174 GRAND PRIX SUISSE 1952 – JEAN BEHRA

This is the strange and almost unbelievable story of Jean Behra and the Grand Prix Suisse 1952. Jean Behra was a French racing driver, also participating in the Formula 1 (F1) World Championship.

The week before the Grand Prix Suisse 1952: Jean Behra’s team was short of money and for this reason, he had to waive the free practices on Thursday and Friday. An unconventional approach to the solution was adopted: helpful and with a quite successful outcome.

Jean Behra drives with his Gordini T16 race car (today’s video shows these vehicles) from Paris in France to Switzerland (more than 350 miles), a day before the Grand Prix. Hereby he kept on making the final adjustment for the best possible preparation of his car – all this on public roads.

During the race Behra’s Gordini loses its exhaust. The only spare part is disassembled from another participant’s Gordini and fixed to Behra’s car. The crazy weekend in May 1952 has a happy ending; ranking podium finishers: 1st Piero Taruffi, Italy, Ferrari   / 2nd Rudolf Fischer, Switzerland, Ferrari /   3rd Jean Behra, France, Gordini – not bad under these circumstances!

And, at the very end: two years later, in 1954, Jean Behra did not finish this Grand Prix; nonetheless he and the other drivers received a quite special price – a quarter of a Swiss Emmental cheese, a delicious and heavy gift! At that time nobody expected, nobody knew, that this was the last Grand Prix Suisse on the Circuit Bremgarten.

See you next Friday.   -   God bless you, all the best!   The Castiron

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PS   Source reference: Grand Prix Suisse 1934-54 Bern im Rennfieber von Marc Höchner, Nora Mathys, Severin Rüegg, Lisa Schlittler, Oliver Schneider

173 GUARDIAN ANGEL JOHN

No, it was not Dallas, as in today’s video; it was the Swiss Canton of Graubünden with its mountains, pass roads and tunnels – but it was the same klaxon of the German limousine belonging to John, a friend of The Castiron. The two spent holidays in this beautiful region and enjoyed the sound and melody of La Cucaracha, too. Yes, the child in the man.

It has been some time since this experience. Cars were not as reliable and safe as today. The limousine packed up before the journey home – defective differential, no longer mobile. John decided to leave the car to a garage on-site. Now remaining: two persons and their luggage, some hours away from home;

The Castiron calls his brother, asking him for help. He arrives the same evening, together with his girlfriend, with an Italian compact car. The situation now: the small hatchback car, four persons and luggage. Finally, everybody and everything in the car, the journey home begins.

Some hours later, still The Castiron’s brother behind the steering wheel, passing through a town. Around 40 miles per hour, deep darkness and almost no traffic. Suddenly John shouts: „watch it“ – a parked road trailer in the car’s light beam! The Castiron’s brother can avoid the crash in a split second. Nothing happens; on the other hand, a crash with this obstacle would have resulted with a very bad ending.

Call it guardian angel or whatever. Former blogposts and especially life experience show: some situations, some things we do not have in our own hands. And: often, there is a thin line between fortune and misfortune.

See you next Friday.   -   God bless you, all the best!   The Castiron

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172 PREVIEW ESSEN MOTOR SHOW 2019

This show’s preview day is at the same time as today’s blogpost – everything at the proper time. Here, it is just a short announcement; in Essen (please see recommendation) you can dwell a long time, from tomorrow to Sunday the 8th December.

This year, the first time SRSMotorsport is taking part at this event. Representing these sportspeople’s activities you will find a broad variety of vehicles, from high speed to low speed, from lightweight to heavyweight.

Especially noteworthy: the Tractor Pulling champions from Team Kaiser (please see blogposts 38 and 83) – much more than just sport enthusiasts with a very impressive and special competition vehicle!  

The Castiron recommends: come along, come and see! In hall 5, booth 5F12, the guys from SRSMotorsport (please see blogpost 106) are gladly looking forward to meeting you. Ask them for personal stories, too; additionally, they are ready to share the certain something about their lives. Enjoy yourself!

See you next Friday.   -   God bless you, all the best!   The Castiron

Recommendation:       https://www.essen-motorshow.de/car-exhibition/

171 DRAMATICALLY OVERSHADOWED

Last week’s blogpost focused on a racing driver and gentleman who reached quite an old age – more than 90 years. We all know: there is another side of the coin. Sometimes success and dark shadows are very close together.

The year 2015. For years, two friends had the same dream, the same goal: to become a Formula 1 driver. One of them, Jules Bianchi (3rd August 1989 – 17th July 2015) achieved this in 2013 and paid with his life; after his accident in the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Japan on October 2014, finally he did not awaken from the coma. The other one, Charles Leclerc, followed the course – also as a tribute to his friend and mentor Jules and in accordance with his attitude.

The year 2017. Another key person and supporter, Hervé Leclerc (7th March 1963 – 20th June 2017), was only 54 years old when he died; the decease of his father overshadowed again the life of the young Charles Leclerc. A few days after this sad incident, Charles reacted in his own way: he won the Formula 2 race in Azerbaijan. This would have complied his father’s will – and was also a tribute to him.

The year 2019. It was the weekend of the F1 Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps, including the Formula 2 race. Charles Leclerc has reached his goal as Formula 1 driver, a friend and sports companion of him started in the Formula 2 race on Saturday; Anthoine Hubert (22nd September 1996 – 31st August 2019) was killed in an accident. The next day, Sunday, Charles Leclerc won his first Formula 1 Grand Prix; he reacted in his own way – and it was also a tribute to Anthoine.

