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#55 1956 German Grand Prix

2021-04-17 00:00

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#55 1956 German Grand Prix

Le Mans è un nome che suona lugubremente nella storia recente dell'automobilismo sportivo. Il ricordo della tragedia che funestò l'ultima edizione del

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On Wednesday 18th July 1956 the rumble of race engines breaks the silence of the Gran San Bernardo valley for the last practices of the drivers who will participate at the classic uphill Aosta Valley. The participants are 64 they will contend the absolute victory in the Gran Turismo and Sports category, but the organizers will announce the official drivers list late in the afternoon. Thanks to early news arrived by phones the names of the best drivers of the various classes so it’s not difficult, to make some predictions at least regarding the absolute victory. The fight should be between the favorite 4 liters Ferrari, which will be driven by Umberto Maglioli, Willy Daetwyler, as official drivers of the Modenese house, and Gerini and Margalraz with their personal cars. The 2 liters Maserati, inferior of cylinder, shouldn’t be dangerous even though a surprise could come from Buffa, Paglierini or Fiorani. Of the favorites the first one to arrive in Aosta was Maglioli on board of his car that was donated from Mexico in occasion of the win at Carrera. It will be his training car waiting for the mechanics to give him his Ferrari. Sunday’s race will be Maglioli’s first one for the team from Maranello, after some disagreements have divided the Biellese driver form Scuderia Ferrari. Both Maglioli and Ferrari wished to collaborate again, but some stubbornness reasons have impeded the reapproaching since now. The senior executives of the Aosta Automobile Club have been the promoter of this reconciliation since, they wanted Maglioli to race at all costs but not having a car to win, they personally solicit Ferrari commentator. So everything solved.

 

Found the car, Maglioli should not fail on Sunday to repeat last year’s success when with a prestigious race reduced of 22 seconds the record set by Castellotti in 1954. The Biellese driver doesn’t want to predict anything for fear that he may bring bad luck. In the afternoon of Saturday 21st July 1956 the drivers will contend the starting spots during the official practices, but without forcing the cars to not compromise the engines and to not reveal the exact race possibilities. The technical problems are one of the decisive factors of this race that in addition to the length of the track of 33.900 kilometers has a 2000 meters difference in height so it is essential to have a prefect engine set up. Most of all for the carburation that is particularly difficult for the height and hair pockets in some traits. Next to the technical problem there are the ability and courage of the drivers that are put under hard test on the route that has 418 turns while the last trait is in clay. All these factors are decisive for the result of the Aosta- Gran San Bernardo. There will be two women also, the famous champion Nini Schiagno and the famous scooterist Ada Pace both on Giulietta sprint. Umberto Maglioli went back to the appointment as he promised; unfortunately Castellotti is absent following his accident in Silverstone. Even though there won’t be the fight between the two Italian axes of the moment a lot will annoy the Biellese champion, first of all the Swiss Daetwyler, his teammate, then Gerini and Buffa on Maserati. In fact the great driver Willy Peter Daetwyler on Ferrari 3000 wins the 18th edition the Aosta- Gran San Bernardo uphill race, beating for just 4 seconds the favorite Umberto Maglioli.

 

The Swiss is a specialist of the mountain; three years ago here, on the European higher goal, a great affirmation, but nobody would have thought that he could have won to discapito of Maglioli, record man of this race and owning the most powerful car. Instead there have been precisely the power use difficulties of Ferrari to play a dirty trick on the Biellese. In the lower part of the track, where the asphalted street gives the possibility to do very fast sprints, Maglioli takes down everyone, reaching Etroubles, 16th kilometer, at an average speed of over 101 km/h, with a time 7 second inferior to the prior sets by himself last year. Then, on the gravel of the last few kilometers, especially over the customs, exploiting the power of the engine has become an illusion, lacking on the adequate grip to fully transmit to the tires. And the advantage margin has been swallowed by the less demanding car of the Swiss. In any case, the record is still unbeaten for exactly 5 seconds, this is the only consolation that remains to Umberto Maglioli form this edition of the beautiful Aosta race, held without even a little accident, favorite by a day at times full of sunshine. In some ways is curious to say that the only record that hasn’t been beated is the absolute one. Merit of the improved street condition, but also merit of the undoubted progresses realized on modern cars. In the 1300 cc class, gran turismo group, we have to register the incredible sixth place of the eclectic miss Ada Pace, despite the imperfect operation of the gearbox, due to which, right after she passed the finish line she loses for a moment the control of the car and skid on straw bales and took down a kerbstone: the only emotion of the whole race. Forty-four started, four retired. Another positive fact of this show.

