Category Archives: Mamma Mia!

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Ferrari at the Castle

A late summer day spent at Blenheim Palace for Salon Privé was followed 24 hours later by a grey autumnal day, also in the company of fantastic cars, this time the venue was Windsor Castle. The reason for this was attending the 2016 Concours of Elegance, repeating its visit to Berkshire back in 2012. Using my Ferrari test what was the level of the show?

 

In a word, sublime. This Ecurie Francorchamps Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Competizione aka Daytona is typical of the rare and authentic gathering of Maranello’s finest seen in the Upper Ward. Chassis 16425 was the final Competition Daytona to built, car number five in 1973 and number fifteen overall. Jacques Swaters was the customer and, as was his tradition, his Ferrari was painted in a distinctive yellow or Giallo Fly.

The Daytona raced in two major international events in ’73, Spa 1000Kms, finishing 12th overall in the hands of Teddy Pilette and Richard Bond. A month later Bond shared a run to 20th place in the Le Mans 24 Hours with Jean-Claude Andruet.

The Daytona made its way across the English Channel where it has resided ever since, running in national events, usually with Mike Salmon driving. It is believed to be the only unrestored Competizione Daytona and is almost completely the same as it was leaving the factory.

Not all the 60 cars on display were completely unfamiliar to me, this unique Ferrari Testarossa Spider was built for none other than Gianni Agnelli, the President of Fiat, on the occasion of his 20th anniversary at the helm of the Italian industrial empire.

Indeed I had encountered this special car back in February at the Rétromobile and wrote about at the TIME

The Testarossa Spider was by no means the only car that was specially made for Agnelli by Ferrari. In 1955 he commissioned this famous Ferrari 375 America that made its first appearance at the Turin Show. The nose resembled a Facel Vega, the A-pillar is tilted forward, there are fins on the rear deck and a transparent panel in the roof.

Add in a red-green paint job and you have a striking car that attracts admiration when seen in person.

Almost as rare as the Testarossa Spider is this beast, the 288 GTO Evoluzione, dating from 1986. Just six of these fearsome contraptions were built by Michelotto in anticipation of the FIA Group B regulations being applied to the tracks as well as the forests. My previous POST gives a fuller account of why the FIA cancelled their own regulations leaving the Porsche 961 and the 288 GTO Evoluzione with nowhere to play, though the Porsche did make two appearances at Le Mans in ’96 and ’97.

Actually, according to Joe Sackey, the MAN when it comes to the 288 GTO, Ferrari dropped the 288 from the Evolution model so it should be referred to as GTO Evoluzione but hardly anyone pays attention to that.

The figures for the GTO Evoluzione are staggering considering what the opposition were doing at that point 30 years ago. Power of 650bhp meant accelerating 0-60mph in just 4 seconds and a top speed of 229.9mph was quoted, Mamma Mia!

Perhaps the most important role that the GTO Evoluzione played was in acting as a test mule for the F40 that would be launched the following year. To see one of these elusive wonders of the Maranello World in the flesh is truly impressive.

There are few cars that have an entire book dedicated to them, much less by a historian as respected as Doug Nye, but Ferrari 250 GT SWB, chassis #2119, is one of such a select group. The Ferrari was delivered to Rob Walker and Dick Wilkins in mid-1960 and Stirling Moss was scheduled to drive it at the Goodwood Tourist Trophy in August. This despite not being fully recovered from his serious injuries sustained in the Belgian Grand Prix two months earlier. Moss ignored the pain and put on a fantastic show to crush the opposition, with the performance passing into legend as Moss turned on the car’s radio to hear the BBC commentary on his race.

In an earlier book about the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, Nye found that Moss was really enthusiastic about the car. “It was quite surprising how good it was – a really comfortable Grand Touring car; with good brakes, a super engine and crisp gearbox, and unusual in that it would not lift its inside rear wheel despite that old-fashioned live axle……. quiet difficult to fault, in fact.”

Moss took two further victories that season and #2119 was sold on to Tommy Sopwith’s Equipe Endeavour who scored another three wins in 1961, with promising new-boy and future Ferrari Grand Prix driver, Mike Parkes, behind the wheel.

