The Eoin Young column
Eoin Young is arguably New Zealand’s widest read writer – on any subject. For more than 50 years he has been part of motor racing’s inner sanctum Photos from the Terry Marshall Archive
RIP Bob Wallace
Bob Wallace was another of the background Kiwis in international motorsport, a quiet, lanky Aucklander who helped Ray Stone fettle Johnny Mansell’s black 250F Maserati on the New Zealand circuits in 1960 and then headed for Europe.
Bob died recently aged 75. Only the best seemed OK to Bob who signed on with Ferrari and was working on Phil Hill’s works F1 Ferrari when he won the world title in 1961. He then worked on Camoradi’s lightweight Corvettes and Birdcage Maseratis. He worked for a time for both Maserati and Ferrari but was already name-enough to be head-hunted by Ferruccio Lamborghini when he set up his new factory a few miles from Modena.
Bob’s reputation grew with the Lambos and he went from mechanic to chief development engine and test driver, well-known for his all-night drives around Italy, safe in the knowledge that traffic would be lighter and there would be no surprise press cameras.
While Ferrari and Maserati built cars to beat each other on the track and in the showroom, Bob Wallace was creating super-expensive exotic Lamborghini sporting cars of such individuality and character that they were literally in a world and market of their own. In 1975 Bob left Lamborghini, lived for a few months back in New Zealand, long enough to be bored and then moved to the States, making his home in Phoenix, Arizona, where he passed away in September last year.
The way Mark Webber tells it, he was his own worst enemy. The Aussie press gave Webber a rousing send-off after he drove his last Grand Prix before switching to Porsche for Le Mans and long-distance racing.
One of Webber’s problems was that he was too tall to be a modern GP racer in an era when schoolboy-size Sebastian Vettel made it easier to fit into the strict weight limit of the modern F1 car. Keeping his weight down was an endless penance.
I’d never given driver heights much thought in the overall picture of a personal performance package but Michael Clark, my ace fact-finder and all-round racing brain came up with a list of F1 six-footers including Mike Parkes, Carel de Beaufort, Dan Gurney, Eddie Cheever, Gerhard Berger, J-P Jabouille, James Hunt, Hans Stuck, Mike Hawthorn and Damon Hill.
Auto Action scored quotes from the Grand Prix grid and paddock that included the usual rack of carefully neutral quotes but Webber’s team-mate Seb Vettel stepped up and said they may have been team mates but were never mates.
“Obviously he (Mark) is quite a bit older than me, but you can argue it is a different generation. It’s a fact that we are not best friends and probably never will be…”
Derek Warwick, one of racing’s gentlemen, thought Webber was one of the best guys in F1 but conceded that it must have been difficult for him “because he’s been in a team that has been so focused on the other car that for him sometimes it must have been quite demoralising. But hey, he was in the best car…”
Nigel Roebuck put it succinctly and accurately in “Motor Sport” that, “He leaves F1 at the right time, on his own terms…”
Monaco Wins in Gold
In these days of 20 GPs per season, a win has become more a means of keeping score than a lifetime’s ambition but a win at Monaco is still a stand-out special. If you can win at Monaco you become a chapter in motor sporting history along with legends like Tazio Nuvolari, Rudolf Caracciola and Juan Manuel Fangio.
From our part of the world, Jack Brabham (Cooper), Bruce McLaren (Cooper) and Denny Hulme (Brabham), all won once at Monaco. But Mark Webber won twice – 2010 and 2012 – in Red Bulls. Somehow winning the famous race twice adds a huge plus to Webber’s career score of nine GP victories.
It was 40 years ago this season that Formula One lost the handsome, dashing Francois Cevert when he crashed his Tyrrell in practice for the 1973 U.S. GP at Watkins Glen.
In a tribute to Francois, journalist Adam Cooper points up some eerie coincidences that Cevert pointed out to his mechanics on the morning of first practice. It was October 6 and he was driving Tyrrell 006, his race number was ‘6’ and his DFV Cosworth V8 was numbered 006. It was, he said, going to be his lucky day.
