it rains, dunno if he should :rolleyes:


Prost's problem was with extreme wet conditions when there was standing water and zero visibility - a problem which went back to Pironi's accident. Lots of drivers said they'd pull off after one lap in Adelaide 89, but only Alain was bold enough to actually do it.

The only time I've ever thought particularly highly of Jean Todt was when Berger came into the pits at Imola in 1994 (following the restart), and complained that something felt strange at the back of the Ferrari. Todt calmly told him to get out of the car. A sympathetic response, I've always thought.

#13 kayemod

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 10:13

Originally posted by Catalina Park

Lauda was not the only driver at Fuji to park their car due to the rain in 1976.


True, but because of the championship situation, he's the one that everyone remembers. Emerson Fittipaldi, Carlos Pace and Larry Perkins all pitted and gave up at around the same time as Niki. Ronnie Peterson stopped halfway round claiming that water had killed his engine, but after the race a mechanic was able to re-start the car and drive it back to the pits.

#14 ensign14

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:17

Originally posted by Van Diemen Driver
When can a professional (!) racing driver walk away from his job during a race and has this happened often? Unacceptable danger (rightly or wrongly but as perceived by the driver) is a good reason in my opinion. Lauda stopping in the rain at Fuji 1976 is an example of this.

Some of the above examples - Hill, Hunt, Isaac - are where the driver concerned seemed to think it futile to continue (or were "told" to give up) and that was probably the correct decision to do so, as they would have been a danger to themselves and others. If their heart was not in it, they would not be at the peak.

Giving up cos you're losing seems to me to be facile. Not least because you never know if everyone will retire on the last lap, but because you're paid to do your best regardless.

#15 Wolf

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:47

Didn't JYS say he was paid to drive not to get himself killed? Same applies to any professional driver, I guess- they weigh pros and cons, and see if they're paid enough for a risk they're about to take- can one blame them for that? Of course, there are drivers who do not think that way, and it's OK too.

#16 petefenelon

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 12:06

Can't remember who it was but one of the Paul Stewart Racing F3000 drivers just parked it (I think at Spa?). I think Simon Arron's trenchant comment in the results in MN was something like Lost Interest.

I don't think that driver went on to greater things.

#17 Doug Nye

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 12:19

Considering his generally feisty reputation, Jean Behra used to be surprisingly prone to retiring from a race claiming 'handling problems' or 'severe vibration' whenever he felt the car he he was driving gave him no chance to compete. This was was particularly true during his BRM season of 1958. He would very easily become demoralised whereas team-mate Harry Schell endeared himself to his mechanics at both Vanwall and BRM by always 'giving it -----oles' regardless...

Perhaps it was a matter of personal expectation - perhaps of vanity - certainly of pride. Behra was too proud to risk his reputation in inadequate machinery. Schell was too proud to risk anyone suspecting he was not doing his level best. Different strokes for different folks. I have more instinctive sympathy with Schell's approach than with Behra's - yet Behra, on his day, in a competitive car, was demonstrably the more formidable racing driver.

DCN

#18 312B

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 13:10

Hi there

I remember the Brabham team being none too impressed when De Cesaris retired at Detroit in 87 after 2 laps complaining that the car was jumping out of 2nd and he'd had enough

Didn't Keke Rosberg also once comment on Stefano Modena not having what it takes after he retired through exhaustion in one if his first races?

#19 BRG

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 13:12

Slightly OT, but don't you just hate it when some driver pits his car and complains that 'it is completely undriveable'. And how does he know that? Well, he's just been driving it for the last X laps.... :rolleyes:

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#20 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 13:20

Yes but sometimes its only because they dont want to drive it anymore.

Ive seen "it just cant go any faster" and they put in a different driver for the next run of testing and suddenly its a second a lap further up the road.

Dario Franchitti spun out of the lead of the 97 Toronto CART race, blaming dying brakes. some years later he basically admitted he put it around. And another driver who wished not to be named said he retired with what he said on air was 'a brake pedal that went to the floor' but basically didnt feel like fighting for a non-points paying place in what was a normally win capable car.

#21 mikedeering

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 14:00

As mentioned above, Modena parked the car in his first GP in Adelaide 1987 after 30 odd laps due to fatigue. I don't think he had too much time to prepare - the drive only came about indirectly through Mansell crashing at Suzuka two weeks before hand.

#22 Mallory Dan

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 14:10

Originally posted by petefenelon
Can't remember who it was but one of the Paul Stewart Racing F3000 drivers just parked it (I think at Spa?). I think Simon Arron's trenchant comment in the results in MN was something like Lost Interest.

