'Ferrari: Race to Immortality'

Discussion in 'Vintage (thru 365 GTC4)' started by Doug Nye, Nov 4, 2017.

  1. Doug Nye

    Doug Nye Karting
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    Jan 21, 2008
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    May I recommend a newly-released documentary movie to you all?

    Just released by Universal Studios, this British-made 91-minute epic covers the racing lives and tragic demises of 1950s Ferrari works drivers Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins, Luigi Musso, Eugenio Castellotti and the Marquis 'Fon' de Portago.

    I shouldn't really comment here upon it as a movie because I have been involved in its production, so I am biased, but I promise you the staggering quality of most of the contemporary colour movie footage used will send any Ferrari fan worth his or her salt totally aerobatic.

    If you have a bored moment, meanwhile, perhaps take a look here:

    https://www.goodwood.com/grrc/columnists/doug-nye/2017/11/doug-nye-behind-the-scenes-of-ferrari-race-to-immortality/

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  2. donv

    donv F1 World Champ
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    Jan 5, 2002
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    That looks cool! Thanks for posting it.
     
  3. Bluebottle

    Bluebottle Formula 3
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    Looks good, Doug. Will it be in the cinema, or as a DVD?
     
  4. macca

    macca Formula Junior

    Dec 3, 2003
    657
    Both....I've just seen it at the cinema, and it will apparently be out on DVD etc. soon. I thoroughly recommend it.

    Paul M
     
  5. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Mar 4, 2005
    7,326
    Doug,
    surely a very nice movie/documentary.
    But the fact is that "Saint" (for all British race fans) Hawthorn died in a Jaguar rather than in a Ferrari - what has he here to do??? Musso, Castellotti and "Fon" were victims of Enzo`s ruthless strategy to "handle" his drivers. So they truly deserve to be featured in such a project - and not "Holy" Hawthorn who was -more or less- responsible for the 1955 Le Mans disaster....

    Just my 2 cts.
     
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  6. macca

    macca Formula Junior

    Dec 3, 2003
    657
    Hawthorn won all his GPs, and his WDC, in Ferraris, as I'm sure you remember. The film is about all the Ferrari drivers of that period, including Peter Collins - and it is based on the book 'Mon Ami Mate' by the late Chris Nixon.

    Apart from the attacks of the 'yellow press' of the time, and notwithstanding the accusatory French legal system, Hawthorn was not found to be to blame for the 1955 Le Mans catastrophe - the fault was with the circuit that was too narrow and with too short a deceleration lane into the pits. These were changed and new pits built for 1956.

    And I don't think Hawthorn was ever regarded by fans with the blinkered fanboyism of today - people admired him but didn't know much about him compared to the mass media over-exposure of current sportspersons.

    Paul M
     
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  8. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Mar 4, 2005
    7,326
    John Fitch clearly blamed Hawthorn for the 1955 LM disaster - and he was there. Yes, the course was too narrow but I absolutely believe that drivers of the quality of Hawthorn, Fangio etc. where aware of that after practice.

    If this movie is based on the book "Mon Ami Mate" why are not Hawthorn and Collins the main charachters here? Doug clearly stated that the movie featured the "...tragic demises of 1950s Ferrari works drivers...". Hawthorn was a Ferrari team driver but died in a Jaguar after his retirement from racing. The others fatally crashed during their job in Maranello.

    OK, I must admit that I find Castellotti are more fascinating charachter than Hawthorn. In my humble opinion he was a better driver than the blond man from the UK...
     
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  9. Timmmmmmmmmmy

    Timmmmmmmmmmy Formula 3

    Apr 5, 2010
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    From Wikipedia's unusually detailed Le Mans 1955 page comes the following "
    Much recrimination was directed at Hawthorn saying that he had suddenly cut in front of Macklin and slammed on the brakes near the entrance to the pits, forcing Macklin to take desperate evasive action into the path of Levegh. This became the semi-official pronouncement of the Mercedes-Benz team and Macklin's story.[15][8] The Jaguar team in turn questioned the fitness and competence of Macklin and Levegh as drivers.[15] The first media accounts were wildly inaccurate, as shown by subsequent analysis of photographic evidence conducted by Road & Track editor (and 1955 second-place finisher) Paul Frère, in 1975.[23]Additional details emerged when the stills reviewed by Frère were converted to video form.

