By GOD, IT'S good to see a professional at work. Regardless of one's personal sympathies and preferences, it was hard to suppress a secret smile as on the first lap of the 1000 km of the Nurburg Ring, John Surtees rushed by city blocks in front of everyone else. In his wake streaked the blue and white Ford coupe, piloted by that other great trouper Phil Hill, but already other red prototipi were snapping at his heels. . .

Wait a minute. That's the opening we used last year. Never mind, it still applies and for that matter we had almost the same cast in that well known opus, "Ferrari vs. the Rest." Poor old Commendatore. His GTOs obsolete, beaten by V -8 engined vintage cars, and unable to get new weapons homologated. Warring with an unfriendly PIA. Faced with the enormous might of Ford with its 30,000 engineers, millions of dollars, hundreds of computers, and at least one magnaflux machine. Reduced to hiring ex-motorcyclists, law professors and garage proprietors as drivers. In his declining years, forced to combat this menace by resurrecting an engine last seen five years ago (if not longer) in the Indy-like 500 miles of Monza. Poor old chap. All he could scrape up for this important race over the taxing 14.17 -mi circuit hewed out of the Eifel mountains were two 4-liter dohc twin-plug V-12 roadsters of the latest type for Surtees/Scarfiotti and G. Hill/Stewart (by subsidiary Maranello Concessionnaires GB), one 3.3 ditto of the ilk that won the Targa for Parkes/ Guichet, a GTB coupe for Biscaldi/ Baghetti, and as a special offer, the sleek V-6 1600-cc Dino coupe, the mechanical organs of which bear more than a passing resemblance to the 1964 F-1 Ferrari, for BandinilVaccarella. Poor Enzo. The best that this motley crew could manage, undoubtedly demoralized by the herds of Fords and Cobras and Porsches and Isos and things, was an 8 min 53.1 sec lap for Surtees in the prototype, a raft of nine minuters for Parkes and G. Hill, a suspect 8:54.9 for Bandini in the GTB, and 9:11 for the Dino. Poor Commendatore.

The Fords were there all right, holding their mouths in a grim but determined smile after a poor showing at the Targa and the recent Monza 1000 km, but loaded for bear with one 5.3-liter (P. Hill/ McLaren) and one 4.7 (Amon/ Bucknum) prototype-called-GT coupes. As so often happens with big corporations where the lines of communication are spread over several oceans, they were caught in a high state of unpreparedness and arrived little better than kit cars. The FAV (Ford Advanced Vehicles, GB) open roadster accompanying them (Whitmore/Attwood) contributed to this shambles a bit as many of the mutual spares had gone to the Targa with it (or its written off brother) and there was a certain amount of delay in getting back with them. In addition, Alan Mann's two Daytona Cobra coupes plus the Ford France Cobra coupe and its GT-40 were present, there didn't seem to be enough mechanics to go around, and these poor devils had already gone several nights without sleep when they got to the Ring. As if this wasn't enough, there seemed to be some doubt what sort of tires to wear, gearboxes were playing up, and team boss Carroll Smith looked more and more as if he had been drug through a knothole backwards. For a race equally as important as Le Mans, it was definitely not the way to run a railroad. In spite of all that, everyone mucked in and a nine minute lap in practice for P. Hill/McLaren plus a 9:06 for Amon at least showed that they could be in contention.

Porsche was in a bit of a state anyway as on the Wednesday night preceding poor Eddie Barth, the longtime head tester and linchpin of the team, had died of cancer. This made everyone sad, not only at Porsche, as Eddie was the perfect racing gentleman not often found these days. Nothing in the team seemed to work just right and it didn't improve matters when the 8-cylinder buckboard did something peculiar and took Mitter off into the bushes on the straight after Adenauer Forest, writing itself off but fortunately not Mitter. Consequently the team was reduced to a flock of coupes for Bonnier/Rindt (8-cyl), Davis/ Mitter, Nocker/Klass, Magliolil Linge (all 6s) and a normal 914 GTS for Koch/ Pon. Von Hanstein's temper wasn't improved by the Dino's quick time although Bonnier worked up to 9:08.2 and both he and the Alfa people did a lot of grumbling about bored out and disguised F-I machinery.