I don't think that driver went on to greater things.


Apicella ??? There's a thread re him on 'The Other Place'.

#23 BRG

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 14:17

And another thing - even more OT - is the 'no brakes' claim. Quite recently, Petter Solberg (Subaru WRC driver) was filmed pulling up smartly at the end of a special stage and then announcing to the TV cameras 'No brakes, no brakes at all'. Really Petter? And you stopped the car just then how exactly? Sheer will-power?

#24 Lec CRP1

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 14:54

Damon Hill; Jordan-Mugen Honda; most of the 1999 season.

#25 bigears

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 14:58

Originally posted by Lec CRP1
Damon Hill; Jordan-Mugen Honda; most of the 1999 season.


I recall Damon retired his car with a suspected brake problem at a certain GP. Eddie Jordan ordered his mechanics to check his car over and found out that there was no problems at all!

#26 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 15:46

Hockenheim? I think he complained about brakes at Suzuka too.

#27 John B

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 15:49

I vaguely remember Colin Chapman being furious at Elio De Angelis at one event, a wild guess is Silverstone in 1981 (or 83? - it was mentioned in Autocourse). He apparently didn't want to continue on because of handling or some other problem, while at the same time Mansell was driving hard.

Jarier walked away from Osella in the middle of the 1982 Italian GP weekend after one too many suspension failures....

#28 John B

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 16:04

Here's a variation of the topic: Berger starting with nowhere near enough fuel to finish Adelaide in 1988 so he could lead the early laps (collided with Arnoux and was not upset at all about the DNF). I suspect this has been done other times, perhaps not necessarly to lead, but make a good showing in a hometown race, etc.

#29 bradbury west

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 16:25

Originally posted by Wolf
Didn't JYS say he was paid to drive not to get himself killed? Same applies to any professional driver, I guess- they weigh pros and cons, and see if they're paid enough for a risk they're about to take- can one blame them for that? Of course, there are drivers who do not think that way, and it's OK too.



But IIRC at one of the US casino car park GPs in the early 80s after the surface had ripped apart in the heat during practice and been hastily patched up to leave the drivers with a very poor surface, it was Rosberg who said to Roebuck that they were no more than whores, paid to do a job , which is why they all got in their cars and started the race.


Looking at the argument the other way round, I always remember how incensed dear James Hunt used to be in the commentary box with drivers who posted their fastest lap or two at the end of a race, say laps 71 or 76 of a 75/80 lap race, when the car should have been at its worst condition, especially among the more highly rated pilots. Where had they been and what had they been doing earlier?. Yes I know the fuel load would be less in those days.

I think I have heard Brundle say something similar

RL

#30 John B

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 17:07

There were rumbings of NASCAR drivers boycotting the restrictor-plate tracks especially in the wake of Earnhardt's death - Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, and others were particularly outspoken about it - but when it came down to it there obviously have been full fields every event.

The Charlotte fall race last year was another example of an obviously dangerous situation - tires failing with astonishing regularity on a fast speedway - again the drivers rode it out and hoped for the best.

#31 ensign14

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 17:13

Originally posted by John B
The Charlotte fall race last year was another example of an obviously dangerous situation - tires failing with astonishing regularity on a fast speedway - again the drivers rode it out and hoped for the best.

Contra the first Talladega race, when the only leading driver to take part was the aforementioned Isaac...

#32 Penword

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 17:29

Under the heading of "self-preservation," didn't Chris Amon refuse to restart the 76 German GP after Lauda's accident? IIRC he wasn't a big fan of the Nurburgring and the Lauda situation was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

#33 kayemod

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 17:49

Originally posted by bradbury west
But IIRC at one of the US casino car park GPs in the early 80s after the surface had ripped apart in the heat during practice and been hastily patched up to leave the drivers with a very poor surface, it was Rosberg who said to Roebuck that they were no more than whores, paid to do a job , which is why they all got in their cars and started the race. RL


That was Dallas 1984, a race Keke won brilliantly in a Williams Honda, hardly the most manageable device for the conditions, having as it did both turbo lag and throttle response similar to an on/off switch. There was talk of a drivers boycott after practice, because the track was in such a bad state, and that was when Keke made the comment to Nigel Roebuck.

On Damon Hill, we all know he had a difficult time in his final season, he wanted to retire before the end and Eddie Jordan wouldn't let him, but DH always had a reputation for honesty, he even accepted blame for some of his DNFs & crashes, which isn't something that F1 drivers are famous for. Jordan made several harsh comments that would have been pretty well guaranteed to unsettle a less than willing driver, but if you wanted a useful opinion of the brakes on an F1 car, who would you ask, the ex-WDC who had to drive the thing, or a famously excitable team boss with an axe to grind?

