On Sunday, january 26 1958 it take place the second episode of the Temporada Argentina: Buenos Aires Grand Prix for the sport car and – except for the well-known English reserve - brands international championship. With the new rules taken by FIA, for the first time there is the limitation that take the engines to 3 L of displacement on sports car. This rule will stay until 1960, but we can see that it wasn’t much to curb excessive danger of this car category. Even if the difference between 1000 or 1500 cc doesn’t change much in terms of mechanical performance,because in any case they will exceed 250 km/h. With the natural technician evolution, the 3 L can develop same power and speed of the 4000 or 4500 cc of displacement of the year before. But this change it could not be unseen by the one that had less familiarity with this problem. The list of the starter car was limited only by Ferrari and Maserati driver, removed some of the Porsche that they will try to win in the category of 1500 cc displacement. They also create a list of cars until 2 L, that take always to the duel between the two italian houses. Ferrari was rappresented by the official team (Musso, Collins, Hawthorn, Trips, Hill and Gendebien) with three new car of 3000 cm^3 and twelve cylinders: called 250 Testa Rossa, with a power that was near the 300 horses. The couple of driver will not be decide until the official practice. Maserati - they had 6 cylinders 3 L - can count on: Fangio and Moss. Behra and Schell. Unfortunately, the Formula 1 race winner, Stirling Moss, that had to pair with Behra, it’s not sure to start. In Friday his car had a serious mechanical problem: we can talk about some steering deficiency. Everyone, organizers and driver, do not talk about it, but in a short while everyone knows it. If Moss and Behra didn’t have any car, they had to find a solutions. Porche, after hearing that they offered one of their 1500, and the Moss rivals start to be aware. In the meanwhile in Italy, the first Roma’s meeting of Commission Interministerial estabished by the government make a first view of the new national motor calendar and the concessions, but they turn off the hope for the Mille Miglia to stay in the originale way.
The decision is drastic: no more road races, without any exceptions for the the Bresciana classic race, they can continue to do this, with the same name, only if they change it totally with one of this solution: regularity tests, circuit tests, mix tests. The 1000 km of Buenos Aires valid for the first race of the brands international championship - it was dramatic. In the start Collins got first ahead Musso, but few minutes later the Italian driver had a crash with a Ferrari 3000 drived in private form by the French driver Trintignant. Musso had the worst case: shoulder bruise and a severe steering failure that end up with the abandonment of the race by him. Also Fangio had a dramatic accident in the first few lap. The Argentine driver hits a shelter and damage seriously his Maserati 3000 and had to make a long pit stop. When he came back it’s already beaten so he decide to retire the car. The race continue with Collins first ahead Trips and Moss. At the 100 lap Trips had a puncture, so Moss take the second place. At the 140 lap a dramatic incident take place between the argentine Magnasco, that drive a Maserati, that hits a barrage, hood and it hurts himself in a bad way. The sfortunate driver was taken to the hospital where they find a skull fracture. At the end of the 200 lap Collins had an advantage of over two minutes and at 300 lap Hill gave him the change and in the meanwhile also Gendebien substitute Trips and Behra substitute Moss. At the 400 lap Gendebien overtake Behra; from now till the end the classification will not change, the couple Collins-Hill (Ferrari) win the race, ahead Trips-Gendebien (Ferrari) , then Moss-Behra (Porche) and Drogo-Gonzáles (Ferrari). It seems like the Ferrari victory was easy in the 1000 km of Buenos Aires. The modenese team was ready to interpret the new technician rule, taking the knowledge that Enzo Ferrari build to cover what the buyer ask. The Buenos Aires car was a mix between Testa Rossa with the design of the chassis and the famous Gran Turismo with the 3 L engine, it seems right for solving the problem. That’s how is born the 250 Testa Rossa, an heavy car, powerful, resistant and easy to handle.
For what we seen during this race, we can think that the House of Maranello can win another world championship. At this time only Aston Martin has a 3 L car for challenge Ferrari, but this will happen only in two months, during the 12 hours of Sebring. But now with this 8 point we can think that they will win easily, Collins-Hill were always in the first position during the race undisputed by anyone. The Temporada Argentina will end with the Buenos Aires Grand Prix on Sunday, February 2 1958, even if it will not count for the world championship will had so much interest. The unexpected and extraordinary victory of the Cooper-Climax of Stirling Moss, with the shock of every Italian fan that they see the Ferrari and Maserati cars lose the race from an English modest craft car. There is a mitigating factor: Fangio, when he was first, had to make a pit stop to substitute the posterior tyre because they were on the canvas; Musso was the most brilliant between the Ferrari driver, but he was misguided by the man in the box (that’s what he said after the race), that fails to chase the Copper even if at first it seemed possible. That’s right, but Moss car had some problem with the tyre and the slowdown on the final was caused by this. The truth is that the low weight and an handy car of Cooper-Climax, maneged to compensate the fewer displacement and the power towards the Italian cars, because the layout of this race does not allow other than low speeds. It was not so difficult to think that the CSI during the last meeting in Monte-Carlo, they would have rejected the English protest to recognition the first two race of the Temporada Argentina. It’s also true that a English driver won the most important race. Now they can have their revenge. The condition of the race cannot change so much the competitive powers. In fact this Grand Prix will be divided in two different practice and at the end they will add up the times that will make the official classification; every manche will have 30 laps equal to 140 km. That mean there will be no problem with the tyre like during the Argentine Grand Prix, with a longer number of laps and it could be a point in favor for Fangio and for the drivers of the Italian Cars.
Therefore the layout has also changed, this time is long 4707 m (number 4 of Buenos Aires autodrom), with 17 turn, most of all tight, is slower than the number one where they raced in the Buenos Aires Grand Prix. In the first practice Fangio and Moss were the fastest, like in the first race of the season. Not yet identified the four Ferrari of Musso, Collins, Hawthorn and Trips. Now the Temporada end with the Buenos Aires Grand Prix, that it’s like a final walkway where with the speed of a Formula 1 will parade the protagonists of the first two competition. The speed of the old and the new and the desire of win of many (Fangio will be sorry for not winning in his home Grand Prix) make the wait more lively for the last competition of the Temporada, even if it will not count for the World Championship. Sad note: the argentine Magnasco died at the hospital for the skull fracture reported when the car overturned. For the Italian we heard that Musso condition do not cause concern after having been injured in the shoulder, during the 1000 km. On Sunday, February 2 1958 Juan Manuel Fangio win the Grand Prix of Buenos Aires City. The race start in the afternoon after a strong storm that make the track dangerous. This one is divided in two race each of them of 30 laps. The first one was win by the English driver Hawthorn (Ferrari) ahead of Fangio, Musso and Behra. Musso take the second place at the end. This race was characterized by some frightening incident, luckily without any damage for the drivers. This race had to be a revenge between the Cooper of Stirling Moss and the Italian car: Ferrari and Maserati, after the win of the first one fifteen days later. But the day of the race the challenge end already in the first turn of the first lap, Moss goes off track after a collision with a driver of the bottom, the Sudafrican Iglesias. Moss comes out without a scratch, but for him the race is end. At the 10 lap goes out the track the Australian Ken Kavanagh, he drives a Maserati. During the first race Hawthorn stay first during all the race. In the seventeen lap goes off the track Trips with his Ferrari, after his overtake on Fangio that takes him in second place.
In the second race Hawthorn had a problem in the car and he had the right over Luigi Musso, the only Ferrari driver that maneged to do all 60 laps of the Grand Prix: after the two race we see Fangio largely first. After two race unfortunate Manuel Fangio can give great satisfaction to his audience. This satisfaction all the more applauded can be the last. Because the future of the Argentine driver is not certain after some of the things said in the last period (stops racing, he do not stops, he is searching a car, he is more interesting on Indianapolis, etc.), before the race he declared to the radio Argentina that he is satisfied with his five championship and he will appear not so much and only in the one more interesting. Maybe this desisions was taken also because he can’t find a car so easly: after the waiver of Maserati even if withouth a direct apparition, Fangio bought some of the racing car of them ( in one of them he won the Grand Prix), but in this car there is weight of the year, especially now that Maserati does not had treatment anymore. The last possibility is Ferrari, but they are full, with all young drivers, that in Ferrari can pay less. The race for the win of the championship, by the technician point of view, it’s in favor of Ferrari, whose racing car start to going well. The recent inconvenient with the transmission at Buenos Aires by Collins (2 times) and by Hawthorn, are easily disposable. Maybe are less the rivalry and disagreement that can treated the compactness of the team, where there’s not a driver that can prevail over the other. Despite the under inter-ministerial commission was asked by the govern to sift - the optimism calendar sporty car-motorcycle by the proposal of some appassionate organizers, despite the honorable Spallino, we are going to have a full season of race, of record, of championship. Especially motoring is on the agenda.
After ten days from the end of the Temporada Argentina we are already talking about the next few race: Cuba Grand Prix and, after, the 12 hour of Siebring. All this race in only a mounth or more. The topic of greatest interest is the news about the two win of some mounth ago in Russia by some driver of north-Europa, under the Ferrari wheel. It’s the first time in the history that we know about race with sports car in URSS: until now we only know by some special practice of duration or off road done with some car not specified, maybe militar. It’s certain that in Russia has built record-breaking car between 500 and 1000 cc. It seems like this movement is growing up, it seems also the some of the functionary Sovietic are going to talk with some European Autodrom, so in a future the Russian cars can partecipate to some occidental race. From some English sources we know that Russia start to built a car with the right requirements for the Formula 1. You had to know that some of the German car by the famous Auto Union - built in Zwickau and in Ohnmnits, in the Oriental Germany, twenty years ago - ended up in Russian hands at the end of the war. There are up to a few points of contract from this car and the new one European, but we can’t exclude that study, project or the same technician that they worked directly for the professor Porsche to create the Auto Union, this built the basis for a clamorous official entry of URSS in the Motorsport. In the meanwhile on Saturday, February 22 1958 start the weekend of the Cuba Grand Prix, at Avana. During the practice Fangio make some lap with his Maserati 450S, but there something good:
"In a certain point in Malecon there was a hump on which the car jolted. Well: every time that I put the tyre in the asphalt, the car splashed from one side of the runway, to the other".
After returning to the pits, Fangio asked to Guerino Bertocchi, the mechanich head of Maserati, to control the chassis. We discovered that after a hood of Fangio during Venezuela Grand Prix, while he was driving a Master Gregory, remained deformed, the pace between the right and the left tyre had a difference of 5 cm. In the while they’re trying to rapair the damage, Fangio borrow a 300S of Pago Gioda and he turn in 2'03"2. Better than him was Stirling Moss, who drive a Ferrari 335S of the NART of Chinetti, and Master Gregory with the old 860 Monza of Hohn Edgar. During the practice there is the presence of the dictator Batista with his teenage son. They take them to every box where he wave every driver especially Fangio that he rewarded in the same circuit the year before for his win. During the evening Fangio use his Lancia to go around the little Islands around Cuba, in only few minutes. In a barracks make it, in some way, better there is a party, announced by the general Fernandez Miranda, Minister of Guerra du Baptista. There Marcello Giambartone, Fangio’s manager, was the victim of a joke:
"In the meanwhile I was entering in the great hall pared in celebration, a militar said to me that someone was asking for me. I went to the guardhouse but, probably the other person was tired to wait for me and he dropped the receiver. I go away and I crossed the courtyard and I was going to enter in the hall, when a solemn with two armed soldiers, without make me enter and tell me where I want to go. I was surprised, with calm I told them that I was going to reach the general Fernandez Miranda and Fangio. After this the solemn asked my ducuments. So I show him my passport and I told him that I was Fangio’s manager. Like I never did. With a grin in his happy face: finally we caught you. Cross your hands ahead of the head. Stop, if you don’t want to die ten minutes before the right hours".
Giambartone continue the tell:
"What? I told, but they’re black eyes and round with three submachine gun that they are whatch me too much for making just a little shy reaction. I was dragged to the prisons: we are searching for a long time a spy of Fidel Castro, whose tell everyone to be Fangio’s manager - the solemn explained to me - finally we got you, eh, castrista".
