For some reason, several of the regular Formula 1-drivers felt the urge to be lured into a fabled hoax. And travelled all the way across the Atlantic to do so in between the Dutch and French Grand Prix. Some place in Indiana was the final destination. Where, for the last sixty years, a bunch of swindlers has convinced the world that four left turns, interconnected by four straights, can actually form a racetrack.
That Emersonian Americans bought into such a scam, was no surprise. But how the Indy hustlers had ever managed to hoodwink European drivers, men of spoiled standing after all, into the spoof was beyond my simple self.
Still, it left European organizers with the impossibility to organize an official Grand Prix for at least 3 to 4 weeks; just as the season was getting up to speed. To somewhat fill the gap, the organizers thus decided to organize a non-championship race at the very fast Hockenheimring. A track that, in essence, consists of four straights thundering through Swabian forestland. To establish the Hockenheimring as a true racing track beyond any reasonable doubt, the Germans had added something called the Motodrom some 5 years ago.
That a new autobahn between Heilbronn and Mannheim cutting the old track in two left them with no real alternative, was gründlichly forgotten.
Several teams decided to participate in the race, as the long straights of Hockenheim proved a perfect testing ground for the endurance of their engines. Many however found themselves without drivers. With their regulars over the pound, running cars around like mice in a cage.
That, together with a box of vintage Château Beychevelle, had convinced Gerard Ducarouge to give Voigt a shot in one of the Matra’s. A bag filled with 50K worth of Benjamins may also have contributed. Maybe.
It was a pure blast to listen to Voigt spurring the massive V12 along the endless straights of Hockenheim. A concerto that, in itself, was worth every penny of the 50K.
But as things got serious, Patty could not prevent Canadian David Jaques, who had secured a Ferrari 312B for this race, taking pole with a 1 minute 56.877 seconds lap. One fast lap that sufficed to dismiss the mother lode of silly excuses the regular Ferrari drivers had been spouting since the start of the season. Was this the signing on the wall of great things that a piccolo Canadian may one day bring to Ferrari, I wondered?
Jaques shared the front row with Grant Riddall in his usual Surtees, the Brit less than 1 tenth of a second slower than the Canadian driven Ferrari. Grant the Great opting to use this race to get more mileage and experience in the Surtees, only bore testimony to his professionalism and dedication. John Surtees could not have wished for a better ally.
Third spot was for California Dreamer Austin Johnson who was back behind the wheel of the March 711 he so brilliantly drove at Monaco. The Gene Mason Racing team had worked a miracle by entirely repairing the car after Voigt’s thorough wrecking of it at Zandvoort.
Johnson’s third place on the grid was even more impressive than his similar feat at Monaco. Hockenheim, after all, is a power track in every aspect of the term. Leaving many wondering how the American driver had managed to compensate the roughly 30 bhp deficit to the Ferrari’s and other Loti or BRM’s.
Mikula, who stayed with Lotus following Zandvoort, Whited, in a BRM for the occasion, and Mick Chapman, back with Lotus after his Monaco drive, rounded out the top 6.
As to Voigt, the baboon only managed a 14th spot on the grid, despite of the power barfing Matra V12 under his buttocks. To Voigt’s defense, fast German Sterr, driving the other Matra, only managed 11th, with a time that was barely 0.6 seconds faster than Voigt’s. Sterr had displayed some true greatness in the Can-Am race at the Glen, which left us wondering whether the Matra was really as competitive as old Gerard sold it for.
Between Sterr and Voigt, Jundt had managed a meagre 13th spot on the grid with the powerful BRM. Surprisingly disappointing, as his drives in the jalopy Jo Siffert entered March 701 and his magnificent Can-Am win at Mid-Ohio had firmly confirmed the Swiss as one of the top 5-drivers this season. If not top three. Even more surprising therefore was Jason Whited clocking a lap 3 seconds faster in a similar BRM.
As the starting flag dropped, Jaques used all the power of the Italian V12, hiss tremendous ability and all the rest at his disposal to sail through Nordkurve in first place. He would never look back.
