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Fangio at the Nurburgring


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#1 iharos

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 05:18

Has anybody seen this at pitpass. Is he correct?
www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_feature_item.php?fes_art_id=32415

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#2 stuartbrs

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 05:49

I was wondering when this would pop up in here.

Very interested in peoples opinions of this article.

#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 06:07

Well, do you reckon that Jenks would have written his report without some intelligence, some seriously good information about what was happening out of his sight?

The issue of the difficulty of getting the message to the young Poms has been mentioned, of course, but half an hour is still only a third of the way into the time of the balance of the race... three laps is just a quarter of the remaining twelve.

I think the issue is also covered by comments I've seen attributed to Fangio that the race took more out of him than any other he'd ever driven. Maybe not counting those Argentinian enduros, one would assume, but more than all the others that might well have included the Mille Miglia.

Can anyone locate where Fangio made these statements? And was it not the last time that he stuck his neck out? The last time he put in a drive that could be considered worthy of legend?

Moss clearly regards it as a worthy drive. I think something Mike has ignored in this is that Moss and Fangio had a fairly close relationship they developed two years earlier. Moss, surely, could have asked Fangio about the race and been intimately aware of what his answer meant?

It's always been accepted that he used a strategy... light fuel, fresh tyres etc. But at the end of the race, in the crucial final three laps, I'd be willing to bet that everything was as equal as it could have been between those cars. Which is, of course, borne out in the result and in the statement of the relative abilities of the three drivers as described in this derogatory article.

#4 Bernd

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 07:07

An extraordinary lack of respect for some very extraordinary people is shown in that article. :down:

#5 Allan Lupton

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 08:10

Go back to Jenks' report: he told us that the 'ring had been resurfaced, so lap records were expected to be much lower; he told us that all the works Maseratis were on light fuel loads and that the "Lancia/Ferraris were so full of fuel that their tails were nearly touching the ground"; he told us Fangio's best lap in practice was 9:25.6 compared to Hawthorn's 9:37.8 (which was second fastest).
If that time differential were typical, that would represent two minutes for the 10 laps after the pit stop after which Jenks reported that Fangio was over 3/4 min. behind the Ferraris. In other words, it was always the probability that Fangio would make up the pit-stop time and win.
Jenks wrote that, for the first three laps after the pit stop, the gap was maintained as the tyres were new and the tanks "heavy with fuel" (though presumably no worse than the Ferraris as all were fuelled to the finish then).
Jenks was there and he knew everyone and was well used to sorting out the facts from the ordure.

#6 dmj

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 08:21

Mike Lawrence already posted his views here at TNF a few years ago and was largely ignored - for good reason. It is well known that Fangio, Moss, both Ferrari drivers and Jenks, actual people who witnessed that race or participated in it ranked it as something special. So I can't see why I should more believe to someone's theory developed 50 years after the race...

I can't tell that it was the best drive in GP history, as no one can reasonably claim it for any particular drive. But if soeone tells so I won't object to that claim. Because really great it surely was.

I was disappointed that F1 Racing magazine didn't cover it in August issue - so much that I actually wrote an article about Fangio's drive for Croatian edition I'm editing. :)

#7 scheivlak

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 08:49

Originally posted by Allan Lupton
he told us Fangio's best lap in practice was 9:25.6 compared to Hawthorn's 9:37.8 (which was second fastest)

Forix gives Hawthorn's time as 9.28.4 http://www.forix.com...&r=19570006&c=3

#8 kayemod

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 09:00

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.....

#9 D-Type

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 09:00

I find it surprising how Mike Lawrence sometimes comes up with these loads of poppycock.

As Allan says, the one point that is valid is that because of resurfacing etc. you cannot make year-on-year comparison of lap times. That is true anywhere but the effect is more pronounced at the 'Ring because of the longer lap.

Taking a couple of other points:

Fangio was the first driver in history to use a fuel/tyre strategy ~

The good doctor has ignored Gonzalez at Reims in 1953. He knows of it as I pointed out to him on TNF: see post 12

There were three drivers on the grid who had mastered the 'Ring: Fangio, Moss and Brooks

I can accept Fangio and Moss, but Brooks in 1957? Admittedly he had won the 1000km in an Aston Martin but does that constitute 'mastery'? The 1958 GP and other performances were still to come and nobody has ever claimed that Fangio was clairvoyant.

It is likely that you believe 'four-wheel-drift is an old term, etc

Now, I knew about four-wheel-drifts as 10-year old in 1957 so it must have been published prior to the Stirling Moss book cited, which I have never read - which must mean in the Eagle, the Tiger or their annuals, or in The Boy's Book of Motor Sport by Gregor Grant as that is all I would have read at the time. I can clearly remember a picture of Peter Walker drifting an ERA and the text explaining that he was known as 'Skid Walker' by members of the popular press who did not understand a four-wheel-drift.

Remember, the closer we get to today, the more equally matched are the cars. In comparative terms, a Spyker is closer to a Ferrari or McLaren than the second Maserati or Vanwall was to the team leader's car

What complete and utter bollox! If a driver in the fifties took over a team mate's car he was barely any faster than the original incumbent; provided of course that the the first driver was driving flat out. What is true is that the balance between the contribution of driver and car has shifted away from the driver so two members of a team will record very close times. He may be right in saying that a Spyker is closer to a McLaren than a Connaught was to Maserati but not closer than the individual cars in a team.

Dr Lawrence refers to Hawthorn having a hangover - I wonder whether the good doctor's liver is possibly playing up?

#10 Rob Semmeling

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 10:10

There is no filmed record of the race, no company could afford to film a lap of 14.1 miles. It was only in the early 1960s that a camera was developed where the film would last of a whole lap when mounted on a car. There was only one TV channel in West Germany in 1957 and it did not have enough kit and technicians to televise the race, nor would a German TV company have the resources until the 1970s.


The 1957 German Grand Prix was definitely filmed and broadcasted.

While we're on the subject: last weekend's AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring commemorated Fangio's win 50 years ago. Here is a story that appeared on their website (in German I'm afraid) :

Der Tag, als Fangio im Maserati auf der Nordschleife gewann
 
Nürburgring, 4.8.1957: Der 15-jährige Bernhard Völker aus Zweibrücken/Pfalz steht am Streckenabschnitt Schwalbenschwanz. Um den Hals baumelt eine einfache Agfa Silette-Kamera. Bei jeder Vorbeifahrt notiert er genau die Reihenfolge. Immer steht vorne die 1 für Juan Manuel Fangio. "Das Auto konnte man an der gelben Nase sehr gut von den anderen Maserati unterscheiden, erzählt Völker. Plötzlich taucht der 250F von Fangio nur noch an dritter Stelle auf. "Es gab am Schwalbenschwanz keine Lautsprecher, also wussten wir nicht was los war". In der nächsten Runde war der Abstand genau so groß wie in der Runde zuvor.