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Le Mans is a name that plays gloomily in the recent history of Autosport. The memories of the tragedy that has devastated the last edition of the French race is still alive. The one-hundred victims of that rainy day in June 1955 were a terrible warning for the whole motorsport organization, with all the restrictive interventions, the controversies, the prohibitions, that for inevitable logic followed in the whole Europe. There have been a lot of discussions on Le Mans misfortune, without arriving at a rational clarification, but necessary to try to avoid humanly thinkable limits more suffering, since the autosport is an irrepressible phenomenon, that has its reason for being even outside its spectacular shows. Only one thing is certain, as a synthesis of the reports, of the opinion of the experts, of the general impressions, that at some point, experiencing extraordinary and probably unique circumstances, there are no precautions that can oppose to the unleash of dynamic laws without any control. From here the duty, even more categorical, to arrange at races scrupulous technical and organizational precautions for the safety of the spectators. Despite everything, the 24 Hours of Le Mans survived: we don’t know if because of its traditions or because, let’s say, politic reasons. Naturally the track of the French village has been deeply modified, less on the planimetric development, according to last year’s experience. The straight of the grandstands, where the misfortune happened, has been widen of many meters; there have been dig ditches and build large protective walls, so that there is a large space between the edge of the track and the spectators, cross by barriers in height and depth. Large zones will be forbidden to the public, and nobody could stay at an inferior level to the so-called safety.

 

The boxes also have been moved back in order to leave a wide corridor reserved only to cars which have to pull over and stop. In the end the number of cars admitted has been reduced, and for the prototype the maximum displacement of the engines has been limited to 2500 cc. Unfortunately the organizers did not exclude low-capacity cars, which is proven that they are obstacles for fasters cars during overtakes. The reason behind this obstinacy is that the French, couldn’t aspiring to the absolute victory because of the lack of cars the same technical level to Italians and English, point to the primacy of that special standing of the performance index, considering the engines capacity and the kilometers done in the twenty-four hours: some kind of handicap for more powerful cars. Now, in low capacity there are very efficient cars in France, of great yield, in Le Mans they often have achieved great results. The Maserati is absent, for the absolute record the Italian industry is represented in the race by Ferrari, that has realized specially for the race in Le Mans new cars with four cylinders of 2500 cc. in the Modenese team there won’t be Fangio, who wants to preserve himself for the last few official races of the World Championship, and Collins, who seems like to be pairing with Moss on an Aston Martin, which with Jaguar will be in contention for the victory of the race. Unknown is the French Talbot, that will present a new model equipped with a Maserati 2500 engine, and will have as first driver Jean Behra. The 24 Hour of Le Mans was traditionally done during June.     

 

But after the tremendous misfortune of last year, in which almost one hundred spectators lost their lives, the organizers of this sadly famous race wanted to let pass more than twelve months in sign of mourning before take up again the execution. It’s useless to say that the French race is not popular worldwide, identified know like the death race, even though the tragic, certainly unrepeatable occur of the horrifying carnage is imputed in minimal part to the characteristic of La Mans track; on the contrary, the things that happened could have- maybe even more easily- happened on any other track. That has been exactly the dreadful warning of 11th June 1955, a date we could not, and must not forget to prevent any risk for the spectators. It’s quite clear that the repetition of severe accidents in motorsport competitions, and the following considerations and polemics, start to worry the organizational sectors of the competitions. The cry of alarm more than once launched on the subject, followed by various ideas on how to limit the possible causes of this misfortunes, has found its echo in every environment. It’s a big surprise that the first action began in America, a country where it has always believed that every excess is justified in the construction technique and its consequent rise of speed of the cars in order to achieve results. From Indianapolis, in fact, comes the news that the race direction of the 500 Mile, which is famous worldwide, on Sunday 25th July 1956 announces that in the next three editions of the race the maximum power of the engines, allow in the famous circuit, will be reduced to contribute on the reduction of car accidents. Anton J. Hulman, president of the committee of the race declares:

 

"From the point of view of safety, we think that the use of less powerful engines that the ones admitted in the last few years will help reduce the always increase of the speeds. The incidents should be less as a consequence".

