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#64 1957 Italian Grand Prix

2021-04-16 00:00

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#64 1957 Italian Grand Prix

Lasciato alle spalle in Gran Premio di Pescara, domenica 25 Agosto 1957 il pilota britannico Tony Brooks vince il Gran Premio del Royal Automobil Club

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Left behind in the Pescara Grand Prix, on Sunday, August 25, 1957, British driver Tony Brooks won the Grand Prix of the Royal Automobil Club of Belgium, reserved for sports cars. If Brooks has never been disturbed in charge of the race, the number one actor of the day is undoubtedly the Belgian Gendebien, who, unfortunately, was entrusted with the Ferrari 4100. Unfortunately, it must be said that despite his courage and recklessness, the Belgian has not been able to take advantage of the power of a vehicle far superior to the winner's Aston Martin. Gendebien, the victim of a missed start, begins an unbridled chase by recovering twenty-two competitors in one lap and arriving in the fifth position on the first pass in front of the stands. On the final lap, he is third, preceded by Brooks and the American Gregory, also on Ferrari, but instead of adjusting his gear to arrive slowly behind Brooks, Gendebien pushes the racing car at dizzying speed, making the mistake of braking as late as possible in the corners. An immediate consequence of this tactic, on the ninth lap he is forced to stop to change the two rear wheels and then start again and start the chase again, arriving again in the third position, a few seconds from a Brooks and a Gregory always regular. And here, for the second time, Ferrari stops at the garage to change the two rear wheels again. Resuming gear, Gendebien is the victim forty-five from the end of the race, which takes place over three hours, of a puncture to the left rear tire. This time the Belgian renounces a further impossible pursuit and ends at a modest pace.

 

But if the driver didn't appear at the height of the vehicle, the car undoubtedly dominated the Aston Martin and Jaguar in the race, not only because Gregory's second place is also obtained with a Ferrari 3500, but because Gendebien's 4100, in its hasty pursuit, repeatedly beats the record of the lap, held by Stirling Moss in Formula 1. This should make Enzo Ferrari smile; however, four days later, Thursday, August 29, 1957, in Modena a new disaster throws the automotive world into mourning. Engineer Andrea Fraschetti, the very young and already established technical director of Ferrari, disappears following a frightening accident while carrying out a cycle of testing tests of a Formula 2 single-seater car on the track of the racetrack. The disaster happens just before noon. A team of technicians and mechanics of the company moves from Maranello to the Modena racetrack late in the morning for the development of the new one-and-a-half-litre Formula 2 car. The test driver Martino Severi first turns on the car for a long time, and then the engineer Fraschetti takes his place. Some changes had recently been made to the machine and the technician wanted to realise the operation of the vehicle. Slipping into the driver's seat, engineer Fraschetti begins to lap at a very strong pace, collecting numerous laps of the track. The accident takes place at a fairly easy point, at the exit of the large curve that leads into the square opposite the stands. The accident takes place on the fourth lap. Coming out of the corner at a very strong speed, the engineer first engages the fourth gear and then goes live.

 

A few moments later the disaster is determined: the car, under the thrust of the engine, pulled to the maximum, is about to buy maximum speed, but the Ferrari technicians, who are in the pits about five hundred metres as the crow flies, see the car skidding slightly and the engineer tinkering behind the wheel to get it back in line. The car doesn't seem to respond to the controls. Wave fearfully, going first to the right, then to the left of the track, then a tail-head begins, but when the car points its muzzle on the ground it begins to roll dizzying first on the track, then on the lawn, stopping only two hundred metres away. The engineer, while the car rolls, is thrown out of the car several metres away. The first rushes find it poured on the grass, inanimate. Promptly transported to the hospital, engineer Fraschetti is immediately started in the operating room and subjected to surgery. The engineer reported a severe skull fracture with symptoms of concussion and bruises and multiple wounds, so the prognosis is very reserved. Following surgery, the condition of the injured person seems to improve at first and in the afternoon the health workers begin to harbour some hope of being able to save him. Unfortunately, at 5:45 p.m. there is a sudden collapse that crushes the young engineer, who goes out without having regained consciousness from the moment of the tragic accident. An investigation into the causes of the disaster is initiated by Ferrari technicians. Difficult, however, an analysis of the causes of the misfortune appears, which arouses a deep disturbance during the evening in Modena; the exit of the vehicle at that point of the track, which had never been the scene of accidents and which was considered by all drivers to be very easy (it’s a very wide corner, where the cars are launched at full speed).

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It seems to exclude a failure in the mechanical parts of the car, which had now been fine-tuned and which for days and days has been subjected to all kinds of tests. A fatality, therefore, throws the world of the car into mourning for another time. The imperfect bottom of the track may have contributed to a slight skidding, which should be corrected again in the coming days because of the important international race to be held on September 22, 1957. Technicians of the Automobile Club had inspected in the days before, at the end of which they had given the clearance for the performance of championship car and motorcycle races, the tracks had been considered suitable for the race, but some restoration works of the bottom had been recommended, damaged in some places by use and weather. Engineer Andrea Fraschetti, the youngest Italian designer in the field of racing cars, was twenty-nine years old. A native of Florence, where his family resides, he had been in Modena for about two years. From the previous year, he headed Ferrari's design department; he had won universal sympathies in the world of drivers and car technicians and was always present as a mechanic at Ferrari tests. Often, when he could not realise some inconvenience based on the elements provided by the testers and divers, he slipped into the driver's seat. During the night and the next morning, at the civil hospital, where the body of the young technician was composed in the burning chamber, beams of flowers and hundreds of telegrams of participation arrive continuously.

 

Engineer Fraschetti sleeps her last sleep in a bedroom on the ground floor, which not many months earlier on another dark day for Italian motoring, saw Eugenio Castellotti's torn body. For almost the whole day and the whole night, Enzo Ferrari stops in the bedroom, together with the faithful Tavoni and technicians and workers, watching and welcoming the young man's family, who arrived during the evening from Florence. For the latter Ferrari gives words of comfort. Tears also line the face of the builder, marked in recent months by a series of pains that seem to fall on him with a frightening stubbornness. Meanwhile, the technicians appointed by the Modena manufacturer are waiting for a first report on the accident. It still seems inexplicable how the disaster could have taken place at a point on the track considered easy and free of danger. The young engineer's car went crazy at the exit from a wide curve that leads into a long straight opposite the central grandstand. The cars arrive at that point in the acceleration phase to have previously had to slow down, and, to face an insidious variant (the same one that was fatal in Castellotti), at that point, the pilot generally passes to higher gears. Engineer Fraschetti knew that curve to perfection. For two years, since he was head of Ferrari's project department, not a week went by that he didn't try the track behind the wheel of all types of Ferrari cars. On the Modena track, moreover, even before, when he raced as a gentleman on Stanguellini's fast cars, Fraschetti had trained for whole days. While the investigations continue, in the following days, given the conclusion of the Formula 1 World Championship, Ferrari and Maserati are preparing for the new clash with the English Vanwall team.

 

On Sunday, September 8, 1957, the season of the great Formula 1 car races will come to a close at Monza, with the running of the Italian Grand Prix. The event, apart from the usual gripping competitive side, promises to be especially interesting for its technical aspects, enlivened by the anticipation aroused by the British Vanwall cars, winner at Pescara. That statement had given rise to wide commentary, and particularly jubilant had been the British press, which on the eve of the Monza race returned to the subject, stating almost unanimously that Italian superiority in this field is passing into British hands, contrary to what has happened in motorcycling. Some commentators recall that it took thirty-three years to arrive at these results, from the time, that is, of the Sunbeam Grand Prix, in the design of which a Turinese technician out of the Fiat school, Bertarione, had participated, and which in 1924 had managed to reach the level of performance of the Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Bugatti racing cars. But the parallel between the Sunbeam and the Vanwall, the same British press points out, is hopefully not complete, since the Sunbeam, after only one season of operation, was overtaken by the Italian and French cars. Since that year, with the exception of Connaught at Syracuse, in 1955 never had the colors from across the Channel succeeded in Italian racing, and very rarely abroad. Most recently Vanwall had won at Silverstone in 1956 and in the British Grand Prix at Aintree. But it is also true that patron Tony Vandervell's single-seater had practically been born, or rather tuned, on the very tracks of Aintree and Silverstone. That is why the technical and sporting significance of Pescara's achievement rightly made the British engineers and people proud. It is all to be seen now whether the wings of success will continue to sustain the Vanwall, or how Ferrari and Maserati were able to respond on the technical level, that is, in the preparation of the mechanical means.

