At the end of the first Gran Prix drove in Argentina, Gonzàlez who during the race suffered terribly from the strong heat, now has to remain at rest, especially since the pain in his spine, a memory of an accident that occurred in previous years, begins to be felt again. Castellotti, who had to be admitted to the infirmary for a sunstroke, is feeling better. Castellotti, who had to be admitted to the infirmary for a sunstroke, is better off. Those who did not suffer from the hardness of the race is Giuseppe Farina. The Turinese driver, who returned to competition after almost a year of inactivity, resisted the exhausting pace of the Bonearense Grand Prix. Giuseppe hopes that the season began with a brilliant second place, repays him the bitterness that the absence from the races has brought him in recent months. Tuesday, January 18, 1955, a part of the technicians of the Lancia departs by plane to Malpensa, while the pilots and other members of the group leave Thursday 20. Only Castellotti stops in Buenos Aires to race - on a Ferrari Sport - the Mille Kilometers, after the Lancia - that could have made his fireballs race in the free formula competition - give up this second race, taking into account that of the machines brought to Argentina perhaps only that of Villoresi could have been repaired on the spot having only the broken fuel pump. while the others, due to the road exits, require more serious work to be done in the factory. The mechanical material of the Lancia will start on 29 January 1955 with the motor ship Giulio Cesare. Thursday, January 20, 1955, just returned from Argentina the test of the Lancia, Navone, tells journalists what happened in Argentina:
"They are not forty in the shade as we do; it is an oven that spreads over a whole zone. The Sunday before the automotive Grand Prix, we came back from the circuit about thirty kilometers from the capital. The heat was such that we had to close the windows of the car, because with the windows open, hot air entered like a hair dryer. Compared to the highlights they are a joke. You had to see the stop of Castellotti in the pits. Our driver number three arrived with considerable delay on schedule. He collapsed on the steering wheel. He just had the strength to murmur: I can’t see anymore. I took half a ride driving in a trance. Then it was necessary to transport him to the infirmary. The helmet didn’t do him any good. On his car jumped Villoresi, who had his out of action for a failure at the gas pump but also Gigi ended up off the road as Ascari. Alberto’s accident was really scary, because the car left on his behalf. The skill of the pilot could not put any remedy. On the circuit 17 October they had run in the morning bikes, and at 2:00 p.m. motorcycles. From the first oil had not fallen, from the second yes. When. At 16:00 it was given the start to the cars the track was not perfect, A car then it was stopped at the entrance of a bend losing a large amount of oil. The attendants were throwing sand over the stain when Ascari who unfortunately was in the lead came. If González had been the first to chase the Italian at that time, he would have ended up against the protective wall. Instead Ascari drove the carousel and farewell to the race. A frightful pirouette, a scream of those present. The driver was saved, but the race for him is over".
Saturday, January 22, 1955 Ascari, Villoresi and Castellotti, with the technical director Pasquarelli and the mechanics Boi and Viglio, despite being expected at the airport of Malpensa at 3:00 p.m., arrive just before 6:00 p.m., because they do not find a place in Zurich on the K.L.M device, already full, subsequently using a four-engine T.WA, arriving from New York almost three hours late. After making a stop in Zurich, the powerful US plane slightly reduces the high delay. To receive the silent sextet of the House of Turin are present, in addition to television operators and RAI and numerous photographers, relatives and friends, the designer Jano and the test driver Navone. Ascari, Villoresi and Castellotti, close from all sides, show their deep regret for the bad outcome of the race, and the high temperature on the track at the time of the race. Even Fangio, immediately after the race, had to be admitted to the hospital with a fever of 40. And since after such brief statements no one intends to say a word, were kindly remembered some comments bonearensi; with a veil of sadness in the voice responds for all Villoresi, as if authorized by his early canice.
"The cars held beautifully until Ascari and I went off the road because of the bloody oil stains that dotted the path like authentic puddles after a downpour. Ascari retired on lap 21, after being in the lead in the first part of the race and having almost touched 150 km/h".
Castellotti, saved from oil stains, was a victim instead of a sunburn:
"Yet during practice the temperature was the same and I had not suffered the slightest disturbance; instead after just two laps I did not understand anything, I saw nothing, the brakes did not respond to my commands and a flaming pickaxe hit me on the back of the neck. I collapsed on the steering wheel and found myself half an hour later in the infirmary, where I saw Navone’s frightened face".
The following day, Sunday, January 23, 1955, Enrique Saenz Valiente and José-Maria Ibanez, aboard a Ferrari 375 Plus, win the 1000 km of Buenos Aires raced on the Autódromo Municipal-Avenida Paz, the first race of the eight scheduled for the Sport championship. And seven days later, Sunday, January 30, 1955, Juan Manuel Fangio also won the Grand Prix of Buenos Aires, aboard his Mercedes, winning the Argentine temporada. Mercedes leaves only on Hermann’s car the three and a half litre engine, while on the other cars entrusted to Fangio, Kling and Moss it has a three-litre engine, the same one with which the German manufacturer intends to participate in the next Mille Miglia. For its part, Ferrari modifies two cars leaving three of Formula 1: the latter are driven respectively by González, Trintignant and Bucci; Farina runs with a 3000 engine and Maglioli with the new 3750. All of Formula 1 the nine Maserati and the same, without modification, the three Gordlni. Saturday, January 29, 1955, during the qualifying for the Buenos Aires Grand Prix the drivers were hindered by the rain: at a certain point Musso’s car slips into a corner and goes out for a few meters of track. When the Italian gets back on track, Fangio chivalrously slows the pace to not engage the Roman driver. Once the rain stopped the speed increased considerably and Fangio with his Mercedes gets the best time of the day with 2'31"5, followed in order by Trintignant, González and Moss, who will start in the front row with the reigning World Champion. The race day starts at 4:00 p.m. at the 17 de Octubre circuit in Buenos Aires. The Ferrari, driven by Farina, in the first series of the race proves to be able to keep up with the cars of the house in Stuttgart. But bad luck hit the Italian right at the beginning of the second series, while he bravely gets back behind the wheel of his car, despite having suffered burns to the legs due to the effect of the exceptional warmth.
The stifling heat had again its part in the defeat of the driver that could have given Ferrari the revenge desired. The Englishman Stirling Moss, aboard a Mercedes, promptly sprints to the start and takes the first corner of the route. Fangio follows him on the wheel and in third place follows Kling. In this order, the three Mercedes drivers passed at the end of the first lap, while González was fourth in the Ferrari 2500. But just when it seems to loom a new overwhelming race of the cars of Stuttgart begins the valid counter-offensive of Farina, who leaps first to fourth place overtaking team-mate González, Then he desperately chases the cars that are ahead of him. The race, made very hard by the torrid and oppressive climate, lives phases full of emotions thanks to the reckless momentum of the Turin driver who is always closely following the trio of Mercedes. After ten laps Stirling Moss continues to lead the race, followed by Fangio a few meters and Kling, but Farina always launched despite the heat of the engine had reopened the burns suffered in the tremendous adventure of Monza, He is now ready to launch his decisive assault. Kling, however, is determined not to give way to the bishop of Ferrari so as to require the intervention of the race director waving the flag requires the German not to hinder the comeback of the Italian. Farina surpasses Kling and Moss with momentum, and then projected in the wake of Fangio who in the meantime passed to the lead; then will confess the World Champion that when he looked on the two small mirrors, instead of the silver Mercedes of teammate Moss, a red car that became more and more distinguished, did not believe in his eyes, and finally understood why from four or five laps every time he ran in front of the box Neubauer kept signaling him to increase the pace: it cannot be that Giuseppe Farina said between himself, and he prepared to repel the attack. The qualities of class and heart of the Turin ace trigger the enthusiasm of the spectators especially when you engage at crazy speed a magnificent and terrifying duel with Fangio.
On the eighteenth lap the cars of the two drivers are at the same height and Farina, thanks to his boldness, manages to overcome the very strong opponent: for a moment the two cars graze, but the collision, which could have terrible consequences, It only causes a slight dent to the Ferrari. With the road clear, Farina wins the first heat. The twists, however, are not finished yet: in the short interval between the first and the second test, the runners hydrate in the shade vainly looking for a refreshment in the terrible heat of the tropical day that makes the thermometer rise to over 35 degrees. The unbreathable atmosphere is particularly painful for Farina, whose leg injuries cause unbearable pain. The managers and technicians of Ferrari gather - as a result - in the box to make a decision, so much so that the rumor spreads that the Turin driver would no longer leave his place to González. Farina, however, after recovering from collapse, returns to his Ferrari, and regularly starts for the last battery. However, as a precautionary measure, it was decided to stop González at the box to replace Farina, while Maglioli took the Trintignant car, which in turn took the wheel of the González 2500. The Torinese takes the starting order, but in short is overtaken by the three Mercedes; Farina, desperately trying to recover, is at this point actor of a dramatic adventure that, fortunately, remains without serious consequences. The Argentine Birger on Gordini slips fearfully right in front of Farina, launched at very high speed; Giuseppe manages to avoid the clash, but is forced to lose a lap and passing in front of the box gives the car to González. Birger goes off the road in the accident, with no consequences for himself or for the car. At the end of the race, the Turin champion immediately let his family know that he is well and that he is not affected by the hard test other than an exacerbation of the pains that the still recent burns to his legs cause: Elsa Farina, wife of the runner, She received a telegram from her husband, where he announced his return to Italy, adding that he was fine.