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In 1955 Bill Vukovich, two-time Indianapolis winner, was victim of an accident while leading the race. In this year’s race we didn’t have other fatal accidents, but ten cars went off road and injured five people. According to new rules for 1957, 1958 and 1959, the displacement limit, in non-super-compressed cars, will be reduced from 274 cc to 256, and the one for super-compressed engines from 183 to 171. In Hulman’s opinion this action should bring within 1960 to the worldwide standardization of the engines for racing cars. Talking about the competition in motorsport the organizers of the German Grand Prix valid for the world championship, which will be held in the Nürburgring on Sunday 5th August 1956, have announced that will take part to the race drivers from nine counties. Fangio Castellotti, Musso, Collins and another driver to be designated will drive Ferrari cars, while Maserati will be entrusted to Moss, Behra, Perdisa and to another driver to determine. Between the other drivers will be Villoresi, Schell, Rosier, Godia, Da Silva Ramos. On Tuesday 27th July 1956 begins the great activity on the track where on Wednesday will begin the exhausting carousel of the 24 Hours with the activity of the mechanics doing to their best to set up the cars, and of the drivers which alternate without interruption on the long track to try the performance of their cars, and to comprehend the various difficulties of the circuit. The start, as is known, will be on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., and it’s expected that there will be present 200.000 people to this interesting race. During the practices the English Jaguars establish themselves and the fastest lap is set by Mike Hawthorn, which will be again paired to Ivor Buer, who maintained the average speed of 188.632 km/h. Three Jaguars signed up by the company and three of private property are the only cars that will compete on the three liters and a half category. The most threatening seem to be three three liters Aston Martins and three two liters and a half Ferraris signed up by the Modenese company.

 

"Miracle at Le Mans".

 

Writes with rhetoric emphasis a French newspaper: miracle because a race that seemed to be canceled forever – maybe without any faults- is risen. The 24 Hours continues because may interests, sportive and not, are related to it. It is a must to give credit to the organizers to have dealt with the circuit’s problem of safety radically, and now it seems to be perfect. Reduced from sixty to fifty the number of cars admitted to the race, the main theme of the 24 Hours is the same ad new last few editions: the comparison between the English and continental cars. English cars have won nine times this race, from 1931 to the present day. And three times, on alternate years, after 1950, thanks to Jaguar, that even this time presented itself extremely fierce, with an official team of four cars – headed by last year winners Hawthorn and Bueb – and other two private cars. In the times set during the official practices Jaguar registers the best lap times, but without getting closer to the ones set during the race a year prior. Aston Martin also shows an excelled quality, and count on two great class crews: Moss-Collins and Walker-Salvadori. Saturday 28th July 1956, at Le Mans circuit, the famous 24 Hours race begins with an appeal by the French motorsport veteran, Charles Faroux sent in particular to the drivers:

 

"The future of the motorsport is in your hands. I recommend to everyone the maximum prudence, that even the most famous race in the world would not survive to another incident".

 

The immutable ceremonial that precedes the start takes place with the precise regularity that distinguish the organization of the famous race. The drivers aligned opposite the track are forty-nine, that at the signal of the mossiere launch themselves to the wheel of their cars and in engines roar start the race. The first laps see to the lead Hawthorn’s Jaguar, followed by Moss’ Aston Martin and the Ferraris. But very soon the positions will change and various accidents will upset the race. The first one of these is De Portago’s number 11 Ferrari whose, bumping in the turn Fairman’s Jaguar, during the second lap overturns and goes out of the track; De Portago miraculously gets out of the dramatic accident unharmed and goes back to the Ferrari box by foot. Both cars have to retire from the race. Not long after, the Panhard of the French driver Hery will overturn on Mulsanne turn, bursting into flames. The unlucky driver, even though he was quickly rescued, will die at about 20:30 at Le Mans hospital, where he was transported. Hery was part of the category of gentleman drivers because he owned a big garage in Nantes, and used to practice the motorsport for pure passion. He was forty-three years old, he was married and had two children, one was seventeen and one fourteen. In the meantime Hawthorn number 1 Jaguar has to stop several times and his place is alternatively taken by his teammate Sanderson (Jaguar number 4) and by Stirling Moss, whose is paired to Peter Collins, Aston Martin number 8 driver. The two English drivers repeatedly beat the fastest lap time, taking the average speed from 168.263 km/h to 181.837 km/h.

