The first race of the new Formula 1 season saw the victory of Cooper-Maserati. This 1967 will certainly be the year of the 12-cylinder Formula 1 engines: in fact Maserati, Ferrari, Honda and American Eagle already have these engines, while B.R.M. is finishing the development of several units of this type to supply to English teams, and also Brabham is likely to have a similar engine in the future. Only the B.R.M. team will be left to continue on the difficult road of the 16-cylinder engine. If the B.R.M. technicians are willing to continue with their complicated engine, it seems that customers like Lotus and others do not agree.
So V12 for everyone: we could ask ourselves why this conformity in perspective. First of all, the 12-cylinder solution allows a good fractionation of the displacement, with cylinders and therefore connecting rods small enough to support a high number of revolutions: about 10,000 per minute. On the other hand, the 12-cylinder engine is practically formed by two rows of six cylinders each, and the six-cylinder engine is one of the easiest to balance. And finally, the many experiments that have been carried out show that exceeding 12 cylinders involves such complications and risks that it is not worthwhile to deal with them. The Japanese themselves, masters of patience and precision, have discarded the most complex solution, in favor of the 12-cylinder engine. Indirect injection is common to all these engines, while some have dual ignition and others simple ignition; in terms of valves, they range from the two valves per cylinder of the Maserati, to the three of the Ferrari, to the four of the Honda and the American Eagle.
Remarkable is also the uniformity of the cars, all with rear engine, longitudinally mounted, with 5-speed gearbox and differential in block; the wheels are all four independent, but on the Ferrari single-seater, currently being tested, longitudinal bars have been noticed that would connect the front wheel with the rear one of the same side of the car. In short, it is likely that they are looking for an improvement in road holding by means of more complex suspension systems.
In the meantime, waiting for a return to racing, the Ford-Ferrari duel is about to begin again. Next week at Daytona, in the United States, the first of the eight tests in which the international constructors' trophy is divided will take place: the powerful prototypes produced in Detroit and Maranello will face each other in a fight that renews the myth of David and Goliath. The small Ferrari against the giant Ford, a factory with a few hundred employees, moreover, engaged in the field of Formula 1 and Formula 2 single-seaters, against a complex that employs 10,000 people in the research center alone, and that is dedicated exclusively to the trophy.
This year the great challenge has a new flavor: Ford in 1966 managed to beat Ferrari and his victory, in particular at Le Mans, made history. It is therefore up to Ferrari to seek revenge, the task is difficult, basically not much has changed since the last racing season. Ford remains a giant and Ferrari a small one. On the other hand, the Italian manufacturer has changed the director of its team and improved its prototype car, now in its fourth version (hence the 330/P4). The chassis has been entirely redesigned with respect to last year's model. However, the structure remains the same: a trellis made of tubes of minimal section, coupled by riveting and gluing with plastic and sheet metal elements that partially function as the body.
The stiffening of the rear part is perfected by the integral intervention of the engine-gearbox group as a force beam. As for the engine, on the scheme of the classic twelve-cylinder, were adopted the heads with 3 valves, successfully tested on the Formula 1 single-seater in the Italian Grand Prix, in Monza, in September 1966. The result is a better utilization, a greater elasticity and a decrease in fuel consumption. The distribution system is new, as is the structure of the crankcase. Result: the power increased to 450 horses, with even more impetuous accelerations. The engine is still a 12-cylinder 60-degree V with a total displacement of 3961 cubic centimeters, but fuel consumption is slightly decreased. Speed is over 200 mph. The weight has increased from 720 to 792 kilos so that, although the number of horsepower has increased, the weight-power ratio remains almost unchanged: 1.75 kilos per horsepower. A ratio, therefore, very favorable.
Other innovations include gearbox, brakes and chassis. The former, with five gears plus reverse, features a different arrangement of the gear set on two shafts, allowing a reduction in power loss at high speeds. The disc brakes are now mounted - front and rear - on the wheels to be quickly replaced when necessary. The frame has been entirely redesigned, while maintaining the same structure: tubular trellis coupled with plastic and sheet metal elements that function in part as the bodywork. The bodywork, finally, presents a profiled design both in the spider and in the coupe version, according to the teachings of the experience and studies conducted in the wind tunnel.
Two versions have been prepared: a spyder and a berlinetta. Both will be on the track at Daytona, driven by the couples Bandini-Amon and Scarfiotti-Parkes. Cars and drivers go to the beginning of February in the United States. The adventure is risky: the Fords, which have also undergone numerous improvements compared to last year's models, race in front of a public that has welcomed the success of Le Mans with incredible enthusiasm. But - they say it with conviction even at Maranello - they are not starting out beaten: 1967, with a little luck, could be Ferrari's year again.
Well, these assumptions are not completely unfounded: on Sunday 5 February 1967, at Daytona, the Scuderia Ferrari takes a sensational revenge, only eight months after the Ford victory at Le Mans. In France three Fords had crossed the finish line together; in the United States three Ferraris paraded one after the other, two 330/P4 prototype cars and one 330/P3, almost as if to affirm that the duel still continued, that, perhaps, last year's defeat depended more on a set of adverse circumstances of various kinds than on the technical superiority of the Americans.
"On this level we don't feel second to anyone. Our technicians, our workers are among the best in the world".
With this confidence, and following these words, the Modenese constructor rearranged its ranks in the winter, changed the director of the team, secured with a new labour agreement the tranquillity and continuity of the work, hired the young and experienced New Zealand driver Chis Amon and refined its weapons, improving the 1966 models. Ferrari thus brought back an overwhelming victory over the Fords, winning the first three places in the 24 Hours of Daytona Beach, the first round of the International Prototype Trophy, thanks to Bandini-Amon, Scarfiotti-Parkes and Rodriguez-Guichet. The only one of the six Ford Mark II's left in the race - the one driven by McLaren and Bianchi - comes seventh at the finish line, with a gap of 480 kilometers, preceded also by two Porsches. Ferrari thus takes a resounding revenge after the defeat suffered last June at Le Mans. The Americans had given him up for finished, sunset, but in the circuit that flanks the Atlantic Ocean they realized that the Modenese constructor always has first-rate resources.
Already the official tests, which take place on Thursday, February 2, 1967, show that Ferrari has what it takes to win the 24 Hours and take a resounding revenge on Ford, which last year triumphed by placing three cars in the first three places. The latter offer a thrilling anticipation of the furious struggle that would then develop between the men of Ferrari, Ford, and Chaparral. The first day of tests began with an exciting exploit by Pedro Rodriguez, who at the wheel of the new Ferrari recorded the new unofficial record of the circuit. The feat of the young American driver is shortly afterwards almost equalled by Lorenzo Bandini, always at the wheel of a P4. Then the Ford and Chaparral men go wild. Dan Gurney lowers Rodriguez's limit, while Jim Hall, manufacturer of the Chaparral-Chevrolet, records a time just 0.3 seconds faster than that of Gurney. However, it must be pointed out that Hall will not take part in the 24 hours: the car will be entrusted to Phil Hill and Mike Spence. Ludovico Scarfiotti, at the wheel of one of the new Ferrari prototypes, makes a frightening spin and ends up against a guardrail. Scarfiotti remains unharmed, while the car is damaged in the rear left part.
"It's as if I had filmed the episode, I remember every detail very well. A small car, I didn't see the identification code very well, suddenly moved from the inside to the outside of the track cutting me off. I tried to avoid being run over and ended up with the outside wheels on the grass at the edge. The 330/P4 skidded frighteningly, but thankfully did not flip over. I came to rest against the guardrail".
While Scarfiotti tries to get over the slight shock caused by the accident, Mauro Forghieri, the technical director of the Ferrari team, inspects the car and, after a careful examination, announces that the damages are not serious and that on Saturday the 330/P4 will be able to race. In the meantime, Mike Parkes, at the wheel of the other 330/P4, laps at an average speed of almost 190 km/h (the lap record is held by American Dan Gurney, who in 1966 reached 187.464 km/h in a Ford). Lloyd Ruby and Mario Andretti, the first two drivers from the Detroit company to take to the track, reach considerably lower limits. Ford's technicians are very worried: the new Mark IIIs are not yet ready and for the Daytona test they have had to resurrect the Mark IIs, which won at Le Mans. In the meantime, however, Ferrari improves considerably its prototypes, while at Ford they fear they cannot - for now - keep up the pace.
And they are right, because on Sunday, February 5, 1967, the new 330/P4s impose a very lively, irresistible rhythm on the race, which no opponent can resist, neither the Fords nor the Chaparrals, which also have a brilliant start. So, at 3:00 pm three Ferraris arrive at the finish line, one next to the other in front of the crowd that fills the stands. They then line up at the pits, where the mechanics carry the drivers and the new Scuderia Ferrari director, Franco Lini, to their triumph. The parade of Italian cars has a clear taste of revenge against the Fords, which at Le Mans, last June, had arrived together on the finish line, to signify an overwhelming superiority. This time around, it was Ferrari's turn, and the account is almost settled.
"To settle it completely, let's wait for the next Le Mans".
Obviously, the enthusiasm is very high for Bandini and Scarfiotti, with the New Zealander Chris Amon and the English test driver Mike Parkes alternating at the wheel of the two official 330/P4s. Lorenzo Bandini, by winning at Dayton Beach, gave his wife Margherita the best gift for their wedding anniversary.
"We got married three years ago. Lorenzo, before leaving for the United States, had promised me that he would do everything to win. He did; and I'm very happy about that. A gift like this is too great".
Margherita Bandini spent the day at home with friends.
"I spent most of the time on the phone or on the radio or in front of the television. When I heard, at nine o'clock, that Lorenzo had won, I almost felt like fainting with joy. This is one of the most beautiful victories of Lorenzo's sporting career. I am happy for him and also for Ferrari. We all needed this rematch".
Margherita Bandini almost always follows her husband in his races, in Italy and abroad. She was unable to leave Milan and travel to the United States due to family commitments.
"But next time, at Sebring, I hope to be there, too".
The third place of the car driven by the Mexican Pedro Rodriguez and the Frenchman Jean Guichet, a 330/P3, the model that last year was beaten by Ford, is also sensational. At the beginning of the race, the three Ferraris had joined Phil Hill's Chaparral, which had dominated the early laps. On the ninety-first lap, when the curious vehicle created by Texan Jim Hall had an accident and had to stop, the Italian cars took the lead and remained there until the end.
In the first hours, the Ferrari of Scarfiotti and Parkes contended for the lead with the one of the winners, alternating with it on the occasion of the pit stops, but from the seventeenth hour onwards, it remained constantly in second position with a gap that in the last four hours of the race stabilized at two laps. The plan of action, which Ferrari had devised after the December tests, carried out by Bandini, Scarfiotti and Amon, on the six-kilometer circuit of Daytona Beach, for its brand-new 12-cylinder cars (a major commitment, also economic, that gave the measure of Ferrari's firm determination to prepare for the new racing season), could only be disturbed by the Fords. The company had put six of them in the race with the hope of being able to sacrifice three of them to bring the Ferraris to exhaustion and retirement, leaving the others to fight with Chaparral and Porsche. Instead, one after the other, the American cars were forced to retire: the transmission failed on four of them and the engine on one. As for the Chaparral, Phil Hill's car was eliminated by an accident after three hours of racing. The former World Champion, after a stop to refuel, skidded on a patch of oil and hit a wall, bouncing twice. The other Chaparral, driven by Johnson and Jennings, retired after fourteen hours due to transmission failure. The Chaparrals were the only cars in the 24 Hours of Daytona equipped with an automatic transmission. Remarkable the fourth and fifth place conquered by the two-liter Porsche Carrera. The one following the Ferrari in the final classification, driven by Hermann and Siffert, moreover, showed ignition faults.
The other Porsches retired, one for a broken valve, the other for an accident that miraculously did not cause any victims. The Swiss Charles Vogete touched the Ferrari piloted by the Mexican Carlos Salas at the exit of a curve. Both cars went off the road and violently hit a protective wall. The Ferrari, after the collision, stopped at the edge of the road while the Porsche bounced on the track, setting itself on fire a moment after Vogele was thrown out of the driver's seat; the Swiss racer suffered only light injuries to his face and some light burns.
Mexican driver Salas, on the other hand, escaped the accident unharmed. Of course, both cars were practically destroyed. The race was very hard: half of the registered cars (29 out of 59) were forced to retire. The averages remained high (around 170 kilometers per hour). During the whole race the weather was almost always good. The night was cold and at first light a bit of haze reduced visibility on the circuit. Two months earlier, in a television interview, Enzo Ferrari had said:
"It's a crazy challenge that we bring to Ford, but that doesn't make me any less determined to continue".
It is a crazy challenge: a handful of technicians and specialized workers in a small town on the Modena plains, against the enormous possibilities, the grandiose center of experience, the hundreds of specialists, or the abundant dollars that the Detroit giant has been offering for some years now for the sole purpose of building racing cars capable of winning every time. But Ferrari has a special temperament, the more the difficulties increase, the more he likes to beat them. His cars were defeated by Ford at Le Mans, in the most famous endurance race: everybody said: this time it's over, goodbye Italian supremacy. Someone went so far as to propose a national subscription in order to give Ferrari the means to defend himself, at least to defend himself honorably in the face of the American overwhelming power. Only he, Ferrari, did not make a drama out of it.
"On a technical level we are by no means inferior to the Ford".
He declared with a calm awareness, and without delay he prepared for his revenge. Those who know a lot told him that it was useless to think of countering Ford, with their seven-liter engines, using the usual twelve cylinders of 4000 cubic centimeters on the prototypes. But history is quite different and has proved Ferrari right - once again. Of course, the season has just begun, and the ultimate goal is still the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race course that most probably interests Henry Ford II. Only that it also interests Ferrari. It is therefore conceivable that Ford will take action: at Daytona, the cars lined up by the Detroit company were still the 1966 model, i.e. the Mark II, because the new type III sedans still do not seem to be ready. But however things go afterwards, it remains the bright demonstration that the small Italian brand has nothing to learn about the construction of racing cars. With the victory, Ferrari has secured nine points in the world ranking of brands, three points went to Porsche and one to Ford. On April 1 the second round will be run in Sebring (12 Hours). This will be followed by races in Le Mans, Monza, Targa Florio, Spa, Nurburgring and Reims.