Several well-known owners followed for the Ferrari such as Neil Corner and Sir Antony Bamford till in 2014 #2119 was acquired by Ross Brawn, the legendary engineer who was an integral part of the successes of the Schumacher era at Ferrari. Subsequently Brawn ran a team under his own name and won the Formula One World Championships in 2009. Brawn GP was then purchased by Mercedes-Benz and has formed the foundation for their tremendously successful team that currently dominates F1.

For Brawn #2119 is a dream come true. “When #2119 came up for sale I decided it was such a unique car that I had have it as well; I had to muster everything I could to buy it. To me it’s as aesthetically perfect as you can get for a sports racing car of that era. The historical connection means a lot to me because when I drive it I think of Stirling.”

The Ferrari 250 GTO succeeded the SWB as Ferrari’s GT standard bearer and has now become the most valuable and desired car in the world. Just 39 examples were built and #3729 was ordered by John Coombs, the Jaguar dealer from Guildford, who was a prominent driver and entrant in the ’50s and ’60s.

The line up of drivers who got behind the wheel in the ’62 to ’64 seasons was pretty special, Graham Hill (in the year that he won his first World Championship) , Roy Salvadori, Richie Ginther, Mike Parkes and Jack Sears. A second place in the ’62 Goodwood Tourist Trophy, courtesy of Graham Hill, would be the highlight of #3729’s career.

Somewhere along the way #3729 was repainted red but the current owner had the distinctive off-white colour restored recently, and it is much the better for this.

A decade before the GTO, Ferrari were turning out very competitive racers such as this Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupé. It proudly sports number 52 as running under that designation it finished first in the 1953 Coppa InterEuropa held at Monza and driven by the Ferrari agent for Milan, Franco Cornacchia.

A few weeks later #0237EU scored a class win in the Bologna-Raticosa Hillclimb. Subsequently the 212 was sold on to Venezuela and then to the USA, finally returning to Europe in 1986, since then it has become a regular in the historic racing scene.

Ferrari was not just about racing, the line of fast and luxurious Gran Turismos became another thread of the legend of Maranello. The Ferrari 500 Superfast has been compared to the Bugatti Royale and in the Tanner/Nye master-work Ferrari it was described as; “This was the ultimate in front-engined Ferraris for those who like the Rolls-Royce touch with their performance.” 

The 500 Superfast was popular with royalty, The Shah of Iran ordered two, the Aga Khan and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands each had one. Other notable owners that give the Rolls-Royce reference such substance included, Gunter Sachs, Otis Chandler, Barbara Hutton and Peter Sellers. It remains one of the most sought-after Ferraris.

One very special Ferrari that was on display at Windsor Castle is this gorgeous 250 GT SWB California Spider. What makes this example unique is that the first owner from Milan specified it with right-hand drive and it is the only example of the 57 cars built with this configuration. He wanted to race the car and felt that RHD would be the optimal arrangement.  In fact he did compete in just one race, the Trofeo Pacor in ’62, finishing 5th.

Although the California Spider was not intended for competition both the LWB and SWB variants did race at a range of venues including Le Mans, Sebring and Targa Florio as well as club events and hill climbs. The best result for the SWB brigade was 12th overall for Allen Newman, Gaston Andry and Robert Publicker in the 1961 12 Hours of Sebring, widely regarded as the toughest endurance race of them all.

The 250 GT SWB California Spider attracted many owners from the creative arts, in France these included Alain Delon, Roger Vadim and Brigitte Bardot, Johnny Halliday and François Sagan. In the US Bob Hope, James Coburn, Barbara Hershey and Ralph Lauren all have enjoyed the pleasures of driving the California Spider. The jaw-dropping good looks and almost perfect proportions will have appealed to these stars of stage and screen, that and it being a Ferrari.

The Concours of Elegance has passed my Ferrari test with flying colours, the question is what will we find when the circus assembles again at Hampton Court Palace 1-3 September? My advice is to grab a ticket and go along, it is truly one of the great motoring displays.

Finally, on behalf of all who toil at DDC Towers, may I wish our readers a happy and healthy 2017.

John Brooks, January 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferrari at the Palace – 2016

Back in 2015 I came up with a theory that you could measure the value of a car event by the quality of the Ferraris on display, a shaky premise to be sure but as good as any other subjective tool. So now at the fag end of the year it is an opportunity to look back at some of Maranello’s finest that I encountered on my travels.