In Italy meanwhile, however, the condition of the well-known Florentine motorist Clemente Biondetti worsened on Monday, January 31, 1955 following a cardiac collapse. Biondetti had been subjected to a difficult throat surgery twenty days before, at the hospital of San Giovanni di Dio. Wednesday, February 2, 1955 the return of the last Italian drivers from South America transforms the airport hall, to Malpensa, in a crowded grandstand of Grand Prix. Relatives and friends of runners, sportsmen, journalists and photographers agree from Turin, Biella and Milan to welcome drivers and technicians and to hear the direct impressions on the Temporada. Maglioli is awaited by his lovely young sister, Miss Jolanda, by his brother Cesare as well as by Dr Casalegno, an acquaintance of the family who started to run together with Umberto but then left the competitive activity. Also waiting for the veterans from the American tour are the in-laws of Gianni Lancia, Magliola, with his daughter, in the company of the Turin rider Ammendata with lady, the president of the Lancia sports group, and others. Mrs Farina comes from Turin accompanied by Giuseppe’s personal doctor, Dr Perazzo, who wants to be among the first to congratulate the Turin ace for the magnificent races. The journey of Dr Perazzo is made out of pure friendship, because already before the wheels of the plane DC 6B of Alitalia touch the ground you know that the conditions of Farina are good. The former World Champion, as is well known, made his return to the races in Buenos Aires after the fearful accident last June, when he was forced to throw himself out of the burning car, while testing on the track in Monza. Farina, after many months, still bears in his legs the traces of the tremendous burns, and the very hot climate of Argentina - where in these days it is the middle of summer - and the exhausting pace of competition, with a consequent warming of the engines had rekindled the disease. Nothing serious, however, and Farina quickly descends from the ladder of the plane to throw himself into the arms of his wife.
"How am I? Well. I already telegraphed you from Buenos Aires".
Giuseppe Farina says, heartening his wife, who answers:
"It’s true, but until I see you I’m never completely calm".
The Turin pilot, not far away, assures his wife still on his condition. The Turin pilot walks perfectly, and the burns of which he has been said do not give him almost more, bother. After that, he describes the really exciting details of the race held on January 30, in which the victory narrowly missed him.
"It was a really interesting run-up. On three occasions I touched slightly the cars of Kling, Moss and Fangio, which preceded me by a few centimeters. I was forced to get back on the brakes and throw myself into the corners. And that increased the emotions of the spectators. However, everything went well: I passed in the lead and, therefore, gaining about a second per lap, I was able to cross the finish line of the semi-race number one. At halftime, I took off the wool anti-combustible clothing I had worn to preserve my legs, and I rested. It was perhaps seeing me lying down that raised the rumor that I was in poor condition or that I wanted to retire. The burns gave me little bother, but I had a heavy foot in braking, but I was not damaged, so much so that in the second semi-race I started very well. My misadventure occurred on the third lap. Birger, an Argentine, who had already inadvertently obstructed Villoresi and Behra in a corner on January 16, repeated the same game with me. I found myself in front of the Argentine’s car. I braked abruptly, lying and the engine stopped. My race ended there, because to start I lost two laps. We left Buenos Aires last Monday. The trip on the route, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Dakar, Lisbon, was great. I had the armchair-bed on which Gina Lollobrigida had returned to Italy. Let it be said incidentally in Buenos Aires screened a film in which I appear next to Alida Valli and Amedeo Nazzari. When I stop running, I’ll have the cinema, but for now I won’t even think about it".
Logically, Giuseppe Farina is satisfied with his performance and above all with his condition. The Turin driver will rest briefly, then start the preparation for the Syracuse Grand Prix. Maglioli, who leaves in the car with his sister and friends for Biella, will remain a short time in Italy, as he will race in Sebring. With Giuseppe Farina the drivers Mantovani, Trintignant and Maglioli, the engineer Lancia and lady, the managers and technicians of Ferrari, Ugolini and Amorotti have travelled. Everyone comes down from their device tanned, as if they were coming from a mid-August cruise. Maglioli more than dark, appears black mood, because of the misadventure occurred in the Thousand Kilometers:
"We hoped to win, when the car on which Bucci and I ran stopped because of a failure in the gas pipeline".
But Ugolini says by talking to his wife who is waiting for him:
"Nothing of importance".
Back in Turin Giuseppe expresses his desire to drink an aperitif. Late at night, getting out of the car with his wife, Farina finds a photographer waiting for him to portray the strange gifts brought from Buenos Aires. In addition to the usual silver plates and cups, Farina has taken from the suitcase a bombilla with its pipettes to suck the mate, and not being sleepy he enjoys chatting.
"I hardly saw anyone there. I was resting in the hotel, getting up, going to the circuit, going back to rest and so on every day. It was not a brilliant life. On the other hand, the races were exciting: all three races were fought. Five cars in a second in test number one, twists and turns in the 1000 kilometers, my half-victory and unfortunate retirement in the Buenos Aires City Grand Prix, a series of electrifying episodes. And then the adventure of Ascari. Also the road trip during the race valid for the World Championship. The Lancia driver attacked with great enthusiasm. A spot of oil betrayed him. He flew off the track. Fortunately, this year the mounted police defended the barbed wire barriers, necessary to keep spectators away. The public was at least 50 meters from the road. So the exit of Ascari, which was not the only one, did not cause casualties. In the first races there were at least 300.000 people".
Certainly, and I can add that if it hadn’t been for the complicated matters of the changes, in the race of 16 January Ferrari could have won. Nevertheless, seventy-eight million lire were collected. All the expenses of three races are so amply covered, even if the prizes are divided in proportion between the constructor and the pilot.
"The real profits are made by Argentine drivers. If they win, they get government import licenses for cars that sell at a high price there. In Buenos Aires it is rumored that Fangio, for his success in the World Championship was allowed to arrive about five hundred cars. Over half a billion take if the rumors are true. This recent Temporada 1955 will have yielded to the cuecho over forty or fifty, licenses. Lucky him. Business aside, it is strong the Argentine. He withstood beautifully the torrid heat. To avoid the inconvenience of overheating we had to fill the drivers' seats with asbestos. González and I took turns in one car, another Trintignant, González and I, and a third Maglioli and again González and I. More like a relay race. On 30 January, then, I managed to detach the ace Fangio in the first part of the Formula Libera race. If it wasn’t for Birger and his car being sideways...".
After a short rest in the mountains Farina will go to Modena to test a new Ferrari, while the German engineers prepare a Mercedes six-cylinder more powerful. The Lancia will perfect its cars and also the Maserati is setting up interesting cars. Enzo Ferrari and his technicians do not want to stand back, so they too have original cars to prepare for the Syracuse Grand Prix, and for a possible participation in the Indianapolis 500. In this regard, two special chassis arrived in Modena, costing more than fifteen million lire. Farina, if, as is almost certain, the machines will be set up on time, he really wants to debut in the US race. Days pass, and waiting to face new challenges, Tuesday, February 15, 1955, in Turin begins to circulate a surprise news, which would involve Alberto Ascari as organizer of a team in his name, to be founded together with his friend Luigi Villoresi and Eugenio Castellotti. The Lancia, after the brilliant successes of the Mille Miglia, Carrera Messicana and others obtained in the past in the Sport categories, is dedicated this year only to Formula 1: hence the rumor that the three steering wheel axles intend to buy Ferraris or Maseratis, to run in sport competitions.
"If I had so many millions to buy such cars, I would go and enjoy them immediately in the Riviera instead of staying here to work. I completely deny my team. But it is not excluded that I run this year on Sport cars. If the Lancia, as it did before, will authorize me, I can take part in some races. I will choose them from time to time. For now I have no program".
Meanwhile Giuseppe Farina returns to Turin, who had gone skiing to forget among the snows of Claviere the tremendous heat suffered in the Argentine temporada. The former World Champion, before returning home, makes long trips, being in perfect condition. And always on the subject of arrivals, a few days before, in the middle of the night, the ship on which the Lancia that took part in the Argentine Grand Prix and the Buenos Aires Grand Prix arrived in the port of Genoa. The three red cars are landed by Giulio Cesare and immediately returned to Turin, where the technicians will get to work to put them back in a short time in complete efficiency. Wednesday, February 23, 1955 you learn through the Italian newspapers that returns to the calendar the Grand Prix of Valentino, the classic Turin race that, for reasons unrelated to the will of the organizers, has so far had an occasional: After the war it was only held in 1946, 1947, 1948 (Italian Grand Prix) and 1952. Then difficulties arose due to the plethora of international calendar that practically does not leave free Sundays, reserving, among other things, eight to the priority tests, ie the World Championship. If you add the immovable races, such as Mille Miglia, Le Mans, Targa Florio, and the others of the International Championship Sports cars, every available holiday is vividly disputed by the organizers of half of Europe, several of which are willing to take the risk of competition, which is very lively, limited being the number of cars and drivers able to allow a Grand Prix worthy of the name.