Lorenzo Bandini, Chris Amon, Ferrari's sporting director Franco Lini, technical director Mauro Forgheri and the Ferrari mechanics return to Rome on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 7, 1967, arriving at Fiumicino airport aboard a plane from New York. Ludovico Scarfiotti, who came second in the Florida race, prefers to stay a few days in the United States while his racing partner, Englishman Mike Parkes, arrives in Rome in the early hours of Wednesday, February 8, 1967. Bandini, as soon as he got off the jet, found himself surrounded by a crowd of sportsmen, photographers, journalists who congratulated him, asked him how it went at Daytona Beach, if it was difficult and what happened to the Fords. The photoreporters and the television operators insist that he let himself be filmed with the monumental trophy conquered in the American 24 Hours. Addressed to his wife Margherita, who came to Rome from Milan to meet him, Bandini says:
"After so many bitternesses, Daytona made me find so many friends again".
Lorenzo is smiling, not at all fatigued. The Italian driver remembers that he has to leave immediately for Maranello, but first he affirms that, since he has to take part in the Indianapolis race, he will return to the United States at the end of March in order to train on the course. Then, together with his wife, the sporting director Lini, the engineer Forgheri and the mechanics, he leaves for Modena, where Enzo Ferrari is waiting for them, who has warmly congratulated the whole team.
Awaiting the 12 Hours of Sebring, on Sunday 12 March 1967, Californian driver Dan Gurney won the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in England, the traditional opening race of the Formula 1 single-seater season, although not valid for the World Championship. Gurney, at the wheel of a three-litre car of the Anglo-American manufacturer Eagle-Weslake, wins the two heats and the final of the competition, the latter in 4'30"6 hours, at an average speed of 158.84 km/h. The American also sets a new track record by completing a lap at an average speed of 165.80 km/h.
Lorenzo Bandini's 1967 Ferrari 12-cylinder car comes second, just 0.4 seconds behind, a little more than the length of the car. A positive result, if we consider that the single-seater is at its first outing and was tested briefly only in Modena on Wednesday 8 March 1967, in the rain. Scarfiotti, in an old Ferrari, comes fifth, preceded by the Cooper-Maserati of Siffert and Rodriguez. A good impression is also made by the Honda of John Surtees (second and third in the batteries), retired in the final for a trivial failure (the accelerator cable does not return in position) while in the first positions. It is the first time since 1921, when Murphi on Duesenberg won the French Grand Prix, that an American car and an American driver win on a European circuit (but the 12-cylinder engine is of British construction).
After the success of the Ferraris at Daytona, on Sunday 4 April 1967, the Fords win the 12 Hours of Sebring, as expected, given the absence of the Ferraris and the not yet perfect tuning of the Chaparral. It is the almost simultaneous retirement, during the eighth hour of the race, of the two Chaparral's that facilitates the success, which otherwise would not have been easy: from this moment on, Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren drive their new Mark IV prototype at a safe pace, because behind them there is another Ford, the Mark II of Foyt and Ruby. The two will be classified second, but it is only the regulations that save them from the Porsche of Mitter and Patrick.
In fact, Foyt and Ruby's car stopped about twenty-five minutes before the end of the race and, despite the efforts of the mechanics, it never restarted, blocked by the breakage of the distribution shaft. At the moment of the stop, Foyt and Ruby had an eleven lap lead over the Porsche: with the passing of the minutes, this lead has been inexorably crumbled, and you can imagine the suspense of the drivers and the public. At the end Mitter-Patrick completed the same number of laps as Foyt-Ruby, but with a few hundred meters less: and since, according to the regulations, a car is also classified even if it does not cross the finish line in gear as long as it has completed ninety percent of the race, the Ford of Foyt and Ruby is considered second, even after a long discussion in the jury.
Thus, to read the order of finish, the Ford's victory takes greater proportion than it actually deserves. The only race out of discussion is the tightness of the new winning prototype, which finished the 12 Hours at the record average of 165 km/h, as well as the skill and intelligence of Andretti and McLaren, whose struggle with the Chaparral of Mike Spence and Jim Hall constituted for several hours an exciting spectacle. The start was already favorable to the Fords. Perhaps in an effort not to stress the cars right away, the two Chaparral crews began cautiously, and it was only at the end of the second hour that they were in the lead, preceded by the Fords of Andretti-McLaren (who had already taken the lead on lap four) and Foyt-Ruby, and the private Ferrari of David Piper and Richard Attwood.
Then, the Chaparral cars went on the attack, especially the one driven by Spence and Hall. From the third to the seventh hour the race is lived on the duel between Spence-Hall and Andretti-McLaren, a thrilling duel, followed with enthusiasm by about 60,000 people crowding the circuit, a duel always uncertain, driven by the alternation of supplies and tire changes: in practice, Ford and Chaparral are on the same line. Unfortunately, when the evening falls and the lights of the cars are already on, the first Chaparral abandons: that of Johnson-Jennings, due to failure of the electrical system and ignition. At this moment Johnson-Jennings are fourth. A few minutes later, Mike Spence brings his car to the pits. The good fight with Andretti-McLaren is over, and the Fords have a clear way to victory, in this second round of the International Prototype Trophy, the Ferraris are not lucky, neither the three Dino of Williams-Casoni, Kolb-Crawford and Rodriguez-Guichet, nor the old P2 of Piper-Atwood.
The Dino cars retired early (for radiator, gearbox and overheating problems respectively), the P2 halfway through the race for gearbox problems. Neither did the new Alfa 33 entrusted to De Adamich-Zeccoli (in the lead at the first lap) and Bussinello-Richard, who abandoned the race at the third hour due to suspension and electrical problems. Excellent performance of Umberto Maglioli and Nino Vaccarella, finished fifth at the wheel of a Ford GT 40, and Leo Cella and Sandro Munari, at the wheel of a Lancia Fulvia 1300. The two finished fourteenth. Only two accidents: a Porsche driven by Ralf Stommelen hits a dog and has to abandon; and a Beach Mk 8 performs a spin and catches fire: unhurt the driver, the American Hugh Kleinpeter.
After the defeat suffered on 5 February at Daytona in the 24 Hours by the Ferrari, Carrol Shelby - Henry Ford II's trusted man - accelerated the preparation of the new Mark IV prototype. The car, deriving from the previous models, was restructured and fine-tuned in a few weeks, especially thanks to the work of a young engineer from Shelby's team, Phil Remington, who modified the front end and significantly improved the aerodynamics. The Mark IV reached 350 km/h on the experimental track that the American company set up in Arizona.
The engine - a seven-litre with a power of more than 500 hp - and the transmission behaved very well, without suffering the defects of Daytona. On Sunday the confirmation came: the new prototype, at the wheel of which alternated the Italian-American Mario Andretti and the New Zealander Bruce McLaren, ran steadily, forcing the Chaparral cars to retire after eight hours of racing, as they could not keep up with its pace. A single overlooked detail risked spoiling the march of Andretti and McLaren: the 140 liters of petrol in the tank proved insufficient for the previously prepared refuelling schedule, and the Mark IV suddenly found itself out of fuel, far from the pits, several minutes before the calculated time. The small extra tank saved the day.
Perhaps, if the Ferraris had also raced, things would not have been so easy for Ford; however, it is not the case to go into the realm of hypotheses. Ferrari has preferred not to send his cars to the United States, and we cannot blame him: he is busy in the preparation of the Grand Prix and Formula 2 single-seaters and he did not want to waste the positive effects of the Daytona triumph with a possible defeat due to the lack of time. However, in Ferrari's decision there is also a sort of reprisal towards the great American adversary, which seems to choose in the calendar only the most suitable tests for the power of its cars, discarding the others. Who has ever seen the Ford at the 1000 km of Monza or at the Targa Florio? For obvious publicity reasons, Carroll Shelby and his teammates aim above all at Le Mans, at the 24 hours of next June. Meanwhile, at the preliminary tests of the classic French race, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Shelby will send a Mark IV, a lightened specimen of the previous Mark II, winner last year, and a reserve car. Drivers will be McLaren, Revson, Scott and Donohue. There will be an indirect confrontation with Ferrari, in particular with the new 330-P4. The only absentee is the Chaparral, which will remain in the United States for further development.
Saturday 8 April 1967 Jacques Roby Weber, one of the most promising French drivers, died in Le Mans during the preliminary tests of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, scheduled for 10 June 1967. Weber, who was twenty-seven years old, was trapped in the fire of his Matra-B.R.M. The car capsized and caught fire after leaving the track in the four-kilometer Hunaudières straight. It is the fastest stretch of the circuit: the most powerful models, such as Ferraris or Ford prototypes, fly at over 300 kph. The accident happens at 4:30 pm. There is still a quarter of an hour until the end of the tests, which started at 8:00 am. Weber had previously lapped in the brand new Matra with a 4.7-litre Ford engine, recording a modest 3'53"6. Then he had given the car to his compatriot Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and had climbed into the Matra powered by a two-liter B.R.M. engine, a sedan that had made its debut in competition last year.
The French driver, who had distinguished himself in the 1966 sporting season by winning several races in the Formula 3 single-seaters and in the Sport category, appeared in perfect condition. He had said goodbye to his young wife, who is expecting a baby, and got into the car. It was sunny, a light wind. The asphalt was dry. Coming out of the famous Tertre Rouge curve, Weber pushes his Matra to the limit. It is not possible to know how fast he can go, but he certainly exceeds 200 km/h. All of a sudden, according to two witnesses, the Matra began to skid, spun around, then lifted off and flipped over, while flames began to rise from the ripped fuel tanks. The car crawled a hundred feet and crashed into a cherry tree at the edge of the road. For Weber, there was no chance of rescue. On the asphalt remain two long braking tracks that from the right side of the road cross the entire roadway and exit to the left. A Matra technician will say:
"I don't understand how the accident happened."
The racer's wife did not notice anything, as she was in the stands, on the opposite side of the circuit. A few seconds after the accident, Lorenzo Bandini, at the wheel of a Ferrari 330/P4, passes by. The Italian driver returned to the pits in a state of shock.
"I slowed down almost to a halt, it was a terrible sight, pieces of the car everywhere, the wreckage still smoking...".
While telling what he had just seen, the Italian driver burst into tears. Bandini himself sets the best time, winning the indirect confrontation with the new Ford Mark IV triumphant in the recent 12 Hours of Sebring, in the United States. A few weeks later the Autodromo di Monza hosts one of its most important competitions, the 1000 km Trofeo Caracciolo. The race represents the third episode, after the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, of the international prototypes trophy, a kind of world championship of motoring that has seen in recent years the struggle between Ferrari, Ford and Chaparral flourish. Absent Ford, which wants to reserve its cars for Le Mans, the only rival able to engage Ferrari is the Chaparral, the original and curious car designed by the American industrialist Jim Hall with the help of General Motors technicians.
The confirmation comes on 24 April 1967, during the second and last day of official tests: the Chaparral, driven by the Englishman Mike Spence, beats the track record in 2'53"8, at an average speed of 209.205 km/h. Bandini, the winner of Daytona, drives the Ferrari in 2'54"1, while Scarfiotti, who had set the best time the day before (2'54"5), cannot take part in the training for family reasons. The enthusiasm in the American team, at its first visit to Italy, is quite contained. Jim Hall - 31 years old, married, engineer, tall, blond, owner of some oil wells left to him by his father in Texas - declares:
"A thousand miles of competition is no joke. We have only one Chaparral, while Ferrari has two of its best cars. It is clear that the most trivial inconvenience can eliminate us".
Today, however, his car is the center of interest, vainly protected by a swarm of mechanics in smart red jackets. In fact, the Chaparral, named after a very fast Texas bird, attracts the attention of the most distracted spectator with its science fiction appearance. The most striking feature is the rear wing, which has the function of stabilizing and aerodynamic brake. It is supported by two high tubular steel columns with hydraulic control. When the car is in a straight line, the driver keeps the aileron in an almost horizontal position, slightly inclined forward, by pressing a pedal instead of the clutch pedal (absent on the Chaparral, as the transmission is semi-automatic). This is the moment of maximum speed. When it is necessary to brake, the driver moves his foot on the brake pedal and releases the aileron pedal. The wing then tilts forward, exerting considerable pressure on the rear axle, which is pressed by the air, as well as acting as an aero-brake. Result: the car stops in less space and has an exceptional road holding.
The engine is a Chevrolet eight-cylinder seven-liter. Not easy, then, the task of the Ferrari 330/P4 of the Bandini-Amon and Scarfiotti-Parkes couples and of the older 330/P3 of Muller-Vaccarella and Rodriguez-Guichet. The latter obtained the fourth best time, turning in 3'00"8. Also interesting was the debut of the Mirage Ford, a prototype with a Ford engine and bodywork similar to that of one of the first racing cars of the American company, the GT 40. Finally, in the two-litre Sport Prototype category, an open fight between the Porsche Carrera 10 and the Ferrari-Dino. In the tests, the German cars did better (Herrmann obtained a good 3'07' while Williams had to be satisfied with a 3'08"8), but it is not impossible to hope for a favorable result for the Italian cars. The 1000 kilometers race will start at 11:00 am on Tuesday, April 25, 1967. The forty-two cars entered will have to cover one hundred laps of the track, which is formed by the road circuit and the speed ring.
Jim Hall is right: the 1000 km of Monza lasts only an hour and a quarter for the Chaparral. On lap 21 the American car stops at the pit. Phil Hill, who had just taken over from Mike Spence, jumps to the ground, while a swarm of mechanics in red jackets surrounds the car. The failure cannot be repaired: the bearing of the left rear wheel breaks. The automatic transmission itself appears damaged. But despite the unfortunate occurrence, Jim Hall takes the incident philosophically.
"The accident itself is trivial, although it was enough to take us out of the race. It seems to me that the car has proved to be going well: as long as it has been in the race it has engaged hard the Ferraris, which are better prepared and tuned for this difficult circuit. We had just two days to try".
Of the same opinion is Phil Hill.
"We should have come to Monza fifteen days ago. We didn't have the time. The account, with Ferrari, remains open."
Chaparral would race at Spa, Belgium, on Monday, May 1, 1967, and perhaps try its hand at the Targa Florio on May 14, 1967:
"Hill has told me that this is a one-of-a-kind test, but I'm still undecided: I don't know if the spare material brought from the United States will be enough".
By spare material, Jim Hall means an equipment of exceptional impressiveness: three Chevrolet engines, chassis, plastic bodywork in sections, wheels, various equipment, so much so as to set up two other cars equal to the one that participated in the 1000 Kilometers. The Chaparral disappears from the scene, the regular and formidable Ferrari 330/P4 of Bandini-Amon and Scarfiotti-Parkes quietly continue their march. Everything runs smoothly, even if for a moment it seems that Scarflotti's car has to abandon the test, because the pump no longer sucks fuel. The technical director, engineer Mauro Forghieri, and the mechanics are however good at quickly remedying the problem.
