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  •   Henry Hope-Frost reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    / #Dan-Gurney b.1931 / #F1 / #Formula-1

    The death on 14 January of racer, engineer and team boss Dan Gurney at 86 has dwindled what remains of The Few – the pioneering freethinkers and out-smarters from another time. He was fast, clever, hungry and charming – in and out of the many cars he took to scores of victories in numerous disciplines.

    Born on 13 April 1931, Daniel Sexton Gurney grew up in Long Island but moved to California in his late teens. He was soon quenching a new-found thirst for stripping, improving and torturing machinery, mostly Ford Coupes, and he duly fell under competition’s spell in 1955 with a Triumph TR2. It was an appropriate, if somewhat humble machine for a man excited by the breadth of possibilities offered in far-away Europe.

    And it didn’t take this 6ft 4in, charismatic grafter with an eye for opportunity and detail long to get on that European radar, thanks to a 1959 Ferrari contract for Formula One and sports cars.

    His first major endurance-racing scalp that season came in the Sebring 12 Hours aboard a 250 Testa Rossa. He would add victory in the 1960 Nürburgring 1000km alongside Stirling Moss in a ‘Birdcage’ Maserati and success in the Le Mans 24 Hours in ’1967 with fellow US all-rounder AJ Foyt and Ford to his long-distance CV.

    Gurney’s decision that day in France to spray the crowd with his podium champagne rather than drink it began this messy ritual. His Formula One career could so easily have produced more than his four wins and quartet of fourth-placed championship finishes. As it was, he took maiden victories for Porsche in 1962 and Brabham in ’1964, both at Rouen. A third win came in the BT7 in Mexico later that year.

    What if he’d still been at Ferrari for ’1961? Or at Brabham beyond 1965?

    It was that pioneering spirit and self-belief that convinced Gurney to build his own car to contest F1 and US Indycar; he craved engineering not politicking. Thus his Anglo-American Racers squad and its Eagle hotshoes flew in for 1966. In F1, the underpowered and unreliable four-cylinder Climax motivation in the T1G made way for British-built Weslake V12 grunt for ’1967 and a famous win came Gurney’s way in the Belgian GP at Spa, a week after the Le Mans success.

    The Eagle F1 outfit’s financial wings were clipped in ’1968 but the team continued winning in Indycar until the mid 1970s, its final tally a record 49 wins (seven for Dan), including three Indianapolis 500 triumphs. He raced at the Brickyard nine times, finishing second in 1968 and ’1969. Gurney saw out his top-flight career with McLaren until the end of 1970. He tackled six GPs with the British team and stepped into one of its Group 7 Can-Am monsters following founder Bruce’s death at Goodwood in June of that year – winning instantly and cheeringly.

    The unparalleled breadth of Gurney’s ability meant he also won in NASCAR’s stock car premiership, Trans-Am and the British Saloon Car Championship – all in thumping V8s. Economics forced Gurney to resettle in the States, with a rebranding of his squad to All-American Racers. AAR later took Toyota-powered Eagle prototypes to IMSA sportscar glory, ncluding at Sebring where his international ambitions began.

    Innovation and trendsetting were never far from the witty and charming Gurney’s thoughts, even well into his 80s. There was his ingenious rear-wing modification that improved downforce without compromising drag, universally known as the ‘Gurney flap’, and the pioneering use of a full-face crash helmet. Road & Track magazine ran a campaign in #1964 to have him installed in the White House as US president. He even advised Elon Musk on space-travel engineering. Dan Gurney was a leader on the racetrack, in the workshop and in the boardroom. Always modest yet steely, for him nothing was impossible.

    Gurney finished his #F1 career with #McLaren , here leading Jack’s Brabham in the ’ #1968-Mexican-Grand-Prix . Inset: ‘Handsome Dan’, at Zandvoort in 1970.

    Eagle-Weslake en route to its maiden victory in ’ #1967-Belgian-Grand-Prix at Spa.
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  •   Henry Hope-Frost reacted to this post about 2 years ago

    Born 28 February #1940
    From Montona, Italy
    Career highlights #F1-World-Champion-1978 ; winner of ’1967 Daytona 500, 1969 Indy 500 and 1972 Daytona 24 Hours

    Italian-born Mario Andretti enjoyed a competition career that encompassed everything from stock cars to F1, and remains the most successful American driver of all time… #1978-Formula-1

    / #Mario-Andretti / #F1-World-Champion-1978 / #1978 / #Formula-1 / #F1 / #1940

    This month, we have an exemplary tale of dedication and determination that came out of fearsome adversity to produce one of the world’s most accomplished drivers. Mario Andretti and his twin brother Aldo were born in 1940 in Montona, Istria – the peninsula that juts into the Adriatic south of Trieste (then part of Italy).