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Before Mr Anthony Vanderwell, a lucky engine-bearing industrialist, others had tried to get lucky in the field of sports motoring, from Connaught to Cooper and even B.R.M., but any attempt to seriously compete with the Italian, German and French brands had failed before today. In this regard, Vanderwell certainly did not pay attention to the expenses, and above all, he had the intuition of building a technically advanced machine, capable of overcoming Orthodox construction conceptions. Maserati, whose cars in Pescara seemed in difficulty, has been at work since the Monday following that day. His technicians, however, are undecided whether to continue to trust the inexhaustible elderly six cylinders or deploy the new twelve-cylinder machines, the latter, from which the Modena manufacturer promises himself great performance since they should have a power greater than the Vanwalls, that is, around 800 horsepower, but which so far have not provided the desired results. Moreover, Maserati itself has a lowered special chassis in store, known as Monza type, for unexpectedly winning the European Grand Prix on the Lombard track in 1956. And in this regard, on Wednesday, September 4, 1957, Fangio touches an average of 200 km/h on the lap on the road ring alone where Sunday Grand Prix will be held; therefore, except for the ring with raised corners, optimism between Maserati managers and drivers returns. For its part, Ferrari, which overcoming reservations and controversies have decided to officially participate in the race, has no particular problems to solve, except to reach a meticulous tuning on its eight cylinders that manages to obtain the desired efficiency. Ferrari Formula 1 has not been able to fully express its possibilities this year, certainly always remarkable, and which in any case seems particularly suitable for use on circuits like Monza.

 

As you know, the Italian Grand Prix will be held not on the complete ten-kilometre route, including the 4.250 metres of the high-speed ring, but only on the road track. This return to the past was imposed by circumstances, that is, by concerns about holding tires at too high a speed. It is true that last June the 500 Miglia took place on the so-called basin with raised corners and that such inconveniences did not manifest themselves, but the tyre sizes mounted on the current Formula 1 cars do not allow calming safety margins. The Italian Grand Prix will therefore be held on the old track of 5,750 metres with flat curves, which however allows speeds of the order of 195 km / h on average, if not even beyond. On August 31, 1957, the closing date of the registrations for the XXVIII Italian Grand Prix, the line-up of drivers and cars taking part in the race is complete and, given Ferrari's official participation, more impressive than at the Pescara Grand Prix. In anticipation of the Italian Grand Prix, the title is now awarded: Juan Manuel Fangio, with his four victories in Buenos Aires, Monte Carlo, Rouen and Adenau unattainable. The definition of the drivers' seasonal ranking is limited to the places of honour, for which Stirling Moss, Luigi Musso and Mike Hawthorn are vying (all three able to conquer the second overall position), as well as Jean Behra and the revelation Tony Brooks who, based on the score, can aspire to third place. The Maserati team ran their three lightweight-chassis six-cylinder cars, the old hack car with the ducted radiator and the heavier 1956 chassis, and a new 12-cylinder car. This new car has a chassis with offset transmission, as used last year at Monza, the 12-cylinder engine running across from right to left, with the propeller-shaft running under the left front corner of the driving seat. Behind the clutch is a reduction-gear train, to lower the prop-shaft line and also reduce the speed of the shaft, and a five-speed gearbox is used, as on the 1956 Monza cars.

 

The front of the chassis frame has been modified and the steering box is no longer positioned in front of the engine on outriggers but is mounted on the right-hand side of the frame, just above the wishbone mounts, the steering-column running across the right-hand cylinder head. The intakes for the carburettors are surrounded by an aluminium tray, as experimented with at Rouen earlier this year, and sunken ducts on the bonnet top scooped in air. In the radiator, the intake has fitted a baffle to deflect air up to the top of the cooling element. The engine is still using 24 coils, with the special Magneto-Marelli distributor units driven from the inlet camshafts, while plugs are 14 mm. The exhaust system has reverted to the original long thin tailpipes. The Ferrari team consisted of four cars ostensibly the same, since they all have Lancia-inspired wishbones and coil-springs at the front, de Dion rear, with transverse leaf-spring, and the narrow 1957 bodywork. However, one car has a wheelbase some 4 in. longer than the others, which can be seen by the gap between the bunch of megaphones and the rear wheel, while this car also has the old modified Lancia chassis frame, the other three have Ferrari-built chassis frames of different size tubing. Two of the normal cars are fitted with long air intakes extending down to the front of the nose, while in practice one car is fitted with deflectors in front of the megaphones, presumably as an attempt to provide more exhaust extraction. As has been commonplace, the Vanwall team consisted of four cars, all identical, and so much so that all components are easily interchangeable from chassis to chassis, this being part of the overall Vandervell plan. The only changes made, apart from gear ratios, are the use of varying tyre sizes during practice, but this is more of a necessity than design, due to the shortage of stocks of Pirellis. The Centro-Sud Maseratis have both undergone complete overhauls since Pescara, the Gregory car now being blue with white stripes, while the Bonnier-driven one has a completely rebuilt engine and is now silver with a blue-and-yellow stripe down the centre.

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Every year before Monza the two Italian teams have a try-out during the week before the race and before official practice begins, and this year the 12-cylinder Maserati is great hope, Behra and Fangio have been lapping in 1'44"0 unofficially. When the official practice begins at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Maserati, Ferrari, Vanwall and all the private owners except the Centro-Sud pair are ready to go, and it is Schell who starts things. He begins lapping around 1'48"0 in one of the lightweight chassis six-cylinder cars, and then Brooks goes out in one of the Vanwalls and very soon stirs things up by making a lap in 1'45"6, shortly afterwards improving this to 1'44"9. The Scuderia Ferrari has their Lancia/Ferraris out and von Trips is having his first Grand Prix drive since his Nurburgring sports car accident. As he is pushed off, fuel which has run down into the exhaust pipes ignites, and he is being wheeled along with sheets of flame belching out of the megaphones and looking highly dangerous until the engine fires and blows the flames out. After a lap or two he comes in and Hawthorn takes the car, lapping in 1'47"1. Then Fangio joins in the fun, driving a lightweight-chassis six-cylinder Maserati, and he starts with 1'43"7; he then does 1'43"5, improving on the time of Brooks, so he comes in to sit and watch the result. This little effort has caused the Maserati engine to be pushed round to 7.800 rpm but it does not seem to mind. Collins is circulating steadily but going very little faster than Hawthorn, and when Musso goes out and tries all he knows and records only 1'45"7, it is pretty obvious that the Lancia/Ferraris are lacking steam, and going past the pits they are visibly slower than the Vanwalls. Moss is out in another Vanwall and gets down to 1'44"4, while Lewis-Evans is running pretty steadily at around 1'46"0.

 

They both come into the pits and Moss takes over the junior member’s car and in a very short time records 1'44"2, and then 1'43"9, while Behra is doing 1'45"0 in the third of the lightweight six-cylinder Maseratis. Scarlatti is the fourth team member of the Trident firm, and he is driving the old Spa ducted-radiator car, while Piotti, Gould and Godia have their cars, the last-named, however, being entered as a fifth factory car. Halford has made arrangements to borrow a Maserati for this race, keeping his car in readiness for taking to Silverstone. The car he borrows is the 1956 model owned by Du Puy, which has not been used since its return from New Zealand, where the late Ken Wharton should have driven it. It has now been rebuilt and painted red, with a green flash down the centre of the bonnet, so that it looks like the twin of Halford’s car. The track temperature is very high and for a time there is a slight lull in proceedings, everyone waiting for the cool of the evening to begin. The position stands at this point: Fangio fastest with 1'43"5, then Moss with 1'43"9, and third Brooks with 1'44"9, and there is every indication that a hairy split-second dice is going to start, for the fastest time of the day. Behra goes out in the V12-cylinder Maserati but is not outstandingly fast, and then the Vanwall team begin to shuffle around with the numbers on the cars, wiping them off one car and painting them on another, having four cars for the three drivers to choose from. Brooks goes out and starts with 1'43"7, and then really stirs things up with a lap in 1'43"3, the best so far and the first to record a speed of over 200 km/h for the lap. Von Trips is proving to be the fastest of the Ferrari team with a time of 1'45"6, and he then hands the car over to Gendebien, but the Belgian can not approach this sort of lap time, being fairly consistently around 1'50"0.