The approach of autumn is heralded by some of the finest car events of the year. Salon Privé continues to delight those of us fortunate enough to attend with an eclectic selection of cars for our delectation and the Ferrari crop in 2016 is no exception to this rule.

Perhaps the place to start is at the top and the 2016 Best in Show which was awarded to this fantastic Ferrari 500 Testa Rossa which has recently been totally restored by DK Engineering, whose painstaking skills have rightly been recognised..

This example, 0614MDTR, has a well documented competition pedigree. Starting life across the Atlantic, the 500 TR became a fixture at the Nassau Speed Weeks in ’56 and ’57 plus appearances at the Cuba Grand Prix, with the original owner, William Helburn scoring a class second with Le Mans Legend, Olivier Gendebien, in February ’57 edition.

A new owner, Boris ‘Bob’ Said, took a class win in the Nassau Trophy. Said competed in the 1959 US Grand Prix at Sebring and was the father of well known endurance and NASCAR driver, Boris Said III. The Ferrari was sold on again to James Place, who campaigned it at Meadowdale and Elkhart Lake, eventually sticking a Chevvy engine to replace the 2-litre, four cylinder Italian unit. A Ferrari engine was eventually put back and now we have this most elegant mid-50’s barchetta to admire and enjoy.

Another piece of 50’s style from Maranello was this Ferrari 250 Europa. One of two prototypes and the sole example of a short chassis with Pininfarina styling.

Powered by a 3-litre V12 version of the classic this model was the ancestor of the Ferrari 250 GT range.

Fast forward some 30 years, to another legendary Ferrari, the 288 GTO. Back in 1982 the FIA introduced Group B regulations to encourage a move to production-based cars for competition as opposed to the prototypes in Group C that raced in the World Championship and Le Mans. A minimum production run of 200 examples was mandated but the laws of unintended consequences intervened. Porsche and Ferrari considered building cars for the tracks, whereas Austin-Rover, Audi, Ford, Lancia and Peugeot introduced Group B cars to rallying. The vastly increased performance of the new cars led to several incidents with spectators being killed or injured. The final straw came with the deaths of Lancia star, Henri Toivonen, and his co-driver, Sergio Cresto, on the Tour de Course, when, inexplicably, their Delta S4 left the road and caught fire. Group B was finished, cancelled by the FIA.

One of the reasons that there was little enthusiasm for racing either the Porsche 961 or the Ferrari 288 GTO is that it was cheaper to buy a Porsche 956/962 and have a shot at outright victory as privateer teams beat the Werks car on several occasions, even at Le Mans. The cancellation of the FIA regulations might have caused Ferrari a problem but the designation GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato) guaranteed demand and in the end 272 cars were built. They sold out immediately, the 288 GTO achieved iconic status.

Looking at the auction houses gives a clue as to why this matter, the spiritual ancestor of this car, the 250 GTO, achieves prices way, way in excess of any other car. The 250 GTO is the Holy Grail of Ferraris, the ultimate object of desire for those with ‘Il Cavallino Rampante’ in their hearts. A look through the list of owners of the 288 GTO turns up some well known names, four FIA World Champions, Niki Lauda, Keke Rosberg, Michael Schumacher and Bobby Garretson. F1 notables such as Adrian Newey, Eddie Irvine, Walter Wolf, Jean-Pierre Van Rossem and Michele Alboreto have had a 288 GTO as have endurance racing stalwarts Fredy Lienhard, John Bosch, Giuseppe Lucchini, Hans Hugenholtz, Martino Finotto, Rik Bryan and Jean Blaton aka ‘Beurlys’. Arguably the most famous owner was front-man from the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, proving that

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

However it was not just sentiment or the collection of stars that purchased the car that makes it special, the 288 GTO was a very important car in the Ferrari story. It was the first Ferrari to utilise the modern technology developed from motor sport to enhance performance and the driving experience. Powered by a 2.8 litre V8 with twin turbochargers installed longitudinally in a tubular chassis derived from the 308 GTB and clothed by a body made of a glass-fibre or mixes with Nomex and/or Kevlar.