"Aber dann verringerte sich der Abstand", erinnert sich Völker. Als Fangios Maserati in der vorletzten Runde als Erster bei Völker vorbei kam, ist die Welt für Völker in Ordnung – und nicht nur für ihn. "Die Zuschauer haben gejubelt, geschrieen und die Programmhefte in die Höhe geworfen. Juan Manuel Fangio gewann nicht nur den Großen Preis von Deutschland vor 50 Jahren, sondern auch seine fünfte Weltmeisterschaft.

Doch sein größtes Erlebnis hatte der damals 15-jährige Zweibrücker schon am Trainingstag. "Ich habe es bis in die Box geschafft", freut sich Völker noch heute. Doch fotografierte er mit seiner einfachen Kamera die aufgereihten Maserati 250F von Fangio und seinen Teamkollegen und Fangio im Gespräch mit Stirling Moss, mit dem ihn seit der gemeinsamen Zeit bei Mercedes-Benz 1955 eine innige Freundschaft verband. Daran erinnert sich auch David Piper, der eigens für das Fangio-Jubiläum in Eifel reiste. "Kurz vor seinem Tod ließ Fangio einem Gast aus England ausrichten, dass er auf Moss warte", schildert Piper. "Moss reiste umgehend nach Argentinien, und zwei Wochen nach seinem Besuch war Fangio tot".

Zur Erinnerung an den großen Triumph von Fangio und Maserati rollten im Rahmen des 35. AvD-Oldtimer-Grand-Prix zehn originale Maserati 250F über die Nordschleife. Mit dabei: der Fangio-Siegerwagen von 1957, gefahren von Lukas Hüni. "Es ist für mich eine große Ehre, dieses besondere Auto fahren zu dürfen".

Derweil blättert Bernhard Völker in seinem Bilderalbum. Der heute 76-jährige Motorsportfan verfügt neben seinen eigenen Fotos auch über das Archiv des Mainzer Fotografen Richartz. "Schauen Sie dieses Porträt von Fangio bei der Siegerehrung an: da kann man sehen, wie geschafft er nach dem Rennen war".


I met Bernhard at the Ring and he remembered the race vividly and described it to me like he did in the article:

Suddenly, the 250F of Fangio appears in only third position. "There were no speakers at Schwalbenschwanz, so we didn't know what was going on." The next lap the gap remained the same as the lap before.

"But then the distance reduced," Völker remembers. When Fangios Maserati passes first on the penultimate lap, everything was alright for Völker - and not just for him. "The spectators cheered, yelled and threw their programme booklets up in the air."


I asked Bernhard if it was clear to the spectators something extraordinary was happening, and he said yes. They saw Fangio edging closer every lap and cheered passionately.

#11 Terry Walker

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 10:15

The race was certainly filmed, I've seen it. Possibly in the Shell History of Motor Racing series, which we used to screen at our Light Car Club of WA clubrooms in the late 60s - 16 mm. Seen; and never fogotten.

#12 David McKinney

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 10:20

Originally posted by D-Type
I knew about four-wheel-drifts as 10-year old in 1957 so it must have been published prior to the Stirling Moss book cited, which I have never read - which must mean in the Eagle, the Tiger or their annuals, or in The Boy's Book of Motor Sport by Gregor Grant as that is all I would have read at the time.

The term is used - and described - in Stirling Moss's Book of Motor Sport, published in 1955

#13 Orkun ZENER

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 10:49

Here is 1.30 minute 1957 nurburgring video




#14 rl1856

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 12:57

Fangio reportedly said that he did things in that race that he never had done before, and it scared him. I think that race may have caused him to think about retirement.

Weren't tyre change/fuel load strategies employed by Mercedes during the 1930's ?

Aren't there photos of the Silver Arrows drifting during the late '30s, even if the term "4 Wheel Drift" wasn't in use ?

Lawrence does raise a good point regarding the effects of track resurfaceing on lap times.

A provacative and muck raking article.

Best,

Ross

#15 Bloggsworth

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 13:12

Of course, an interesting semi-digression from the subject, is the light it throws on 50 years of motoring development - Sabine Schmitz took a transit van round most of the 'Ring in about 8'03". I would guess a Transit is somewhat less powerful than a 250F, and probably heavier, certainly a lot taller, and good though she is, Sabine is not Fangio, so I guess it's all down to modern tyres. It would be interesting to put a set of Goodyear Eagle road tyres on a 250F and see................................

I'll volunteer!

#16 scheivlak

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 13:16

Originally posted by rl1856
Weren't tyre change/fuel load strategies employed by Mercedes during the 1930's ?

Yes, e.g. clearly mentioned by Caracciola in his autobiography.
A point of discussion is: out of necessity or as a 'free' strategic choice?
Sometimes it can be something in between.

Another thing: "four wheel drift" is often mentioned as a characteristic of Nuvolari's style. Didn't they use the term in Tazio's lifetime?

#17 kayemod

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 13:25

Originally posted by Bloggsworth
Sabine Schmitz took a transit van round most of the 'Ring in about 8'03".


It was an amazing achievement that doesn't need any exaggeration, Sabine's time in the Transit was 10.08. We were never told, but I'd like to know what tyres were on the van.

#18 Allan Lupton

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 13:32

Slight digression, but "a very fine four-wheel-drift (the real thing)" was a part of a Motor Sport caption of Ascari at Spa in the July 1952 issue (page 333) and that's unlikely to be the first appearance in print.
Printed later, but photographed earlier are Klementaski photos of Fangio at Reims in a 159, the classic 1952 shot of Hawthorn at Goodwood in the Cooper and a 1938 shot of B Bira in Romulus at Crystal Palace (Frostick wrote "may it serve as a reminder that the four wheel drift is not a post-war invention")

#19 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 14:04

Originally posted by iharos
Has anybody seen this at pitpass. Is he correct?
www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_feature_item.php?fes_art_id=32415


Originally posted by dmj
Mike Lawrence already posted his views here at TNF a few years ago and was largely ignored - for good reason. It is well known that Fangio, Moss, both Ferrari drivers and Jenks, actual people who witnessed that race or participated in it ranked it as something special. So I can't see why I should more believe to someone's theory developed 50 years after the race...

I can't tell that it was the best drive in GP history, as no one can reasonably claim it for any particular drive. But if soeone tells so I won't object to that claim. Because really great it surely was.


While I may not necessarily agree with the good Doctor Mike's conclusions in this particular case, I definitely support his voicing skepticism about the race and the addressing the elements related to it. From time to time is not a bad thing to look at look at various sacred cows and openly question their divinity -- all the time keeping in the bad of your mind the saying that "Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers."

His comments on Moss do carry some weight, since I recall Moss writing in one of his books that he could see tire marks indicating that something was definitely up, someone was pushing hard -- but not him since the Vanwall was lost at sea with its setup.

