Thursday, July 19, 2018

The 7 most memorable German Grand Prix moments

Check out the seven most eye-catching and hair-raising moments that have happened at the German Grand Prix      (and one we at l'art et l'automobile feel they missed)

By James W Roberts edited by James Karthauser

The German Grand Prix has been held 75 times and has been part of the FIA Formula One World Championship since 1951, so it is safe to say that in that time a few pretty memorable events have occurred there.  Since the Second World War the race has been hosted by three venues:  Hockenheimring, the Nürburgring Nordschleife, and at a shorter version of the Nürburgring and there have been plenty of unforgettable moments.  Here are seven momentous German Grand Prix moments.

Max Verstappen’s dad turns up the heat

Hockenheim, 31st July 1994

Jos Verstappen's miraculous escape at Hockenheim
Jos Verstappen's miraculous escape at Hockenheim
The 1994 F1 season saw the return of in-race refuelling and a few drivers and team bosses worried about the dangers of fuel spraying over red-hot F1 cars, but for the first eight races of the championship it was a case of so far so good.
…but then came the German Grand Prix.

On lap 47, Jos Verstappen stopped in the pits for fuel and tyres. As the refuelling mechanic inserted the fuel hose a clear liquid was seen spraying all over the car. An eerie calm followed before a huge explosion engulfed Verstappen’s Benetton B194 and his mechanics.  The cause? Benetton had fiddled with the refuelling components in an attempt to ensure a quicker stop.  Naughty.  The result? Thankfully, the ensuing fireball was quickly extinguished, Verstappen and a mechanic escaped with minor burns and Gerhard Berger went on to win a crazy race that was dogged by political squabbling and a first corner smash that eliminated ten cars on the spot.

First pole and first win for Webber

Nürburgring, 12th July 2009

Maiden win at Nurburgring 2009
Maiden win at Nurburgring 2009

By the time of the 2009 German Grand Prix Mark Webber was in his third season with Red Bull Racing and despite clocking up four podium finishes, his first Grand Prix victory eluded him.
That was until F1 returned to the reconfigured Nürburgring, under the banner of the German Grand Prix, for the first time since 1985.  Webber confirmed the promise he had been showing since coming into F1 back in 2002 and nailed pole position, the first of his career, ahead of the Brawn-Mercedes machines of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.  In the race Webber led home a memorable Red Bull Racing one-two in front of Sebastian Vettel, sealing a hugely popular victory and becoming the first Australian to win a Grand Prix since Alan Jones triumphed in the 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix.

Piquet’s punch up

Hockenheim, 8th August 1982

Nelson Piquet
Nelson Piquet

Perhaps one of F1’s most bizarre (and comical) moments happened during the 1982 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.  Reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet was easily leading the race in his BMW-powered Brabham and on lap 18 and approaching the newly installed Ostkurve chicane he caught the lapped car of backmarker Eliseo Salazar.
And the rest is history…

Piquet contro Salazar al GP Germania 1982
Piquet contro Salazar al GP Germania 1982


"Quite what Salazar thought he was doing…and I have to say that is an absolute disgrace," James Hunt, BBC commentator.  As Piquet went to pass Salazar the Columbian driver inexplicably hit Piquet’s Brabham from behind and sent both cars spinning out of the race.  The furious Piquet leaped from his car, confronted the hapless Salazar and shoved, punched and kicked him in an act of aggression rarely seen (in front of the cameras at least) in the civilised world of F1.



After the dust had settled the Brabham mechanics discovered that Piquet’s engine wouldn’t have lasted the race distance anyway.

Patrick Tambay’s emotional win

Hockenheim, 8th August 1982

Patrick Tambay
Patrick Tambay


The 1982 season was so full of drama and tragedy not even movie director Ron Howard could’ve come up with a crazier plot.  By the time of the German Grand Prix, F1 had witnessed a driver’s strike, the death of popular Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve, and in practice for the race at Hockenheim Ferrari suffered another catastrophic blow.  Didier Pironi, the man expected to win the driver’s title had a monumental airborne accident in practice, smashing his legs and ending his career.

Didier Pironi Crash 1982
Didier Pironi Crash 1982

On race day it was left to Villeneuve’s replacement Patrick Tambay to climb into the sole Ferrari, tackle the high-speed straights of Hockenheim and bring the number 27 car home to score a memorable and emotional win for the prancing horse.

Jackie Stewart’s finest hour

Nürburgring, 4th August 1968

Jackie Stewart in the rain at the Nürburgring
Jackie Stewart in the rain at the Nürburgring

Back in the 1960s the original 13-odd mile long Nürburgring Nordschlife was a daunting prospect for any driver.

"The track is narrow, the undulations so pronounced, the bends so numerous, that you can hardly remember where you are on the circuit even on a clear day, but in fog and ceaseless spray you just have no idea at all," .Jackie Stewart.  Jackie Stewart called it ‘the green hell’ and his drive on that August afternoon at the German Grand Prix in appalling conditions has gone down as legend.

"When I left home to race at the German Grand Prix, I always used to pause at the end of my driveway and take a long look back at my house. I was never sure I would come home again."

 Epic Grand Prix Instagram


In heavy rain and fog, the Scottish driver, racing with a broken wrist, sailed his Matra-Ford in zero visibility through the spray to win the race a massive four minutes ahead of Graham Hill.  The skill and bravery Stewart displayed in a race he himself thought should have been cancelled remains one of the finest displays by any F1 driver ever.

Niki Lauda’s miraculous escape

Nürburgring, 1st August 1976

Niki Lauda at the 1976 German GP
Niki Lauda at the 1976 German GP

The 1976 F1 season had it all. The British upstart James Hunt against the cool and calculated Austrian world champion Niki Lauda. McLaren Vs Ferrari.  And at the German Grand Prix that year, the notorious Nürburgring would be the scene for one of the most dramatic events in F1 history.
Reigning champion Lauda crashed at speed on lap two and as his Ferrari slewed to a halt burst into flames and was hit by two other cars. Grainy footage dramatically shows the Austrian trapped in his burning car as drivers Guy Edwards, Arturo Merzario, Brett Lunger and Harald Ertl heroically struggle to free him.