It wasn’t. History was turned upside down in more ways than the loss of the brilliant Frenchman. The motor racing world wasn’t aware that Jackie Stewart had decided this Grand Prix at the Glen – his career 100th – would also be his last and Francois had only just been told that he would be leading the team in 1974.
Following the fatal crash, Jackie made the decision to withdraw and in so doing, ended his career as a measure of respect to a young Frenchman whose talent and personality he had admired.
Lucky numbers in racing so often seem to lose their luck in crashes, as with Francois Cevert. This season drivers can nominate their own permanent number from 2 to 99, No. 1 being saved for the World Champion during his title year.
I agree with Nigel Roebuck when he writes to applaud the numbers decision, and says he hopes this will mean the number is carried clearly and not camouflaged with sponsor logos.
For years I’ve watched midfielders battling and wondering who was who, with no clue of number which must have been tucked away in the middle of sprawled sponsorship identification – and then deciding it probably didn’t matter anyway…
Fernando Alonso has stepped up and claimed No. 14, saying it had been his lucky number since 1996. He was 14 on July 14 and he won the world kart title in kart No. 14. His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen has chosen Stirling’s No. 7. I wonder if Sir Stirling sent him a go-for-it message of approval? Nico Rosberg has asked for numbers 6, 5 or 9 in that order but he’d prefer No. 6 which was the number his Dad, Keke, wore on his Williams when he won the world title in 1982.
The Toyota Racing Series – 15 races in 5 weeks in New Zealand with drivers from 13 different countries this year – is being used more and more by well-backed young international drivers eager to gather track miles in the European off-season.
This year three-time world champ, Nelson Piquet brought his 15 year old son Pedro in the expensive whistling luxury of a Cessna Citation X executive jet but it was a flourish that quickly faded. Somehow Pedro’s Brazilian licence didn’t cover him racing abroad. So how did he ever get clearance to run the first two races? There must have been red faces all round in organiser’s and Steward’s offices when the mistake was realised, and the mini Brazilian and his expensive entourage disappeared as quickly and quietly as it had arrived…
Howden Ganley’s racing reputation refuses to shake the recognition of the quiet Kiwi, the fourth New Zealand F1 driver on the rank after Bruce, Denny and Chris.
He visited his homeland for a few weeks in January. Howden joined The Waikato Times on his 17th birthday, raced his Mum’s Morris Minor, graduated to a Lotus Eleven, then took his big O.E. to the UK, starting modestly as a mechanic and then driver in small teams in the UK, was signed on as a mechanic for Bruce McLaren’s growing team and this led to a drive in F5000 with a McLaren M10B finishing second in the series and getting a drive for BRM in 1971 and 1972, scored second at Le Mans with Matra, switched to Williams in F1 and John Wyer’s Gulf team in endurance racing.
He then linked with Aussie Tim Schenken to build smallbore racing sports cars. They combined their names – Ti + Ga – and 400 of these Tiga (pronounced ‘Tiger’, Howden assures me) racers were built over nine years. “And that’s not counting spares for around 500 cars… which is where the profit is!”
The build total of 400 was made up of around 60 Formula Ford, 250 Sports 2000, 15 Formula Atlantic, 33 Group C and IMSA cars (C2 and Lights), plus a couple of CanAm cars, around 15 FF 2000s, some Thundersports cars, Formula K (for Mexico) and a few school cars.
The Tiga company was based at Caversham in the old Amon and Fittipaldi workshops until 1982 and then moved to High Wycombe until Tim and Howden sold out in 1987. There were projects linked with Vern Schuppan and then Howden was elected to the board of the prestigious British Racing Drivers’ Club where he is still a Vice President, also involved with Silverstone circuits and now also the President of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Club which had previously been the Ancien Pilote’s club.