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This battle has as a consequence to accelerating the unavoidable acceleration of values. The first refueling for big displacements is planned to be on lap thirty-four: all can arrive in time at the refueling where, in few seconds, fierce teams of mechanics do this important formality. In the meantime the speaker announces in all the languages the main performances set in the first few hours of the race, while the rain, that at intervals sprinkle copiously the track, it is largely responsible, and at lap thirty-six the Talbot driven by Lucas overturns boarding the Maison Bianche turn. No harm, but he is forced to retire. In the night the vivid lights of the gigantic kermesse shine: in the distance suddenly a glow turns on: it’s the Porsche driven by the German Glocker that collides with the non-official Ferrari of Pierre Meyrat and burns. This latter thanks to an acrobatic jump will get out unharmed form the impact, while Glocker will be transported to the infirmary with a fractured leg. The retires follow one another and a little after is the turn of Duval’s Stanguellini and Chancel’s Panhard, that bumping into each other go out of track and will be abandoned on the roadside by their drivers, fortunately unharmed. The Aston Martin driven alternatively by Stirling Moss and Collins remains on the lead of the race, followed at a little more than one minute by Sanderson and Flockart’s Jaguar. The Ferraris, despite the handicap of their briefed and rushed preparation, are following with magnificent regularity.

 

At the end of the race, if we have to use an expression beloved to the French, we should tell that the success of the Jaguar in this thirty-fourth 24 Hours is- although unquestionable and conquered after a long battle- the ones of sans panache. It deals with, in fact, of a car that doesn’t officially belong to the English House, but to the unofficial Scottish Scuderia, that wins giving a gap of twenty laps to the only official representative remained in the race: the one of Hawthorn- Bueb. The absence of Mercedes, and the rushed and roughed preparation of Ferrari, are factors that matter on the euphoria of the success. The new formula given by the organizers by the circumstances, needs to be reviewed. Such is, on the other hand, the opinion of Ferrari’s technicians, whose would have preferred that, to the restriction on the consumption, was matched, at least for this year, the one on displacement, given that the formula, the way it has been applied, considerably disadvantaged them. Cold and gray dawn on Sunday morning, after a stormy night that sweep up the big highland on which the track is. Very though hours for the contestants, and are a few, in the end, the ones who can resist on this battle with the elements and the opponents. At the sixteenth hour, and so the two-third of the race, just seventeen cars are still in the race. Thirty-two retires, provoked by incidents, one of them fatal, the unlucky one of Hery during the fifth lap, and also because of technical issues, at 8:00 a.m. the severity of action is punished. On Saturday night Glocker’s Porsche, after bumping into a Feter Walker he is rescued while some marshals signal the car stopped at the edge.

 

So in Le Mans wins an English team, while English cars will be absent in anticipation if the German Gran Prix, which will take place on Sunday 5th august 1956 on the track of Nürburgring, and so there should be a reason of major interest in the battle between Ferrari and Maserati drivers. The team from Maranello will align five official cars, that except last minutes change, will be driven by Fangio, Castellotti, Collins, De Portago and Musso. Regarding Maserati, that should have in the race at least one car with direct injection engine, has by now register to the Adenau race the English Moss, the Italian Perdisa and the French Behra; the fourth official driver will be designed during the free practices on Wednesday 2nd August 1956. The Italians Villoresi and Maglioli, the English Schell and some other drivers will have private Maserati, while Gordini gives its six cylinders to the Brazilian Da Silva and to the Belgian Pilette. The German Grand Prix is reserved to Formula 1 cars it’s held on a total distance of 501.820 meters. The German track alternates continuous changes of variation and very fast traits, forcing the drivers to always keep a high concentration level, not only for the performance, but also for safety: Nürburgring doesn’t not even forgive the smallest mistake, and also the smallest inattention can be fatal. Difficulties are also related to the disconnected asphalt in various parts of the track, that creates big vibrations definitely wearing for suspensions. For this reason, teams’ technicians run for cover, trying to introduce protective and helpful solutions for strengthen the body of the car: Ferrari decided to strengthen the structures of the fuel tanks.