 Where is Palmer Instagram


Lauda suffered serious burns and almost fatal smoke inhalation. He was given the last rites by a priest, but in a super human feat of recovery was back at the wheel of his car two races later.

"I am bandaged, blind and dumb. A man appears: I understand it’s the priest. He speaks Latin, it sounds like a judgement, the last rites. It makes me so cross – I want to shout: HEY STOP, THIS IS THE WORST F***-UP YOU MAKE IN YOUR LIFE. I AM NOT GOING TO DIE."

Lauda bravely retired his car from the 1976 finale
Lauda bravely retired his car from the 1976 finale

When all was said and done, Lauda only lost the 1976 driver’s title by one point to Hunt and went on to regain his F1 crown in 1977.  F1 never returned to the original Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Schumacher’s first German Grand Prix win

Hockenheim, 30th July 1995

Michael Schumacher on the podium in 1995
Michael Schumacher on the podium in 1995

The 1995 F1 season was the first where German fans could see a reigning world champion on home soil.  By the time of the 1995 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, Michael Schumacher fever was everywhere, and as the championship battle heated up with British rival Damon Hill, the partisan crowd were desperate to see their new hero win.  On a hot summer day the capacity crowd basked in sun and scadenfreude as they witnessed Hill’s Williams spin off into the barriers leaving Schumacher and Benetton to make history.  The fact this happened right in front of the densely packed stadium section only added to the fan’s delight and Schumacher cruised to his first German Grand Prix victory and place one hand on the 1995 title.

Die Regenmeister - King of the Rain

Nurburgring, 23 July 1939

Rudolf Caracciola
Rudolf Caracciola

The German Grand Prix at Nurburgring would be one of the last races of the 1939 season, due to the outbreak of World War II in September, but as that event took place months before, contention was still as hot as ever.  

Rudolf Caracciola, the famous German Champion, took it upon himself to tally another win for Mercedes and for Germany.  In a pouring Deluge, Caracciola pushed his Mercedes Benz W154 from the third position to the winners circle, dealing with the weather and engine hardships.  Though he was suspicious that the Daimler-Benz Racing Team favored his Teammate Hermann Lang, he pulled out the victory and went on to become the German Road Racing Champion, proving once again his title of 'King of the Rain.'


This week marks the 77th running of the German Grand Prix. This biennial event has hosted Grand Prix and Formula 1 races since 1926 and is recently returning to the Formula 1 schedule as the Premier German Racing Event. 


 GP of Germany - Hockenheim 1983 poster by Carlo Demand 1939 German GP at the Nurburgring print by Carlo Demand, autographedGP of Germany Hockenheim 1994 official event poster
  Many prints, posters, brochures and memorabilia detailing the German Grand Prix over the years available at arteauto.com

We here at l'art et l'automobile are definitely not going to miss this illustrious event, and we very much hope that you will be joining us as well. To that end, we have gathered a collection of Artifacts and Memorabilia from this momentous race and are providing it to you, our followers. Follow this link to our Newsfeed, where you will find a sampling of the collection as well as a link to find all the German GP artwork and Automobilia we have to offer. Please feel free to tour the gallery here, and perhaps you will find something to add to your collection.

And as always, Like and Share us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, Share a Picture with us on Instagram and catch up on the rest of the blog below.

James Karthauser
Development and Social Media
l'art et l'automobile

Thursday, June 28, 2018

La femme et l'automobile

Women on the Allure of Driving the Rallye des Princesses


Kate Walker of The New York Times edited by James Karthauser



Competitors in the 2016 rally, which covers country roads at speeds averaging 25 to 30 miles per hour. While the vintage cars add to the glamour, they often don’t provide the smoothest ride. Credit - Richard Bord, via Rallye des Princesses
Competitors in the 2016 rally, which covers country roads at speeds averaging 25 to 30 miles per hour. While the vintage cars add to the glamour, they often don’t provide the smoothest ride.
Credit - Richard Bord, via Rallye des Princesses

The concept reads like a dream: five days spent driving classic cars from Paris to Southern France, stopping off along the way for leisurely lunches and nights in four- and five-star hotels. As motorsport experiences go, the Rallye des Princesses Richard Mille is a world apart — an all-female motorsport event aimed at providing entrants with a luxury experience in addition to an automotive adventure with breathtaking views. Some 90 women will take part in the six-day race that started on Saturday in Paris, and continues all this week, will travel some 1,000 miles of meandering roads in France and northern Spain, before crossing the finish line in Biarritz on the Atlantic coast of France.

[READ MORE: The Rich History of the Rallye des Princesses]

The first Rallye des Princesses in 2000 even included actual royalty: it counted among its entrants Princess Helene of Yugoslavia. She competed again in 2002 and 2006. The rally’s appeal extends beyond European royalty, and many of the 180 entrants this year are simply women who are passionate about cars and racing. Anne Sampeur of France, who first took part in 2014, came across the event by accident, when she stumbled across the start of the race in Paris. “I discovered the Rallye des Princesses while strolling Place Vendôme with friends about 10 years ago,” Sampeur recalled. “At the time, we had an HMC — an Austin-Healey replica, but my husband didn’t want to lend me his car. When I was ready to register, we bought a silver gray 1979 convertible Beetle.”

Anne Sampeur, right, and Joelle Szpala in a 1979 Volkswagen Beetle in the 2014 rally. Credit Richard Bord/Getty Images
Anne Sampeur, right, and Joelle Szpala in a 1979 Volkswagen Beetle in the 2014 rally.
Credit - Richard Bord/Getty Images

Since 2014, Sampeur has entered the rally with friends and family, and in 2017 competed alongside her 14-year-old daughter, Matisse, who served as navigator. The pair entered a navy blue 1979 Alfa Romeo Spider 1600. “It was great,” Sampeur said. While the vintage cars add to the glamour, open-top vehicles running at an average of 25 to 30 miles per hour along glorious country roads, the drive is often not smooth because of the age of the vehicles. “We place a particular premium on comfort, as the performance involved in driving a vintage car for 350 kilometers per day on country roads is one that ought to be paired with a well-earned rest,” said Viviane Zaniroli, the founder of the event.

