04 mai 2016
Indy 1963. Bobby Unser, Kurtis Novi « Hotel Tropicana »
A l'instar des frères Dalton, les Unser brothers étaient quatre... Bobby, né en 1934 est le troisième de la fratrie, Al plus jeune de cinq ans le quatrième. Simple fait du talent ou héritage de leur lointaine ascendance helvétique, ces deux-là sont partis pour atteindre des sommets.
Dans l’armoire familiale il y a déjà beaucoup de trophées, mais il manque encore un visage Unser sur le Borg-Warner Trophy. Cependant la conquête est d’ores et déjà en marche, « Indy 500 » n’a plus qu’à bien se tenir !
signé Francis Rainaut
20 novembre 2015
Günnar Nilsson aurait eu 67 ans aujourd'hui.
Le pilote suédois a remporté sa seule et unique victoire en Grand Prix à Zolder le 5 juin 1977. Pour évoquer sa personnalité et son souvenir, qui de mieux placé qu’une des légendes de la course automobile, Mario Andretti, ancien coéquipier de Günnar chez Lotus ?
06 février 2014
... Les amis, les rivaux, les contemporains : ce qu’ils sont devenus
Remarques de Klaus Ewald, traduit de l'anglais par Francis Rainaut
A l’instar de l’allemand Bernd Rosemeyer dans les années trente et du canadien Gilles Villeneuve dans les années soixante-dix et quatre-vingt, Jochen Rindt dans la Lotus Ford 72 est considéré comme l’archétype du jeune et courageux héros de Grand Prix doté d’un charisme illimité et d’une popularité intemporelle...
28 octobre 2012
Cela fait près de 35 ans que Günnar Nilsson a remporté sa seule et unique victoire en Grand Prix*. Pour évoquer sa personnalité et son souvenir, qui de mieux placé qu’une des légendes de la course automobile, Mario Andretti, ancien coéquipier de Günnar chez Lotus ?
*Zolder, 5 juin 1977
Par Mario Andretti (traduit par Francis Rainaut)
« Günnar était un esprit libre, un individu vraiment agréable dont il était facile d’être ami. Nous aimions bien ce mec, la famille aussi. Il est rare d’avoir un coéquipier avec qui vous passez pas mal de temps en dehors des week-ends de course. C’était quelqu’un qui comptait beaucoup pour nous, oui réellement, vraiment beaucoup.
Je me rappelle être allé en Suède… et avoir passé du bon temps avec lui là-bas. Bien sûr on devait effectuer des essais, mais étant sur place pour une semaine et demi, nous pouvions aussi vadrouiller et draguer un peu, en quelque sorte.
Il devint un véritable ami. Entre lui et Ronnie (Peterson) je vous laisse imaginer ! J’avais l’habitude de les appeler les « branleurs Suédois ! ». C’était une relation très affectueuse que nous avions ensemble. C’est juste incroyable que nous ayons perdu Günnar de cette façon là. C’est réellement … Bref c’est injuste.
Ce n’est pas très courant d’avoir ce type de relation avec votre coéquipier. Nous nous entendions très bien malgré notre différence d’âge. Je souhaitais vraiment qu’il réussisse. Je voulais intervenir et faire quelques ‘critiques’. Je me rappelle en avoir eu l’occasion au Japon, au Fuji en 1976. C’était pendant les essais. J’étais garé au bord du circuit et je le regardais tourner. Il brutalisait vraiment la voiture et perdait ainsi beaucoup de vitesse.
Je lui ai alors suggéré quelques ‘trucs’ et il gagna ainsi une demi seconde au tour. J’avais plus d’expérience qu’il pouvait en avoir et j’étais totalement prêt à lui en faire profiter. Je voulais juste l’aider à déployer ses ailes. Il y eut une discussion précise au sujet de sa venue à Indianapolis où je pourrais également l’aider. Je souhaitais qu’il essaie tout ça.
Günnar vint en Amérique et couru en IROC en 1978, et il le fit vraiment bien. Ce furent les trois dernières courses qu’il fit avant que la maladie ne prenne vraiment le dessus. J’estime qu’il avait incontestablement le talent pour réussir à Indianapolis, c’est sûr. Avant lui j’étais très copain avec Clay Regazzoni et c’est moi qui lui suggéra de venir à Indy, ce qu’il fit. Mais ce ne fût pas une grande réussite.
Avec Günnar cela commença à la fin de la saison ‘77. Il y avait quelque chose qui n’allait pas car il logeait ici dans ma maison de Nazareth et nous étions en train de voyager. Je crois que nous nous rendions au Japon. Et il ne se sentait pas bien. Nous ne savions pas quoi faire. C’est vraiment à ce moment-là que cela a commencé et tout-à-coup les choses se sont mises à s’accélérer. Il fut alors dépassé par tout cela en un temps relativement court.