#34 oldtimer

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 18:06

The Michelin runners at the 2005 US GP.

A definite safety issue, but why the charade of taking the warm-up lap and then all peeling off for the pits?

Back to Doug's comments about Behra and his season with BRM in 1958. Easter Goodwood: loss of brakes before Woodcote, uses the chicane wall as substitute; loss of brakes when leading Monaco at quarter distance; pant-soiling moment at the Masta kink when oil from his car hits his rear tyres. After that, Behra did not show much interest in putting out for BRM.

#35 MoMurray

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 18:18

Somewhat related, but when I worked in motorcycle GP racing I had a rider retire from a race and tell the TV cameras that there was a gearbox problem. There wasn't and it incensed :mad: me that because he was not on form that day (we were not getting along and there was a lot of tension in the team) he quit and chose to blame a technical problem, my area of responsibility. We never worked together again.

On the contrary, some years later I owned a team in the US and at one of our tests the rider just could not get down to respectable times. We planned a series of changes to the bike and were ready to work hard to find the missing time when the rider called me and the technician aside and said that there was nothing wrong with the bike, and that he was just not on his game that day. I gained enormous respect for that rider because he was brave enough to admit the problem was his and he did so before we wasted a lot of energy and money. Yes the test day was not productive but it was a very powerful bonding experience for our team and we won the championship that year...so it was alright in the end.

I wonder how many of today's drivers or riders just have a bad day, but the teams and tyre companies go scurrying about to find phantom problems...or has telemetry removed that problem?

Mo.

#36 Doug Nye

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 18:57

Originally posted by oldtimer
Back to Doug's comments about Behra and his season with BRM in 1958. Easter Goodwood: loss of brakes before Woodcote, uses the chicane wall as substitute; loss of brakes when leading Monaco at quarter distance; pant-soiling moment at the Masta kink when oil from his car hits his rear tyres. After that, Behra did not show much interest in putting out for BRM.


All true. :up: He'd had enough. Schell wasn't immune from his share of BRM frights and battled on, but when it all went pear-shaped he hadn't been going as quickly as Behra had been ...

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#37 Wolf

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 19:10

Under pain of being completely off the mark (as is my wont), did not MS once have his share of problems in the race, eding up near back of the field (and not having a chance of scoring points) and drove to the pits to retire his Ferrari, and was promptly sent out again to finish the race? And it was before all those recent endurance/cost saving measures...

#38 David Beard

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 19:13

Originally posted by Doug Nye


All true. :up: He'd had enough. Schell wasn't immune from his share of BRM frights and battled on, but when it all went pear-shaped he hadn't been going as quickly as Behra had been ...

DCN


And another thing. Schell never looked cool in the cockpit of that BRM. Looked to be protruding into the air stream in an ungainly manner, always leaning his body at an odd angle. Jean, on the other hand, looked the business, with his helmet set at a rakish angle on the back of his head. I was never sure what that would do for its effectiveness if called upon. (If a Herbert Johnson had any, anyway).

#39 kayemod

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 19:20

Originally posted by oldtimer
Back to Doug's comments about Behra and his season with BRM in 1958. Easter Goodwood: loss of brakes before Woodcote, uses the chicane wall as substitute.


Remember that famous photo of a BRM crumpling itself against the Goodwood chicane? I thought it was Harry Schell, but I suppose it could have been Behra. Which TNF can find the pic & confirm? I'm not that good with these new-fangled computer thingies.

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#40 Roger Clark

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 19:50

Originally posted by kayemod


Remember that famous photo of a BRM crumpling itself against the Goodwood chicane? I thought it was Harry Schell, but I suppose it could have been Behra. Which TNF can find the pic & confirm? I'm not that good with these new-fangled computer thingies.

It was certainly Behra. His brakes failed; Schell's locked solid.

#41 Ian Titchmarsh

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 20:08

It was most certainly Behra who crashed at the Goodwood chicane in 1958, not Schell. And I seem to recall that he retired from the British Grand Prix that year after running over a Silverstone hare and puncturing a tyre (allegedly). The fact that he and the car were in one piece and the wheel could be rapidly changed did not encourage him to rejoin. Is that right, Doug?

The following year Behra far from gave up at Zandvoort and persevered with an evil handling Ferrari Dino to finish fifth (I think) as highest placed Ferrari driver and being as obstructive as Villeneuve was many years later at Jarama.