Richard Mille, a lead partner accompanies the 18th Rallye des Princesses last summer photo courtesy of Invictus Magazine
Richard Mille, a lead partner accompanies the 18th Rallye des Princesses last summer
photo courtesy of Invictus Magazine

That well-earned rest includes spa treatments, luxury hotels, Champagne receptions and fine dining every evening, with a party at the finish line to round off the adventure. One regular participant is Coralie Chehab of Switzerland, entering her fifth Rallye des Princesses this year. Chehab is passionate about the event. “So many anecdotes, so many crazy laughs, so many memories to tell. Rallye des Princesses is not just a rally, it’s a vacation with 200 friends and cars.”


Florence Migraine Bourgnon, Julie Gayet, Jovanka Sopalovic at the Rallye des Princesses  photo courtesy of Purepeople.com
Florence Migraine Bourgnon, Julie Gayet, Jovanka Sopalovic at the Rallye des Princesses
photo courtesy of Purepeople.com
The Rallye des Princesses is open only to vintage cars — those registered before 1989 — split into groups roughly by decade. Some entrants own the cars, while others borrow from friends or drive cars furnished by sponsors. Chehab shares “an amazing 1967 gray convertible Mercedes-Benz 250SL Pagoda” with her co-driver and friend Gaëlle Wacziarg. The car is provided by a sponsor. “This beauty is definitely part of our team; she even has a name now — we call her Titine,” Chehab said. “Driving this car is a real pleasure, even though she is 50 years old. She is very comfortable and super easy to drive. A dream for this kind of rally.” Chehab entered the rally at the urging of Wacziarg, who returned from her first event full of enthusiasm. “I always had an interest in cars and always loved driving, but never thought I could participate in something so exceptional as the Rallye des Princesses,” Chehab said. “In the end, it didn’t take much to convince me to take part in this great adventure.”

The Rallye Route is a Beautiful Winding Affair through Southern France Photo courtesy of Franceracing.fr
The Rallye Route is a Beautiful Winding Affair through Southern France
Photo courtesy of Franceracing.fr

One of the advantages of driving a loaner vehicle at a rally is that maintenance is taken care of by the car’s owner. “We are pretty lucky with Titine; we never had serious mechanical problems,” Chebab said. “She is very well maintained by our sponsor — he always makes a check before and after every rally. “The car suffers a lot during the week, with the changes of temperature — Paris during the spring is not always sunny, while in the South of France the weather is already warm — and I think the worst for the Pagoda is when the road book takes us into the mountains,” she said about the route map. “She is a heavy car and not really made for climbing.”

A Selection of Vintage Cars lined up for the Next Leg of the Rallye des Princesses Photo courtesy of Zaniroli.com
A Selection of Vintage Cars lined up for the Next Leg of the Rallye des Princesses
Photo courtesy of Zaniroli.com

Sampeur struggled in 2015, breaking the clutch on her 1968 MGC at the end of the first day. “With the help of the MG club, I managed to find a garage to repair it with a clutch disc for an old car — 47 years old! So we didn’t run one day and took 7,000 penalty points,” she said. “On Tuesday, the hose was drilled. We saw the problem before departing for a regularity trial. We parked the car, and with rags and Scotch tape we fixed it to keep it going until lunch, where the great team of mechanics repaired it with real tools. “On Wednesday, the reverse gear decided to collapse, so we couldn’t make U-turns — to park the car we needed the help of mechanics to push us. And to finish the rally, before arriving in Saint-Tropez, our rearview mirror fell off. We laughed for a long time.”

The ultimate women’s motor sport get-away... Photo courtesy of Zaniroli.com
The ultimate women’s motor sport get-away...
Photo courtesy of Zaniroli.com

Making her Rallye des Princesses debut this year is Susan Fesmire of Texas, who will be driving a 1970 Triumph convertible.

“This is my first R.D.P., but I suspect not my last, and this may all sound over the top, but I have had more fun getting ready for this event than anything I have ever done,” she said. “I first learned about the rally from a friend of mine in 2014. Her adventure sounded so glamorous and challenging,” she said. “Over the next two years I thought of the race often. I frequently checked the race website and Googled images from past races. I was fascinated by the idea of a race for non-racers, the gorgeous French countryside, sleek historic cars and chateaus all with your best girlfriend. When I pored over Rallye pictures, they showed beautiful women of all ages, from all countries, who seemed not unlike me. They looked amazing, but also real. “The idea of participating stayed in the back of my mind,” Fesmire said. “Then one Sunday morning in August 2016, I was looking at the Rallye website and decided that I was going to do it,” she said. “All I had to do was convince my best friend to go with me.”

The Rally des Princesses is designed for women by a woman Viviane Zaniroli. Photo courtesy of Zaniroli.com
The Rally des Princesses is designed for women by a woman Viviane Zaniroli.
Photo courtesy of Zaniroli.com


“That Sunday morning was over a year and a half ago, and the allure of the race has not waned for Suzanne or me,” she said of her friend and co-driver Suzanne Swaner, also of Texas. “The 19th Rallye des Princesses has given us almost two years of planning, strategizing and daydreaming about six amazing days spent behind the wheel of a gorgeous red convertible, laughing with my best friend while participating in the most glamorous all-women car rally in the world. It just doesn’t get any better.”

Nazanin Lankarani contributed reporting.



Modern Aphrodites and dream cars have always made good combinations, and by the splendor of its forms the automobile has always been associated with feminine elegance and charm. From the manufacturing to competition, from daily driving to Concours d'Elegance, women have always been present in the world of Automobile.