 

Moss then goes out in the car Brooks was driving but can not make any improvement to the lap time. Schell goes out again in a six-cylinder Maserati and the 12-cylinder car is put away, still not being quite right. Moss then goes out in his original car, having tried all the others, including the spare, and this time he sets a new FTD with a lap in 1'43"2, a speed of 200.501 km/h. Behra is trying hard with a six-cylinder car and eventually does a rousing 1'44"3, but the Vanwalls are the fastest cars and their drivers are really and truly setting the pace for this first practice period. It is now 5:15 p.m., with another 45 minutes of practice left, and at this point three of the Vanwalls are taken away to the paddock, everything being well under control, but Moss stays behind with his fast one, in case anyone has ideas about improving on his best time of 1'43"2. Conditions are now excellent, the sun is going down and the air is quite cool, and Collins is the first to go out again, but his times are still no menace to the Vanwalls, but then Fangio goes off again and Moss sits up and takes notice. Starting at 1'45"0, Fangio gradually goes faster and faster, until he does 1'43"4, and then his last lap equals Moss’ time of 1'43"2, so the battle is now really on. Out goes Moss in the Vanwall and starts with a lap in 1'43"5, so that Fangio realises the boy means business, and, sure enough, the lap times drop rapidly, Moss’ ultimate lap being 1'42"7, a speed of 201.557 km/h. This is serious motoring, and it seems unlikely that Maserati can do anything about it, but they sit waiting at the top end of the pits while Collins goes out once more, but he can not even improve on von Trips’ time, let alone approach the Maserati or Vanwall times.

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Just as the timekeepers announce six minutes to the end of practice, Fangio goes off again in his six-cylinder Maserati, so it is now or never. With a completely clear track he pulls out all the stops, taking the corners on the absolute limit, sliding to the very edge of the road, but the Maserati just has not got the power to cope with the British car, and even though Fangio stretches it to 7.900 rpm, his best lap of the three he does before the circuit is closed is 1'43"1, so to Moss and Vanwall go the honours for the day, and it is very obvious to everyone that the Vanwall team have not only set the pace throughout practice but have come out on top - and without the slightest trouble. Vanwall's challenging times during the first day of training for the Italian Grand Prix mortify the mood of Italian fans: it's not so much the record time reached by Moss that impresses, but rather the performance of the other two drivers of the British team, Brooks and Lewis-Evans, who certainly have less class than their foreman. When you find that between Fangio and Brooks there are only four-tenths of a second difference, you will understand the astonishment of the technicians and you will justify the many fears that the race evokes. The conclusion is that, after the first training session, in the ranking of the first five there are all three Vanwalls. Fangio did his maximum with all the weight of his experience and ability (his remote duel against Moss brought a breath of indescribable enthusiasm to the racetrack), but at the end of the day, four-tenths divide him from Moss. Four tenths. Are they few or are there many? It's the passage of a moment, but if they multiply by the number of laps that the drivers will have to travel on Sunday, the distance becomes over half a minute over the distance of five hundred kilometres. Pure theory, but certain calculations are better done. However, the rough forecasts have been confirmed for now: Maserati-Vanwall fight, while Ferraris appear slightly lower. The events of the race will then be in charge of changing many things, but for the Italian fans, there is little to be happy with this Vanwall.

 

All in all, it can be said that rarely in the past has an Italian Grand Prix presented itself with as many reasons for uncertainty, since the hopes of Italian affirmation, despite the reliefs that emerged on the first day of training, are always firm, and based on concrete considerations. On the contrary, it would seem to have returned to the distant times of the famous struggles between Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Auto Union and Mercedes, but with the difference that then there were many Italian drivers scattered in the different teams, and cheering was more directed towards men than towards cars. Sunday, however, out of eighteen starters, only three will be Italians: Luigi Musso, Giorgio Scarlatti and the modest and enthusiastic Luigi Piotti. On the other hand, England is represented by seven drivers, demonstrating the very favourable moment that British motorsport is going through. It must also be noted that Maserati has not yet solved its doubts about the possibilities of the car with a twelve-cylinder engine, which will probably be entrusted only to Behra, while Fangio and the other teammates will be at the wheel of the faithful cars with a six-cylinder engine, being still incredibly competitive despite the long years of use. The twelve-cylinder car is undoubtedly more powerful than even the Vanwalls themselves, but it does not rely enough to keep the distance of five hundred kilometres at a race pace expected above 100 km/h on average on. Moreover, it is hoped that Ferraris will also be able to do better than at their first exit, where they appeared significantly less fast than Maseratis and Vanwalls. Now, thanks to the Vanwall team, a good time is going to have to be less than 1'43"0, anything more is relatively unimpressive; yet none of the Lancia/Ferraris can approach this target, though Collins does manage 1'45"5, thus making the best time for Ferrari. Behra can only just break 1'44"0 with the 12-cylinder car, and then Lewis-Evans is off again, this time in the spare Vanwall.

 

Behra brings the 12-cylinder car in and hands it over to Fangio, and goes out again himself on his six-cylinder model. With very little warning, and certainly no fuss, Lewis-Evans suddenly records 1'42"5 and, to show it is no fluke, he follows it with 1'42"4, and this really sets everyone buzzing, for practice is now rapidly drawing to a close. As the Vanwall mechanic flags Lewis-Evans in, after his last electrifying lap, the engine cuts and he coasts out of sight, to come to rest round beyond the Lesmo turns. Meanwhile, Fangio was thrashing the 12-cylinder Maserati round and, getting more and more used to it, he gets down to 1'43"8 Just to see that everything is all right with his car Moss does a leisurely 1'43"4, and at that the day finishes, with the Vanwall mechanics setting off to tow in the broken car of Lewis-Evans. Despite all the battling that was going on, this is the first casualty among the works boys; it subsequently turns out to be a broken magneto rotor shaft, so it is not too serious. All these closely-fought time trials among the Factory teams rather overshadow the efforts of the private owners, but Gregory has done an excellent 1'48"9 and Bonnier 1'49"17, these two being the only ones to break 1'50"0 among the non-works cars, Halford was having fuel-feed trouble with his borrowed car, the cockpit tanks being gummed up through a long period of standing, and Simon is having similar trouble with the Maserati of Volonterio, which he is driving. Gould is getting thin on tyres, one front one loosening all its tread, but not coming off, and Piotti manages not to be last, leaving this position to the Bristolian. The two days of practice were truly memorable, with the Vanwall team in complete command of the meeting, and the final summing up of the times gives the order Lewis-Evans, Moss, Brooks, Fangio, Behra, Schell, Collins, von Trips, Musso and Hawthorn. There is no arguing the fact that the Vanwall team are easily the fastest, while the Lancia/Ferraris are right out of the picture.

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On Sunday, September 8, 1957, with the final checks by the mechanics over and the inaugural ceremonies finished, complete with flags representing the nations at the centre of the track, it was on to the action, leaving the way and voice to the roars of the engines. Race day sees the start arranged for 3 pm, consistent with the practice days, and a thing many other organisers might well copy, for it allows an appreciation of race conditions to be assessed very accurately during practice. It is a truly wonderful sight to see the three green Vanwalls on the front row, with only the six-cylinder Maserati of Fangio keeping them company. For many years now we had to watch starts with one or two green cars scattered about amongst the rows of the grid, but here is a complete triumph: the first three cars on the grid are green and behind them come row upon row of red cars. If all three Vanwalls have blown sky high at the fall of the flag no one can have complained, for they have proved themselves in practice. As it is, when the flag falls it is Moss who leaves away into the lead, with Lewis-Evans and Brooks right on his tail, while Musso makes a shattering start from the third row, where he was in company with von Trips, Hawthorn and Gregory, and is right behind the Vanwalls as they roar away towards the Curve Grande. The start was one of those lovely Grand Prix affairs where everyone inches forward before the flag falls, but, even so, Behra, Schell and Collins in the second row do not get among the leaders. In the fourth row were Scarlatti, Bonnier and Halford, followed by Godia, Simon, Piotti and Gould. Down the back straight it is Moss leading, with the screaming pack hard on his heels, and as they end the hair-raising opening lap the order of the leaders is Moss, Behra, Lewis-Evans, Brooks, Musso, Fangio, practically nose to tail.

