Monthly Archives: May 2012

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Nϋrburgring Natters Two

Our Special Correspondent has been over to Germany for the Nürburgring 24 Hours. As usual he kept his eyes open and his ears pinned back, here is some of the knowledge he acquired on the trip.

The 2012 Nürburgring 24 Hours

In their reports of this wonderful race the general motoring press tend to mention the winners and the main contenders and tell us very little else. But there were 169 cars in this year’s race, so here is a brief selection of some of the other cars that took part:

The weather was in fact nice and warm in the early afternoon on the Sunday so this Porsche had no real need for extra ventilation! A replacement door was indeed fitted shortly after this picture was taken and the Frikadelli Racing Team car went on to be the highest placed Porsche at the finish, taking a well deserved 6th overall. The factory Porsche drivers were not so lucky this year, suffering all sorts of problems.

Three of the McLaren MP4 12C cars started the race, this Gembella Team car having no less than Nick Heidfeld and three times winner Klaus Ludwig on the driving strength. Alas, none of the cars survived into the Sunday, falling victims to accidents.

And this Ford GT did not last the race either!

The Peugeot RCZs are regulars at the Nürburgring 24 Hours these days. Although its team-mate failed to finish this year, this car went on to win its class. They are assembled by Magna Steyr in Austria.

Aston Martin are also regulars in this race and last year they ran their two new prototype Zagato cars, nicknamed “Zig” and “Zag”. This year they brought along just “Zig” which ran steadily into 26th place and 2nd in class. Here it is seen with a backcloth of the famous Nürburg Schloss.

Toyota love to use the 24 Hour race as a workout for their forthcoming and new models – for them it provides the best test session they can have. The Lexus LFA was here as usual, winning its class, but we also saw the new GT86 cars, Toyota’s rear-wheel driven sporting car developed in conjunction with Subaru whose flat-four engine powers it:

This car won its class.

Hyundai adopt a similar attitude. Here is their Genesis Coupé which finished 105th.

Jaguar saloons are not new to success in endurance races at the Nürburgring. In the 1962 12 Hours and 1963 12 Hours on the Nordschleife, Peter Lindner drove his 3.8 Jaguar Mk 2 saloon to victory, first with Peter Nöcker and secondly with Hans-Joachim Walter (European Rally Champion). This was the longest event held at the Nürburgring  at the time – the 24 Hours did not start until 1970.

This Jaguar XF saloon therefore carries on a Jaguar tradition and it not only won its class but was the first diesel car to finish the race. Privately entered by Carvell Motorsport, it had a 3-litre V6 diesel and completed 109 laps finishing 92nd.

One of the attractive features of endurance racing is that the teams are invariably reluctant to give up if there is the slightest chance of keeping the car going. Having received a considerable mauling, this BMW 135D managed to reach the finish scoring 2nd in the diesel class.

This Ford Fiesta, clearly proud of its heritage and managing to hide its ravaged nearside bodywork from the crowds in the main stands, finished 110th and 2nd in its class.

TAILPIECE

The no. 11 Manthey Porsche, one of the original favourites and crewed by three former winners, had a troubled race and suffered the indignity at the end of being towed away after being rammed just before the finishing line by a Renault Clio.

David Blumlein, May 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Full Monte

The Nurburgring 24 Hours was, as ever, a proper race. The stars get their due recognition but just important are the supporting cast, so just before we turn our attention towards La Sarthe here is a full roll call, including two who did not make the start.

Mainly my work, but gaps generously filled by David Blumlein, David Lord, Peter May and David Stephens.

John Brooks, May 2012


 

Time For The Countdown

As we approach June and the annual run at La Sarthe, one of the questions out there is can Tom Kristensen add to his tally of wins, taking his record even further out of sight?

Marvin Gaye’s “A Funky Space Reincarnation” gave us all something catchy to sing along to when thinking back on TK’s time in l’Ouest.

“One Fun, Two You, Three Me, Four More, Five No Jive, Six No Tricks, Seven We in Heaven, Eight Everything is Straight, Nine Fine, Ten…Let’s Do It Again………..