    Growing up in a country at war, their home was absorbed into communist Yugoslavia, meaning that they lived in refugee camps in Tuscany for seven years with continual concern over where the next meal might come from. It gave the boys’ parents every excuse to emigrate. The USA proved to be the family’s saviour, and the trans-Atlantic crossing was undertaken in 1955, but a propitious event took place the year before.

    A garagiste in Lucca, where the brothers learnt to drive and helped out with parking duties, took them to the 1954 Italian GP at Monza. Ascari’s noble efforts chasing eventual victor Fangio really got to Mario and Aldo, and they came away determined to somehow become racers. Once in the US, the family settled in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and the twins wasted no time trying to get themselves on track. Meanwhile, their father was also being successful and proudly showed up one day in his brand-new #1957-Chevy #Bel-Air . About as American as a car could get.

    The acquisition of a junked Hudson Hornet was an excuse to prepare it for racing, while a stroke of genius was the purchase of copious set-up notes from a team that had successfully run a Hornet stock car. Fiddling their licences, the brothers started winning at the local Nazareth speedway and elsewhere. What they learnt early on is that preparation and having a car fine-tuned to the conditions of each track made up for lacking the mere grunt from a hot motor.

    Aldo had a big one at the end of 1959, totalling the Hudson and almost himself. Maybe Mario was deterred, maybe not, but he soldiered on, picking up rides in stock cars and Midget racing on indoor cinder tracks. Tough stuff and I doubt that anyone took prisoners in either formula.

    What Mario displayed was an innate ability to wring the most out of anything he drove. Mixt hat with his determination not to come second and you have a man who rose up the ladder, getting his first seat in a #USAC sprint car in 1963. Up against the best of the best, he won his first Championship race in ’ #1964 . When the successful Dean Van Lines team’s driver ran into the back of his Sprint car, Mario wound up taking his rival’s place in the équipe. It brought a decent salary with it, so he gave up his job and became professional. There was to be no stopping him. He was ‘rookie of the year’ at the Indy 500 in ’1965 and Champion by the end of the season.

    With a voracious appetite for racing, he drove for #NART in sports-car events, kept up his Midget outings and put in Can-Am and #NASCAR appearances, including victory in the ’ #1967-Daytona-500 . He famously won the 1969 Indy 500 in a back-up car after his #Lotus was demolished in practice.

    Mario’s schedule was incredible, racing in GPs for Lotus (he was World Champion in ’1978) as well as Champ car outings in the US every other weekend. If there was ever a gap, he filled it with whatever he could find.

    His only drive for Scuderia Ferrari was at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in ’1982. As qualifying finished, he snatched pole in the turbo 126C2 (which he’d never raced before), sending the tifosi mad. A good day’s work for a 42 year old. If he had a dream when he went to Monza in ’1955, he more than fulfilled it. He was still winning in his 50s and remains the most successful American racer of all time. Just as important, he’s an object lesson in pursuing ambition.

    Andretti heads for victory in the ’1969 Indy 500 in the Brawner-Hawk – his 4WD Lotus 64 was destroyed in practice after a hub failed.
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  •   Secret Supercar Owner reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Newey joins with Aston / #2015/ #F1 / #Adrian-Newey , the mastermind behind the #Red-Bull-F1 cars, is believed to be teaming with Aston Martin for an extreme new road-car project. According to UK outlet Autocar, Aston is targeting the #McLaren-P1 and LaFerrari with its Newey-backed project, which would likely adopt hybrid technology teamed with a V12 engine. This news also coincides with rumours suggesting #Aston-Martin may return to #F1 as a technical partner to the #Red-Bull-Racing F1 team, replacing Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti.
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  •   Alain De Cadenet reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Born 6 September #1928
    Died 12 September #2012
    From Liverpool / #Sid-Watkins / #F1 / #Formula-1

    Career highlights Professor of neurosurgery, Formula One medical delegate 1978-2005, co-founder of the Brain and Spine Foundation.

    Jackie Stewart may have started F1’s safety drive, but it was Sid Watkins who made it stick. He was also the only man to whom Bernie Ecclestone would always defer.

    Motorsport has always attracted entrepreneurs anxious to derive as much benefit as can be expected. There have been exceptions, such as Count Vincenzo Florio, who merely wanted to have a great race in Sicily and hang the expense. And, dare I say it, the private entrants seeking joy, danger and glory in exchange for whatever financial contribution can be summoned.