Concours d'Elegance poster by Alain LevesqueLouis Vuitton, Bagatelle Concours d’Elegance 1991 poster by Razzia


For the next week l'art et l'automobile gallery is proud to feature a showing of artwork promoting the presence and influence that women had with the automobile culture in the last century. All items are available for purchase, but please note that in most cases we only have one of each of those pieces, so they will go on a first come first served basis.

Monte Carlo original tourism poster by Steve Carpenter, late 1960's'Industry & wisdom' bronze sculptures by Paul Aichele, 1891


Enjoy, and we hope you will find it an interesting subject that you would want to display on your wall or your shelf.

Don't forget to head to our Shopify Store for more great automotive memorabilia. We have many more items in our gallery, so do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular. And as always, Like and Share us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, Share a Picture with us on Instagram and catch up on the rest of the blog below.

Cheers!


Jacques Vaucher
Owner and Curator
l’art et l’automobile

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Porsche Museum builds a second “No. 1” 356 prototype

Replica is more accurate than the existing No. 1


Daniel Stroll of Hemmings Daily


Photos courtesy Porsche.
In its first decade, 356-001, the first vehicle to carry the Porsche name, suffered a number of ignominies. The letters in that nameplate got rearranged, an Opel full of nuns rear-ended it, and two of its seven private owners allowed it to lapse into neglect. Porsche itself, which has owned the car for the last 60 years, hasn’t done much better, restoring it but leaving intact many of the modifications those seven owners made. Using modern technology, however, the Porsche Museum has created a far more authentic replica as part of the marque’s 70th anniversary celebrations.

As it was conceived, the 356-001 wasn’t supposed to be badged a Porsche. Instead, as Karl Ludvigsen noted in “Porsche: Origin of the Species,” the Porsche family and senior staff wanted to renew the company’s design-consultancy relationship with Volkswagen and give the 200 or so workers on the company’s payroll in Gmünd, Austria, something substantial to do.

Inspiration came from a variety of sources, though chiefly from the design work Porsche was doing at the time for Cisitalia. “At the time that company was building a small sports car with a Fiat engine,” Ludvigsen quoted Ferry Porsche. “I said to myself: Why shouldn’t we be able to do the same thing with VW parts?” War-surplus Kubelwagens were common in that part of Austria, so Porsche had plenty of raw materials to work with.

The tubular space frame chassis that Erwin Komenda drew up in the summer of 1947 used Volkswagen suspension front and rear, though it placed the engine ahead of the rear axle to conform to Ferry Porsche’s wish that the car’s design emulate the pre-war Auto Union Grand Prix cars. To accommodate the mid-engine design, Komenda simply rotated the Volkswagen suspension 180 degrees with the transaxle. As Ludvigsen pointed out, that was less than ideal.


The leading-arm design of the rear-suspension geometry meant that when the rear wheels bounced up, or when the car rolled in a turn, the wheels toed outward instead of inward. In theory this reduced their cornering power and tended to increase oversteer. As well, torque reaction from rear-brake application tended to lift the rear of the car.

For an engine, the Porsche team simply repurposed a Volkswagen flat-four with a handful of modifications to bump output from 25 to 35 horsepower. Despite the increased performance, the Porsche team relied on cable-operated brakes.

Porsche 356-001 shortly after completion.

Komenda finalized the body design in the early months of 1948 and by April Porsche craftsman Friedrich Weber began construction of the aluminum body, ultimately finished in yellow. While Ferry Porsche once stated that construction of the body took two months, Ludvigsen wrote that Weber finished the body in a little more than three weeks, plenty enough time for the Porsche team to road-test serial number 356-001 prior to its July 4 debut at the Swiss Grand Prix in Bern and its July 11 demonstration laps at Innsbruck’s Rund um den Hofgarten road race.

By this time, Porsche had already turned its sights toward producing the 356 itself, albeit in a rear-engine configuration dubbed the 356/2. With their sights set on production, the Porsches decided to sell 356-001 in September 1948 to Josh Heintz of the Reisbach garage in Zürich. Heintz in turn sold it to Peter Kaiser, who rearranged the Porsche lettering on the car’s nose to read Pesco, a name he found snappier than Porsche.

Porsche 356-001 while in Hermann Schulthess’s ownership.


Kaiser had the brakes converted to hydraulic and drove it regularly until he sold it in 1951 to Zürich-based importer AMAG, which in turn sold 356-001 to Rosemarie Muff who, according to Ludvigsen, drove the car into the ground. Its next owner, Hermann Schulthess, rebuilt the car and replaced the Porsche lettering, but ended up sandwiched between the aforementioned Opel full of nuns and another car in a crash on the Gotthard pass. AMAG repaired the damage and in the process reshaped both front and rear ends and converted the single-piece rear-hinged engine and rear trunk cover to two pieces: one for the engine bay, one for the rear trunk.

Schulthess also had Porsche itself install a 1500S engine and larger hydraulic brakes before entering 356-001 into its first and only competition event, the Mitholz-Kandersteg hillclimb, in 1953. A baker by the name of Igoris swapped a 1300 coupe for 356-001 but, as Ludvigsen wrote, suffered from buyer’s remorse and simply garaged the car. Auto mechanic Franz Blaser bought it from Igoris and overhauled the car once again before exchanging it for a brand-new Speedster when Porsche finally decided to track down its very first car in 1958.

Around 1975 Porsche then restored the prototype one more time, though not to its original configuration: The 1500S engine remains part of the car, as do the hydraulic brakes, two-piece decklid, reshaped front and rear sheetmetal, and the bucket seats it picked up at some point.

356 No.1 Replica being assembled.


To celebrate the car’s 70th anniversary, the Porsche Museum decided – rather than subject 356-001 to another restoration – to re-create 356-001 a it appeared in 1948. To do so, the museum had 356-001 3D scanned and compared those scans with original photographs and with digitizations of Komenda’s original drawings.