Ferrari conquers the second victory of the season at the 1000 kilometers, in the world championship for Sport Prototype cars (which are nothing else but competition cars with open or closed bodywork, with two seats, with no limitation of displacement for the engines): at the first place the couple Bandini-Amon, at the second Scarfiotti-Parkes. The 1000 kilometers (one hundred laps) are completed in little more than five hours, at a general average speed of 197 km/h. The race is entitled to the memory of Prince Filippo Caracciolo di Castagneto, president of the A.C. d'Italia and father-in-law of Dr. Giovanni Agnelli, president of Fiat, who is present at the competition.
The powerful and fast P4s of Ferrari have reconfirmed the superiority emerged in February in the 24 Hours of Daytona, with the difference that in the American race they had as opponents the Ford and Chaparral, while on the Lombardy track the team of the Detroit giant is absent, and the only Chaparral - although proving to be almost as fast as the Ferrari - gave up after just 170 kilometers of racing, when the Italian cars had already settled in the top two positions. So the technical interest and the spectacle itself, which in the motor sport draws its reason for being from the uncertainty of the fight, were soon exhausted. This does not detract from the fact that the public - quite numerous and mainly composed of young people - followed with passionate attention the beautiful performance of the Ferraris and the Italian and English drivers who alternated at the wheel.
The lack of formidable opponents, however, should not mislead on the efficiency of the new Italian Prototype. The figures speak for themselves: the already mentioned average of Bandini-Amon and the fastest lap at 206.825 km/h by Bandini himself during the initial phase of the race, when the Chaparral of Spence-Phil Hill still seemed to keep pace with the Ferraris. In order to better evaluate the meaning of these speeds, it must be kept in mind that, as in last year's edition, at the beginning of each of the two big elevated corners, a variant made of straw bales has been placed (a sort of narrow S to reduce the speed of entry into the corners themselves, where the concrete surface is not very regular; a sensible safety measure, in short).
Lorenzo Bandini is therefore the protagonist of the day; the Italian driver takes his turns driving with authority and decision, without relaxing even when the victory is now certain, fully confident in himself and in the car. His second driver, the 23 year old New Zealander Chris Amon (winner with McLaren, on Ford, of the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year), helped him very well, justifying the flair of Enzo Ferrari who hired him in his team. Scarflotti and Parkes, beaten by 3.15 minutes, undoubtedly had a slightly less efficient mechanical means than their two teammates, at least judging by the longer time they spent in the pits for refueling and those other small controls entrusted to the feverish activity of the mechanics. Bandini, on arrival, expresses words of joy for the victory obtained with his Ferrari:
"I was sure that the Chaparral would not have held. Yesterday, in practice, it had made a good time, but it was at the limit, while I, with the P4, had gone with a certain calm".
Afterwards, the Italian driver also expresses nice words of praise towards his teammate, the New Zealander Chris Amon:
"A driver who knows how to make the most of a car without straining it".
Amon is twenty-three years old, has been married to an American woman for three months and has been racing for four years. His father is one of the richest farmers-breeders in New Zealand. Among Ferrari's next engagements is the Spa race, valid as the fourth round of the International Prototype Trophy, and then, for Formula 1, the Monaco Grand Prix. For Ferrari and its drivers, the fight on all fronts of motor sports continues with no break.
On his Formula 1 debut, Sunday 30 April 1967 Mike Parkes wins the Daily Express trophy at Silverstone, thus confirming that Ferrari is well prepared this year for the world title races that will begin with the first practice of the Monaco Grand Prix. The thirty-seven year old driver, who is a giant over 1.90 meters tall, took the lead right from the start and progressively increased his advantage, covering the 152 miles (244.508 km) of the circuit in 1 hour 19'39"25, almost seventeen seconds ahead of World Champion Jack Brabham, who finished behind him together with the young Scotsman Jackie Stewart. From the competitive point of view, the race was fought only for second and third place. Graham Hill, who this year runs with Lotus and no longer for B.R.M., seemed destined for the place of honor for a long time. But Brabham, driving the homonymous car, came up from the sixth position to overtake him in the last laps.
The following day the Scuderia Ferrari moves to Belgium, on the circuit of Spa, where the team brings only one official car, a 330/P4 that is entrusted to Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes. The official Ferrari team also receives the support of the two 412Ps of the Maranello Concessionaires - driven by Richard Attwood and Lucien Bianchi - and the Equipe Nationale Belge of Willy Mairesse and Jean Blaton. After the car's retirement while leading at Monza, Chaparral arrives at Spa with a new chassis. The drivers are - as at Monza - Phil Hill and Mike Spence. The Mirage M1, built by John Wyer on the grounds of the Ford GT40, which had made its racing debut at Monza, receives new 5.7-litre Ford V8 engines, built by Holman & Moody in the USA.
During the first training session, held Saturday, April 29, 1967, Phil Hill marks the best time with his Chaparral; this will be achieved on the second day of training by no other competitor. Hill sets a time of 3'35"600, at an average speed of 235.436 km/h. Because the training sessions take place on Saturday and Sunday, the race does not take place until Monday. The race day starts early in the morning with rain, which will continue to fall until 13:00, the time when the race is scheduled to start. Jacky Ickx immediately takes the lead of the race, ahead of Willy Mairesse on a Ferrari. In spite of the poor visibility created by the water spray from Ickx's Mirage, Mairesse keeps a short distance from his compatriot. Until the first pit stop the gap between the two leaders is never more than five seconds. The first of the best cars to return to the pits is the Chaparral of Mike Spence, which is in fifth place. When Phil Hill tries to restart after refueling, the prototype gets stuck. The mechanics around Jim Hall try to start the Chevrolet engine, but they succeed only ten minutes later, allowing Hill to return to the track.
Meanwhile, while Ickx completes another stint after refueling, Equipe-National-Belge team boss Jacques Swaters leaves the driver's switch. Willy Mairesse gets out of the car, leaving the place to Jean Blaton. Blaton is unable to drive at the same pace as Ickx and the Mirage pulls away. After two hours of racing, the two leading cars overtake the entire group at least once. In third place, Jo Siffert drives the Porsche 910. This team also has not yet changed drivers. For the cars in which the starting driver is still sitting, the regulations come into force that set a maximum driving time of two hours per driver and stint. The leader Ickx is therefore forced to return to the pits to be replaced with his teammate. In the meantime, he had reached Blaton's yellow 412P, lapped it on lap 35 and returned to the pits on the next lap.
Ickx's teammate is Alan Rees. The 29-year-old Briton felt he was the team's number one driver and was infuriated by what he believed was a preference for Ickx. The night before the race, he had accused race director David Yorke of saying that Ickx was his favorite driver. So, after some arguing broke out, Rees leaves the track furious. The team is present on the track with only three drivers for two cars. In the second Mirage are present David Piper and Dick Thompson. The starting driver was Piper, who crashed on lap seven due to a faulty shock absorber. This makes Thompson available as a partner for Ickx.
However, as Ickx slowly approaches the three-hour time limit, then forced by regulation to make a pit stop, Thompson is nowhere to be found. An angry David Yorke rushed to race control - Ickx had been in the car for more than three hours - to avoid being disqualified because of the long drive time. When Thompson is finally found in the paddock, the team makes the driver change. Thompson will even be thirty seconds a lap slower than Ickx, but nevertheless will be able to maintain the lead, remaining in the cockpit for only an hour. The race is decided by an accident involving Willy Mairesse, who had taken over the Ferrari from Blaton. The pilot remains unharmed, but the car is not in the conditions to continue. Ickx and Thompson win the race ahead of Siffert-Herrmann in a Porsche, and Attwood and Bianchi in their Ferrari. For Jacky Ickx it is the first victory in a world championship race for sports cars.
Formula 1 racing cars, which are the highest expression of pure automotive technology, return in style in the Monaco Grand Prix, the second round of the World Drivers' Championship, scheduled for Sunday on the characteristic city circuit of Monte-Carlo. The first race of the 1967 season was held at the beginning of January in South Africa, but the racing season is only now getting underway, and new cars are appearing to raise the question of the superiority of a particular manufacturer or driver. For this reason, the technical reasons that the Monaco race should offer are many and of certain interest.
We need to see if Ferrari has already reached a position of advantage over the competition with the 1967 single-seater, given that the car is simply an evolution of the 1966 model, and that the annual budget is allocated to the development of the 330/P4; we need to see how Lotus and B.R.M. will fare, still struggling with the search for an efficient and robust engine after last season's disappointment with the ambitious 16-cylinder H-engine made by B.R.M.; it is to be seen how the new American car Eagle will behave, and also the progress of the updated Cooper-Maserati, the Japanese Honda and the artisan Brabham. The entries for the Monaco Grand Prix are nineteen, but the regulation prescribes, for safety reasons, that the starting cars cannot be more than sixteen.
The Monegasque organizers, as they have been doing for several years, admit eleven drivers on their own authority; the others will have to win the remaining five places in the trials. Only the brands that have been producing racing cars for at least three years receive an official invitation from the organization. Therefore, those sure to attend the Grand Prix are Bandini and Amon in Ferraris; Clark and Graham Hill in Lotus; Stewart and Spence in B.R.M.; Surtees in Honda; Rindt and Rodriguez in Cooper-Maserati; and Brabham and Hulme in Brabham. Honda Racing enters Surtees as the sole driver for this Grand Prix, at the wheel of a V12-cylinder car. The single-seater features a new gear selector, which allows for less clutch loss, as well as being lighter than the one previously used. Team Brabham arrives in Monte-Carlo with two cars from 1966, for Brabham and Hulme, but in case of emergency there will be a spare car at the box. Cooper also enters two drivers in the competition, Rindt and Rodriguez. They will drive two single-seaters powered by Maserati, to which the team has not made important changes compared to the model used in 1966, while a third car will be in the pits and will have the chassis used in 1966.
Lotus arrives in Monaco with a Lotus 33 powered by Coventry-Climax for Clark, and a Lotus 33 powered by B.R.M. for Hill. The English team will have to use these two old cars for the race weekend, as the Cosworth-Ford V8 engine is not yet finished. Ferrari, which had initially entered three cars, presents only two, for Bandini and Amon, both with the new thirty-six-valve engine and with a central exhaust system, as had already been anticipated by the single-seaters present at Brands Hatch.
In total there are eleven drivers already entered for the Grand Prix and only five places remain for the eight private drivers or those who drive for smaller teams. Among the drivers not yet qualified, we can find the names of Gurney and Ginther, with two Eagle-Weslake V12 cars, the same ones used at Brands Hatch; Siffert on board the Walker Cooper-Maserati V12, previously used at Silverstone and McLaren with a small Formula 2 single-seater. Anderson comes to Monaco with his own four-cylinder Coventry-Climax powered Brabham; Courage with a BRM V8 and two Matra cars driven by Beltoise and Servoz-Gavin (the French brand that is waiting to have the new Formula 1 car ready, so it takes part in the Grand Prix with its excellent F1 of 1600 cubic centimeters). Of these eight, only the five fastest will qualify for the twenty-fifth edition of the Monaco Grand Prix.
This is the general picture of the race: but it would be difficult to attempt predictions. The many unknowns about the level of preparation and expectation for Ferrari do not allow it, and neither does the tradition, which wants the Monaco Grand Prix to be constantly animated by surprises, failures, reversals of positions. It is an exhausting race, a hundred laps up and down the winding city streets, with transmissions, brakes and engines of the cars stressed beyond all limits, and with the drivers forced to a physical effort that not everyone can handle. After years, for this edition of the Monaco Grand Prix, the timekeepers, along with the start and finish lines, will not be located on the Gasworks hairpin bend, but will be positioned a few meters before the St Devote bend, in order to prevent a possible fight on the finish line, which would put the timekeepers in difficulty.
Lorenzo Bandini, one of the possible favorites to win, arrives in Monte-Carlo on Thursday, May 4, 1967, almost at dawn, after having traveled all night in his car, in the company of Mauro Forghieri, followed by Chris Amon, who drives another car. Margherita would have come alone, by plane, from Milan. Lorenzo had hoped to be able to pick her up from home, but Modena - the previous evening - had become late and he had called her to come on his own. They had all stayed in Maranello to test the two cars.
"As soon as the mechanics finish their work, we go to the racetrack. A couple of control laps, we'll see if there are any changes to be made, and then we'll head for Monte-Carlo".
Lorenzo confesses to Margherita. But during the afternoon of Wednesday, May 3, 1967, the work takes longer than expected. Borsari, the workshop manager, grumbles in Emilian. It seems impossible, but last-minute bolts are always the most mischievous.
"The gas tank socket. Make sure the socket is in place. We don't want what happened to Lodovico's car in Monza to repeat itself".
Shouts Bandini as he fumbles around the car.
"That was something else. Anyway, I think we're good with the tanks now".
Forghieri reassures him.
"Half an hour and we're done".
So Bandini replies:
"So, shall we go for a couple of laps at the racetrack?"
But the engineer retorts:
"It's almost dark by now. There's no time. We will try longer in Monte-Carlo. We'd better get going. Pignatti, with the cars, will leave before midnight. Listen, Lorenzo, will you take me up in the car with you?"
Lorenzo is a little sorry for the setback. He was really counting on these control laps. As far as his machines are concerned, he is meticulous, he is never fully satisfied, there is always a chance to improve. However, he gives up; indeed it is very late.
"All right, Mauro, let's get on with it. We'll see the rest in Monte-Carlo".
Lorenzo is happy to bring Mauro Forghieri along, because he likes to have someone close when he travels.
"I don't know the way. Can I follow you in my car? But don't speed: mine is a strolling car".
Chris Amon has a voice that is always cheerful, festive. Lorenzo likes him also because of his voice. He has now become his official racing companion: it had been years since Ferrari had formed such a close-knit pair of drivers. For Bandini, Chris is above all a friend. And that's important, because in a partner you have to be able to have trust above all.
Lorenzo doesn't trust others easily, especially in the professional field. Not for pride, but for a too long series of negative experiences. In ten years of racing he has seen too many things go wrong, and has learned to distrust everyone. He has had the opportunity to team up with many drivers, from Baghetti to Scarfiotti to Vaccarella, but he has never felt fully at ease. Chris is a guy with simple tastes and an outspoken character. And what Lorenzo fears most in this world, until recently so foreign to him, is hypocrisy, intrigue, manipulation. They call it diplomacy, but for him it's just falsehood. Chris, on the other hand, he knows he can trust.