 

The next lap sees Behra a little closer to Moss, Evans and Brooks side by side, Fangio right behind them, and Musso hanging on gamely, followed by Schell, Hawthorn and Bonnier, the Swedish driver having a real go and leaving all the other independents way behind. The practice has shown that the issue lies between Vanwall and Maserati and now the race is living up to the practice, with Behra out to show the British that the 12-cylinder Maserati can go, for he has taken the new car, whereas Fangio has settled for a six-cylinder. On the fourth lap Behra sails past Moss going down the back straight, and now the battle is on, for the end of lap four sees the order Behra, Moss, Brooks, Lewis-Evans, Fangio, running in line-ahead formation, with only a foot or two between each car, having come out of the south turn in a very close bunch across the road. These five have already left the rest behind, but following came Schell, Collins, Musso, Hawthorn and Bonnier in another such fiendish dice. Down the back straight again they go, and Moss goes back into the lead, so that lap five read: Moss, Behra, Brooks, Fangio, Lewis-Evans, as quick as that, and the leader is lapping at 1'47"5, on new tyres and full tanks. There is no quarter being given, and certainly, no holds being barred, the Vanwalls driving as a team and making the two Maserati drivers use whatever road is left over; gentlemanly after you, stuff is not the order of the day! Every kilometre of the race is being hotly contested, the cars running two and three abreast through the corners, all text-book driving being thrown to the winds long ago. On lap seven Fangio whams by into the lead, followed by Moss, Brooks, Lewis-Evans and Behra, but leadership in this battle of the giants is only theoretical, for no stop-watch can measure the gaps between this leading group of five. Behind them Schell is sweating visibly to keep off the attacks of Collins, while Musso is not far behind, though Hawthorn was passed by Bonnier, the Englishman not being too happy with the handling of his Lancia/Ferrari.

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The rest of the field is trailing along in the rear but bearing in mind that they are lapping at nearly 120 mph, it will be appreciated that they are doing some pretty skilled trailing. Von Trips and Gregory are having a wheel-to-wheel battle and, farther back, Godia is leading Halford on the straights but losing ground on the corners. Just when it looks as though Fangio has got command, Moss takes the lead, and then Brooks goes by the lot, while four laps later Lewis-Evans sails by into the lead and Moss took a back seat. There is nothing at all to choose between these five drivers and cars, and they finish each lap in a solid bunch, none of them ever looking like being able to keep the lead for long; it is real Grand Prix racing with a vengeance, and the most wonderful thing of all is that three of the five are British cars driven by British drivers, something that has never before been seen in Grand Prix racing. The pace is so hot that somebody has to give in, and on lap 20 it is Brooks who succumbs, for his throttle is stuck open and he has to stop at the pits to have it freed, losing a whole lap to the leaders and rejoining the race just as the four leaders go by again. Bonnier has already been at the pits, his Centro-Sud Maserati showing signs of getting hot, which is not surprising given the speed he is going, while Hawthorn is now back in his stride and having a go at Musso, though they have dropped quite a way behind Collins. Bonnier’s pit stop has put him at the back of the field, behind Gould, Simon, Halford, Godia and Gregory, reading from the back, and at this point come to the leaders, now rapidly closing on Scarlatti and von Trips, who are still dicing together. On lap 22 the order is Moss, Lewis-Evans, Fangio and Behra, but they are so close that it might easily have been the other way round; however, on the next lap Lewis-Evans signals distress to his pit and comes in at the end of the lap.

 

Now the bitter fight is breaking up fast, for Evans has cracked the head on the Vanwall, a core-plug weld having given way, and though it is peened over as a temporary repair he is last when he rejoins the race four laps later. Fangio and Behra are now getting very much out of breath and decide to call off the wheel-to-wheel battle, letting Moss get ahead and hoping that he too may have trouble like his team-mates, and by lap 26 things have settled down to some semblance of order, Moss being 5 sec ahead of Fangio, who is lending Behra. Then comes a long gap before Schell appears, still ahead of Collins, and after another gap comes to Hawthorn and Musso, just about to be lapped by Moss. Brooks comes next, leading Scarlatti and von Trips, who in turn is followed by Gregory all on his own, and then Godia and Halford still battling happily; another long gap ensues before Simon appears, leading Bonnier, Gould and Lewis-Evans. On lap 28 the big dice finishes, for Behra stops for rear tyres and fuel, the 12-cylinder Maserati having proved very extravagant, and it is a fine sight to see the Frenchman get away again using very high revs and spinning the wheels madly to keep the multi-cylinder engine up on the power curve. This stop drops him down to fifth place, behind Collins, and a whole lap behind Moss, while on lap 30 Moss laps Collins, leaving only Fangio and Schell on the same lap as himself. At this point, Brooks reappears at the pits to complain that oil is appearing in the cockpit, and as he stops it is noticed that a large piece of the tread has come off one of the rear tyres. The oil leak is traced to a bung having come out of the gearbox. Luckily it is still lying in the under-tray, and after some rather brusque words from Mr Vandervell it is screwed back in place and the gearbox refilled. By the time the rear wheels have been changed five laps have passed and then the heat of the day has vaporised the fuel in the injection pump so that when Brooks is ready to go again the car does not start.

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After much pushing it is dragged back to the pits, the vapour lock gets rid of, and then he can rejoin the race, but now last behind Lewis-Evans. After these petty bothers, all eyes are on Moss, who is now 10sec ahead of Fangio and gaining ground rapidly, and it is hoped that his car does not give trouble. Bonnier comes in once more with too much temperature and, rather than risk blowing up, the car is withdrawn, while Schell comes in with an oil leak, and as a precaution, the rear tyres are changed at the same time. This leaves only Moss and Fangio on the same lap, followed a long way back by Collins, Behra, Hawthorn, Musso, Scarlatti and von Trips, these last two still having a race together, and in consequence, they are gaining on the people in front. Although occasionally broken up by other cars lapping them, Godia and Halford continue their race, Halford gaining on the corners and Godia gaining on the straights. Then Scarlatti and von Trips go by Musso, and the Roman stops at the pits to complain of an obscure vibration, but nothing can be found amiss so he is sent off again. By lap 40 Moss is leading Fangio by 17.5sec, and it is obvious that the World Champion is playing a waiting game, hoping for the Vanwall to break up, it being quite impossible for the Maserati to cope with the superior speed, even though he has revved the six-cylinder engine to 8,400rpm, a mere 800 rpm over the limit. On lap 41 Fangio makes a quick pit-stop for rear tyres, the race speed being more than Pirelli can guarantee to cope with, and this lets Moss get nearly a whole lap ahead.  Way down at the back of the field Simon stops to refuel and Volonterio takes over, only to be black-flagged as the officials do not realise he has done the necessary practice laps. After a brief discussion, he is allowed to continue.

 

The 12-cylinder Maserati has run its race, for on lap 35 Behra has stopped to take on water-it is running very hot-and though he restarts at the end of the field the car is not showing its earlier form, and on lap 45 he comes in for more water. This is just over half-distance, the total laps being 87 to make a full 500 kilometres, and the situation is Moss in the lead, nearly a lap ahead of Fangio, then Collins, Hawthorn, von Trips, Scarlatti, Gregory, Musso, Halford and Godia, with Behra, Brooks and Lewis-Evans still trying to make up time for their pit stops. The oil leak on Schell’s car has proved unrepairable, so Scarlatti is called in and the American takes the car over, the rear tyres being changed at the same time. Lewis-Evans is in the pits once more, still suffering from the water leak in the head, and though he restarts it is only for a few laps, the car finally succumbing on lap 48. Halford has eventually got the lead from Godia, for the Spaniard thought it is time he leads on the south curve but comes unstuck and spins, though he manages to keep going. However, Halford’s lead is short-lived for a valve-spring cap then split and he has to retire. The overheating 12-cylinder Maserati finally protests strongly and Behra coasts straight into the paddock with the engine dead and a trail of oil coming out from underneath, and it retires officially with boiling water trouble. Brooks is now running in close company with Moss, even though he is only in 10th position, and his car is going perfectly, as is the leader’s one. At 55 laps there seems little hope of anyone doing any overtaking, and a lull settles on the race, it now is a question of waiting to see who is going to break down first. It turns out to be Collins, for he goes by on lap 58 making a horrid noise, and two laps later come into the pits on six cylinders. After some fiddling, he goes off again, on seven cylinders, does a lap like that and then retires with a suspected broken valve.

 

Now the order is Moss, Fangio, Hawthorn, von Trips, Gregory, Schell in Scarlatti’s car, Musso, Brooks, Godia, and Gould and Volonterio bringing up the rear. At lap 68 Moss is given a signal which says LOOK TYRES, which he does and carries on with no signs of distress, and he is now well over a whole lap ahead of Fangio, the Maserati driver having given up all hope of ever catching the flying Vanwall. Gregory, at last, finds someone to dice with, for Hawthorn laps him, and he then hangs on closely, the Lancia/Ferrari and the blue and white Maserati running round in close company. At the end of the 77th lap Moss comes into the pits, the near-side rear tyre is changed and some oil added to the tank, and in the meantime Fangio goes by, to be on the same lap as the Vanwall, but then Moss is off again, now about three-quarters of a lap in the lead. On the same lap, Hawthorn arrives at the pits with a misfiring engine and it is found that one of the fuel pipes to the carburettors has split. This is bodged up and he rejoins the race, but now down to fifth place, so that von Trips moves up into the third position, followed by Gregory. It is now nearly all over, apart from the rejoicing, and while Moss sails round serenely in the lead, Brooks is still driving hard, and just before the end catches Musso to take seventh place, and on lap 74 he has recorded the fastest lap of the race, despite having an inoperative clutch. Amid much rejoicing by the many British people present and an air of bewilderment from the Italians, Moss crosses the line to win the third Grande Epreuve for Vanwall this year, and the first British win at Monza, having beaten the full force of Italy on its home ground in one of the straightest and most open fights we have seen for a long time. Fangio finishes second, nearly three-quarters of a minute behind, but World Champion for the fifth year and von Trips arrives third, having driven a steady and unspectacular race, but now fully recovered from his crash injuries.

