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Sportscar greats of the sixties



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Nino Vaccarella


Scuderia SSS Repubblica di Venezia Lotus-Climax 24




1962 Italian GP


Bob Bondurant


Team Chamaco Collect BRM P261


Monte Carlo


1966 Monaco GP


With Gendebien and Stommelen, Vaccarella and Bondurant share hugely successful track records in sportscars while they never fulfilled their promise in F1 - or weren't given enough of an opportunity. Both men spent the large part of their tiny Grand Prix careers dabbling in private teams which, although not lost on anyone's sympathy, were using distinctly second-hand material.

Vaccarella made a name for himself by winning the Targa Florio three times - during a time span of eleven years! Around the time of his few F1 appearances Vaccarella's sportscar career began to flourish. A works Ferrari driver, Vaccarella took many famous wins, including Le Mans in 1964, sharing with Guichet, the Nürburgring 1000kms with Scarfiotti in the same year, and the 1970 Sebring 12 Hours with Andretti and Giunti. Nino's first Targa Florio win came in 1965, in a Ferrari 275 P2 he shared with Bandini. In 1971, returning to Alfa Romeo after a first unsuccessful stint in the late sixties, he co-drove his T33 to victory with Dutchman Toine Hezemans before taking a farewell victory alongside Arturo Merzario in the 1975 event, although the event had lost most of its value by then.

Sometimes mistakenly identified as a lawyer (even by some commanding sources), the Sicilian was a steady driver whom team managers could count on for bringing the car home. That skill being a guaranteed meal ticket on any sportscar team, his F1 career was nibbed in the bud after some promising non-championship outings for Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata's Scuderia Serenissima (also referred to as Scuderia SSS). Taking third in the 1961 Coppa Italia at Vallelunga, and finishing sixth in the 1962 Pau GP, these results had been preceded by a one-off for Serenissima's ill-fated De Tomaso project in 1961, Vaccarella managing to qualify the cumbersome Alfa-engined vehicle at Monza before retiring with a broken engine. In 1962 Volpi decided to race an outdated Lotus 18/21 powered by the Climax straight four, while renting a brand new customer Climax V8-engined 24 from Rob Walker (the last Lotus spaceframe before Hethel introduced the 25 and kept it for itself). At Monaco Vaccarella failed to qualify the 18/21 but at Monza (our picture) got into the race, qualifying a respectable 14th, to score his best F1 finish in just five tries: ninth. His two other World Championship one-offs were just that: driving Serenissima's ageing Porsche at the 'Ring in 1962 (the occasion on which underrated superprivateer Carel de Beaufort qualified an amazing 8th in his similar orange Maarsbergen Porsche), and a some sort of a thank-you drive for Ferrari at the 1965 Italian GP - incidentally, the same car Bob Bondurant was to drive at the next race!

Still, Nino's World Championship record doesn't tell you the whole story, as his podium at the Coppa Italia already surmises. For Vaccarella's unabridged adventures in Formula One, it's good to take a look at a marginal privateer team founded by Count Volpi, inheritor of a large family fortune. His Scuderia Serenissima was at the heart of the ATS disaster before Volpi abandoned the project and took the Serenissima name (the old name for the Republic of Venice) with him. Vaccarella became the alternative driver to the team's regulars, Giorgio Scarlatti and Roberto Bussinello. For 1961, 24-year-old Volpi also managed to secure the services of veteran Maurice Trintignant. Equipped with an assorted bunch of cars, SSS took part in a few World Championship races and various other F1 events. While Trintignant used a two-year-old Cooper-Maserati T51, Scarlatti drove an OSCA-engined De Tomaso F1-001. For the Solitude GP, Scarlatti was then replaced by Bussinello, with Vaccarella still the reserve driver. At the Stuttgart event Bussinello broke the engine, so SSS went to the German GP without the De Tomaso. For the Modena GP, a new Alfa engine had arrived and Nino got the chance to debut it. With 32 entries and just 11 starters, his DNQ was no surprise. Then they went to Monza and Vaccarella qualified - last, but he was in. Still, he also became the first retirement of the race when the Alfa expired.