Someone says that Amon is his most dangerous rival: he's a driver who's going fast, a driver who, since leaving Ford, has already made enormous progress, a driver who in a couple of years will be able to threaten his hard-won position as leader. But Lorenzo is happy when Chris is doing well, when people say he is maturing. Half an hour later, the red spider takes to the road; Lorenzo drives calmly, chatting with Forghieri. Every now and then, the Ferrari driver glances in the rearview mirror to see if Amon is following him.
Chris is driving a 1300, with French plates. It is not his. It belongs to Mike Parkes, who rented it in France the previous month. Chris borrowed the car because, after the race, he would like to bring his parents, who had come to visit him from New Zealand, back to Italy. They will be in Monte-Carlo and Chris would like to show them around the Coast and the Riviera. Lorenzo, as usual, drives fast and snappy. He always grumbles that between Milan and Modena the highway is full of old turtles. But tonight he has to go slow: Chris is behind him, trudging along in his Sunday car. Lorenzo puts on a record, in the device under the dashboard. He sings Mina. He likes the songs, the modern rhythms. He doesn't give himself intellectual airs.
"Mauro, do you remember that Italian girl who sang in that restaurant in Brussels? She was singing in English with a Sicilian pronunciation. And when you spoke to her in Italian, she answered in French. Who knows why people disguise themselves, they are afraid to be themselves".
Many memories, episodes, small facts of four years of life almost in common. He immediately got on well with Mauro Forghieri. When he goes on a trip, he always likes to be with him. At the beginning he was a bit awe-struck: Mauro was an engineer, a cultured and authoritative person, he was a simple mechanic, the son of farmers. It was Mauro who immediately showed him a great deal of cordiality. He often asked his opinion on many small problems in the workshop, he invited him to eat with him at the restaurant Il Cavallino, the trattoria in front of the workshop. In short, he treats him as an equal. Little by little, the discomfort that Lorenzo instinctively felt for people of a higher social class disappeared completely. And Mauro Forghieri, the engineer, became the friend with whom he could work, joke and confide. Along the way, Lorenzo stopped to refuel his car in Fiorenzuola. The pump attendant, bending down to clean the windshield, recognizes him.
"Uhé, ma l'è el Bandini. Is he going to Monte Carlo? Do we pay the English? With all the power of Ferraris, how did you fix the rear suspension for Monte-Carlo?"
Bandini likes to chat about cars with people in the trade, with young people, with enthusiasts. Therefore, not too much time passes before he can be seen arguing with the pump man. Two more cars stop behind; the owners need to refuel. They get impatient. Amon, too, shows his watch and signals to Lorenzo to hurry up. The plan is to sleep in Genoa, so - after refueling and after leaving - Bandini and Forghieri stop in front of a hotel and take down their travel bags, but Amon, looking out the window, does not agree.
"Let's keep going, or we'll get to Monte-Carlo on Monday, after the race. Now, at night, you can walk, but during the day these streets are infested with tourists. By now the good season has arrived, you can't save yourself anymore. Come on, Lorenzo, let's go: Princess Grace is waiting for you. She will be worried".
It's almost 1:00 am on Thursday, May 4, 1967, and the troop is on the Genoa-Savona highway.
"Actually, I'm a little sleepy. Let's stop for a drink".
Lorenzo replies to Chris. So, the group enters a roadside rest stop, where there are a few truck drivers, a small family having ice cream, a group of guys noisily discussing soccer, and a sleepy waiter yawning without much discretion. Lorenzo gets a lemon tea, the others coffee. As Lorenzo and Chris walk in, the boy eating the strawberry ice cream leans forward, and pulls his father by the sleeve, dropping some of the coffee on his pants.
"Dad, Dad: that's Bandini. Yes, Bandini, the one with the Ferrari".
Following this exclamation, the boys turn around as well, leaving a sentence about Herrera in the middle:
"There's Bandini. You see, there at the counter. The darker one. Now we ask him for his autograph".
Suddenly, the waiter woke up too, staring at Bandini with a somewhat astonished air. It is strange to see a champion up close, while he is drinking the tea he has just served. The waiter smiles, then pulls out a notebook and pen from a drawer on the counter. But before the worst happens, Bandini leaves the restaurant, jumps into the car, dragging Forghieri behind him, then takes the road back to Monte-Carlo.
"You see, Mauro, these things scare me. I don't understand how movie actors and stars do it".
Lorenzo confesses to Mauro:
"Come on, now you want to make a comedy out of me? After all, you like being famous too".
"On the racetracks, yes. When, at the end of a race, people applaud me, ask me for my autographs, I like that. But not here. Here I'm just an ordinary guy, I'm a guy who's sleepy and drinks tea because he has to keep driving".
But the engineer emphasizes:
"But, Lorenzo, success has a price. Popularity is also a price of success".
Lorenzo, however responds:
"Well, it's a price I don't like. And then you say well, because your name is famous, the machines you design win, everyone talks about you in the newspapers, but no one knows your face. You don't have to look like a walking Lollo. Lollo is an actress. She's used to showing her face. I'm a racer. And when I run, between my helmet and my glasses, you can barely see the tip of my nose. In fact, you can't even see the tip of my nose because I pass in front of them at two hundred miles an hour".
Around 3:30 am the group arrives in Monte-Carlo, at the Hotel de Paris, the old belle époque style hotel full of stucco and memories. While the concierge busies himself inside, with professional smiles and bows, Bandini looks at the large mirror, the gilded chandeliers, the faded velvet armchairs in the lobby.
"You see, it's just the opposite of what I think a hotel should be. To me, a hotel is a place where you go to sleep when you're tired, traveling. It has to be cool, cozy, functional. Like in America. Still, this old hotel inspires me with sympathy. It's like those old gentlemen who wear their whole era on their stern, old-fashioned suit. Here you lie in bed and think of the princes, grand duchesses, penniless nobles, Rotschilds and Bella Otero who have passed under that canopy before you. But it's better in America, where in a hotel you just sleep, without so many memories".
Lorenzo confesses to Mauro, who has just arrived in Monte-Carlo.
"You are an American maniac. Everything American is good for you".
The engineer replies.
"All I'm saying is that in America people live in a modern and rational way. A hotel is for sleeping, not for admiring the golden chandeliers. A bed is for resting and must be comfortable, clean, welcoming. The fact that it has a canopy and a brocade blanket doesn't make me sleep any better. In America, in all hotels I find air conditioning, foam rubber, fridge in the room, scales, vibrator for massages, warm bathrobes".
But Mauro jokes, and retorts:
"You are for a sterilized humanity, hygienically guaranteed".
But Lorenzo responds seriously:
"And why not? Go to South America and then move on to North America: you realize that civilization and progress are expressed above all through well-being, cleanliness and functionality. And you, being an engineer, having the head of a technician, should understand and appreciate these things".
At this point, engineer Forghieri also speaks seriously, and retorts:
"It seems a bit excessive to judge the civilization of a people by the way they eat and sleep".
So Lorenzo goes on to express his thought:
"Each person has his own standards of judgment. For me, for the job I do, certain things are important. The last time I was in America I ate here and there, in motels, snack restaurants, and I never went to bed feeling heavy in my stomach. Because the foods are controlled, balanced, hygienically safe. Calories are dosed according to the body's needs, vitamins are provided as needed. In contrast, here in Europe, if I eat out, I never get to digest easily. Can you imagine what it's like to face a race with a weighted stomach?"
Following the logic of his rider, Mauro asks:
"Would you go and live in America, Lorenzo?"
So Lorenzo answers, with sincerity:
"If Maranello was in California, right away".
The debate, however, is interrupted by a gentleman in tails, distinguished and grim:
"If the gentlemen would like to follow me, I will accompany them to their rooms".
Bandini looks at him hesitantly, then turns towards Forghieri and Amon:
"We're almost four o'clock now. Let's go for a little ride around the circuit. I want to see if I remember it right. At this hour there are no nuisances. We'll be quiet. No snoopers, no spies, no reporters. Tomorrow morning we can sleep as long as we want".
Forghieri, who is already inside the revolving door, behind Bandini, replies:
"Sure. The truck with the cars will not be here before eleven o'clock".
But Chris Amon has some hesitation; it's 4:00 am. A few moments later, Bandini turns around and gives him a solicitous nod, so Amon gets in the car as well. He can never say no to Lorenzo. Again, the group drives the red spider down the Casino hill.
"It's a wonderful car for studying a circuit. It gives you a direct feel for the road".
"Yeah, but you with your American mania should be doing these spins with one of those Detroit liners. Why don't you buy yourself one, comfortable, shiny, functional and hygienic?"
Forghieri tells him, joking. But Bandini replies:
"I bought it, two years ago. In Belgium. All the money from a prize translated into a beautiful automatic transmission car. After half a day I had already broken it. I planted it down there. America is great for hotels and vitamins, but I prefer Europe for cars".
In the meantime, a group of gentlemen in tuxedos and ladies at their side, coming out of the casinos, stops, interdicted. They look at the license plate of the red car.
"Oh, ces italiens sont tous des fous".
They exclaim, believing him to be a night tourist caught up in the mania of motoring exhibitionism and virtuosity, and hurry to get into a cab. Lorenzo is very satisfied: he remembers everything exactly. The point where the road is against the slope, the Mirabeau curve, where you have to brake at the last moment, the tunnel where the ground is smoother and the other curve, where the newsstand interrupts visibility. By now Lorenzo is an expert: here, twice he has arrived at the finish line in second place. This time, however, he has to win. After all, it shouldn't be too difficult. He has the best machine and knows the circuit perfectly. And he feels that this is the right year.
As he continues his night test, the car slides away, tending to get sideways; a streetlight comes threateningly close. But Bandini reacts immediately, giving two light strokes to the steering wheel and releasing his foot from the accelerator. At the exit of the curve he found himself facing a wet stretch of road, since they were watering the gardens. The spider continues its race passing again in front of the Casino, and then down the hill. Bandini turns worried, looking at the wet stretch of road: certainly not out of fear, but because the water has suddenly made him think that it might rain on race day. Lorenzo doesn't like racing in the wet. Two years earlier, during the Belgian Grand Prix held at Spa, it began to rain and Bandini slowed down, losing contact with the leading drivers. The gap increased more and more, and in a short time he found himself lapped. At the arrival someone started to point this out to him, but Lorenzo answered:
"Well, so what? Good people, when it rains I'm afraid to go fast. Is that okay? I'm just afraid".
Of the rest, all the Italian pilots show discomfort in racing when it rains. It's not a question of skill, but of habit; English drivers, for example, are often more skilled, but this simply depends on the fact that in England it often rains, and driving in the wet is an everyday occurrence.
"I don't. I know that when I'm racing and it's raining I get paid by the accountants in the City. It's like that couple of famous Italian rally drivers who, a couple of years ago, went to Sweden to train for a race that would take place in the snow and ice of Scandinavia. For a week they did crazy things down an icy slope on the outskirts of Stockholm, with studded tires and a weighted car. They thought they had achieved amazing results. And then they saw themselves being overtaken by an old Volvo with dad, mom and three kids who were going on a trip. Only that dad had been born in the snow and had always driven on icy roads. I come from a country where the sun shines. In fact, I was even born in Africa. When it rains, I don't trust it. And I'm not ashamed to confess that I'm afraid".
Lorenzo looks up at the starry sky, then thinks: after all, it's already May, why would it rain in May in Monte-Carlo? The spider takes the tunnel again. Then it reaches the height of the chicane. Or, better, the straight stretch along the sea where they will put the straw bales to create the deviation. Bandini tries to imagine the road with the straw bales. Here too everything should be fine, without any problems. The last night owls come out of the Casino. Like their predecessors, they look at the red car that continues to rumble up and down the streets around the building and shake their heads. It shouldn't be allowed to be so loud at four in the morning. People have a right to rest. After all the hours of tension at the green table, one should be able to take a quiet walk through the streets of Monte-Carlo. They comment in annoyance:
"It used to be a quiet little town".
An American from Texas, however, with the cigar he no longer buys in Cuba, the tuxedo with cherry-colored silk lapels, the shiny shoes with cleats and a stone shining in the buckle, is amused by the sight of the red car passing by and shouts something encouraging to him, waves to him, waving, to go faster, Lorenzo smiles. He is her only fan tonight. Margherita arrives in Monte-Carlo around 11:00 am on Thursday morning. In the afternoon the rehearsals begin, but as it is still morning, Lorenzo is asleep. He went up to his room, when the sky was already clearing over the sea, after 5:00 am. In the lobby of the Hotel de Paris there are only two old gentlemen discussing in low voices the algebraic system by which they can win at roulette 1000 francs after having invested 100,000. A vacuum cleaner hums on the stairs.
"Wake up at noon".
Bandini asked a few hours earlier, walking past the doorman. As he makes his way to the elevator he turns again, and exclaims:
"When my wife arrives, tell her to come up quietly. I need to rest".
The old man doing night duty at the elevator greets him by bringing his open-palmed hand close to his forehead. In the morning, Margherita tiptoes up to the room after the doorman has commended himself to her:
"Monsieur Bandini veut reposer. Il a essayé le circuit jusqu'à très tard cette nuit, madame".
Lorenzo sleeps peacefully and serenely, his hand open on the pillow beside him, in the empty place of daisy. He sleeps with joy. After all, Lorenzo is a simple man who knows how to enjoy the elementary pleasures of life. Margherita says, laughing, that he is a primitive: he is a boy who feels happy when he eats a nice ripe apple just picked from the tree. He enjoys a nice salad, a swim in the clear sea, a walk in the crisp air of a beautiful winter morning. Perhaps he finds his most immediate joys in nature. That's why he loves hunting, long walks on the moors, the free barking of dogs.
And certain activities, which for others are only a more or less distracted habit, for him represent occasions in which he throws himself enthusiastically, because he derives genuine pleasure from them. Opening the window in the morning on a beautiful sunny day, eating a ripe and pulpy fruit. Margherita looks at him for a long time. Then she slowly opens Lorenzo's suitcase, without making a sound. He hasn't had time to prepare it. He phoned her from Modena, asking her to bring his suitcase to Monte-Carlo.
"Be sure not to forget the tuxedo".