The answer of the Fangio’s manager was weak:
"But I... stammered. Silence - roar the other - take off your necktie and the laces of your shoes. Because I hesitated, he inserted the miter gun magazine, with a left click. After that I start to take off the belt, it came to me a big laugh together whit the one of my tourter. They start to laugh too. I raised my eyes and, from a window with bars, over my head, I saw Fernàndez Miranda, Fangio and all the other friends, that were unhooked".
Than he continues:
"Did you like the joke, Giamba? Said the general Miranda take the hand on his belly for the lot of laugh. Fangio stand near a friends and the other laught too. I played good face to bad play, I start to laugh too, even if I was green, I laugh".
Someone laugh less the year before, two European driver, the Swedish Ulf Norinder and Joakim Bonnier, while they were walking they were approached by a police car with sirens explained. The two, even because they were in a Ferrari, start to play guard and thieves, after a little bit they had to stop in a rail crossing closed where they were blocked, handcuffed and taken to the station. Only after a few hours and with the help of the organaizer of the race, they can go away. But we had to tell that they are both barbito and the activity of the barbutos of Castro created a psicosis.
Monday, February 24 1958 the Cuba Grand Prix, it has to be a joyful day for the entire Island, was stopped only a few minutes after the start, after some anti-government deprives them from major protagonist, Manuel Fangio, who was the probably winner of the race, has been kidnapped on Sunday evening. That never happened, maybe, that sport and politics tied themselves in such a large tangle so dramatic like what happened in the last 24 hours at Cuba. The origin of this incident we had to find it in the internal situation of the island , where the man of Fidel Castro have been engaged “guerrilla” activity against Fulgecio Batista. For making a clamorous gesture, they warned the government and public opinion that they will try to sabotage the entire Grand Prix; in the meanwhile the authorities thinks of a hand shot over the circuit, a rebel patrol kidnapped the world champion Fangio, the most famous sportsman of South America. His kidnapping happened Sunday, February 23 1958, around 6:00 p.m., Fangio was having fun in the hall of the hotel Lincoln, Calle de las Virtudes, in the center of Avana, during the time he was stayng here. In a little while he ended the qualify for the Grand Prix, he finished with the best time and he was the favorite. After the qualify he came back to the hotel. A shower, a tea and few words with his friends in the hall before dinner. The kidnapping happens very fast, by three man not masked but with guns. One of them, the one with the leather jacket, enter in the hall of the hotel, wile Fangio was talking with Nello Ugolini, who rappresents Maserati, Rino Bertocchi, Carlos Gonzàles, Alejandro De Tomaso and Gerino Gerini who said:
"Fangio, Ugolini, Bertocchi and I were talking. With us was also the Fangio’s driver that accompanied him around the city. We were talking about the outcome of the last practice and of some changes that he want to do on the car. We were heading to dinner when a man of small stature, of about 30 years, approached us and talking to the champion, saying: you are the Argentine champion, Fangio? He replied affermative. The man stays with us for few minutes rejoicing for his victories and for us was normal because every weekend some fan came to visit the champions before or after the practice. The stranger make a greeting to Fangio for the race, he wave to us and went out from the hotel. So we return to our conversation about the circuit of Melécón when we hear a rumble from a car and we see a car that stopped right in front of our hotel. From it came out a men, around 40 years old with a large built. At a brisk pace he headed to Fangio’s driver that he was with us and near the door. He pulled out a gun, pointed to the driver, he ordered to raise his arm. We were shocked, we didn’t understand if it was a joke or a robbery attempt".
After that, the kidnapper confess to Argentine driver:
"Senor Fangio, I’m from Movimiento 26 de Julio".
But Fangio answered, with a lie:
"I don’t know it".
With a dry answer, the kidnapper said:
"You had to come with me".
De Tomaso get a step closer like he want to react but the young man, only for a minute, take the gun away from Fangio’s hip only to point it on the group and everyone understand that it was a serious thing. Gerino Gerino continue:
"In the meanwhile the man searched the victim and make sure he was unarmed and leveling with the gun said to us: none has to move. So he started to make some step approaching to Fangio and take him by the arm and continue to said: you, had to come with me. The champion, like us, was sourprised, with a gun pointed on his hip, that he was pushed to the exit and he sent a warning towards to us: trouble if you move. In the same moment another men came out the door and said: if you move this is your end".
At this point he say that the kidnapper wrist was shaking; so to avoid other repercussions he said to this one to scream in the way out the hotel: Vamos.
"No one has to go out the hotel before five minutes. Outside there are five men with submachines gun ready to fire".
And Gerino Gerini end his story with:
"Only in this moment we realized that this wasn’t a joke, but this was a business that I don’t want to qualify. We are in a place where the opposition to the government manifests itselfs with act of violence".
The hotel staff, the other drivers and the clients that was in the hall, were shocked, and the one who assisted to the Fangio’s kidnapping without bearing able to react. A mate of the kidnapper controll the door. Under the armed threat, the Argentine reach him with big step and he enter in the car that was outside the hotel. Juan Manuel Fangio will said that he was taken to “Sierra Maestra” (a mountain zone where it was the guerrilla) with calm:
"We exit the door, we’ve done 30 m and, after we turned the angle, there was a car. I think they don’t have only one car, because we don’t start alone. They make me enter in a black Plymouth. It was the model of 1947".
In the Playmounth there were two mans, one under the wheel and another next to, whith a submachine pointed against him. Fangio explained that it was uneccesary because he wouldn’t go anywhere. The three believed him but they explained that the danger was another:
"If they discovered us and they shot us we had too".
Fangio asked for a hat, a pair of glasses or something that make him unrecognizable, but they didn’ think about this so they don’t have anything. So Fangio decide to curl up to the seat like he can, but after that another car stop in the back of a building. Everyone to the ground and in the fire escape, up to an appartment where there is a woman and a kid:
"There is another person maybe sick or injured, in the next room. The woman asked me a autograph for her son. I had to add the date? It could be very useful for us, she answered".
Then again we go with a different car in a another house. We stop for 30 minutes and we change another car and house. A beautiful house in a residential district of Avana, El Vedado. When we get inside, he feel a tension between the person, but with only a joke the climete melts:
"You had to congrats whit my kidnapper because he has done a flawless work".
After he saw that everyone became relaxed, he said:
"I whish they let me eat something...".
The oldest one, the owner of the house, propose to him eggs and French fries. In the homeland of the house, Fangio start to eat with his kidnappers, that they haven’t eat too. And here he understand the reason of the kidnapping and also that they will not ask for the ransom for his liberty. Carlos Franqui will write:
"The kidnapping of Juan Manuel Fangio, world champion, the February 23 1958, from the militias of Movimiento 26 de Julio of Avana, had repercussions in a mondial level. Fangio said that he was treated well. The audacity of this blow wasn’s cencured by the Cuban press and this made a national scandal that make weakens the regime".
On Sunday evening, while Fangio was taken to the second floor in a comfortable bed, in the city happened the chaos. Few minutes after, the hotel hall was full of people who scream to make alarm to the Italian. The sports manager was warmed and also the companion of Fangio, that were on the same hotel Lincoln. Marcello Giambertone, Fangio’s manager, who find everyone paralyzed, after knowing what happened call the personal number of Fernàndez Miranda, who answer immediately:
"General, someone kidnapped Fangio. It’s arrived a man with a revolver, here, in the hall of the hotel Lincoln and...".
The general stop Giambertone with a laugh:
"Ah, they kidnapped him, eh? Well, they took him with a flying saucer or on a white horse?"
Answer the general, thinking it was a joke, but Gianbertone admonishes him:
"In the name of god, General, it’s the truth. A young man and dark and slender, kidnapped him in the hall of the hotel Lincoln".
The general continues to laugh, add to a click that end the call, because he was thinking that was a joke, like an answer to the one made to Giambertone, of the day before. Only after when someone else talked to him about the kidnapping he believed it. In the hotel arrives the police to talk with the one who were there, in the meanwhile they start to search the champion in the neighborhoods around the hotel, sure they were hiding near the hotel, in one of friendly house, a long trip could be dangerous. The first policeman arrived and he talked to the person that were staying in the tight Calle Virtudes, where the hotel is placed. The newspaper seller said that, before the kidnapping, a man poorly dressed, was around the hotel Lincoln, lying about the fact he was drunken and being a fan of Fangio. The telephone operator of the hotel, said that during the day arrived some calls from unknown persons, they want to know if it was true that the Argentine drivers Fangio and Mieres, and the French driver Jean Behra, were staying in the hotel. Few minutes after the kidnapping in the name of Movimiento 26 de Julio, they let us know that was a challenge against Batista government, and also that nothing will happen to him, and it will be released after the start of the race.
"We are from Movimiento 26 de Julio. Tonight at 6:00 p.m., we kidnapped Manuel Fangio".
At first, in the editorial offices of the journals think that it was a bad joke, but right after there was the confirmation that was true. The police, at first, has tried to keep the secret, but then they announced the add of some checkpoints along the streets, around the city and at the airport. Ernesto Azua, the race director, with an anxiety attack goes in each hotel to control that every driver were there. Between this, there is also Moss, that was indicated like one of the possible target of Movimiento 26 de Julio. Since the first few hours the police said that there is not any danger for Fangio and the kidnapping was organized by the rebels of Fidel Castro only for upset a sport event that make interest in the population of the capital. Not later of Saturday, the president Batista made the greeting for the winner to Manuel Fangio. In the meanwhile, under advice of Ugolini, Giambertone with De Tomaso went to a television studio and in front of the cameras play the card of the motion of the affections.
"Fangio is a friend for the Cuban people. He is not involved in the last politician thing. In the name of his mother and of his Andreina, we want to ask to the people who kidnapped him not to hurt him in the name of sport and to let him free. It could be a gesture that everyone appreciate".
Monday, February 24 1958 just woke up, read the newspaper about his kidnapping, taken by them with the breakfast. In this moment Fangio make the acquaintance of Fausto Pérez, chief executive of Movimiento 26 de Julio at Avana, the mind of the kidnapping.
"I can see that you are organized".
Said Fangio and asked to tell to his family that he is okay and it will not happen nothing to him. Fausto promises and delivers. Add also that it was organized already by the year before, but they didn’t do anything because the day before the race, after the practice, Fangio was absent.
"Yes, I went to the cinema, I watched a film of Gary Cooper".
In the meanwhile, the director of National Commission of Sports, the general Roberto Fernanden de Miranda, the brother in loss of the president Batista, after stigmatizing with hot word the rebel, announced that the race will take place. The abcence of Fangio made Moss the favorite for the win, with the first price of 10.000 $. Between the Italian competitors like Perdisa, Scarlatti and Piotti, there’s also the diplomatic Porfirio Rubirosa. The Cuban, taken by the atmosphere of the Grand Prix, when they discovered about the kidnapping of Fangio, had a sensation that they never had even after attacks and hand strikes of the months before. By over a year the followers of Fidel Castro are trying to provoke te fall of the government of Batista. Most of this are made in the hiding place in the mountain of Fidel Castro, in the province of El Oriente. Act of sabotage, explosion and crop fire in the 14 mounths before. Also for the political stakes, the government want to find where Fangio is taken before the race. Thousands of man, soldiers and policeman, start to visit some of the suspicious houses, road, ports and airports; they made some checkpoints and flying patrols; they arrested some of alleged accomplices of kidnapper. In the meanwhile every driver had armed escort, because it seems like they want to kidnapping some other champions, and they will try to take the English Stirling Moss (even if there is no confirmation).
The 16 hours of search there wasn’t enough to find Fangio. None has never fear for world champion: his brother and the business agent of the athlete, Manuel Montes, had reassurance from the rebel and can make the family of the Argentine stay calm, in Buenos Aires, while the kidnapping increases the interest for the race. Right before the 2:00 p.m., 6 km around the circuit there were over 100.000 persons. Ugo Ugolini remember:
"To prove that the castristi didn’t make fail the manifestation, Batista made sell the ticket with a less cost and also someone entered gratis, so they can stay also in the most dangerous place".