    Fortunately, there have also been gentlemen such as this month’s Hero, miraculously appearing on the scene dispensing much-needed services purely because they could, and wanting to improve a disastrous state of play for drivers unfortunate enough to need instant medical care. These are contributions donated for the love of the sport and care beyond pecuniary reason. Hippocratic oath-takers preferred.

    Born in 1928, the son of a Welsh coal miner, Eric Sidney Watkins soon found himself gainfully employed in his father’s new business when the family moved to Liverpool. Repairing cycles – then motor vehicles – gave Sid a grounding in hard work that stood him in good stead when he decided to attend medical school at Liverpool University. An MD by 1952, he spent four years in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Africa.

    His one and only competition appearance seems to have been in the 1955 West African Rally, which ended shortly after it began. Whether or not this whetted his appetite for motorsport is unknown, but by 1958 he was studying neurosurgery at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford – finding time to act as a race doctor at Silverstone and elsewhere.

    By 1962, he was Professor of Neurosurgery at the State University of New York, helping out at Watkins Glen for the US Grand Prix until he returned to the UK to become the Head of Neurosurgery at the London Hospital (now the Royal London) in 1970. That same year he was appointed to the RAC Medical Council to pronounce on suggestions for improvement at British race tracks. Sir Jackie Stewart’s fraught efforts to introduce higher levels of safety had begun to bite, not only with improvements to circuits but also the introduction of things such as Louis Stanley’s mobile medical unit, which was seen at European races from 1967.

    The Prof’s influence flourished in 1978, however, when Bernard Ecclestone asked him to head the F1 medical team. Ronnie Peterson’s first-lap accident in the Italian GP that year needed three drivers to pull him out of the flaming wreck, but as Sid arrived he was denied access to Ronnie by nervous police. Sid was monumentally upset and insisted Ecclestone provide a safety car and a Medivac helicopter on the spot.

    Thereafter, the Prof more or less dedicated himself to providing the very best service that he and his team, aided by Ecclestone, could provide. It didn’t take too long for FISA (alias the FIA) to realise that it needed a Medical Commission and the Prof became its first president in 1981.

    Sid had the daunting task of attending to Ayrton Senna at Imola in 1994. The two of them had formed a special relationship and Senna, ever dancing on the thinnest ice, counted on the Prof for philosophical advice. In 1995, after Mika Häkkinen’s accident at Adelaide, Sid had to perform, on site, a tricky windpipe cricothyroidotomy to keep the Finn alive.

    Among his myriad achievements is the fact that he refused to take no for an answer. With true Churchillian stubbornness, he KBO’d (Keep Buggering On) 24/7 to get the improvements he yearned for. His very presence at race tracks gave drivers a comforting assurance that, if anything horrible happened, at least they had the best man and his team on hand.

    Watkins was a reassuring presence in the paddock. His motorsport work was done alongside his day job as a neurosurgeon.
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  •   Maurice Hamilton reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    / #Chris-Amon #1943#2016 . Well-liked, supremely talented and famously unlucky #Formula-1 driver has died, aged 73. Words Maurice Hamilton. GP Library Limited / Alamy Stock Photo.

    In the same way that Sir Stirling Moss is acknowledged as one of the greatest drivers never to win the Formula 1 world title, Chris Amon, who died aged 73 on 3 August, will be recalled as never having won a championship Grand Prix despite his outstanding talent. The two drivers are comparable because they had the total respect of their peers: Moss in the 1950s and 1960s, Amon in the 1960s and 1970s.

    Amon is one of the few drivers to have beaten Jim Clark in a straight fight. The fact that this happened in the Tasman Series in the Antipodes and was not part of the F1 championship summed up Amon’s career – not that he cared unduly about the absence of global kudos. For Amon, a modest and kindly man, the fun was in racing and in possessing car control verging on the sublime. It could hardly have been otherwise when, as a teenager, he cut his teeth racing a Maserati 250F – often in the wet – in his native New Zealand.

    His throttle control was so obvious that Amon was invited by Reg Parnell to join his small team in the 1963 World Championship. At the age of 19, Amon arrived in Europe to race against drivers he considered heroes, but with whom he was instantly at home due to his speed and impeccable manners on the track, and his easygoing demeanour at a time when socialising was an essential part of the F1 fabric.