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Stirling Moss crosses the finish line alone followed by Fangio, who is forty-one seconds behind, while the third classified driver, Trips, comes to an end two laps late. Gregory's magnificent race of the Scuderia Centro-Sud who conquers the three points of the fourth position, three laps from the winner, while among the various riders forced to come back to check it is Schell, who finishes fifth but on Scarlatti's car. The pair of drivers divide the two points of the fifth position. Emblematic of the return to the garage of the triumphant: Stirling Moss is relaxed but with a black face due to the exhaust fumes breathed during the race, a sign of the continuous struggles lived on the track. As soon as he comes down from his victorious Vanwall, Stirling Moss runs to meet his girlfriend who is waiting for him impatiently at the garage and exclaims in a voice full of emotion:

 

"Did you see that I kept my promise?"

 

During the race the girl had stayed at the bar: she drank double whiskies and smoked one cigarette after another. His hands were crossed by a slight tremor. They have to get married in London, in four weeks. Before leaving, Stirling had told her:

 

"I promise to win. It will be my wedding gift".

 

This victory represents not only a great professional satisfaction for Moss but also a check for six zeros, which will allow you to face the first expenses at the marital ménage. The girlfriend of the English ace is a twenty-year-old girl, not very tall, sweet and round, with a mop of existentialist black hair. Her name is Katie Molson, she was born in China, but she currently lives in London. Stirling Moss' father and mother are also present at the good test of his son, and attend the race from the grandstand reserved for the guests. Meanwhile, Fangio's wife lived her husband's feat moment by moment encouraging the mechanics and dispensing tirelessly bottles of Coca-Cola to Maserati mechanics. The lady also took advantage of a short stop by her husband at the pits to polish his foggy glasses, dry his forehead, and tell him a word of incitement in his ear. In full compliance with the forecast, Stirling Moss on Vanwall won the XXVIII Italian Grand Prix, and he did so most convincingly and linearly imaginable, coming out of a group of wild people who for about twenty laps showed audacity and skill, in an exciting alternation of positions, progressively crumbling Fangio's tenacious resistance, and today there is nothing to do against the all-English Moss-Vanwall combination. It's the first time in the history of the Italian Grand Prix that a British car has ranked overall winner. And we want, on the part of some observers, this fact to mark the beginning of a new cycle in the events of motorsport.

 

It must be said that the Italian cars appeared significantly lower in Monza; because if it is true that of the other two Vanwalls in the race one gave way after forty-nine laps, Brooks remained close to the Moss-Fangio duo in the first part of the race and even to the lead from the twelfth to the fifteenth lap, then stopping for the very banal break of the accelerator pedal, but realising towards the end the best lap of the day at over 199 km / h on average. It is useless to go in search of justifications. Vanwalls have shown themselves to be more competitive than Italian cars, but above all, they seem able to improve even more in the future. How can Italian companies run for cover? Maserati had in the six-cylinder a still efficient vehicle but now outdated, after four years of honourable history, while the new twelve-cylinder, driven by Behra, held up well in the frenetic initial phase, then abandoning due to a phenomenon of overheating of the engine. Ferraris have made an honest, regular race, but nothing more, so much so that they seemed firm in terms of last year's performance, in the face of the progress of the opposing brands. The result of the XXVIII Italian Car Grand Prix is likely to give the trend to several comments among those who follow the events of this sport in which men and cars are equally involved, but which is still dominated by the mechanical factor. Not all will be benevolent comments to the address of the Italian manufacturers who with alternating luck dedicate themselves to this activity: Maserati and Ferrari. As always, the reactions will be disproportionate to the importance of the fact, even if the defeat of Monza by an English brand is a novelty unwelcome to many Italians.

 

Yet there is nothing dishonourable about an episode or a series of episodes of technical and sporting value, which mean not the victory of an industry, but more modestly that of an isolated manufacturer, who has dedicated himself to making racing cars for pure passion, in an all-British spirit of emulation. On the moral level, therefore, it is not appropriate to mount a drama: one must rather know how to accept defeat sportingly. A little different, however, is the situation considered in its technical aspects, which are the substrate of motoring. Mercedes, Ferrari and Maserati withdrew from the scene, they remained masters of the camp again from last year, undisputed dominating the timid attempts at opposition brought by small French and British manufacturers. Then the English industrialist Antony Vanderwell came into contention, setting up a machine of very advanced conception, the development of which took months and months. Maserati and Ferrari did not worry about the new threat, perhaps considering it as inconsistent as those that preceded it. And this year, in the middle of the season, Vanwall began to win: Monza is only the last link in the chain, after Aintree and Pescara. At Monza, tens of thousands of spectators realised that the progress of the British car was enormous, while the Italian single-seaters reached a level of performance that was difficult to increase. The conclusion is that a fairly important technical crisis has opened up, which will perhaps take a long time to overcome. Maserati now has to focus every energy on improving the car with a twelve-cylinder engine, which so far has not provided the desired results. However, this is the only modern means to rely on to resist the Vanwall offensive, which is likely to be even more massive next year.

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However, Maserati has also allowed Manuel Fangio to win the leading world title: it is not small merit. The speech for Ferrari is different, in which the need for a deep technical reorganisation seems inevitable. But nothing is immutable, much less in sporting events. Rehashing Italian nationalistic considerations, perhaps it is not even bad that Italian machines have finished monopolising victories. If you want some progress from motorsport to come, a new competitive emulation at the international level is welcome. The meaning of the Monza race must not go beyond this perspective. A very interesting test bench will be the Modena International Motor Grand Prix, which is held on Sunday, September 22, 1957, on the track racetrack. The starter's field can be defined as complete, with four rival brands and riders from five nations who will battle it out on the renewed Modena track that constitutes for its pitfalls, the brevity of the straights, the numerous and difficult corners, a very strict testing field for any type of car. The formula of the race is the most spectacular: not bound by the drastic rules in force for the Grand Prix valid for the world title, the organisers were able to launch an unusual and most exciting competition. There will be two tests, both on forty laps of the track. Maserati will reconfirm confidence in the car with a twelve-cylinder engine, and indeed it will take advantage of the Modena race to definitively test the car that in Monza proved to be the only one able to compete validly with the Vanwalls.

 

Ferrari, on the other hand, will line up a new Formula 2 car, which will have to compete next year on all the circuits of the world. Then there is the interesting technical reason for the comparison between the two Italian companies and the English B.R.M. that the previous Sunday won with authority at Silverstone and the sparkling Cooper. In the list of starters, there is one last question besides that of the second B.R.M. guide: it concerns the X, which distinguishes Maserati's first registered car. It is still hoped for the participation of Juan Manuel Fangio, who during the evening of Friday, September 20, 1957, was in Frankfurt, but had once again said no to the participation in the Modena race. It is known that Fangio will do everything to be present in Modena but it is feared that he will probably not be able to cancel unprovable commitments. Sunday, September 22, 1957, the Frenchman Jean Behra, promoted to the role of foreman of Maserati, won both fractions of the Modena Car Grand Prix, reserved for Formula 1. Behra prevailed over the fierce batch of competitors and only Musso, who drives the new Ferrari Formula 2, was able to dispute his success. The British B.R.M. cars, which were awaited with curiosity after last Sunday's test at Silverstone, were not sufficiently competitive: only for a few laps did they hold the pace imposed by Behra and Musso, then they began to lose blows and hardly reached the first finish line. In the second half stage, the two English cars could not resist the wear imposed on them by the insidious circuit of Modena, all corners and short straights, and were forced to retire.

