Saturday, October 7, 2023

LE MANS: Triple Crown Winners, Part 4

As Hang On to your Hollyhocks Folks! We’re two thirds of the way done…


Positions 6-7 on the “Depth Chart” of the informal Triple crown of Sports Car endurance racing includes our second and final Bloody Brit’. Along with the lone Italian to have accomplished this feat.


Andy Wallace

Birthplace: Oxford, England

DOB: February 19, 1961, Age: 62

Wins: Le Mans 1988; Daytona, (3) 1990, 1997, 1999 and Sebring 1992-93


When I began to scribble ‘bout Messer Wallace, our sixth driver to win the Triple Crown. I immediately remembered having posted something here upon No Fenders about enjoying Racer’s Richard S. James article upon Hall of Famer Andy Wallace Taming the Bumps at Sebring.


As Bad Arse’ Sports Car Ace Andy Wallace was inducted into last year’s Sebring Hall of Fame. With the stellar class of inductees including ‘lil Stevie Johnson, aka Stefan Johansson, the original Mr. Le Mans, nee Jacky Ickx, ‘Ol Hobbo’, nee HobbsCapp’, ergo David Hobbs and Oh Yeah, that Walter Cronkite! For which I never knew that Cronkite actually contested the 12 Hours of Sebring in a bloody Lancia!


And for those of Y’all who still Don’t think Racing Drivers are Athletes! I especially loved the part about Wallace not telling His Boss, the late Dan Gurney about his two broken Ribs for fear of being replaced prior to winning that year’s Sebring 12 Hours race aboard the All conquering All American Racers (AAR) Toyota Eagle MkIII!


As here’s James article that triggered thoust memory about Wallace…


Very little seems to be known about Wallace’srise thru the ranks of motor racing. Other than He began His racing career by taking part in the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School in 1976. Meaning I’ve got zero clue if Andy raced single seaters or not afterwards? Or if He progressed thru the ranks of Saloons before reaching top flight prototypes?


Amazingly Wallace won the prestigious 24 Heurs du Mans on His debut at Circuit de la Sarthe driving for Tom Walkinshaw Racing’s eponymous Silk cut Jaguar’s. Behind the keyboard of an XJR-9.


What I like about Wallace’s winning of these most iconic endurance races is that He did so driving threetotally different racecars. From the closed top mighty Jag’s with it’s V-12 normally aspirated lump’. To the high revving 2.1-litre “four-banger” turbocharged Toyota eagle. And then later winning aboard Dyson Racing’s riley & Scott Mk III normally aspirated Ford V8 open top “Spyder”prototype.  


As it was certainly Foggy Bottoms for Mwah, as the more I Hunt ‘N Pecked at my keyboard, the more I slowly recalled about Messer Wallace from ye Wayback’ machine.


Like remembering that Andy had gotten married to Catherine Crawford, daughter of then Andy’s Boss Max Crawford of Crawford Composites while driving for Howard-Boss Motorsports. Where one of His regular season teammates was thee Wanderin’ Milka, aka Milka Duno.

And then I also remembered that Wallace had driven with “Smoke”, aka tony Stewart at the Rolex 24, the year being 2004 Me Thinks? When I think Stewart must have Hit the Wall when leading? Since I vaguely recall Stewart trying to limp to the finish on Sunday morning when a two by four had been inserted to try fixing the damaged suspension…


Yes, it was the ’04 Rolex 24 where the Crawford’s DP’s rear tyre inexplicably came off with some 17 minutes remaining in the race. Where Stewart spun but apparently didn’t Hit anything!


Hence the reason for the temporary fix for the car that had reportedly been leading the past 17 Hours. For which the stricken car failed to finish. (DNF) But apparently Wallace, Stewart and some other driver named ‘lil E’, aka Dale Earnhardt Jr’s lead was so big that they still finished fifth overall in their Crawford DP03 Chevrolet V-8 Daytona Prototype.


As I love the typical sardonic, British understatement in Wallace’s Bio’. Simply noting that He’s won over 25 major international Endurance races during His career…


Meanwhile, Wallace was the man behind the wheel of the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport  as Bugatti’s Test Driver who officially cracked the 300mph mark, with an astounding record of 304.77mph in 2019


As that’s His second official Speed record, since Andy also set the record prior in March, 1998. Driving a McLaren five year old F1 prototype at VW’s Ehra-Lexxien test track in Germany to a speed of 240.1mph! With said recordstanding for eleven years, but still retains the record for fastest normally aspirated production road car.


Mauro Baldi

Birthplace: Reggio Emilia, Italy

DOB: January 31, 1954, Age: 69

Wins: Le Mans, 1994; Daytona, (2) 1998, 2002 and Sebring 1998


Funny how much you forget over the years. Like my having forgotten that Mauro Baldi is a former Formula 1 driver, the third on this list of Triple Crown winners.


Mauro began as a Rally driver in 1972 before switching to pavement racing in ’75. By 1980 He was a top notch Formula 3 driver, winning the 1981 F3 Monaco Grand Prix and European F3 Championship.


For ’82 Mauro drove for Jacky Oliver’s Arrows Grand Prix team, before stints with Alfa Romeo and Spirit between 1982-85, making 36 starts.


Baldi then switched to Sports Cars, first winning at Le Mans in ’94 with Yannick Dalmas and Hurley Haywood in that modified Dauer 962 Le Mans “Street Car”.


Ah, it’s Ah-comin’ back to me now, with Baldi’s name being synonomous with Giampiero Moretti’s Momo Corse racing team. Specifically behind the wheel of one of my favourite Ferrari’s, the evocative 333 SP.


Baldi swept the ’98 Florida endurance races for Doran Moretti Racing with the likes of Gentleman racer Moretti, Arie Luyendyk and Didier Theys. And then won again at Daytona four years later aboard Kevin Doran’s Dallara Judd V-10.


As Doran was the late Al Holbert’s Chief Mechanic before going onto form His own successful race team.