Grant Riddall’s start was rather out of character for the English driver to the extent he ballocked it. The Surtees fell back to fourth, leaving both Johnson’s slummy March and Mikula’s state-of-the art Lotus through.
Others facing a troubled start were Jason Whited and François Remmen. The former seemed to have a hard time getting the power of the BRM down and fell back to tenth. The latter launched his McLaren on the left rear wheel of Wattman’s Ferrari, only to find himself at the wheel of a fully airborne car. Upon his return to solid ground, he continued unabated without much time lost.
Adamovich, who was in his usual Alfa Romeo powered March, shot from 8th to 5th. Visions of the Slovak loudly bragging about his fabulous achievements post race made me slightly nauseous. Truth was that Adamovich was nothing but a lucky beneficiary of Whited, Chapman and Janik being relatively uncomfortable in cars they were still discovering.
As to Voigt, he managed the inconceivable of having a start that was even more lackluster than his qualifying performance, dropping back to 17th. Then exploited Remmen’s acrobatics to slip back into 16th before even tackling Nordkurve. Wattman’s Ferrari ended up on the grass out of Nordkurve, allowing Voigt to move up to 15th.
That seemed to inspire the drowsy milksop to some much craved for zeal. For a brief while, Voigt even seemed on a roll. On the long straight towards the Clark chicane, he used all the power of the Matra to pull along Gerard Ryon, running an older Surtees TS7. Jon P managed to outbrake the Belgian driver and was up to 14th.
Sterr, by that time, was already up to 6th, with only Adamovich in front of him. It seemed certain that the brilliant German would soon be in 5th.
Further up the field, Mikula was copycatting Voigt and using the power of the Lotus to shoot by Johnson. Johnson however valiantly tried to fight back into the Clark chicane, slightly overestimating the stability of his March-chassis. He overshot the first apex of the chicane, bumping into Mikula’s sidepod. The Lotus-driver got slightly unsettled but continued his ways. Austin however spun into the barriers ripping a rear wheel off. His race was over.
There were some off-road excursions for Chapman and Remmen in Clark. Both were able to race on however. The rest of the field made it through the chicane relatively sane.
Off they were for the very fast Ostkurve. Again, the entire field made it through almost pristinely, at the exception of Remmen. The Dutchman spun his McLaren backwards off the track but managed to pursue his quest. Be it dead last.
On the straight between Ostkurve and the second chicane, Gabriel Sterr easily polished Adamovich off and moved up into fourth. It was nobody’s surprise really that the Slovak boaster proved no match for the German ace.
Our Patsy in the second Matra meanwhile did a good job holding off an attempt from Ryon at a pass into Ostkurve.
Voigt, by now already up to 13th due to Johnson’s antics, showed even more wits. Ryon engaged into an authentic dive-bomb attempt while braking for the second chicane. Voigt had the sense to keep well on the outside, let the Surtees shoot by onto the grass and off the track. And simply regained his 13th spot out of the chicane.
It was all but small distractions in distant mirrors for David Jaques. As the cars rounded Nordkurve for the second time, the Canadian had already garnered a safe advantage over second placed Mikula, who came under increasing threat from Riddall.
Grant was into full Maximus Riddall mode, performing some kind of tribal dance around the rear of Mikula’s Lotus. He looked right, then peeped left. He tried on the inside to shift to an attempt on the outside in one swift move. The young German needed all his ability and then some of the Cosworth power in the Lotus to remain ahead.
Behind the top three followed Gabriel Sterr in the first Matra, Adamovich in a March, Ray Riddall in the second Surtees, Brian Janik in a sole Tyrrell, David Jundt in the first BRM, Jason Whited in a second BRM, Juha Bos in the second Ferrari, Mick Chapman in a Lotus and Michal Janak in a March 711.
Voigt was back to thirteenth, exactly the position from which he had started. And he seemed able to give Janak a run for his money. So it was not all bad… yet.