Charles was the victor of the next Grand Prix (in Italy), too. On his helmet and steering wheel: RIP Tonio. All of this a week after Spa-Francorchamps, when he said, on this extreme weekend he lost a friend on Saturday and on Sunday a boyhood dream came true.

A young man’s career and his major successes, again and again dramatically overshadowed. Charles Leclerc, mentally consolidated, extremely focused, got stronger through all of this, was changed for his whole life.

See you next Friday.   -   God bless you, all the best!   The Castiron

Recommendation:       http://thecastiron.ch/en/pastor.html

PS   Source reference: MOTORSPORT aktuell Nr. 38 and 39 / 2019; www.motorsport-aktuell.de and https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/may/19/charles-leclerc-ferrari-lost-father-early-changes-forever

PPS   Requiescat in pace – RIP (may he rest in peace), usually used on tombstones; https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/requiescat%20in%20pace

170 TOULO DE GRAFFENRIED

It is now 70 years that Emmanuel de Graffenried, known as Toulo de Graffenried (18th May 1914 – 22nd January 2007), won the 1949 British Grand Prix in Silverstone, driving a Maserati. The year after, 1950, was the beginning of the Formula 1 (F1) World Championship; for several years, de Graffenried took part in these races, too. One note to the British Grand Prix: usually it was held on Saturday, to avoid disturbing the Sunday rest. 

Maybe, today’s video and a touch of nostalgia embossing this blogpost. The Castiron, the Swiss racing drivers and a personal opinion: last century’s big three are Toulo de Graffenried, Jo Siffert and Clay Regazzoni (please see blogposts 141 and 156, too). Or in other words: de Graffenried – Baron de Graffenried, a gentleman of the racetrack, Siffert – the man with the tragically ending story of the cheque book and Regazzoni – the indestructible. All of them successful, not only in Formula 1 racecars.

Toulo de Graffenried, another compatriot of The Castiron, remains generally a special chapter in the long history of motorsport. Many races, dangerous tracks, extremely challenging cars combined with a long life – all of this together: rather the exception than the rule in these times, a real hero of the past. And: he was the first Swiss racing driver who won in 1949 a really significant Grand Prix. 

See you next Friday.   -   God bless you, all the best!   The Castiron

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PS   According to www.autobild-klassik.de, Nr. 4/2019, „Hollywood in der Grünen Hölle“, Toulo de Graffenried was involved in the 20th Century Fox movie „TheRacers“ in the early 1950s, too.

169 CLOCKWISE

Clockwise or counter clockwise? Does this matter when you are driving on a circuit? You are looking from the inner side of a round course to determine whether it is clockwise or the opposite. There are both, clockwise predominates. So what?

In this context, it is worth to look at some items. Clockwise stands for a higher number of right-hand turns, too – with an impact on your car: mainly chassis, suspension, brakes, tyres. Unequal wear and tear is not unusual, most tortured is often the car’s front left part. Keep this in mind for your visual checks, if necessary when driving!

It has not to be just the car’s front left part. Also the nature of the curve has a tremendous impact: for instance Nürburgring Nordschleife’s „Fuchsröhre“ or the two „Karussell“ are left-hand turns with an immense stress for the vehicle. You know: Nordschleife is special – it is clockwise, too, but due to its length almost equal in curves to the right and to the left. Again: keep it in mind, be alert!

Overtaking opportunities have to be mentioned, too. Usually, clockwise means, most ways to pass another car are on the right – determined by the track’s layout. Overtaking on the left can stand for passing at the outside of a turn, seldom the best solution.

In a broader sense: no rule without exception – noteworthy Nordschleife, hill climbs and suchlike. On the other hand: oval circuits, either completely clockwise or counter clockwise.

See you next Friday.   -   God bless you, all the best!   The Castiron

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168 STRANGE RESPONSE

It was on the journey home, the day after a nice trackday on the Circuit Zandvoort. When braking with almost half pedal force or more, The Castiron noticed some strange response: was the pony ill? The Ford Mustang, Eleanor V, made a scraping and humming noise – the steering wheel just very little vibrating, but deceleration as usual.

Something wrong with the brakes, a bumpy brake disc? Leaving the Netherlands, the pony was in best mood. The new combination of brake discs and pads (different brands, both from reputable manufacturers) operated very well, especially on the race track: it tears the wheels from the car – the description of the braking performance feeling, thereby a constantly stable pedal feel, not the slightest fading, moderate wear. And now this strange response!  

The Castiron tried to analyse the cause of this sickness. Low speed, prudently braking with the handbrake (just operating on the rear axle): calm, all as usual. Because the deceleration and the pedal feel were trustworthy, it looked like a minor problem, such as a foreign object between front brake pad and disc or a temporary brake pad roughness, due to a burr. The Castiron’s decision: keep it in mind and drive on cautiously and exceedingly forward-looking.

Safely arrived at home, the strange response had not vanished. Once again, an appointment with the doctor seemed to be mandatory. His diagnosis: cracks in the front brake discs. And the probable cause? Could be a massive external force weakening the brake disc, with the late effect of a crack under high stress; may be last year’s incident, when the pony wished for grazing and crashed unintentionally (please have a look back at blogpost 121). Long-term effects are often difficult cases and hardly to diagnose – be always alert. 

Material failure, mostly due to inferior material, can be another reason in such cases. Explicitly, again: keep your hands off from dubious products; finally and over all, top quality is always better. And last, but not least: you live and learn!

See you next Friday.   -   God bless you, all the best!   The Castiron

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