For the past year or so Howden has been writing his autobiography and it will be ready in time for the special Ganley commemoration events at Hampton Downs next year. As always the last – and the most difficult – part of any autobiography is the title! And he still doesn’t have one…
Talking about the good old days, Howden remembers hearing a motorcycle arrive and park outside his office, and going out to see a little bearded chap climbing out of his weather gear. It was the famous Motor Sport writer, Denis Jenkinson, who had met Howden on his way up his career ladder and was interested to find out about this parallel world of racing.
Howden Ganley and Michael Clark decided to recall a piece of MY motor racing history one morning at the Christchurch Ruapuna track in January. They were re-creating the 1961 lunch that I had insisted Denny Hulme stop for on the first day I rode with him in his Mk 1 Zodiac towing his Formula Junior Cooper across France. Denny was always impatient at the wheel, always wanting to press on.
It was my first day in France and I knew that lunch in France was one of the casual delights of the traveller. I insisted that we stopped for me to hurriedly buy a French bread stick, ham, cheese, tomatoes… and a bottle of wine and plastic glasses. It was when I finally persuaded the grumpy Denny to stop again in the countryside and laid out our lunch that things started to go wrong. Everything looked perfect… except for the fact that I’d forgotten a corkscrew and this was well before screw-tops.
Pack up the instant meal, with a more-grumpy Hulme demanding to know how I thought we were going to get a corkscrew if neither of us could speak a word of French. I told him not to worry. It was ME doing the worrying but my pantomime of working a corkscrew for the old lady in the shop in the next village brought a big smile and she said, “Ah m’sieu, tierre bouchon!” And they were my first words of French… and ones I’ve never forgotten and which have been MOST useful! Howden enjoyed having been able to re-create a small piece of personal Kiwi motor racing history…
Howden has now caught up with his other F1 Kiwis, joining McLaren, Hulme and Amon on Motorsport New Zealand’s Wall of Fame. Howden has also been voted President of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Club established in 1962 by nine former GP drivers headed by Louis Chiron and Juan Manual Fangio.
When it turns up out of the blue half a century after it was issued, an Ordinary Share Certificate is anything but ordinary! It’s part of motor-sporting history.
Two shares in McLaren Cars Limited valued at one thousand pounds and issued to Eoin Spence Young of 20 Corkran Road, Surbiton in Surrey, not far from the original Cooper factory.
This is Day One of Bruce McLaren’s new racing team, dated 31st March, 1965. The certificate is signed by Bruce and me as founder directors. It turned up in a long lost file of documents and cuttings that I never thought I’d see again.
There was a letter from the Motor Car Division of Rolls-Royce Limited in 1965 giving me permission to sell reproductions of the poster that artist Michael Turner and I created, as something Bentley might have produced in 1929 to celebrate their success at Le Mans.
Mauro Forghieri – thinking outside the Ferrari square
Chris Amon thinks back to his red cars days and says Mauro Forghieri was the best engineer he ever worked with. Mauro is 78 now, retired from the engineering world he created at Ferrari and now running his own consultancy.
He was always a thinker, always exploring every avenue of alternative success, a suspicion that stemmed from the ability of… a bumblebee.
Imagine the acres of paperwork that would involve now… always assuming you would have a prayer of being able to produce something that was literally pirating a slice of Bentley Motor’s sporting history! I wrote what I imagined would be the equivalent of 1920s posh content and period style.
On a different tack was a letter of contract to manage the sponsorship contracts for Mike Hailwood, signed by the legendary motorcycle world champion ‘Mike the Bike’ and dated June 3, 1965. Must have been a busy year when I was a 26-year-old Kiwi inventing a busy slice of motor-sports history for myself.
In a rare interview with Anthony Peacock in the February issue of F1 Racing, Mauro says “One of the things that inspired me was something I read: ‘A bumblebee knows nothing about the laws of aerodynamics, and yet he still flies’. I’ve never forgotten that. In theory this is true, because the mass of the bumblebee compared to the surface area of its wings should make it technically incapable of flight. My thought was that if you ignored every preconceived principle of what should and shouldn’t work, the answer might just lie in a completely different direction.”
Peacock points to Forghieri’s 312B he introduced for the 1974 season. It was the first car that relied on bodywork, rather than only wings, to generate down force.