Nous étions en 1978, et Ronnie était maintenant mon coéquipier. Günnar était malade, mais personne d’entre nous ne savait réellement à quel point. Puis ce fut l’ ’International Trophy race’ à Silverstone. Je suis sorti de la route très tôt, et j’ai alors décidé de partir et d’aller voir Günnar à l’hôpital. Le cancer avait pris le dessus. Il avait l’air si différent. Je fus anéanti de voir ça.
C’était un homme encore jeune, avec encore tellement à vivre, un grand avenir devant lui et le voir ainsi décliner. C’était… de toute évidence déchirant. Je veux dire que c’est la pire sensation que vous ne puissiez jamais avoir. Il était comme un membre de la famille. C’est une de ces profondes, profondes sensations… Les choses ne sont plus jamais les mêmes quand vous perdez cela.
Mon meilleur souvenir de Günnar ? J’en ai tellement. Quand nous devions courir aux US, il venait habiter dans ma maison et nous montions alors au lac – notre spot de ‘vacances’ si vous voulez. Il est situé à environ 70 miles de l’endroit où je vis et j’y ai tous mes jouets. Ronnie était là-bas, mon fils Michael également. Nous avions de motos – nous avons tout ce que vous pouvez imaginer comme sortes de choses pour vous amuser.
Michael, qui était encore un gamin, faisait des courses avec. Je courrais avec des engins à quatre roues. Nous allions faire du ski nautique et jouer au tennis. Notre objectif était juste de lui faire mordre la poussière vous savez. Vraiment de l’épuiser ! Nous avions ce genre de détentes. J’ai des photos de ces moments-là, tous ensembles.
C’était juste merveilleux d’être avec lui. J’ai également passé des moments très forts avec lui en Suède. Il faut que je vous raconte cela ! Je me rappelle quand nous y étions, bien sûr il avait sa BMW, et nous avions pas mal de verres dans le nez. Et les lois en Suède à ce sujet sont strictes, très strictes.
Pour en revenir à cette histoire, même si vous êtes passager vous êtes responsable, aussi j’ai estimé que j’avais bu quelques verres… mais que j’étais ok. Bon, je suis maintenant en train de conduire et là il est sorti de la voiture et s’est mis à marcher à coté de moi. Il ne voulait vraiment pas être pris dans la voiture ! Je me suis alors rangé sur le coté et nous avons trouvé une paire de bicyclettes et nous avons pédalé jusqu’à la maison pendant huit ou neuf miles. Il y avait des choses dingues comme celle-là. C’était juste trop drôle.
Il ne fait aucun doute que la fin de l’année 1978 fut pour moi une arme à double tranchant. J’ai répété cela plusieurs fois. Monza aurait dû être le plus beau jour de ma carrière mais je n’ai pas pu le fêter. J’étais Champion du Monde de Formule 1. Je me rappelle être en train de parler à ma femme sur le chemin de l’aéroport le lendemain de l’accident de Ronnie – et alors j’ai découvert qu’il avait succombé. J’étais tellement « Oh mon Dieu ». Nous allions célébrer ce titre ensemble et jamais, jamais plus évidemment, nous ne pourrions le faire. Cela a pris du temps. Cela mit longtemps à cicatriser, mais ce ne fût plus jamais pareil. Comme je l’ai déjà dis quand vous avez ce type de relation, vous savez cela fait un grand vide quand cela s’arrête.
Et quelques semaines après avoir perdu Ronnie, Günnar s’en allait à son tour. Ce fut vraiment quelques semaines très dures.
Mais il existe aussi la fondation de Günnar, pour laquelle il était vraiment engagé, ce qui a ramené beaucoup d’argent. C’est merveilleux. Cela montre bien combien d’amis il avait, et comment cela a touché le monde des sports mécaniques d’une manière très positive.
Deux grands amis, que je n’ai pas oublié. »
Merci à Mario Andretti.
Merci à Andy Hallbery pour son interview de Mario.
Merci au site http://www.motorsportretro.com/
Merci à « The Cahier Archive » pour les images additionnelles.