 

Of the other competitors, the test of the American driver Harry Schell is excellent, who drives the second official Maserati and who takes third place in both races, as is the day of the Roman Scarlatti. Collins, despite being fourth overall, proved instead that he is not in full shape, starting uncertainly and always keeping a prudent race course. The day of racing began with a slight delay than expected. The mover is the Prefect of Modena. As you know, it was hoped until the last minute in participation by Fangio, who had announced on Saturday morning his departure for Modena from Frankfurt. But Saturday morning news arrives that Fangio was injured in a frightening accident in an attempt to avoid a truck on the Via Emilia, near Fidenza. The World Champion, however, did not want to miss the appointment with his fans and you can see him with an arm cast in half, at the racetrack, kicking off the second half of the race. At the start of the first test, Musso is the quickest to get into action, led by Schell, the first B.R.M. pilot. Flockhart, and Behra. Musso leads for ten laps while Behra makes his way between Schell and Flockhart. This is the most beautiful phase of the whole competition. Although he drives an inferior car, Musso manages not to lose the lead. In the end, however, he will have to give in to the greater power of the rival's car. On the eleventh lap Behra, who has already rounded the competitors of the official Maseratis, reaches and passes Musso taking the lead. From this moment on, the race is impoverished by emotions and the interest of the spectators lights up only in brief moments due to the furious fight in the rear between Collins and Schell for the third position. In the end, the American pilot pops up. The B.R.M., who held for the first third of the race at the pace imposed by the two team leaders of rival teams, give in to the distance.

 

About a quarter of an hour after the conclusion of this first phase, the second will begin. Musso still takes his head, but Behra does not let himself be bottled this time and puts himself on the wheel, even managing to overcome him already during the first lap. The race can be said to be over right now. Schell will still and only move it, throwing himself to the attack first of Collins and then Musso, who will have to fight for a long time to defend himself. The order of arrival of the second test will be identical to that of the first. The two English B.R.M. cars disappear from the race after about ten laps, that of Flockart for lubrication trouble and that of Bonnier due to gearbox breakage. In this circumstance, Enzo Ferrari shows up on the track to see the new car at work, with the 1500 six-cylinder 65° V engine wanted by Dino, despite his presence, also in Modena, enough to overheat certain souls still tried by the accident in May, which involved Castellotti. This will be the last time Ferrari has seen a race in person: in the future, it would still have gone from time to time to some circuit, but it would have entertained only the time of practice without attending the race. Sunday, October 27, 1957, practically ends the European car season: in Casablanca with the Moroccan Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars, in Turin with the resumption of the classic Sassi-Superga uphill test. The latter is valid for the assignment of the Mountain Trophy, and you are allowed touring cars of prepared series, grand touring cars and sports. The track, dear to the memories of the heroic times of motoring, is of exceptional severity, certainly the most complete among those the roads of Turin hill can offer. Since motor racing competitions were quite stingy this year, in Piemonte (and certainly not due to the ill will of organisers), the Sassi-Superga had the power to attract a very large group of fans: as many as 134 members, including several renowned drivers.

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Starting with Adolfo Tedeschi, a specialist in uphill races, who will pilot a Maserati 2 litres sport, Gino Munaron (Ferrari 2000), Luciano Mantovani (Osca 1100), Carlo Mario Abate (Giulietta Sprint Veloce), Eugenio Monti (Osca 1500), and again the Turinese of Racing Club 19 Toselli and Balzarini, respectively on Osca 1500 and 1400, Gatta (Lancia 2500 Zagato), Scarfiotti (Fiat 8V), Brandoli (Lancia Marino), Coriasco (Osca 1100). The race is very open in all classes, but of course, the greatest interest will be focussed on the fight for absolute victory, and on the possibility that the climb record will be improved, held since 1953 by Paolo Cordero di Montezemolo with a time of 3'42 "There can be no doubt that, if the weather conditions remain favourable, the primacy of the Piedmontese gentleman will be beaten. The current sports cars of 1500 and 2000 cc, as was widely demonstrated in the last Aosta - Gran San Bernardo, can provide performance incomparably superior to that of a few years. The natural difficulties and the not excessive width of the road seat advised the authorities not to allow the public to watch the race along the way, limiting their access to the areas of the departure and arrival goals. In Casablanca, there will be small revenge on Monza, with a new Italian-English confrontation that two months after the Italian Grand Prix should see the situation of the Italian representatives slightly improved. Against the Vanwalls of Stirling Moss, Brooks and Evans, Ferrari and Maserati line up almost complete: the first with Collins and Hawthorn, which will lead to their official debut of the new 6-cylinder single-seaters derived from the F2 car, accredited with about 290 hp of power and a weight of only 520 kg; Maserati with world champion Fangio, Behra, Godia and Scarlatti, at the wheel of the 6 cylinders and a widely modified 12-cylinder after Monza.

 

Even the English B.R.M. - whose qualities are slowly emerging - will be competing with two cars, driven by Trintignant and Flockhart. But it is essentially on the behaviour of Italian cars against the Vanwalls that the reason for the interest of the Moroccan race must be sought. A lot of work has been done in Modena, following the debacle of Monza and the technicians of the two companies seem optimistic about the future. And Jean Behra on Maserati wins the Moroccan Grand Prix at an average of 180,283 km/h, held on a circuit of 7,608 kilometres to be covered 65 times for a total of 418,055 kilometres. It was an exciting race attended by the Sultan and an overflowing crowd. Unfortunately, a dramatic accident must be complained about: on lap 44 the Frenchman Jean Lucas gets off the track and clashes with extreme violence against two cars, stopping beyond the protective barrier in straw bales. The two cars belonged to the Sultan's royal family and were guarded by two agents and a driver, who were overwhelmed. The news of the incident is immediately transmitted to the emergency room centre from which a helicopter prepared for emergency emerges and is raised in flight. Lucas and the two agents and the driver are urgently transported by air to the hospital. The French pilot is in serious condition. The race is dominated by Behra after Fangio hits a barrier with a smear and is forced to reach the pits slowly. Subsequently, the Argentine ace (which by the way is feverish) starts again in pursuit but ranks only fourth. According to the technicians' forecasts, the biggest pitfall for Maserati, as mentioned, was represented by Stirling Moss' Vanwall. The Englishman, however, at the last moment could not start as a result of a severe sore throat. At the same time, Gino Munaron, with the Ferrari Testa Rossa, wins the Sassi-Superga in record time. A few moments before the start of the ninth edition of the Sassi-Superga automobile, the nice Turin driver says:

 

"I have a powerful car in my hand but not very suitable for a nervous race. With the mechanical vehicle that I have available today, I could race without fear of defeat maybe on the Orbassano track, but here, with all the corners and walls that are there, I'm afraid I have to bring out everything learned in all my relatively numerous years of career. Anyway, I'm going to push, push and push. I really couldn't resign myself to losing today, with so many people around here who know me".

 

Gino Munaron kept his statements. His record time was much lower than that of rivals, all dangerous and all ended up behind him grouped in a minimum space of seconds. Munaron, however, suffers from his resounding statement: as soon as he crosses the finish line and tucked the violone that serves as parking for the incoming cars, Munaron takes off his helmet, takes his little girl in his arms who was waiting for him and listens. He refuses a cigarette, saying thank you, no, to those who offer him a drink. On the ramps of the hill, meanwhile, the last competing machines arrive. No one so far has managed to climb in a shorter time than his own, but the machines of Bordoni, Pacifico, Brandoli and Tedeschi remain and hear screaming on the last hairpin bends. Below, still hidden by the groves planted on the slopes of the hill but noisily threatening, you can hear Tedeschi's Maserati, the driver who won the Italian mountain championship. No one talks around Munaron; the pilot murmurs in a low voice:

 

"Germans, please, go slow".

 

Then the roar of the engine was amplified by the speaker placed on the finish line and the voice of the speaker announced the mediocre time of the last competitor. Munaron holds his little girl tightly in his arms, picks up a bottle of mineral water on the fly and takes a whole packet of American cigarettes from a friend's hands. Episodes of an autumn race played with a mid-September sun. Luciano Mantovani, the second finisher, competed with a special construction Osca 1100. Upon arrival, his brother Sergio meets him, the talented Formula 1 driver who was seriously injured in a very serious accident at the Valentino Grand Prix a few years ago. Forty-four competitors out of 114 parties beat (by much or in measure) the previous record established in 1953 with a very original construction car by Cordero di Montezemolo. Gino Munaron, with the 2-litre Ferrari Testa Rossa, reached the staggering average of 88,508 km/h. It is a symptom of mechanical and technical progress of considerable proportions to have achieved such a clear improvement and above all so vast: this time man has superlatively done his part, but also the perfection of the mechanical product has made a remarkable contribution. Gino Munaron took the absolute victory. He feared - and he said it on the test day - that the power of the car could not be right about the manoeuvrability of sports cars with a smaller displacement. The audience, quite large, was worthy of the event, it did not cause single trouble to the guardians of the order.