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Juan Manuel Fangio, who is following by one point his teammate Collins in the World Championship standing, on Monday 30th July 1956 on board of a little plane does a lap over the track, maybe to decide the tactic to adopt during the race; Castellotti also does a lap over the track on an airplane. On Tuesday 1st August 1956 Fangio goes on track with his Ferrari and does a lap at the average speed of 145.100 km/h, pulverizing the record did by Lang on Mercedes at the average speed of 138.500 km/h. However, the organizers declare that will be recognize just the times set during the official tests. With the autosport German Grand Prix that will take place on Sunday on the very hard circuit of Nürburgring, the drivers World Championship comes to its second last episode, before the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, on the 2nd September 1956. Given the actual world championship standing- which sees on the lead the English Collins with 22 points, followed by Fangio with 21, Behra with 18, Moss with 13 and Castellotti with 7.5- the most famous German race could turn out to be decisive for the title assignment. But to arrive to that point Collins should awards himself the most of the points, so the eight for the win and the one given for the fastest lap. The hypothesis is improbable but not hazardous. The English driver demonstrated to be one of the best in world, he has on his side the youth, the desire to arrive, and good fortune also, always needed on a sport where the human abilities are closely related to the consistency of the mechanical vehicle. However it’s more likely to think that every decision will be postponed to the final race at the Monzese circuit. Because at Nürburgring there will be other drivers aspiring to the title and that theoretically can conquer it.

 

First of all Juan Manuel Fangio. The Argentinian axe three-time World Champion is still always - said to technicians and his drivers colleagues - the stronger one. This year he had some crisis moments (or maybe it was just tiredness), but most of all he had a great dose of misfortune, without which- with great probability - the title would have been already decided. In addition he recently has suffered of a nervous form of boring cutaneous effects. It assures that Fangio has completely recovered, eager of winning, to reaffirm himself even formally like the best driver in the world. If the car and the health conditions will assist him, Fangio will be the man to beat, the number one of racing. This if Ferrari will be able to reconfirm their superiority on the Nürburgring track also. This has to be demonstrated. In fact Maserati not only recently did some great progresses with the injection engine also, which will not be used on Adenau track for sure, but the skills of its chasses give the cars a particular efficiency on very bumpy tracks. And so both Behra and Moss can aspire to bring the two Ferrari drivers on top of the world championship standing. . Probably the most outstanding thing about the German Grand Prix is the fact that no British cars are entered. Not one of our Grand Prix teams make an entry which is not only surprising, but depressing as well. It is left to Italy, the real home of Grand Prix racing, to make up the bulk of the runners for one of the toughest events in the World Championship series. The Nürburgring itself is sufficient test to prove a sound car, but to race round it for 22 laps calls for terrific stamina from the drivers. Ferrari enter a full team of five Lancia-Ferraris, driven by Fangio, Collins, Castellotti, de Portago and Musso, the last-named making his first re-entry into racing since his crash in the 1.000-kilometre race back in May.

 

All the cars are the now standard type, with small pannier tanks strapped onto the cockpit sides and the main tank in the tail, with the body spreading out the full width of the car between the wheels and having the exhaust Pipes inside these hollow side pieces, and ending in four megaphones on each side. Opposed to this powerful team are three works Maseratis, to be driven by Moss, Behra and Perdisa, these all being normal car-buretter 250/F1 models. Gordini enters two of his eight-cylinder cars, with Manzon and Pilette as drivers, and the rest of the field is made up by private owners and private Scuderias. The Centro-Sud team enters Schell on their Maserati and Scarlatti with their old 2-litre Ferrari, while Maglioli has the Senderia Guastalla Maserati and Villoresi is to drive Piotti’s similar car. Rosier, Gould, Halford, Salvadori, Godia and Volonterio are all driving their regular Maseratis, so that the bulk of the entry of 19 cars emanate from Modena. There are three practice periods, all of sufficient length for new drivers to learn the difficult circuit, but on each occasion it is either raining, or the track is still damp, so that no one is able to go at all fast by comparison with the possibilities of the cars. Ferraris are having some engine bothers, and have to use the spare units they have brought along, while de Portago cannot under-stand his slow lap times until he discovers that the back of the chassis frame is broken off. This entails stripping all the cars for inspection and welding gusset plates around the shock-absorber mountings to prevent any further breakages. The Nurburgring is guaranteed to break up the best cars, and the Lancia/Ferraris are no exceptions, this being their first visit to the track. For a change the Maseratis are proving quite reliable and their only trouble is grounding at the bottom of some of the sharp dips, so that the front suspensions have to be set up to give more ground clearance.