30 juillet 2012
The Gods let those die early who they love (Plautus, Bacchides, IV, 7,18)
Pioneers and adventurers, romantics and technocrats, gentlemen and playboys - in the most exclusive group of sportsmen of the so far 31 automobile driving world champions until 2010 there are nearly all kind of guys to give enough support to all clichès of this planet. Twenty of these 31 world champions are still alive. The senior among these aces is Australia`s Sir John Arthur Brabham, born in 1926. Jack Brabham is also the only man to win drivers`and constructors`s worldchampionship in personal union: In 1966, the first year of the 3-litre- formula. Youngest Grand Prix world champion became Lewis Carl Hamilton, Briton with roots in Grenada and also the first black in this elite group, back in 2008. In 2007 Hamilton had become the first rookie champion in history, if he had been able to cope with his tyres in a better manner in the decisive period of the championship, something he is not really able to do until now. The world champions Dr Nino Farina and Mike Hawthorn, the last one already suffering under uncurable kidney cancer, died in road accidents. Graham Hill crashed with his private aircraft. Juan Manuel Fangio and Phil Hill passed away as old men. Denny Hulme and James Hunt died, suffering under extreme private problems, by broken hearts: Fatal infarctions at the age og 56 and 45 years. The great Alberto Ascari was killed at a less important sportscar test, Jim Clark lost his life at a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim. Only two of the all-time best in professional automobile racing died in a Grand Prix racing car: Ayrton Senna and Jochen Rindt. Both in British cars. Both caused by technical defects. Both in Italy. Men and fates. There are a lot of parallels and repeatings in the bizarre history of Grand Prix. Senna and also Rindt had got two chances to be killed, but no one to survive. Senna`s steering column, modified by his personal initiative, had broken at Imola in 1994. But the fatal injuries were caused by a piece of metal of a size of some two centimetres broken from the front suspension when the car was crashing into to the concrete wall and this fragment went through the gasket of the vizor into the helmet. At Rindt the right front brake shaft , the connection between the wheel and the brake disc inside the chassis, had broken; the Lotus Ford 72 went leftward in an acute angle when braking for the Parabolica to crash into the safety barrier to hit a post behind, spun and did another frontal crash into the barrier. Then the car came to a halt in the run out area. Despite being a fighter for more safety in motorsport together with his friend Jackie Stewart and the drivers`union GPDA, Rindt had go two pretty counterproductive qualities. Very often, but not at Monza, he was using an open helmet as one of the last drivers at that time, because he was not able to get enough air to breathe with the closed version after having sustained a nose fracture earlier in his career. And he used only seat belts fixed on four points instead of the available six, because the most courageous Grand Prix driver of all times had a panic fear of not being able to leave the cockpit quickly enough in the case of a suddenly breaking out fire. The crash into the safety barrier made Rindt slip under the belt and the dash board made out of sharp metal to be executed like by a guillotine. It does not matter for the reason of the accident, that Rindt had driven without the normally usual wings for better speed at the long straights at Monza (until 1971 without the chicanes installed later): The Lotus Ford 72 had gone off the track because of the unilateral effect of the brakes. From the very beginning the design of the car had been made that way to bring 70 per cent of the brake effect to the front wheels. Colin Chapman and his designer Maurice Phillippe had decided to use inside brake disc to reduce the weight not being supported by the springs (heavy disc made out of steel inside the wheel). Depending on the circuit length the advantage of inside brake discs could be up to 7/10th of a second. By the way light carbon fibre brake discs have made this design unneccessary meanwhile. The - on a torsion base used , brake shafts of the Lotus Ford 72 were hollow, because higher torques can be transmitted on pipe-like cross-sections than by solid ones. The real reason for the defect had been, as it was explored some decades later, a production mistake made by a supporting company, not a design failure at Lotus. Concerning the consequences of the accident this fact is out of any importance. Rindt, being the legal heir of his parents`company , had pro forma registered for economics (main subject: world trade) at the University of Vienna, but he had not got any techical education. In spite of this fact he was not able to be convinced of the plan of inside lying brake discs, because instinctively he was knowing the risks: I will either become world champion or getting killed in a Lotus, he already had said in 1969. Having got the clear target of winning the title very early before the overseas races in Canada, the USA and Mexico, Rindt wanted to drive the type 49, his Monaco winning car, for a definitely last time to be completely in a safe position on the high speed track of Monza. But in contrast to early promises Team Lotus had brought no more 49 type, only driven by novice Emerson Fittipaldi at that time, to the Royal Park. Instead of doing so Chapman had ordered to build a third 72 type for the works team, the 72/5, while Graham Hill now was driving the first ever 72 type constructed in the team of Rob Walker, freshly revised, in midnight-blue livery and now named 72/4. Racing drivers are, despite highly paid, only orders obeying clerks of their teams. It is like at a normal job: Who refuses to do what his employer wants will be fired sooner or later. Chapman, sometimes a chum, sometimes a boss cold as ice, and also concerning other circumstances full of contradictions, but no doubt the greatest genius the entire world of racing car construction has ever seen, had taken a lot of time to get familiar with the continental European Rindt. But then he adored him like he once had done to Jim Clark. Chapman had made the 72/5 to be constructed as the second car for Rindt beside his regular 72/2: With modifications at the tanks and the fuel system, but above all with revised front brakes - the blower for cooling them in the pits was no longer neccessary. Later also the NACA intakes in the nose scone were able to be taken away. Young Emerson Fittipaldi, not John Miles risen from a test to a number two driver, should do the roll-out of the new car on the for the Brazilian unknown circuit. After that Rindt should take the 72/5 to decide, which car he would prefer for the race. Ford had a Cosworth V8 with some extra horse powers available for the coming world champion to be installed in that chassis chosen by Rindt. But already on Friday unexperienced Fittipaldi made a typical rookie mistake, crashed into the third Ferrari of Ignazio Giunti in the Parabolica and destroyed all plans at Team Lotus. Catastrophes in Grand Prix Racing in many cases show, like heavy thunderstorms, signs of warning, but very often these signs are, consciously or not, ignored.