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Recovering from the injury, on Wednesday, October 16, 1957, the reigning World Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio, completes a series of tests on the Modena racetrack with the Maserati equipped with a twelve-cylinder engine that the Modena technicians are developing for the next automotive season, and carries out the first test of a brand new car prepared by the Modena-based manufacturer Stanguellini Fangio, with Maserati, realises excellent times and is very satisfied with the improvements made to both the engine and the chassis. The World Champion also drives a traditional six-cylinder. Fangio then leads for several laps the car prepared by the Modena-based manufacturer Stanguellini: it is a junior Formula car, which on a racing car chassis mounts a Fiat 1100 engine, which must be practically a car for first-time drivers. Of the new car, Fangio declares that it will be a sure means of preparing new drivers and showed himself satisfied with the qualities of road holding, especially in fast corners. Ferrari also carries out at the same time tests, always on the Modena racetrack, of the new 2300 cc six-cylinder, on which the technicians of the company have been working for about a year: it is Peter Collins who laps for about an hour on the new single-seater. At the same time, also on October 16, 1957, Ferrari changed the legal name of its company, whose name for ten years was Auto Avio Costruzioni Ferrari. The change simply involves the loss of the word Avio: the new name of the company thus becomes Auto Costruzioni Ferrari. A few days later, exactly Sunday, November 3, 1957, the Venezuelan Automobile Grand Prix, valid for the World Sports Championship, ended with a Ferrari victory.

 

A decisive triumph, which represents the award of the highest title. Caracas circuit, 9.900 metres long, to be repeated a hundred and once, is not only gruelling for the drivers and very hard for mechanical vehicles but unfortunately causes - because of its irrational difficulty - a long series of scary accidents. The most serious is the English Stirling Moss. On the thirty-third lap, the British driver hits an AC Bristol car driven by a competitor not very well known in Europe, the American Hap Dresser. Dresser's machine after the impact is projected high, as if it had been thrown by a catapult, and crashes into a pole. The American pilot is taken dying from a scrap of his car and transported to the hospital where the prognosis will be very confidential. The start of the race is at 4:30 p.m. after some boys from nine to fourteen years old had already performed on special single-cylinder cars. Hawthorn is in the lead at first, on Ferrari, followed by Gregory, on Maserati. Stirling Moss is the last to start, being slowed down by trouble at the engine. On the second lap, the first accident occurs: Gregory's car capsizes in a narrow corner. The American, who at first is considered moribund, will continue the race with another car. The accident at Moss will take place, as mentioned, on lap thirty-third, when the British driver has now gained a considerable advantage. The twist revolutionises the marching order. On lap forty-fifth the positions saw Hawthorn in the lead, followed by Hill, who changed Collins, then Trips on Ferrari. In the following laps Moss, on Shell's car, chases angrily and even manages to get back to the lead, but then he has to gradually abandon. Musso is in the middle of the race, replacing Hawthorn, followed by Seidel, who runs in pairs with Trips. Shell, again at the wheel of his Maserati, is third, but at this point the tragedy is close.

 

On the fifty-sixth lap Maserati, driven by the Swede Bonucci, launched at 160 km/h loses a wheel. The car turns on itself and is inexorably rammed by the other Maserati of the coming Shell. A gruesome tangle. Shell suddenly, while the first flames are blowing, splashes out of the cockpit just in time: his car explodes in a sinister roar. The American and Bonnier are prodigiously unharmed. Almost at the same time, Behra stopped at the refuelling box, is hit by a blaze and brings burns to his arms and face. His condition is not serious, but the Frenchman must retire. In this way, for an impressive series of adversities, Maserati's team is liquidated, and Ferrari drivers proceed safely towards victory and winning the world title. The Maserati team will have the opportunity to refer to the São Paulo Grand Prix, which is held on December 1, 1957, thanks to a new triumph of the Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio. Tuesday, December 10, 1957, Gino Munaron arrives during the evening in Turin, returning from his quick tour of South America. In fifteen days the young driver from Turin crossed the Atlantic twice, carried out the official tests of two competitions, participated in the most important race of the program and placed second overall behind Juan Manuel Fangio. A very short visit made by the Italian rider: from November 25 to December 9 Munaron barely had time to get on two planes, visit some industrial plants in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and take a few baths on the beautiful beach of Copacabana and to compete in the Rio Grand Prix, held on the Boa Vista circuit. A short visit but quite full of satisfaction, given that in addition to the second place won behind Fangio, Munaron had enthusiastic receptions from Italian sportsmen residing in Brazil and Brazilians pure blood, as he says:

 

"The parties, the cocktails, the receptions followed one another continuously, so much so that we didn't leave us a single moment of respite. If we had listened to all the people who would have liked to invite us, we probably wouldn't have had the chance to run anymore. And despite everything, we had gone to Brazil precisely to compete".

 

Was the Rio race tough?

 

"Very, especially for the impossible heat. There were at least forty degrees of heat and terrible heat. In the last few laps, I feared I won't make it. Fortunately, I had almost a lap ahead on the third place and I could hold until the end".

 

The most interesting moments of the Rio Grand Prix?

 

"When I tried to overcome the Brazilian Machado, who had taken the start slightly benefitted on me. I tried for twenty-eight laps to overcome him, but the rather narrow road and his fury in not giving me a way hindered me considerably".

 

Other episodes of the stay on Brazilian soil?

 

"A little sad. We found a young man from Trieste in Sao Paulo, who had gone to South America to work as a carpenter. The company he had worked in has at some point failed, and the boy found himself without work and money. Our group was moved by the misadventures of Trieste and we decided to help him as far as possible. We made a collection for him and, more importantly, we got one of the organisers of the race to hire him in one of his companies".

 

Among the leisures that Munaron had time to take, between races, which was the one that most entertained him?

 

"The football match between the Russians of Dynarao and Vasco de Gama played at Maracanà".

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Will he go back to South America to run?

 

“I hope so. Indeed, I have already received confirmation for the same races in which I participated this time, while I was also offered for the Cuban Grand Prix, scheduled for February".

 

Among the people you've met recently, which one left you a big impression?

 

"The world champion of underwater fishing Alvaro Veranda. He invited us to his home, in Petropolis, a tourist centre, located at 1800 metres above sea level. Alvaro Veranda, in an underwater fishing competition held lately, has conquered even superb prey: he drew 164 kilograms of heavy fish out of the sea. Varanda expressed himself in flattering terms about underwater hunting weapons built in Italy, which he uses for his activity".

 

Munaron will now rest for a few days and will then go to Modena to trace the program for the next competitive season. Also in Modena, on November 22, 1957, Enzo Ferrari presented the new car for sports racing of the next automotive season: a three-litre twelve-cylinder called 250 Testa Rossa. As is well known, next year's races will see in force the recent deliberations of the FIA, which set the limit of three litres for the cars that compete in the dispute of the Marche World Championship. The engine of the 260 Testa Rossa is derived from the now-established 250 Gran Turismo engine. This is a twelve-cylinder V-shaped 60°, 73-millimetre bore and 58.8-millimetre stroke, running on gasoline, six double-body carburettors, developing at 7,200 rpm the power of 300 horsepower. The gearbox has four synchronised gears, in addition to reversing. The weight of the dry car is about 800 kilos. The maximum speed is over 270 km/h. Those who decide to sign in London the new contract that binds them for the 1958 racing season at the English manufacturer B.R.M. are the French driver Jean Behra and the Paris American Harry Schell, being free after Maserati's retirement. In fact, on the evening of Monday, December 2, 1957, with a clear statement, Maserati announced the decision to withdraw from sports competitions:

 

"Ma Maserati, which this year won the Formula 1 driver's World Championship and the European mountain sports championship, has decided to refrain from officially participating in motor racing. Maserati, on the other hand, will maintain its technical experience, production and assistance at the service of sports customers and will strengthen the construction of coaches".

 

Entrusting the full text of his declaration to public opinion, the knight of labour Adolfo Orsi, president of Maserati, declares himself deeply saddened by the need to take the path of withdrawal.

 

"My choice, however, couldn't have been different. Too much money was made in the racing department of our company, without reasonable compensation. Our abandonment will perhaps be final. We will leave the official car races forever. For us to return to our deliberation, too many and too vast changes in the world of racing would be necessary; which can hardly happen. Our drivers have already been warned, except for Juan Manuel Fangio, but the latter is no longer tied to us by a contract".

 

While the Modena-based manufacturer's statement begins to arouse the first comments, the World Champion also receives news: Fangio learns the decision to withdraw Maserati just victoriously crossed the finish line of the Fiftieth Anniversary Grand Prix held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Got off the car and knowing the renunciation of the glorious Italian company, Fangio shows very heartfelt expressions of regret, but he communicates nothing about his retirement from competitions.