This year the date assigned by the International Sports Commission to the Automobile Club of Turin was that of Thursday, June 2, 1955, three days before the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It meant failure assured, since the French race is Championship Sport. There was nothing left for the Turin organizers to do but to ask for the date to be moved to a day free from demonstrations, that is to say at the beginning of spring, even if running the alea of the uncertainty of weather conditions. Therefore it was requested and accepted on March 27, 1955. In this regard, Ferrari, Lancia and Maserati ensure their presence in forces at the Valentino Grand Prix, while Mercedes, as is known, this year only disputes the world championship races; it is also likely the participation of the Frenchman Gordini. Particularly awaited is the race of the cars of via Monginevro, since that of 27 March 1955 will be their third official appearance. For the Turin cars the Grand Prix of Valentino offers the opportunity to try the great achievement pursued so far. It is well known that the setting of a new car requires a lot of time and effort and it is therefore no wonder that the difficult beginnings of Lancia Formula 1 have begun. And it is equally certain that Giuseppe Farina will keep us very much racing in his city. The former World Champion, back from his trip to the mountains, is in excellent condition and is waiting from hour to hour for a phone call from Modena, having to go to try a new Ferrari that could be called super-shark, which will naturally run to Valentino.
"I have never been able to win in my city, and I am pleased that I am offered a new opportunity to race in Turin. I will do my best even if I know I have very strong opponents".
Admits Giuseppe Farina, reached by phone by the editorial staff of La Stampa. Sunday, March 13, 1955 at 10:00 under a clear sky, and with a temperature almost summer, is kicked off the fifth edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring, the classic race valid as the second round of the world championship for sports cars. The race takes place a few kilometers from the city from which it takes its name, on a winding circuit that winds around the old abandoned airport of Hendrick. About 10,000 spectators are present on the grandstands and on the lawn next to the track. The start takes place regularly for seventy-nine of the eighty cars admitted to the competition. When the starter lowers the flag, only the Ferrari of the American Jim Shakespeare stops at the finish line, as the battery is low. After a few minutes the mechanics manage to set it in motion, but Shakespeare, after a few meters without conviction, retires. It’s the first abandonment of the day. But after a few laps many more, more eventful and dramatic withdrawals. At the start the Jaguar of Mike Hawthorn, enrolled by the American Briggs Cunningham, followed by the Spanish De Portago that pairs with Maglioli on Ferrari, the Californian Ernie McAfee, the Italian Taruffi and Phil Hill, all on Ferrari. On the second lap a Renault driven by the Parisian Jean Rédélé slides on a spot of oil, and after a scary head-tail remains motionless in the center of the track. The pilot is unharmed, but an ambulance is immediately directed towards him. At the same time comes the Ferrari of Bob Said, an American of Russian origin. The Russian-crazy (such is the nickname with which he is known by the fans) cannot avoid the clash and ends up in full speed in the side of the ambulance. No injuries, not even after this second collision, but retreats rise to three.
In the first hour of the race there are no other drawbacks: the Jaguar of Hawthorn keeps constantly mind in the lead, while behind it light up via Taruffi and the couple Valenzano-Perdisa on Maserati. At the stroke of the second hour, the Dominican diplomat Porfirio Rubirosa leaves the street at full speed. His Ferrari even crashes into a spectator’s car in a parking lot. Unfortunately, after about an hour and a half disappears from the fight one of the most quoted machines, that of Maglioli and De Portago. The Biella driver, who is currently at the wheel, has to stop for trouble at the gearbox and then push the car for almost a kilometer to the box. Three hours from the start it seems to happen a second, more sensational twist: is Hawthorn stops at the pits for a review, but manages to restart before being reached. During the fourth hour the Ferrari of Taruffi and the American Schell overtakes that of Hill and Shelby and leads to second place with a one-lap gap from the Jaguar of Hawthorn and Walters. The latter covered seventy-eight laps while the two Ferraris in second and third place covered seventy-seven, but in the next hour the Maserati of Valenzano and Perdisa recovered two positions and went close to Taruffi. Between the sixth and the seventh hour Hawthorn manages to pass once again all the competitors, while behind him there is only one change, the Maserati of Spear and Johnston has overtaken the Ferrari of Hill and Schelby taking fourth place. The final is quite particular: Hawthorn and Walters, on Jaguar, and Hill and Shelby on Ferrari, are proclaimed in turn winners by the Sports Commission of the American Automobile Association. For hours everyone wonder: who was the winner of the race? To try to shed some light on the matter we will have to explain that in this kind of tests of great depth, anyone who tries to follow the trend by eye and cross, soon ends up not understanding anything: between overtaking, stops at the pits, After a few hours of running it is difficult to understand even who is still in charge.
In other words, only the timekeepers and those who are responsible for calculating the laps of each competitor can, at the end of the race, reconstruct the stages and establish the order of arrival. At Sebring happens that after the lapse of the eleventh hour of the race, the speakers announce that the Ferrari of the Americans Hill and Shelby are leading the Jaguar of Hawthorn and Walters. During the last hour, the distance between the two cars remained unchanged, and after the end the timekeepers announced that it was Jaguar that won, having crossed the finish line first despite being in the same lap of the Italian car. Now there are two cases: either Hawthorn managed to resume more than one lap at Hill during the last hour, something that none of the 10,000 spectators seems to have noticed, or it is wrong to report the time that Ferrari was in charge. However, the decision on the winner is postponed, but in this regard the representative of Ferrari in the United States, Luigi Chinetti, and the owner of Hill’s car, the oil tanker Alien Guiberaon, make a formal complaint, The jury examines during a long session lasting until night, after which the order of arrival is confirmed unofficially. So, after twelve hours from the conclusion of the race, it is still not known who is the official winner, being results first in turn both Hawthorn and Hill with consequent complaints and counter-claims. Waiting for the sports commission to shed light on how many successes, the three Ferrari drivers Piero Taruffi, Harry Schell and Umberto Maglioli, accompanied by the sports director of the House of Modena, Nello Ugolini, depart Monday night from New York, by plane, to Rome. Before the start everyone confirms to be sure that the victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring is Ferrari, and therefore to hope that the jury will eventually be able to review the judgment.
Meanwhile, Carini wins the Dakar Grand Prix for Sports cars behind the wheel of a Ferrari, and waiting for the return of the cars and drivers in the workshops of Maranello the men of the Prancing Horse complete the development of the brand new single-seater racing car to which will be entrusted the colors of the Modena house for the international races of the season automaker 1955. To such purpose the arrival of Farina is attended, to which the car will be subordinate for the first examinations. The new creation curated by engineer Lampredi does not implement revolutionary criteria, but it represents a refinement of the brave experimental shark that turned out to be the best racing car out of the construction site of the house of the prancing horse and won the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. The experience of last season has been precious for the technicians of Ferrari, who have collected after each race a vast mass of technical data, through the examination of which we have reached the model now on the test bench. The characteristics of the new car are as follows: two and a half litre engine with four cylinders in line, and power of 250 horsepower (it would have reached the limit of 100 horsepower per liter of displacement, which for many years have targeted the hopes of the designers). The body shop introduces innovative solutions, also not differing as conception from the structure of the shark. The line is more tapered and streamlined, the side tanks - which give the machine the particular shape - are back and tapered and are now born at the elbows of the rider, The frame has a longer wheelbase and rests on a rigid bridge of the type De Dion.
Even the front and rear suspensions undergo changes, with revolutionary solutions, which for now are not revealed by the house. The machine has already made a couple of secret tests on the roads of the Apennines, near the plant, driving the testers. Thus, while Monday, March 14, 1955 Ascari, Villoresi and Castellotti tried for a long time with two Lancia Formula 1 cars on the track of the Monza circuit, which have been made appropriate changes by placing special straw bales in order to imitate the Valentino circuit (the special difficulties of the route, characterized by three variants studied by the technician according to the layout of the next Turin race, give little importance to the times fomiti by the two cars, remained on the other hand secret), Wednesday, March 16, 1955 Giuseppe Farina tests in Modena, on the racetrack, the brand new single-seater car that the Ferrari company prepares for the 1955 Formula 1 races. The car was first presented at the Modena circuit, in the presence of the director of Ferrari, Nello Ugolini, the designer Lampredi and the engineer Massimino, as well as numerous car technicians attracted by the novelty. Giuseppe Farina had arrived just before, and as soon as he saw the car in the Ferrari headquarters in Modena he expressed the desire to try it. The Turin driver immediately enters the driver’s seat and after a couple of laps at a reduced pace, after which the mechanics give a last look at the candles, starts a dizzying carousel turning almost continuously for over an hour and racing with the fast 175 of Bianchi that simultaneously test on the same track, piloted by Manganelli, Montanari and Fumagalli.
