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


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.


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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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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Lido Anthony Iacocca, known as Lee Iacocca (15th October 1924 – 2nd July 2019), was also named the father of the Ford Mustang. A brief review on his life is a must.

The son of Italian immigrants graduated with a degree in industrial engineering in Bethlehem, PA and afterwards went to Princeton University. He then began a career at the Ford Motor Company as an engineer. His career flourished and he was called to the Dearborn, MI headquarters. Finally, Lee Iacocca was named president of the Ford Division in Detroit, MI.

Dreams come true – one of them is the Ford Mustang. Not least because of Lee Iacocca this dream came true – even affordable (do you see the four letters f o r d  in this word ...) for numerous people. Iacocca was significantly involved in the development of this icon in the world of automotive.  

The Castiron and Eleanor V, his Ford Mustang – just one of many, many examples: Ford Mustang is probably the ultimate synonym for individualism; one vehicle the same as the other? Please have a look at blogpost 62 and its video and pictures and you will have the answer.

This month, Lee Iacocca would have turned 95, but he passed away in July; one of the most outstanding personalities in the history of automobiles is no longer with us.

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

Photo: Tom van Egmond, Ersigen. Thank you Tom!

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PS   Source reference: Wikipedia


Do you remember blogpost 22 and 88, about tyres and wheels and about the brakes? Today, the shock absorbers, the chassis springs and you – really best allies, once again! Especially the shock absorbers: drastically underestimated. Best tyres, best brakes are useless when your car’s wheels have poor ground contact, or even none.

This complex topic requires usually the advice of a specialist. Therefore, just a few hints, based on the personal experiences of The Castiron over the last decades. One main remark: the shock absorber is an oscillator damper, has to bring calm and stability into the vehicle as far as possible.

The shock absorbers and you – really the very best confederates! Therefore: check them (please have a look at the video) regularly. Leaking means unusable. Should you not be sure, if they are damaged or not, do not hesitate to go for a professional check. Dampers decrease in performance while in use, at first almost imperceptibly!

One day will be the day for new dampers! Contact your suspension specialist. Replacing them and saving money do not go together, definitely not – you get, what you are paying for! When you buy new parts, choose the correct ones for your car from a reputable manufacturer; there is a broad choice, meeting - or coming very close to - your demands.

In this context also a few words on the chassis springs, too. Believe it or not: this quite solid component can break! First of all, a visual check of damper and spring is helpful. A broken spring has to be replaced, ideally as a complete axle set. And here again: cheap does not really work!

Have a safe and effective drive, on the road, on the track - and never forget the shock absorbers, these often underestimated, but very important parts!

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

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Blogpost 153 dealt with the history of one of the great motorsport classics, the Grand Prix Suisse – and a related exhibition. Today, let us have a look at some side stories.

Technology and racing circuits speak their own language, at all times: in the early days, there were racing cars with hand cranks to start the engine and track surfaces partly made of cobblestone. And the driver, with the always valid aim: finishing first. Additionally a quite high risk of accidents; safety was not the main topic, rather heroes behind the steering wheels.

The Castiron’s father was associated with these events as part of the paramedic teams. Sometimes he told stories of racing drivers hanging in or falling from trees after accidents – often quite serious, sometimes fatal ones. He did not say a lot more.

Father knew of the bright and dark side of this fascinating sport. When one day his son, The Castiron, let him know his intentions to obtain a racing driver’s licence, the father was not amused – quite the contrary. It was a touchstone for both, the father and The Castiron – finally mastered mutually.

Less words, more pictures: the picture gallery will give you a short overview. Enjoy yourself – and you are invited to reflect, too. Not to forget: heroic stories are often inseparably linked with tragedy and death.

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

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

PS   The main picture from 1939 shows the crashed car of the German Rudolf Caracciola, who finished his career after this accident. It was also him, who established in the year 1938 a speed record for automobiles of 270 miles per hour.