Then the team entered him for the race which is famous for being the fourth and last of Giancarlo Baghetti's F1 victories, the very minor Coppa Italia. This time he got his hands on the (usual) Trintignant Cooper and finished third. The following year he remained under the wings of Volpi's outfit, which by the way was managed by Nello Ugolini, who shared his management duties with that of the Associazione Calcio Venezia, the Venice soccer club. As a matter of fact, apart from managing Alfa Corse in the thirties, Ferrari in the '53-'54 period, Maserati up to 1957 and running business at De Tomaso between 1970 and '76, Ugolini was a great football manager as well, guiding the Modena, Bologna, Fiorentina, Torino and Venezia clubs. But let's move on with the story.

Apart from its management, Volpi's Scuderia employed a curious bunch of drivers during the 1961 and 1962 seasons, and the Venetian count subsequently put an even stranger set of wheels at their disposal. To sum up: a Cooper 45-Climax F2-9-58 (for Trintignant at Pau), said Cooper T51-Maserati F2-1-59 (for Trintignant at Syracuse, Monaco, Spa, Reims, Solitude, the 'Ring, Modena, Monza and for Vaccarella at Vallelunga), that peculiar De Tomaso-OSCA F1-001 (for Scarlatti at Reims), the De Tomaso-Alfa Romeo F1-003 (for Bussinello at Solitude and for Vaccarella at Modena and Monza). For 1962 season Volpi bought a Lotus 18-912 (for Vaccarella at Brussels, Pau, the Int'l Trophy, Monaco and Pergusa, for Carlo Abate at Reims and for Colin Davis at Mallory Park), a Porsche 718-203 (for Bonnier at Brussels, Snetterton, Pau, the Int'l Trophy, Mallory Park and Reims, for Vaccarella at the Nürburgring, for Carlo Abate at Napoli and Pergusa), and finally, a Lotus-Climax 24-941 for Vaccarella at Monza (our picture). This car was then sold on to Rob Walker, who put Ricardo Rodriguez in it from the US GP onwards. So, the car pictured is the car Rodriguez crashed to death. Damn.

Serenissima later returned as an engine supplier to Bruce McLaren, which actually gave the count his only World Championship point, his crummy V8 miraculously lasting the distance in the 1966 British GP.

To conclude with Vaccarella's heritage: Nino's skills originated from hillclimbs, the Palermo-born driver starting his motorsport career in 1957 and just a year later, at Passo di Rigano-Bellocampo, he was taking his Lancia Aurelia 2.5 GT to his first of many Sicilian mountain wins. Replacing the Aurelia with a Maserati 2-litre, he used his new mount to good effect to score five wins in 1959: Valdessi-Santuario, Monte Pellegrino, GP de Pergusa, Trapani-Monte Erice and Sassi-Superga. Then he tested a Cooper-Maserati and won again, this time the Catania-Etna event. Another three wins (Bolzano-Mendola, Trapani-Monte Erice and Messina-Colle San Rizo) came in 1960. After that, Nino, sharing his car with Maurice Trintignant, proved his point as an international talent by finishing fourth in the 1961 Targa Florio, only beaten by the Ferrari of Von Trips and Gendebien and the Porsches of Bonnier/Gurney and Herrmann/Barth.

At a time his single-seater looked slim, he established his name as a sportscar great. In 1962 he co-drove for Porsche with Jo Bonnier and and finished third, before winning twice, at Clermont-Ferrand and at Ollon-Villars, both at the wheel of the private 2-litre Ferrari of the Scuderia Serenissima. With these performances he caught the eye of the Commendatore, to finish second with Mairesse in the 1963 Sebring 12 Hours. His career then took a dive when his Ferrari caught fire while testing for the Targa Florio, while at the Nürburgring he went off-road and fractured an arm. After the forced rest, he returned to Ferrari to obtain his most prestigious victories. This once more proves that a driver recovered from a broken arm is capable of better performances than one with arms that have gone unhurt!