Museum staff then edited the 3D scan to the prototype’s original shape and used that data to carve a life-size model of the prototype from rigid foam. That foam then served as a buck of sorts for modern-day craftsmen to build from scratch a new chassis and aluminum body before finishing the car with exact replicas of the trim, upholstery, gauges, and other fittings that adorned the original prototype.

For the most part, that is. Museum officials decided not to install a drivetrain in the replica. Instead, they had a basic tube axle fitted to allow the replica to roll around. According to a spokesperson for the museum, the decision to build it sans drivetrain was to avoid labeling it with terms such as “replica” or “recreation” and to avoid confusion with the original; instead, the museum considers it a “showcar.”

The Porsche Museum has scheduled an extensive tour for both the prototype and the replica, starting with a June 8 ceremony in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen and continuing to Johannesburg, Goodwood, Guangzhou, and Vancouver. The prototype itself will also make an appearance at this year’s Rennsport Reunion in September at Laguna Seca.

We here at l'art et l'automobile are diehard Porsche fanatics, and we love finding and sharing tidbits of Porsche's legacy, like this replica, with our followers.  As a matter of fact, we are currently in the midst of a big Promotion of Porsche Memorabilia on our Website as we speak.  Not long ago, our blog detailed the history and creation of some Victory Posters commissioned by the Porsche Factory, and we've just released Chapter 2 of that collection that we acquired.  You can visit the Gallery here, and possibly add one of these pieces to your collection.  But hurry they're going fast, and We Only Have One of Each.  

And as always, Like and Share us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, Share a Picture with us on Instagram and catch up on the rest of the blog below.


James Karthauser
Development and Social Media
l'art et l'automobile

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Mercedes & Benz: A Racing Journey

Race of the Titans - Monaco 1937 - print by Nicholas Watts, autographed

Celebrate more than 120 years of Racing Heritage with arteauto.com

by James Karthauser



Ever since motor racing began in the late 1800’s, Mercedes and Benz have been participating and winning. As they joined their efforts together the tradition continued and in the last 120+ years they have been very successful indeed. With only a few interruptions, due to wars or accident, the Marque from Stuttgart has championed successfully over many competitors and in all forms of racing they have entered, even to this day. 

Both Marques, Daimler-Motoren-Gesselsvhaft and Benz Patent-Motorwagen, independently enjoyed success in the sport of motor racing throughout their separate histories. A single Benz competed in the world's first motor race, the 1894 Paris–Rouen, where Émile Roger finished 14th in 10 hours 1 minute. The Mercedes Simplex of 1902, built by DMG, was Mercedes' first purpose built race car — much lower than their usual designs — which were similar to horse carriages; that model dominated racing for years. In 1914, just before the beginning of the First World War, the DMG Mercedes 35 hp won the French Grand Prix, finishing 1-2-3.

Blitzen Benz - Oil on Canvas Painting by Fred Stout, available in the collection of l'art et l'automobile
Blitzen Benz - Oil on Canvas Painting by Fred Stout, available in the collection of l'art et l'automobile

Karl Benz's company, Benz & Cie. built the "bird beaked", Blitzen Benz that set land speed records several times, reaching 141.7 mph in 1911. That record gained that model the reputation of being faster than any other automobile — as well as any train or plane. They were already constructing many aerodynamically designed race cars.

Grand Prix Racing and the Rise of the Silver Arrows


Benz was involved in Grand Prix motor racing from 1923, when the Benz Tropfenwagen, described as having a teardrop shape, was introduced to motorsport at the European Grand Prix at Monza. These, the brainchild of Benz chief engineer Hans Nibel, were inspired by the Rumpler Tropfenwagen and were intended to increase public acceptance of mid-engined cars. They resembled the later Auto Unions, and used the virtually unchanged Rumpler chassis. They were fitted with a 1,991 cc 80 hp inline six producing and demonstrated "impeccable roadholding" at 90 mph and above.

Despite a promising start, with a fourth and a fifth in their debut, they did no better in three years of Grands Prix and hillclimbing, and the expected public acceptance did not materialize. Financial difficulties led to a merger with Daimler.

G.P. of Monaco 1937 print by Michael Turner, available in the collection
G.P. of Monaco 1937 print by Michael Turner, available in the collection

But when the two companies were merged to form the Mercedes-Benz brand in 1926, they continued their relentless campaign of excellence. 

In the 1930s, the new joint company, Daimler-Benz, with their mighty Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows, dominated Grand Prix racing in Europe together with its rival, Auto Union. In fact the colour of the cars, which was later to become legendary, was unintentional - they had initially been painted white as was traditional for German cars, but the paint was stripped away to reduce weight. The cars set speed records up to 270 mph. The team was guided by the great racing team manager Alfred Neubauer until the company ceased racing at the start of WWII.

Formula 1 Racing

In 1954 Mercedes-Benz returned to what was now known as Formula One racing, in which a World championship having been established in 1950, using the technologically advanced Mercedes-Benz W196 which was run in both open-wheeled and streamlined forms. Juan Manuel Fangio, a previous champion (1951) transferred mid-season from Maserati to Mercedes-Benz for their debut at the French Grand Prix on 4 July 1954. The team had immediate success and recorded a 1-2 victory with Fangio and Karl Kling, as well as the fastest lap, set by Hans Herrmann. Fangio went on to win three more races in 1954, winning the Championship.

Fangio's Mercedes 300 SLR, 1955 Le Mans autographed photo, available in the collection
Fangio's Mercedes 300 SLR, 1955 Le Mans autographed photo, available in the collection

The success continued into the 1955 season, where the same car was used again. The team's drivers, Fangio and the young Stirling Moss, won 6 of the 9 rounds between them, and finished first and second in that year's championship.

Following the 1955 Le Mans disaster, Mercedes-Benz withdrew from all factory-sponsored motorsport.