    Amon formed a natural alliance with Bruce McLaren, not only thanks to their Kiwi origins but also due to Amon’s ability as an exceptionally gifted test driver. The pair made a natural fit for Ford in the on-track fight with Ferrari for sports car supremacy, McLaren and Amon taking a GT40 MkIII to victory at Le Mans in 1966.

    The irony was that good fortune played its part here – as it always does in the 24-hour classic – and yet Amon will be remembered for the appalling luck that accompanied him everywhere else. The F1 records show that Amon finished second three times and managed eight third places during 96 Grands Prix before his retirement part-way through 1976. But the results will not gave an indication of how Amon would have won more than a dozen Grands Prix but for an agonising catalogue of misfortune. Enzo Ferrari had been quick to spot Amon’s potential despite patchy F1 results, Chris joining the Scuderia as a fourth driver in 1967. By the end of the season, he was the sole entry (Lorenzo Bandini having perished at Monaco, Ludovico Scarfiotti falling from favour and Mike Parkes injured).

    Amon carried the responsibility with such ease that he should have been champion in 1968. He retired seven times from 11 races. At Spa-Francorchamps, he had been on pole by four clear seconds; at St Jovite (another ‘driver’s circuit’) he led easily despite having no clutch, the gearbox giving out after 73 of the 90 laps.

    Amon’s ability to exploit superb handling made up for the shortfall from the glorioussounding V12. Ferrari’s chief engineer Mauro Forghieri described Amon’s skills: ‘As far as I’m concerned, he was as good as Clark. As a test driver, he was the best I have known and it’s a fact that we never gave him a car worthy of him.’

    Top and above Chris Amon in the #Ferrari-312 68 #V12 at the 1968 French GP at Rouen; Amon’s 1966 Le Mans victory in the GT40 MkIII came about, ironically, through rare good luck. That applied even more in 1969 when six mechanical failures, often while leading, prompted Amon to go after reliability with the Ford-Cosworth V8, albeit one in the back of a March. It was a classic Amon move at the wrong time, Ferrari switching in 1970 to the flat-12 that would power more than 20 wins and a couple of championships.

    Even when Amon had had enough of March after just one season, a switch to Matra meant more wonderful 12-cylinder harmony but little else. And yet, when the driver could compensate on the twisting road circuit at Clermont Ferrand in 1972, a truly dominant drive was foiled by a puncture. At Monza, he slipstreamed his way to the front and seemed in command until an attempt to remove a tear-off resulted in the entire visor coming away. As Mario Andretti once joked of Amon’s luck: ‘If Chris was an undertaker, no-one would die.’

    Amon’s poor decision-making was highlighted towards the end of his career by an uncompetitive and over-complicated car built under his own name. He retired to New Zealand and returned to working the family farm while maintaining a key role as development driver for Toyota’s road cars. Looking back on a #F1 career that, on paper, only boasts a handful of non-championship wins, Amon said: ‘It’s true that things didn’t go my way but I don’t look back with any sense of frustration. It was such a dangerous era that I’m eternally grateful I survived.’

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  •   Martyn Goddard reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    It was a promising defeat. #F1 #Ferrari-F1

    Enzo’s belief that equally valuable lessons can be learned from defeats and victories is central to Ferrari’s entire history, prompting many moments of brilliance and some thrilling comebacks.

    The Romans used to say that success has many fathers, while defeat is always an orphan. Napoleon clearly shared this notion, so it might be surprising to learn that Enzo Ferrari, a character with a touch of Bonaparte about him (albeit one who evaded his Waterloo), never quite saw things like that.

    To Enzo’s way of thinking, Defeat, always with a capital D, was seen as a starting point. Yes, to quote another of his celebrated sayings, whoever came second in a race was simply the first last, but disappointment should never lead to resignation. Occasionally, Il Commendatore would use a seemingly contradictory term to describe a defeat: “promising”. It demonstrates the intellectual energy of the man. The ability to avoid the self-pity of the defeated. The tenacity of someone who never stops planning, organising, experimenting.

    One of his best-loved maxims, “the finest victory is the next one”, was born from a desire to always accentuate the positive. At Maranello they refused to give up, a characteristic that’s as resolute as ever. Like any other successful company, the history of Ferrari is littered with difficult moments, some dramatic and some even tragic. Despite the disappointments, that glorious story hasn’t been broken; the dream hasn’t been shattered. The record books speak for themselves.