Talking of Count Volpi and the ATS disaster, our next man was also briefly involved in the project: Bob Bondurant's first acquaintance with Formula One came with the ATS machine famous Moss mechanic Alf Francis had taken over from the defunct outfit. Retrospectively called the Derrington-Francis, the car was tested at Monza before Mario Cabral eventually got the drive. But it could have been Bondurant's, had he not smacked the car into the barriers…

This is what Bob recalls of the day's event in an interview with Nigel Roebuck: "They'd redesigned the rear suspension, but not put in new half-shafts. I went out, got used to it, and that night got talking about the Curva Grande about guys like Clark taking it flat out. We went back next morning and I'm thinking, 'Well, maybe it is flat out.' I figured the ATS didn't have that strong a motor, so I wouldn't be going that fast, and after a few laps I got through it flat out. And on the way to the Lesmos I'd picked up 500rpm. Quite a difference. By the end of an hour, I'd done it several times, and got the 'In' signal. I thought, 'Well, who knows when I'll be back here? I'm going to do it one more time'. As I went through a half-shaft broke. I was doing about 150mph, and then the axle broke at the left rear. I went through the hedge backwards, and remember thinking, 'Bondurant, you just wrote yourself off...' I went down a ravine, and got thrown out. I was wearing one of those bubble shield visors we had at the time and it got shredded, but it saved my face. I landed on my back, on a pile of leaves! Just lucked out, I guess. When I came to I was gasping for air, and it felt like I'd a punctured lung, so I rolled over on my stomach, crawled to a hedge, and pulled myself up with the branches. I couldn't find the car, though. I thought, 'Well, I know I came down here in a car - where the hell is it?' Then, in the middle of the Curva Grande I found the hole in the hedge - and then I found the car. At that time the bodywork was all one piece, and the front had come back, so the windscreen and the roll-over bar were sheared off. If I'd been strapped in, I'd have been decapitated. I thought, 'Wow, if this is Formula One...' The middle of my back was sore as hell, and back in London I saw an English doctor. He said, 'Where did you crash?' I said, 'Monza', but he looked at me meaningfully, and said, 'No, you crashed at Goodwood, I'm sure you crashed at Goodwood'. I got the message, and said, 'Yeah, OK, Goodwood.' I got a doctor for free!" Remarkable…

Incidentally, there are more links with the Venetian count, as Bob initially used No.8 in practice but when Bruce McLaren withdrew his cumbersome McLaren-Serenissima he was appointed Bruce's number. John Frankenheimer was filming his Grand Prix epic during the 1966 season and McLaren's car was one of the 'stars' of the movie, so in a Bernie-like fit of commercialism Bob's white BRM appointed 'stand-in' for the No.24 entry. In the same car, Bob achieved his best F1 result by far - a fourth place and three championship points - at the event in our picture, although it has to be said he finished dead last, five laps down.

Bob's brief F1 career is however best remembered for his deeds during the opening lap of the following GP. At Spa, the race was flagged away under torrential conditions, the south part of the track completely flooded as the field approached Burnenville. There, having qualified 11th (between Clark and Ligier), Bondurant lost control of his car, along with Bonnier, Spence, Siffert, Hulme and Hill. Both Hill and Bondurant somehow managed to keep going, only to tangle again, Hill hitting the straw bales and Bondurant rolling. Both drivers then came to Stewart's assistance, who had just spun, hit a guard post very hard and had hurt his shoulder. We know how this accident marked JYS' attitude towards security forever since.

The season before, Bondurant's short F1 career had continued the trend set by the frightening Derrington-Francis experience. In 1965, Bob first featured on the entry list for the Italian GP, as the alternative driver to Giorgio Bassi driving the Scuderia Centro Sud BRM P57. Then came his single outing for Ferrari in the US GP, driving car No.24, the Ferrari 158/63 chassis 0006, qualifying 14th and taking the car home in 9th.