Those of you who are interested in seeing more about Tom and his Le Mans’ history should have a look HERE

John Brooks, May 2012


 

Carroll Shelby 1923-2012

Racing has lost one of its true “originals” with the death last week of 89 year old former Texas chicken farmer, Le Mans winner and Cobra entrepreneur, Carroll Shelby. While he wasn’t the originator of the Ford Motor Company’s “Total Performance” program that brought the Detroit giant foursquare into motorsport in the 1960’s, it was he and his Cobra which arguably expanded Ford’s competition efforts beyond the world of NASCAR into the international scene that included Le Mans and eventually Formula One.
A Second World War Army Air Force instructor pilot, Shelby was one of the many Americans who came out of the Southern California road racing community in the immediate years following the conflict’s end; a cadre that included men such as Phil Hill, Richie Ginther, Masten Gregory and Dan Gurney among others. Having established himself as part of the winning elite behind the wheel of various Ferraris and Maseratis, he moved to Europe in the latter part of the 1950’s, driving in both Formula One and in sports cars.
And, although his F-1 career was less than spectacular, his two seater results were more than impressive, including his 1959 Le Mans triumph as a member of the John Wyer led Aston Martin factory team. Unfortunately, it was not long after that he began to experience the heart issues which would force his cockpit retirement and which would eventually lead to a heart transplant that extended his life for more than 20 years.
While his heart have made him quit as a driver, he didn’t quit the sport. In 1962, having learned that the Bristol engine supply for the AC Ace had dried up, Shelby set out to make a deal that would replace that powerplant with a V-8 from one of Detroit’s big three. Coming to an agreement with AC was the easy part, convincing the “Motown” executives was not.

Turned away at both General Motors and Chrysler, Shelby found a much better reception at Ford which saw the opportunity being offered them and said “yes.” Thus was born the Cobra “powered by Ford” in the form of its small block eight cylinder used in its Falcon compacts and medium sized Fairlane. The Cobra proved to be not just a race winner, but a performance image sales leader that boosted Dearborn’s profits throughout its entire car range.
Despite its crudeness, the reborn Ace was more than up to the job of humbling its Corvette competition, claiming two straight United States Road Racing series crowns in 1963-64 against not only Zora Duntov’s two seater, but the Ferrari and Aston Martin entries that accompanied it. More importantly, having lost out to the Italians through a bit of chicanery on Enzo Ferrari’s part in 1964, Shelby’s Cobras took the World Manufacturer’s title for Ford in 1965 with relative ease.
By then, though, Shelby was deeply involved in not only the GT40 project, but also in transforming the hot selling Mustang into a proper racing car  in the form of Shelby’s California-produced GT350 version which dominated its class in North American amateur competition.


Despite problems, it would be Shelby entered Mark II and Mark IV  GT40s that would claim the honors for Ford at Le Mans in 1966 and ’67, those triumphs leading the FIA to kick the Americans out of the Makes championship of which the Sarthe was a part immediately thereafter.
With end of the factory GT40 program (Wyer-entered five liter Mark I examples would embarrass the FIA and the French by winning again in 1968 and ’69), came a new domestic beginning for Shelby in the form of the Trans-Am sedan series which again pitted the Mustang against GM’s Camaro and AMC’s Javelin for “Pony Car” superiority, again on the track and in street sales.
For Shelby the Trans-Am was a mixed bag. After winning the title in 1967, his team’s fortunes declined despite some individual race successes, as Camaros of Roger Penske and Mark Donohue claimed the Trans-Am crown in 1968 and ’69, the latter season being Shelby’s last in the championship.
Indeed, it likewise marked the end of his relationship with Ford, as the company was forced to leave motorsport during the 1970’s to deal with the increasingly burdensome government imposed emission and safety regulations. Later in life, after a brief association with Chrysler, he would return to Ford, not as a racer, but rather in the role of someone who lent his name to various of Dearborn’s high performance street vehicles.
In many ways, Shelby’s true talent, aside from his driving, was as a self promoter, which might seem at first glance to lessen his value and image within the sport and the automotive industry, but which on more sober reflection is not so because in his self promotion Shelby over and above his racing successes left us with a desire for high performance street cars that has continued to this day despite all attempts to quench it. For that he will remain always a giant.

 

Bill Oursler, May 2012