The intern minister take measures to commute that every attempt of sabotage of the race it became a suicide, according to the authorities. The army control the street of enter at the circuit, so it could happened in different point, supervising every driver and the car. At the box there is a clime of nervousness and stress. After the 2:00 p.m., it runs the voice that Fangio will be released, they make him let get out a car in a crossroads of the capital. Immediately police and journalists went to that place, in the while the race stewards postponed the start. But Fangio was not seen and with 2 hours late 27 cars can starts. The French Trintignant drives in the Maserati of the world champion, but the Jaguar retire their car. The race has to have 90 laps. At the end of the first one, the English Stirling Moss was in front, after the forced rinuncetion of Fangio. The very serious accident happened during the 3 lap, near a turn. The car went to stop against the base of the gru from construction, 15 m from the street, avoiding worst consequences. While the ambulances take injured and the wounded, are prepared, the organizers make first slowly and then made them stop. The Grand Prix was canceled. In the first moment it seems like this was caused by sabotage act made by the rebel of Fidel Castro, who were between the crowd. Also the driver Stirling Moss, the Grand Prix winner because was first when the race was stopped, said that there were some strange spots of oil.
"I asked also to the other driver and they said there’s no car who lost oil. The race was stopped after the accident. But I think it will not last however, because we already think to retire because it was difficult to control the car. In some turn there was a veil of oil to the asphalt, I don’t understand why".
However two hours later the authorities deny any sabotage and they give the first dramatic balance of this tragedy: four death and twenty-eight seriously injured, one of those was the driver Cifuentes, in disperdete condition (the doctors had to cut off his legs, crushed by the scary incident), and other less injured. At this point Fangio is not released again. In the Villa del Vedado the kidnappers asked to him if he want to hear the chronicle of the race, but Fangio doesn’t want to know anything about it. After a while they told him about the incident, so he decide to turn on the television to watch recorded immagine, by the instinct he say to them:
"With this kidnapping you made me a favor".
About the suspension of the race with consequences of the win of Stirling Moss, it was the right decision. The crowd had invaded the circuit; even if it didn’t happen, the race would have been stopped because the driver doesn’t want to continue cause of the danger. During the evening Fangio and his kidnapper think how to carry out the release. In the street it was impossible cause of a possible meeting with Batista’s man with the consequences of a firefight. Fangio refuses of doing it in a church, so he asked to deliver him to the Argentine Ambassador. So they accept and two girls went to the embassy - besieged by journalist and camera - to decide how to operate. The appointment was for 0:30 a.m. After a little while Fangio was in a car with 4 armed man, two boy and two girls, in his pocket has two letter: one for himself and one for the ambassador where the kidnappers declare that they don’t have anything against Fangio, and that they’ve done this only for an internal question of the state and they apologize. The car stopped in suburban neighborhood and near a big condominium. The five rise up until the seven or eight floor and knock the door where there was the embassy functionary that in this momentum was in Buenos Aires. There’s no one in there. After some moments of panic the ambassador Raul Guevara Lynch whit his secretary Julio Lopez, goes down the superior landing where he was with some panic, taking the delivering hostage. The warriors apologize e goes away, in the night.
Tuesday, February 25 1958 Juan Manuel Fangio was let free by the rebel who kidnapped him on Sunday evening. The champion was taken to the Argentine embassy at board of a car by not identified person, that let him go around the 0:30 a.m. Fangio asked to the ambassador to call a press agency for let them know about his release, to reassure his family understandably in distress, his mother, his partner Andreina, his son Oscar, his brothers, his sisters and his friends. Around 1:00 a.m., the embassy secretary Julio Lopez will said to the journalist that he wasn’t mistreated and that he was in a good state of health. This news was a breath of air for public opinion. The news of the liberty of Fangio made a huge interest at Cuban capital, who had trembled for his fate. The Argentine embassy was assault by the press because they want all the detail so they decide to do a press conference, where Fangio tell his emotional experience with his usual cold calm, the five times world champion said:
"I had to say that I can’t identify my kidnappers in the case I have to confront with one of the arrested sospect in this episode".
A journalist asked if they blindfolded him, Fangio answered:
"No, they threatened me with fairness".
So they were blindfolded? Asked the journalist, but the driver preferred not to answer to this, let them understand that he wasn’t enterested to the political reasons to kidnapping him. But what they said? What was their excuse?
"I’m not interested in their motivation and I didn’t care about what they said when they talked about politics. I’m a driver and I was thinking about the Grand Prix that I can’t partecipate. I was thinking to my wife that I can’t call that she hasn’t to worried about me and soon I can hug her. My kidnappers excuse me, with big effusions, about the strange episode where I was the protagonist. When I understand that they didn’t want to hurt me, I told to myself that I had to wait patiently until they decide to let me free. I’ve seen other things during my career. I wasn’t in danger. I didn’t hear them talking about a reward".
So You didn’t recognize them? Even the two who kidnappers you Sunday evening when you were talking to the Italian technicians ?
"How could I recognize them?"
Fangio answered with so much calm:
"I never see them. I only remember that I was transferred three times in different place at Avana and between the person there were also two girls".
You will return next year for the Cuban Grand Prix at Avana?
"Obviovsly and I hope I will win the race".
The driver don’t want to dramatize what happened and he doesn’t want to make judgement about the rebel of Fidel Castro. He only said:
"If they’ve done this for a good case I can justify them for what they’ve done to me. But has I already said i’m not interested in politics. More than at what they said I was paying attention to the race that I was listening at the radio. That was terrible".
In the other place, that’s how it is treated the kidnapping according to the Argentine console:
"An unknown person, around the 9:30 p.m, at the telephon said at our embassy that they will let Fangio free. We agreed to left Fangio in a house where we give the address and where we were gonna go later. Around the 11:00 p.m we went to the place agreed where we saw Fangio with a big smile when he saw us. We take the champion to the embassy and then to the house of the Ambassador to make him stay more comfortable during the first night of freedom".
February 25 1983, twenty-five years later, Juan Manuel Fangio will be delivered to him this letter:
"For the 25ª anniversary of yours historical meeting with the Movimiento 26 de Julio, we remember this in friendly way and we wish health and welfare. This episode as patriotic detention, helped, with yours noble attitude and your right comprension, to the cause of our people, who feel for you simphaty and in their name we want to greet you at the end of the quarter of a century. We are waiting to have you back in Cuba, your friends kidnappers".
Signed from Arnold Rodriguez and Faustino Pérez, your kidnappers in February 1958, now as the Minister of Abroad Business of Cuba. Forgotten the fear of the kidnapping of the Argentine Champion, on Saturday March 22 1958 starts in Florida the 12 hours of Sebring, the second race of the championship of sports car. The most interesting part was the technical-competitive during the battle between the Italian Ferrari and the English houses of Aston Martin, Jaguar and Lister, it was the first time that they battle after the recently limitetion to 3 L of maximum displacement. The Sebring circuit had international significance and it’s the most difficult circuit that we know. The length is 8368 m and with strength and curve segments, most of the time tight. The speed for lap does not exceed the 148-149 km/h, the record of the race was made by Fangio and Behra on a Maserati 4500, just a little further of 137 km/h. Here the Italian car of the couple: Musso-Gendebien, Hawthorn-Trips and Collins-Hill, will have a difficult time and, according to the practice, from the two Aston Martin subscribe: the first one in the hand of the two drivers of the Vanwall Formula 1: Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks, the other one by Salvadori and Shelby. Aston Martin turns out to be fearsome on busy circuit, like we remember last year when they won the 1000 km of Nurburgring. Maybe the less fierce was the Jaguar that everyone talks very well. Interesting the debut of the two Indianapolis drivers: Ed Crawford and Pat O’Connor. At 11:00 p.m., seventy five cars starts the 12 hours old Sebring, a severe race for the characteristic of the circuit that leaves respite, where the mechanical means are subjected to constant speed changes and retake, the most attractive part is the attack done by the English car to the Ferrari, that after the first manche of the championship (1000 km of Buenos Aires at January) is first.
The twelve cylinder of Maranello, made by the new rule of the sports car, that prescribe the maximum displacements of 3000 cc, had an excellent yields, the general characteristics made them for a variety of us, they can be used in every type of circuit, for totalize the entire amounts of point in the six race of the champioship. Even if in this case there is the danger that can came out the car more suitable on this or in another one, so it could stand out his superiority that it’s only contingent. This is worth it for everyone like Jaguar, unbeatable in Le Mans, poor in the other. We are not saying this only for take the hand in front in case of a defeat for Ferrari at Sebring, only to warn in case of future judgements. For speak objectively we had to say that the English cars improved very much in the last two years, continue the progressively tecnico offensive start in the 1957 when Vanwall had the dominance in Formula 1. In other terms we can say that we had to wait for another attacked in another field where the Italian builders were at pure avant-guarde. The 12 hours of Sebring can told us who can be in battle for the brands title between the English coalitions and the Ferrari. After the practice we can say that the major danger for Ferrari is Aston Martin or more precisely the one drived by Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks. After the practice we can see a balance between the two English drivers, that could be with every chance, again the number one and the number two of Vanwall of Formula 1 in one hand and in the other the Ferrari drivers, Hawthorn, Collins and Luigi Musso. The Sebring circuit put to the test the breaks, at this point it seems that Aston Martin has the most superior disc brakes, that compensate the little superiority of the Ferrari engines. Good impression was made by the new Jaguar, but they has the unknown about the long distance. If the winner will be of a 3 L, between the sixty-five cars, for the performance index ranking there are a lot of cars, particularly the Porche 1500 or 1600, the Lotus and Elva (both English car) of 1100 and 1500 cc, the Osca 150 and 1100, the French D.B, 150 and, why not, the Fiat-Abarth, that drives for the category Gran Turismo and Sport.
By the technical point of view, the participation of the Italian cars, has the mechanic base to the most popular 600, it’s the most interesting things of the 12 hours of Sebring. At the start Stirling Moss take the lead and at the end of the first hour it’s first in front of his teammate Shelby. The British driver, had the top speed before the end of the second hour, with the record of 3’20”8 (that before was of Behra: 3’24”5) and after a while another one with the time of 3'20"0. At the end of the second hours Moss was always first, but the Ferrari of Collins and Hawthorn follow him threatening. Because of the very fast pace, already after of the half an hour the Jaguar of Scott and Crawford get deleted from the race: the first one caused by an accident with the Ferrari of Gendebien, the second one for the break of the cylinder. After a while also the Jaguar of the American Hansgen and the Scottish Sanderson had to retire their car. The one of Moss and Brooks it’s always first also after the third and the fourth hour, always heeled by the Ferrari of Collins and Hawthorn. But after the Aston Martin of Collins has to do a pit stop, the Ferrari of Collins and Hill goes first at the end of the fifth hour. In the meanwhile the American Flynn was seriously injured, that he has to be hospitalized. The car of Moss has to stopped again for a problem with the differential and so he lost also the second place, until the clamorous retire. After the sixth hour the Ferrari were in the first four place. The position will stay like this also after the seventh, eighth and ninth hour of race. In the meanwhile also the Porche of Behra has to retire. It ends with a glorious victory for Ferrari during the 12 hours of Sebring, second test of the Sportscar World Championship for sport’s car. Ferrari classify in the first two absolute places with the couple Collins-Hill and Musso-Gendebien,the little and miraculous OSCA win the performance index rankings (with a formula that use the distance traveled with the displacement of the engines, so you get the relative performance).