After bright and sunny practice days, Sunday dawned the same way upon the endless streams of natives streaming to the race circuit. It seemed to us that there were a lot more GIs than usual to dig the Fords but generally speaking a smaller crowd overall, possibly because the Porsches were not reckoned to have too much of a chance. The coppers were in pleasant form, perhaps because the Queen of England was visiting Germany, and most of the photographers I talked to said that they hadn't had one fight all day. At the ghastly hour of 8 ayem the 62 starters lined up in order of practice times, with Surtees closest to the South curve end. This number was slightly reduced by accidents etc., but not so much as 1964. Jean Rolland had rolled a tubolare without harm to himself (these fiberglass cars are the way to go!), the Swiss Caillet had wrecked his E-type and put himself in the hospital by going off at Mairesse's Jump, and the low and extremely rough 2-liter BMW prototype coupe, front-engined with all independent suspension, had developed bothers and been withdrawn. A walk down the line revealed that there had been some changes in schllhwaren since the day before when representatives of the tire companies were doing their Florence Nightingale act in the paddock. The Ferraris were on normal green spot Dunlops (front 550 M 15, rear 650 M 15), the Dino on its only set of gummy yellow spots (600 L 13,650 L 13), the GTB on greens (600 L 15,650 L 15); but the Ford France cars were on enormous Goodyears of a new pattern incorporating a slightly diagonal line. Whitmore's FAV roadster, which had survived a useful little fire on race morning, was on Dunlops, but at the last reckoning both Cobra coupes plus Alan Mann's Cobras switched over to fat Firestones (540/980-15 on the back for the coupes, 660/ 12-15 for the Cobras) as they seemed to give better results. The Ford crews were at least glad to have something sorted out, as they had been working yet all another night while the Porsche and Ferrari mechanics had been hitting the downy.

An expectant hush fell as the drivers were persuaded into their little circles for the Luh Mahnz start, looking at each other in mock dismay as a gauleiterish voice announced that anyone. . . er . . . slightly anticipating the usual Gadarene rush would be penalized one minute. As one minute is hard to come by at the Ring, this had the effect of everyone departing more or less the same. 1 wouldn't blame the back markers for strolling across and getting away rather leisurely after the dust had cleared, though, as any sprinter coming from the back of the line stands a good chance of being nailed to the chain link fence as the big Fazzazz, Fords and Cobras boil out on full right lock and both rear wheels smoking, the steering taking some few seconds to make itself noticed. Fearless John Surtees had no such worries, however, as he got away like a shot out of a gun, followed by Amon's Ford, Graham Hill's Ferrari, Feel Heel's Ford, Bondurant's fat-bottomed Cobra coupe and Mitter's Porsche wriggling through like a silverfish. As they screamed around the course, there was a good deal of chopping and changing going on, with Graham getting past Amon going down to the Adenau Bridge, followed by Parkes, who had scythed his way through the pack. By the Karussel, however, Phil had pulled up into second slot, Amon had repassed Parkes, and the numbers were already reduced by one as Sparrow's privately entered Cobra roadster ran out of road.

The expectant crowd followed the excited gabblings of yon Frankenburg on the PA, but as he was still quacking about the Schwalbenschwanz, there was a great 9500 rpm humming noise and Surtees' red Ferrari hopped over the skyline, 17 sec ahead of next man Phil Hill and breaking already the lap record from a standing start with 9:02.2. Ahem. Five sec behind the Ford coupe came Graham Hill in the second 4-liter Ferrari, then Amon's Ford, Parkes' Ferrari, a tight group consisting of Willy Mairesse's yellow LM, Bondurant's Cobra, and the howling Dino, Mitter's Porsche six alongside Piper's bile-green LM. Bonnier's eight passing Biscaldi's GTB on braking into the southcurve, Maglioli's Porsche six "doing" Herrman's open Abarth 1600, and zoom zoom zoom.

The next time around Surtees really got a move on and lengthened his lead to 27 sec, turning a sparkling 8:50.5 (96.07 mph) for the fastest lap of the race, and on the third round stretched it out some more to 30 sec. Phil Hill, in the 5.3 Ford coupe, was going fast enough to have won the race in previous years, starting with an 8:58 and then continuing around the 9 min mark, but John was consistently a few seconds under that. As they hit traffic, Phil started to reel the Ferrari in a bit and on the sixth lap cut the gap to 20 sec. Alas, the next time around the Ford's much-modified Colotti gearbox, the Achilles heel last year, gave up just after the Schwalbenschwanz. The car felt marvelous, according to Phil, and he was looking forward to the rest of the race. What a bloody shame, especially since they had had some ZF boxes lined up (there was one on the FAV car) but they all went to Indianapolis.

Naturally enough, this let Graham Hill up into second place some I min 12 sec behind Surtees, while teammate Parkes, who had been getting a move on, was another four sec in arrears. Amon's Ford was still holding station in fourth while the Dino, its engine note that flat drone so typical of the 65° F-I Ferrari V-6s, was lapping around the 9:17 mark to head Mairesse's yellow 250-LM.

Surtees by this time was lapping the faster backmarkers but didn't let it slow him down much, picking up 10 sec a lap or so on his two teammates. Graham Hill's big prototype was caught up by Parkes' 3.3, which passed on braking into the south curve only to be eaten on acceleration on the short straight behind the pits. We were looking forward to a nice little family scrap when suddenly the good Graham turned up missing. Dragoni looked at Forghieri and Forghieri looked at Dragoni. Had there been some hanky panky on the course? But it was only something diabolical in the electrics that fried the alternator or some such nonsense. Come to think of it, Mairesse had also succumbed to a blown fuse in the fuel pump circuit but being an old Ferrari hand, he fished a spare out of his pocket and carried on.