Simon Wattman, whose Ferrari seemed to have endured damage from the contact with Remmen at the start, had already retired at Ostkurve. Which left 17 cars in the race.
Remmen had been thrown far back through his starting incident and spin at Ostkurve and now steered his car into the pits at the end of lap 1 for some much needed repairs. The McLaren mechanics needed oceans of time for some makeshift repairs and, by the time the Dutch driver rejoined, Jaques, Mikula and Riddall the Faster already sailed by into their third lap.
François gallantly kept to the right side of the track, leaving the fast left line wide open for the faster drivers. But there obviously is always one idiot who thinks it is smart to try and get a tow out of the slower driver. And is then forced to swerve. The dummy going for the pretended slipstream at Hockenheim was Adamovich.
It started showing that the Slovak had completely flunked the set-up of his March. Both Ray Riddall and Jundt had easily dismissed the March and, to top it off, Adamovich had just ruined his exit out of Nordkurve.
At the end of lap 3, Grant Riddall went slidely sideways out of Opel, which allowed Mikula to sneak away ever so slightly. The Surtees suddenly had to do without the aspiration of the big Lotus and that seemed to allow Mikula to carve out an advantage.
The repairs to Remmen’s McLaren proved only very superficial. Approaching Ostkurve, François lost control of the car, slamming it into the barriers. His race was over.
A battle was brewing over fourth position. Sterr was set on keeping it and both Ray Riddall and David Jundt had an eye out for it. The prospect of an extremely talented Swiss and an as able German dashing for supremacy over an experienced English fox was promising. The three of them were in competitive cars, which only added to the thrills.
Voigt had meanwhile made it up to 12th, putting Janak going off at the entrance to the Motodrom to his advantage.
Adamovich was falling further back and was now down to 10th, with Mick Chapman hot on his heels. On the fifth lap Chapman very cleanly went passed the March under braking for the second chicane. Adamovich, always incapable of recognizing his superior, obviously digested badly. So he went completely over the curbstones out of the chicane and, in a devious maneuver, stole 10th back from Chapman.
Further to the front, it had taken Grant Riddall exactly two chicanes, one Ostkurve and one Motodrom to reel Mikula back in. Grant now seemed to prefer a psychological warfare approach to the matter, making his car ostentatiously large in the Lotus’ mirrors on the approach of every turn. Without ever really attempting a pass.
Grant is however much less of a boardroom strategist than he is a thoroughbred stallion. And so, as of lap 5, he was back to a sinking as much beers in as short a time as possible kind of strategy. Opel again proved to be his Achilles tendon on lap 6 however, the Surtees almost spinning. Mikula again had some air around him.
Voigt did not take long to succumb to Janak’s pressure. He went off at the entry to the Motodrom, leaving both Janak and Kowalski through. We were down to 14th. Guzik instinctively started loading the champagne back into the car.
Sterr and Ray Riddall looked like reenacting their Glen adventure, be it with Formula 1-cars. Riddall managed to steer the Surtees passed the Matra somewhere in the Motodrom, only to hand 4th position back to Sterr on the next straight. Jundt lay in wait just behind them, the Swiss forced to keep an eye on his mirrors, where Janik was getting the hang of the Tyrrell.
The Detroiter in turn had a resurgent Whited behind him, the Virginian driver determined to make amendments for his poor start. On lap 7, the American driven BRM simply dispensed with the Tyrrell under braking for the second chicane. The BRM’s were now in 6th and 7th.
Just ahead of them, the genius now seemed out of the bottle. Riddall the Wiser launched a late braking pass on Sterr into Agip. The German’s riposte was quick and soon, as he moved back ahead into Sachs, Jundt trying to slip through in his wake. The Brit managed to fend of the Swiss, but Sterr was back to 4th.
The battling was slowing them down, allowing Janik and Bos, in the second Ferrari, to reduce the gap with the BRM’s, Surtees and Matra.
Riddall the Wiser made a tiny mistake in an attempt to pass Sterr into Sachs. Jundt immediately capitalized and moved into 5th.