It was the new, refined tuxedo, made by a fashionable tailor, which he had made a week before, just to wear it in Monte-Carlo. It is a sign of the turning point Bandini is making in his life. At least to the most external one, the one that engages him in a relationship with people. Until now, he had never felt the need to buy a tuxedo. He didn't understand those pilots who wore that curious uniform of luxury snobs in the evening. In fact, he almost disliked them. At ceremonies, receptions, award ceremonies, in all those boring places where Margherita and Lini obliged him to go every now and then, he showed up in his usual dark blue double-breasted suit, with a pearl-colored tie. Like all good provincial young men.
Even the world of motor sports has its own aristocracy, closed, exclusive, proud. A caste that looks with detachment at those who are outside this sensitive circle of good names, good manners, every worldly exterior. Bandini has always felt excluded from this nobility of driving, even though many of these gentlemen show him a cordiality and an apparently sincere friendship. When he saw Clark or Hill going down to dinner in their tuxedos, kissing the hands of the ladies, and expertly scrolling through the French wine lists, he found it hard to recognize in them the champions that an hour earlier he had seen sweating and dirty in the pits, amidst oil stains and the stench of gasoline.
With patience, Margherita explained to him that he was wrong to look down on this halo of refined worldliness that many of the great driving champions like to surround themselves with, almost as if to remind him that theirs is a noble sport, whose illustrious lineage descends from the equestrianism of the best ancient societies. All right, he thinks that tuxedos and champagne have no connection with racing and Grand Prix, but he had to get used to it.
From the suitcase Margherita pulls out the new tuxedo. She looks at it for a moment, smiling in the rosy light that filters through the velvet curtains, then smiles: that tuxedo is a bit of a victory for her. The tuxedo is laid out on the armchair at the foot of the bed where Lorenzo is sleeping. On the other armchair, Margherita puts down her rehearsal suit, her driving shoes, her gloves. Something rolls on the carpet. The stopwatch. She will need this to follow the rehearsals, to follow the race. Margherita picks it up fearfully, with a sudden glance at Lorenzo, who fortunately has not woken up. After Daytona, Lorenzo had asked Franco Lini to always book him a double room: Margherita would almost always come with him
Around 1:00 pm Forghieri calls: the cars have arrived, the engineer is waiting for him at the pits. Lorenzo is already up, chatting with Margherita about some friends who have come from Milan with her to see him win on Sunday. From the window comes the clear and warm sun of the Coast. If he didn't have to run to the pits, he would go for a long walk. The first tests are the most delicate, but also the most boring. You don't test the circuit so much as the cars. Especially this time, since in Modena the two cars were not even checked. In the pits, Lorenzo finds a lot of nervousness. Several unforeseen events came up. Minor things: a seat a few centimeters too long, a badly calibrated air intake, a blocked pressure gauge. Inconveniences, however, that waste time, delay the tests. The mechanics are all on the move: Borsari gives orders, urges, shouts. He is Ferrari's chief mechanic. While waiting, Bandini sits on a barrier next to Borsari.
"Giulio, did you bring your camera? I'm counting on it Sunday. Everything in color when they give me the cup".
"I'll photograph you in cinemascope. But you have to remember to smile, otherwise you'll ruin my photo Lorenzo".
Lorenzo always jokes with Borsari, as he is an old companion. The two met when Giulio was a mechanic at the Centro-Sud Scuderia, and Lorenzo was a young rookie driver. They immediately sympathized, or because Borsari is also from Modena: the two spoke in Emilian. Borsari had witnessed his debut, advised him and helped him. Then, together with him, he found himself involved in the great adventure in Australia. Three months alone, without money, without anything other than an old Maserati. They had to live their lives by the day: Lorenzo went racing here and there, from one end of Australia to the other, in order to collect engagement prizes with which to pay for food and sleep. And Borsari, at the back, would patch up his car, with no possibility of replacing parts, welding this, patching that.
"Do you remember in Canberra? When you patched up my car all in wire? Now you're playing hard to get, you're yelling, you're ranting and you've got a truckload of spare parts around the corner".
Lorenzo enjoys provoking him because Giulio Borsari is a quiet, taciturn, scrupulous man with only two obsessions: cars and photography. A remarkable photographer, by the way. With Franco Lini, another photography enthusiast: a playful rivalry in this field. And Bandini pits them against each other with biting judgments.
"Yet Australia was a great experience. For you too, Lorenzo. Perhaps in those crazy races you learned something about sports driving, but above all you learned a lot about life. I learned a lot about life too. Do you remember when we found ourselves there, in that country at the edge of the desert, who knows what it was called, with no money, an empty stomach for two days, and a broken differential? And do you remember how we came out of it?"
They laugh in amusement at a memory that is all their own, a memory they are unwilling to share with others. And, perhaps in revenge for this exclusion, the others react by breaking the dialogue.
"Giulio, do you want to check this gearbox? Giulio do we need to adjust the shock absorbers? Should we change the tires, Giulio?"
Shortly thereafter, Lorenzo enters the track to begin testing. He completes one lap, then re-enters. There is something about the engine power supply that doesn't satisfy him. Borsari looks at it, evaluates, then takes care of it and Lorenzo goes back on the track, but almost immediately returns to the pits for a further modification. The tests continue, but the Ferrari driver is not convinced about the pressure of the rear tires.
"Shall we try to reduce it a bit?"
Bandini asks, but Forghieri loses patience.
"Listen, Lorenzo, wouldn't it be better if you did some serious laps, pushed a little hard, and then came back here and tell us all together the things we need to fine-tune?"
But Lorenzo retorts:
"For me, if the car is not all right, I don't feel it in my hands, I can't commit".
The engineer, however, exclaims:
"I understand that. But in the meantime, time is passing. And I need to hear from you about everything that needs to be fixed tonight. Go, turn, push through. And then we'll talk".
The first practice session started on Thursday afternoon and the first one to go on the track was Rindt, with his Maserati-powered Cooper, with which he set an excellent time. A few tenths of a second behind him is the Honda driven by Surtees, who from the very first laps seems to be a valid opponent for this weekend. Soon all the drivers leave their pits, except Clark and Hill, whose cars have not yet arrived at the circuit because of a shipping strike in the English Channel. The record for the fastest lap of the Monte-Carlo track was set last year by Bandini, with Ferrari, during the Grand Prix, in 1'29"8, while during practice Clark was confirmed as the fastest in 1'29"9, which suggests that this weekend the average time for a lap will be 1'30".
At the beginning of the session, the drivers on the track record slightly higher times and the average time is 1'35", but with the improvement of the track conditions, soon the average time drops to 1'30", as expected. Hulme, among all, seems to be the driver most at ease on this kind of track and soon he conquers the provisional pole position, followed by Bandini and Gurney. As the end of the session approaches, Stewart, at the wheel of the V8 B.R.M., records the best time and is the first to go under the threshold of one minute and thirty seconds, thus placing himself ahead of Hulme. During the last minutes, no other competitor manages to improve enough to reach Stewart's performance, who ends the day in first position.
In the meantime, Bandini comes back to the track, but the next lap he is again at the pits: there is a gap in the carburation. A small thing, a trifle. But he wants it to be tuned immediately, and the mechanics do their best to satisfy him. Perhaps for no other rider would the team's mechanics do what they are prepared to do for Lorenzo. They feel he's one of their own, they love him. He's someone who, when it happens, takes off his jacket and starts working with them. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty. And he's competent. He knows the machines in every detail, perhaps not with the competence of an engineer, but certainly with the lucidity of someone who has always lived in the workshops.
He knows every secret of the Ferrari: Lorenzo is one of the few drivers with solid mechanical knowledge, and in the race he knows how to make the most of this prerogative: he knows exactly how much he can ask of the car. And he always goes to the extreme limit, without exceeding it. He also knows how important the work of the mechanics is, and he never misses an opportunity to emphasize this in interviews or conversations. He is perhaps the only one who, when he wins, remembers to mention the contribution made to his victory by the mechanics. On the contrary, he often gives them a portion of the prize so that they can divide it among themselves, and if anyone protests, he insists.
"It's your money, you won it too. In fact, I won it for you".
And he says it softly, in dialect, without rhetoric. In the meantime, the car seems fine. Bandini is back on the track again, without risking too much, and he gets pretty good times. Margherita watches him pass and repass. She checks the times on the stopwatch.
"What do you think, Franco?"
Franco Lini replies:
"It's fine. There is no need to worry. Sunday will be a piece of cake for Lorenzo. He just has to keep up the pace and tire out the others".
Margherita, however, is not sure and asks for more information.
"But now, in the trials, what time should he do to be sure of winning?"
"You see Margherita, sometimes you make me think back to when ten years ago, you would call me on Sunday evenings with a shy voice: hello, this is Bandini Lorenzo's cousin. My cousin ran in Cuba today and back home we would like to know the results. Maybe you can find out from the newspaper. Do you remember Margherita? Lorenzo down there in Cuba, venturing out with the Junior and you, all in love, making yourself look like an anxious cousin".
Now Chris Amon is on track. The New Zealand driver first completes a couple of laps, then pushes hard. Lini shakes his head: the times are not satisfactory. When Chris returns to the pits he looks disappointed. Lorenzo walks up to him with a smile of encouragement. He puts his hand on his shoulder and says:
"Don't feel bad, Chris. The first time Monte-Carlo is always disconcerting".
Chris appreciates Lorenzo's comforting gesture, but retorts by saying:
"I don't know. I push, I push, but I can't go any harder. All these sudden turns, these bottlenecks, these roads that seem to throw you straight into the sea".
But once again his teammate comes back to give him the right advice.
"Monte-Carlo is a very special circuit. Many drivers hate it. I find it formidable. But you have to get used to it, understand it. You must not attack it".
Amon doesn't really understand what Lorenzo is saying, so he asks him:
"What do you mean, don't attack it?"
Therefore Lorenzo explains to him:
"I mean that every corner, every stretch has to be studied, has to be thought about. Then you start to try in a certain way, you correct, you elaborate and, little by little, everything becomes easy. You'll see, Chris, that tomorrow will be better. Maybe in the morning we'll take a walk around the circuit together. You know, it is very useful to go and look at the ground on which you have to run on foot. I do that all the time. Here in Monte-Carlo, it's indispensable. Come on, Chris, don't worry: the first time it's normal to find Monte-Carlo grumpy".
Meanwhile, Franco Lini listens with amusement to this dialogue, then turns to Margherita.
"Lorenzo is formidable. And a boy of infinite goodness. Any other pilot would have rejoiced to see that his teammate makes worse times than him. Instead, Lorenzo is concerned with boosting his morale, he proposes to teach him the secrets of Monte-Carlo".
Margherita, however, replies:
"But Chris deserves it. Chris is his friend".
Franco, goes on to say:
"Yes, certainly. But many on the track no longer recognize either friends or enemies. There are opponents to beat, to humiliate".
As Lorenzo and Chris talk, the rehearsal draws to its conclusion. Now the cars have to go back to the garage, down on the road to Menton, to have the set-up corrected. Now it's Forghieri and Borsari's turn: Bandini and Amon have made their observations, pointed out the problems, suggested changes. Now it's the mechanics' turn.
"All of us have dinner at Bidou's, in Villefranche".
"I'll go ahead with Marconi and other friends. You, Forghieri, join us as soon as you've fixed the cars. Are you coming, Lorenzo?"
Bandini replies to Franco Lini:
"All right. I'm going to the hotel to take off my suit, put on a gentleman's suit. And we'll catch up with you".
Margherita, however, reminds Lorenzo:
"But we had told our friends in Milan that we were staying with them".
So Lorenzo finds a solution to please everyone:
"Let's see... Then we can go with the whole gang".
Franco Lini, before leaving, asks Lorenzo:
"Lorenzo, do you know where it is? Bidou is that restaurant at the end of the harbor jetty. Do you remember? The owner is that jovial gentleman, brother of Antoine Bonifaci, the soccer player. We are waiting for you".
However, Bandini will not go to dinner with the team. Neither he nor Margherita; while waiting for their Milanese friends it was getting late and Lorenzo had not had enough sleep the night before. A runner must impose strict discipline on himself, like an athlete. In fact much more than an athlete. Lorenzo is inflexible with himself on this: his life is governed by rules that do not allow for exceptions. The eight or nine hours of sleep are one of these rules. As they go up to their room, Lorenzo, with the usual brusque air that he assumes every time he addresses his wife, the one that Amon jokingly calls the mask of the Latin husband, says, looking at the numbers of the floors clicking on the luminous dial of the elevator:
"Gio, the other time between Spa and Le Mans I took you to see Paris. Do you remember? I wanted you to see it all in one night. With Franco's car, we drove around like mad until late at night".
Margherita recalls, and adds:
"Yes, and Franco was annoyed because instead of looking at the illuminated monuments, I was looking at you. He said we were like newlyweds on our honeymoon".
As the elevator continues to rise, Lorenzo - satisfied - confesses to Margherita:
"Well, this time I'm taking you to America. On Monday, right after the race, we leave for Indianapolis. I've got a ticket for you too. New York, maybe even New Orleans, and then we're going to fight with the Fords at Le Mans".
On Friday, May 5, 1967, practice began very early, before 8:00 am. The mechanics have slept little; the tuning of the Ferraris has taken a long time. At the Fiat garage, which was given to the Ferrari men for the occasion, they worked well into the night. But at 7:30 am everyone was already in the pits. During the second practice session the Lotus cars also took to the track, after having reached the circuit during the night. The times are immediately better than those of the previous afternoon. Clark, just out of the pits, records excellent times with his Lotus-Climax V8 and puts Stewart's first position at risk.
A surprising Surtees manages to bring the Honda Racing in first position, breaking the previous track record when he records a time of 1'28''4. In the meantime Stewart, Clark, Gurney and Hill go under the one minute and thirty seconds mark, and the times get lower and lower. In the meantime, Bandini also does some test laps. He is even satisfied with the efficiency of the car, an extraordinary event for such a demanding and perfectionist driver. Then he asks for his tires to be changed and walks away. Lorenzo reaches the Mirabeau curve, sits alone at the terrace of the café, and remains for half an hour watching the cars pass by.
Lorenzo observes Graham Hill in particular, and with attention. The British driver has a curious way of driving, decidedly unconventional. They say that he modifies the set-up on purpose to make his cars oversteer, exploiting this characteristic to the maximum. For this reason, Hill manages to lower his time by at least one or two seconds, exploiting this characteristic at Mirabeau corner. Lorenzo observes him well: he arrives very fast, he gives a sharp blow of the steering wheel, the rear wheels start drifting, and he exits the curve faster than he entered it.