Others than DSJ seem to have witnessed the same race that Jenks saw -- I remember reading various other accounts of the race and they all echoed the same sentiments.

To my undying regret, since we did not return from our leave in the States until a week after the race I missed it. I do recall that those I spoke to who were there were all very excited about it -- which only made me feel worse, of course.

So, I scarcely take offense to Mike's article, much less get all hot & bothered over it. We would disgree over the interpretation of the elements he focuses on, but in no way would I disagee with the notion that just because he says something that differs from what other think that it is "wrong." Yes, there are several factual issues that I think deserved to be addressed and have been to a large extent. Having dropped (far more than) a few clangers in my life, I am scarcely going to be at the front of the mob pointing fingers at not being Perfect.

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 14:04

Originally posted by kayemod
It was an amazing achievement that doesn't need any exaggeration, Sabine's time in the Transit was 10.08. We were never told, but I'd like to know what tyres were on the van.


Did anyone mention that it was a diesel?

#21 Mal9444

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 14:10

Originally posted by D-Type
I
Now, I knew about four-wheel-drifts as 10-year old in 1957 so it must have been published prior to the Stirling Moss book cited, which I have never read - which must mean in the Eagle, the Tiger or their annuals, or in The Boy's Book of Motor Sport by Gregor Grant as that is all I would have read at the time. I can clearly remember a picture of Peter Walker drifting an ERA and the text explaining that he was known as 'Skid Walker' by members of the popular press who did not understand a four-wheel-drift.


And I can remember - and I am sure it was before the publication of the Moss book referred to - a youthful orange-juice drinking Stirling Moss demonstrating with the aid of a model car to a respectful Raymond Baxter on black-and-white BBC TV the art of four-wheel drifting, using the counter of what appeared to be a cocktail bar.

I do not know what credence true historians such as David and DCN might put on this:

http://www.ddavid.co..._of_driving.htm

but it purports to quote Enzo Ferrari citing Tazio Nuvolari as the inventor of the technique, presumably before the Second World War. Unfortuantely the author does not give the provenance of the quotation.

#22 Cris

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 16:21

Here, here. I agree Don.

Cris

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


While I may not necessarily agree with the good Doctor Mike's conclusions in this particular case, I definitely support his voicing skepticism about the race and the addressing the elements related to it. From time to time is not a bad thing to look at look at various sacred cows and openly question their divinity -- all the time keeping in the bad of your mind the saying that "Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers."

His comments on Moss do carry some weight, since I recall Moss writing in one of his books that he could see tire marks indicating that something was definitely up, someone was pushing hard -- but not him since the Vanwall was lost at sea with its setup.

Others than DSJ seem to have witnessed the same race that Jenks saw -- I remember reading various other accounts of the race and they all echoed the same sentiments.

To my undying regret, since we did not return from our leave in the States until a week after the race I missed it. I do recall that those I spoke to who were there were all very excited about it -- which only made me feel worse, of course.

So, I scarcely take offense to Mike's article, much less get all hot & bothered over it. We would disgree over the interpretation of the elements he focuses on, but in no way would I disagee with the notion that just because he says something that differs from what other think that it is "wrong." Yes, there are several factual issues that I think deserved to be addressed and have been to a large extent. Having dropped (far more than) a few clangers in my life, I am scarcely going to be at the front of the mob pointing fingers at not being Perfect.



#23 D-Type

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 16:48

Don,

I agree that it is perfectly correct for Mike Lawrence to challenge a sacred cow. That's what historians should do and what this forum has done very well on occasions.

I can accept selective quotation of facts to make a point. That is simply the art of rhetoric.

But what I find unacceptable is if someone of Mike's stature deliberately distorts the facts.

To quote the Pitpass blurb

Rather than concentrate on personalities or chassis numbers (a common fault in motor racing literature), Mike prefers to weave a story around his painstakingly researched facts , ~.

Sadly it appears that his facts here are not painstakingly researched in this case.

#24 Risil

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 17:06

So, Dr Lawrence dismisses Senna's drive at Donington via the driver's own dismissal of it. And yet, no such luxury is afforded to Fangio in an effort to fully appraise his drive at the Nurburgring, with which Senna's is asserted to be analogous to. In fact, he hints that Fangio did indeed rate it among his best, thus contradicting himself in a bid to extend his wanton iconoclasm.

Furthermore, sentences such as "Fangio's greatness was not demonstrated at the 'Ring" appear to betray a streak of sensationalism, which only serves to cheapen and undermine whatever arguments he was trying to make. If we are to take his comments at face value, attempting to distill Fangio's greatness into one display, nay, one corner, is an incredibly brave goal, and one which is compromised as much by his cheapening of other displays of Fangio's talent, as such a diversion from his reappraisal of Fangio's drive compromises the coherence of the piece.

I am also surprised he didn't find time to take a couple of cheap shots at Jackie Stewart's victory there in '68.

Otherwise, he certainly raises some valid points in debunking several of the untruths and misrepresentations that have spread concerning the drive, it's just a shame that he chose to take the argument to such extremes in a seeming attempt to justify the importance of the event with bombast and venom.

#25 Bloggsworth

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 17:39

Apologies for my faulty memory............

#26 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 18:14

Originally posted by D-Type
But what I find unacceptable is if someone of Mike's stature deliberately distorts the facts.

"Rather than concentrate on personalities or chassis numbers (a common fault in motor racing literature), Mike prefers to weave a story around his painstakingly researched facts , ~."

To quote the Pitpass blurb Sadly it appears that his facts here are not painstakingly researched in this case.


Again, not defending Mike, but you assume that Mike consciously "distorted" the facts. We both agree that perhaps his research was not as thorough as we would liked to see -- another reason why peer review is a concept not a reality in this small corner of the realm -- in suppport of his thesis, but I can see where his interpretation of some of the information within the article may differ from mine or yours.

From my understanding, Mike offers views and opinions in his column rather than an offering of "hard-core" history -- which the blurb correctly offers as often confusing minnows for whales.

So, why am I bothering to defend -- who scarcely needs any help from me! -- Mike, who writes a column on a site that fired me? Probably because his is one of the few such columns that exists and one of the few that is actually literate, entertaining, and usually thought-provoking. Perhaps it is because I miss my column and more a bit envious since it is a Very Good idea for a column, even if I would handled it differently, since it does provoke a few cells of gray matter into life.

Or, perhaps, because I read some of my old columns and cringe....

#27 bradbury west

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 18:54

I have not checked the year etc but another race where a fuel strategy paid off, purely by chance I suspect, was at Spa? in 1950/51 ish when Rosier lumbered round in the 4.5 ltr Talbot doing about 10mpg and the Alfettas had to stop 3 times, at 2 mpg, and it was only towards the end that the Alfa went into the lead passing the then leader Rosier. For the next year Enzo Ferrari produced his 4.5litre cars, but with more power than the Talbot, but with a good fuel advantage.

I recall Bill Boddy doing a story about this fuel usage phenomenon a few years ago.