There had been a bit of dodgem work, though, as Parkes had found the tichy little BMW coupe hanging around in his path and had given it a biff, sending it spinning but able to continue. I sympathize with the big Ferrari drivers who have to rocket around the circuit on the fastest line, as so often the little uns are so busy driving that they don't look in the mirror. It must be sort of off-putting, though, to sense a reddish overcast and look in the mirror to see it entirely occupied by a Ferrari grille. Ooh mercy.

After an hour and a half Bondurant's Cobra came in for fuel, back tires and a change to Neerpasch, a move which started everyone else coming in as if the idea had just occurred to them. Surtees handed over to Scarfiotti without losing his first place, Parkes to Guichet, and Bandini to Vaccarella without any change in the order. The come-in sign was hung out to Amon, hung out again as he apparently didn't see it the first time, and then McLaren grabbed the gas hoses as he and Phil were going to bump Bucknum out of a ride. They waited and waited and finally put the hoses down. No Amon. One of the officials wandered down and told the pit that the car was stopped on the final straight so everyone started to pack up. All of a sudden the loudspeaker started belching German and here came Amon, pushing that heavy machine up the hill. Eventually he rolled it into the pits, the car was furiously gassed up, and McLaren departed at speed but well over a lap behind its former position.

Well, with almost half of the race over, things looked pretty well organized for the Ferrari team with Scarfiotti and Guichet in first and second and Vaccarella's Dino in third. The GTB had not been doing as well as the impulsive Bussinello had been burning up rear tires without really getting anywhere and next co-driver Baghetti was forced off his line and did a little hedging and ditching. Ford, of course, had lost one car, with Amon's coupe far behind, but as a recompense Whitmore's FAV roadster was closing imperceptibly on the Dino while Bondurant's Cobra was leading the big GTs. Porsche had not lost any factory cars, but on the other hand was not really in serious contention unless all three of the works Ferraris blew up. Bonnier's eight had long been suffering from carburetion bothers that caused it to drown out when accelerating from low, Davis' six was suffering from an obscure short circuit that made it stop three or four times for new batteries, etc., Ben Pon was unable to do his customary giant-killing act (he beat both GTOs and Cobras at Monza and Spa) as the chassis had broken and he had to stop twice to get the gearbox supports bodged up, and several of the drivers were of the opinion that both roadholding and power output could be improved. The only saving grace was Nocker/ Klass' 9 I 4 GTS in seventh place, first of the GT cars, behind Piper's LM and Bonnier but ahead of MagliolilLinge and Bondurant/ Neerpasch.

Even though the weather was nice and sunny, lots of spectators figured that Scarfiotti could go on forever like that and decided to beat the rush home. Certainly Lulu was swooping through the corners in a highish gear, lapping in 9:20 or thereabouts. On their respective driver changes, Parkes wound up ahead of Surtees but John soon put a stop to that. About this time it was noticed that the Dino was misfiring slightly, and though Whitmore's Ford was doing likewise, the green car moved up on the red one. The little Ferrari made a stop to investigate the trouble and the Ford rumbled past into third place, making the order Surtees - Parkes - Whitmore - Vaccarella - Bonnier - Piper - Nocker - Maglioli - Bondurant - T.intignant - Mairesse - Biscaldi - Sears - Fiscaber (GTS) - Sutcliffe (GTO) - Abels (GTS) - McLaren (Ford) - Schlesser (Cobra) - Davis - de Adamich (tubolare) und so weiler.

Even though the big 12s looked and sounded reliable, there was a lot of agony going on in the lower ranks. Whitmore's Ford began to sound worse and worse, dropping slowly back so that first the Dino then Bonnier/Rindt and Maglioli/Linge passed him. Then suddenly the white Ford France coupe of Trintignant stopped and retired with a motor mount broken away from the chassis. Sloppy welding, the verdict was, and this was repeated a few laps later when the Whitmore/ Attwood roadster was withdrawn as well. Too bad, really: although it was in no danger of catching Parkes with three minutes to make up, third place is much better than nothing. Additionally, McLaren's coupe that he and Phil took over from Amon began to pop and bang on deceleration as it commenced to run on 7 cylinders. As there was nothing much to lose and the odd place was being picked up, McLaren continued and eventually it fired on eight again.

So the race ran out with the two leaders trundling around half asleep (notwithstanding a new race record of 90.56 mph), but Forghieri keeping his fingers crossed for the misfiring Dino. Bonnier finally pushed his spluttering Porsche by to take the 2-liter Prototype category and third overall, Nocker (the late Lindner's partner in Jags) the small GTs and sixth, while Bondurant lay four minutes behind in the first Cobra coupe for seventh and big GT class winner, comfortably easing out the Sutcliffe/ Lumsden GTO. Gekil de Adamich were 17th but won the depleted Alfa class with the remaining tubolare, Virgilio/ Calascibetta of all people took the 1300s with their Abarth, while the cheerful Clive Baker/Moore wound the little special-bodied Sprite around 37 laps to take their category. Thirty-one finishers. What a grind.

As this article will appear well after Le Mans, it is foolish to make any prophecies, but it sure looks good for the Fazzazz.  

WATKINS GLEN F1 race 1965 in a Ferrari


Nurburgring 1965



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