Shortly after, Lorenzo returns to the pits convinced: he will also try to do the Mirabeau curve as Hill does. So he gets into the car, puts on his goggles, and drives off. In the following minutes several drivers pass in front of the pits, but Bandini's car does not reappear. Suddenly, a B.R.M. driver pulls up next to the pits and says he saw Bandini crash into the straw barrier at Mirabeau curve. But without serious consequences, he adds, because he saw him calmly exit the car. In fact, after a quarter of an hour, car number 18 slowly returned to the pits with a twisted wheel, smashed nose, and dented side.
"How did you manage to wreck the car like that?"
Yells Franco Lini, worried about Sunday's race.
"It just happened. It went off on a curve and I ended up outside".
Responds Bandini brusquely.
"But didn't something respond? Maybe the suspension, or the brakes?"
Forghieri asks breathlessly.
"Yes...I mean, no.... It happened. It can happen to anyone, right?"
Lorenzo continues to say, but Mauro suddenly remembers some talk from the day before that his driver had given him about Graham's driving technique, so he retorts:
"I know why it happened to you. And you don't want to say it".
Discouraged, Lorenzo finally admits:
"It happens to everyone to try to do something better and break their nose. At the end of the day, I was doing to improve the time. And then there's no reason he can do it and I can't. But...I'm sorry. I didn't think I'd lose control and ruin the car".
Bandini is despondent, and smiles sadly, as if to make it up to him. Forghieri affectionately beats his hand on his shoulder and approaches the car. Borsari has finished the inspection: it's not serious, working hard all night, tomorrow morning the car will be perfectly fine. Anyway, for today the rehearsals are over. Bandini is still in the pits for a while, watching the others turn. He is a bit nervous. Lini continues to take times and notes.
"Franco, let me take a drag on your cigarette".
As a rule, Lorenzo does not smoke: it is a vice that he has removed, with great strength of will, precisely because he is convinced that an athlete must observe strict self-discipline. During the periods in which he doesn't run he allows himself one cigarette a day. But every now and then he can't resist the temptation to ask someone to let him inhale a puff of smoke. It happens when he's unhappy. Lini hands him the cigarette. Lorenzo barely brings it to his mouth and returns it.
"Look, Lorenzo, don't be a boy. Wanting to do the Mirabeau to Hill was a mistake, because he drives in his own way and with machines adapted to that technique. Anyway, nothing happened, luckily. Tomorrow we'll fix your car. Now go to the hotel and don't worry. You don't need Mirabeau's half second: on Sunday you are the strongest and you don't need to take unnecessary risks. Forget about the accident and have fun. Good afternoon".
At the hotel Margherita is waiting for him together with her friends from Bologna who have come to cheer him on. Lorenzo, Margherita and friends decide to go eat at the Astoria. Cheerful, simple, spontaneous people: Lorenzo gets along very well with them. We talk without having to think about the words we say. Even if, in recent times, he has been approaching more casually the environment in which now, a fashionable champion, he has to live, instead, he has remained tied to his old world. His most trusted friends have remained those like Dario Zerbini, the tobacconist of Reggiolo.
In the afternoon comes the hardest obligation for Lorenzo, as he has to face the photographers and journalists. Franco Lini has set him a series of appointments. He begins with French television. It was a great honor: they filmed him in color for the program that would begin broadcasting in September. They drag him up and down the circuit, with complicated shots of cars, boxes, grandstands. And he is always being squeezed by increasingly pressing questions. Lorenzo's answers are brief, but centered. You can sense that he is on the defensive. At the beginning of his career, he wasn't like that. He spoke freely because, even if it is true that he is not very talkative, when it comes to cars and racing he gets hot. But then he learned, to his cost, that in this environment, as perhaps in all work environments, talking too much and being honest is always dangerous.
Others are able to get away with cunning, playing with words. skilfully dodging tricky questions, skirting around the topics. Lorenzo, on the other hand, shuts down and answers with the bare minimum, so as not to come across as haughty or rude. During the ten-minute live interview on Radio Montecarlo, he barricades himself behind the praises of the Ferraris, and does not come out of his trenches. At which point Franco Lini says to him:
"You know, Lorenzo, maybe you should give some more satisfaction to the journalists".
But Lorenzo replies:
"Listen, as they say in my country, I have learned to be an old woman. I listen, I understand, but I always repeat the same things, as if I didn't understand. So I don't risk anything. I have to think about running, not about playing the violin for journalists. You say white and they write black. Then you argue, and misunderstandings arise. No, it's better to be an old woman".
For dinner, we meet at La Ferme. It is a restaurant on the mountain, above the city. A rustic environment where you can eat country specialties. Bandini likes it very much because of the genuine air of the cuisine. The company is very different from the one in the morning: they are industrialists and entrepreneurs, people from the Ferrati clan, gentlemen who love sports cars, who began by buying a Ferrati and who, little by little, have become at home in Maranello and enjoy following the races around Europe. Tonight at the Ferme there is Husl, a nice Belgian industrialist, with his very elegant wife Tuhya. There is Da Crema, a young, exuberant industrialist from Milan. There is Marconi, a hotel owner, from Romagna, rowdy.
Lorenzo is also elegantly dressed and participates in the conversation with liveliness. They talk about Gunther Sachs and Brigitte Bardot, about the Serena's cruise next summer, about Warhol's exhibition in Paris. When the conversation gets too mundane, Lorenzo turns to his steak. Every now and then, however, he seems to stray from convivial chatter, not out of distrust, but because his mind chases other thoughts. La Ferme's wine is good. A red wine, clear and cheerful. They bring it to the table in large rustic jugs. And everyone gives it a big party. It flows gaily, together with the pâté de campagne, the saucisson, the gigot.
"Lorenzo, you not even a taste of this nectar from the vineyards of Her Highness Grace Kelly?"
"Useless to tempt me: I do not drink."
The reply comes naturally:
"But the race is on Sunday. What do you want me to do with a glass of this little wine?"
But Lorenzo insists:
"I don't do this job as a hobby, but because I believe in it. And I wouldn't do it if I weren't capable of many sacrifices."
Lorenzo has a large basket of crudítés brought to him and he eats them silently, only occasionally entering into the conversation. Raw carrots, raw tomatoes, raw celery. A pinch of salt grazes the plate with oil and he eats them happily. Since he's been racing his steady diet has consisted of fruits, raw vegetables and grilled meats. Before that he was a robust eater. The only escapes he allows himself are a half glass of Lambrusco and a slice of cake, when he is in Modena to follow the preparation of a car. At 10:00 pm Lorenzo looks at his watch, gets up and with a quick nod greets everyone.
"Excuse me very much. It's getting late and I have to go to sleep. Rehearsals start again in the morning. We work. You, Gio, stay here. Go back downstairs with the others. Good night to all".
But Forghieri gets up and exclaims:
"Wait, Lorenzo, I'll go with you. I want to go and have a look in the garage at what the mechanics are doing. They must be fixing your car".
As an exclamation rises from the group, amidst amused laughter, as Lorenzo waves his hand, without turning around:
"Then we'll hold Margherita hostage. Then don't complain if we drag her to do crazy things".
The red spider comes out of the Ferme gate. Forghieri says to Bandini:
"If you're not in too much of a hurry, I'll show you a new road. Turn right and continue until you find a small road going downhill".
The spider goes down the fast hairpin bends. It is a narrow and steep road, full of potholes. Cars must not pass it often. In some curves the car barely manages to turn, grazing the low wall that cuts cleanly through the cliff.
"Stop for a moment here, Lorenzo".
The road at this point almost forms a terrace. Bandini and Forghieri get out of the car and lean against the low wall. Below, the mountain slopes down to the sea.
"Stupendous, Mauro. Shows like this move me, fill me with joy".
"Kant also said it: two things fill my soul with new and growing admiration, the moral conscience within me and the sight of the starry sky above me".
Lorenzo, who probably does not know Kant's verses, retorts:
"I don't know what else Kant said, nor do I care much. I do know, however, that I too am happy when I am faced with the beauty of nature. And you are one of the few who understands how happy I can be in these moments".
"That's why I suggested you come down this road. The company, the conversation, the worldliness: all beautiful things, but not worth this show".
So Lorenzo closes the conversation, saying:
"I would stay here and watch it for hours, in silence".
For the next few long minutes they do not move. Mauro sits sideways on the low wall, his gaze slowly shifting from the top of the mountain to the shimmering line of the coast, almost investigating the meaning. Lorenzo leaning on his elbows on the low wall, his eyes fixed on that slice of sea risked by the moon. The uncertain trembling of the water.
"Sorry, Lorenzo, now it's me who has to tell you that it's late. I would also like to stay here. Maybe all night, waiting for dawn. But then tomorrow who runs?"
The car resumes its slow descent, almost unwillingly detaching itself from that balcony on the poetry of nature. During the week of the Grand Prix, Monte Carlo becomes a sort of presumptuous catwalk for the richest, most prestigious cars, displayed in front of the Casino, the Yacht Club, the Hotel de Paris.
"It's funny, this exhibition. You'd think it was a competition to see who could exhibit the car that cost the most. I'll leave the Rolls and the Cadillac to you, Mauro. I choose for myself this Jaguar sport, then this Mercedes SL, this Lamborghini. And of course this Ferrari. In fact, the Ferrari is enough for me and I'll give you the others".
Bandini is cheerful, as if he had discovered a new game: choosing the most beautiful car in this parade of cars. He wanders among the cars, bending down to look at the details. Suspension, axle, differential. He touches the fenders with delicacy, with the instinctive respect he has not for monetary value, but for technique. All of a sudden he notices that on the sidewalk, between the coffee tables, there is another display, just as tempting: the miniskirts are showing. For Monte-Carlo, the moment of the Grand Prix is also that of the gathering of the most beautiful women on the Coast. Lorenzo's gaze moves from the suspension of the Jaguar to that of the girls. He winks in agreement at Mauro.
"Those bodies aren't bad either...".
But Mauro retorts:
"But would you change these cars on four wheels for those there on two legs?"
"What kind of talk are you giving me sometimes? Cars, when they are used for racing, are a serious thing. Maybe even miniskirts. But it's better not to repeat it to Giò".
In the meantime, some of the girls walking in the square notice the handsome brunette boy, elegant and smiling. Some respond to the smile, not realizing it's not for her. Two blonde girls make a strategic approach and sit on the fenders of an MG: silver miniskirts go up. Embarrassed, or maybe just annoyed, Bandini goes back to tending to the grille of the light blue Jaguar. He has always been much courted. In the Ferrari clan, everyone envies him for the interest he arouses in girls. Especially abroad. The world of motor sports has always exerted a special fascination on the female public. The pilot is surrounded by a legendary aura of courage and pride.
This is why the pits are always filled with beautiful girls. They manage to get there under the most unthinkable pretexts, passing themselves off as journalists, photographers, or gasoline salesmen, but once inside they never leave. Besides, if they are pretty - and they always are - no one will turn them away. They bring a cheerful note, with their colorful, tight pants, their lightly knotted blouses, their peaked caps, worn on their freshly shampooed hair. All pilots, for some sort of uniform fascination, are coveted. If the pilot is not only brave, but also handsome, one can go crazy for him. And Bandini is certainly a very handsome boy. English, American and German women like him because he is the classic type of Latin man.
Only he is bothered by all this movement of female interest. A very simple reason, in fact always the same reason: he doesn't want to be distracted when he has to think only about racing. It's part of the discipline. And even tonight he has no intention of being distracted by girls in miniskirts, blonde or brunette. Sunday is racing. Monte-Carlo is too important to him. Lorenzo says to Forghieri, greeting him at the hotel door:
"You see, Mauro, it's very important for me to win this race. I've always come second in Monte-Carlo. It seems destiny. But this year I feel that destiny has changed. I don't know why, but I'm convinced that the wind has changed, I feel that I'm in a good year. But you, now, go fix my car. Tomorrow I have to have a good test. So far, for one reason or another, I have not yet been able to make a circuit lap as I would like. Good night. See you tomorrow".
Meanwhile, with strawberry tarts and pies, dinner at La Ferme is over. Franco Lini suggests that we go to Chez les Ecossaiss, a trendy place at the port of Nice. The queue of cars rushes towards Nice. The ladies enjoy being served by waiters in kilts. There are people dancing to the suwo of bagpipes. A half hour of whiskey and then someone proposes to end the evening at the Casino. Margherita has some hesitation. Maybe she should go back to the hotel. But Lorenzo is already asleep, and an hour later she knows what to do. He lets himself be convinced. He bets 10,000 francs, but loses them all.
Saturday morning, arriving at the pits for the last tests, Bandini notices the presence of Ludovico Scarfiotti, and greets him embarrassed and suspicious. He immediately went to find Franco Lini, to whom he asked why Lodovico was there, as he was not scheduled to participate in the race.
"He came as a spectator, as a tourist. I can't stop a sportsman from coming to watch a race. Please, Lorenzo, don't start getting any strange ideas. Just run your race quietly and don't worry about anything else."
Lorenzo Bandini is a simple, generous, spontaneous boy. Even a bit naive in his natural sincerity. But, like all simple-minded people, he is also instinctively suspicious. It happens to him to form a wrong opinion about a fact or a person, perhaps because of an initial difficulty in establishing a relationship with this person. And on this mistaken idea he continues to build even more mistaken ones. As a natural reaction, he mistrusts people whose education is more cultured and refined than his own, who have a more conspicuous social position than his own, who move in the world in which he has now found himself with greater ease and confidence than his own. Franco Lini knows all these things, and for this reason he has been trying to dispel shadows and suspicions for months.
The situation, after all, is nothing exceptional. More or less in all teams internal rivalries are created. Perhaps the only exceptional thing is that in this case there is no well-founded reason for such antagonism: it is only the consequence of a series of wrong impressions, of misguided ideas. Unfortunately, in recent times, some newspaper articles have exacerbated the latent state of nervousness. Articles that spoke in large letters of open contrast between Bandini and Scarfiotti, of rivalry in the act of declared war. They were all inventions, all inferences about marginal episodes interpreted with a tendentious spirit to create a sensation. However, a simple boy like Lorenzo took them as true, perhaps he believed they were inspired by third parties.