At the end of the tests Farina appears enthusiastic about the car, which he defines as perfect in the recovery and stable when braking. The exceptional stability is in fact the main feature of the new car, for whose chassis has been studied about ten months, modifying and finally remaking almost ex-novo that of the old shark. Also in the afternoon Farina takes to the track, turning half an hour and recording the time trial remarkable times. On the same track in the afternoon also Valenzano and a Maserati test driver, both on two-litre Sport car. Wednesday, March 16, 1955, al Valentino is completed work to surround the park and build stands, boxes, and other installations. In Turin, Ferrari will entrust its cars to Giuseppe Farina, Maurice Trintignant and Harry Shell, the last purchase of the Scuderia Modenese, deploying the Super Shark. Lancia will give its cars to Ascari, Villoresi and Castellotti, while the Maserati will be driven by Behra, Mieres and the two young Musso and Mantovani. Meanwhile, the organizers plan to finalize the ongoing negotiations with the French Gordini for sending two cars. Thursday, March 17, 1955, at 12:00, is officially announced by Farina and the Count of Pero, managers of the Automobile Club Torino, the layout of the Valentino circuit. Two hours after the official announcement of the track, the former World Champion gets on a car of the Italian newspaper La Stampa and turns lemmas for the avenues of Valentino, after willingly accepting the invitation to try the track in absolute preview.
"On my behalf, the best way to familiarize yourself with the track is to look up, observe four poles that you see beyond each curve. This gives you the impression of distances. It’s a bit like seeing the path through a radar. In the first rounds of tasting, like this, I carefully observe if there are any bumps. The second tremendous corner is taken in full speed by all drivers, even beginners. It is not even a curve, it is a deviation".
Then Farina stops in corso Massimo d'Azeglio right at the intersection with corso Dante, gets out of the car and studies the point meter by meter.
"The avenue bends slightly right. Doing it between 50 and 100 per hour is a joke, at 100 it becomes a problem, the more there are rails".
Then he exclaims, before leaving again:
"We’re good now".
Because the circuits are won at an average of 150 km/h, but they are also prepared for walking in a family-like car, walking and observing the rails of the tram. Wednesday, March 24, 1955 in the racing department of the Lancia they work without stops, while Ferrari and Maserati try on the track of the Modena Aerautodrome. Maranello’s cars with Giuseppe Farina on the super-shark, Shell, Trintignant and De Portago on the usual single-seaters; Maserati alternating with the six-cylinder Behra, Musso, Mantovani and Perdisa. Absent the only Argentine Roberto Mieres, expected in Modena in the morning of Thursday, March 25, 1955. Despite the fact that the sports directors of the two rival houses are concerned to avoid direct comparisons on the track, The drivers can not resist the call of the fight transforming at some point the training in a real race of speed with daring overtakings in the curve. The result is the unofficial collapse - recorded by the chronometers of the sports directors - of the speed records of the circuit, having both Farina and Shell, Behra and Perdisa shot repeated times below 1'02"0, at almost 134 km/h average. Both the engineer Lampredi of Ferrari and the engineer Bellentani of Maserati. at the end of the tests appear very satisfied with both the tests and the work of tuning the cars, which will reach Turin Thursday 24 Mano 1955, and will arrange the material in the garage Leone via Madama Cristina (where the punching operations of the cars will also be performed). For Maserati will be made available the garage of Fontanella and Maochieraldo, which will also host the Ferrari of Bernardo Taraschi. Friday, March 25, 1955, after the route is closed to traffic at 12:30 a.m. and the Automobil Club draws the race numbers, the official practice begins.
At 1:30 p.m. Alberto Ascari starts the test laps aboard a docile forklift, looking for the harmony with the track’s asphalt. For over four and a half hours the drivers make laps to test the route and the cars with which they will compete. In these phases Giuseppe Farina, climbed aboard his super shark Ferrari, after only five laps, is stopped because of a recovery pipe of the oil cut sharply because of the bumps caused by an insidious irregularity of the asphalt in the underpass of Ponte Isabella (made more insidious by the tram tracks). This allows the lubricant to spread on the track, forcing the technicians of the Maranello team to withdraw the car without having been able to fully control the behavior. Shortly after, Farina remained still along the path for the jamming of the gearbox, after taking his place on another car. Meanwhile, Villoresi only makes a few more laps without falling below 1'49"0, while Castellotti works both on the forklift and with his own car, however, blaming on the latter some inconveniences to the suspensions, caused by the bump present after the underpass of Ponte Isabella, which during the day will procure - besides the already mentioned Farina - several annoyances to more than one competitor. At the same time, the Frenchman Jean Behra, team leader of Maserati, makes a beautiful sequence of faster and faster times, as well as the two young drivers Mantovani and Musso, confirming the good preparation of the House of Modena for the race. In the last hour of practice the three Ferrari drivers, Farina, Trintignant and Schell run long enough, while in the pits, built close to the large gate to the castle, the owners of the stables, drivers and great fans of motoring talk quietly about the upcoming race. Even the lawyer Gianni Agnelli visits the Lancia and Ferrari and Maserati pits, entertaining himself, perhaps risking some cautious prediction, about tomorrow. Even Prince Bira, after completing practice laps, sits on the counter of a box and, legs crossed to the East, marks the times of the other competitors sometimes distracted to chat with his beautiful wife.
More calm, the Frenchman Rosier looks down on the Ferrari cars. The engineer Giovanni Lancia, however, is not present during all the test time; he appears only at the end, and looks with affection at the car on which Castellotti had turned until a few moments before. Saturday, March 26, 1955 take place from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. the qualifying tests: Alberto Ascari wins the pole position, followed by the Maserati of Behra and Musso. Giuseppe Farina is fourth, more than two seconds away from the Lancia driver, who on Sunday, March 27, 1955 won the seventh Grand Prix of Valentino among the roaring applause of the crowd. Upon arrival at the finish, the Marquise Trevisani offers the pilot of the Lancia a bunch of lilacs, while his wife hugs him and leaves lipstick stains on his cheeks blackened with oil, while in the box of the Lancia the blue coveralls embrace each other, without even trying to hide the wet eyes of emotion. Later Mieres, Vllloresi and Castellotti arrive, but the audience still applauds the winner; for the crowd, about 50,000 people, the victory has only one face, that of Alberto Ascari. To see it, the audience breaks the barrier and invades the track. Ascari managed, with difficulty, to find an opening and take refuge in the courtyard of the castle. Then, as if the already many kilometers traveled were not enough, he will climb again in his private car and will go exhausted. At the start, the departure of Musso and Behra is lightning fast, while Ascari, specialist in lightning departures, remains surprised. Farina presses a few meters, then come in the group Trintignant, Castellotti, Shell Villoresi and the twenty-two year old Perdisa. After the first pass Musso leads the race, followed by Mieres, Behra and Ascari. After a few laps it becomes clear that the race is between the Lancia and the Maserati, since the Ferrari of Farina complains about boredom at the gearbox. The sprint of the four leaves no breath to the spectators, who sit in the most interesting points of the circuit. Alberto Ascari makes you forget the stunts of Giuseppe Farina, who is without a march and must each time go directly from the second to the fourth, losing ground until he is forced to retire on lap twenty-two.
Eugenio Castellotti, the young pilot of the Lancia, tears cries of emotion to the public in the area of the under passage when he grabs a platform with the right wheel. He then stops at the pits for a moment to check the front axle, and starts again in fury. He does not know yet that he is heading towards a magnificent placement. On the twelfth lap Behra must interrupt his sprint for a bridge failure; identical inconvenience complains Perdisa. The French ace and the Italian hopeful, sitting side by side, now look with a hint of melancholy at the comrades and opponents fly on the short straight of the grandstand. In front, the Lancia di Ascari is opposed by the two Maserati of Musso and Mieres and is followed by the Lancia di Villoresi, who leads a very intelligent waiting race, and by the Ferrari of Trintignant. At this point, Maserati could be a team player, but on the 21st lap a murmuring murmur of the public suggests an accident. The leading trio has broken down. Ascari is the first to race in front of the stands; Mieres is on his heels. And Musso? What happened to Musso? Moments of apprehension. The misadventures occurred during the trials in Mantovani and Bira make us fear the worst. Ascari had made a sign with his hand, as if to indicate a pirouetted car off the road. And so it was, intact. But fortunately no consequences for the pilot. The perfect signalling service after a few minutes can reassure everyone: the Roman driver suffered an accident at the curve of Corso Raffaello. Soon after, the same Musso arrives on foot, greeted by a great and deserved applause. The following lap, the twenty-second, Farina stops permanently because of the gearbox malfunction. When Madame Farina is at home feverish, when she learns that her husband has retired, she is seized by a collapse. From here they call the circuit looking for the family doctor who immediately talk with Joseph.