    Take the autumn of 1974. At the peak of a #Formula-1 One season marked by the Scuderia’s renewed competitive edge, with Niki Lauda at the wheel alongside #Clay-Regazzoni , there was an unexpected set-back. On a gloomy afternoon at the Watkins Glen circuit in the US, #Emerson-Fittipaldi won the title for McLaren. It was a stinging blow for the Prancing Horse and came after a decade of frustrating grand prix results.

    The following morning Enzo ordered Mauro Forghieri to start preparing the 312 T: a great car, noted for its revolutionary transverse gearbox. Within 12 months, Lauda celebrated his comeback as World Champion, demonstrating (talking of well-known sayings) that, in the sporting sense at least, revenge isn’t necessarily a dish best served cold. It’s best hot, almost boiling, if there’s a Ferrari involved.

    A defeat at the start of the Swinging Sixties was also promising. Although waiting for the cultural and musical upheaval provided by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, technology buffs in England were well ahead of their times, introducing the rear engine placement on grand prix cars. A lot has been said about the Drake’s apparent nostalgia for the countryside, and how he liked to tell colleagues that the oxen went ahead of the plough in the fields.

    However, his love of rural life (Enzo wrote about seeing something in the spirit of workers in the fields around Modena that suggested they could become mechanics) didn’t stop research and development. Far from it. By 1961, the 156 F1 had moved its oxen to the rear. The car, designed by Carlo Chiti and driven by Phil Hill, scored a bullseye, bringing the world title back to Maranello.

    In other words, the company founded by Enzo in 1947 has in its DNA the knowledge that the motto “try and try again” isn’t just a homage to Galileo, to Descartes and to Dante’s Paradiso (as his muse, Beatrice, could be considered Dante’s literary and romantic Ferrari). Trying and trying again allows you to sublimate the very idea of defeat. Reinterpreted as another stimulus, painful in its immediate outcomes (who likes to lose?), but hugely valuable in terms of what can be learned in the dark hours of disillusionment.

    Staying with F1, it’s perhaps no coincidence that, in more than 60 years of grand prix escapades, Ferrari is the only team never to have taken a break. The Scuderia has always been there, since #1950 . Others (or rather all of them, from #Mercedes to #Renault , #Honda to #BMW , #Ford to #Toyota ) have come and gone, often due to a lack of results. In so doing, Ferrari’s competitors have unwittingly borne witness to the uniqueness of the Maranello manufacturer.

    But how can you then escape from the magnetic intensity of a memory that takes you straight back to the events of 1982? An annus horribilis for the Drake and his people, struck down by irreparable grief for Gilles Villeneuve, killed on the track at Zolder, followed by Didier Pironi’s awful accident, which saw him confined to hospital when he seemed to have the championship in his pocket. Enzo’s response to these defeats, which were about so much more than merely failing to reach a chequered flag ahead of anyone else, was an extraordinary declaration of bravery and valour.

    Forghieri didn’t give up his responsibilities as Technical Director: amid tears and gritted teeth he carried on with the development of the 126C2, a car propelled by a powerful turbo engine. And, at the end of that ill-fated season, thanks also to the contribution of the Frenchman, Patrick Tambay, and the Italian-American, Mario Andretti, the Prancing Horse went on to win the World Constructors Title.

    A strong sense of identity surfaces among the fragments of glory brought back up to now, extending beyond the legacy of the Founder. Because in #2000 , for instance, when #Mika-Häkkinen ’s #McLaren seemed certain to prolong a barren stretch that had already lasted more than 20 years, promising defeats in Austria, Germany, Hungary and Belgium were the launch pads for an astonishing change of fortunes. At Monza and Indianapolis, Suzuka and Malaysia, the legendary Michael Schumacher turned the lessons he’d learned into gold. The German won every race, in a car designed by Rory Byrne. And a new Ferrari chapter began.

    What rivals find hard to understand is the lack of a particular word in Ferrari’s vocabulary: resignation. Because resignation has never found a home at Maranello.

    After a very difficult #2014 season the Scuderia confirmed Enzo Ferrari’s belief that defeats could still have a promising outcome and force the team to try even harder next time. In #2015 , #Ferrari duly returned to the elite group of competitors, thanks to the determination of its drivers, #Sebastian-Vettel (below) and #Kimi-Raikkonen (right).

    A strong identity surfaces among the glory.
    “Bravery and valour have always been key Ferrari attributes”

    Ferrari team work found its greatest reward during what is now known as the “Schumacher era”. The long title chase, which started in 1996, came to fruition in #1999 , bringing five Drivers Titles and six Constructors Titles to #Maranello . Or, to be precise, six Drivers Titles and eight Constructors Titles, considering that Kimi Räikkönen’s (pictured on this page) 2007 title and the 2007 and 2008 Constuctors Titles had their origins in the German driver’s Scuderia heyday.