In the ranking, over the victory of Collins-Hill and of the OSCA - this one with the spouses Alessandro and Isabella De Tomaso - respectively in the class 3000 and 750 sport, we had to record other Italian victory: the OSCA 1500 of the Americans Stetson-Beck in the 1500 sport; the Ferrari GT of O’Shea-Kessler in the 3000 Gran Turismo; the Alfa Romeo Giulietta S.V. of Van Beuren-Velasquez in the 1300 Gran Turismo and at the end also the Fiat Abarth of the class 750, also in the category of Gran Turismo. There is strange contact point between the 12 hours of Sebring and the Mille Miglia, concerns the total distance. The race Bresciana, they had to follow 1600 km approximately, therefore 1000 mile; at Sebring the winners, Collins and Hill on Ferrari, made 200 miles, it means 1673 km, a little beat more, but with same order of greatness. The big difference is between the averege-record, for the Mille Miglia is 157.650 km/h, in the American race is 139.466 km/h. We had to think that the fist time in the Italian race was made by Stirling Moss in 1955 in a Mercedes of 3000 cc and in Sebring with a Ferrari with the same displacement it’s evident that the Mille Miglia allows, or allowed, faster speeding in a circuit because it’s more similar to normal roads. They were not unjustified the concerns about the expensive enter this cars into the traditional layout of the Mille Miglia that with their power they use is usually in other circuit. So the win of Ferrari at Sebring make concrete the development of the last twelve month. The last year the race was won by Fangio-Behra in a Maserati 4500; now the Ferrari has won in the same timing and with twenty five km more and with raising average speed from 137.7 to 139.4 km/h. Also if with only a engine of 3 displacement, demonstration that this year the sports engine has not curbed the speed possibilities. Ferrari also consolidated the first place in world ranking of brands with 16 points, Porsche, who has limited possibilities with a car of 2 L, was ahead with 8 points.
The third one was the Lotus, with two point made thank to the beautiful race of his 1100 in Florida. Then no one. At Sebring the Jaguar and the Lister has made a lean figure. Better was Aston Martin of Moss-Brooks, that were first after five hours, with the fastest lap - and new record of the circuit - over 160 km/h of average. But the start has compromised his thightness toghe long run. That was also the best weapon of Ferrari. The road to complete the championship it’s long, but the glorious Scuderia Ferrari has made a big mortgage to the 1958 title. But in general we can say that where they were present they have established themselves and that’s very important, we had to remember that this race is a lot followed in USA, where the European car, in this years, has a great market (that opened the road for the amount of utility cars of series, more and more requested). After the first seasonal signs, the situations goes to take shape more precise contours. In the field of Formula 1, is confirmed that Vanwall will partecipate to the principal Grand Prix of the famous British single-seaters, after the hardworking transformation of the engine that seemed to go wrong. By the sport’s point of view after the retire of Maserati and an eventual abstention from racing by the car of Anthony Vandervell, could make empty the Grand Prix and with less competitive interest, less than B.R.M. Became so terrible like Jean Behra ( with Harry Shell) said in a recent interview with a French journal. The interest could be insured by the fight between the Italian Ferrari and the English Vanwall and B.R.M. ( in some race also the Cooper can be inserted). You will see a first warning during the Siracusa Grand Prix, at April 13 1958 where there is probably the absence for the Vanwall, who can prefere to came back for the Monaco Grand Prix at May 18 1958, for the second race of the constructor championship. It whispers, if it’s real it would make a lot of noise in this world. The argument was about the Russian and the contacts with the sports managers with the English organizers.
This one make an invitation for the Russian to partecipate at the Goodwood Grand Prix, April 7 1958, with their own car. It seems possible even if the English man doesn’t confirmed yet, but this could be a historical moment. It’s true that the Russian had one car realized by the Formula 1 rules, that is the Karkov 6, that we only know had an engine of 6 cylinder of 2498 cc. With a special aerodynamics bodywork, the Kharkov drived by Vassily Nikitin, decorated by hero medal of the sport of URSS, recently wrought in a highway of the Crimea the international record (not verifiable, cause Russia is not affiliated with the international automobile federation) on the 10 km, with stand start, for Class D (from 2000 to 3000 cc), with an average of 256.228 km/h. On purpose of Vassily Nikitin, it’s considered the best driver of the Sovietic Union, it can be significant: in the occasion of the matched between Italia-URSS of Basket, in February in Milan, Nikitin was in Italy like a tourist, he take this opportunity to go to visit the Monza's Autodrome, where he make a few laps under the wheel of a Giulietta Sprint. Another fact of interest is Fangio, from some month, almost a day for week, the newspaper and agency write about some statements about the world champion. This news were always contrasting, we had reason to doubt about the truth of this news. Fangio is not the type who talks a lot. But it’s difficult to know the true intentions. A month ago he had to met Omer Orsi, in Italy, to define the agreements about the staging of a special Maserati. But he wasn’t there. But there was his manager and attorney Marcello Giambertone. So he will race again with Maserati but maybe only in a few race (it seems the most trusted version about the Fangio’s future). About Indianapolis there is a thing that is true. A month ago he tried at the circuit a Kurtis Kraft-Offenhauser, like Indianapolis. At first glance he obtained almost the same time of the local racing drivers, even if he never drived a car like this before. Anyway we can explained this like a will to a future participation to the 500 miles of Indianapolis.
About the 500 miles, we begins to talk about Monza that is on schedule for the end of June. Last year aroused several controversies about the attitude of the European drivers and Fangio, it end like an American rodeo. The next time Ferrari will partecipate to win the constructors prize, 50.000.000 lire put up for grabs by Italian Club Car, the rules is that the prize was assigned to the Italian houses that has more point after five races, including the mandatory one, the Italian Grand Prix and the 500 miles of Monza. From America, we get back in Europe and soon at full power. Already between Sunday and Monday there was a large series of races, between Pau and Goodwood. At Goodwood the Ferrari 6 cylinder of Mike Hawthorn win in front of B.R.M. and Cooper, showing efficiency and mechanical parts sealing failure by the English car, like the B.R.M. of Behra, with a brilliant start, ended by an accident in the street. Ferrari seems the Formula 1 car more prepared and with the most possibilities to win the world tittle. Against the last affirmations, it seems like the Vanwall didn’t get over the technical problem for the transformations of the engine to a function of commercial fuel. At Pau, Trintignant won the race for Formula 2 cars (engines of 1500 cc), with a Cooper-Climax, that continue to be on the agenda for his miracolouse possibilities, thinking about the modest means of the British team and the extreme semplicity of construction of the car that they build. The Cooper can be used as a Formula 1 or a Formula 2 only changing the Climax engine, that it’s the same in both case, but in the first one the displacement is greater with 2080 cm^3. Winner in Buenos Aires with Moss, beat the Ferrari at Goodwood, we will see our Cooper-Climax in the Siracusa Grand Prix, in a layout not indicated for their cars that, talking about speed, their not so good. They hoped that the race recall, like in the past, a big numbers of starter (last year make his first appearance the Vanwall with impression end Moss made the new record for lap).
Instead the starting field is modest: removed Luigi Musso the only rappresentive of Scuderia Ferrari, partecipate drivers are not in the foreground: Scarlatti (Maserati), Cabianca (OSCA Formula 2), Smith (Cooper-Climax), Richardson (Connaught), Gould (Maserati), Seidel (Maserati), Gregory (Maserati), Bonnier (Maserati), Creus (Maserati), Godia (Maserati), Testut (Maserati), Maria Teresa De Filippis (Maserati), Kavanagh (Maserati). It’s obviously that the favorite one is Musso, taking count the diversity between their cars. In Sunday, April 13 1958 as expected Luigi Musso take a brilliant victory, in the circuit of the Madonnina long 5500 m. A lot of people came to the race (lot of English, from Malta): there are counted 100.000 spectators. Musso clearly wins, not only stays first from the start to the end but also he lapped everyone, also the Swedish Bonnier who was classified second. Also in this day it opens the Monza's Autodrome for the interest practice for the Italian championship for sports cars. After the veto of the races in street, the car races in Italy had to channel into criteria more right for the time, the competitive activities it will be carried out exclusively in the appropriate locations. Monza until now was reserved only for few important events, but it’s ideal for every type of race. Enter in the idea that it’s not derating racing in a layout with car that used to race in street; the wheel sport, in Italy, can be solved from the actual crisis. In the Trofeo Shell-Monza (this is the the name of the practice) we’ll see the first seasonal comparison between the cars of 750, 1100, 1500 and 2000 displacement. The race consist in four run: two for the 750 and other two for the other class, who will race grouped. The ranking will be made by the sum of times. It’s a formula that was already tried with success, because consent possibilities of recoveries and with a long interest. Between the subscribe - a total of thirty-eight drivers - there will be also some famous one like Gino Munaron in a Ferrari 2000 (official designed by the Modenese house), Bordoni (Maserati 2000), Cortese (Ferrari 2000), Ruffo (Maserati 2000), Monti and Fiotti (OSCA 1500), Scarfiotti, Poltronieri, Manfredini.
In Great Britain, where the Motorsport is very flourishing, where excellent driver came out from a intense track activity: it could be a good way also in Italy? Only the time can say it. In the meanwhile four Sovietic journalists, the gentlemen Gladischlkov of Iavestla, Ermakovof Pravda, Petrov of the radio and Novikov from the Agenzia dei Tassi, came to Monza for the Trofeo Shell. Stocky and serious, the four journalist challenge the flood of warter to visit carefully the sistem of the race track. Then they went to the race direction, where the Italian journalists came to shelter from the cold, they make the presentation and follows with attention the race. With the interpreter, they talked with the Italian journalists that they asked if this visit it’s related to the possibility to see a Russian driver in a car during the 500 miles of Monza, in the end of June, like someone was saying. But the four shrug their shoulders, only saying that it could be interesting, but probably we will talk only in few years. The car racing of URSS had different caracteristic from the European one and their car were made to break record. It’s possible that this could change when they will enter in this world, but in some years. But their presence it’s not casual. In the weekend the news from Modena it’s interesting in the automotive environmental, where in the last period rumors that were circulating were desperate news about Maserati. About that, Saturday April 12 1958 the commendatore Orsi said that the company, from April 1 1958 it’s under controlled administration, but they’re working very hard to cope with the numerous orders of sports cars and Gran Turismo, mostly by the foreign market. On Sunday April 20 1958, two weeks after he retired the new Ferrari 250 GT so much desired and with a symbolic price, Collins made paint the car with the green, also he decide to leave with Louis his manor in Maranello, made available by Ferrari, to move in Monte-Carlo, on Mipooka; gesture not appreciated by Ferrari, that from this moment they start to change their attitude towards this guy that he threaded like his child.
Two weeks after, Sunday April 27 1958, millions of people watched around the Posillipo circuit the fifteen edition of the Napoli Grand Prix. The first race of the program, reserved to the cars until the 1600 cc, won easily by Cabianca on OSCA. The reckless driver since the start got first heeled by Piotti in second position. In a little while the two lapped everyone, but every attempt of Piotti to resist to Cabianca it has a short duration , around the ten laps, had to stopped at the box for a mechanical problem and had to lost a lot of seconds. At five laps to the end, the race was almost finished: but, Piotti was trying the impossible, he goes out the track, without any wounds. From now the race is a monologue of Cabianca. In the race reserved to the 2000 sport, Musso in a Ferrari 2000 it get first at the start, gaining advantage every lap. The only one that tryied to resist to him was Bonnier on Maserati. When it seems certain his win Musso had to make a pit-stop. It restart after few seconds but Bonnier was already first. Musso after he can’t catch the winner, caused of his mechanical means and fought like he wants, so he retired and make Bonnier win. With the end of April, in May it restart the Motorsports restart, with a few important races, that will end with Monaco Grand Prix. It started with the classic Dayly Express Trophy, raced Saturday May 3 1958 with the most important practice - the Formula 1 race - dominated by the Ferrari of Peter Collins. The new car of Maranello, has already complete the delicate development and it’s perfectly fine, ready to sostain the bump of the English car, that the big unknown was made by the Vanwall. At Silverstone, the Collins victory was easy, even if at the start the B.R.M. of Behra made worried the driver of Scuderia Ferrari, before he had to stopped for thirty second at the box caused of a stone in his glasses (but also for a mechanical problem). Both Collins and Behra made the fastest lap. It shows that when Ferrari it goes well, the B.R.M. it’s an uncomfortable opponent even if they were still fragile.
