1971, Elkhart Lake, HSO, Intersection Diaries, Mopar, trans am
Love is a powerful thing. And so is man’s passion for motor racing. When two such powerful things tangle, the outcome is uncertain. At best.
After their first humble success at Donnybrooke, the Mopar-teams arrived at Elkhart Lake in high spirits.
“We will finally be able to stretch our legs,” some of the big tramp drivers were quoted. While other, more prudent V8-aficionados, had some doubts as to how their brakes would fair.
Everyone agreed on one thing however. And that was that the dwindling number of under 2.5-litre cars was slowly becoming a concern.
Goissen, who together with Lepihive had spiced the season up to this point, stood out through his absence. Uncertain sources located him in the South of France; an attempt at a world Guinness record to enter as many long legged blue-eyed women as possible in a Porsche seemingly his current preferred pastime.
The BMW-officials were all but thrilled with those rumors. What upset them most was Goissen making his attempt in a Stuttgart flat six rather than in one of their Bavarian jewels. Their number one driver should at least be trusted to refrain from making publicity for the competition, should he not?
Another BMW-driver spotted in female company was Voigt. And although Voigt’s companion did not prevent him from showing up at the track, she certainly did not motivate him to spend much time behind the wheel.
He limited his efforts for the weekend to some scarce laps during Saturday’s first practice. And barely more during the qualifying session. He spent the rest of his time having picnics and other leisurely activities involving food and drinks with an unidentified blonde girl, whose legs held a certain reminiscence of eternity.
It was all much to the discontent of Voigt’s grey mechanic.
Still, it did not stop the young New Yorker securing 5th on the grid; with only the two Escorts of Lepihive and Petillot, and Placais’ and Suanya’s grim Barracudas in front of him. It really told more on the quality of the opposition than on the qualities of young Voigt, whose motivation seems to be dwindling after a promising start to the season.
That his race turned out to be short-lived, will probably not help get that motivation back up. In fact, Voigt never even saw the starting flag. As the field started the warm-up lap, his BMW sat motionless on the grid. All electrics in the car had gone dead.
There were some malicious rumors regarding the cause of the electrical breakdown. Scuttlebutt blaming the heat in the car, the bumpy nature of the track and sheer anticipation for interfering with the young driver’s digestion of spirited drinks. Balderdash obviously. But enough cause for Voigt’s old mechanic to rage through one of his Spanish furies.
And so the race started without any of the Bavarian cars. It may have been imagination, but I would have sworn to hear teeth grinding on Petuelring.
Two men could not be bothered by the grim faces in Munich: Lepihive and Petillot. Together they sped of into a distant lead. The two Escorts ran together for about a lap or two. Then Petillot missed a gear approaching turn 5 and spun into the sand-trap.
It left Lepihive no choice but to enjoy a very lonely lead.
Petillot would recover and make his way back through the field to finish second… one lap down.
Behind almost everyone seemed to run into trouble.
Big boys’ main man Suanya made a terrible start. Then set out for a blitzkrieg return to claim fourth after barely 3 laps. He moved up to third and seemed set to claim the final spot on the podium when his car broke down just before half race.
Canton buried his Javelin into a gravel trap and a tire wall. Then blew his engine while trying to make it back onto the grey stuff.
Engines blew. Wheels disconnected. Cars stumbled back to the pit, crippled by all kinds of gremlins. Yet others got stuck in the sand-traps.
It was a slaughterhouse of metal and oil; a high mass of destroyed camshafts and melting tires.
With in the end only six cars making it to the finish. Three European midgets and three American show-offs.
Becnel saved the honor of the American cars. Bringing his deep blue Firebird home third. Some within the Mopar-teams might have hoped for more after their performance at Donnybrooke. But podium finishes in two consecutive races was really more than Detroit should expect after the disastrous first races of the season.
Championship wise, it’s becoming a boring story in the TA2-class. Lepihive now has more than double Goissen’s points. And it will frankly take a miracle for Goissen to have a shot at the title. It must be said however that, till now, Lepihive has been spared from bad luck while Goissen has had his fair share. Should Goissen’s luck take a swing for the better and Le Pihive’s for the worse, all remains possible.
Things look tighter in the TA1-class, where both Parker and Becnel have a real shot at reeling in Suanya. The Spanish driver indeed seems to have lost his great form of the opening races.