On lap 34 also De Portago is forced to retire due to a mechanical failure: the nose of his car touched in the terrible bump after the underpass, the car loses water and the Spanish marquis stops, But in his debut in Formula 1 has still given good proof. Even Girard, exhausted by the fight with unequal weapons, is blocked exactly in the middle of the race. Ascari at the same time double Castellotti, but does not detach him; drags in his wake the young teammate and if he will then let him go back in front, alternating with him to lead so that all the Lancia will finish the race at full number of laps. Meanwhile, the Frenchman Trintignant, caught in the grip between Ascari and Castellotti, strength to the maximum, but in vain. With eleven laps to go he will be forced to stop by a mechanical failure. All the others are voiced several times, including Prince Bira who stops every thirty kilometers to register the suspensions. Against the three Lancia only Mieres fights with tenacity: the Argentine is as regular as a clock, but can not threaten Ascari who literally dominates the race. As time goes on, Jano, designer of the car, and Pasquarelli, director of Scuderia Lancia, are pale as if they were losing, while engineer Lancia is following the race first from his plane and then on television. When there are three laps to go, the Lancia mechanics begin to smile; the managers do not. They fear a blow of. bad luck, always possible in motor racing. But when, finally, Ascari crosses the finish line, almost getting up in the car seat and waving an arm cheering, the motorist Nervo, a boy who had seen the misfortune of Barcelona and the misadventure of Buenos Aires, jumps up on a stack of tires and shouts:
The success tenaciously pursued in Spain and Argentina, has finally arrived for the House of Turin. A magnificent Ascari, first arrived before the revelation Mieres, a tenacious Villoresi and a generous Castellotti, have conquered him on the avenues of Turin. When he stops after the lap of honor, Ascari looks for Vittorio Jano, the father of the victorious car. But the designer is in a corner, alone, in the large courtyard of the Valentino palace. Ascari runs towards him, they look into each other’s eyes.
"Thank you, Commander".
"Thank you, Ascari".
Vittorio Jano answers. At the end of the race, short interviews are released with the protagonists of the Grand Prix of Valentino. The first interview is with Alberto Ascari, winner of the race:
"I am grateful to all the mechanics of the Lancia who have developed the car as best you could not. Difficult opponents? All of them, but the greatest praises deserve together the Roman Musso and the Argentine Mieres".
Musso and Perdisa, the two young drivers who together with the unfortunate Mantovani formed the trio of Maserati, comment on their misadventures. The Roman, after explaining his accident for the umpteenth time, curses under his breath at the breaking of the bridge of Behra. And to those who ask him about his excessive anger at the misadventure of the Frenchman, Musso replies:
"If Behra didn’t rock, Ascari would have had a tough nut to crack. In the meantime I could perhaps have put between my wheels and those of Ascari a very considerable advantage with the consequences easy to draw".
The Grand Prix car held on Sunday at the Valentino circuit has fully maintained the premises with which it had appeared, at the very last moment, in the calendar of the beginning of the season. The observations that emerged in the Turin race were on the technical level of sure interest, and essentially concern the test, of the Lancia Formula 1 cars at their third exhibition in the race. After the race, the three Lancia Formula 1 cars that dominated the Grand Prix of Valentino were immediately taken over by Mattei, Levizzari and Navone, the three loyal designers Jano. A few hours after the triumphant sprint, technicians and mechanics of the Turin workshop are back to work around the cars.
"Valentino has shown that our cars can withstand the grueling pace of a Grand Prix. They will face in Pau and Monaco averages from one hundred per hour, that is very nervous. Then you will go to Belgium, where the hourly speed will be around 180 km/h average. The Lancia will then be tested on different types of circuit. At the end of these races we will really have the confirmation that our efforts have achieved the goal. Naturally, the result of Sunday’s Grand Prix gives us hope".
Says the director of Scuderia Lancia, Pasquarelli.
"All the programme, except Pau and Monaco, is drawn up in principle, since the economic agreements are to be defined. From Naples, for the competition of May 8, urgent invitations continue to arrive. It will be difficult, however, to answer affirmatively, despite the best will".
After eight days from the colorless test of Valentino, Monday, April 4, 1955 Piero Taruffi wins with the Ferrari 118 LM the fifteenth Tour of Sicily, the race that starts the cycle of great road racing. This classic event sinks its tradition back in time, connecting to the Targa Florio which is the oldest race in the world. The route of the Giro - a complete tour of 1080 kilometres - is the most difficult one can imagine, with its 11,000 curves, its steep slopes, and the crossings of cities and villages. The drivers say that this is a race even more exhausting than the Mille Miglia, because it does not allow a single moment of relaxation. The fact that Piero Taruffi won with a new car, the 3750 six-cylinder that debuted in January in Buenos Aires in the 1000 kilometers, is the most interesting technical fact of the race in Palermo, because this Ferrari is destined to represent the flagship model of the Scuderia Ferrari. Wednesday, April 6, 1955 the Lancia cars leave during the night in the specially equipped truck, driven by the popular Villoresi, who travels in the direction of Pau accompanied by Commander Jano, as well as by the director Pasquarelli and other technicians and mechanics.
The Lancia will undergo an interesting and new race test on the street path of Pau, reminiscent, as characteristics, the circuit of Monaco, second round of the World Championship to which the Turin house holds a lot, While Ferrari renounces its participation to dedicate itself to the preparation of the Sport cars participating in the Mille Miglia, and of the new Formula 1 cars. On the eve of the Pau Grand Prix, the fight between Lancia and Maserati promises to be closed. In rehearsals held on April 10, 1955, Ascari prevailed over Behra. for a minimum fraction, in a day characterized by a scary accident that arouses excitement in the audience. While the tests are being carried out, due to the rupture of the oil pipe of Simon’s car, a large and slimy patch forms on the track, on which Simon himself performs a head-tail without consequences; However De Portago, to avoid the oil stain comes out of the track and ends his race against the barrier of pressed straw. In the race, Behra succeeds against Castellotti, who came second, and Ascari who finishes the race in fourth place, behind his friend Luigi Villoresi. Ferrari, which on 11 April 1955 is absent from the race in Pau, returns to the competitions participating in the Grand Prix of Bordeaux, while Lancia, also invited to this Grand Prix, cannot comply with the requests of the organizers. The House of Prancing Horse, after the Circuit of Valentino, has withdrawn the Formula 1 cars, disassembling and reviewing them in every part, before entrusting two of his machines to Farina and Trintignant. The Turin driver left in the morning of Thursday, April 21, 1955 and, via Ventimiglia, reached the French city to start training.
"In Bordeaux I already ran a couple of seasons ago, but I had to retire after the fastest lap. It is a street track, medium not very high. It will turn on 130 km/ h. For Indianapolis, as far as I know, Ferrari is working hard to prepare a special car, but it is not known if it will be sent across the Atlantic by May 30, 1955. Indianapolis has a special charm for every driver: I would like to try this new experience for me".
Alberto Ascari, who was given by some agency as a probable participant in the US competition on a Ferrari, has ruled out wanting to try this year the adventure across the Atlantic. Despite the good conditions for Ferrari, Sunday 24 April 1955 Jean Behra and the Maserati are the great protagonists of the Grand Prix of Bordeaux, won after a fierce duel that puts him first to Maurice Trintignant and then to Giuseppe Farina, After being forced to withdraw from an irreparable mechanical failure, replaces the French, victim of an indisposition due to the great heat that reigns in the Bordeaux region. The brave Sforai of Farina, author among other things of a spectacular - and fortunately without consequences - spin that puts the exit from a bend in the reverse position to that of the race, are vain: Ferrari, Not yet at point, nothing can contend for the individual victory of the French champion and that no less significant team Maserati. The following week, Ferrari is again engaged in the race fields. Saturday, April 30, 1955, at 9:00 p.m., begins the twenty-second edition of the Mille Miglia. Over 550 crews out of 643 subscribers, a record number, will begin the gigantic marathon of 1597 kilometers, and the departures will last until 7:28 the following morning. In these last feverish hours of waiting, the garages, the gates, the courtyards of Brescia and surroundings regurgitate machines and mechanics intent on finishing touches.
In the afternoon the verification of the machines in Piazza della Vittoria is completed, paved with advertising banners and bubbling of the usual compact and noisy crowd that does not miss a joke of what happens inside the two fences reserved for punching. The order is generally maintained, but when the teams of the three great rival teams, namely the Mercedes that arrives Friday, April 29, 1955, and the Ferrari and Maserati that instead arrive the next day, the barriers hold even a moment, and drivers and machines is so close in a siege as affectionate as inexorable. The challenge between the three car manufacturers is very important, and to prove this, Fangio runs the track eight times, while his teammates Kling, Moss and Hermann even sixteen times. Indeed, the German company has disposed, among other things, of special light trucks very fast, driven by the 300 SL engine of the three-litre grand turismo, with over 200 CV of power, which were used to bring up and down from Stuttgart the cars prepared for the race, and that from time to time they needed changes. In this regard, it seems that in the environment of Mercedes feeds some concern for the brakes. It is the same Fangio who would have let Dorino Serafini understand him in a brief stop in Pesaro, during his penultimate training lap, adding that Mercedes starts to win at any cost.