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By sheer luck the Lancia-Ferraris are proving the ideal cars for the Nurburgring, the handling being right for the twisty nature of the circuit, and the power and torque being in the right place, so that at no time are any of the Maseratis able to record lap times approaching those of Fangio and Collins. The old man is right on form and in Spite of the wet track is hurling the car through the bends in beautiful slides, while the young man is making everyone sit up and take notice by doing exactly the same and at just the same speed. These two are easily the fastest and recorded 9'51"2 and 9'51"5, respectively, with Castellotti third with 9'54"4. As no one else manages to get below 10 minutes it is clearly going to be a Ferrari walk-over if the damp conditions prevail. The official record for the Nürburgring is still standing at 9'52"2, recorded by Herrman Lang in 1939 and, though many people have improved upon this in practice and unofficial training, it has never been bettered during a race, so that the times of Fangio and Collins on a damp track indicate that the record would probably fall officially this year. Last year during an unofficial training day Fangio and Moss have recorded under 9'35"0. With the W196 Mercedes-Benz and the day before practice for this year’s race Fangio has been timed at 9'26"0, but all this is naturally not official and can only be taken as hearsay and borne in mind as pointers for what might happen. The only driver to run into trouble during practice is Pilette who goes off the road and bends the front of the Gordon and bruises his knee badly, while Piotti practices with his own car as Villaresi does not arrive until Saturday evening. Hawthorn rejection to race in the German Grand Prix provokes not few controversies in Adenau’s autosport environments. The British driver who was set free from B.R.M. to defend in Adenau Ferrari’s colors, declares:

 

"I won’t start because Nürburgring circuit doesn’t have the necessary structures to guarantee the safety of the spectators and the drivers".

 

The organizers, for their part, define absurd Hawthorn declarations, inviting him to rethink his decision. Hawthorn, however, opposed and informed Ferrari executives that he won’t start. On Saturday 4th August 1956 the rain falls on track of the Nürburgring, making impossible the regular execution of the last official practices before the German Grand Prix. In fact, the drivers enrolled to the race cannot commit thoroughly the engines of their cars, because in some part the track is literally flooded of water. The starting grid is decided during the evening by the organizers: in the first row Fangio, Collins, Castelloni e Perdisa; in second Moss, Musso e Maglioli; and in third Behra, Salvadori, Halford and De Portago, who took the place of Hawthorn. After all the damp and wet days before the race, race day itself turns out fine and dry and not to warm, and when the cars line up on the wide starting grid in rows of four-three-four-three there are some changes to notice. The first row holds Fangio, Collins, Castellotti, followed by Moss who has been practicing with a pair of Maseratis, the long-nosed, high cockpit model from Spa and a brand new one, with similar long nose and ducted radiator, and he decides to use the older chassis as the new one is no improvement. This is not surprising as it is identical in design, merely being another 250 F1 car, but brand new. Behra is sticking to the car he has been using all the season, and Perdisa is to have driven a normal-bodied works car; however, in the sports-car race preceding the Gran Prix he crashes mildly and is not feeling fit so the factory car is handed to Maglioli, the Guastalla car being a non-starter as a result. The crashed Gordini has been straightened out and Andre Milboux takes Pilette’s place at the wheel, making his first attempt at Grand Prix without even a lap of practice in the Formula 1 car.

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For the rest, everyone is present and Villoresi takes Piotti’s place on the back of the grid alongside Volonterio. Collins makes a terrific start and leads the field away into the first bends of the opening lap, but Fangio soon gets by and leads the two young British drivers, for Moss is right alongside Collins: However, the Maserati cannot cope with the Lancia-Ferrari on this circuit and when they reach the straight at the end of the lap Fangio and Collins draw away. Until then they have been in a bunch and Castellotti has been trying to get past Moss, but overdoes things and spins on a downhill bend, restarting again at the end of the field. Salvadori is going extremely well and holding on to Behra, scrapping for fourth place, followed at some distance by de Portago, then Maglioli, Musso and Schell in a bunch and then Halford leading the rest, which included Castellotti thrusting his way along trying to make up for his mistake. At the end of this opening lap there is the unusual sight of four cars pulling into the pits, Villoresi for a change of plugs, Manzon to retire with a broken front suspension, Gould to fix a loose throttle, and Searlatti to repair his gear change, and when all is over and quietness descends Volonterio comes touring past. There is no doubt now that the Lancia/Ferraris are in a similar position to Mercedes-Benz in last year’s Grand Prix races, and once more it is Fangio who is in control with a young British driver sitting on his tail learning all about Grand Prix racing. Last year it has been Moss, this year Collins, and Fangio is old enough to be father of both of them. Round and round go the two cars in neat formation, though Collins is not always neat in his cornering while keeping up with his leader, and behind them Moss sits comfortably in third place, neither gaining nor losing ground.