On the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix Franco Lini had to face a delicate diplomatic action: to explain to Scarfiotti that he would stay at home. After all, it had already been decided that in the most important races of the year, alongside Bandini, the various Scuderia Ferrari drivers would take turns, namely Chris Amon, Lodovico Scarfiotti, and Mike Parkes. This time Amon was better, also because he could have helped Bandini more effectively. Scarfiotti did not like this decision that left him on the sidelines, but he accepted with good manners. However, since he had prepared himself for this trip to Monte-Cado, he would have gone there anyway. As a tourist, to see the race.
And so, Bandini sees him - elegant and smiling - at the edge of the circuit. But having clarified the situation, he absorbs himself in the preparation of the car. Borsari and his boys have worked well: everything is in place, no trace of the Mirabeau incident. Bandini is sitting in the driver's seat, looking for the right position, asking for some more modifications. Then Amon approaches, still a little worried about the circuit. His practice laps went a little better on Friday, but he's still not satisfied. It's a circuit with which he can't get familiar. Therefore, Lorenzo signals him to go to his car and follow him.
"Try to stay on my tail. We'll do five or six laps together. You follow me closely and watch what I do. Some things are easier to show than to explain".
Lorenzo asks Lini's permission to go outside with the two cars for this quick lesson. It's a rather unusual request. Very few drivers are capable of such generosity. However, Lini waves to go. And for six laps young Amon follows Bandini's car, trying to learn all the little secrets of the Monte-Carlo circuit. Then Bandini goes to rest at the hotel.
The appointment is for early afternoon at the garage. There are still some details to be fine-tuned before the last tests. On Saturday afternoon, Monte-Carlo is filled with tourists. The roads around the circuit are congested with cars and coaches. Lini picks up Bandini at the hotel. Margherita is not yet ready. Lini, however, is in a hurry, so he decides to start heading towards the circuit. Bandini will join him at the garage.
But the chaos in the streets of the old city is such that Lini prefers to abandon his car, and continue on foot. The Ferrari sporting director runs a couple of kilometers, worried about being late. And while he arrives at the garage, Bandini and Margherita, smiling, overtake him in their red spider. The two go around the moyenne corniche and arrive at the garage before him. They look at him with an amused air. Lorenzo gets out of the car and helps Margherita to get out. He is wearing an elegant double-breasted jacket, she is wearing a Dior bell-bottom model.
"Hey, driver, straight to the car".
Lini exclaims, snapping her fingers.
"No, not like that. When I'm in sweats you can call me hey, pilot, but when I'm in a double-breasted suit you have to call me Mr. Bandini. Hey, director, you got that?"
When he jokes like that, it means Lorenzo is calm. Lini breathes a sigh of relief and goes along with the joke.
"Speaking of clothes, Mrs. Bandini, why are you wearing this wide maternity style dress? Have you decided to announce to the Princess that you are expecting an heir?"
Margherita, sensing the game, replies:
"But what heir, what pre-maman of Egypt... You will understand something of racing, Franco, but of fashion you understand nothing. This is the latest model Dior, spring-summer collection, monsieur".
But Bandini's good mood doesn't last long, because from behind the mountain many black clouds appear and it starts to drizzle.
"Monte-Carlo definitely has it in for me. Just this year, when I felt sure of winning, I'll have to race in the rain. And me and the rain don't get along well. It's going to get bad here".
But Franco Lini, back in earnest, cheers him up:
"It's May, Lorenzo: bad weather lasts half a day. And here we are on the French Riviera. You haven't read advertising posters: the country where it's always sunny. Now we'll tell Prince Ranieri and he'll have the rain immediately expelled from the Principality. Joking aside: I don't think this rain will last".
"Yes, but even if the weather is good tomorrow, I'll have to practice in the rain today. I won't be able to set good times and they will make me start in an unfavorable position".
However, Lini insists:
"It's four drops of water. It's already pouring. On the circuit they are testing the Formula 3 cars: with a few passes they dry the asphalt and in an hour everything will be perfect".
Bandini, always prone to pessimism when the unexpected comes to upset his plans, did not seem too willing to let himself be carried away by the optimism of his sports director. But Franco Lini is right. By the time the Formula 3 cars arrive at the circuit, it has already rained and the road is almost completely dry. Even if Saturday's day opens with a heavy storm that prevents the Formula 3 practice session from starting, and many fear that even the last qualifying window for Formula 1 will have to be cancelled, fortunately the Formula 1 session takes place in the late afternoon, and by the start time the track will already be dry. The first times are similar to those recorded on Friday morning, and this suggests that soon more drivers will have the opportunity to go under one minute and thirty, but many are having mechanical difficulties.
Rodriguez's engine, which has been mounted on the car the night before, does not work and Rindt, after a collision with the barriers, returns to the pits with a broken rear wing and a chassis to be replaced. Even at Lotus the situation is anything but quiet, with Hill forced to interrupt his session because of the broken gearbox, already replaced once this weekend. In the meantime, Lorenzo starts determined; he makes some laps in crescendo. Then, on the umpteenth pass, he waves to the pits. It means he's trying to set a time. The chronometers start up. Here he reappears: 1'28"6. The mechanics look at each other joyfully. An exceptional time. The year before, Bandini had set the circuit record and set the fastest lap in 1'29"8. Over a second faster. Other timekeepers recorded various split times on different portions of the circuit. Lini needed this data in order to be able to finalize with Bandini and Amon the final plan for the race.
According to these readings, Bandini's Ferrari reached 206.300 km/h on the straight, while Hulme's Brabham did not exceed 196 km/h. Even further back are the Hondas and the BRMs, at less than 194 km/h. In the gasometer curve, one of the most insidious, Bandini is still the fastest: he overcomes it in 10.8 seconds, while all the others are above 11 seconds. Even the prestigious Graham, the magician of reckless curves, takes 11.5 seconds for the gasometer curve. There are no doubts: the Ferraris are the strongest, and Bandini is the favorite. Lorenzo gets out of the car smiling and happy. From afar Amon waves at him with his hand, fingers bent in a O: he knows he has the best time. But he has worked hard. He is all sweaty. Franco Lini runs to throw a windbreaker over his shoulders and hand him an orange juice.
"Thank you, Franco. You always have these nice thoughts for us drivers. You're a different sports director than the others. Usually they only worry about times, tires, changes. But no one can imagine how much pleasure it is, after hours of tension and fatigue, to get out of the car and find someone who remembers to give you a drink, to have your back. But you do. I remember that when in Daytona, after three hours of hell, I got out of the car exhausted, that orange you offered me was more appreciated than any silver cup or laurel crown".
After that, Lorenzo sits in the pits, and pulls out some apples from his bag. Both during the tests and during the races Lorenzo never forgets to take a lot of fruit with him. While he is commenting with Forghieri the splendid time obtained, he hears an imprecation from Lini. Brabham passed: the chronometers recorded 1'27"9. More than half a second less than Bandini. And by now it is late, there is no more time to make other tests. At the pits, especially among the mechanics and the Ferrari fans, there is an air of disappointment, disappointment and discouragement. However, perhaps the most serene is Lorenzo himself. When they tell him that Brabham has the best time, he spreads his arms and smiles, perhaps with just a hint of bitterness.
"It means he was better than me. After all Brabham is a real champion".
Indeed, Bandini holds Brabham in high esteem, even though he jokingly calls him "the foxy one", because he considers him to be very clever during the race. And perhaps this record, snatched from him at the last moment of the trials, is a stroke of cunning on his part. However, Bandini bows to those who have been better; life has taught him to take a beating. He has not been an enfant prodige, one of those drivers who arrive in the limelight of fame without difficulty. He has not even been a lucky pilot, but has had to make a long and tiring apprenticeship, during which he has learned to bear harder blows. Lorenzo returns to a hotel, lies down on his bed and rests, watching the sky turn warm and pink outside the window. The phone rings.
"Monsieur Bandini, on vous attend en bas".
Waiting for him is Franco Lini, to conduct the meeting that is needed to plan the race operations.
"John should not last more than fifteen laps. The B.R.M. don't worry us. the only opponents we have to fear are Brabham and Clark. But by attacking hard they won't keep up the pace".
Lini talks with a drawing of the circuit open on the black marble table, in a small room at the end of the hotel lobby. It is very dark. All the heavy velvet curtains are closed and it's also quite kicking. Everyone takes off their jackets. Lini begins comparing many pieces of paper, numbers and notes taken during rehearsals.
"No, Clark isn't fearsome either. His Lotus doesn't have much of a chance. His times are mediocre. You, Lorenzo, will start off determined and will leave everyone behind, Amon will slowly do well and will have your back. Before twenty laps you should have the victory firmly in your grasp. It should be little more than a piece of cake for you. Listen to me, if you start well no one will stop you on this circuit that you know better than any other".
"But there's Brabham. You forget that he set the best time".
But Lini consoles him:
"I've learned one thing: he got that time by running with an empty tank. But you set your time with a full tank. Take a hundred liters of petrol and you'll see that his advantage of just over half a second disappears, in fact, it becomes a big delay behind you. No, I really wouldn't worry about this race".
"As long as it doesn't rain. If the circuit is wet, everything changes".
The sporting director, however, replies:
"If it rains you'll go a little slower. But the others will go slower too. Even if some rowdy Englishman passes you, you'll just keep in touch and, as soon as he gets tired and the rain stops, you'll attack and win. It's not going to rain all afternoon. Besides, don't make me talk nonsense: the sky is mournfully clear, the radio announces a warm and sunny Sunday. Why should it rain? Anyway, I'm not a cheap optimist: you know that on other occasions I've spoken very differently on the eve of the race. If I'm so confident about tomorrow it's because I know you're good and have the best car".
Besides, even if he has doubts and fears, Lorenzo is also convinced that everything will go well. He just has his own reasons for not being content with a simple walk to the finish line. He wants to win well. He wants to win like a champion, showing what he is capable of doing. It's not a serious, demanding circuit, on which only drivers with great skill and nerves of steel can assert themselves. And he, right in Monte-Carlo, wants to show that the position he has in the team is deserved, that he deserves it. While Lini continues to add up times and compare numbers, Bandini squints his eyes. When the meeting is over, Franco Lini exclaims:
"Shall we go to dinner, guys? What do you propose?"
"I have several friends from Bologna and Milan. Margherita is gathering them. We'll be a big gang. We could go back to that place from last night. Up there on the hill. It's a nice place. I'd love to show it to our friends. And then you get to eat good, wholesome stuff".
So the Ferrari sports director says:
"All right, then we'll meet at eight o'clock, here in the lobby".
But Lorenzo retorts:
"No, prefer us in ten minutes. At 7:00 pm, so at 8:30 pm we have finished dinner and can go to sleep. At least I do. I don't feel like being late on the eve of the race".
But at 7:00 pm, no one is in the lobby. Lini and Forghieri have had to run to the garage because a problem has arisen with the petrol tanks: the fuel lines don't seem to draw all the fuel. Even the ladies are not ready: some are at the hairdresser's, some are waiting for their clothes to be ironed, some are missing. Bandini is rather annoyed. He says that he eats dinner in his room and then goes to bed. He protests and says that they are all disorganized. But the group starts to get together. Finally at 8:30 pm a small column of cars leaves the Hotel de Paris, heading towards la Ferme.
Lorenzo would probably have gladly gone to bed. Although almost all of them are dear friends of his, he doesn't really like this kind of collective dinner. Too much noise, too much confusion. And then on the eve of an important race he wants calm. But there is a precise reason why he will end up joining the group. Chris's father and mother have arrived. They have come from New Zealand. He doesn't want to be rude. Chris is probably very pleased that he is there. But at 9:30 pm Lorenzo gets up, says a hasty goodbye, apologizing for leaving in the middle of dinner, and goes back to the hotel. He hasn't even finished his salad. But tomorrow is race day. She has to go to sleep. Tonight, too, he insists that Margherita stay with her friends. Dinner continues cheerfully. We also talk about the race. It's strange: it's easier to talk about the race when Lorenzo is not there. However, everyone shares the optimism that is in the air. Another stop in Nice Chez les Ecossais, and again a little visit to the Casino. Marguerite takes a few chips, approaches the green table.
"I'm betting everything on 18. That's the number Lorenzo is running with tomorrow".
The ball ran fast, bounced from box to box, stopped with a small jump. Solemn is the croupier's voice.
"Dix-huit. Pair. Rouge".
Happy, Margherita exclaims:
"I won! A beautiful en plein! With Lorenzo's car number! Doesn't that bode well for tomorrow?"
Sunday May 7, 1967 Monte-Carlo is crowded with tourists already celebrating. The air is clear and mild. From the window of the hotel one can see the entire harbor, the white sails of the yachts. Along the circuit the loudspeakers trumpet military marches.
"You know, Gio, in Indianapolis before the race there's a parade of girls in skirts, with boots and a kepi, playing drums. And the cars all behind. A kind of circus parade. It must be fun over there".
Lorenzo Bandini wakes up thinking about Indianapolis; the American adventure intrigues him. Last year, when he was at Watkins Glen for the United States Grand Prix, some strange things happened. At the pits there was a little man, quite old, with big shoulders, a huge belly and small legs. Hanging around his neck was a large stopwatch. Throughout the race he kept taking times, smoking a cigar. After the race he approached Bandini.
"My name is William Wyer. I have a nice car for Indianapolis and you are the man for me. Would you like to drive it?"
Lorenzo looks at him in surprise, as if he's been approached by a Martian. He is not sure if he understood what the man said to him half in English and half in Italian.
"Ma sa voi ches chi?"
He asks in turn to the mechanic who is helping him take off his suit. The man presses on:
"If you race for me at Indianapolis, I'll give you ten thousand dollars right away and half the prizes".
Ten thousand dollars. Lorenzo quickly calculated the amount: almost six and a half million lire.
"Ches chi l'è mat."
He murmurs looking around, but the man already has the checkbook in his hand. Lorenzo calls an interpreter, tells him to explain to the man that he needs to think about it for a moment, that he needs to talk to Signor Ferrari with whom he has a contract. That he should write to him in Modena. It seemed to be one of those strange encounters that take place in America and dissolve without a trace as quickly as they came about. In fact, several months went by without any news of Mr. Wyer. But then, in January, a letter in English, addressed to Enzo Ferrari, arrives in Maranello. The Modena-based manufacturer calls Bandini:
"Your American employer has written to me. Listen to what he says: I have a very good car, I have the best mechanics, I have the best equipped workshop, Bandini is an excellent driver, so there is no reason why you cannot win. So please kindly lend me your driver so that I can race him in Indiapanolis".