To quote Joe Sackey, author of the book that is the last word on the 288 GTO. ‘This car epitomised a new beginning for Ferrari, and served to popularize its road-going cars in a way that previous models had not. The 288 GTO was truly the last car that Enzo Ferrari had any direct influence on, personally naming the car and setting a mandate for his men which left little doubt about his goals by stating: “What we have to do is build a new version of the Berlinetta. We shall call it the GTO.” ‘ No pressure then, but the result of this encouragement speaks for itself, it is a truly special car, even by the standards of Maranello.

If the 288 GTO had restored Ferrari’s reputation for producing the ultimate supercar, then its successor, the F40, propelled this status to the heavens. The F40 was intended to celebrate Ferrari’s 40th anniversary and it took the performance of the 288 GTO to another level and was claimed to be the fastest car in the world at the time of introduction in 1987 and the first road-legal production car to exceed 200mph.

It was not just the performance but also the dramatic style of the F40 that caused shock waves when publicly unveiled to the world at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Enzo Ferrari was well aware that his time was short, as he was approaching 90, and he encouraged his workers to create the ‘ultimate Ferrari’, he would have felt satisfaction at the results of his encouragement.

 

Available only in ‘Rosso Corsa’ and despite the eye-watering price tag, the F40 was a best seller, 1,311 examples were produced in the production run stretching from 1987 to 1992. The Ferrari F40 is right up there in the pantheon of Maranello’s heroes.

 

Any serious consideration of the roll call of Maranello’s Heroes would have to include the 365 GTB/4 or perhaps the even more precious 365 GTS/4. This handsome beast catapulted Ferrari back to the top of the supercar tree in the face of the challenge of the Lamborghini Miura, much as the 288 GTO and F40 would do in the following decades. Moreover the car was nicknamed as the ‘Daytona’ in a salute to the 1-2-3 victory in the 1967 edition of the Daytona 24 Hours, despite heavyweight opposition from the normally rampant Ford factory effort that suffered with catastrophic transmission failures in all their entries. To beat Ford so comprehensively in their own backyard must have been particularly sweet for Enzo Ferrari, especially in view of the drubbings that Ferrari endured in 1966 at the hands of the Detroit giant,  the Daytona designation was allowed to stick.

The Daytona was first presented at the 1968 Paris Salon and although production was slow to begin with, by the time the model was replaced in 1973 1,284 examples were built. The numbers on the convertible were were much smaller, all but 18 of the 122 production run were destined for the US market and this is one of the few.

The premium attracted by the desirability of the open top has led to some conversions from the original coupé. Author and Ferrari expert, Anthony Pritchard, in his excellent book The Road Ferraris, gets quite cross about this vandalism as he sees it: “Prices of the open cars are ludicrously high, even by classic car standards, and rather foolishly some Berlinettas were rebuilt as convertibles by Autokraft and other concerns, with sellers often anticipating similar prices. Original Daytona Spiders are worth a very great deal of money, but converted coupés simply debase the coinage, and no genuine and serious enthusiast, as opposed to misguided investors, would buy one.” Well that told us.

Another strikingly elegant convertible on display was this 250 GT Series ll Cabriolet that was introduced at the 1959 Paris Salon. 202 examples of this car were made up to 1962.

No assembly of Ferraris would be complete without a Dino and this 246 GT is particularly attractive. The Dino is a truly landmark car in Ferrari’s history. Glen Smale in his great book, Ferrari Design – The Definitive Study  had this to say: “Pininfarina readily admit that the stylistic approach of the Dino concept served as the foundation for all successive mid-engined Ferraris. Perhaps this fact serves to highlight the importance of this model.”

So there I rest my case, a high bar has been set and with the 70th birthday of Ferrari in prospect the Salon Privé will have its work cut out to go one better in 2017, I look forward to seeing the results.

John Brooks, December 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Art!

merzario, arturo_2

It cannot be much fun these days being a writer in Formula One, blandtastic interviews with athletes  who for the most part, you would not want to spend time with away from the office. OK, there is one exception and perhaps that explains Kimi’s enduring appeal, at least to the fans. The level of control exercised by the PR hacks is stifling and could explain partly why the motorsport press is in a steady decline, no one wants to read a steady diet of vanilla soundbites.

Back in the 70’s it was all very different.