Mauro was the ideal engineer for Enzo Ferrari to work with. I always felt he worked with Ferrari, not for him. Enzo rather enjoyed riding roughshod over his workers.
Chris Amon enjoyed his time at the team with Forghieri. “He had this incredible ability to make set-up changes from a driver’s description of the car’s behaviour. He was also a very good designer, both chassis and engine. On the personal side he was a good motivator; he also stood tall in some of the darker moments, of which unfortunately there were a number during my time on the team. I also found him to be a good friend and great company.”
Celebrating the 2CV
If I had my cars all over again including Jaguars and sports cars, I think my favourite would be the 2CV Citroen. I was reminded about the cheeky 2CV when Cully Barnaby, delightful daughter of Chief Inspector Barnaby, motors her 2CV through new TV episodes of Midsomer Murders.
You either love or hate a 2CV and the haters are nearly always the folk who’ve never driven one. My initial fascination with the 2CV was at a 1960s Paris Motor Show when they took a range of new models to Montlhery race track for us hero scribes to try them at speed.
The only car without a queue of prospective drivers was a 2CV so I climbed aboard and wondered why the Citroen chappy was going to such lengths to show me how to change gear. As if I didn’t know.
What I didn’t know was how to feel my way round the quaint cog layout on the 2CV. He finally showed me how to find first gear and I was away on to the track at healthy pace… until I changed to second and realised I had no idea where it was. So I rollled to a halt in neutral, at the end of the long pitlane, and I had to walk all the wway back to my Citroen chappy for another gearshift lesson. I eventually conquered the 2CV cogbox and it’s been a doddle ever since.
Sad thanks to Aussie writer Peter Windsor for the reminder that February 22 marked the 50th anniversary of the American driver, Timmy Mayer’s fatal crash during practice for the final race of the 1964 Tasman series on the flat-out road course at Longford in Tasmania.
He was 26 and all but announced as the No. 2 driver to Bruce McLaren in the Cooper F1 team. Within days he would have been. He was a sweater and jeans, American college kid of his era, tall, handsome, casual and blessed with a talent for smooth speed. He and Bruce were perfect team-mates. The slim-line 2.5-litre Tasman Cooper took off over a flat-out brow, somehow went slightly askew, slammed a trackside tree, and Timmy was dead. Bruce takes up the team reception of the news in the column I wrote with him for “Autosport”: “We knew immediately that (the news) was bad, in our hearts we felt that he had been enjoying himself and ‘having a go’. The news that he died instantly was a horrible shock to all of us. But who is to say that he had not seen more, done more and learned more in his 26 years than many people do in a lifetime? It is tragic, particularly for those left. Plans half-made must now be forgotten and the hopes must be rekindled. Without men like Tim, plans and hopes mean nothing.
“To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability. Life is measured in terms of achievement, not in years alone…”
We echoed those words in print when Bruce was killed in his testing crash at Goodwood on June 2, 1970.
If you want a car with distinct looks, modest price, petrol mileage and matching performance, and a full-length sun-roof that turns it into a convertible and a car that everyone wanted to talk about. A modern vintage. I want another one.
Bob Wallace attends to the Camoradi USA Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage
In a letter to Ray Stone, August 1960, Bob Wallace sketches his thoughts on the Maserati TEC MEC
Bob Wallace in his office, c. 1966, road testing a Miura P400, somewhere in Italy
Champagne on the Monaco winner’s rostrum
Mark Webber ready for track action
Nelson Piquet with son Pedro on the Toyota Racing Series grid at Teretonga
Howden Ganley and Graham Hill at Le Mans
Denny Hulme in FJ Cooper at Caserta in 1961
Howden Ganley in Marlboro-BRM at Monaco
Chris Amon, Mauro Forghieri and Enzo Ferrari
Original McLaren Cars share certificate
Rolls-Royce letter giving permission for ‘vintage’ Bentley poster
Tim Mayer with McLaren slimline Cooper on 1964 Tasman Series
Eoin Young and Citroen 2CV