    In Brief

    Enzo Ferrari used to keep all the car pieces that failed during races in a cupboard he called “the museum of errors”

    The collection was not only an example of his wit, but also evidence of the man’s intuition and firm belief that every single part of a car was an important component. A message that he was always keen to pass on to his team.

    Publicly, Enzo would always blame a car’s malfunction on a cheap element worth just a few Lire, but had a different message for his staff. He insisted on the absolute care of every minute detail, because even something apparently insignificant could determine the outcome of a race.

    Niki Lauda was famous for his rather direct style of talking. His comments were often censored and repackaged before reaching Enzo’s ears thanks to a dedicated team of mediators close to Il Commendatore.

    The Austrian driver arrived at Maranello in #1974 after a difficult season for Ferrari and soon made some caustic remarks about the car during testing. His comments were altered to ensure that Enzo would not take the opinions of a newly appointed driver who had yet to prove his worth in the wrong way.

    Enzo’s mediators were rewarded with the successful #1975 season, when Lauda won the Drivers Title in the #Ferrari-312T .


    Niki Lauda’s 312 T, with its unique shape and transverse gearbox, seen here at Monaco in 1975, brought the Scuderia its first title in 11 years. Bottom left, Patrick Tambay in #1982 , Ferrari’s annus horribilis, dominated by the Scuderia but forever marked by the death of Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi’s accident.

    At Maranello they have always refused to give up.

    The eternal battle – sometimes successful, sometimes difficult – against British rivals has provided the plotline of many chapters in the history of #Ferrari . #Phil-Hill in #1962 , pictured right at #Monaco , and John Surtees in #1965 , pictured below at #Silverstone , were unable to retain the world titles won in the previous years.

    World Champion in #1964 with #John-Surtees , #Enzo-Ferrari is pictured here the following year, when the Scuderia was defeated but never gave up. This attitude paid off when Sebastian Vettel won the Malaysian Grand Prix in March #2015 (opposite).
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  •   Alain De Cadenet reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    In a driving career spanning three decades, the hugely adaptable #David-Hobbs competed in everything from #F1 to #NASCAR , and later became a gifted TV commentator / #Formula-1 /

    This month’s hero is someone I’m always delighted to bump into. I first encountered David Hobbs at Silverstone way back in ’1967: he was having a monumental struggle with the Chequered Flag’s AC Cobra at the Martini International on the GP circuit. The car interested me because it was the logical step up from the Ace I’d been racing with my mate Anthony Mackay. It was a brute, though; it was probably only David’s humour that got him through the weekend.

    Born just before WW2, Hobbs had a healthy introduction to cars and motorsport from his father, who was a creative engineer. No need for me to go into the whys and wherefores of the Mechamatic gearbox (designed and built by Hobbs Snr) other than to say that it served well. In 1961, David won 14 races using one in his Lotus Elite, including a class win in the Nürburgring 1000km. That encouraged a Lotus works entry at Le Mans in ’1962, where David and Frank Gardner finished eighth overall and won the 1600cc class (with a 1200cc Climax engine, having been penalised a class for having an automatic ’box). What a step up from racing his mum’s Morris Oxford and his dad’s Jaguar XK140.

    After finishing third in the Formula Junior championship in ’1963, David went professional in ’1964. Obviously you can do that only if you’re being offered paid drives, which he was. His first race in the USA was at Road America in Wisconsin, which must have made an impression on him because that’s where he’s still to be found today.

    He deservedly piloted some fantastic machinery in more than 30 years of competition, sharing Lola T70s with John Surtees and GT40s with Mike Hailwood, and winning the US F5000 championship in ’1971 in a McLaren M10B. There were outings at the Indy 500, coming fourth in ’1974, plus a successful IMSA career with BMW, Porsche and Jaguar from 1977-’1987. Add F1 and NASCAR, plus 20 appearances at Le Mans and you have one of the most versatile drivers ever.

    I particularly remember his pairing with Mark Donohue in the Penske Ferrari 512M in ’1971. One sight of that at the Daytona 24 Hours Convinced me that it was about the best-prepared and best-looking racing car I’d ever seen. Everything on it was checked and double checked.

    The motor had been gone over by Traco and was putting out 650bhp. Add in the hotshoe drivers, and the Gulf 917s could have been in for a hard time. In the end, pole and third was the best it did after being clouted by a 911.