Speaking of 70’s it is the 70th birthday today of one Arturo Francesco Merzario and that is a cause for celebration. If one man symbolises the free spirit attitude of that era, it could be said to be Little Art. He drove 27 Grand Prix for Ferrari, an Italian’s dream, but it was not a good time to be with the Scuderia in Formula One. Sportscars, however, was another matter. As a factory pilot for both Ferrari and Alfa Romeo he scored victories in the classics at Nürburgring, Targa Florio, Spa, Imola, Kyalami and Monza. The hat and the cigarette, and the elegant lady on his arm were all part of the image.

I last saw Art a couple of years back at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, he was racing with a few mates from Italy, just enjoying an opportunity to drive on one the greatest tracks of them all. It explains his popularity, the money meant nothing, it was always about the racing, and those of us outside of the Paddock Club could sense that, he was one of us.

So salut Arturo and many more to come!

John Brooks, March 2013

On the Mean Streets of Paris

2013 Retromobile

It is early February and a visit to Paris for the Retromobile is a must do. Amongst the many gems and rarities there is always the commonplace. This is how the Parisians fought the poodle owners before The Great War – a Renault Balayeuse – we could do with something similar in Elmbridge 100 years on.

More from this excellent show later.

John Brooks, February 2013

The Long Walk

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

On the first public day of the Windsor Concours of Elegance the scale of the event was extended by the presence of several car clubs bringing a fantastic selection of their members’ vehicles.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

As might have been expected the thoroughbred British brands were to the fore, Aston Martin sending a brace of cars to support the efforts of the Aston Martin Owners’ Club. And what a pair? An Aston Martin V12 Zagato and an Aston Martin V12 Vantage – shaken and stirred.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

The AMOC had come up with an appropriate salute to Her Majesty on her Diamond Jubilee, an example of the marque from each of the 60 years. Leading the way was the 1952 Aston Martin DB3, chassis 5, that raced that year at Monaco, Le Mans, Sebring, the Mille Miglia and Goodwood. This actual car actually triumphed in the Goodwood Nine Hours that year driven by Peter Collins and Pat Griffith.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

The rich heritage of Aston Martin was fully illustrated under the blue Berkshire skies, in the shadow of Windsor Castle.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

From 1985, the Aston Martin Lagonda, certainly marching to a different drum stylistically. This very expensive saloon was the first production car in the world to use digital instrumentation and computer management, but the whole affair was prone to terrible reliability problems.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

The exhibition was not solely a British affair with Ferrari showing a fabulous display of their supercars that have been produced during Queen’s reign.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

Completely different answers to the same question, a Ferrari Dino 246 GT and Ferrari 275 GTB/4. Both from the 60’s and illustrating performance and style, both utterly desirable.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

Just look at the wheels, how they match the Ferrari red, takes one back to the 512S, one of the stars of Steve McQueen’s film Le Mans.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

A unique product from Maranello that was on the lawn was this Ferrari Dino 208 GT4 Spyder.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

Styled by Bertone this car was a one off exercise in looking at how the 208 might look as a soft top. It never made it into production.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

Completely original and unrestored since its production in 1975, it was a rare beast, even in the Windsor setting.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

The Ferrari F40 still has shock and awe qualities even some 20 years on.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

The same might well be said of the “Batmobile” aka BMW 3.0 litre CSL

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

The Bentley Drivers’ Club was also well represented. Not every item was factory fitted.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

This Bentley Continental S2 Drophead particularly caught my eye.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

With the famous track only a short distance from Windsor it was inevitable that the Brooklands Museum would put in an appearance with a reminder of the days of The Bentley Boys.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

Power behind the legend.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this part of the Windsor Concours of Elegance is that it was free and completely open to the public. Combined with the beautiful weather and the strange spirit of the country in the wake of Jubilee and the Olympics it made for a fantastic weekend. More tomorrow.

John Brooks, December 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth?

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

To have been in the UK during 2012 was to be in a place at a very special time. Dominating the August and September months were the London Olympics and Paralympics, never has a city and a nation embraced the Games with such fervor and passion, we surprised ourselves, we amazed others.

Perhaps the positive mood of the British public was set in the months before the Games when there were prolonged celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth ΙΙ. Over the length and breadth of Britain, events were held to commemorate 60 years of service to the Nation. Some of these were on a huge scale like those in London, some more intimate like street parties, but all with a common purpose, a collective thank you from the British people to our Monarch.