Roger Lund.

#28 Allan Lupton

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 19:45

Ah, but I think what we were talking about was fuel strategy on the day between teams of similar fuel consumption (Maserati and Ferrari), rather than the deliberate opting for the alternative design that the formula of the period allowed.

#29 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 21:09

Originally posted by Allan Lupton
Ah, but I think what we were talking about was fuel strategy on the day between teams of similar fuel consumption (Maserati and Ferrari), rather than the deliberate opting for the alternative design that the formula of the period allowed.


No, Roger is right about this, but it wasn't Rosier...

The story of the Lago vs Alfa race at Spa was incredible, let down by mechanical failure as I recall. It might have been between cars of differing performance and consumption, but it was a strategy aimed at defeating the undefeatable by applying that strategy. I was going to mention it myself, but even now I can't remember the name of the driver!

#30 starlet

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 21:19

It was Sommer in 1950.

#31 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 August 2007 - 21:40

Indeed it was... I was struggling because the story was told by a British driver who was aware of Sommer's plan... but I knew the Lago wasn't driven by a Briton.

#32 oldtimer

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 00:15

Not so many years ago, but decades after the race, I read a piece about Fangio discussing tyre choice with his chief mechanic, and they coming to the conclusion that one set of Pirellis they wanted to use would not be raceworthy for 500km of the Nurburgring. They reckoned that 1 tyre change plus 2 half tanks of fuel would be faster than 1 set of tyres and 1 full tank of fuel. Methanol fuel, remember, and a 500km race length. Assuming a full tank held 50 gallons (those that know, please help, because I have a feeling that 50 gallons may be on the low side), that would be 350 to 400lb of ballast at the starting line. Given Fangio's driving style with the Maserati, going to the start line 200lb lighter than the other front-engined cars, thus saving tyre wear and improving car performance, reckoning was as good as a computer.

I cannot remember where I came across that story, but I remember thinking, "Well, I'm blessed, these guys were well ahead of Max & Bernie." If true, it points to tyre choice as driving the tactic.

#33 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 00:31

Here is a good source for this story:

Fangio at the Ring
By Hector Luis Bergandi
Copyright © Road & Track 1983


The pine trees flew silently past as the Mercedes-Benz 280SE zoomed up, then swooped down like a roller coaster car into a blind bend with a sheer drop-off on the outside. For a second, the 3-pointed star on the hood swept around the precipice, then homed back onto he road ahead. We seemed to be suspended in space as the road snaked wildly beneath us, as if in response to some crazy choreography. But, all was controlled by the iron fist of a perfect, almost inhuman computer incapable of making mistakes.
And yet, every lime the road seemed to snake out of the way, I realized that we were the ones who were moving. The strange sensation was aided by the lack of dramatics: no shriek from the tires, no wild roll, no panic braking. Just a smooth, effortless transition from one bend to the other.
At the wheel was a 71-year-old man who not only knew the place like the back of his hand, but also drove as if the big sedan were an extension of himself. The place was the Nurburgring and the man was Juan Manuel Fangio. In the midst of my astonishment at this unspectacular display of driving, I realized that had I been the passenger of anybody else I would be hanging on, feet braking against he floor, eyes bulging, breathing in short gasps. Instead I was calm, smiling, comfortably ensconced in my seat, looking at the road swirling beneath me, as I listened to the only person in the world with whom I could feel safe at that breakneck speed:
'This is where I went off the road the first time I came to the Ring. See that embankment over there? Well, the embankment was there, but there weren't any armco barriers. They didn't exist in the Fifties when I was racing. The foliage came right down to the roadside and if you went off, you usually hit something pretty hard. This track was a real rough one because when you weren't swooshing past between two rows of trees, you were skating around a precipice or skimming the roofs of houses that 10 seconds before you'd been looking at from above.
When I went off there I was lucky. I went off tail first, so I managed to hold the beast. If you went off nose first at this point you could be in real trouble.'
While talking, Fangio twirled the wheel, downshifted the automatic transmission, and the car zoomed down again into another one of the Nurburgring's endless succession of bends.
'My shunt was in 1951, during the second season of the World Drivers Championship, and I was racing for Alfa Romeo. In those times everybody used to think we were unbeatable, but Froilan [Argentine driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez, sometimes recalled as the Wild Bull of the Pampas] had beaten us all at Silverstone for the 1951 British Grand Prix.
Grand Prix cars hadn't raced at the Ring since before the war, but in 1950 there was a Formula 2 race. Alberto Ascari won it rather easily and collected enough experience to set up a very good practice time for the 1951 GP, apparently without too much effort.
As for me, I had to start from letter A. I'd never been here before, and I knew you can't learn 174 bends in almost 23 kilometers overnight. You've got to have a method and the one I tried was to learn the track, section by section. When I concentrated on one of them, I forgot about the rest. It was hard work, but bit by bit the whole thing began to fall into place.'
The memory was still there. I sat bemused in the passenger seat as Fangio, who hadn't raced for 25 years at the Ring, kept calling out the type of bend that was coming next, even two or three bends ahead sometimes: 'A left-hander now...then down...this one looks like a bitch but at the exit it launches us into a smoother one...now a short straight...'
'It came to the point that I had the area from the start to the 13-km post sorted out, and, as for the rest, I wasn't a guidebook but I was sure to have the main dangers fixed in my mind. There were lots of little reference points that triggered reflexes warning me to be careful. Pretty soon I was driving the Alfetta as fast as anybody, but pride comes before the fall and all of a sudden I found myself skating off the road. Luckily the embankment slowed me. Oh, boy, was I mad as hell. I drove into the pit chewing the words with which I would admit I'd bent the 158's tail.
I told my chief mechanic I couldn't use 1st or 2nd gears because of a clutch problem, and he took control of the situation, saying, almost pompously, "Forget it, Juan. Don't worry. Everything'll be okay tomorrow." In spite of everything, I had set up the third fastest practice time and I was in the front row. There were two Ferraris to my right and my teammate Guiseppe Farina on my left. Only three of us had lapped in less than 10 minutes, Ascari and Gonzalez with the Ferraris, and me.
You know, in those days we didn't run a warm-up lap before the start. When the flag dropped you just blasted of into the unknown. Maybe it was sunny at the start and it was raining a couple of miles farther on. The mechanics used to warm-up the cars and drove them around the garage area and then push them to the starting line. When they turned them over to us there was always a report. This time it wasn't all that inspiring. "No good, Juan," my mechanic said lugubriously. "Just like yesterday. Niente da fare."
So I had to slam in a gear, get the car moving, and get off, using 3rd and 4th only - at the Nurburgring! Even so I didn't do too badly, and at one stage I led the race for a while. I dropped back when I stopped for fuel; but then the Ferraris had to stop too and I had a new chance to get back into the lead. I really stood on it, trying to pull away from Ascari and Froilan. But it didn't do me much good. The gearshift got harder and harder, and when I tried to get away from the pits after my second fuel stop the engine stalled. After I fell out of contention, Ascari was free to build up a 30-second lead, but even so Froilan, could not get by me for 2nd. I guess it wasn't too bad for a first time at the Nurburgring, but I still think I could have won that race.'
As he spoke, Fangio seemed to grow younger by the minute. He threaded his way swiftly through the Eifel mountains, stopping by the roadside every now and again, remembering some particularly significant spot.
He isn't too enthusiastic about talking to kibitzers who don't know motor racing, but when he feels he is on the same wavelength with the listener the memories start to flow. Even so, Fangio is polite to non-enthusiasts and always seems to be smiling as he talks in that high reedy voice of his, with the faintly singsong Spanish of the people who live in Buenos Aires province.
Fangio always finds a way to be nice to everyone from heads of state to filling station operators without affectation, and without looking up to or down on the person. This is why today Juan Manuel Fangio is the Argentine best known outside his native country, and is a top celebrity in Europe, where, a quarter of a century later, his motor racing successes are remembered vividly. In Germany, for instance, his popularity is astonishing.
'I won three German GPs here, one with Mercedes, one Ferrari and one with Maserati. And the Germans never forget the time I raced with Mercedes; remember this is the only German make that was ever successful in Formula 1. I won World Championships with Mercedes-Benz and I guess this is something very special to them.
The 1954 race was the first one that I won with the open-wheel Mercedes. After Silverstone I developed a dislike for fenders of the streamlined model. I remember I kept on knocking down the oil drum markers the ingleses used to mark off the airfield circuit. After that race I asked the technical staff to get the streamliner, I wanted to see where my wheels were going. I also said, sure, maybe inboard brakes are great on the drawing board, but please let me have good old outboard brakes. I know where I stand with them. Maybe they thought I was out of the Stone Age but the car they gave me for the Ring was entirely different, and superb. So comfortable to drive. In a GP Mercedes you sat with your legs splayed out, exactly opposite to today's racing cars. If you had a good seat this meant you were solidly supported at three points and your arms worked easily as they weren't busy holding your body in the seat. You twirled the steering wheel instead of hanging on to it.
I set the fastest qualifying time for the 1954 German GP, and at the start I was very optimistic. I decided to get right into the lead and stay there, keeping an eye on the others. I was delighted with the car, which was a violin, and after a few laps the only ones who were going fast were the other two Mercedes drivers, Karl Kling and Hermann Lang. Their main objective was to take 2nd place from Gonzalez' Ferrari.
But Kling, who started from the back of the field and more or less bulldozed his way into 2nd place, didn't stop there and started to charge after me. It's difficult to think he was worrying too much about strategy. Rather he was keeping the pedal on the floorboards until he saw the tail of my car.
Suddenly, here I have Kling trying to pass me. What's all this, I asked myself. Then I realized Karl wanted to put on a good show for all his fellow countrymen out on the circuit, even if it was against team orders.
My car was going fine so I let him past and then reversed the situation, crowding him from the back, you know, just keeping very close and never letting up the pressure.
You should have seen old man Neubauer! [Alfred] was dancing up and down with rage and hanging out everything but the dishrag. The old man was as smart as a bag full of foxes and knew Karl and I were knocking spots off each other. Neubauer was practically chewing his hat brim because he could see both of us falling out of the race, but I was damned if I was going to let up. Every time I went past the pits I pointed to Kling's car and smiled, as if saying, "Tell him to slow down first! Don't look at me!"
Well, Kling did have to slow down because he roughed up the suspension badly and I retook my lead quite easily, but even so I thought that if we had arrived together on the last lap I would have slammed past anyway.
After this I thought about things a bit and suggested to Neubauer that all we drivers should agree to avoid this sort of situation in the future. The idea was that from the start everyone drove his own race until a pattern developed. Then, if our team was in a commanding position, which we expected to happen often, the pit would hang out a Keep Station flag and we would avoid cutting each other's throats.
This agreement was accepted by everybody and worked fine, doing a lot of good for the team, even a year later when we got Stirling Moss. You know, Stirling was a real charger. I mean he'd never let go, and he was very good too. I was also pretty competitive in those years, so we didn't let up on each other. I know for sure if our agreement hadn't been in force, more than once Stirling and I would have blown each other up.'
The pace began to ease and the conversation became more evocative. We stopped at Wehrseifen, but just before that there is a place where there are two parts linked by a bridge, both of them very like the other. The circuit looked a bit different to Fangio but even so he picked out the place where Onofre Marimon was killed in a practice accident in that same year of 1954.
Onofre was another Argentine driver, the son of Fangio's arch-rival and great friend Domingo Marimon. Young Onofre was immensely popular with the other Argentine drivers and his loss hit Fangio and Gonzalez hard.
Inevitably, our conversation turned to the historic 1957 German Grand Prix. The last GP victory in Fangio's personal record, the race that gave him the 1957 World Championship, his fifth in total and the fourth Championship in a row. Since then, no one has been able to do better than two in a row and three all together. Beyond this, the 1957 German GP is considered The Grand Prix, and perhaps the most intensely fought motor race ever.
It was over 500 km, a distance that a modern GP driver just wouldn't believe. The cars? On the straightaway they were about as fast as today's Coney Island Specials, but the brakes, steering, tires and gearbox were strictly vintage, and ground effects had never been heard of.
You had to be tough in those days. Not only because of the distance, but because engines were at the front and all the heat and oil fumes wafted back into the cockpit. Blisters and severe burns were so commonplace that drivers like Fangio usually don't recall them when telling their stories. In the monstrous 1957 German GP, Juan drove one of the best motor races in history to win in 3 hours 30 minutes 38.3 seconds of total inspiration.
'I got off to a good start in that 1957 season. I won the first three races: Argentina, Monaco and the French Grand Prix. Of course that's ignoring Indianapolis, which had been grafted into the World Championship, but more as a gesture than anything else, because there wasn't any connection between the two types of racing. Then came the British Grand Prix at Aintree, where the greatest threat was the Vanwall, the first British Formula 1 car to really go.
We were quite concerned about them when we came to the Ring for the German GP, but they proved surprisingly ineffective. It turned out the Vanwall suspension system wasn't designed for a place like the Ring and its bumps. Either the mirrors fell off the cars or the drivers' teeth shook loose. So the Vanwalls weren't a factor in the race, and it was going to be a straight Ferrari-Maserati battle.
We had the Maserati 250F, a model that I liked very much. My car handled quite well and had very good brakes, and by this time I knew the Ring much better than before, so I knew I was going to give a good account of myself. On Friday I did 9 minutes 25-plus seconds without trying too hard, and it was a hell of a good time because it was about 30 sec less than I had done the year before with the Ferrari. Frankly, the only question during practice was who was going to be 2nd. It turned out to be Mike Hawthorn in a Ferrari. Mike worked very hard and gradually got up to 3 sec behind me. When the practice was over, I was at the front, then Hawthorn, Jean Behra with another Maserati and Peter Collins with a Ferrari like Mike's.
Of course, practice is one thing and the race is another. We had Pirelli tires; they were a bit soft and fitted our suspension very well but, if their grip was good, they also wore faster, particularly the rear tires. That meant we were going to have a pit stop at mid-race to change tires. The Ferraris were on Engleberts, which were harder than our Pirellis and gave the drivers a rougher ride, but we were sure they would go through the race without changing. We could bet they'd start out with the fuel tanks full and try to go through nonstop.