Riddall the Faster meanwhile was back on the heels of Mikula. The German however seemed to get the hang of the Lotus and was able to keep a car’s length in between him and the Surtees. Riddall however has this magnificent ability to lash out unexpectedly everywhere and at all times.
As they entered the Motodrom on lap 11, Riddall pulled along the Lotus entering Agip. Mikula steered towards the apex, leaving room for the Surtees but not a massive amount of it. He even looked somewhat surprised to find the Surtees so far up his inside.
The German took avoiding action, went wide over the grass and continued without much delay. The Surtees however went in a spin and this time lost valuable time to the Lotus. The Hethel machine spread its wings.
The Matra-BRM-Surtees-BRM train was now getting up to speed and edged out from Janik’s Tyrrell and Bos’ Ferrari. Behind Sterr, the two BRM’s and the Surtees were swarming like horny hornets. Jundt went half sideways in the second chicane. Ray Riddall and Jason Whited showed no mercy and sailed by.
Bos made it passed Janik, Chapman by Adamovich and Voigt profited from another Kowalski off to move back up to 13th.
At the end of lap 10, Gerard Ryon, who had been struggling with an unruly Surtees TS7 in 15th, steered his car into the pit and retired.
Up front, Jaques was running a solitary race in first.
On lap 13, Pascal Mikula went very wide in the Ostkurve. And guess what? There was Riddall the Faster again. Barely a half lap down the road, the Surtees however cocked up the Nordkurve and spun. Grant was lucky enough to hit nothing and was soon back on his way. Still in third, but with the Lotus now apparently truly out of reach.
Behind them, Sterr misjudged his braking for Agip, letting Riddall the Wiser, Whited and Jundt through. Ray then had a shaky exit out of Nordkurve, opening the door for Whited to have a successful run for fourth on the following straight. Jundt tried to pull ahead of Riddall using his teammate’s tow. But the second Surtees managed to hold on to fifth for now.
Ray did even better and immediately recaptured 4th out of the Clark-chicane. Whited retorting in Ostkurve, getting back to fourth. This whole thing started to look like demented madness, with Jundt constantly riding shotgun just behind the two daredevils.
Riddall the Wiser again went wide in Nordkurve, letting Jundt into 5th.
Further down, Chapman was passed Janik and was now making Bos’ life increasingly difficult. Adamovich already needed one of them new DC-10’s to bridge the distance to Janik.
Chapman made a move on Bos on the straight to the Clark-chicane. Bos however valiantly defended his position through the chicane, the Ferrari and Lotus rounding the right-left-right complex side by side. That slowed them down so much, that a charging Janik was forced into evasive action. The Tyrrell spun off and was down to 11th.
The insane quarrel over 4th seemed settled. Whited holding a firm grasp on the coveted position, with Jundt in 5th, Riddall in 6th and Sterr in 7th. And respectable cushions between each of them, even if the Matra seemed to be reeling in the Surtees.
Just then, Whited decided to spin the BRM in Sachs, letting Jundt through. And Sterr used all the power of the Matra to claim 6th from Ray Riddall.
Whited’s tires seemed to have picked up a lot of dirt in the spin, as the BRM was unable to get up to speed through the rest of the Motodrom. Both Sterr and Riddall went by and the BRM spun a second time onto the grass out of the Opel bends. Whited’s car lost its front wing in that second ordeal.
The Virginian however continued at unabated speed till the lack of downforce on the front wheels pushed him off once more entering Agip. The BRM was retired.
Jaques by now had almost an entire of Hockenheim’s long straights between him and Mikula. The German in turn saw Riddall the Faster creeping back to him; slowly but steadily.
Jundt was running a solitary 4th, now that Whited had retired. 5th and 6th were however still at stake, Sterr and Riddall the Wiser engaging in yet another round of dicing for position.
Bos had gotten back by Chapman somehow. Janik was on Adamovich’s tail, the Slovak defending unreasonably hard and aggressive. Which could obviously not hold back the talented Detroiter. Logic got its share and Adamovich was dispensed with.