    The media also speculated on the violent fire that engulfed the wreck, that intensified when fire marshals poured their water-based extinguishers on the flames. They suggested that Mercedes-Benz had tampered with the official fuel-supply with an explosive additive. The intensity was instead due to the magnesium-alloy construction of the chassis. Neubauer got the French authorities to test residual fuel left in the wreck's fuel injection; the result vindicated the company.[23]

    Opinions differed widely amongst the other drivers as to who was directly to blame for the accident, and such differences remain even today. Macklin claimed that Hawthorn's move to the pits was sudden, causing an emergency that led him to swerve into Levegh's path. Years later Fitch claimed, based on his own recollection and from what he heard from others, that Hawthorn had caused the accident. Norman Dewis ventured the opinions that Macklin's move around Hawthorn was careless and that Levegh was not competent to meet the demands of driving at the speeds the 300SLR was capable of.[3] Both Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz issued official statements, mainly in self-defense against the accusations leveled against them and their drivers. Neubauer limited himself to suggesting improvements to the pit straight and making pit-stops safer.[15][8] Macklin, on reading Hawthorn's autobiography Challenge Me The Race in 1958, was embittered to find that Hawthorn now disclaimed all responsibility for the accident without identifying who had actually caused it. With Levegh dead, Macklin presumed that Hawthorn's implication was that he (Macklin) had been responsible, and he began a libel action. The action was still unresolved when Hawthorn was killed in a crash on the Guildford bypass in 1959, ironically when overtaking a Mercedes in his Jaguar.[32]

    The official government inquiry into the accident called officials, drivers and team personnel to be questioned and give evidence. The wreckage was examined and tested and finally returned to Mercedes-Benz nearly 12 months after the accident.[23] In the end it ruled that no specific driver was responsible for the crash, and that it was merely a terrible racing incident. The death of the spectators was blamed on inadequate safety standards for the track design.[23][3] Tony Rolt and other drivers had been raising concerns about the pit straight since 1953.[citation needed]"

    You can easily understand that no-one was individually responsible but if any one action caused the accident was it was Hawthowns momentary decision to dive into the pits. That said Levegh was a good driver, he nearly won in 1952 and Neubauer wouldn't have selected him if he wasn't good enough but he should perhaps have been more cautious although that could be said of any racing car driver. If Macklin wasn't good enough for the race, what about all of the others in the index of performance classes?
     
  10. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Mar 4, 2005
    7,326
    Yes, and celebrating his victory with bubbly did show not much respect from Hawthorn for the 82 people that died only hours earlier!
    Playing football after Musso`s death was also a strange idea!
    Hawthorn was definitely not the gentleman race fans from the UK want to see in him today....
     
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  11. BIRA

    BIRA Formula Junior

    Jun 15, 2007
    804
    Let's not try to find simple explanations as usual to a complex chain of events. Without Levegh almost wining Le Mans the year before, he would not have been in the team, with no spectators in the pit lane on ground level, with different design of the pit lane etc etc.

    Reality is all those factors played but as usual only the combination of all of them transform a simple race incident into a tragedy. People learnt from those tragedies, but still Motorsport is dangerous.

    And still pit lane manœuvre are dangerous. Not so much at Le Mans, where the entry is now before the chicane entry to the grandstand straight ( someone may post the design) and no longer in the grand stand straight. In 1955 you would be entering this straight on the left side as you had a right turn at the entry , and then had to move right to enter the pits, potentially cutting accelerating cars trying to pass you, possibly on the right.

    I was recently at Paul Ricard- Le Castellet. I don't know how they will handle the F1 Grand Prix next year. But today the pit entrance is just at the beginning of the grand stand straight after a right turn and all the cars are on the left. And you can see near hit, or missed accidents in exactly the same configuration as Le Mans 1955 ( except car are slower and there are no spectators on the opposite side for club events) as most of cars do not slow down before the last right turn to stay on the right and enter the pit lane, but turn at full speed and then proceed to cross left to right the track while slowing down to enter the pit lane while other cars are accelerating hard to overtake slower cars in the straight.