And there's another strange story to Bob's Ferrari opportunity, as he recalls to Nigel Roebuck. Just weeks before he had won the F3 supporting race at the Italian GP, and was afterwards invited to Maranello. "John Surtees told me the Old Man wanted to see me, but when I got there, he wasn't around. I met Mauro Forghieri, and he showed me the factory - showed me everything, in fact. I waited and waited, and the Old Man still hadn't shown up. Then I met up with David Piper, and we went off for dinner. Surtees called after we'd ordered, and said, 'You must come now - the Old Man is here.' I said, 'John, I've been waiting all day. I'm going to finish dinner first.' He said, 'YOU can't do that.' 'Yes, I can,' I said. Mind you, I ate very quickly. Back at the factory, we passed the windows of Ferrari's office - there he was, sitting at the desk, six flood lights on him. We walked in, and the only other thing in that room was a picture of Dino Ferrari, lit by a candle, which burned 24 hours a day. We talked for an hour, with John interpreting. Would I like to work here in Italy? I said, 'Yes. Formula Uno?' 'Possibile, Bondurant, possi-bile...' Mainly, though, he was talking sportscars. Then we walked through the factory - but he only showed me what he wanted me to see! He said he would contact me later. I was waiting and waiting, and he didn't call. Then finally I was told to go back for a seat fitting, that they wanted me to do the US Grand Prix."

Surtees had by this time seriously injured himself in a CanAm car, so for Watkins Glen Ferrari entered cars for regular team member Lorenzo Bandini, and for Pedro Rodriguez and Bondurant. After qualifying a good 14th (ahead of Rodriguez), Bob got as high as sixth in the race. "Then the weather changed. It started raining, and blowing like crazy, and my goggles blew down - the elastic had stretched, believe it or not. I didn't have a spare pair with me, and I figured if I came in, tried to get to where my bag was, it would take forever. So I stuck my head high out of the cockpit, so the wind would keep the goggles against my face, and when I came to a corner, I'd stick my knee against the wheel, use my left hand to hold my goggles on, and my right to change gear! I ended up ninth, but if that hadn't happened I'd have been in the points, for sure. I drove sportscars for Ferrari in '66, but that race at Glen was the only time I drove an Fl car for them. Sad, but even so I'll never forget it..."

The next race he showed up in Reg Parnell's Lotus-BRM 25, replacing Innes Ireland. He qualified last, and retired on lap 29 with suspension trouble. During 1965, Bondurant also drove in F2. In Reims he went out in a Lotus-BRM 35 for Reg Parnell, qualifying 23rd just beside Guichet (the Le Mans winner with Vaccarella) and finishing 14th. The next weekend at Rouen, he was in with the Tyrrell Racing Organisation, partnering Jackie Stewart in one of the team's Coopers-BRM 75s! Qualifying 13th (with Stewart 9th, two seconds faster), Bob retired with oil pressure problems (Stewart as well, as a matter of fact). For Solitude a week later he got two entries: the official one to drive a Lola 55 for John Willment (but the car never appeared) before getting an alternative entry for Ron Harris Team Lotus to drive the Lotus 35 in case Brian Hart was unavailable (but he was). For Pergusa he got that drive, and finished 7th in his heat. When ready to race in the final, a piston broke and he was a non-starter. Oulton Park in September saw our man again being invited to drive for Tyrrell, but his race ended at the very start in violent fashion, when he touched Beckwith and shot off the track, luckily with little damage. And finally, his last race of the F2 season saw him qualifying 10th at Albi, placing the car a nice 8th in the final. This time the other Tyrrell driver was Scarfiotti.

For 1966, Bob concentrated on F1 with the private Team Chamaco Collect and on sportscars with Ferrari. There is just one Bondurant entry in F2, as an alternative driver to Baghetti in the September Montlhéry event, where he did not get to drive GB's Cooper-BRM 82. Bob's Chamaco Collect career started off with another alternative entry, this time to Vic Wilson at the International Trophy. Curiously, the BRM was one the Tasman cars bored out to two liters for the Australian season. Its Monaco appearance had everything to do with the organizers having to meet the required minimum of 16 entries! The car and its driver were then hastily rushed out to Monaco. After all, this was the very first race of the 3-litre era, which was actually won by Jackie Stewart in a 2-litre BRM - a testimony to a form of pre-season preparation that would be ill compared to modern standards. Another newly introduced rule saw Richie Ginther and Guy Ligier being denied their respective points for 5th and 6th for failing to complete 90% of the distance.

