On This Day in F1: 14th May

On this day in F1 – 11th May, brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler BlackJack’s Briefs

Back in 1804, on this day, the intrepid Lewis and Clark expedition set off from St Louis seeking a river link between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Quite why they thought a river could cross the Rockies was not made clear…

By 1961 the Beetles were playing the Top-10 Club in Hamburg, for £3 (Three Sterling)/night each, for 7-8 hours/night… Within a year their lives, and the world as we knew it, were changed forever…

And on this day in 1961 a Freedom Riders bus was fire-bombed in Alabama… which had it’s own widespread repercussions…

Also on this day in 1961 was the first F1 race of the season – at Monaco.
Stirling Moss - Lotus1961 heralded new 1.5L. engine regulations at a time when money was a tad short, at least in Britain where BRM and Coventry Climax spent 1959-1960 trying to have the FIA delay the new regs. while Ferrari, after an initial support of the British, went ahead with a whole new V6 design, in a new, ‘shark-nose’, rear-engined car, leaving the British teams with the old, and underpowered, F2 Climax engines – in best Dunkirk style. Today some might suspect Enzo of some kind of gerrymandering….

But Monaco is a drivers’ circuit and the skill of Stirling Moss put his 1960 model, Lotus 18-Climax, on Pole… and he pretty much romped away with the race, still considered one of his greatest drives. Many remember Moss’ see-thru car, sans side panels, apparently to keep him cool, during the 2hr. 46m. race… but it was also claimed the car was being worked on until the last minute leaving no time to replace the bodywork.

Monaco-Winners-1961-Stirling-Moss-LotusBehind Moss three Ferraris scrabbled with each other to snap at Stirling’s heels, but without joy. Richie Ginther was only four seconds behind at the end but Phil Hill was thirty-eight seconds further back, with Graf Berghe Wolfgang (‘Taffy’) von Trips two laps down after crashing out. Dan Gurney was fifth, also two laps down in a Porsche. The rest were at least five laps down, and seemingly out of breath. Moss and Ginther shared fastest lap, just under the previous year’s record, set with 2.5L engines.

During the weekend 1960 F1 Champion Jack Brabham was shuttling back and forth across the Atlantic, qualifying in Friday’s practice session at Monaco before flying to Indianapolis where he qualified on Saturday for the Indy 500, and returned for Sunday’s GP – how things have changed, including the track-side kerbs… [See above]

This race saw the first F1 appearance of Swiss, Michael May, who retired. He did better in the French GP, but crashed out of the German GP and decided his skills lay elsewhere… Check 8w.forix.com/may.html for a fuller story of this amazing but virtually unknown man…

Stirling Moss gave much the same performance in the German GP but inevitably Phil Hill and Ferrari went on to win the championships. The following year Moss was to crash at Goodwood, and his career was ended…

Never Champion, but never forgotten…

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7 responses to “On This Day in F1: 14th May

  1. “BRM and Coventry Climax spent 1959-1960 trying to have the FIA delay the new regs. while Ferrari, after an initial support of the British, went ahead with a whole new V6 design,”

    Huh? The engine that went into the 1961 156 was designed in the mid-50’s.

  2. Excellent stuff BJF. I’ve looked more and more at historic F1 in the past 6 months and it was indeed another world, another sport even.

    Most enjoyable

    • Thank you kind sir… Certainly another sport. It used to be partly governed by the ‘spirit of the regs.’ – people laugh when you mention that phrase now… 🙂

  3. Unfortunately I never saw him race but what a legend!
    Excellent article.

    • Hi Cassius42… I don’t recall seeing your name on here before… Many thanks for your response.

  4. Great article indeed, and must-read stuff about Michael May who I had never heard about, thanks a lot for that BJF!!!

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