My recollection of Prost's retirement from the 1988 British GP is seeing him entering the pit lane just as Senna was about to lap him ie the two (both perfectly healthy) McLarens came through Woodcote almost side by side but at rather different speeds. That race always seems to be remembered for Mansell's 2nd place in the normally-aspirated Williams-Judd but for me it was another of The Great Brazilian's utterly dominant wet weather performances which left everyone else on a different planet.

Back to the plot: didn't Trevor Taylor eventually start calling it a day on occasion towards the end of his Team Lotus career after one too many 25s had fallen apart beneath him?

#42 MCS

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 20:16

Originally posted by Ian Titchmarsh
Back to the plot: didn't Trevor Taylor eventually start calling it a day on occasion towards the end of his Team Lotus career after one too many 25s had fallen apart beneath him?


In much the same way that his subsequent performances in F5000 fell away, would you agree?

I was never sure just how good he actually was.

#43 David Beard

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 20:46

Originally posted by kayemod


Remember that famous photo of a BRM crumpling itself against the Goodwood chicane? I thought it was Harry Schell, but I suppose it could have been Behra. Which TNF can find the pic & confirm? I'm not that good with these new-fangled computer thingies.


I'm pretty sure I watched Behra do it on TV...

#44 bradbury west

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 20:50

Slightly off thread....

Was there ever a photo of the Kansas Kid bravely/notoriously (depends on which side of the steering wheel you were, I suppose) standing up and/or stepping out of the Tojeiro at Goodwood, after discovering himself brakeless.?

RL

#45 bigears

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 21:38

Originally posted by Wolf
Under pain of being completely off the mark (as is my wont), did not MS once have his share of problems in the race, eding up near back of the field (and not having a chance of scoring points) and drove to the pits to retire his Ferrari, and was promptly sent out again to finish the race? And it was before all those recent endurance/cost saving measures...


I believe it was at last year's Turkish Grand Prix. He fell back in the grid after colliding with Mark Webber so he had to pit and then he was sent out in order to improve his starting slot for the next qualifying at the following Grand Prix at Monza.

#46 Wolf

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 22:09

Thanks for the try, Bigears, but I don't believe I've watched that race (last year was the first time since I can remember that I missed three races on a trot- usualy I miss only one or two during entire season)... Anyways, I think it must've been earlier.

#47 Roger Clark

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 23:17

Does Fangio in the 1956 Mille Miglia qualify? DSJ tells how, after he and Moss had crashed, the world champion stopped to make sure they were alright and to offer them a lift. He doesn't say how three of them were supposed to fit into a sports-racing Ferrari. Fangio had given up racing in the conditions and was touring to the finish.

#48 Doug Nye

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 00:15

Fangio still managed to finish fourth in that Mille Miglia despite sitting in a flooded cockpit and having to borrow a leather jacket at one point to stave off the chill of clinical exposure. So 'giving up' is relative too...

DCN

#49 Twin Window

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 00:31

Originally posted by Doug Nye

So 'giving up' is relative too...

Indeed it is.

IMHO this thread needs re-titling. Any ideas which may fit the bill, chaps?

#50 Jim Thurman

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Posted 15 March 2006 - 02:44

Originally posted by theunions
Bobby Issac's last Winston Cup appearance.


Except he returned to drive a few races in '74-'76. I missed those myself at the time (for reasons beyond my control - at least the '74 races for Banjo Matthews).

The Isaac incident at Talladega is still one of the all-time strange moments.

I agree with ensign14, for whatever reason, if someone feels they are off...better to park it.

In NASCAR there was the famous "park out" at Martinsville. Independent (non-factory/works) drivers complained about purse distribution below 10th place - there was something like 40-50$ difference spread over the remainder of the field. In ones and twos and threes, they pulled off the track and retired early in the race, leaving about 10 cars circulating for the majority of the race.

And in Champ Car racing there was an interesting story on Henry Banks retirement. Not in a race, but on a race weekend - Milwaukee in 1952, IIRC. He practiced and qualified, went back to the hotel and the next morning told his wife he didn't want to drive anymore. He was threatened with suspension and the officials and promoter told him he at least had to start and drive, to which he replied "I don't have to drive six feet."

In explaining his retirement, paraphrasing, he said something like "Last night I went to bed a race driver, today when I woke up, I wasn't.'

I won't even get into the difference in NASCAR from Talladega in 1969 to recent times, except they can't seem to walk away even if they want to now...