His famous quotations seemed to be presentiments. Maybe I will not to reach the age of forty. But until that time I will have experienced more things in life than anybody else. Or: Nobody knows, how long he will live. Because of this fact you have to do as much as you can as fast as you can. Jochen Rindt was not determined to grow old and to analyze, supplied with an enormous amount of honours and decorations, the current Grand Prix scenery like today it is done by his friend and neighbour Jackie Stewart. No doubt, there a lot of competent elder statesmen full of integrity in this sport, but also some senile gerontocrats not knowing, that their time is definitely over. The character of Jochen Rindt is timeless, charismatic and heroic, bringing us now to those personalites sharing more than a common period in life with him.
Before their wedding in March 1967 Nina Rindt had worked as a model, she was seen in many international fashion magazines and she was also a friend of famous Twiggy. Nina Rindt is a Finn of Swedish and Russian origin; her father Kurt Lincoln also had been a racing driver and he was also the owner of the Keimola circuit. Jochen and Nina Rindt`s only common child Natascha was born in 1968. In 1972 Nina Rindt married a friend of Jackie Stewart, Briton Philip Martyn, who was said to earn his money being a gambler. Martyn was the father of her daughter Tamara. For a while, after being devorced from him, she was the girl-friend of Grand Prix driver and Eurosport commentator John Watson (Penske, Brabham, McLaren) from Northern Ireland. In 1979 Nina Rindt married Scottish investment banker Alexander Hood Viscount of Bridport, who is the father of her son Alexander. This marriage was devorced in 1999 and then Nina Rindt more and more disappeared out of the public and she also is not, against her original intention, with the organizers of the Essen Motor Show, that once had become famous all over the world named Jochen Rindt Show. During the nineties Nina Rindt, a heavy smoker for many years, sustained a break of her aorta; she only could be rescued by an emergency operation and a lot of luck.
Natascha Rindt had grown up in the even by her father designed villa in Begnins at the Lake Geneva and she is very, very similar to her famous father not only concerning her appearance. Before working for the Formula One Group as a television director and a pilot, she had been involved in sport management, for example for the 1992 Winter Olympics at Albertville and the agency IMG of Mark McCormack, who had Jackie Stewart, Francois Cevert and Peter Revson among their clients. Meanwhile she also became a mother, the name of her daughter is India.
Two years after Rindt`s death Lotus boss Colin Chapman again won both worldchampionships with Emerson Fittipaldi and the Lotus Ford 72 now in the colours of black and gold of cigarette brand John Player Special. In 1974 the Mk 72`s successor Lotus Ford 76, designed by Ralph Bellamy (former McLaren and Brabham) with it`s semi-automatic gearbox, the double rear wing and the four pedals was too much ahead in time of the technical development in Grand Prix Racing, so Team Lotus had to go back to the meanwhile five years old 72 type until the end of 1975.
In 1977 Team Lotus returned into the victory lane with the several times modified Mk 77. Then Chapman again succeeded in establishing another technical revolution together with his engineer Peter Wright: The Lotus Ford 78 and 79s were the first ground effect cars in history; Mario Andretti won the 1978 worldchampionship in a superior manner, while his team mate Ronnie Peterson lost his life at the start of the Italian Grand Prix by a driving error made by James Hunt. Then Chapman drove the development of the ground effect car with the 80 and 88 models in such an excessive direction, that could not be technologically and juridically controlled anymore leading to this technology being banned by the F.I.A. at least. This fact lead to a certain stagnation at Team Lotus where they always being related on their own power of innovation. But Chapman, who only was interested in winning and not in collecting points, lead his team back to victory at Zeltweg in 1982, when Elio de Angelis was able to beat Keke Rosberg in the Williams Ford by only a few inches. With the background of the turbo era beginning Chapman had negotiated an agreement with Renault and he also had signed a contract with his long years` sponsor John Player & Sons to create a secure financial base for the future. But at this time Chapman and some employèes already had been personally involved in the De Lorean scandal; there had been massive fraud at millions of subventions and, in the case of John De Lorean, big style cocaine dealing. The explorations of the prosecution authorities had already been in a high developed status, when Chapman died in the age of only 54 years in the headquarters of Team Lotus, Ketteringham Castle, in December 1982. It was said, that his death was caused by a cardiac infarction.
John Miles immidiately retired from Grand Prix Racing after Rindt`s fatal accident and only competed in some touring car racing from time to time. Later he worked as an engineer for Lotus and as a journalist for different media.
After the year 1970 at Rob Walker Rindt`s team mate at Team Lotus in 1969, Graham Hill, drove for the works team of Brabham in 1971 and 1972 before establishing a team of his own from 1973 on under the name Embassy Racing with Graham Hill, first supplied with customer cars from Shadow and Lola, from spring 1975 on as constructor in his own rights. Hill retired from active competition after he had not been able to qualify for the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix, the race he had won fivetimes in his career. Shortly before succeeding in taking the breakthrough also as a constructors with young Briton Tony Brise driving he and nearly his complete team lost their lives in a crash of the private aircraft flown by Graham Hill himself. Despite very tough conditions in his youth as the result of the accident Hill`s only son Damon became Formula One world champion in a Williams Renault in 1996.