    At Sebring the 512M tangled with Pedro Rodríguez in his 917, producing a sixth, then at Le Mans it was fourth on the grid and in with a chance until its Ferrari-built engine blew up. The shame was that Penske had insisted that the Traco motor be taken out and lent to the NART team, which finished third with it. Most of the other 512s had clutch or gearbox failures. Its final outing was at Watkins Glen. It was on pole again, but went out with a broken upright before David even got in. So sad, really, it could have been one of endurance racing’s most auspicious exploits. If ever a man loved his motorsport, Hobbs would qualify easily. Getting paid to do what you love isn’t easy, but to keep doing it for three decades is no mean feat either.

    There’s obviously something about living in the USA that appeals to British endurance drivers. David is no exception and has made a great success of his Honda agency, but has also become a brilliant TV talent. The most difficult job in sports commentating is making F1 entertaining, and while current knowledge is essential, what Hobbs brings is a wealth of experience that he can summon up with instant vigour and a special brand of levity. It’s a fine art, and much welcomed by everybody who works with him.

    The Penske-prepared #Ferrari-512M of Hobbs and Donohue leads the #Porsche-917K of Siffert and van Lennep at Watkins Glen in 1971.

    Born 9 June 1939
    From Leamington Spa
    Career highlights Winner of 1971 US Formula 5000 championship and 1983 Trans-Am series; 20 drives at Le Mans, including two thirds in 1969 and 1984; TV motorsport commentator
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  •   Alain De Cadenet reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Paul Oz French impressionist inspires #F1 portraits / #Paul-Oz /

    Thick impasto oil paint worked entirely with a palette knife is the dramatic style of Paul Oz. The technique gives his portraits a presence that’s attracted interest since he decided to focus on art in 2009.

    After a tough start, the artist now has an international following with many works hanging in the homes and offices of the personalities who have inspired him. “Automotive subjects make up about half of my output,” says Oz, who recently returned from an exhibition during the Mexican Grand Prix. “It was great to display alongside local artists who had a really fresh style.”

    His likenesses have attracted the interest of the rich and famous: “Jenson Button’s mum discovered one of my paintings through Facebook and bought it. James Hunt’s family has also been very enthusiastic.

    A face with striking features is the key for Oz: “I’ve yet to attempt Fernando-Alonso but he’s someone I’d like to do. Unlike many modern stars, the Spanish ace has great character. The oldest driver I’ve painted is Sir Stirling Moss. It’s always a challenge to capture the likeness because you have to get it 100% right. Painting animals on safari makes a relaxing break from the pressure of portraits. Commissions keep me busy, but I’d like the time to choose my own subjects.”

    From an early age, Oz always enjoyed drawing but was pushed into physics and maths at school. After studying aeronautical engineering, a career developed in IT before he eventually switched to art. “I started out with acrylics but became frustrated by the flat tones,” he says. “Oils are much more inspiring.

    I liked to copy Monet when I was a kid, and maybe my impasto style stems from that. I begin with a black canvas and work up the highlights. No brushes are used.”

    Commissions start from £5000. For more details, visit or e-mail [email protected]

    Clockwise, from left: #Jack-Brabham ; dramatic rendition of #Ayrton-Senna in his iconic yellow and green helmet; the three-times World Champion looks to the sky in this intense study.

    Clockwise, from above: #1976 World Champion #James-Hunt ; #Jenson-Button depicted in the pink helmet that he wore in #2014 to commemorate his late father; remarkable likeness of #Stirling-Moss .
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  •   Alain De Cadenet reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Celebrations of Hunt anniversary / UK events to mark 40 years since World Championship win
    / Words David Lillywhite / #F1 / #James-Hunt / #1976

    On 24 October 1976, at the #1976-Japanese-Grand-Prix , James Hunt won the Formula 1 World Championship after an epic season-long battle with Niki Lauda. Now, 40 years on, his achievement will be marked at several UK events, with sons Freddie and Tom closely involved. The biggest are expected to be at the Silverstone Classic and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, with further celebrations at the British Grand Prix and the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch.

    For the Festival of Speed on 23-26 June, Goodwood is promising examples of every significant car of Hunt’s career, including the Surtees, Hesketh, McLaren and Wolf, as well as his beloved Austin A35 van. Freddie and Tom will be joined by Hunt’s family, friends, team members and mechanics.

