Thursday, September 9, 2010

Remembering Jochen Rindt


(Jochen Rindt; Source: grandprix.com)

Although he raced before my time, as I certainly don’t know a lot about him, I do know that he is Formula One’s only Posthumous World Champion, as sadly he died 40yrs ago at this weekend’s F1 venue, Monza Italy, having perished from injuries sustained in the Parabolica during Practice on September 5, 1970...

As I was unaware that it was 40yrs ago his death occurred or that Rindt was running in another of Colin Chapman’s never ending Lotus evoluzione’s... In an attempt to claw back some of the speed the Lotus 72 was lacking to other marques, Chapman devised a non-wing version of the chassis for use at the high speed, low drag Autocorse. As reputedly this enabled the Lotus to gain an extra 800rpm’s...

Jochen Rindt (40yrs after)

Upon Rindt’s tragedy, a very young Brazilian by the name of Emerson Fittipaldi suddenly found himself elevated from third to lead driver at Lotus, in which he dually Won his very first race in the first Non-Rindt Lotus era event at Watkins Glen, ironically the site of Rindt’s debutant Grand Prix victory the year prior... Thus denying Ferrari’s Jacky Ickx the necessary points to overhaul Rindt for that year’s Driver’s title...

I also know from another story simmering in the No Fenders Crockpot that the following year at Monza, “EMMO” drove a “NON” Lotus entry, the black & gold World Wide Racing Lotus 56 for fears of Lotus & Colin Chapman being incarcerated by the Italian Authorities for the preceding year’s tragedy... But those Four-wheelers are a story for another day, eh?

And I also recall from reading the first volume of Gurney’s Eagles, which I treasure as a ‘lil Gem of a book and mention in: Eagle Racing Cars.

When reading Gurney’s Eagles, I ran across some black & white photos of a very young Jochen racing an AAR Eagle Indy Car in the USAC Championship, the No. 48 I believe? As I wasn’t aware that Messer Rindt had raced in two Indy 500’s (1967-68) before reading this book way back when, albeit his second Indy 500 start was behind the keyboard of a Repco-Brabham...

(1965 Ferrari 250LM - Photo courtesy of CARPETS)

Thus I suppose it was somewhat Karmic? Err, symbiotic that I’d get to view the 1965 24 Heurs du Mans winning Ferrari upon my recent visit to one of my favourite haunts; the IMS Hall of Fame museum... Which egads! They’ve raised the price all the way from $3.00 to $5.00... Although any time at the museum is way better than a movie for Mwah!

As it seems very odd that I was staring at the last Ferrari to ever win the French classic overall, some 45yrs ago, as Jochen Rindt teamed with American Masten Gregory to pilot the North American Racing Teams (NART) Ferrari 250LM to victory over the fast improving Ford GT40’s. As ironically Messer Gregory had been hired to drive the Ford at Circuit de la Sarthe the year prior...

While I’ve also discovered that the Kansas City native was the very first American to stand on the Grand Prix Podium when he scored an impressive third place finish in the 1957 Monaco GP, making his F1 debut for the Privateer Scuderia Centro Sud Faction behind the wheel of a customer Maserati 250F.

Gregory also contested the 1965 Indy 500 for his step-father George Bryant and was running fifth before retiring after 59 laps with Oil Pressure maladies. He died from an unexpected Heart-attack at the tender age of 53 in 1985...

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