The cars of Stuttgart, all 300 SLR models with cylinders of 3000 cubic centimeters, differ slightly in the bodywork: those of Fangio and Kling, who leave alone on board, are the species of single-seater, while the cars of the other two have a double tail fairing and large wraparound windshield. Moss’s competition partner will be fellow countryman Jenkinson, a bearded journalist. To give an idea of the preparation of the Mercedes drivers, it must be taken into account that each of them has trained for a long time even to make any small makeshift repairs: wheel change, clutch adjustment, replacement of candles, etc. The men of Ferrari will have powerful six cylinders of 3747 cubic centimeters. Even Taruffi (who consumes with his touring car, more than 4,000 liters of gasoline to study the route), Castellotti and Maglioli (who however still has a sore pulse) have completed about fifteen laps each. As for the Maserati, Musso and Perdisa start with the eight liters; Giardini, Scarlatti, Bellucci and Maria Teresa De Filippis with the 2000; Giro Valenzano (which is at its seventh Mille Miglia, although it is only thirty-four years old), with the new 1600. The participation of Vittorio Marzotto, who could not train being in the classroom of Montecitorio, is difficult, while Luigi Villoresi starts with a Fiat 600. Shortly before the start of the race, the engineer Neubauer technical director of Mercedes is silent as a monument, while Fangio, cued by journalists in the verification precinct lets go to statements, confessing that he is definitely afraid of Ferrari, because guided by Taruffi, Maglioli and Paolo Marzotto. For the Argentine the Maserati is an unknown, therefore it doesn’t advance any forecast, however it knows to have to deal also with the other House of Modena.
Asked if he considers it a handicap to be forced to tread on others, Fangio answers:
"I go as I can and I don’t have to think about what others do. The fundamental prerogative to face the Mille Miglia is to be cautious at the beginning to have in the final sufficient reserves of physical energy and mechanical possibilities to cope with the tightening of others. In fact the Mille Miglia is won on the Apennines".
For Ferrari, the order is to respect the precise timetables for a long time meticulously calculated (and it is easy to see Taruffi’s paw here), while for Maserati it gives the go-ahead to the drivers, not having any pre-ordered plan. Sunday 1 May 1955, the great Ferrari-Mercedea fight for the record of the twenty-second edition of the Mille Miglia is resolved in favor of the German cars. And if the Scuderia Ferrari can advance valid mitigating factors to justify the progressive failure of its vehicles (inexplicable, subsequent tread disconnections of the rear tires on two cars, before; boredom to an accessory organ of the power supply on the car in Taruffi later, just at the crucial moment of the ride) remains the observation of the truly sensational average held by the winner Stirling Moss, 157,650 km/h, more than 12 km/h higher than the previous average-Record, to illustrate better than any speech the exceptional qualities of the new car that Mercedes has built for the great tests of world championship Sport. The twenty-second Mille Miglia has in its first two thirds, that is up to Viterbo, a very eventful appearance, full of twists and exciting phases; then the situation stabilizes in the linearity of conduct of Moss that, He flew to the finish line of Brescia without however decreasing the pace of the race, and indeed still raising the average speed. After the initial leap from the start at the first control of Ravenna from the experimental Ferrari 4500 of Castellotti, on the Adriatic roads the young driver from Lodi complains of a double detachment of the rear treads and abandons, replaced at the command by Taruffi, It reaches Pescara at almost 190 km/h on average, followed by the Mercedes of Moss, Herrmann, Kling and Fangio (whose engine appears, of the four, the least efficient).
In the Adriatic city the predominance of Italian cars ends: in Rome Moss is first. Heading north, Taruffi tries to attack, but something of the car gives up shortly after Viterbo, leaving the way clear to the German cars; except Kling, who in the meantime went off the road just outside the capital. In the dynamics of the accident, two people are injured. At km 8.300 of Via Cassia his Mercedes skids with one of the front wheels a paracarro, and goes out of the road. Two spectators are grazed, but one of them receives the parachute. Both are hospitalized. Even the pilot is injured, so much so that in the emergency room they find a fractured ribs and a lumbar contusion. Retired on Futa also Herrmann, with the car damaged by a collision, Moss precedes with great advantage Fangio, pressed by the Maserati 3000 of the young surprising Perdisa, who had passed Maglioli struggling with mechanical problems. But soon after Perdisa is stopped by a gearbox fault, and the Mille Miglia has no more history. After the dispute of the Mille Miglia, third round of the Sportscar World Championship (after the 1000 kilometers of Buenos Aires and the 12 Hours of Sebring), the standings still sees Ferrari in the lead with 18 points, followed by Maserati stops at 11, Mercedes and Jaguar at 8, The Porsche with 3 points, the Gordini with 2 and the Austin-Healey with 1. The situation is therefore still favorable to the Italian colors, which will have to try in the next round, the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans, the difficult revenge of the Mille Miglia. The engineer Neubauer, technical director of Mercedes, even before the end of the test is sure that his cars would win.
Therefore, with typically German phlegm, he does not go to the finish line to wait for his drivers, preferring instead to sit on a wooden box, at the Fiat branch, in the enclosure where all the cars will gather at the end of the race.
"Mercedes riders race without any pre-ordered plans. Each of them is completely free to race, as he believes. I have more faith in machines than in tactics".
He told the Neubauer journalists. Then, Moss’s entry into the Fiat enclosure surprised him in these considerations. Neubauer gets up, jumping easily from his box, and goes to meet the English driver and his companion, hugging them both visibly moved.
"It was a great test, a great test: you also demolished the Mille Miglia record".
The director of Mercedes exclaimed, before giving Moss the opportunity to comment on his test:
"The car worked like clockwork, and all along the way I only had a moment of fear. I don’t know which locality we were crossing: suddenly a dog appeared before me and I instinctively pressed on the brake. The car spun a frightening spin but the accident had no consequences. I turned the wheel and left faster than before".
Then comes Fangio, followed by new hugs and congratulations. The Argentine of course is not satisfied like Moss:
"It was the fuel injector that spoiled my day. It failed already in the first few kilometres and I could not go as fast as I wanted".
Meanwhile, in Modena on May 2, 1955 Giuseppe Farina and Alberto Ascari try a new Ferrari, whose characteristics are kept secret, so much so that the test, which took place around 12:00 a.m., takes place in the utmost reserve. The Maserati also tested its new Sport car, called 150 S, which underwent a real endurance test. Behra, Mieres, Musy, and the Italians Rossi and Santovecchi alternated seamlessly at the wheel of the car. The Posillipo Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, May 8, 1955, this year assumes great importance for the official participation of the Lancia. The Turin manufacturer decides to send two Formula 1 cars to Naples on Sunday, which will be entrusted to Ascari and Villoresi. The young Castellotti, tired from the demanding race in the Mille Miglia, will be left to rest. This in Naples will be the fourth out of the season of the new Lancia cars: in Argentina it did not go very well, then came the triumphal success of Turin followed by the second place of Castellotti in Pau, behind the Maserati of Jean Behra, In the French competition the Lancia had been in the lead for most of the race, but a banal accident had stopped Ascari. At Posillipo the Turin drivers are hoping for a revenge on the Maserati, which will be complete. Behra, Mieres, Musso and perhaps Perdisa will run for the trident house. The Neapolitan circuit is not very fast and can seriously engage the cars in the race. The big Lancia van with the two red Formula 1 cars on board leaves Wednesday, May 4, 1955 for Naples; Ascari and Villoresi will reach the city of Vesuvius traveling on their personal cars.
On Friday morning, however, Vittorio Jano, the sports director Pasquarelli, the test driver Levizzani and a timekeeper will leave Turin for Naples by plane. Lancia has carefully prepared its cars for this race, carrying out a series of tests in Monza and in the workshop. When you go from testing to racing, however, surprises are always possible and Pasquarelli, team director, will not be quiet until after the end of the race. They will be absent from Naples the Ferrari that doesn’t seem to be at the point yet. There was talk, instead, of a participation of the Modena company in the Silvestone races scheduled for next Saturday, with two cars entrusted to Farina and Trintigrant, but even this eventuality seems to be excluded. Farina is in Turin and has not received any instructions to leave. The absence of the Ferrari from Naples, however, does not take away interest in the Neapolitan race. Moreover, the current intense automotive activity has a single purpose, to prepare drivers and cars for the great race in Monaco, the second race valid for the Formula 1 World Championship, in which Italian manufacturers will face the threats of Mercedes. Sunday, May 8, 1955, the day after the BRDC International Trophy in Silverstone, registers the registration of only ten cars. Starting from pole position, Ascari immediately takes the lead of the race followed by Luigi Musso and Jean Behra on Maserati. During the race, the French driver crashes in the difficult downhill corner after the finish and loses four laps for repairs to the pits, while Ascari continues with a regular rhythm but able to gradually increase its advantage until the conquest of the second seasonal success.