As usual the Cooper makes a good impression, arriving second with Roy Salvadori just twenty four second from Collins, even if the layout of Silverstone was not so suitable to the features of the little English car. That is contrary to what we think, they had an engines of only 2000 cc, as the engines of 2200 cc will be mounted only in the Monaco Grand Prix, where this car could be fearsome. In that Cooper, Moss must be withdrawn for a problem with the gear, that seems the weak point of this car. The Vanwall was not there, but there will be racing in the Monegasque circuit. It states that the problem of the petrol engine avio are outdated, with the blend. Recently during a testing in Silverstone, Tony Brooks would have recorded a time slightly higher to the 2’18"0, so two second less then the official time realized on Saturday by Collins and Behra. Between the Ferrari, Vanwall, B.R.M. - and maybe also the Cooper - there will be a big battle in Monte-Carlo. A right interest was for the uphill runs at Monte Pernaso, in Greece, for the European Championship of the mountain, won by Trips in a Porsche 1500, ahead of Hermann and Cabianca in a Borgward. But it’s also waited the return of Umberto Maglioli, for the first race after the painful accident of the last summer. The Biellese driver was classified like six with a Porsche, that it’s considered a good result, if we considered the long absence from racing, the training summary and the psicological difficulty. But Maglioli cannot take part of the Targa Florio but he hoped to return to racing soon. This race take the next Sunday's race schedule. The glorious race it’s at his forty-second edition, being the oldest race of the one disputed. This one in the past had a great resonance, even if they recovered they had to face great difficulties. Last year, when they have been humiliated from the other with pure regularity. Now they had for the second time a good recognition, they’ve been chosen to be the third practice of the world championship of sports car, in substitutions of the Mille Miglia. The participation of drivers and brands, large, like we can expected.
There will the big team, full, of Ferrari with four cars and eight drivers (Musso, Collins, Hawthorn, Trips, Gendebien, Hill, Munaron and Seidel), an a Aston Martin with Moss and Brooks, the Porsche with Jean Behra and Von Hanstein, like first drivers, three OSCA 1500 that will exchange Cabianca, Colin Davis, Luciano Mantovani and De Tomaso. Then numerous Ferrari and Maserati of private, and a cloud of Gran Turismo of disparate models. In the meanwhile in Sicily everyone eyes were on the Targa Florio, in the Sunday May 11 1958 (even if Ferrari will not win, his huge advantage is unbridgeablein for the other cars in the classification of the sports cars), the interest ignited is for the Monaco Grand Prix of the May 18 1958, where it will be the glorious match between cars and drivers, with Ferrari, Vanwall, B.R.M., Maserati and Cooper with the best drivers of the world, eccept for Fangio that will be in Indianapolis. At the Monegasca race - the second practice of the constructors championship - the subscribers were nineteen, even the six Italian: Musso, Scarlatti, Gerini, Taramazzo, Fiotti and Maria Teresa De Filippis. An ace the first, a medium level the second, the other are enthusiastic drivers. Surprising the name of the girl, that was not unknown in the automotive field. Teresa De Filippis, Napoletana of twenty-nine years old, raced in a lot of season, she started with a 750 sport and then with a 2 L Maserati. The last leapwith a Formula 1 car recently: the Siracusa Grand Prix, with a fifth place. She had every cards on the table, to take place in a world championship Grand Prix between the European drivers? Fortunately there is no doubt. There will be few objections, not for anti-feminist spirit, but for the difficulties specialists of the layout. Like we know the city circuit of Monte-Carlo is the less suitable for the Formula 1 cars. The main road is narrow, between raised sidewalks, dangerous e the exit of the tunnel and the take the short straight along the seafront, following the famous turn of the Tabaccaio, theater of two spectacular incident (in the 1935 and in the 1950).
In the 1955 in Monte-Carlo, the off the road and the flight into the sea of Alberto Ascari, in 1957 a mess of cars with Moss, Hawthorn and Collins. In short, a terrible circuit, fortunately slow, because the concequences can be worst. Why they continue to racing there, is another things. In short this is a layout only for experienced drivers. It’s easy to make mistakes, especially during the fase of overtake. The organizers decide to enlarge the circuit from twelve to sixteen meters along the marina, but the characteristics of the circuit ramain the same. For this reason for someone De Filippis has not enough experience to stay in this environment, in the middle of the professionist drivers. That’s not mean that she doesn’t drive well indeed it is very skilful. But it’s the inevitably the lack of harmony with a Formula 1 car and with the surly environment of the Grand Prinx to start to think about the adventure of Maria Teresa. That is not impossible that she can qualify himself in the first sixteen drivers accepted to the race: the supernumerary places were only three and some defection are inevitable. Also the Maserati of the De Filippis it’s well prepared and about the quality of the girl there’s nothing to say. There’s something else to worry about, maybe was about the fact that the the presence of a woman is not frequent in a world of reckless polishes. So good luck Maria Teresa.
In the while that everyone was waiting for the Monaco Grand Prix, Friday May 9 1958 in Sicily, an amateur driver Sergio Der Stepanian, a subscribe of the Targa Florio, was badly injured in a car accident to the straight of Ronfornello, during a practice to the circuit. At first his conditions were severe but they hoped to save him. The accident happened in the National 113 Palermo-Messina, at the 40 km. Dear Stephanian lost his car and hits a wall at a high speed. Collected among the wreckage of the car – with the number 50, the unfortunate Torinese driver was taken to the civic hospital of Termini Imerese. In addition to a concussion, the driver has fracture and wounds in some body part. Der Stephanian started from the box at 7:30 a.m. to make an exam of the circuit of the Madonie where it will take place the race, valid for the championship of cars sport. His second, Antonino Maccheroldo, was in a point of the circuit to timing Der Stepanian. At some point when Maccheroldo doesn’t seems his mate he get a car and go around the layout when at the km 40 of the statal 113, in a stretch of the straight of Campofelice, he saw outside the road, in the middle of a wheat field, the Ferrari reduced to scrap metal. At this point we know from two farmer that, at 8:15 a.m., that came from the straight of Campofelice, with an high speed, from Cefalù. Suddenly, came out from a country path a truck full of sand that was doing maneuver on the highway. Der Stephanian had to widen to extreme left in an attempt to avoid the collision with the heavy vehicle, but he can’t avoid the concrete bridge, going off road for over fifty meters and remaining lifeless among the wreckage:
"We saw a big cloud in the street and then we heard a great roar. We run to the place where the fuss had arisen. In a harder, fifty meters from the roadside, there was a red racing car overturned. We saw the driver lying on the lawn with his legs between the wreckage and rescue immediately".
The two farmer, Salvatore Chimo and Rosario Scordato, said that they were working in a field along side the highway. Der Stepanian was found with his body and his face stained with blood. A few meters later there is another injured runner, not serious because he stand alone. The second driver is called Pasquale Lo Dico, he has twenty years old: this one get hospitalized to the one of Cefalù. After a while, transits on the road on his car the baron Tramontana take Der Stepanian at the hospital of Termini Imerese. The medical report made by the doctor Vincenzo Aglieri Rinella talk about a concussion and vast lacerated-bruised wounded in the central region: fracture of the right femur and a probably fracture of the left elbow, multiple contusion. The prognosis is confidential, even if the doctor doesn’t lost hope. Sergio Der Stepanian was a passionate sportsman that start to race like a tank top in the 1940: than he had to retire from this sport, Der Stepanian stay inactive for some season, before going in the Motorsport and start to race in a car. The last year Der Stepanian raced during the Tour of Sicily, but for a mechanical problem he had to retire. Got into contention for the Targa Florio (always in a Ferrari), get a seven place in the category Gran Turismo, then in the next one in the Aosta-G. S. Bernardo (with a Giulietta SV), arriving fifth. During the evening, at 10:40 p.m., Sergio Der Stepanian, died without ever regaining knowledge.
The calamity make impression to the people: the doctor try everything to save him but his bad concussion and the vast wounds in the skull have taken over. The remains of Sergio Der Stepanian, during the night, were deposed in a burial chamber. The next day the professor, his maternal uncle, Dino Ponte and the lady Giuliana, the wife of Der Stepanian, arrived at the Palermo airport. Their pain is terrible, as indescribable the agony of his friend and mate Macchieraldo. He was saved for a miracle. Because at the start the practice at the circuit that Der Stepanian have done, he had to take place along side his mate; but last minute decide to do the first rounds to the only Der Stepanian and to wait him to the box of Cerda for the change. But the big impression was made by the passenger of the tragic car, escaped the disaster. It is the twenty years old Pasquale Lo Dico, taken to the hospital of Cefalù, where the doctors of guard they find a torn-bruised wound long five cm in the head, bruises around the face, arm and leg. Questioned by the doctors, he said that he asked to Der Stepanian to take him to Cerda, where he had to go for work reason. In first place the driver refused to the question, making him notice that it was dangerous in case of car accident. He adheres to the boy's insistence, at high speed heads towards to Cerda.
"When we start the straight of Buonfornello I started to have fear, because of the high speed and I can’t distinguish things on the path: trees, cars, agricultural machinery. I screamed to him to low the speed, but caused of the dull engine noise, he doesn’t hear that. At a point we saw an a truck pulling out in reverse from a little street of countryside. Der Stepanian had to turn to avoid impact. At this point I was thrown out of the car onto the asphalt. Even if I was hurt I heard a roar".
Der Stepanian, moved to the right and goes off track, he couldn't help but collide violently against a wall of protection. The car overturned, reducing itself to debris, in the while near there was the body of De Stepanian lying to the ground, bad injured. About 100 meters, there was the young Lo Dico, also injured but not like the driver. The bad accident during the practice of the Targa Florio, suggest a problem until now ignored also during the last controversy of the race on street. Because even if we like or not, the Targa Florio has withdrawn the last rules about the sports activity. It’s obvious that it’s impossible to close the traffic, but only the day of the race, a layout long tens of kilometers, so the drivers had to practice among the normal traffic. It’s true that on the Madonie there’s not a flow of pedestrian and vehicle, like in route Emilia, but the danger - for the one under the wheel of a very fast car, like for pedestrian, cyclist, motorists that had misadventures of walk those stretches of road - are continues and severe. In the first few moments, his mother doesn’t know about the accident: the realtives were trying to contact the lady De Stepanian while she was abroad, in Marocco, and in the minutes after his death they can’t tell her. The body of the driver receives the moved tribute of numerous citizens and sportsman stopped around the body of the unfortunate driver. The lady Der Stepanian, whit the maternal uncle arrived with the train at the 9:30 a.m., they went immediately at the hospital, staying at the burial chambers for over three hours. It’s petrified and even the nuns, who stayed all night to keep watch and pray there can’t take it away from his husband. The mother of the driver, that is not at Turin, don’t know about his death. The body will be taken to Turin to be buried in the family tomb. The body will arrive to Turin with the train of Sole, on Monday morning around 10:00 a.m. The wife will arrive in Caselle at Sunday evening. The funeral will be celebrated Tuesday in a temple Valdese: with a minister of Armenian rite that will arrive in Turin from Nizza or Geneva. In the meanwhile are missing less than sixteen hours to the start of the race valid for the third trial of the world championship of brands.
Fifty car will start on Sunday May 11 1958 and will battled on the seventy-two km in the circuit of Madonie to repeat fourteen times, for a total of 1008 km. Ferrari, Aston-Martin, Porsche and OSCA are the houses official rappresented. The Ferrari is the first in ranking of the championship with 16 points, against the 8 of Porsche and OSCA and the 3 of Lotus. The Maranello team is trying to resolved the championship with this race. For this they take four cars and eight drivers of exceptional class: men like Musso, Collins; chosen crew of Hawthorn and Trips; the crew of the experimental machine with Munaron and Seidel. Against the Ferrari there was only an Aston Martin; a car of 3 L, with a remarkable power-to-weight ratio and the breaks at disc, very important in this race. His drivers inspire fear to everyone: they are Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks. So Aston Martin arrives in Sicily to gain the victory. The sports director, Parnell, suggest to the press. After have done the right promises, Sunday May 11 1958 the long-awaited duel between Ferrari and Aston Martin, where everyone point their attention during the race, fails because a mechanical problem (a break to the fan pulley) that it make exit Stirling Moss from the struggle, the only driver came to Cerda to defend the English house. So Ferrari virtually won the world championship of brands. The win of the Targa Florio, can be add to the other two of this season: to Sebring, for the 12 hours, and in Buenos Aires for the 1000 km. The accident at the start of Stirling Moss, that eliminate from the race a potentially dangerous opponent for the Ferrari, so simplifies the ride of Musso and Gendebien, that they only pay attention to Behra in a Porsche, a car more manageable of the Ferrari, but less powerful. But we had to say the Ferrari organized with great style this year. At Corda, the Italian technicians come in masse to brought more assistance technician. But does not decreases the value of the claim of the couple Musso-Gendebien. The driver Roman, that was switched with the French under the wheel of the Ferrari, had finally found a great day. The start of race was at the 6:10 a.m. from the Patron of the Targa Florio, the commendator Vincenzo Florio.