After Spa, the Chamaco Collect team was renamed Bernard White Racing, after its owner, who then gave the BRM to Ireland for the Gold Cup, after Bondurant failed to secure any more points. Bob then went and joined Dan Gurney's Anglo-American Racers to drive Dan's Climax-engined Eagle T1G-101, qualifying at the back of the grid and getting disqualified for outside assistance on lap 5. At Mexico, after practice trouble with the Weslake V12, Gurney and Bondurant switched cars, Gurney taking over the Climax four-banger, while Bondurant was given the V12 T1G to collect the starting money! However, in the Bondurant biography, F1 has to take a backdrop to his great Cobra days with Carroll Shelby, winning the GT Manufacturers Championship for the team in 1964. As we said, something of a sportscar theme here…

This was before Bob seriously hurt himself in 1967 while out in a Lola at Watkins Glen. Although he returned to CanAm racing in the early seventies, his heart already lay with his racing school at Sears Point, The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.

1st Reader's Why by John Cross

The Lotus 24 is one of the forgotten Lotus Formula 1 cars, which is a shame really because they formed the backbone of 1962-63 Formula 1 entries, powered alternately by Climax or BRM V8 engines. The 24 was a more refined and sophisticated spaceframe development of the 21 redesigned to accomodate the new generation of V8 engines from Climax and BRM which were becoming available for both works and private teams. It was the sleekest and lightest Lotus yet, and the Lotus customers were delighted to take delivery of these new V8-engined cars - they did not realise that the works had the 'experimental' 25 up their sleeve, which would not be available for purchase...

The prototype made its debut in the Brussels GP at Heysel in April, Jim Clark gaining his first experience in anger of the new Climax FWMV V8 in works chassis '948'. Jimmy qualified on pole but was sidelined on the opening lap with valve-gear failure. Two weeks later at Snetterton, Jim won in '948', while he was leading at Pau until the gearchange broke adrift. There Tevor Taylor debuted Team's 2nd works car - chassis '950' - finishing 11th after new car problems. Then Jim qualified resoundingly on pole for the Aintree 200 and won, smashing the lap record along the way, with Taylor 5th.

The first customer 24s made their debut in the International Trophy at Silverstone that May. Masten Gregory finished 8th in the UDT-Laystall chassis '942' while Jack Brabham was 6th in '947'. Jim's Team car was beaten by the shortest of short heads by Graham Hill's latest BRM P578. Then came the first Grand Prix of the season in Holland, where Chapman unveiled his 25, and the 24's short rein as their front line car was over. The race itself saw Clark on pole in the 25, followed by the BRMs of Graham Hill and Richie Ginther, McLaren's Cooper and the Lotus 24s of Ireland and Gregory. Nino qualified 14th alongside Salvadori's Lola. The de Tomaso flat-8 F1-801 driven by Estefano Nasif made a one-off appearance in practise but did not qualify, only managing a lap in 6:18.4 (!) compared to Clark's 1:40.35. Clark led away, but Hill passed him on the first lap and Clark retired after 12 laps with gearbox and electrical problems. This left the BRMs out in front and they put on a wonderful display of speed and reliability, romping home to score their first ever 1-2 victory. Hill then led the championship with 36 points from McLaren's 22 and Clark on 21. Surtees had a furious scrap for 2nd with Ginther until his Lola broke a piston on lap 43, leaving McLaren in 3rd 0.4 sec ahead of Mairesse's Ferrari. Nino finished 9th, a couple of laps down. The final results were:

1. Graham Hill, BRM P578, 2:29:08.4 = 198.940 km/h
2. Richie Ginther, BRM P578, - 29.2
3. Bruce McLaren, Cooper-Climax T60, - 57.8
4. Willy Mairesse, Ferrari 156, - 58.2
5. Giancarlo Baghetti, Ferrari 156, - 1:31.3
6. Jo Bonnier, Porsche 804, - 1 lap