    At Silverstone Classic on 29-31 July – Silverstone being where Hunt won his first F1 race – there will be a display of Hunt’s cars plus his race suit, helmet and trophies from 1976, including the third-place pot from Japan. Once again, both Freddie and Tom will be attending, and Freddie is expected to be racing a Hesketh-liveried Mini in the Masters Touring Car races. There will be similar tributes to Hunt at the Masters Historic Festival on 28-30 May at Brands Hatch – where Hunt raced a Mini in 1967 and had his last ever race, in an Escort XR3i in 1984 – with demonstrations of his cars, as well as racesuit, kit and trophies on display. At the British Grand Prix, again at Silverstone, on 8-10 July, it’s expected that Hunt’s McLaren M23 will be demonstrated, and the BRDC will be hosting a members-and-guests-only 1976-themed James Hunt and Barry Sheene party.

    The Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall, London, is also planning a 40th anniversary dinner in June, and artist Jeremy Houghton has been commissioned to produce paintings of every 1976 season victory.
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  •   Delwyn Mallett reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Jochen Mass’ career spanned two turbulent decades, an elusive win at Le Mans in 1989 being the crowning achievement for this determined survivor.

    Man #Jochen-Mass #F1
    Born 30 September #1946
    From Dorfen, Germany
    Career highlights Winner of 1972 Spa 24 Hours, #1989 #Le-Mans 24 Hours, 1987 #Sebring 12 Hours and #1975 Spanish Grand Prix; 114 Grands Prix from 1973-1982.

    The first time I saw this month’s Hero was at Le Mans in #1972 . He was three-wheeling a Ford Capri round the infield and waggling the front end to keep it on the road. This was Jochen Mass’ first taste of Le Mans and of driving for a big factory team. He’d been paired with the irrepressible Hans Stuck and, though they wouldn’t finish, Jochen’s career had at least been kickstarted, giving him a feel for a race that he was determined one day to win.

    Born in Dorfen, Bavaria, his life very nearly ended when, at three years old, he fell into a lake at the English Garden in Munich. He recalled a warm and contented feeling just as he was plucked out of the water, and perhaps this is why he decided to go to sea after finishing school.

    After three years in the merchant navy providence provided a solution to what he might do next with his life, a girlfriend inviting him to a hillclimb where she was marshalling. He liked what he saw and so, determined to succeed, Mass went to work in a Manheim garage as a mechanic – where I’m pleased to say he had a particular bent for Alfa Romeo. This soon led to him racing and hillclimbing Giuliettas and Giulias, and discovering that he was quick. Very quick. That, plus his gritty determination, is how he got onto Ford’s radar.

    Getting back to 1972, in spite of the failure at Le Mans, Mass recorded wins at the Spa 24 Hours, the TT at Silverstone and the Jarama 4 Hours, plus he was crowned European Touring Car Champion. #Formula-2 beckoned for 1973 with a Surtees TS15, and Mass notched up a couple of wins and enough finishes to be runner-up in the championship. It also produced his first F1 outing for Surtees (not counting the infamous pile-up at Silverstone during the British GP), finishing seventh at the Nürburgring. Mass’ career had its ups and downs, but for 1975 he was paired with Emerson Fittipaldi at #McLaren in an M23, and then with James Hunt for the legendary 1976 season.

    But if by 1975 Jochen had peaked in F1, his endurance racing career was still in full flow. Porsche paired him with Jacky Ickx in the late ’70s and the two of them were unstoppable, winning at Mugello, Vallelunga, Monza, Imola, Dijon, Silverstone, Watkins Glen and Brands Hatch – but never at Le Mans.

    It took a change to the Sauber-Mercedes team to finally give Mass a well-deserved win at La Sarthe. That was in 1989, by which time Jochen was the elder statesman in the team, not slowing down in the slightest but passing on his wealth of experience to younger drivers – one of whom famously headed for Formula One after sharing a couple of second places and a win with him in a C9. Let’s all hope that Michael Schumacher is soon well enough to tell us about that period in his remarkable career.

    I would never argue that F1 isn’t the pinnacle of outright speed in circuit racing, but everything has to be in your favour if on that day, at that track, in that car, you are to be the quickest. More so if you are to be the winner. The history books don’t accept ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and so it is for Jochen’s exceptional endurance racing successes that he sits among the greatest drivers of all time in that discipline.

    Today, Mass is a member of the #Mercedes-Benz Classic team, driving its competition cars from the 1930s and ’50s. I have worked alongside him at many an event over the years, and can’t tell you how much I enjoy his company. What an exuberant and philosophical survivor, whose hallmarks are priceless stories, great mirth and fun.

    Mass’ sole F1 victory came at the Spanish GP at Montjuïc in 1975.
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