 

"I haven't decided anything yet, and I think I won't make any decision before returning to Buenos Aires."

 

During the morning of Tuesday, December 3, 1957, Maserati's phones and the private one of the company's president, Adolfo Orsi, ring continuously. In the offices, however, no one wants to make statements, while Adolfo Orsi tries to answer everyone in the same way:

 

"My decision is to be considered final. There have been no valid reasons for now that allow me to change my mind."

 

In fact, already from December 1st in Modena rumour had spread that Adolfo Orsi had been forced to ask for the controlled administration regime for Maserati, due to orders worth over one and a half million dollars from another branch of the family activities that had not been honoured. So the controlled administration becomes the only solution to save the company. Directly called into question by the disappearance from the sports scene of his major Italian competitor, Enzo Ferrari declares himself deeply saddened by what happened.

 

"I didn't foresee it and that's why the fact struck me even more. Now that I've lost my toughest opponent, I feel saddened. I should perhaps find some reason not to be, but on the contrary, I must recognise that the withdrawal of the trident's machines did not delight me at all".

 

Journalist and friend Gino Rancati, who is with him at that moment and hears these words, remains with the doubt that Ferrari may not be completely sincere. Ferrari had never tied with Orsi, whom he considered an industrialist - a rag seller - and not a racing man. He had also always suffered the rivalry with the other team in Modena whose headquarters is a few hundred metres from the historic headquarters of Scuderia Ferrari, and even less from the house where he was born. Moreover, there would be the story of an alleged bank loan denied precisely because of the opposition of Orsi, who was president of the Banco di San Geminiano and San Prospero at the time, for the preparation of a new production line in Maranello in 1952; a couple of months after the rejection of the bank, Ferrari's stories would say that Orsi would have called the Modena Among the reasons that would have caused Maserati's withdrawal there is also that of the recent deliberations of the International Commission, which have revolutionised the formulas of the races. Maserati's withdrawal from the official competitive activity is a confirmation of the crisis that has long affected the automotive sports sector. To understand the seriousness of the decision, it is enough to think that the Modena company, in its almost thirty years of activity - first with the Maserati brothers, founders of the company, then, after the war, with Adolfo and Omer Orsi - lived almost exclusively by dedicating himself to racing.

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Only one department of the factory, quite recently, deals with the production of machine tools. Despite the very heavy burdens that weigh on the racing departments of the few companies still interested in sports competitions (studies, experiences, construction and continuous updates of mechanical vehicles, tests, travel expenses, salaries to drivers, damage and often destruction of the material), and despite a continuous financial effort, Maserati had managed to equalise, or almost, the budget, putting together engagements, ranking But under these conditions, the existence of racing car manufacturers could only become increasingly precarious. Already a year ago the Englishman Connaught closed the business due to lack of funds, and in France, Gordini had suspended an activity judged intolerably burdensome. Nor was it foreign, in the decision taken by Mercedes itself, at the end of 1955, to withdraw from racing, the excessive financial commitment that these entail. Are the economic reasons, therefore, the basis of the painful renunciation communicated by Maserati? Only in part, or rather, to those are connected to the new organisational and technical guidelines approved last October by the International Automobile Federation. As you know, the sports activity of the companies is not only aimed at formula races, but in recent years the importance of the Formula 1 world championship has been added to the one dedicated to sports cars and, albeit to a smaller extent, the European mountain championship, also because it is linked to reasons of commercial propaganda. Now, while Maserati had set its construction programs for these two sectors on cars of 4500 cubic centimetres and two litres respectively, winning the title of the mountain for 1957 and touching the victory also in that sport, after winning the Formula 1 drivers' world championship, the FIA Sports Commission decided to reduce the displacement limit for the two types of races to 3000 and 1500 cubic centimetres, with immediate effect.

 

This decision, taken without the slightest regard for the manufacturers (and, incidentally, leaving practically unsolved the serious problem of limiting excessive speeds, since the difference between a 4500 cc and a 3000 cc is not exceeding 20-30 km/h, and little more between a 2000 cc and a 1500 cc), this decision has confronted Maserati with the dilemma: start everything from the beginning scrapping new material, very expensive but now unusable, or give up? It was certainly this new fact that precipitated the situation and imposed on Maserati a realistic review of its programs, to which it must be added that the twelve-cylinder Formula 1 car, which was supposed to replace next year the elderly and glorious six-cylinder that allowed Fangio to win the maximum title for 1957, did not give the desired results, and therefore also in this sector, in the face of the threat of Vanwall and a very likely comeback of Ferrari, Maserati would not have remained an alternative other than to invest money to remain competitive. It would also be added that the driver situation, today more difficult and delicate than ever, seems inextricable for Maserati: Fangio niched, Moss would have been available perhaps only for sports competitions, Behra was oriented towards the B.R.M., as well as Schell, and the few riders of international value were now collapsed. In short, a complex of concomitant causes that, examined as a whole, explain and justify Maserati's act of renunciation, which, however, turning its company programs from now on (assuming that one day it does not review the current decisions) only to the production of coach cars, has declared that it makes available to customers and enthusiasts its experience and technical equipment for assistance in Before notifying his employees of the closure of the sports department, Orsi tries to find them accommodation. For this reason, he calls Enzo Ferrari, who accepts the proposal, hiring them for the same duties and at the same salary. This phone call will be followed by a second one, this time by Ferrari who, remembering the rule of a few years earlier, cynically tells Orsi:

 

"If you want to sell Maserati, I'll buy it".

 

Ferrari, at the end of November, replacing the late Franchetti, had meanwhile hired a young Tuscan engineer from Alfa Romeo, and an expert in aerodynamics: Carlo Chiti, in the position of technical director. The new engineer wastes no time and immediately sets to work building a 1:10 scale wind tunnel in which to undergo aerodynamic tests models on the same scale. Ferrari does not completely agree with Carlo Chiti but lets it go, being convinced that the most important component of a racing car remains the engine while realising that the chassis is becoming increasingly important. Saturday, December 21, 1957, in Modena, according to a custom that has become tradition, Enzo Ferrari brings together drivers, collaborators and technicians again this year to take stock of the annual activity and to deliberate the prospects for the future. During the convivial meeting, which takes place in a well-known restaurant in Modena, Luigi Musso, the absolute Italian champion, Mike Hawthorn, Trintignant, Trips, Hill, Taruffi, Gendebien, Munaron, Italian champion for the sports category up to 2,000 displacements, Lualdi, Seidel and Wirz, are awarded numerous trophies, while Only Peter Collins, who is in Long Island, USA, is missing to celebrate Christmas with Louis' family. At the end of the lunch, Enzo Ferrari, after recalling with a heartfelt voice the facts that saddened the course of the 1957 season, and in particular Scuderia Ferrari, hinting at the tragic end of Castellotti with touching words, affirms his strong intention to continue in competitions for next year.

 

"We still want to race, even if our participation will only be qualitative and not quantitative".

 

As for Formula 1, Ferrari expresses its hopes about the new six-cylinder that will start in the main races in the category, starting with the one that will be held on the first Sunday of January at the Buenos Aires circuit. Concluding his short last year, Enzo Ferrari announces that no change will be made between the ranks of his drivers who competed in the last racing season. Also because during 1957 Ferrari sold more than one hundred cars in a year for the first time, more precisely one hundred and thirteen, guaranteeing an economic base useful for sports activity. Meanwhile, on Sunday, December 1, 1957, World Champion Jan Manuel Fangio won, driving a Maserati, the São Paulo Grand Prix. Argentina's new success coincides with the spread of the announcement that will not fail to sadden motoring enthusiasts: Maserati's decision to withdraw from competitive sport. Subsequently, on Sunday, December 8, 1957, for the second time in eight days, the red Maserati of the World Champion, the Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio, won the second Grand Prix of this Brazilian competitive season, held in Rio de Janeiro. Before leaving for the Rio de Janeiro Grand Prix, Juan Manuel Fangio vigorously denies rumours about his alleged statements that he retired from racing to devote himself completely to business. Enzo Ferrari, meanwhile, declares himself - logically - satisfied with the brilliant second place obtained by the Turinese Gino Munaron who races the Grand Prix on a 3-litre Ferrari. Is there any chance that Munaron will compete for Ferrari next year?

 

"It’s too early to talk about it. I haven't decided yet on the composition of the team for 1958. However, as soon as the rider returns from Brazil, I'll see if I can meet with him".

 

Luca Saitta

 

Translated by Valentina De Sanctis

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