Bos then made an error in the Opel bends, leaving both Chapman and Janik past.
Ray Riddall tried to pull ahead of Sterr under braking for Agip. The Surtees ended on the grass and Riddall’s luck turned sour. The car shot off the track into a barrier and lost its entire front wing. Another race was over.
Twenty laps into the race, Jaques enjoyed a massive lead for Ferrari, with second placed Mikula following ages behind. Grant Riddall was still third and, on this absolute power track, that seemed the best he could aim for with the Surtees. Jundt had fought his way back up to fourth with the BRM. Gabriel Sterr and Mick Chapman rounded out the top 6.
Voigt had been lured into some more spins and thrills and was now down to a shameful 12th. The general atmosphere almost turned our garage into a cooling container.
Then Kowalski had another off and Voigt was back up to 11th, a meager consolation. And one that Voigt was probably about to ruin anyway. Kowalski was hot on Voigt’s tail and in lap 23 the unavoidable happened. Voigt braked a tad late for Agip and went wide. Kowalski was ahead.
Voigt was however not about to leave it at that. He barely managed to keep up with Kowalski through the twisty Stadium-section. But once passed Nordkurve, he pulled alongside Kowalski on the long straight. Let there be no mistake. The maneuver was in no way the merit of Voigt. It was the sole achievement of the Matra power.
The Matra and Kowalski’s March braked for the Clark-chicane side by side. And in an ultimate attempt to maintain his position, Kowalski went off the track, cutting the chicane over the grass. The March-driver was briefly passed the Matra, but Voigt now had much better traction onto the next straight. By Ostkurve, Voigt was back into 11th. The idiot even had Janak back in sight and a top 10 looked possible. The mood in the box was slightly thawing.
Voigt now really looked like turning into hot property. Through the Motodrom section, he closed right in on Janak and, back in the pit, we were all convinced that Janak was a sitting duck on the following straight.
Trust Voigt however to spin the car out of Nordkurve, hit the barrier and loose his entire nosecone. Driving a racecar without that cone is pretty much like eating ice cream without a cone. It’s just a big mess slipping out of control.
Voigt managed to get the car back to the pits, where a new cone was fitted. That however took heaps of time and our car was now running almost dead last.
Magnus Grantus had closed the gap with Mikula again. And was back to tribal dancing all around the Lotus arse.
The last car running was an older BRM P153, driven by a remarkably courageous young man. Alberto Iquino indeed showed the world what tricky and difficult to master beasts these cars really are. The valiant youngster from Valencia, la tierra de las flores de la luz y del amor, acquitted himself with rarely seen ability of the task of standing his ground between these speedy daredevils.
Even if his race got marred by several spins and half offs, the determination he showed in continuing proved that he is a chip of the old block. If this brave youngster sticks with it, he has everything to become one of the very great of this sport.
Iquino’s race sadly ended at the end of his 26th lap, when the BRM-engine puffed to a stop in Sachs.
Jaques was still in a now unasailable lead.
Just behind, the argument between Mikula and Grant Riddall was heating up, once more. On lap 24, Pascal hit the inside curb at Opel very hard, his car jumping up, ending on two left wheels. Riddall struck immediatelly and hauled his Surtees alongside the Lotus. Mikula swerved to the right, protecting his position. Maybe a tad too defensive?
On lap 26, Grant the Great had a storming exit out of the Clark chicane, but had nowhere to carry all that speed on the outside line where the Lotus was. The Surtees carried too much momentum to move to the inside and Grant was forced to go over the grass for some hundred meters. This bout was starting to look like able of turning to disaster.
The Lotus had another poor exit out of Opel on lap 28, loosing some time with a backmarker. Riddall was right on the spot and made a move. Mikula again looked like swerving to the right.
The Lotus and Surtees provided an even more harrowing spectacle for all of lap 29. At the end of which, Riddall actually rounded the entire Sachs curb side-by-side with the Lotus… on the outside. Grant’s attempts seemed to become desperate.