Mercedes made its return to Formula One in 1994 as an engine supplier to Sauber, with whom they had already enjoyed success in sportscar racing, after 1993 funding their engine partner Ilmor, Mercedes and Sauber announced that the teams engines will be rebadged "Mercedes-Benz" for the 1994 season signaling Mercedes return in participation of the series for the first time since 1955. In 1995 they began supplying engines to the McLaren team, which truly started the resurgence of the brand. Outside Formula One, Mercedes-Benz had increased its shareholding in the Ilmor company in 1996 and took full control nine years later, eventually rebranding as Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains. They have continued to design and build engines for McLaren.

In the opening race of the 1997 Formula One seasonDavid Coulthard produced victory for McLaren and ushered in a new era of success for the British based squad. Coincidentally this was the first race in which McLaren had competed with a silver livery due to West replacing Marlboro, who moved to Ferrari, as title sponsor. The colour drew inevitable comparisons to the Silver Arrows of a previous era, and the nickname was applied to the McLarens. This was a significant result in F1 racing, McLaren's first victory for three seasons and the first win for Mercedes-Benz since Juan Manuel Fangio's success at the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg running 1&2 in Mercedes' triumphant return to Formula 1
Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg running 1&2 in Mercedes' triumphant return to Formula 1

On November 16, 2009, it was announced that Mercedes would part ways with McLaren, and instead purchase a 75% controlling stake in the 2009 championship-winning team Brawn GP. The team, reimagined as Mercedes GP, debuted at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix, with an all-German driver line-up of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.

Sports Car Racing


It was in 1952 that Mercedes-Benz returned to racing after the war, again with Alfred Neubauer as team manager. Their small and underpowered gull-winged Mercedes-Benz 300SL, won several races in 1952 including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Carrera Panamericana, and did well in other important races such as the Mille Miglia.

24 Hours of Le Mans 1955 large photograph, available in the collection of l'art et l'automobile
24 Hours of Le Mans 1955 large photograph, available in the collection of l'art et l'automobile

Mercedes-Benz was also dominant in sports car racing during the 1950s. The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR was derived from the W196 Formula One car for use in the 1955 World Sportscar Championship season. At Le Mans that year, a disaster occurred in which a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR collided with another car, killing more than eighty spectators. In fact in the aftermath of the Le Mans disaster, it would be several decades until Mercedes-Benz returned to front line motorsport.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mercedes returned to competition through the tuning company AMG, later to become a Mercedes-Benz subsidiary, which entered the big Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 V8 sedan in the Spa 24 Hours and the European Touring Car Championship.

In 1985 Mercedes-Benz returned to the World Sportscar Championship as an engine supplier for the privateer Sauber team. The first car produced by this relationship, the Sauber C8 was not particularly successful. However the successor, the C9 won several races, including 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1989.
1986 24 Heures du Mans Original Poster, available in the collection
1986 24 Heures du Mans Original Poster, available in the collection

After the Sauber team parted company with their sponsor Kouros at the end of 1987, Mercedes-Benz increased their involvement with Sauber for the 1988 season to become a factory entrant under the Sauber-Mercedes name. Still using the C9 the team won 5 races but came 2nd to the TWR Jaguar team in the championship. However, 1989 was to be a different story with Sauber-Mercedes winning all but one championship race to become world champions (including coming 1st and 2nd at the24 Hours of Le Mans - all achieved with the C9. For the 1990 World Sportscar Championship season the C9 was replaced by the all-new C11, while the team was renamed Mercedes-Benz. The team dominated the season, again winning all but one race to become world champions.

Mercedes-Benz returned to prominence in sportscar racing in 1997, with the CLK GTR which was entered in the new FIA GT Championship world championship series. In its first year, the CLK GTR won the championship and the drivers' championship. It would again dominate the FIA GT in 1998, and would go on to win its second championship in a row. The CLK GTR would be the last car to win the FIA GT Championship.

In 2011, Mercedes-Benz announced that a GT3 version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG would be made available for private racing teams. Beginning that year, the SLS AMG GT3 has taken numerous endurance racing wins at the 24 Hours of Dubai24 Hours of Nürburgring and 24 Hours of Spa and has won many other races in national and global GT3 championships. In 2015, the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 was launched to replace the SLS AMG GT3.

IndyCar


In 1994, Al Unser, Jr. won the Indianapolis 500 with a Penske-Mercedes IndyCar. Mercedes-Benz which, realizing that a loophole in the rules for production-based engines would include any pushrod engine, built a very unusual purpose-built pushrod engine with a significant power advantage. This was done knowing that the "forgotten" loophole would be closed immediately after they took advantage of it, and so the engine would in fact be usable only for this single race.

Al Unser, Jr at the Indy 500 in 1994
Al Unser, Jr at the Indy 500 in 1994
Starting from 1995, Mercedes-Benz rebranded the Ilmor engines and achieved six wins in their first full season, also reaching second in the drivers championship powering Al Unser, Jr. After a dry spell in 1996, Mercedes-Benz came back in 1997 with eight wins and winning the Manufacturer's Championship. However, a lack of competitive results in the following seasons and the CART/IRL split meant Mercedes gradually lost interest and the German manufacturer abandoned American racing at the end of the 2000 season, with a total of 18 wins and one driver runner-up finish in the CART championship.

Speed Records

On 28 January 1938, Rudolf Caracciolo set a Land Speed Record of 268 mph over the flying kilometer, Mercedes-Benz W125 Rekordwagen was an experimental, high-speed automobile produced in the late 1930s. The streamlined car was derived from the 1937 open-wheel race car Mercedes-Benz W125 Formel-Rennwagen, of which also a streamlined version was raced at the non-championship Avusrennen in Berlin. This Record remained the fastest ever officially timed speed on a public road until broken on 5 November 2017 by Koenigsegg in an Agera RS driven by Niklas Lilja, achieving 276.9 mph on a closed highway in Nevada. It also was the fastest speed ever recorded in Germany until Rico Anthes bested it with a Top Fuel Dragster on the Hockenheimring drag strip.