 

As Fangio rounds the Sudkerve, Moss appears over the brow of the Tiergarten and it is pretty obvious that there is going to be no motor racing, merely a processional demonstration. Although this appears dull to spectators, it is far from dull for the drivers, for the Nürburgring is one long nine-tenths dice from start to finish, even in a slow sports car, let alone a Grand Prix car, so that this is an event for the drivers and not the public, even though 100.000 of them have turned up to watch. Salvadori is sitting nicely in fifth place, but on lap three decides the engine would blow up if he carries on so he stops and hastens away to drive on the morrow at Brands Hatch. Castellotti is down on power and stops to complain to his mechanics, while Milhoux is having trouble keeping all eight cylinders working on the Gordini.  With there being no possibility of a close race the German Grand Prix turns into an endurance feat and on lap four Maglioli retires with his steering seized solid and Gould does likewise with rapidly falling oil pressure. Musso stops on lap six to see if his engine is really all right and then Castellotti comes in and retires, the loss of power being due to a faulty magneto. Although the race appears to be a procession, the leaders are not hanging about and Fangio, Collins and Moss all break the old 1939 lap record well and truly. Fangio does 9'48"1, Collins 9'47"6, and Moss 9'46"6, but then on the next lap Fangio replies with 9'45"5. On this lap, the eighth, Schell stops with his radiator boiling merrily and Halford goes by into seventh place, driving remarkably well for his first serious Grand Prix. Volonterio also stops at his pit, mostly for a drink of water it seems. As Musso is not fully recovered from his broken arm and is not going too well, Ferraris signals him to come in on lap nine so that Castellotti might take over. 

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However, when Fangio arrives at the end of that lap he is alone, and Collins arrives slowly and stops at the pit. In the general commotion that followed, Castellotti is already waiting for Musso to arrive and does not realize that Collins is nearly unconscious and has been lifted from the car. All he sees is a red Lancia-Ferrari stopping, a driver being removed, so he leaps in, only to find he is in the wrong car, for then Musso arrives as has been planned. Collins is still nearly unconscious so that without knowing exactly what is going on, Castellotti takes over from Musso and rushes off. After a time Collins recovers and is able to explain what happened. In holding the car on the starting line with the handbrake the cable caught up on the main fuel line leaving the rear tank and as the race progressed it chivvied its way through, the leaking fuel sending fumes into the cockpit. Smelling fuel, but hoping it was all right Collins carried on, not releasing the doping effect the fuel was having on his brain until he found himself changing from second gear into fifth gear, and bumping the edge of the road in a dazed sort of way. Before it became too late he decided to stop and the sudden cessation caused him to virtually pass out. This little drama leads Moss into second place and the inevitable Behra into third position, followed by de Portago, Castellotti in Musso’s car, Halford, Schell and the rest more than a lap behind the leader. Lap 10 sees Fangio make another lap record in 9'44"9 and he is a comfortable 18 seconds. ahead of Moss, but not really gaining anything.

 