At intervals the cars starts. When at the 6:10 a.m. Der Stepanian had to start with a Ferrari, he died in a serious accident Friday morning, was observed by the crowd standing, in the grandstands and hundred of fan around the layout, a minute of silence. Musso conquest the first place since the start, and he stand like this with a perfectly smooth running from the km 99.110 of the second lap to the 96.777 km/h of the seventh lap. After the too soon departure of the English driver, Musso decide not to force times, but continue to turn smoothly. The first part of the race was linked to attempts for the English driver to gaining time. At the end of the first lap he had an advantage of 25 minutes, Moss continue his race with a rhythm spectacular. At the fifth lap, the Aston Martin had to stop to the box for a mechanical problem. This time there’s nothing to do and Stirling Moss had to take the way of the pit-lane. Lost the dangerous one, there’s no story for the first place. A beautiful fight was for the second place between the Porsche 1500 of Behra and the Ferrari of Peter Collins that was switched until the seventh lap with Trips-Hawthorn. Near the end there was the fear that Musso coudn’t end the race for some problem with the breaks. But even if he reduces the pace, the advantage was so big that he can won. The Monaco Grand Prix, second event of the Formula 1 world championship, will be offered on Sunday May 18 1958 a show technical-competitive of very first order. The theme of the race Monegasque it’s spicy: the big English industry with complete ranks against the Italian one (better, Ferrari, because as we know Maserati will not be official rappresented). On one side the Vanwall, the B.R.M., the Cooper and the less fearsome Connaught and Lotus, and in the other Ferrari, the private Maserati and a couple of OSCA 1500. In a total of twenty-six subscribe cars, but only sixteen will start the race. This will happen thanks to a selection from the time of the practice. There is a possibility to stem the British coalition? A lot with any dubt. Ferrari rinnovate his material race, taking to the Grand Prix a car that will have his cards to play in a tortuous circuit like the Monegasque one. Ferrari take Musso, Collins and Hawthorn, in the while Trips will be racing in a Formula 2 (with an engine of 1500 cc).
In the English part , after a long series of dubt, Vandervell has done - it seems - overcome the difficulties of using single fuel to have in their engine an satisfactory performance. The powerful English car after the sequence of win in the second part of 1957 season, it wasn’t seen anymore, so it’s diffucult to realize it’s current efficiency. But we don’t have to make illusion: if in Monte Carlo the entire official English team fell, Tony Brooks, Stuart Lewis-Evans and Stirling Moss, it means that Tony Vandervell he is sure of himself. The B.R.M., based on the first races of the season (it’s not a case that they designed an engine for the Monaco Grand Prix, that can deliver a power of 265 horses, interesting date), but the distance hold is missing. The car is new and with an engine of extraordinary power, heavy and handy (of only 465 kg), even if they were unfortunate during their Argentine debut, of the last January, it’s progressively improved until reaching considerable efficiency, how it was show by the glorious victory race of Goodwood, Siracusa and Silverstone. If this Achilles heel it’s been eliminated, it will be very fearsome. The driver for the B.R.M. were Behra and Schell. Between this brands there will be obviously the winner of the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s likely that the Cooper - thanks to the qualities particularly suited to the track, and the lucky victory of the Argentine Grand Prix - can have upper suction of the good placement, even if we can count to the class of Trintignant, will be flanked on the heavy, characteristics cars of Brabham and Roy Salvadori. The Cooper take two different version of the car: one with the engine of 2014 cc with a power of 196 horses, the other with a standard thruster of 2200 cc, but both claim an lower drive unit of eight cm regard the Argentine Grand Prix, that make increase the grip. For the Maserati we see that the prediction is closed, the cars were entrusted from drivers of good value like Scarlatti and Bonnier and the willing Maria Teresa De Filippis, like the OSCA of Cabianca and Piotti, even the little Lotus and Connaught.
It’s probable that with the elimination during the practice it could influence only in this group. In this sector of activity Italy is in contention from fifty years, this is possible tanks to the skill of its technicians, has for long time dominated the scene, with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari and Lancia. Sometimes predominate the French, with Delage and Bugatti, with more frequency the Germans, with the Mercedes and the Auto Union, and recently again with Mercedes. Never, except for a little apparition of Sunbeam in the 1923, the English constructors they had never been able to fit into the game. Until last year, when a London industrialist, Anthony Vandervell, after a couple of seasons of unsuccessful attempts, could match and surpass with his Vanwall the Italian cars by winning the last three Grand Prix in 1957. Was a new cycle then opened, in the most difficult and prestigious field of motor sports, a cycle tinged with British colors? It is difficult to say today, since, even with Maserati's official withdrawal from racing, Ferrari seems determined to reassert the baton of supremacy after a year of technical uncertainties, to this precise end entirely renewing its racing material, producing a car that in its first seasonal appearances appeared to be of satisfactory efficiency. The theme of the Monaco Grand Prix is thus included in the Italian-English confrontation, which will certainly not be definitive, but undoubtedly ample of indications for the development of the fight for the world title. It should be made clear, however, that it is not only Vanwall that is placing serious mortgages on victory in Sunday's race, but also the B.R.M.. and Cooper, whose technical characteristics are well suited to the configuration of the Monaco circuit. Against this mighty coalition from across the Channel, however, Ferrari holds the cards, both because of the mentioned qualities of its new six-cylinders and the class of its drivers, who are Musso, Collins, Hawthorn and von Trips. Being the first of World Championship meetings to be held in Europe, the Monaco Grand Prix is always full of mechanical interest, for it is possible to see for the first time any really new cars for the season and all the latest versions of cars that appeared in the Argentine or in smaller races as preliminary sorties.
The Scuderia Ferrari are out in full force with four cars, three of them using the 1957-type space-frame with large-diameter lower frame tubes and cross-members, and of these three only the one Musso drove has the latest forged top wishbones, while they all have the new cast-iron turbo-finned brake drums on the front. These cars have the now standard Dino 246 engine, of 75-deg V6-cylinder layout, with bore and stroke of 85 by 71 mm, giving, 2.417 cc, and four overhead camshafts, chain-driven from the crankshaft, with a double-bodied 12-spark magneto driven from the rear of the left-hand inlet camshaft firing the two plugs in each cylinder. The fourth car has a 1958 chassis on which all the main frame tubes are of the same small diameter tubing, and this also has forged top wishbones. As there is a shortage of Dino 246 engines this car is fitted with a Dino 206, which is of the same design as the Grand Prix engine but of only 2-litres, hence the nomenclature 206, meaning 2.0-litre six-cylinder. The team brought with them a reserve 2½-litre engine for the three principal cars and as none of them blew up in practice it was fitted to the fourth car before the race. In view of the premium on clear visibility on the hairpins at Monaco and the need for cockpit cooling, all four cars appeared for first practice with cut-down Perspex screens and all except Musso’s car had additional adjustable flat aeroscreens behind the main one, though after first practice Hawthorn removed his curved screen and just had the flat vintage-type aerosereen. The cars all appeared on the first day with the early-type open-top cover round the carburetter intakes, and these were changed to the rear-open bubble-type covers on the second day. In spite of past experience none of the Ferrari cars had any protection to the long nose cowling to obviate damage in the bumping and boring of the opening laps. The B.R.M. team arrived with three cars, a 1957 model, the first of the 1958 cars, that Behra drove at Silverstone, and a brand new 1958 car that was completed a few hours before the transporters left for Southern France.
In view of the heavy racing programme in the immediate future it was intended that only two of the cars should be raced at Monaco. The three events in which B.R.M. have already appeared this season were essentially in the nature of experiments and consequently the 1958 car is now virtually finalised. For Goodwood a 1957 chassis was cut in half at the bulkhead and an entirely new frame and front suspension layout was welded on, but this car was written-off in the chicane crash. As an interim experiment it had retained the double-layer stressed-skin cockpit panel, which supplied strength to the centre part of the chassis, but on the new car this idea was dropped; not because it was unsuccessful, far from it, in fact, for it saved Flockhart front serious injury at Rouen last year. However, it was a costly construction and took a long time to make, so it was decided that while an entirely new chassis frame was being designed it was best to use a normal detachable panel type of bodywork, for it would also facilitate maintenance and accessibility. The new chassis is constructed of small-diameter tubing, all members being in tension or compression, and has a very rigid box-like centre section, with an engine cradle extending forwards, this also carrying the front suspension, and another cradle extending rearwards containing the cockpit, final drive/gearbox unit and rear suspension, all joints on the frame being welded. Whereas the original B.R.M. space-frame was a thing of horror to students of design, this 1958 frame is a thing of joy of which even Colin Chapman would approve. Hung into this frame are all the components from the 1957 cars, with small modifications here and there, the engine using Weber 58 DCOC carburetters and exhausting through a much tidier and more efficient-looking 1-4 and 2-3 double exhaust system flowing into a long and very large-diameter tailpipe running under the rear axle on the left-hand side.
Under the exhaust manifold is mounted the oil tank, suitably screened from the heat, while under-bonnet temperature it kept low by making adequate provision for the exit of under-bonnet air and ensuring that only cold air comes into the engine compartment, all radiator hot air being deflected out sideways. On each side of the main centre section of the chassis the diagonal frame-tube is detachable and is passed through an aluminium fuel tank, the weight being taken on rubber inserts. The main fuel tank is mounted in the tail and has three similar tubes passing through it, forming a pyramid with its apex at the rear and the triangular base bolted onto the main chassis frame above the differential unit: The four-speed gearbox remains in unit with the final-drive, and behind it, with a single-disc brake on the extreme rear, this disc being cooled by air duets drawing from openings on each side of the scuttle. Originally a servo for the brakes was driven from the gearbox, supplying a direct multiplication, but this was dropped as any incipient locking of the rear wheels meant that the servo stopped working, which resulted in varying braking power, especially under extreme conditions. The rear suspension layout of de Dion with the cross-tube ahead of the axle-line and located by a Watt-linkage and double radius-rods and suspended on Wag coil-springs remains basically unaltered, while the front suspension is still by double wishbones, coil-springs and anti-roll bar, with ball-joint steering pivots; though the wishbone construction has been re-designed. Mounted on out-riggers from the front of the chassis frame is a small and light radiator, the bottom outlet running straight back through a heat-exchanger coupled to the oil system.
Centre-lock Dunlop alloy wheels are retained and Dunlop tyres, while the outward appearance of the 1958 car is similar to the 1957 model, belying the major changes that have been made beneath the surface. The Vanwall team were making their first 1958 appearance and arrived with four cars, three for the team of drivers and a spare one. It was intended that the spare car should be complete but at the last moment the engine gave trouble while undergoing its test-bed trials and there was no time to rectify it before the vans had to leave so the engine had to be sent on afterwards by air. Unfortunately the aircraft ran into bad weather and crashed, so that the spare Vanwall engine was lost, and the four cars had only three engines between them. Basically the Vanwall remains unchanged for 1958 and the four cars were all fitted with short nose cowlings and bumper bars as used last year and cut-down Perspex screens. Among the changes to the engines, for adaptation to aviation fuel have been altered pistons and compression-ratios, while the exhaust system has undergone complete re-design. Instead of the four pipes joining in a flat convergence sunk into the body, there is now a 1-4 and 2-3 arrangement with the two tail-pipes converging as they leave the engine compartment. The single tail-pipe ends just before the cockpit and feeds into a large-diameter sleeve which runs back to the tail; this sleeve is of larger diameter than the exhaust pipe at the front, forming an annular opening so that the air flow along the body-side enters the sleeve and assists, with the extraction of the gases front the short exhaust pipe. The chassis, suspension, gearbox and other mechanical components remain unaltered from 1957 but in the search for lower unsprung weight the Vanwall designers worked in conjunction with Lotus design staff and made magnesium-alloy wheels to the same pattern as the wobbly-web wheels on the Formula II Lotus and Lotus Fifteen.