This record breaking run was made on the Reichs-Autobahn A5 between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, where onlookers were rattled by the brutal boom of the side spewing exhaust stacks as the silver car hurtled past. By nine that morning, Caracciola and team chief Alfred Neubauer were having a celebration breakfast at the Park Hotel in Frankfurt.

Sadly, popular driver Bernd Rosemeyer was killed later the same day when trying to beat that record for Auto Union. This also put an end to the record attempts of Mercedes, even though Hans Stuck later wanted to beat the overall land speed record with the Porsche-designed Mercedes-Benz T80 which was powered by a 3,000 horsepower (2,200 kW) airplane engine.

On August 13–21, 1983 at the Nardo High Speed Track in southern Italy, the new compact-size W201 190 class, sporting a 16-valve engine, built by Cosworth, broke three FIA world records after running almost non-stop in a total of 201 hours, 39 minutes, and 43 seconds—completing 31,000 miles at maximum speed of 153 mph. It went on to become the 190E 2.3-16 touring model.

Mercedes-Benz is currently active in four motorsport categories, Formula Three, DTM, Formula One and GT, even winning the Formula 1 Constructor's and Driver's Championship for the last four years.

Cars by Andy Warhol (W125) Poster, available in the collection of l'art et l'automobile
Cars by Andy Warhol (W125) Poster, available in the collection of l'art et l'automobile

Over the last 40+ years here at l’art et l’automobile, we have accumulated a vast collection of moments and memorabilia from Mercedes-Benz’s illustrious racing and production career, including many of their triumphs and successes over the decades.

Don't forget to head to our store site for more great automotive memorabilia. We have many more items in our gallery, so do not hesitate to contact us if you are looking for something in particular. And as always, Like and Share us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, Share a Picture with us on Instagram and catch up on the rest of the blog below.

James Karthauser
Social Media and Development
l’art et l’automobile

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Longest Day In Auto Racing



Coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and NASCAR Coca-Cola 600


Photo courtesy of arstechnica.com

by James Karthauser

Every Year on Memorial Day, Auto Racing fans the world over prepare for the what many in the fanbase describe as Racing’s Super Bowl, colloquially known as The Longest Day In Racing. This Memorial Day Weekend, Racing fans have the opportunity to watch three of the most prestigious events in their respective Leagues. The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, May 27 this year, is widely considered one of the most important days on the motorsports calendar, starting at 9:00 am is the illustrious Monaco Grand Prix, followed by the Indianapolis 500 at noon, and the day concludes with NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at 6:20 pm, a series of events totaling 28 hours of Racing!

We here at l’art et l’automobile know how we are going to spend Sunday, constantly glued to the TV screen watching these events, but for those of you who are interested in learning more about this enormous day of Racing, we have collected a treasure trove of information for you, to catch you up on the history and importance of it all.

Monaco Grand Prix


Photo courtesy of  Scuderia Toro Rosso - Red Bull
Carlos Sainz during the 2017 Formula 1 Monaco GP
Photo courtesy of  Scuderia Toro Rosso - Red Bull

The Monaco Grand Prix is a Formula One motor race held each year on the Circuit de Monaco. Run since 1929, it is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world and, with the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, forms the Triple Crown of Motorsport. The circuit has been called "an exceptional location of glamour and prestige".

The race is held on a narrow course, called The Circuit de Monaco laid out in the city streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine, which includes the famous harbour. It is unique in having been held on the same circuit every time it has been run over such a long period – only the Italian Grand Prix, which has been held at Autodromo Nazionale Monza during every Formula One regulated year except 1980, has a similarly lengthy and close relationship with a single circuit.

The race circuit has many elevation changes, tight corners, and a narrow course that makes it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One racing. As of 2017, two drivers have crashed and ended up in the harbour, the most famous being Alberto Ascari in 1955. Despite the fact that the course has had minor changes several times during its history, it is still considered the ultimate test of driving skills in Formula One, and if it were not already an existing Grand Prix, it would not be permitted to be added to the schedule for safety reasons. Even in 1929, 'La Vie Automobile' magazine offered the opinion that "Any respectable traffic system would have covered the track with <<Danger>> sign posts left, right and centre”. Triple Formula One champion Nelson Piquet was fond of saying that racing at Monaco was "like trying to cycle round your living room", but added that "a win here was worth two anywhere else”. Notably, the course includes a tunnel. The contrast of daylight and gloom when entering/exiting the tunnel presents "challenges not faced elsewhere", as the drivers have to "adjust their vision as they emerge from the tunnel at the fastest point of the track and brake for the chicane in the daylight. The fastest-ever qualifying lap was set by Kimi Räikkönen in qualifying for the 2017 Grand Prix, at 1m 12.178. In spite of the relatively low average speeds, it is a dangerous place to race and often involves the intervention of a safety car. It is the only Grand Prix that does not adhere to the FIA's mandated 305-kilometre (190-mile) minimum race distance.

The first race, held on 14 April 1929, was won by William Grover-Williams (using the pseudonym "Williams"), driving a Bugatti Type 35B. It was an invitation-only event, but not all of those invited decided to attend. The leading Maserati and Alfa Romeo drivers decided not to compete, but Bugatti was well represented. Mercedes sent their leading driver, Rudolf Caracciola. Starting fifteenth, Caracciola drove a fighting race, taking his SSK into the lead before wasting 4½ minutes on refuelling and a tire change to finish second. Another driver who competed using a pseudonym was "Georges Philippe", the Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Louis Chiron, a famous Grand Prix driver who was instrumental in attaining the national racing status for the race, was unable to compete, having a prior commitment to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on the same day.

The event was part of the pre-Second World War European Championship and was included in the first World Championship of Drivers in 1950. It was designated the European Grand Prix two times, 1955 and 1963, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one Grand Prix race in Europe. Graham Hill was known as "Mr. Monaco” due to his five Monaco wins in the 1960s. Brazil's Ayrton Senna won the race more times than any other driver, with six victories, winning five races consecutively between 1989 and 1993.