All this gave us a lot to think about, and finally we worked out a plan that was rather simple but seemed effective. We were going to have to change tires anyway, so we decided to start with the fuel tank half full, grab the lead and try to build up as much lead as possible before pitting. Then another half tank for the second part of the race, so we'd be driving a light, nimble car, the tires would wear less and we wouldn't have to worry about a second pit stop, which surely would be disastrous. On race day, as I went to the starting line, I had a plan. I should try to have at least 30 sec over the Ferraris at half distance, between laps 11 and 12, because after some practice we had discovered the mechanics needed that much advantage to send me back to the track ahead of the Ferraris. I remember race day was hot and to make matters worse the start was about 1:00 p.m. The two Ferraris shot off first, Hawthorn leading Collins, with me trailing carefully. Personally I never worried too much about haring off in the lead, least of all on a circuit like the Ring, because we didn't have prerace laps in those days and you never knew what might await you on that first lap. So I slipped into 3rd and began to keep an eye open for wherever I could get by.
Get by? Those two guys were going like firemen; in fact, they looked as if they were racing each other instead of holding station. I preferred to sit back for a lap or two until I could see a bit more of a gap between them. On the 3rd lap I was already losing my patience and decided I'd waited enough, so I started pressing Collins. I took him just after the pits and shortly afterward I passed Hawthorn on the Adenau downslope. By the 4th lap I was well away and concentrating on my race plan.
From what I heard later, the two Brits kept in close company behind me, flat-out and racing each other, so much that they alternated several times between 2nd and 3rd. Their Ferrari, Tipo 801, was practically the same car I'd won with the year before, the Lancia-Ferrari D50, without the 1956 side fairings.
A beautiful car to drive, a small car...a toy. Still, I managed to keep ahead and gradually pull out and I could see that, bit by bit, I was building up the 30-sec lead I wanted. On lap 10, with a race plan similar to mine, Jean Behra stopped. He refueled, took on new tires and dropped from 4th to 9th, mixed up with the Vanwalls. On lap 11 I got the come-in sign and I pitted next lap. Everything was working like a clock. I had my 30 sec.
Out of the car, I gulped down almost a full bottle of mineral water, spilling part of it over my heated body and, after listening to some brief comments, I was ready to go. But suddenly I realized something was wrong. The mechanics were nervous, they were fouling up refueling and one of the wheels wouldn't come off. All of a sudden; my 30 sec were vanishing into thin air. I stood looking at the car, with my back to the track, but sure enough the Ferraris screamed past and my car wasn't ready yet.
Well, they got it ready finally and I climbed in as the car was already being pushed. I remember first I sat on the fuel tank to get a better view of the track behind, then I slipped into the seat and I was adjusting my goggles as I left the pit lane. Even today somebody recalls that race and wonders how I could be so impassive about it all. But hat else could I do? Even with the new tires I knew I'd have to do a couple of laps not quite flat-out to scrub them in. I went to the pits with a 30-sec lead and now 1 was 48 sec behind, and next time around, 51 sec! Well, I thought, that was the end of a beautiful dream.
As the tires bedded in, I began to drive as fast as I had at the beginning, and soon found I was starting to gain ground. It also seems that Romulo Tavoni, the Ferrari team manager, thought I would never catch up, and so signaled Mike and Peter to take it easy. Perhaps he should have figured that I was looking for some extra aces up my sleeve.
Very often I realized that if you really were in a hurry you could sometimes take some curves a gear higher than usual. Risky, but effective. You didn't get that comforting sensation of grip, but you went in much faster and came out like a gunblast if you chose the line properly.
There was no way I was going to give up, so I started to try the next-higher-gear stunt all over the circuit. Wherever I was going through and just lifting off in 5th, now I went through flat-out. One of those places was a left-hand bend where you had a hump as you barreled out, shot under a bridge and got onto the next traightaway.
There is Armco there now, and soft shoulders, and they leveled out the hump when they rebuilt the circuit. But in those days we used to lift off a bit; for one thing, to set the car up better; for another, not to fly off into space.
Well, the first time I dared to go through flat-out, the car zoomed into the air, flew for about an hour, and landed at the very edge of the track, near the wire fencing they had then. Only God knows how the right reflex functioned to twitch the wheel, but there I was, back in business. So, that was it. From then on I took that bend flat-out. On that place alone I knew I was saving seconds that I had to have.
Some days you know you are 10/l0ths. I was never a hairy driver, but that day everything seemed to go right for me. Before I knew where I was, I had knocked off 20 sec and by lap 16 I was only 30 sec behind.
Now the Ferraris were really climbing the wall. Laps lasted around 10 minutes, and while their drivers were out there in the boondocks the pits had no way of communicating with them. Next lap they hung out so many signals it looked like Independence Day, but it was too late. By this time my car was running like a dream, relatively light, with good tires, and I was inspired. I started breaking the lap record every time I went by the pits. I had broken the record at the beginning, then Collins improved on my time at mid-race, but those final laps were crazy. I broke the record seven successive times. The Ring is a terrible circuit and I was out there on my own, which makes it much tougher to check your own speed and ascertain whether you're really going as fast as you think you are. Forcing myself to maintain my rhythm, I remember having done 9:25.3 sec, which was the first time the Ring had been lapped at more than 190 km/h.
Well, the pit signals were more and more encouraging but the race was drawing to a close and the question was, would I have time to catch the two flying ingleses?
Just when I was getting worried, I saw a little red blot far ahead of me. All right, I thought, at least I'll have a chance to fight for 2nd, but I didn't know the other leading Ferrari was just a few yards ahead. It was when we arrived at the Adenau downslope that I realized the two Ferraris were so close together, and then I said to myself, "This is it! I can catch those two!"
I began the hunt, and as we shot past the pits I was breathing down Peter's neck. Hawthorn was only a few yards in front but there were only 2 laps to go! Coming into the North Curve, just after the pits, I ttried to take Collins but I overdid it and he was able to stay ahead. His line was better than mine into the next bend and he stayed in 2nd place. But I had the bit between my teeth. I couldn't allow Peter to have the slightest relief, so I put pressure on him everywhere, going flat-out, the throttle pedal welded to the floorboard.