On the front of the Vanwall these wheels contain the wheel races and hub combined, being held in place by a single central stubaxle nut, the brake disc being bolted to the wheel by eight nuts and bolts. This arrangement saves a large amount of weight, not only by reason of the lighter wheel but also it does away with the heavy splined steel hub. It is considered by Vanwall that today’s short Grand Prix races eliminate the need for changing front tyres during a race, so there is no need for centre-lock hubs on the front. At the rear it is a different matter, however, and the alloy wheels have been adapted to centre-lock fixing in the interests of wheel changing and tyre wear at the expense of not so much weight reduction as on the front. Additional unsprung weight saving is effected by using the new and light Dunlop R5 tyres in place of Pirelli tyres. The Cooper works team arrived with three Formula I cars for their two drivers all cars being 1958 models with double-wishbone and coil-spring front suspension and double-wishbone and transverse teal-spring rear suspension. Two cars had new tails, with a slight backbone, and these both had 1.960 cc Coventry-Climax engines, while the third car had a brand new 2.2-litre engine front the same manufacturer. This was the first enlarged engine of this capacity, the extra capacity being achieved by increasing the stroke, but this meant extending the cylinder liners so that they protruded above the top of the block, and rather than go to the expense of a new block casting a thick aluminium plate is pressed over the protruding liners, with a gasket between it and the top of the block. The new top surface then forms the face joint with the cylinder head using a second gasket, and the raising of the cylinder head by this extra ¼ in, or so is allowed for in the train of timing gears by an enlarged idler gear.
The two works drivers drew lots for this enlarged engine. Two further Cooper cars were present, these being the RRC Walker cars, one the rebuilt Argentine car, a 1957 mode with transverse, leaf-spring and lower wishbone front suspension and similar rear suspension, the rear hubs steadied under braking by long radius-rods and the gearbox having a bracing clamp over the top drum down to the frame by tension rods, to prevent whipping. The second dark blue car is the 1958 model, with single-wishbone rear-suspension layout, with similar radius-rods, and double wishbone and coil-springs at the front. Both engines had the enlarged liners of 87.3 mm, diameter, giving 2.014 cc. The team Lotus arrived with two 1957 Formula II cars fitted with 1.960 cc Coventry-Climax engines, both cars having the new positive-stop gear-change mechanism. They were also fitted with starter motors, current being supplied from an accumulator trolley with a pair of plug-in leads to a socket on the chassis frame. The car driven by Allison had a hydraulically-operated clutch, the pedal arrangement and actuating mechanism being similar to that used on the Lotus Fifteen sports car. Allison’s engine was fitted with Weber carburetters and Hill’s car was on SU carburetters. This team, like Cooper’s, also had their first 2.2-litre engine but it was left sitting in its box as a reserve. In addition to all these cars were various independents with Maseratis, Godia and Scarlatti with last year’s works cars, Bonnier, Miss de Filippis and Testut with their earlier cars, and the Scuderia Centro-Sud with their two cars supplemented by Gerini with his ex-Piotti car. To complete the field were two 1.500 cc sports Oscas of the latest type, devoid of all normal sports equipment, and a lone Connaught front the Ecclestone stable, this being the blunt-nosed B7 car.
At 3:00 p.m. practice starts and everyone go quietly round, feeling their way along, the newcomers trying to remember the many corners of the twisty circuit and getting used to the darkness of the tunnel on the sea-front, while the old hands weigh up the situation in general. Apart from a widening of the chicane leading onto the harbour front the circuit is unchanged and practice opens with laps around 1'55"0 for the faster cars, until there is a big surprise when Behra livens things up with the B.R.M. Once having got attuned to the circuit he begins to set the pace and keeps it up, so that everyone else have the B.R.M. times as an objective. Ferraris are not too happy, their front suspension seeming a bit hard and they are geared low, while Vanwalls are making their first outing for 1958 and working up to things gradually. Moss is not happy with his car, the steering and front brakes not being perfect, and he borrows the second car from Brooks, but both drivers are down on the times Behra is doing, the B.R.M. getting down into the 1'42"0 bracket. Hawthorn is quickest of the Ferraris, while Schell is backing up Behra quite well, using the old B.R.M. Of the tiddlers or miniature Grand Prix cars, Allison is in trouble with his Lotus, a head gasket blowing, while Hill is having his first taste of high-pressure Continental dicing and finding the Lotus brakes a bit tricky on the polished road surfaces. The Coopers are coming well up to expectations, not only the works cars but also Trintignant in Walker’s 1958 car, though Flockhart in the 1957 Walker car is hampered by unsuitable gear ratios, the old-type gearbox not allowing such a good choice. Collins comes in complaining of a bad engine vibration but after putting a finger on the steering column the Ferrari engineers shrug and send him out again, seemingly deciding that, if it flies apart…well it can be too bad; however, it does not; it just goes on vibrating.
Apart from the necessity of getting in the best sixteen times there is also the added attraction of a prize of 100.000 francs for the fastest lap, and these two encouragements, together with circuit conditions being excellent, the pace gets hotter and hotter as the afternoon wears on. Behra is still leading the split-second battle and he finishes his efforts with 1'40"8, a vast improvement over the race lap record set up in 1955 by Fangio at 1'42"4, and improving on the best ever in practice for previous years, which was 1'42"7. However, just before the end of practice Brooks goes out again and equals Behra’s time, while Trintignant has been trying really hard and he beats both works Coopers, making third best time with 1'42"2, while Moss is next with 1'42"4, using Brooks’ car. The independents have all been thrashing round but to little avail, only Trintignant, Bonnier, Godia and Emery getting in amongst the factory drivers and the best sixteen on this first outing, a time of 1'50"0 being the slowest permitted. On Friday morning practice begins at the unsavoury hour of 5:45 a.m. and everyone except the BRM team is out, the Bourne equipe quite justifiably resting on their laurels. The sun is shining but there is an ominous breeze blowing and clouds are gathering over the mountains behind the town. With a rush practically all the cars set off to practice and there is so much traffic about that there is little hope of going fast, and almost as if by mutual agreement all the fast boys suddenly stop, with the result that only one or two independents are left circulating. However, after this initial enthusiasm the factory cars begin going off again in ones and twos, and soon practice gets into a normal and reasonable stride. Salvadori and Brabham have drawn lots for the 2.2-litre car and the Australian driver has won, and both they and Trintignant are really driving hard.
All four Ferraris now have the latest type of Perspex bubble over their carburetters and Hawthorn has thrown away his Perspex windscreen and is using only a small rectangular aero-screen, while von Trips is still awaiting his larger engine, having to make do with a 2-litre unit in the meantime. All is not well in the Vanwall team, for the Moss car has something obscurely wrong with the front suspension and steering, and though it all looks quite normal it is behaving most peculiarly on corners. Moss can not get below 1'45"0 so he comes in to try another car, but for some strange reason the Vanwall team manager do not let his Number 1 driver take the Brooks car, offering only the third team car as an alternative. This quite rightly upsets Moss and he does no more practice in the Vanwalls, sitting on the pit counter and watching everyone else improving on their times, until he goes and sees his other boss, Rob Walker, and does a few laps in the old Cooper. Meanwhile Brooks and Lewis-Evans are standing by waiting to be told what to do. Towards 8:00 a.m. conditions become perfect for fast motoring for the gathering clouds have obscured the sun and a breeze is keeping everything nice and cool. Brooks goes out and puts in a series of very fast laps, ending up with 1'40"7, and finds everything about his car very much to his liking, so he then tries the Moss car and does three laps at nearly 1'43"0 but does not try too hard because of the strangeness about the front end. A check on the fastest driver shows that Lewis-Evans is not well placed, with his time of 1'43"5, so he is asked if he’d like to try and improve on it. He goes off and after two warming-up laps he does 1'42"7, and then 1'41"8; then he stops, saying, like Brooks: thank you, everything is very nice.
In the Cooper camp everyone is very happy and the two works drivers are ideally suited to their cars and to the circuit, and by the end of practice they have both recorded the remarkable time of 1'41"0, while Trintignant is only a tenth of a second behind them, and they have all left the Lotus team far behind. The boys from Hornsey are most unhappy for though Allison is beginning to learn his way round he has to stop as a pipe-line breaks on the clutch actuation. Hill is still not happy with his braking and he eventually hits a kerb over by the Station hairpin; although he only nudges it, he breaks the right front wheel, bends the wishbone and spring unit, destroys the king-post, twists the chassis and tears a piece out of the bottom frame member, so Team Lotus spend the rest of the day rebuilding the car. The poor private owners are really getting nowhere, even though some of them are trying very hard, and of the Maserati group only Scarlatti and Bonnier manage to scrape into the first sixteen, the latter being last with a time of 1'45"0, an excellent time but indicative of closeness of qualifying requirements. The Italian girl driver has done a terrific 1'48"8, beating nine more men, but she can not get into the starting list, while the Centro-Sud team, with three cars and Gould to help them out, are not in the running, their regular driver Masten Gregory being with Ecurie Ecosse at Spa. The two sports Oscas driven by Cabianca and Piotti are really wasting their time, and the lone Monegasque entry of Testut with his Maserati can not qualify even though Chiron goes round in it until it is nearly worn out. Just as practice is finishing at 8:15 a.m. Brooks goes out again in his own car and, starting with a lap in 1'41"3, he does four laps and after equalling his best time he then beats it by nearly a whole second and clocks an incredible 1'39"8, to make undisputed fastest time, which must have made the B.R.M. team turn uneasily in their beds. The first practice day is decidedly a B.R.M. day, the second a Vanwall day, and on both days the little Coopers are chasing them both very hard.
There is one more practice, this being on Saturday afternoon, and in the meantime the Vanwall mechanics have done a big shuffle with their kits of parts and assemble another car for Moss, and fit the Lewis-Evans car with a set of alloy wheels, while Ferrari have put the spare 2½-litre Dino engine into von Trips car. The previous night there has been a lot of rain and although the town is dry and sunny the circuit is not in such perfect condition as the day before and the hot sun is not the best thing for carburation. Everyone is out again, even the B.R.M.s, and the object of the afternoon is perfectly clear. A minimum time of 1'45"0 is the aim of the slower cars and an improved position on the starting grid the aim of the faster cars and drivers. Due to the circuit conditions the stars are making no improvements, apart from Moss, who now has a car that goes properly and he soon does 1'45"0, but then a Maserati blows up and showers oil everywhere and there is little hope of improvement for some while. Coopers are so happy that they do not bring all their cars out, spending the time playing with the spare one. B.R.M. have all three cars out, but Behra is in trouble for a time with the Weber carburetters and Schell can not decide whether he prefers the new car to the old one. Von Trips is finding the extra weight of the bigger engine and the added 50bhp making a big difference to the handling of his car. After the oil has been cleared away Brooks goes out in his Vanwall, lapping very consistently, and then Moss joins in and slowly but surely the number 1 driver gains on his team-mate, until the two Vanwalls are nose to tail, and then the tension subsides as Brooks lifts his foot and lets Moss go by. It is a fine sight to see the two green cars running so close together but a little worrying and unnecessary in practice, though the result is that Moss clocks a time of 1'42"3.