On Sunday, May 22, 1955, after a long wait Monte-Carlo returned to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix. After the great tussle that took place there in 1950, the Monaco Grand Prix was no longer organized, precisely because the course had all of a sudden seemed unsuitable for Formula 1 cars. Now, however, this famous race is being revived in grand style and has the good fortune to coincide with the renewal of the exciting confrontation between the Italian manufacturers Lancia, Maserati and Ferrari on one side and Mercedes on the other. The anticipation of this first Grande Epreuve has made itself felt strongly throughout Europe for some weeks, and the entry proves to be one of the finest seen for many a year. It is the first 1955 appearance in Europe of the W196 Mercédès-Benz cars and in view of the fact that the Monaco circuit is a tortuous one the Stuttgart firm built two special cars for the race. These are shorter in the wheelbase than any previous models, and as a result there is no room for the inboard brakes at the front, so these are mounted normally, on the wheel hubs. At the same time this saves a great deal of weight, with the lack of drive shafts and universals; at the rear the brakes remain in the normal position. Other than this major alteration the two short-chassis cars are similar to the Argentine models, though the car given to Fangio has the engine mounted slightly farther forward, while the car Moss drive has it in the normal position, relative to the driver that is. Having no knowledge on the handling of these very short cars, the Mercédès-Benz engineers make the two cars slightly different in order to learn something. Their third entry is a long-chassis car with all four brakes inboard and in the hands of Herrmann, as Kling is not fully recovered from his Mille Miglia accident.
Gordini entersa team of three cars, Manzon and Pollet with the-earlier chassis models, but the former car now fitted with Messier disc brakes, and Bayol is on the only 1955 model. Then Rosier and Simon are down to compete with their private Maseratis and Macklin with the Maserati of Moss, disc brakes, Dunlop wheels and all. Two Vanwalls are entered, with Hawthorn and Wharton as drivers, while the Lancia team has four entries, the drivers being their regular three, Ascari, Villorresi and Castellotti, with the fourth car loaned to Chiron, for old-time’s-sake. Four official Maseratis are in the hands of Behra, Mieres, Musso and the new boy Perdisa, and to complete the entry Ferrari has two Tipo 553 cars and, two Tipo 625 models, the drivers being Farina, Trintignant, Schell and X. Finally, is the lone independent Whiteaway, with his HWM and out or this formidable list of runners only twenty are going to be allowed to start, the choice resting with the organisers and obviously on practice times. Originally the three practice periods were planned for the earlier hours of the morning on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the race, but certain teams pointed out the impossibility of trying to carburate at 6:00 a.m. for a race to be held at 3:00 p.m., so Thursday sees the practice changed to the afternoon. Another dubious rule has been inserted in the regulations, which says that only those times recorded on Thursday will count for the front row of the starting grid, the rest of the rows being decided in the early morning practices. This is to encourage drivers to try hard on the opening practice and thus induce the public to pay to come and watch that practice, and needless to say the idea is not at all popular with the drivers, many of whom have not driven before on this difficult winding 3.145 kilometre circuit.
The only drivers not out for the first practice are Hawthorn, whose Vanwall is delayed by the Channel crossing, Wharton, who is going to be a non-starter after his Silverstone accident, Macklin as the Moss Maserati is still being rebuilt, and the complete Gordini team who just are not ready. Fangio and Moss are soon in their stride and Ascari, using Castellotti’s car, is not far behind, while a fourth Mercédès-Benz, another long-chassis car, is being driven by engineer Uhlenhaut, so that he can find out what the circuit is all about and know what the drivers mean if they complain about the cars. Farina is trying both a Ferrari 555 and a 625, the latter fitted with new brakes that are bigger and better than before. It is not long before the usual practice split-second battle begins between Fangio, Moss and Ascari, the Italian now on his own Lancia and also at time on the Turin team’s spare car. They have five cars present, all fitted with yet another type of oil cooler, this time having a normal oil radiator mounted on each side of the cockpit, between the body and the pannier fuel tank. As would be expected, Behra is the fastest Maserati driver and though he joins in the dice for the front row he cannot approach the two short chassis Mercédès-Benz cars. During this practice period Herrmann has a bad slide at the top of the hill before the Casino and goes through a stone palisade, wrecking the car and damaging his leg and his lungs, while Schell brakes one of the 555 Ferraris so that the end of practice sees only the Lancia learn feeling happy and confident. The result of the battle for the front line is in the order Fangio, Ascari, Moss, Castellotti, Mehra, Trintignant, Villoresi and Musso, the rest being some way behind, so the first three can rest content. Next morning sees practice start just before 6am and this time Gordini has his three cars out, the lone Vanwall appears, driven by Hawthorn, and Macklin is circulating. Ferrari are undecided about their race order, but Farina wants to drive the 625 with the new brakes, still refusing to get used to the handling of the Super Squalo, Trintignant is given the second 625 and Schell one of the new ones.
For the second new car they bring in Taruffi and Frere and they both practice, to see who will start in the race. Towards the end of practice Moss tries the short Mercédès-Benz to be used by Fangio and gets within one-tenth of a second of the Argentinian’s time, whereas on his own car he is more than two seconds slower. Although Moss is not very happy about this the engineers are content, for they have learnt a great deal more about weight-distribution. With Herrmann out of the race, Simon is co-opted into the Mercédès-Benz team, with Le Mans as the long term view, and he is given the spare long-chassis car and begins the difficult task of learning how to control the really fast Grand Prix car. Another driver who is trying to convince himself he can cope with a 1955 Grand Prix machine is Chiron and he is making steady progress, but not lapping terribly fast. The Vanwall, with its fuel-injection and Amal GP carburetter bodies, used as air intakes and to provide the throttles, is sounding its usual crisp self and going quite well. Behra is now getting into his stride and Castellotti is still showing great form. On the third day things are due to start at 6:15am, but Macklin pours oil all over the track from the green Maserati and there is a 40 minute delay while the mess is cleared up and some rude words exchanged. All the time the weather is proving perfect, and the last practice period sees the top boys trying all they knew, though quite why is difficult to understand, for the front row is already decided. In spite of this Ascari turns 1'41"1 equalling Fangio’s best for Thursday, just to show the Germans that the Lancia is going well, and Fangio replies with a lap one-tenth of a second slower and then Castelloti does 1'42"0, which surprises everyone and probably himself as well, and practice finishes with everything at fever pitch and excitement high for the race. As an interlude Uhlenhaut drices Moss’s Maserati.
On Sunday, May 22, 1955, the weather in the Principality of Monaco is excellent: clear skies, packed grandstands, and bright sunshine provide the backdrop for the event. The circuit is 3.145 kilometers long and will be run for a total of one hundred laps, equivalent to 314.5 kilometers. In the pre-race, a light blue colored Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider, driven by members of the organization, makes a lap of the track to check that everything is fit to start. Starting at 2:45 p.m. the Grand Prix is to run over 100 laps of the tiny circuit and everyone is anticipating a great deal of bumping and boring to be indulged in with so many top Grand Prix cars and drivers on the grid. Of the total entry that practised Macklin and Whiteaway did not qualify and 20 cars line up on the quayside facing towards the gasworks hairpin, with Fangio, Ascari and Moss on the front row, last year’s World Champion being on the inside; behind are Castellotti and Behra, followed by Mieres, Villoresi and Musso, Trintignant in the best Ferrari, with Simon alongside and the others in threes and twos behind. At flag-fall there is nothing to choose between the leaders and out of the hairpin Mercédès-Benz leads Lancia with a thundering horde right behind them. Fangio appears out of the tunnel on this far side of the quay, well ahead of Castellotti, Moss, Ascari, Behra and the rest and away goes the Argentinian to build up a lead. After five laps Moss scrabbles past Castelloti but by now Fangio is some 7sec ahead and so when the turmoil begins to settle a bit and things take some semblance of order Fangio still leads. At lap 10, he is 9sec in front of Moss, who is the same distance ahead of a close trio comprised of Castellotti, Ascari and Behra, the first two passing and repassing, then comes Mieres running alone, to be followed by another dicing trio, Villoresi, Perdisa and Trintignant. Schell and Hawthorn are in close company, and the rest are beginning to struggle, with Farina right at the back having dented his car’s nose on someone’s tail on the starting melee and been pushed to the back. So close are the cars in the opening laps that nearly everyone has dents at front or back, and Rosier has spun completely and wiped off the tail of his car, the oil tank later coming adrift.