Emerson Fittipaldi secured Rindt`s world champion title by his victory at Watkins Glen in 1970; he himself won the worldchampionship in 1972, and, after his switch to McLaren, again in 1974. Fittipaldi retired from active competition driving for the team of his own in 1980, but as a constructor in his own rights he only had got average success between 1975 and 1982. From the middle of the eighties Fittipaldi was successfully competing in the Indy Car Series to win twice the Indianapolis 500. Later he came very close to getting paralyzed at two accidents, one time each in a racing car and in an ultra-light plane. Today the Brazilian is one of the former Formula One drivers, working as F.I.A. Stewards at the Grandes Prix.
Predecessor but also successor of Jochen Rindt in the office of the world champion was his close friend Jackie Stewart, who won the title in 1971 and in 1973 in a Tyrrell Ford to establish an until 1985 lasting world record of 27 Grand Prix wins before he realized his long time ago scheduled retirement as a driver at the end of 1973. After that the Scot worked as an advisor for Ford, Goodyear and other companies and also as a journalist for US-American television programme ABC and other media. In 1997 he established a team of his own with the support of Ford to score his only win as a constructor with Johnny Herbert at the Nuerburgring in 1999. Stewart Grand Prix became Jaguar Racing from 2000 on and later Red Bull. Meanwhile Jackie Stewart had received a honorary doctorate and he also had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Today he is working as a representative for the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The designer of the revolutionary Lotus types 49 and 72 Maurice Phillippe left Team Lotus in spring 1971; at that time the company was in a deep moral crisis, because many experienced empolyèes had disappeared after the death of Rindt. Chapman looked being disillusioned, not to say depressive, and young Emerson Fittipaldi was still too unexperienced being a number one driver on the one hand, and on the other he was seriously confronted with private difficulties: He had been involved - without any personal responsibility - in a road car accident in France that year to sustain pretty serious injuries; his wife Maria Helena sitting on the passenger seat had been expecting the couple`s first baby, that became a stillborn child as the consequence of the crash. Phillippe had accepted an offer from Rufus Parnell Jones in California. The team of the US- American had got, thanks to super sponsors like Viceroy and Samsonite etc., never to be seen financial ressources available for their Indy Car project in 1972. The daring Parnelli Jones, Indianapolis 500 winner in 1964 and a hero of the Baja 1000, and his partner Vel Miletich (that explains the model designation VPJ) bought everything they could to make their credit cards glow: The star drivers Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and Joe Leonhard, NASA specialists for titanium processing, FBI agents for the guarding of the factory and the best designer in the world at that time: Maurice Phillippe. He worked behind some metres thick walls being the protection against industrial spies and within bugproof rooms and showed to be much more creative without Colin Chapman`s supervision: He invented the aerodynamically nearly perfect trapezium-shaped monocoque (that later got enormous glory with Gordon Murray at Brabham) and the lateral aerofoils in the form of a V instead of conventional wings belonging to that chassis concept. The Viceroy Special with the Offenhauser four cylinder turbocharged engine had a handling like being screwed tight to the tarmac, as Mario Andretti said after the car`s first ever test. But it was a pity, that the officials banned the V-wing, essential part of the design concept, for safety reasons as they said. So Phillippe had to improvize and to make compromises, a fact, that prevented the car from having the ultimate success. On the other side there had been enough money from Viceroy (a cigarette brand) for constructing a Grand Prix racing car of theirown. Phillippe simply designed a modernized version of the Lotus Ford 72. When the Parnelli Ford VPJ4 gave it`s debut in Canada 1974 with Mario Andretti in the cockpit, not only the Lotus people, who were pretty near to desperation with their Mk76, very much shaken, but also the rest of the motorsport community. But it was a shame no international sponsors could be found the following years for the so promising US-American Grand Prix team (Viceroy was only interested in the US market, where Formula One traditionally is playing a minor role); after Kyalami 1976 Parnelli F1 was de facto bankrupt and Mario Andretti immidiately joined Team Lotus after the United States Grand Prix West held at Long Beach. Maurice Phillippe went back to Europe, too, where he, after a short guest appearance at Copersucar Fittipaldi, replaced Derek Gardner at Tyrrell, who had been made responsible for the failed P34 six-wheel racing car. Phillippe lead Tyrrell`s technology back to the way of success, before in the middle of the eighties a young race engineer suddenly had been put in front of him as the team`s chief designer despite all the good results he had reached. Again Phillippe took a job at the Indy Cars, but senior designer at MARCH Alfa Romeo was too little for the pensive, sensitive, but also risk-taking Phillippe, who never had been a star for the media as men like John Barnard or Gordon Murray had been despite Phillippe being on the same level with them. When the depressions, he obviously was suffering under for a longer time, had become so unbearable, he put an end to his life in deep seclusion.