Indy 500

Photo courtesy of Autoweek.com
Lining up in the Grid at the Indianapolis 500
Photo courtesy of Autoweek.com
The Indianapolis 500 is held annually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.5 miles (4.0 km) oval circuit. Drivers race 200 laps, counter-clockwise around the circuit, for a distance of 500 miles (800 km). Traditionally, the field consists of 33 starters, aligned in a starting grid of eleven rows of three cars apiece. The event is contested by "Indy cars", a formula of professional-level, single-seat, open cockpit, open-wheel, purpose-built race cars. As of 2018, all entrants utilize 2.2 L V6, twin-turbocharged engines, tuned to produce a range of 550–700 horsepower (410–520 kW). Chevrolet and Honda are the current engine manufacturers involved in the sport. Firestone, which has a deep history in the sport, dating back to the first 500, is currently the exclusive tire provider.

The race is the most prestigious event of the IndyCar calendar, and one of the oldest and most important automobile races. It has been avouched to be the largest single-day sporting event in the entire world. Likewise, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself is regarded as the world's largest sporting facility in terms of capacity. The official attendance is not disclosed by Speedway management, but the permanent seating capacity is upwards of 250,000, and infield patrons raise the race-day attendance to approximately 300,000.  The total purse exceeded $13 million in 2011, with over $2.5 million awarded to the winner, making it one of the richest cash prize funds in sports.

Similar to NASCAR's Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 is typically held early in the IndyCar Series season. That is unique to most sports where major events are usually at the end of the respective season. Currently the Indy 500 is the sixth event of the 17-race IndyCar schedule. In the 1970s-1990s, Indianapolis was often the second or third race of the season, and as late as the 1950s, it was sometimes the first championship event of the year. Due to the high prestige of the Indianapolis 500 - rivaling or even surpassing the season championship - it is not uncommon for some teams and drivers to concentrate heavily on preparation for the 500 during the early part of the season, and not focus fully on the championship battle until after Indy.

The event, billed as The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, is considered part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, which comprises three of the most prestigious motorsports events in the world, also including the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The inaugural race was held in 1911 and was won by Ray Harroun. The event celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011, and the 100th running was held in 2016. Takuma Sato is the current champion. The most successful drivers are A. J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr., and Rick Mears, each of whom have won the race four times. The active driver with the most victories is Hélio Castroneves, with three. Rick Mears holds the record for most career pole positions with six. The most successful car owner is Roger Penske, owner of Team Penske, which has 16 total wins and 17 poles.

The event is steeped in tradition, in pre-race ceremonies, post-race celebrations, and race procedure. The most noteworthy and most popular traditions are the 33-car field, the annual singing of "Back Home Again in Indiana," and the victory lane bottle of milk.

Coca Cola 600

Photo courtesy of NASCAR.com
Jimi Johnson Holding up the Checkered Flag at the Coca Cola 600
Photo courtesy of NASCAR.com
The Coca-Cola 600, considered one of the top five annual NASCAR races, is an annual 600-mile (970 km) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points race held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, during Memorial Day weekend. The event, when first held in 1960, became the first race to be held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Run since 1960, it is the longest race on NASCAR's schedule at 600 miles (970 km). It is also unique for the fact that the race changes drastically from start to finish. It starts around 6:20 PM and the track is bathed in sunlight for the first third of the race. The second third happens at dusk, and the final third under the lights.

The event was started as an attempt by NASCAR to stage a Memorial Day weekend event to compete with the open-wheel Indianapolis 500. It was not until 1974, however, that both races competed head-to-head on the same day. Before 1974, the two races were held on different days of the week, and on a few occasions, some drivers drove in both; this continued even after the Coca-Cola 600 was moved to the same day, albeit to a smaller degree. In fact, the first World 600 was not held on the Memorial Day weekend; it was held on June 16 due to snowstorms that delayed the completion of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 2009 race, postponed by rain from its original May 24 date, was the first race to have run on Memorial Day itself.

With the installation of lights in 1992, fans complained to circuit management to have the race start later in the day because of the notorious North Carolina heat and humidity. They wanted to follow The Winston's popularity the previous week and switch the race to a nighttime finish to create cooler temperatures for spectators. The start time was moved back several times throughout the 1990s, and finally settled at 5:30 pm in 2001, to attempt to have the race finished by 10 pm ET, in time for local news on Fox affiliates.

With the new starting time came new challenges. Not only do race teams have to deal with the blistering Carolina heat, but the considerable temperature change at night make track conditions completely different.

The nighttime portion of the race is lit with a system that uses parabolic reflectors so that dangerous glare that would otherwise be in the drivers' eyes is minimized. The move of the race to the early evening made it possible for drivers to do Double Duty – run the Indianapolis 500, then immediately fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, and participate in the Coca-Cola 600. Experts disagreed over whether, for health and safety reasons, anyone should be allowed to race 1100 miles in one day, but no regulation has been passed yet by any governing body to prevent it. From 2005 to 2010, the issue became moot when the state of Indiana finally decided to go to daylight saving time. This resulted in only an approximately one-hour long span between the end of the Indianapolis 500 and the start of the Coca-Cola 600. The Indianapolis 500 start time was moved back to noon Eastern in 2011, but only one attempt – by Kurt Busch in 2014 – has been done since then.


Here at l’art et l’automobile, we are avid race enthusiasts, and as such are watching and waiting patiently for the truly colossal series of racing events. We are fascinated by the history and spectacle of the whole process and hope that we have shed some light on this amazing day in racing with you as well. As a special bonus, we have collected all of our Monaco, Indy and NASCAR artwork, memorabilia and collectables into one collection, and are presenting it to you. Feel free to tour the gallery here, and perhaps add a few pieces to your collection.

And as always, Like and Share us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter, Share a Picture with us on Instagram and catch up on the rest of the blog below.


James Karthauser
Development and Social Media
l'art et l'automobile