We got into a left-right-left switchback and I moved right beside him coming into a left-hander that had a narrow, little concrete bridge at the end of a blind up slope. Then another downslope and after that you turned sharp right, fast but very, very dodgy. The little bridge was coming at us at a million miles an hour and there we were, side by side, with me tap-dancing on the right shoulder of the road. Theoretically the bridge was just wide enough for both of us to go through together, but how brave can you get?
Finally it was Peter who lifted off at the last moment and I was 2nd. The other Ferrari was right there. It was coming nearer, swaying from side to side as Hawthorn really piled it on. I began to wonder if I was going to get through, but the opportunity came by itself just before Breidscheid, about halfway around the circuit. There were several bends, then a short straight in which we could breathe a bit, and then two bends, a 90-degree left and a sharp right. On the straight, with trees beside and in front of us, and a cliff to our left, Mike went right to take an ideal line when he came to the bend.
That was my chance. I hurled the car into the inside of the bend. I think I must have put two wheels on the grass verge because otherwise the two of us wouldn't have made it through. Mike did a double take when he saw me where he didn't expect me, and he lost the fine edge of his driving for a moment. Well, that's the way it goes. You should never let the other guy have the inside of your bend.
So I got into the lead and at this moment I really turned it on because I wanted to get clear away as soon as I could to avoid any surprises from the boys behind me. The result was another lap record, at 9:17.4, 8 sec faster than in practice despite the car being as tired as I was.
In the last lap I made sure. I didn't have too much margin to play with, because, of course, Mike was mad as hell and he wasn't about to give anything else away. Nor was I after the hard work I'd put in to get back into the lead. When I got the checkered flag, Hawthorn was just 3 sec away. Well, they say races should be won with as short a lead as possible, don't they?
There was a terrific release of tensions as we crossed the finish line. We carried on several hundred yards more, then went into the pits. The crowd there was absolutely crazy. They all shouted at the same time, smiling, trying to touch us, to hug us, caressing and patting the cars as if they were horses. I remember being lifted in the air, carried shoulder high, while I screamed for water, water, water, after three and a half hours driving in that pressure cooker.
On the podium the two English boys embraced me, and they seemed as glad I'd won as if they'd won themselves. What a day! Two great boys, they always showed they had a lot of respect for me and I am convinced they were really sincere in their happiness at my victory. There was Mike, gesticulating to explain how I'd passed him, and then Peter, always smiling. I asked why he'd dropped back a little after I passed him and he said a little stone shot by my tires had shattered his goggles.
The victory ceremony that day was something else, but even so I never imagined that so many years afterward people would still remember this race so clearly. The only thing I felt at the time was satisfaction at having won such a tough race and that I had won the World Championship again.
And somewhere deep inside me, I told myself that never, never again was I going to drive like I did that day.'
We drove on in silence. Fangio had told everything without much visible emotion, but I could perceive the quick gestures with his hands, the lilt in his voice, and the glitter in his eyes, not watery with nostalgia, but bright with the memory of what must have been a tremendous vital force within this otherwise quiet man.
The sun was going down and as we stopped to look at places Fangio especially remembered, a sharp, cold wind reminded us that a stormy night was near. Then I saw rather than heard a Ford Sierra coming very fast around the circuit and warned Juan to get out of the way. The driver slid past, not even realizing the man looking at him was the Maestro.
'Christ Almighty! Come, look at this cliff. Now that I see it from here...just think I came along here, flat-out. This is where I passed Mike. I'm glad I never saw this part before except from behind a steering wheel.'
We left early for Cochem-Mosel, and there, after an affectionate farewell, we split up: Fangio back to Stuttgart and I to Milan, where I was starting the long flight back to Argentina. Though he was gone, Fangio filled my thoughts. I couldn't forget what Fangio had told me a few nights before as we dined in a Stuttgart restaurant.
'My last race was in Reims, where so many years before I'd started my first race in Europe. It was 1958. I had told the Maserati people I would drive for them, but I warned them I wasn't going to do the full year. Just three or four races. The first one was the Argentine Grand Prix, which I couldn't miss, of course, and Moss won it with the Cooper. Then I tried out at Indianapolis, but I never felt like a potential winner and I decided it would be a mistake to race there unless I could introduce myself to these new spectators as a true champion.
And so, came the French Grand Prix at Reims. The 250F was lighter and had a shorter wheelbase, but Maserati had lost ground and the car was very much down on power. I barely made the 3rd row, and in the race I held 5th for a while but there were Behra, Moss, Schell, all snapping at my heels, coming two and three abreast wanting to get past. And the Ferraris? As far as I was concerned they were in a different motor race. I did work up into 2nd place; but that was because of a combination of circumstances, including Luigi Musso's unfortunate accident, poor boy. Then, the clutch pedal came off, it just came off. I pitted for a second, threw out the pedal and, as I wasn't going to wait for an extended repair, I got off again shoving the gears in any which way.
There I was, alone out on the circuit and it might as well have been Monday morning as far as my chances for this race were concerned.
Reims had some very long straights where, because was in the middle of nowhere, I could relax and think. I began realize this wasn't the thing for me. I remembered Tazio Nuvolari.. He'd been my childhood idol, the unattainable summit and I remembered the thrill when I met him on my first trip Europe.
Nuvolari was the superchamp. I once raced against him and remember we frontrunners lapped him right away. I could hardly bring myself to pass him, but of course, it was his stubbornness in refusing to admit he'd had enough. That his day was over. Now he was being lapped in public. I didn't decide then that this would never happen to me, but now at Reims that picture was becoming too clear.
Down those endless Reims straights I made a sort of mental balance sheet. I had hoped to race a year in Europe, maybe twice if I was lucky, and I'd already had 10 years in Grand Prix racing. One of my crazy hopes was winning a World Championship. I already had five. At the moment I had won more GPs than any body else. I was 47. I'd achieved everything a racing driver could achieve and yet here I was, driving like this was some kind of bread truck. The crowd had paid their money to see a World Champion drive and here I was, watching the scenery dawdle past. So I said, the hell with it. This was it, but it.
I think I finished 4th or something, who knows. I didn't even want to look at the pit signals. After a million years the race ended and when I got out of the car I said to the mechanic that it was my final Addio. They put pressure on me for years but I never raced again.'