Jacky Ickx had been the only driver to be able to take Jochen Rindt away from the throne after Monza, but when Fittipaldi made that impossible by his win at Watkins Glen, the Belgian was visibly relaxed. Scoring one Grand Prix win per year both in 1971 and 1972 he was no real challenger for those years`world champions. After a quarrel Ickx left Ferrari in the middle of the 1973 season; later he had to leave at Lotus (1975) and Wolf (1976) under similar circumstances to make only sporadic starts for Ensign until 1978. The Belgian made his final Grand Prix appearance at Ligier as a replacement for Patrick Depailler being hurt at a hang-glider crash. From that time Ickx concentrated on his job of being a Porsche works driver for endurance racing and he was very successful doing so. The Baby Face in the Racing Car and The Man, Who is not Growing Old also had to go through a time of serious illness taking a long time to recover from. Jacques Bernard Ickx, born in 1945, had made a career of extraordinary success: He was twice vice world champion (1969 & 1970), is winner of eight Grandes Prix and six times of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and he also triumphed at the Dakar Rally and the CanAm. His daughter Vanina, a biologist, took part in the DTM and also is competing in great sportscar races as well as Le Mans.
Jochen Rindt had two school friends also later becoming Grand Prix drivers. Lawyer Dr Helmut Marko also had won at Le Mans before and he was a works driver at B.R.M. in 1971 and 1972, when his young career was immediately stopped by an incurable eye injury caused by a stone thrown off by Ronnie Peterson at Clermont Ferrand in 1972. Despite officially only being a motorsport advisor for the Red Bull group, today Marko is one of the most powerful men in Grand Prix Racing, because de facto he is the boss of two Formula One teams: Red Bull Renault and Toro Rosso Ferrari. A little younger than Rindt and Marko was Harald Ertl, who worked as a journalist parallel to his sporting career. From 1975 on Ertl drove private Hesketh Fords and sporadically for Ensign and ATS. In 1982 Ertl was killed in a crash of a private aircraft.
Sir Jack Brabham, Rindt`s real challenger in the 1970 season and also his team principal in 1968, decided to end his career both as a driver and as a constructor at the end of 1970 to sell his team to his designer and fellow countryman Ron Tauranac (who himself sold the company one year later to Bernie Ecclestone suffering under excessive demand). Brabham did not want to be only a team boss . In his home country Australia he later did jobs in aviation and agriculture, sectors, that were familiar to the aviation engineer and son of a Sydney greengrocer. From 1994 on Sir Jack was involved in the Simtek Formula One team with his son David and the unforgotten Roland Ratzenberger in the cockpits of the cars. All three sons of Brabham had become racing drivers. Geoffrey, the oldest, competed in the Indy Car Series, Gary and David had come up until Formula One, but also without scoring successes worth to be mentioned. Sir Jack Brabham, born in 1926, avoids journeys to foreign counties for some years, because meanwhile he is a dialysis patient, but in spring 2010 he attended the Grand Prix of Bahrain for the 60th Anniversary of Formula One like all other world champions alive.
Jochen Rindt`s first team boss at his Grand Prix debut with a Brabham B.R.M. at Zeltweg in 1964, Rob Walker, was running his private Formula One team until the end of the 1970 season and then he did a merger with Team Surtees. But this cooperation existed for only three years. For 1974 Walker and his driver Mike Hailwood switched to the team of Yardley McLaren. At the beginning of 1975 he entered, for only a few races, a private Grand Prix car in the tradtional midnight-blue livery for the last time in his career, a Hesketh Ford 308, together with Harry Stiller and for Australian Grand Prix novice Alan Jones. After that he worked as a journalist for many years, in most cases for American magazine Road & Track. Robert Ramsay Campbell Walker died in 2002 in the age of 84 caused by a loung desease. Today his whiskey brand Johnny Walker belongs to the Diageo group, one of the sponsors of McLaren.
In the fifties the team of John Cooper, was the most modern Grand Prix team because of the mid-engine concept introduced by Alf Francis and Jack Brabham, but Brabham and later his junior driver and engineer Bruce McLaren set up on their own giving their careers decisive impulses both as drivers and as constructors. The things, that remained at Cooper were, except tradition, a great lack of interest, a team manager expected too much in the person of Roy Salvadori, a unreliable Maserati V12 and with John Surtees and Pedro Rodriguez two drivers using the too old structures as a springboard for higher tasks. Rindt had got neither enough money nor sufficient chances for a greater career during this extremely tough years caused by the team`s desperate situation, but there was a lot to learn not only concerning the technology but also about the business methods in Grand Prix Racing. At the end of this period Rindt got offers of nearly all teams and he chose that one of Brabham, the drivers`and constructors` world champions of 1966 and 1967. In the last great interview of his life with charming Nisha Pillai from the BBC John Cooper expressed being pretty proud: You know, Ron Dennis was my apprentice. In 2000 John Cooper died of cancer in the age of 1977.