Fangio and Moss are well out on their own, while Ascari is being harassed by Castelloti and then Behra passes both Lancias and takes third place. At 20 laps the gap between the two short-chassis Mercédès-Benz cars is still around 9sec, but they are more than that much in front of Behra’s Maserati and the two Lancias. Trintignant gets past his two adversaries and begins to close on Mieres who is in sixth place, and on lap 23 Hawthorn is overdue, arriving later with a broken throttle linkage on the Vanwall and having to retire. Simon bursts the engine on his Mercédès-Benz, Musso has broken his Maserati and Manzon and Taruffi have been at the pits, the furious pace beginning to tell. The leaders are lapping, at 1min 46sec and soon Moss closes up on his team-mate and the two cars circulate a few feet apart, in complete command of the race and seemingly all set to give a Mercédès-Benz demonstration. On lap 35 Castellotti hits a kerb and the next lap a rear tyre goes down and he stops to change it, taking on fuel at the same time, and then Behra calls into his pit with trouble, all of which leave Ascari securely in third place, but more than 40sec behind Fangio. Trintignant has caught and passed Mieres, but now the Maserati driver is beginning to retaliate and they are having at private race together, while Castelloti is working his way up from ninth place, to which he has dropped. Perdisa hsd been going consistently, shaking off Villoresi, but when Moss laps him he tends to get in the way, and the Mercédès-Benz driver gave him a severe talking-to as he eventually gets past. On lap 50, just halfway through the race, Fangio comes to a sudden halt on the far side of the circuit, by the railway station, when his transmission brakes and Moss appears past the pits on his own; then Behra and Perdisa are flagged into the pits together and they change cars and go off again, the Frenchman now being seventh and having regained the lap he lost due to his pit stop. With only Moss and Ascari on the same lap the race begins to settle down, there being 84sec between the two cars on lap 60, and when on lap 65 Mieres has the transmission of his Maserati break, just after he has repassed Trintignant, the result seems settled.
Moss is circulating steadily and smoothly and though Ascari is resigned to second place he is now being harassed by Perdisa, for the young Maserati driver, having been lapped by Ascari, suddenly begins to drive at a furious pace and sets right behind the Lancia. For lap after lap this goes on and Ascari just cannot get rid of the Maserati on his tail, while Moss is beginning to make up a full lap on the Italians, and everyone waits to see when he will lap the Italian champion. As has happened so often to Moss, what is going to be a certain victory is snatched from his grasp, but this time with unexpected additional drama. As he completes lap 81 a cloud of smoke pours from under the bonnet as the engine bursts and spews oil onto the exhaust pipes and he draws into his pit. While most people are watching to see if anything can be done to the Mercédès-Benz Ascari is coming down the hill approaching the chicane leading onto the promenade, still with Perdisa just behind him, and then without warning the Lancia slid straight across the road, crashes through the straw hales and sand-bags and goes over the edge to plunge down into some 15 feet of water, the hot engine sending up an enormous cloud of steam. For some moments there is chaos, and while men in “Frogmen” suits swim to where the Lancia has disappeared and boats speed across the harbour, Ascari surfaces and is retrieved suffering only front a slight cut on the nose, but very lucky to have escaped drowning. In a few seconds the whole race has changed completely, Trintignant is now left in the lead, followed by Castellotti and Behra, but the Maserati spins almost immediately and stalls and now Perdisa moves up into third place. At last the excitement dies down and the last 10 laps close quietly, with a very surprised Trintignant the winner, the Ferrari team finding it hard to believe, and Castellotti in second place. Farina keeps profiting by retirements and climbs to fourth place, followed by Villoresi, Chiron who has kept his Lancia going steadily, Pollet with a lone Gordini, with the second 555 Ferrari, having been shared by Taruffi and Frere, in eighth place. The other car of this type driven by Schell has disappeared in a cloud of smoke that is classic. As in complete anticlimax Moss pushes his broken Mercédès-Benz to the line to be classified ninth and last.
Maurice Trintignant wins for the first time in his career aboard the Ferrari 625, followed by the Lancia of Eugenio Castellotti, while to close the podium is Perdisa, detached by a lap. One lap behind the winner Farina and Villoresi, respectively on Ferrari and Lancia, while the rest of the classified, nine drivers in total, accumulate over five laps behind. It should be noted that in the standings is recorded the ninth position of Stirling Moss at nineteen laps behind, since the British driver, at the end of the race pushes the car parked in the pits over the finish line, in fact winning the position. Lean consolation for Juan Manuel Fangio who manages to snatch the point getting the fastest lap in the race with a time of 1'42"4. At the end of the second stage, Trintignant leads the world ranking with 11.33 points, followed by Fangio at 10, Farina with 6.33 and Castellotti with 6 points. After the unexpected conclusion of this dramatic European Grand Prix, everyone is still shocked by the spectacular accident that happened to Alberto Ascari. An accident that only a miracle prevented could have resulted in tragic consequences. Never in a car race has something like this happened. In this regard, many experts say that the Monte-Carlo circuit, as classic as it is, does not at all have those reasonable safety requirements that are indispensable when it comes to making you race car world championship. At the point where it happened the road is narrow and the bottom is not of asphalt on which the tires can have the correct grip, but of polished concrete tiles. In fact, this stretch of the circuit takes place on the paved sea promenade for pedestrians and not for vehicles.
This fact can partly, but very vaguely, explain the circumstances that generated the initial skid of the Ascari Spear. There are even three eyewitness accounts of the accident. One asserts that Ascari was blinded by the cloud of smoke that Moss' car was spreading. This smoke inside the tunnel, a hundred meters long, preceding the offending point, would have completely canceled the visibility. So the pilot would be, if I may say so, off course. Note that the chicane forms in this point a kind of them for which the attitude of the car changes direction twice. Others claim that the car bumped into the right sidewalk, bouncing off the other side with its nose facing the sea. Finally third version. Moss' Mercedes would have left a patch of oil on which Ascari would have slipped without being able to control his mechanic, leaving the road after breaking the light barrier of straw bales, and passing between two large docking pylons. The driver is literally catapulted out of the car seat and into the water about twenty meters from the car. Fortunately Ascari was not injured enough to prevent him to emerge immediately and to reach with four strokes a boat that in the meantime had immediately headed towards him and that picks him up, then approaching shore. Ascari loses blood from a shallow cut in the nose and after a brief dressing is transported to the American hospital of Monte-Carlo. Lying on the bed, with a band-aid on his nose, Ascari quietly tells his wife and a small group of visitors, including Luigi Vilioresi, the young Perdisa, Ugolini, Amorotti and Meazza, of Ferrari, the terrible moments experienced:
"I can’t figure out how it happened. Coming out of the tunnel I braked like every lap in that point: I don’t know if there was any oil on the ground, but the car went sideways, hit the sidewalk and jumped on the other side, Pointing clearly outwards and passing very tightly between two iron pylons, while I literally flew in a dive that never ended. Really, I got off easy. But water is better than a wall anyway. The day before yesterday, while I was walking along the circuit with Villoresi, we had stopped right there and I had said: you could go to the bathroom, here. Well, these are not hunches".
Ascari tells us, as Stirling Moss arrives to shake his friend’s hand:
"And to think you could win".
He admits Moss by speaking French with Alberto. On Monday, May 23, 1955, the doctors performed an X-ray because Ascari felt a pain, not strong, at the hip, before signing the resignation sheet at about 10:00 am to allow him to return to his home, in Milan. Meanwhile, the Ferrari mechanics, who until Saturday did not show confidence in their cars, celebrate an unexpected victory. Those who asked them why the cars did not go, on Saturday the mechanics were shrugging or picking on this or something particular that did not want to know to go his way. On Sunday night and Monday, however, they are radiant, and they admit that a bit of luck, after all, Ferrari deserved it. The happiest of all is the engineer Aurelio Lampredi, the designer of Ferrari:
"We’re still alive, aren’t we? Good luck has helped us in an unexpected way, however, because German cars, Lancia and Maserati go very strong. We must have no illusions: there is a lot to work to keep up. The future will be very hard because the Germans will prepare the revenge by all means".
Even Bazzi, the old Turin technician who is one of the elements of confidence of Enzo Ferrari, admits that:
"The races are like that, today is good for one, tomorrow for the other, but almost never you win without a pinch and even two of luck".
Fortunately or not, Ferrari in Monte Carlo has shown a great talent: that of keeping at a distance. The Trintignant car did not lose a single shot, and the same Farina, without an unfortunate initial swipe against a step, would have most likely managed to finish close to the first two, if not better. However, the Turin ace has made a very courageous race, also because at the wheel of a vehicle that on the eve was judged to be significantly inferior to the others, and did not stop fighting until the last. Enzo Ferrari knows this well: the deficit against Mercedes is important and difficult to fill for a small team like his. But being forced to admit the excessive power of Mercedes does not mean accepting it. Looking for new solutions and despite the contrary opinion of some of his closest collaborators, Ferrari gives its assent to the design and subsequent development of a two-litre and a half twin-cylinder engine, supported by its technical director, Aurelio Lampredi, whose long stay in Maranello led to see the master of the factory, who lacks his theoretical preparation, with a certain sufficiency less and less hidden. It will become famous a sentence pronounced by the Livorno technician to the address of a skeptic Enzo Ferrari just about the two-cylinder engine:
"Here, among many practitioners and practitioners, the engineer is me".
The agreement between Ferrari and Lampredi includes a clause according to which, if the engine had not been performing, the technician would have left Maranello. This will happen punctually after the twin-cylinder engine will be mounted on the bench and will not produce more than 160 horsepower.