9. Nino Vaccarella, Lotus-Climax 24,- 2 laps

Fastest lap: Graham Hill, BRM, 1:42.3 = 202.346 km/h on laps 3 and 4

This was the first appearance of chassis '941' in a Grand Prix. It was then raced by Maurice Trintignant at Watkins Glen before being badly damaged in Ricardo Rodriguez's fatal accident during practice for the non-championship Mexican GP, on both occasions entered by Rob Walker. A month later Gary Hocking was killed in the Natal GP in another Rob Walker Lotus 24, to finish off an awful year for the team. Nino Vaccarella, a teacher of law, was born in Palermo, Sicily on 4th March 1933 and, like Frère and Gendebien, is best known for his sportscar career, winning the Le Mans 24 hours in 1964 for Ferrari with Jean Guichet. He made his Grand Prix debut in the 1961 Italian GP where he drove the Scuderia Serenissima de Tomaso-Alfa Romeo (using a twin-plug Giulietta unit). He qualified 20th (fastest of the 3 de Tomasos) but retired after 13 laps with engine problems. In the minor Coppa Italia at Vallelunga (most notable for deciding the Italian national championship) he finished 3rd driving a Cooper-Maserati T51 for Count Volpi's Scuderia SSS Serenissima di Venezia. In 1962 he made three more appearances for Scuderia SSS Serenissima di Venezia who bought (or rented) the Moss Monaco/German GP winning Lotus-Climax 18/21. At Monaco he was 21st (and slowest) in practise and failed to qualify. At the Pau GP (on the day of Moss's awful accident) Nino finished in 6th place. At the German GP they rented a Porsche 718 and Nino qualified 15th and also finished 15th, a lap down on.

Then here at the Italian GP, they rented a Lotus-Climax 24 from Rob Walker. Nino's next and last GP was not until the 1965 Italian GP where he drove a works Ferrari 158 ('0006', which was driven in the next race at Watkins Glen by our other 60s Who?, Bob Bondurant), qualified 15th but retired after 58 laps with engine failure. In sportscars, he first made his mark in 1962 when he finished 3rd in his home event, the Targa Florio, sharing one of the new flat-8 2-litre Porsches with Bonnier and Hill. They should have finished higher but had brake problems. 1963 saw the first of many fine results in the Sebring 12 Hours when he finished 2nd with Mairesse and Bandini in one of Ferrari's new 3-litre rear-engined 250Ps. In 1964 he finished 2nd again, this time sharing a brand new 3.3-litre Ferrari 275P with Scarfiotti. Nino then had the best period of his career driving the gorgeous Ferrari 275P, winning the Nürburgring 1000 km (with Scarfiotti) and the Le Mans 24 Hours (with Jean Guichet), as well as the minor Coppa Intereuropa in a 250LM.

Then in 1965 he finally won his beloved Targa Florio with Bandini in a 275 P2. Nino put in a brilliant opening lap of 40:05, then set the fastest lap of the race in 39:21, a new lap record which shattered the three-year record of Willy Mairesse (40:0.3) and was 5 minutes ahead of team-mate Guichet after three laps when he pitted for refuelling and a driver change. Ferrari team manager Dragoni was not at all pleased about Nino's meteoric performance and lectured him for his pains. Nino finished the race with a leisurely 43 mins last lap but still finished over 4 mins ahead of the 2nd place Davis/Mitter Porsche 906. The crowd of over 250,000 were delirious, of course, and tried to emulate Nino on their way back to Palermo! He then finished an excellent 4th in the Nurburgring 1000 km with Bandini driving the little 1.6-litre Ferrari Dino 166P - they were having a tremendous battle for 3rd with the 2-litre Bonnier/Rindt Porsche 904/8 until the engine lost power. In 1966 Nino did not get such good results. He managed 5th at Sebring in a Scuderia Brescia Corse Ford GT40 (with Maglioli) and was battling for the lead in the Targa Florio when team-mate Bandini rolled their Ferrari P3.