#34 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 00:37

Specifically about ML story, I think that if a journalist ´distort´the facts on purpose while writing an article, he will get ´distorted´ conclusions. Sounds a bit amateurish for me.

#35 Pablo Vignone

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 00:46

Arturo:

After many years, I found today inmy files the Bergandi article. Two hours later, I saw your post. Can't be coincidence. The book is coming...

#36 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 00:57

Originally posted by Pablo Vignone
Arturo:

After many years, I found today inmy files the Bergandi article. Two hours later, I saw your post. Can't be coincidence. The book is coming...


Let´s party then :wave: :up:

#37 canon1753

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 01:53

The article that Arturo posted was one of the articles that got me very interested in racing history. In R&T there were several beautiful paintings of Nurburgring 1957 and Fangio at speed. Thanks for the memories.

#38 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 01:59

Sometimes someone like Ross or Jay will post something about a driver of the past...

"Moss did nothing special!" "Fangio didn't have to fight for his championships!" "Brabham was lucky that year!"

And we reel and bite our tongues and wonder why they feel this way, what fuels this rubbish?

Now we know, I guess...

Arturo, my deepest gratitude for posting that article. One would have to say that the writer made it all up before it did any less than completely dowse the fire of this latest denigration of one of the true greats.

#39 Arturo Pereira

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 03:40

No problem at all about the article !! One of my favourites for sure. I have it on .doc format, which is much easier to read than in plain text format. If anybody wants this version, email or PM me :wave:

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#40 Buford

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 04:12

No I want my sacred cows left alone.

#41 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 07:03

Originally posted by iharos
Has anybody seen this at pitpass. Is he correct?
www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_feature_item.php?fes_art_id=32415

This story is inaccurate to a great extent and in many parts. I was surprised that Mike Lawrence could assemble such a twisted account and that he even believes in his unreliable narrative. From now on I will have to be more cautios when I come accross Mike Lawrence's writings. :(

#42 kayemod

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 09:00

Originally posted by Hans Etzrodt
This story is inaccurate to a great extent and in many parts. I was surprised that Mike Lawrence could assemble such a twisted account and that he even believes in his unreliable narrative. From now on I will have to be more cautious when I come accross Mike Lawrence's writings. :(


This is all looking like a case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. Knowing that ML's feelings about Sir Stirling are similar to my own, I doubt if we need to fear another re-write of history along similar lines in respect of the Monaco and Nürburgring races in 1961.

#43 dmj

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 09:09

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


While I may not necessarily agree with the good Doctor Mike's conclusions in this particular case, I definitely support his voicing skepticism about the race and the addressing the elements related to it. From time to time is not a bad thing to look at look at various sacred cows and openly question their divinity -- all the time keeping in the bad of your mind the saying that "Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers."


I agree. His article might be a good read for someone who doesn't know much about that particular race, showing the other side, pointing at different ways of viewing and judging it. Seeing it that way it is perfectly ok. But from the view of anyone who knows a thing or two about it the article is... well, simply not good or accurate enough. I like his column and his books are always a good read but Dr. Lawrence has very strong oppinions on some subjects that really aren't matching the truth. Or at least could be seen differently. I'd say he has his own sacred cows...

It is good thing to look at sacred cows and question their divinity, certainly. Especially with so well established ones like 'Ring '57 or Senna at Donington or some Villeneuve myths. But in this particular case look was compromised a lot by including too much of not so well researched facts into text. Maybe I simply expect better writings from Mike Lawrence, as he spoiled me before with his previous excellent works.

#44 ex Rhodie racer

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 09:14

Like most things in life, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.
That reports are sensationalized is something I have come to expect, but M L seems to have dismissed far too much, and quite inaccurately it appears, in his quest to alter what he clearly sees as a myth. If he accuses Jenks of exageration, then he is probably guilty of the reverse.

(Quote)
The pine trees flew silently past as the Mercedes-Benz 280SE zoomed up, then swooped down like a roller coaster car into a blind bend with a sheer drop-off on the outside. For a second, the 3-pointed star on the hood swept around the precipice, then homed back onto he road ahead.
(end quote)

When I first read this article some time back, I had to chuckle to myself. It is a good example of sensationalist journalism. I have done literally hundreds of laps around the Nurburgring and I have yet to see a "precipice", or, "sheer drop off" on the outside of a blind bend. For a start, the circuit is lined with armco.
Question is, does it really matter? The author was trying to convey Fangio´s ability, even at 71, so I for one can excuse a bit of exageration. Lawrence on the other hand, seems unwilling to.
I suppose, technically speaking, he is more correct.

#45 thomaskomm

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 09:20

Originally posted by scheivlak
Yes, e.g. clearly mentioned by Caracciola in his autobiography.
A point of discussion is: out of necessity or as a 'free' strategic choice?
Sometimes it can be something in between.

Another thing: "four wheel drift" is often mentioned as a characteristic of Nuvolari's style. Didn't they use the term in Tazio's lifetime?


Hello scheivlak: i had read that Nuvolaris four wheel drift based that the racecars 1920-1933 had solid axles on rear and front and that was the circumstances that Nuvolari improved his driving style that he droves like no other in the turns. With the appearance the german racecars like Auto-Union and Mercedes the rear and front axles improved and Nuvolari had to developed a new racing style.


Thomas

#46 scheivlak

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 10:09

Originally posted by ex Rhodie racer
I have done literally hundreds of laps around the Nurburgring and I have yet to see a "precipice", or, "sheer drop off" on the outside of a blind bend. For a start, the circuit is lined with armco.

:rolleyes:

Not in those days!
As mentioned in Bergandi's article itself....

And just watch any footage of the 'Ring pre-1970.

#47 Ray Bell

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 10:52

Originally posted by dmj
I agree. His article might be a good read for someone who doesn't know much about that particular race, showing the other side, pointing at different ways of viewing and judging it. Seeing it that way it is perfectly ok. But from the view of anyone who knows a thing or two about it the article is... well, simply not good or accurate enough. I like his column and his books are always a good read but Dr. Lawrence has very strong oppinions on some subjects that really aren't matching the truth. Or at least could be seen differently. I'd say he has his own sacred cows.....


I don't...

And I think my reasoning is sound.

As alluded to earlier, there are those who will only ever read this account of the event. Today's enthusiasts without the interest to dig deeper will never see the other side of this, never question the veracity of Lawrence's attack on the 'received' history of this race.

They will thereafter speak with great authority about how Fangio wasn't ever as good as he was written up to be at the time, that his five titles were flukes or won against weak opposition. They will discount all the drivers of the era, therefore, to zero worth because of this effort, described by someone earlier as 'muck raking'.

Lawrence, therefore, should be publicly recanting this effort.

#48 HDonaldCapps

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 11:03

Lawrence, therefore, should be publicly recanting this effort.


TNF as The Thought Police.... :rotfl:

#49 David Beard

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 11:51

I thought the ML article was entertaining, and presented an alternative view very well. I enjoyed it.

However, the statement that Tony Brooks consumed 27 cups of tea after the race is terribly inaccurate. ML fell short on his research. The true figure will be many thousands now, and still rising.

#50 flat-16

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Posted 15 August 2007 - 12:09

Isn't it Moss that was credited with having said: "Fangio the man is greater than the myth"?

And he should know...

I believe that it's terribly important for the youngsters who follow F1 today to know about the likes of Fangio (sportsmanship did exist in F1 at one point...). My only comment is that, if you're going to try and diminish the achievement of a sacred cow, make sure to do so objectively, referencing information which is known to be factually correct.

Justin