On lap 30, Mikula managed a perfect exit out of Nordkurve, for the first time in the entire race. He inched away slightly. The Surtees lost the aid of some Hethel-aspiration and looked like lagging.
The intensity of the argument over 2nd place decreased from erratic to just tense. Foor a brief while at least. As with only 5 laps to go, there was blood to be smelled.
Voigt was back on track by this time, with a pristine new nosecone fitted on the Matra. He may have been way back but neverthelles managed to pass Janik on lap 31 out of Ostkurve. Truth be said, Janik was struggling with a crippled Tyrrell at that point.
Still, it looked as if J.P. was actually going to end his disastrous race on an elegant note. Till, on lap 32, with just three laps to go, he completely missed the braking at Agip. The Matra slammed into the barrier. Nosecone number 2 was gone. As was the front left suspension and wheel.
Voigt dragged the car back to the pits on all of its remaining three wheels. Then offered the following explanation: “I seemed to entirely forget where I was… just for a split second.”
Off course, when travelling at 300 kph, even split seconds can kill. No wonder thus that the incomprehension that met Mister Brainfade’s statement weighed heavy on the spirits in the garage. Out of the corner of my left eye, I noticed Gerard Ducarouge downing one of the Beychevelle bottles in no time. As if it were a botlle of Chateau La Pompe.
The genious turned engineer then bellowed at his crew, forbidding them to repair Voigt’s car. Our race was done. Or wasted…
And more blood flowed… entering lap 33, Grant was all over the Hethel eagle again. He perfected his exit out of Ostkurve and got a tow and a run on the straigh towards the second chicane. Mikula could only sit tight and witness the Surtees braking much later and pulling ahead on the inside. Grant had his second place secured.
Mikula’s youthly and exuberant enthusiasm was however not just going to take it lying down. He tried into Agip but was too far back. Then tried the inside on Sachs but overcooked it. The Lotus spun and, with merely two laps to go, Riddall seemed to have 2nd bagged.
In front of them, Bos who, at the image of Voigt was testing a coneless strategy, was enrolled in a heated fight with Kowalski. Bos had lost the nose of the Ferrari on lap 29 when Janik surprised him under braking for the second chicane and he hit the back of the Tyrrell hard. Juha seemed to adapt to the coneless eating of icecream much better than Voigt. Maybe he discovered the use of a spoon as an alternative, a concept obviously exceedingly hard to grasp for Voigt.
On the very last lap, Riddall came up to lap Bos and Kowalski, just as the intensity of their altercation caused the Ferrari to spin in the Clark chicane. Riddall was slowed down and, with one half lap to go, Mikula was straight up his exhaust pipes.
Mikula had a first look into Agip but Riddall had learned some of the defensive lines the German had played on him earlier. The Brit protected successfully. Then, into Sachs, Mikula seemed to have a clear shot. Riddall however defended very firmly. There was slight contact and the Lotus spun. This time the flurry seemed settlled for once and for all.
Jaques had meanwhile long taken victory in a crushingly impressive way.
Riddall took second. It had cost him noteably more energy than any of his wins in official championship races. Mikula came in third. Both Jundt and Sterr had recovered from relativelly poor starting positions, bringing their cars home 4th and 5th respectivelly. Adamovich finished sixth, mainly on the account of the bad luck of others.
Janak, Chapman, Bos, whose missing cone had not stopped him from getting back ahead of Kowalski’s March, and Kowalski rounded out the top 10.
Even if this race did not count towards the championship standings, it bore an important message. There seemed to be some stopping to the Riddall-Surtees alliance after all. If I were Enzo Ferrari, I would hurry to get that Jaques-guy behind the wheel of one of my cars.
The Canadian nearly drowned himself in positive praise for the Ferrari after the race. Besides bringing along some victories, he would thus probably also decimate the current level of nagging in the Ferrari garage all by himself. Seems like the championship would only gain in interest.
As to our team… After Voigt’s poor performance, it will probably take hell to freeze over before we get allowed into a competitive car again.