In 1967 his best was 4th in the Monza 1000 km driving a Scuderia Filipinetti Ferrari 330 P3/4 with Herbert Müller, and he blotted his Targa Florio copybook by sliding his works Ferrari P4 into a wall on the first lap. In 1968 he managed 5th at the Daytona 24 Hours in an Alfa Romeo T33/2 with Udo Schütz. In the Targa Florio he was 2nd behind Scarfiotti's Porsche 907 when team-mate Schutz crashed their Alfa Romeo T33. In 1969 he was 5th at Le Mans in a works Matra MS630 with 1964 team-mate Jean Guichet. In 1970 he was back in the works Ferrari team (driving a 512S with regular team-mate Ignazio Giunti) and right back in form. He won at Sebring after Andretti had taken over their car, was 2nd at Monza, 3rd at the Targa Florio (sadly outpaced by the new Porsche 908/3), 4th at Spa and 3rd at the Nürburgring (sharing a 512S Spyder with John Surtees for a change), where they were again outpaced by the nimble Porsche 908/3. In 1971 Ferrari sadly only entered a singleton 312P in preparation for the 5-litre ban due in 1972, and Nino drove for Alfa Romeo. He was 3rd at Sebring (with de Adamich and Pescarolo) and 5th at Monza (with Hezemans and Stommelen). Then it was Targa Florio time. A red car had not won since Nino's famous victory in 1965, with Porsche winning on 6 consecutive occasions since then. They had come to specialise in the event, building the special lightweight, low polar moment 908/3 (based on the 1968 hillclimb 909) for the previous year's event when it finished 1-2-5.

For the 1971 event, even lighter models were used, with tail fins as used on the 917Ks at Monza. But they had problems in practise and the three Alfas were quickest, with Nino setting the fastest lap at 34:14.2. Between 500,000 and a million people lined the circuit to see if Porsche could be beaten at last. Although the race regulations stated the cars would start in numerical order at 15 sec intervals, the field was despatched in classes according to practise times. By a curious quirk of fate, this put Nino at the head of the field... The first lap saw instant drama - Stommelen had the transmission fail on his Alfa, skidded and broke a wheel. Then Redman's steering broke and sent him crashing into the wall - the car burst into flames and he sadly suffered third degree burns. Then Rodriguez's Porsche slid on a patch of paint and smashed into the kerb, breaking two wheels (ironically at Nino's home town of Collesano!). So both of the JW-Gulf 908/3s were out - just the Martini car of Elford/Larrousse was left. Nino was leading on the road by 40 secs after the first lap, from team-mate de Adamich and Larrousse's 908/3. However, on corrected times, Larrousse was 4.1 secs ahead of Nino - the 908/3 was clearly well suited to the unique demands of the Little Madonie circuit. On the 2nd lap, Larrousse had trouble getting past de Adamich (!) and Nino led both on the road and on corrected times. Elford took over from Larrousse and Hezemans took over from Nino at the end of lap 3. Elford was another Targa expert (he set the fastest lap at 33:45.6) and was back in the lead by the end of lap 4, 18 secs in front of Hezemans (corrected). The pace was so fierce that only 8 cars were on the same lap. On lap 5 Elford overtook Hezemans on the road and then handed back to Larrousse, who resumed behind the Dutchman on the road. On lap 6 Larrousse really flew and finished 80 secs in front of Hezemans, who handed back to Nino. The crowd were ready to cheer on their hero! But the chase never happened - on lap 7 Larrousse suffered a puncture and the wheel spanner broke when he tried to fit the spare. he drove 14 miles on the rim to the JW-Gulf service pit halfway round the course, where the rival mechanics fitted a new wheel. By now he was over a lap behind, and early into lap 8 he retired when the front suspension collapsed. The two remaining Alfas went on to finish 1st and 2nd (to tumultous applause) and the little 1.8-litre Lola T212 of Bonnier/Attwood the only other car on the same lap. He rounded off the year with 5th at Nürburgring (behind those pesky 908/3s which finished 1-2-3) and a terrific 2nd at Zeltweg, both times with Toine Hezemans. Alfa missed Le Mans and Nino drove a Ferrari 512M with José-Maria Juncadella for Escuderia Montjuich. They were actually leading for a short time during the night before retiring with transmission failure. He stayed with Alfa Romeo for 1972 but Ferrari were totally dominant and he only managed 3rd at Sebring (with Hezemans) and 4th at Le Mans (with de Adamich). In the Targa he blew his engine on lap 3 and Alfa were embarrassed by the lone Ferrari of Merzario and Munari. 1973 was a Matra/Ferrari battle, Alfa had a dreadful year and Nino was without a drive. He had a one-off outing at the Targa driving a Ferrari 312 PB with previous year's winner Arturo Merzario. They were quickest in practise but the drive shaft failed in the race and the prototypes were beaten by the Martini Porsche Carrera RSR of Gijs van Lennep and Herbert Müller.