They both laugh about it. But there is the question of the economic conditions to which Bandini cannot remain indifferent. Lini teases him:
"But what are you going to do in that race for fast tram drivers? Do you know how they race at Indianapolis? You step on the gas, then you lift off for a moment, then you step on again, and so on until you get to the end. Always going all the way around. Do you want to be a better tram driver?"
But Lorenzo replied:
"Listen Franco, let's talk seriously. The other year the one who won at Indianapolis took home more than three hundred and fifty million. I looked into it, you know. There's a mountain of dollars. Every lap you make triggers a prize. The more laps you do, the more money you have in your pocket. I've calculated that even if all thirty-three competitors make it to the bottom and you're still last, you still get almost six million. And then there's the money you make from advertising. Do you remember Daytona? We'd stand in the pits, every once in a while a guy would come in and offer us a thousand dollars to take a picture while drinking his beer, or eating his candy. It was even funny: the rain of dollars. You know I don't run after money. What I am interested in is running well. But frankly, it would be guilty of turning down all this money. Besides, Indianapolis is an experience that needs to be had anyway. It's a stage in every driver's career".
Then there was another decisive argument. Ferrari has not given up the assault on Indianapolis, and has plans to send someone to the United States next year. It is not a bad thing, therefore, that as early as this year Bandini is going to get acquainted with that track. So, during the month of April Bandini went to Indianapolis to get his qualification. On Monday he is expected to return there, to perform the qualification and the final selection. In the meantime, his fame in America has grown a lot. His Daytona feat has passed almost into legend. The Ford people had been so frightened by the times set by Bandini in the test that they had rushed to increase and exasperate the power of their engines. And they had compromised everything.
Around 10:00 am Lorenzo goes to the garage. He wants to take one last look at the car. Here, he finds everyone at work. So he takes off his jacket and takes a wrench too. When he sees others working on the machines, he can't resist the temptation to lend a hand too. Besides, he likes to check everything, bolt by bolt, personally. It's not distrust. Maybe it's just habit. Then he goes to lunch, at the Astoria, with a group of friends. There are also some French journalists; one arrives late and the maitre d' proposes a cream of tomato soup.
"No, thanks. I just can't eat creamed tomatoes. Maybe it's superstition, but years ago I was having dinner with my uncle, a very healthy man, and he was eating creamed tomatoes. All of a sudden he had a stroke. He dropped dead. Since then I've had the idea that tomato soup is bad luck.
The only person who is eating tomato cream in this moment is Lorenzo; a trivial episode, to which however later on we will end up giving a meaning that undoubtedly it does not have. At 1:45 pm, Margherita arrives at the pits in her pants, with her jacket under her arm, a bag with a stopwatch, some papers and a thermos. Lorenzo also has a big bag. The Grand Prix one; it's a mania of his, maybe the only one he has. Two different bags: one for racing with sports cars, another for racing with Formula 1 cars. Two pairs of different glasses, two pairs of different gloves, two pairs of shoes, two suits, two jerseys and so on. While Lorenzo behind the pits changes clothes, wearing the suit, a flock of larks passes low over the track. Who knows how they happened here. Bandini raises his head:
"Do you remember when in Zandvoort I almost forgot to leave to watch the ducks swarming by the hundreds. For a hunter like me it was a provocation. But in Holland hunting is forbidden. That's why those ducks were so quiet and fat".
The cars begin to line up on the starting grid. Franco Lini approaches for the last instructions, crouches down next to the car and almost shouts in Bandini's ear, due to the loud sound of the running engines:
"You should thank the organizers: who knows why they gave you the favored position for the start. Here, immediately at the end, there is a tight curve to the right. It was Brabham's turn to start on the inside. instead they gave you his place. Very good. All you have to do is sprint like hell right at the start. If you arrive well on the curve, you immediately take 20 meters from him. Then it's uphill right away and there, with your best car, you lose him. It will be easier than we thought last night. You'll pay him back, Lorenzo. Bye".
Lorenzo smiles confidently and nods his head in agreement. He looks again towards the pits. He sees Margherita, already with the stopwatch in her hand. He sees all his friends, Chris' wife, the mechanics, Scarfiotti. With his start flag, Louis Chiron places himself right in front of the nose of car 18. Bandini leans out of the cockpit and yells at him:
"Get out of there, Louis. Do you want me to run you over?"
But Chiron doesn't budge. He will explain later why he acted this way; Louis was a very good friend of Lorenzo, he esteems him a lot, but he fears his impetuosity. If a racer starts early, he is stopped and penalized. By placing himself in front of Bandini's car, he wants to prevent him from starting before the flag can be fully lowered. in fact, Chiron smiles warmly at Lorenzo, and winks at him. Then, he lowers the flag and jumps to the side. The race starts.
After waving the flag, Bandini takes the first position, taking advantage of Brabham's late start. At the end of the first lap Bandini is in first position, followed by Hulme, Stewart, Surtees and Gurney; this group is the first to approach the chicanes, but because of the clouds of dust they risk causing serious accidents. For this reason Clark, who is not far from the leading group, spotted the cloud of debris and fearing contact with other drivers, takes the escape route, when he returns to the track he is last. The Scottish pilot starts a desperate comeback.
Lorenzo goes to the pits with a thirty meters advantage: Lini looks smiling at Pignatti and tells him to take care only of Amon. But at the second lap the unexpected happens. Brabham's car fogs up. For two kilometers it continues to leak oil, until at the tobacconist's corner the crankcase breaks and the track turns into a slippery puddle. The cars arriving on that treacherous slick get sideways. Passing in front of the pits Bandini makes a waving sign with his hand. Perhaps it means that the track is slipping everywhere. Then the situation seems to stabilize for a while.
However, shortly after, taking advantage of the confusion, Hulme and Stewart overtake Bandini and a new fight for the first position begins. During the fourth lap, Johnny Servoz-Gavin and Dan Gurney are both forced to retire due to, respectively, a fuel injection problem for the former and a fuel pump problem for the latter. In the following minutes, Bandini slips to third position, followed by Surtees, who in turn finds himself in the sights of McLaren and Rindt. At the end of lap 15, Hulme is still in the lead, while Stewart crosses the finish line with his front wing visibly damaged and is forced to return to the pits to retire. In this way, Bandini rises to the second position, even if Surtees is getting closer and closer to him and also McLaren quickly recovers ground. Rindt abandons the race during the fourteenth lap, due to the gearbox breakage; thanks to this, Clark rises to the fifth position.
But Bandini has not given up his hope of victory, and he insists with courage. The gap from Hulme remains constant. Suddenly, for a few laps, the gap begins to decrease. Then it begins to increase. Lini is surprised by these variations, and especially by the sudden slowdown. He nods questioningly to Bandini. He responds by shaking his head, as if to say that he can't go any faster. Later, checking the pass charts, it is discovered that it is not Bandini who has shortened the distance to Hulme and then lost. Meanwhile, Jackie Stewart is also forced to retire during the fourteenth lap, due to the malfunction of the differential. Sixteen laps later, first Jo Siffert, then John Surtees on the next lap, retire from the race, due to lower oil pressure on the Swiss driver's car, and the engine for the Briton.
During the forty-second lap, while Clark's overtaking on McLaren seems imminent, the Lotus spins and hits the barriers of the Tabaccaio curve. Fortunately the Scottish driver gets out of the car unharmed, but he is forced to abandon the Grand Prix after an excellent performance. Before returning to the pits, however, Jim helps the marshals to move the single-seater and to sweep the debris off the track, so that his rivals can continue the race without damaging their cars. Shortly afterwards McLaren also retires, due to some problems with their engine.
During the seventy-third lap, McLaren retires, Lini orders to expose a signal with the positions: Hulme, Bandini, Amon. And makes nods of slowing down for Bandini. Now behind him there is only his teammate Amon: it is useless to force. Bandini sees him and nods that he understands. But in practice he doesn't slow down. He continues to run in 1'30"0. Why doesn't he slow down?
It's 5:07 pm. The riders face the 81st lap of the serpentine circuit, which winds its way up and down the streets of the city. The route arrives, after a tunnel and a very fast descent, on the quay of the marina; to reduce the speed of the cars at the entrance to this straight that precedes the avenue where the pits and the main grandstands are located, for some years now, at the end of the descent, by means of fences and bales of straw, a sort of S has been created, not very accentuated but enough to force the drivers to slow down. In 1955, when this measure had not yet been adopted and the speed at the entrance to the promenade was excessive, another famous Italian driver, Alberto Ascari, went straight into the water. But he was saved.
In addition to this obligatory passage, which the French call a chicane, the next part of the circuit is lined up on the sides with bales of straw, held together by horizontal poles, to avoid the danger of falling into the sea and to protect (very relatively, after all) the lighting pylons and bollards for the mooring of boats. This brief description is necessary to better clarify what will happen on the 81st lap. We wait for Bandini to cross the finish line. The incitements of the numerous Italian spectators to their champion have meanwhile weakened somewhat in the face of the ascertained impossibility on the part of the Italian rider to succeed in hooking the car of the first. From the grandstands, which as the crow flies is no more than three hundred meters from the chicane, a red car can be seen arriving at the downhill slope and seems to be skidding; then a bale of straw is thrown into the water and a few meters later sudden high flames rise. Watching the images on the black and white screen in his studio in Maranello, Ferrari feels that it should be Lorenzo. He never did. He never watched races on television the rare times they were broadcast. But today he decided to make an exception. And when he sees the fire, he realizes he would never see him again.
Meanwhile, Ferrari's sporting director, Franco Lini, is sitting on a briefcase. Around him are two or three mechanics in their brown overalls, and a group of friends. Engineer Forghieri, responsible for the technical part, is on the small sidewalk that runs alongside the track. In a corner, alone, is Margherita Bandini. She is taking the times set for each lap by her husband, as always in all competitions. She is perhaps the only one, by now, hoping for a success by Lorenzo, who here in Monaco seems destined to play the role of the eternal second; this is what happened in 1965 and 1966.
Denny Hulme, by now, is gaining meters on meters at every passage, and the gap separating the Italian from the New Zealander increases with the passing of the minutes: from seven seconds it has risen to twenty-two seconds, and there are only twenty laps to go. Lorenzo Bandini suffers from physical fatigue, from the exhausting initial duel with the Japanese Honda single-seater driven by John Surtees. But Margherita is always hopeful, she has faith in the resources of her man. And she continues quietly to take the times. The pits are two wooden stands built - like the others - under the trees, in the narrow strip of land that separates the Boulevard Albert I from the quay of the port, with the cars whizzing behind and in front in their carousel. Piles of tires in all corners, toolboxes, spare parts. Marie-Annick is the most nervous.
"Que ce passe-t-il?"
She whispers while showing the stopwatch. No one responds. She touches Franco Lini's shoulder. He doesn't even turn around. Marie-Annick is very good at taking times, she knows everything about racing. She is friends with all the racers, she goes from one circuit to another. She has a great passion for the sport. She is at home in the Ferrari clan. There is no specific reason for her to be here in the pits, but her presence has become normal.
"But what does the Lorenzo do?"
Whispers in a low, hesitant voice Franois Ferratio, a large, elegant older gentleman. He is the owner of a large luxury hotel, in Rome. A loyal customer of Ferrari, but above all a loyal fan of the team. He never misses a race in which the Maranello cars are on the field.
"Why doesn't it pass?"
He leans out of the pit again. He tries to look toward the last corner, but he has the massive shoulders of two mechanics in front of him. Giorgio Scarlatti stands up on a pile of tires. He, too, stares in amazement at the silence of the track. Farther on, Lodovico Scarfiotti stands motionless, staring into space. Distinguished, in a vacation gentleman's suit. A photographer asks him something. He does not hear him. In a corner, small, shy, Chris Amon's wife. A sweet, petite blonde girl, who has come with him from faraway New Zealand. There are so many people in front of her, she can't even see the runway. She has the frightened air of someone who doesn't know, but is afraid. She looks at Margherita, looking for help in her confident and controlled air. Margherita is still sitting on her perch, from which she has not moved since the moment Chiron lowered the flag at the start.
The scoreboards in front of the grandstands indicate that the runners are contesting the 81st lap. Hulme's car emerges from the curve known as the tobacconist's: it passes in a flash behind the Ferrari pits, descends towards the west side of the harbour and passes the curve known as the gasometer curve. At this moment, according to the rhythm of the last laps, Bandini should be coming out of the tobacconist's corner. Instead, a thick black smoke rises from the side of the chicane, the crowd turns in that direction, the photographers rush like mad. Everyone looks at each other. Something serious has certainly happened.
Then Amon goes by very fast. The fear is almost a certainty: that smoke means that something has happened to Bandini. Among many faces, Franco Lini meets Pignatti's eyes. A look that says it all in a split second. Pignatti is an old Ferrari mechanic, the man who has followed Ferrari in many races. He's a bit of a jack-of-all-trades for the team: he drives the truck that brings the cars in, lends a hand to the specialists, picks up the times for the passes. He has acquired that sixth sense that allows him to intuit situations immediately. He knows what that smoke means, he knows where on the track it comes from. At the chicane, if a car burns, it means that it didn't end up in the sea. And if it hasn't gone into the sea... Franco Lini understands what Pignatti is thinking. But no one else needs to understand him. Especially Margherita. Franco quickly shakes his head, then asks Pignatti:
"Amon's time...what is Amon's time?"
He knows it perfectly, he has just read it on his stopwatch, but it is necessary to distract Margherita, to calm the anxiety in everyone, as the loudspeaker bursts from the stands.
"Car number eighteen has been the victim of an accident at the chicane curve. The driver is unhurt and is walking back to the pits".
While from the pits they listen to the loudspeaker, the noise of the crowd rises, saying - at this point - that the race is over: Hulme has the victory in his pocket, Bandini has forced too much. Someone says he was tired, and in the last laps his driving was not safe. Phil Hill, sitting in the pits, says:
"He had gotten the crush. I saw it in the way he went out on the backstretch the lap before".
Franco Lini turns to engineer Forghieri:
"Now we're without a car for the Dutch Grand Prix. A big trouble".
In the meantime, the cars start to pass again, while the loudspeaker gives some indication about the times. Only from the Ferrari pit someone looks on the edges of the circuit, on either side, to see if Lorenzo is coming.
"But why isn't he coming back?"
"Imagine, with all this confusion and all these people he'll have to wait until the end of the race".
"They could make him walk two kilometers. He'll be sighing in his wrecked car. When he comes back, we'll pull his ears".
But the speaker removes any hope of seeing him even after the pit stop:
"Correction: the driver of car number eighteen is injured and has been transported to the hospital".