2012 Salon Prive

The Automotive aspect of our culture was naturally also part of these celebrations with an event that claimed the status of “Instant Classic” without any shadow of doubt. In early September Windsor Castle was the setting for a new show, the Windsor Concours of Elegance. A simple concept really, bring 60 of the world’s finest automobiles into a unique setting, Windsor Castle. Of course creating such an meeting is no simple matter, meticulous planning and years of sheer hard work went into the preparation, we should give thanks to those involved, they know who they are.

2012 Salon Prive

The setting, Windsor Castle, is one the Queen’s three Official Residences and is widely thought to be her favourite. Originally built by William the Conqueror after 1066, the palace is both the oldest castle in continuous occupation and largest inhabited castle in the world. The public can visit large parts of what is Her Majesty’s home and there is the added attraction of ceremonies like the Changing of the Guard. In fact Windsor Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK, around a million visitors each year. Staging a Concours at such venue was a major coup for the organisers, almost beyond value and typically the event was to benefit a number of charities that deal with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

2012 Salon Prive

Almost beyond value could also be a description applied to the cars on display both within and without The Upper Ward and the Cambridge Gate and down The Long Walk. After clearing security, a standard procedure for any visitors to the Royal Palaces, it was time to make the trip up to the George ΙV Gateway.

2012 Salon Prive

There was a small display of Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover and McLaren cars both old and new, it set the tone for the weekend.

2012 Salon Prive

Woking’s finest were on parade including the debut of the latest model, the 12C Spider, stunning even in this august company.

2012 Salon Prive

The latest version of the GT3 racer was parked up.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

A little further on was an old friend, the Bentley Speed 8 that TK, Dindo and Guido Smythe raced and triumphed in at Le Mans in 2003.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

Still showing signs of battle, it was a moment when the brand recaptured the spirit of the WO days and his legion of “Bentley Boys”. Five wins in seven years in the 20’s is an Audi or Porsche like performance record, perhaps it most appropriate that the revival has taken place as part of the Volkswagen family.

2012 Salon Prive

And on that note……………….

2012 Salon Prive

It was time to leave the display behind and head up to The Upper Ward………………

2012 Salon Prive

Where some truly sublime cars were awaiting – Embiricos Bentley 4¼ Litre Pourtout Coupé and Avions Voisin C-25 Berline Aérodyne anyone?

More tomorrow.

John Brooks, December 2012

It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum

2012 FIA WEC Bahrain

One of the benefits (?) of travelling the world in pursuit of the FIA WEC is associating with the other boys in the band who make up the media corps. Despite their frequent grumbles and moans, they have a generally good time, working hard and playing hard.

The Sun seems to have got to them a bit early in the day or perhaps it was the double Brasso on the corn flakes. Hark, I hear the Temple Bells, they’ll all be open now………….

Compliments of the Season to all of my fellow travellers.

John Brooks, December 2012

All the Sizes, All the Colours

2003 FIA SCC Spa

2003 saw the end of the road for the FIA SCC, whose competitors were affectionately known as Mango’s Barmy Army.  Numbers on the grid dwindled and even John Mangoletsi himself was no longer on the scene. Stéphane Ratel and Patrick Peter joined forces with Martin Birrane and David Kennedy in an effort to breath some life into the Championship but matters were beyond all help. The bright light on the horizon was the prospect of the quartet joining the ACO to create the Le Mans Series, the first step on the road to a proper World Endurance Championship.

2003 FIA SCC Spa

The penultimate round of the FIA SCC was held on the majestic Spa Francorchamps circuit, a truly cunning plan was hatched to increase numbers, step forward the British GT Championship. So 24 GTs were added to the 11 prototypes to give the grid a fig leaf of numerical respectability. Of course SRO’s definition of a GT was typically elastic, so there was both a VW Golf GTI and Renault Clio V6 in the mix, seen here interfacing with Jan Lammers in the Dome and Tom Kristensen in the Audi R8. Utterly bizarre and thankfully not repeated.

John Brooks, December 2012

Close But No Cigar

Portland International Raceway was always one the friendliest locations on the old ALMS schedule. Back in 1999 Franz Konrad campaigned his fearsome Porsche 911 GT2 with Bob Wollek and scored a podium finish. You could get pretty close at the first turn, almost too close……..

John Brooks, August 2012