In 1974 the Targa was sadly dropped from the World Sportscar Championship and Nino, now 41, retired from front-line racing. He won the Targa again in 1975 and in 1997 led a tour of the Targa circuit during Ferrari's 50th Anniversary celebrations.

2nd Reader's Why by Thilo Figaj

There is a good chance to hear about this GP from the man himself, who is pictured behind the wheel in this privately entered BRM. Bob Bondurant operates a school for racing drivers at Sears Point International Raceway, California. If you read their brochures, you will learn:

"BONDURANT... The name itself commands respect. Whether it's The School, its graduates, or the man himself, Bondurant creates a mystique found nowhere else. As you approach The Bondurant School, you realize you're in the presence of greatness. Racing legend Bob Bondurant perfected his skills on the world's most demanding circuits, and won some of motorsport's grandest prizes. In 1964, he won the GT category at Le Mans driving a Ford Cobra Daytona Coupe with Dan Gurney, and the World Manufacturers' Championship for Ford in 1965, beating Ferrari for the very first time! In Formula One events, Bondurant drove for the Ferrari factory team, a privately-owned BRM, and for Dan Gurney's All American Racers Team. He also participated in European long distance races for Ferrari, Porsche and Shelby Ford Cobra American factory teams. And now, you can be part of it, too."

The pure statistics, for Formula 1 at least, read less pathetic. Bob Bondurant competed in 9 GPs in the years 1965 and 1966. The career really started in a Ferrari at the Glen in 65 (finishing 9th), in Mexico he retired in a privately entered Lotus.

Monaco 1966 was the first race of the season and one of the original locations of John Frankenheimers film Grand Prix. It is also the first race for the new three litre formula. Only seven out of the 16 cars on the grid (which actually can be seen in the film) make full use of the new capacity. Bondurant, in his BRM-"Team Chamaco-Collect" is the last one and unfortunately impossible to detect in the movie. The race itself was tough and only four cars were classified, lucky Bondurant in fourth position five laps down on the winner Stewart in an works BRM. Ligier and Bonnier in their Maserati-Coopers were too much down in the lap tables and got not classified. James Garner is the hero in the movie, also driving a BRM in Monaco, where the directions ordered him to a bath in the harbour. The car which you see in the film is a fake. Actually it's a Lotus 22 with a BRM badge and air-intake mock-ups to make it lock like BRM. The car still exists however, and Garner actually raced it himself for the taking. He drove it again in 1999 in Monza, still featuring its fake-inlets.

Another episode in the 1966 GPs was, that in two races, at Monaco and in Spa, Phil Hill was allowed to practice the film-car. In Monaco he used a Lotus 25 - Climax, in Spa a McLaren M3A-Ford. Spa organizers actually allowed Phil Hill onto the grid and for the opening for the taking. So he was an eye witness of the very heavy rain accidents of the race in which among others Jackie Stewart was involved. He later said that he will never forget who saved his live: Team mate Graham Hill and Bob Bondurant (who also spun at the same place) extricated the wounded Stewart from his BRM. The operation took them nearly half an hour. Stewarts overall was soaked with gasoline, he was trapped, sitting in the fuel of his crashed cell. Bondurant went on with the rest of the season which he finished 14th after all with the three points from Monaco, his best result. The last two races he competed for Dan Gurney with an Eagle-Climax at the Glen, and with an Eagle-Weslake in Mexico, respectively. 1967, driving a McLaren Can-Am car at Watkins Glen, New York, a broken steering arm caused the 150mph crash that put Bob's racing career on a 3 year hiatus. Faced with the possibility of never walking again, Bob lay in his hospital bed and penned his concept of The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.