    From there you can see exactly what happened in Le Mans and see this is a combination of factors. It will be interesting to see if and how they modify this design for the forthcoming F1 Grand Prix.
     
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  12. I16

    I16 Formula 3

    Sep 15, 2008
    1,462
    Far rather look at nice photos than regurgitate so much that though in the past a few want to make sure they are heard at every opportunity.
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  14. Bryanp

    Bryanp F1 Rookie

    Aug 13, 2002
    3,596
    Santa Fe, NM
    Thank you, Mr. Nye, for the recommendation. I am excited to see more information/footage of Castellotti since he drove our car to first in class in the '55 GP of Venezuela. Other than the De Agostini book on Castellotti, there does not seem to have been much attention paid to the life/exploits of Castellotti that we have found.
     
  15. GIOTTO

    GIOTTO Formula 3
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  16. Bryanp

    Bryanp F1 Rookie

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    I forgot to add that a few years ago, I was able to speak with Sir Stirling Moss at the Santa Fe Concorso and asked him about any recollection he had of Castellotti. The only thing he was willing to share was "He was very quick!"
     
  17. Fennicus

    Fennicus Formula Junior

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    Nice photo!

    Only one of those five men lived to see the next decade, and a few more.

    Motor racing was truly dangerous back then. Not that it should be more dangerous now, but the world was a very different place back then.
     
  18. Admiral Goodwrench

    Admiral Goodwrench Formula Junior

    Mar 2, 2005
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    To add a specific instance in support of the Moss statement, according to the Gestione Sportiva report to Enzo of the action at the 1st Gran Prix of Venezuela in November 1955 the fastest lap was set by Fangio in his 3 liter Maserati at 1' 47" averaging 135.924 KPH and Castellotti in his 500 Mondial factory entry (my car - a two liter machine) posted a 1' 49" fastest lap averaging 133.431 KPH.

    Best regards,

    Robert
     
  19. Bluebottle

    Bluebottle Formula 3
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    DVD ordered - arriving Thursday.
     
  20. Bluebottle

    Bluebottle Formula 3
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    Thanks for posting that - wonderful article. I really enjoyed reading it. My DVD is due to arrive tomorrow - looking forward to watching it.
     
  21. modena1967

    modena1967 Formula Junior
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    My DVD arrived in the mail today. Fascinating film.
     
  22. trashidelek!

    trashidelek! Formula Junior

    Nov 18, 2004
    623
    Luca Delli Carri's Gli Indisciplinati covers Castellotti and is IMHO absolutely fantastic.

    http://www.fucinaeditore.it/it/libri/gli-indisciplinati
     
  23. a.v.d.winkel

    a.v.d.winkel Karting

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    You are too modest... Wonderfull epos about the roaring fifties end their gladiators....
     
  24. 635CSI

    635CSI Formula Junior
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    Wbaeumer Old Chap, could you perhaps drop the idea that Hawthorn is venerated by UK race fans because he was English?
    Moss is venerated, Hill was loved, Hawthorn not so much.
    We are not all blinded by nationalism, I for example want a German to win next years F1 WDC !
     
  25. wbaeumer

    wbaeumer F1 Veteran
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    Mar 4, 2005
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    And the ol`chap answers:
    The English media is very much obessed by Senna and Hawthorn. The 50s racer was fast - but Moss was faster! Could you image with Hawthorn the very generous gesture of Collins who forwarded his car to Fangio to save his championship??
    Is drinking Champagne and celebrating the victory in the pits when 82 victims died in the grandstands the day before? Sorry - nothing to do with nationalism!
    But speaking of that reminds me that only 11 years after the WWII "...Hawthorn never accepted that a German car could pass a British car." Moss, Fitch (an active fighter pilot against the German Luftwaffe) and even poor Levegh drove Mrcedes and thought different.
    Sorry to say but Hawthorn was -politely speaking- a VERY strange charachter. In my humble opinion he has nothing to do in a row tagether with such greats as Collins, Musso and Castellotti.

    (nice that you want a German win the the 2018 F1 WDC - but Vettel/Ferrari deserved no better this year!)
     
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