Later Ron Dennis had not been really happy, when people were talking about his time being a mechanic at Cooper, because at the beginning of the nineties he was chosen England`s best manager ahead of all the big groups`bosses. Dennis had merged McLaren with his Project 4 team during the crisis at the end of the seventies, he had brought the first ever carbon fibre racing car to the grid in 1980 and he had definitely created McLaren to be the British universal rival of Ferrari. After his retirement from the pit wall and handing over his office to Martin Whitmarsh some time ago, Dennis is the president of the complete McLaren group.
Compared to today`s megalomania on the personal sector the structure of empolyèes of the Grand Prix teams four decades ago was pretty clear. In 1970 Team Lotus only had twelve men at the race track. Dick Scammel was the team manager, chief mechanic was former Rob Walker employèe Gordon Huckle and at the car of Jochen Rindt worked Eddie Dennis and the at that time 21 years old Herbie Blash, whose real name is Michael and who is the son of a farmer and a fan of famous football club Manchester United. Later Blash switched to Brabham, where he met their team boss Bernie Ecclestone. When Ecclestone sold Brabham once founded by Sir Jack to shady Swiss businessmen, he supplied his old mate Herbie with a job at the F.I.A. When the first three drivers have to bring their cars to the Parc Fermè obeying the strict regulations of the protocol after the chequered flag has fallen, millions of spectators in front of the television screens are watching a meanwhile a little plump and white-grey haired gentleman with a modern kind of the Beatles hairstyle wearing a light blue shirt: It is Herbie Blash, who is organizing the ritual procedure according to the precise rules like a master of ceremonies at court.
During the fifties Bernie Ecclestone had been a team owner for the first time. It was Connaught. After he had sold the company later, he became a manager of his driver Stuart Lewis- Evans, an at that time 28 years old Briton of enormous talent and sensivity, who later joined the most successful team of his home country, Vanwall. In 1958 all teams with the exception of Cooper still had got front engine cars available and, of course, there were no fireproof overalls. During the final round of the worldchampionship at Casablanca Ain-Diab the Vanwall of Lewis-Evans caught fire, the Briton sustained heavy burns to die of them three days later, because of a lack of seats within the few commercial aircrafts he could not be brought to the necessary medical treatment in London. After the death of his driver Ecclestone did the job of a used car dealer, because he neither was a successful racing driver nor a constructor. One day during the middle of the sixties he had met Jochen Rindt, who had hit the British Formula 2 elite, nearly consisting out of active Grand Prix drivers, like a flash of lightning driving a privately entered Brabham Cosworth, that had been bought by him. Rindt`s principle in business always had been: I am managing myself. But after leaving Winkelmann, there had been the necessity to have a team manager and a fifty per cent shareholder for the Formula 2 team he had founded. And that was Ecclestone. Rindt also was was pretty near to the foundation of a Grand Prix team of his own having got three opportunities to do so. Two of these chances had been with Robin Herd as the team`s designer, but the Briton had not shown as a gentleman despite an elite education at the Oxford University, to express these problems in a moderate way. But for the case of these projects being realized it had been likely Alan Rees, the second driver in the old Winkelmann days, to come into the office of the team principal. By the way Rees was not much better than Ecclestone concerning his behaviour in business affairs: First he had been involved in the awful circumstances leading to the foundation of M.A.R.C.H., eight years later he was one of the driving forces to install A.R.R.O.W.S. under similar conditions. In winter 1971/72 Jack Brabham`s friend and fellow countryman Ron Tauranac, modest technician in the background and no businessman loving appearances in public or media, was confronted with the problem, everything being pretty near to collapse within the Brabham team. Ecclestone never had been something else than a very clever seller, making money out of things that do not really exist or he invented commercial rights on things that had to be created later. Bying Motor Racing Developments Ltd. (M.R.D), what is the real name for the Brabham team, became something like a licence for printing money for Ecclestone during the following decades. At the beginning Ecclestone`s team competed the first three years (1972, 1973 & 1974) without a main sponsor in contrast to all their British rivals; fifty per cent of the team`s budget was paid by their owner`s private wallet. Looking like the traditional project of a wealthy motorsport enthusiast, it really was a long term business strategy even in these early days. On the one hand Ecclestone used these three years to create a technological and personal base for making Brabham a title candidate again, but above all to organize the constructors` association FOCA in such a manner to be, of course, under his personal leadership, his base of power for his political and financial aims. In reality Ecclestone was nothing else than one of up to 15 team bosses at that time. He had not got a special legitimation in the shape of being democratically elected for instance. From that time on rules and financial affairs in Grand Prix Racing were decided by only one person: Ecclestone. Very early he had got a vision of Formula One being a global and multi-media sport adventure with turnover of billions of dollars, if possible bigger than the Olympic Games or the Football World Cup. On the top: The world sport dictator Ecclestone. The other team principals and also the growing old functionaries of the F.I.A. were happy to earn their money and otherwise not be confronted with any business