When practice finishes the final list of times shows that none of the previous list of sixteen fastest has been knocked out and, apart front the improvement made by Moss, there is little change. Official practice at the Monte-Carlo circuit confirmed, in the first two days, the excellent preparation of the British cars (especially the surprising Coopers), and a certain difficulty for the Ferraris to fit in this ranking. As many as five British cars are found in the time rankings before the name of a Ferrari, that of Hawthorn, is encountered. And the last day of official practice brings virtually no change in the ranking of times from the first two rounds. On the contrary, the high temperature in which they take place, compared to the ideal conditions that had favored the performance of the engines in the practice sessions held on Friday morning, prevents that improvement in lap times that for some should have meant the conquest of a more favorable position, in the starting grid, for others the qualification among the sixteen drivers by regulation admitted to the Grand Prix. For example, Moss, the first driver of the English Vanwall, although he achieved the best time today, moved up just one place in the overall standings, but still resulted eighth overall (and in the race he will start - unusual enough - on the third row). The British ace is nervous, and he was also very shaken by the news of the crash of the plane that was supposed to bring him a new engine from London, a disaster that cost the lives of the three crew members. However, the situation is quite clear: the Vanwalls, B.R.M.'s and Coopers have reconfirmed excellent possibilities, which this type of winding and very unfast circuit seems indeed to particularly enhance; on the other hand, the four Ferraris are well in contention, nor is it misleading that they are scattered with unexceptional times in the platoon of the sixteen players in the race.
On Sunday, May 18, 1958, in brilliant sunshine the sixteen fastest from practice line up on the starting grid while the rulers of the little Principality of Monaco indulge in some pleasant pageantry. The line-up shows the remarkable sight of Vanwall, B.R.M. and Cooper in the front row, more Coopers in row two, and not until row three is there a splash of red, and even the most ardent Italian enthusiast must have felt that perhaps the British are dominating the scene, even if only by sheer weight of numbers, for of the sixteen fastest cars ten are British. It is worth noting that a mere 5.2sec separates the fastest from the slowest, so that by a process of elimination the XVI Monaco Grand Prix has a remarkable collection of cars and drivers straining every nerve as the flag is raised. After Princes Rainier and Grace officially close the circuit in an uncovered car, at 2:45 p.m. the steward kicks off the race. Everyone gets away to a splendid start and roars off towards the Gasworks hairpin, with Salvadori actually arriving in the lead but going too fast to take a normal line and he swings wide, letting Behra, Brooks and Brabham through on the inside. There is a bit of a scuffle and some bumping and boring, and when it is all over Salvadori finds he has a loose steering-arm on one hub and limps round to the pits. The locating bolts have stretched in the bumping and he loses three laps while things are sorted out. Meanwhile, Behra is away in the lead, followed by Brooks, Brabham, Moss, Trintignant, Lewis-Evans, Hawthorn, Musso, Schell, Collins and von Trips, the two Lotuses running along at the back of the field with the two Maseratis. Behra and Brooks begin to draw away on their own but behind them Hawthorn is having a real go after the dust of the opening lap has settled and he passes Lewis-Evans and then Trintignant.
By the fifth lap he is on the tail of Moss’ Vanwall and on the eighth lap he gets by and sets off after the B.R.M. and Vanwall ahead, gaining ground visibly. Although Behra is not being troubled by Brooks the gap between them is pretty constant and Hawthorn is getting ever closer, so that by 10 laps he has the Vanwall well in his sights and has left Moss someway back. Farther back, Trintignant is worrying Brabham, while Lewis-Evans is slowing, to come into the pits on lap 12 and retire with overheating, and then Brabham begins to lose ground, stopping at the pits on lap 22 with a loose antiroll bar mounting, the time taken to effect a repair dropping him back to next to last position ahead of his team-mate Salvadori. Hawthorn eventually gets by Brooks on lap 18 and on the next lap Moss also passes Brooks, so it seems something is not right and, sure enough, Brooks stops on the hill up from Ste Devote corner and switches off when his engine makes a horrid noise. Removing the bonnet he discovers that a sparking plug has come unscrewed and is lying on the cylinder head still attached to its lead. Alas, it is too late, he has no hope of restarting uphill, so reluctantly has to retire; less than quarter-distance and two Vanwalls already out, leaving Moss their only hope. He responds magnificently and begins to gain on Hawthorn, who is in turn gaining on Behra. On lap 27, after a splendid try, the B.R.M. draws into the pits with the brakes feeling peculiar, and after one more lap Behra retires rather than risk complete brake failure; naturally, this let Hawthorn into the lead, but Moss is not going to sit back and look at the Ferrari’s tail and he begins to overhaul Hawthorn. All this interest at the head of the field tends to overshadow the rest of the runners, but Trintignant is holding on to the leading pace and keeping in front of Musso, Collins and von Trips, who are following in that order.
Schell in the second new B.R.M. is not doing justice to it, and while Behra is at the pits investigating his brakes Schell’s engine goes woolly and he comes in for a change of plugs, dropping down from seventh place to last. On the 31st lap Moss is right behind Hawthorn and on the next lap he goes by into the lead, but it is short-lived for he comes into the pits on lap 38 with his engine misfiring. After a long search for the cause it is discovered that a valve cap has come out, probably due to a bent valve, and the timing is naturally all upset, so the third Vanwall is retired and Hawthorn is once more in the lead, over half a minute ahead of the next car, which is the Cooper of Trintignant, he having moved quietly up as the leaders drop by the wayside, and he is still being chased unsuccessfully by the three Ferraris of Musso, Collins and von Trips. On lap 46 nobody is more surprised than Trintignant when he comes round in the lead, for the Ferraris have given the appearance of being indestructible, but no Hawthorn appears for his car has come to rest after the descent from the station. The fuel pump has broken its mounting on the front of the engine and the drive is no longer effective. This is 1955 all over again, with Trintignant driving a model race and profiting from the misfortunes of his faster rivals, but such consistency of temperament deserves success and by half-distance it is pretty clear that neither Musso nor Collins are going to worry the Cooper, while von Trips is now a long way back, having had a refuelling stop, his car having smaller tanks than the other Ferraris. The two Lotuses are not excelling themselves and are behind Bonnier in his old Maserati, while the two works Coopers are making up time after their stops; Schell has restarted but is many laps behind. On lap 56 Salvadori has gearbox trouble and retires, and at the same time Allison comes in for water, and now Trintignant is starting up the hill from St. Devote as Musso cornered by the tobacconist’s shop virtually below him; Collins is leaving the tunnel at this moment and though the two Ferraris are driving hard the Cooper is running comfortably within its limits and maintaining its lead.
Von Trips is now a lap behind in fourth place and then comes Bonnier, Hill, Brabham, Schell and Allison, these being all that are left from the imposing starting grid. Lap 60 ticks by and then lap 70, and Trintignant catches up with Brabham and prepares to lap him, but the Australian seems to think otherwise and keeps ahead of the blue Cooper. After a few laps of this Trintignant drops back and stops trying to get by; this lures Brabham into relaxing and three laps later Trintignant nips by when the other driver isn’t looking. While this is going on Bonnier runs out of road and Hill has a drive-shaft break on his Lotus, and Allison comes in for more water. The Cooper and its two attendant Ferraris are now within sight of the finish of the race and though Moss is urging Collins to catch Musso every time he passes and Bertucchi, of Maserati, is urging Musso to catch Trintignant, the positions do not change, there is still more than half a minute between the first and second and about the same between second and third. As Trintignant goes round Ste Devote, Musso comes in sight on the pits straight, and as Musso reaches Ste. Devote, Collins comes onto the pits straight. Poor von Trips coasts in on lap 91 with a seized engine and this let the persevering Brabham into fourth place. The Cooper never misses a beat, and Trintignant does not put a wheel wrong and once again wins the Monaco Grand Prix by consistent and intelligent driving, and not so slow either for his race speed is a new record. To RRC Walker goes the honour of winning a World Championship race for the second time in 1958, using a different Cooper and a different driver, but the same team of mechanics. Musso arrives second, a matter of seconds behind the winner, and third is Collins, while Brabham, Schell and Allison are the only others to finish the arduous race. As in the Argentine Grand Prix the order is Cooper, Ferrari, Ferrari, and on both occasions Musso is driving the second car, which puts him in the lead for the World Championship.
The French Maurice Trintignant, winemaker of Provence and gentleman-driver of the racing car, won for the second time the Monaco Grand Prix for a Cooper. The English car, more heavy and less powerful than a classic Formula 1 car, it’s his second win in this season. The Cooper won sensationally at Buenos Aires with Stirling Moss, in the race titled of opening, and now he won, no less sensationally and not new for big surprise. Maurice Trintignant won with his virtue of patience of regularity, of tenacity. In the same way he succeed three years before, with the difference that this time he stayed in the first position during all the time. Luigi Musso and Mike Hawthorn were the most brilliant of the Ferrari drivers, the second place for the Roman driver, the English one was badly compensated and of the prove ability. Behra had the usual generous race until the mechanical means indulged him and Moss has put a hand about his class in the moment of the rise of his career. It’s obviously that the Cooper, for his construction features it’s indicated for sinuous paths and not for the track with high speed, had to achieve a victory thanks to a subsidence of cars with more power that until the first half of the race, but Trintignant has never lost contact with the first, to show solidarity with green spiders (that’s how in Great Britain called the Cooper), with three car arrived to the finish line on three car started, in the whole of the six that finished the race, and that we had to the solid positive considerations, the Monte-Carlo tracks has showed that the cars had to have kept at a distance, that is, on the resistance of one hundred revolutions. So the Cooper had the great merit to take, the car most awaited car, the Vanwall, the B.R.M., the same Ferrari that has sold more or less serious. It’s true that Ferrari they made a brighter figure than that his rivals, with a second and a third place in the ranking with Musso and Collins, and with Hawthorn that made the fastest lap. But in the mistake of the evaluation of the incomes by the engineers and sport director of the opposing teams, because it would not be explained, why from the Ferrari box they didn't push him to keep up with the leaders, only to have Hawthorn has point man, when Musso has showed a good pace at the end of the race even lower then Trintignant .
The Cooper was called, not improperly, small car. Indeed his appearance, the dimension, the wheels and tires they are significantly smaller than the other car of the other houses. The engine was only 2200 cc, against the almost 2500 cc of the limit granted by Formula 1. But the Cooper was extraordinary in everything, their engine, built by Coventry-Climax, was an onest four cylinder of 1100 cc, designed to operate generators. Then the constructors - the artisan John Cooper, in the modest workshop of Surblton near London - think to use it as a automotive use, with an continue evolution of Climax in the Cooper, becoming a thoroughbred even without excessive power. But we don’t have to think that Ferrari was humiliated by the amazing English car. With a Hawthorn in one of his days of great vein, the six cylinder of Modena showed us that they can calmly dominate the situation and only cause of a failure of a negligible detail (feed pump) has interrupted the promising march. To the observers, the fastest lap and the new circuit record established by the English driver, was not missed by the impression of the power and the safety of the new Ferrari, that the defeat can be nothing more than a normal sport episode. The worrying thing was the situation of the Vanwall and B.R.M., the other two English team. The curious characteristic about the race, until the half the race was interesting for the battle always lively and consecutive twists, it’s been the first place the top drivers of the Mays took turns, only to yield gradually due to technical problems. So Behrain a B.R.M. remains first for twenty-six, Moss in a Varwall six laps, Hawthorn in a Ferrari (the only one that he lost it and returned) for thirteen laps and at the end Trintignant remains for fifty rounds. On the other hand, the victory of Trintignant created a bad mood in the Ferrari men, that they had long cherished the possibility of victory with Hawthorn (who has no blame for the problem he had after being first halfway through the race). Not even Luigi Musso is in a good mood. The Roman was reproached for not having started the pursuit at Trintignant earlier and not being able to halve the gap if not for little.
"What they want from me? I can’t do nothing more, the Cooper is impossible in this circuit, and second while I was in full action, turned in 41 seconds, gaining almost two second every lap, the oil pressure has dropped".
The battle will continue soon, already next Sunday at Zandvoor, the Dutch Grand Prix, third race of the World Championship.
Simone Pietro Zazza
Translated by Susanna Fortolan