Halford stops at his pit to report the loss of his twin tail pipes from the exhaust system and is told to continue on the stub manifolds while the pipes from Gould’s retired car are removed. The pit area is still a scene of great activity, for Collins recovers remarkably quickly from his asphyxiation and at the end of the eleventh lap de Portago stops and hands his car over so that Collins might try and catch Behra. At the end of lap 13 Behra runs into trouble with a broken tank strap and a temporary repair is effected at the pit, during which time Villoresi decides he wants to call at the pits, but seeing mechanics busy on Behra’s car he drives off again. Halford stops to see if Gould's exhaust system would fit, but as Maseratis are handmade, the brackets do wot line up, so he continues to run on the stub pipes. While Behra is helping to fix his fuel tank, Collins goes by in the de Portago car, moving into third place, and then Behra is off once more before Halford appears. Villoresi never returns to the pits, stopping out on the course with a broken engine and there are now only nine cars left running, for Schell finds the reason for his boiling is a broken water pump and Castellotti spins off once more and this time stalls his engine. On lap 15, with another seven to go, Halford stops to take on more oil, as the flange on the outlet pipe is leaking, and Collins in his efforts to catch the leaders overdoes things on a downhill bend and spins off into the trees, climbing out unhurt but unhappy. On the next lap Milhoux is forced to give up the unequal struggle with the misfiring Gordini and Halford is given the black flag and disqualified.

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After driving surprisingly well Halford is lying fourth overall, a lap behind Fangio, but it transpires that he has spun out on a quiet part of the course and has been push-started by outside helpers. When he eventually stops he is practically unconscious from the exhaust fumes entering the cockpit from the two short stubs and he has to be worked on by the medical men for a long time before he recovers, all of which is an unfortunate ending to a good first attempt on the Nürburgring. Fangio is now drawing away a little from Moss and the gap widens to 28 seconds, while the old man still breaks lap records with a time of 9'41"6 and on the last two rounds Moss cross his fingers for a horrid grinding noise starts up in the transmission. In order to ease the loads he coasts round many of the corners in top gear and manages to nurse the car in to the finish, still in second place, behind the reigning World Champion and in front of Behra, these three being the only ones on the same lap. Behind them comes Godia, having to drive a regular steady race, but suffering from stomach sickness all the while, and Rosier a little farther back, having run a train-like race which once again pays off. So far back that he is almost out of sight came Volonterio in his old rigid-rear-axle Maserati. It has not been an exciting German Grand Prix, but certainly has been a murderous one from the mechanical viewpoint, and though Ferraris have the most potent car in Grand Prix racing at present, they are far from reliable, only one out of five finishing. In the German Grand Prix, held in the Nürburgring circuit, the Argentinian Fangio, on 8 cylinders Ferrari, taken the lead since the first lap, arrived at the finish line with 46.4 seconds of advantage on the English Moss (Maserati). Fangio’s wasn’t an easy success. The Argentinian champion had to earn it hardly, because his contenders, included his teammates, have continuously attacked him. At lap nine Collins had to stop because of a mechanical failure, and chasing Fangio there was the other Englishman, Moss, of Maserati.

 

But not even Maserati bishop could put in danger the lead position of the Argentinian champion, who now starts to conquer for the fourth time the title of World Champion. During his victorious march, Fangio set a new lap record, in 9'41"6, realizing the high average speed of 141.200 km/h (the previous record has been owned for eleven years by the German Long, with a time of 9'52"5). A bad luck rage on the Italian drivers. Particularly lucky was Castelletti, that already from the first lap lost precious time that forced him to retire. Started again with Musso’s car, Castellotti a little after went out of track in one most insidious turn of the circuit, ending in a close moat, luckily remaining unharmed. Regarding Villoresi, Maglioli, Piotti, Scarlatti, who all have hope to obtain a place of honor, have all to stop because of mechanical failures. The more serious and spectacular incident was Perdisa’s one, in the morning. Racing with the Maserati in the test reserved to sports car until 1500 cc, the valiant driver was about to overtake an opponent when suddenly in front of him he sees an armed policeman imprudently crossing the street. Perdisa, to avoid the collision that almost certainly would have been fatal for the policeman, desperately veer off to the left, turning upside down for three times, ending on a field, throw far from his car. The Italian driver could stand by himself and, immediately rescued, feeling a strong pain on his back, he is transported and hospitalized, as a precautionary measure in the close Adenau hospital. His conditions are not worrying, especially since the immediate radiologic exam excluded every possible fracture on the ribs, like we could be afraid of in the first moment. After the rain on Saturday, during the morning the sun was shining again. Right before the start of the test for the sportscar, the organizers announce that over 100.000 people were on the sides of the track, which expands for kilometers. At 10:30 a.m. the start is given to the sportscar, among whom there are the official Maseratis. Hermann wins in front of Moss. At the back the French Behra successfully defends his third place and the Spanish Godia, very regular, pushed forward in fourth position.     

 

Simone Pietro Zazza

 

Marianna Molinaro

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