affairs. Only in 1975 Ecclestone signed a contract with a commercial advertising partner, Martini. Parmalat and Olivetti, also Italian groups, should follow. Ecclestone showed the same bad behaviour in dealing with his engine partners Alfa Romeo and later BMW as he did with his personnel. The drivers Reutemann, Watson, Zunino, Stuck and later very likely also Lauda and Piquet sen. were pretty near to resignation, enthusiastic Pace died in an air- crash. Only one man kept faith with Bernie: Designer Gordon Murray from South Africa, the former assistant of Ron Tauranac. Nelson Piquet sen. won the title in 1981 and in 1983 (as the first ever turbo-powered world champion) and the Brabham team was pretty successful the following years, but the bad design of the Brabham BMW BT55 including the fatal accident of Elio de Angelis when testing at Paul Ricard in 1986 brought deep crisis to the company. Designer Gordon Murray had to leave the team, and Bernie Ecclestone did absolutely nothing to prevent them from the ruin. He had got the possibility to shelter Brabham, he had got the duty to take away all the bad things being under way. But Ecclestone was not interested in doing so; after some 15 years he had come pretty near to his political and financial aims. A team of his own was bothering under those circumstances; Ecclestone sold the Brabham team to a Swiss businessman very quickly showed to be an extraordinary intensive criminal on the economic field. Later the active Japanese Middlebridge group and patriotic drivers like Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell and Damon Hill were not able to rescue the lifework of Sir Jack Brabham, who in far away Australia was suffering like a poor devil under these negative developments happening for years at that period, from bankruptcy. Ecclestone had been able to rescue his former team, but he did not want to do so, because FOCA already had risen into the top of the international sport organizations like IOC or FIFA. Ecclestone twice had driven fights for power within his empire until the limits of it`s existence: There was the struggle with Jean Marie Balestre and the former F.I.S.A. as the sport`s governing body of the F.I.A. at the beginning of the eighties and in 2009 the quarrell with the team`s association FOTA. Bernie Ecclestone never starts arguments if not being sure to win them. Later Ecclestone publicly said Senna`s death had been good for the publicity of Formula One and he also considered Hitler being a good leader in an interview - those statements need not any comments. The real problem with Ecclestone is: His plans and ideas are fundamentally good, but the realization is inhuman in most cases.
After the death of Colin Chapman Team Lotus, now under the lead of Peter Warr, Chapman`s adjutant for many years, helped young Ayrton Senna to score the first Grand Prix wins of his career from 1985 to 1987. Later the hopes being connected with signing up with Nelson Piquet sen. had not become reality. A little later main sponsor Camel followed Piquet switching to Benetton. The struggle for financial survival had begun. Once again Team Lotus created a world star: Mika Häkkinen. When the 1994 season was over there was the end as an independent team, for 1995 a pro forma merger with Pacific Grand Prix was made. Then definitely everything was finished. Clive Chapman is cultivating the great tradition in racing car construction and also the heritage of his father with Classic Team Lotus still having their headquarters in Ketteringham Castle - and they are also earning money by doing so. In autumn of 2009 the Proton group from Malaysia being meanwhile the owners of Group Lotus and businessman Tony Fernandes, who had made a successful low cost airline out of the renovation case Air Asia within a very short time, had decided to bring Lotus back to the Grand Prix tracks of the world. In a few weeks Fernandes found sponsors and created an acceptable budget, bought the former Toyota and Audi factory at Hingham, signed contracts with Mike Gascoyne (former Tyrrell, Renault, Toyota and others) as technical director and the star drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, both already Grand Prix winners. The result is the most beautiful Formula One car in 2010: The Lotus Cosworth T127 is connecting tradition with innovation. Hazel and Clive Chapman were guests of honour at the car`s presentation before the start of the 2010 season. The name of the team is Lotus Racing , but Tony Fernandes is working on the task to give them back the name Team Lotus; the rights for this name are owned by David Hunt, no matter for the reasons may be.
The Lotus Ford 72 definitely was in it`s last worldchampionship competition at the 1975 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen after five exciting years running in a time the world of Grand Prix Racing had dramatically changed. Ronnie Peterson in the 72/9 finished 5th place, Brian Henton in the 72/5 retired after a collision with Tony Brise in lap six. Rindt`s in the accident involved car 72/2 first had been confiscated by the Italian public prosecution authorities, then it disappeared under dubious circumstances in a pretty rotten garage near Milano, before brought back to England after a quarter of a century. A little later John Miles wrote in a magazine article, it should be put into a scrap metal press. A better alternative would be to bring it on exhibition at Donington in an unrestored shape, to show this historic document to the public. Now the car seemed to be put into it`s original condition, all important design and construction documents are well-kept. Already the life of Jochen Rindt is the topic of an opera, the premiere was at the Salzburgring and the complete performance is available on DVD, maybe be classic one day.
The biography of Jochen Rindt is neither an adventure story nor a telenovela. It is the story of a child in war from Mainz at the river Rhine. Jochen Rindt became only 28 years of age. But the most children in war had not got as much luck as he had.
©2010 by researchracing
Remarks by Klaus Ewald