AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN November 16, 1997 Jeff Gordon (DuPont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) finished 17th Sunday in Atlanta's NAPA 500 and won the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup title; he achieved a "modern era" (1972-97)...
AUTO RACING ANALYSIS RACEFACTS BULLETIN November 16, 1997
Jeff Gordon (DuPont Hendrick Chevrolet Monte Carlo) finished 17th Sunday in Atlanta's NAPA 500 and won the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup title; he achieved a "modern era" (1972-97) NASCAR Winston Cup milestone and tied an all-time (1949-97) record! The milestone? By winning the 1997 title, Jeff has two Winston Cup championships in his first five Winston Cup seasons, the quickest achievement of multiple Winston Cup titles in the "modern era!" The feat matches the achievement of Herb Thomas, who won two Winston Cup titles, in 1951 and 1953, in his first five Winston Cup seasons (1949-53)! Jeff's first full Winston Cup season (1993) saw him finish 14th in points, while Herb Thomas placed 25th in his (and the series') first season in 1949. In 1994, his second season, Jeff ranked eighth in points, while Thomas' second season, 1950, produced an eleventh-place ranking. Jeff won his first Winston Cup title in his third season, 1995, as Herb Thomas did in his third season, 1951! Jeff's fourth season, 1996, and Herb's fourth season, 1952, produced the same result: a runnerup finish in the championship! Herb then won the 1953 title, completing a three-season 1-2-1 sequence Jeff has emulated! Bobby Labonte's win (Interstate Batteries Gibbs Pontiac Grand Prix) was his first of 1997 in Winston Cup and the fifth Winston Cup victory of his career, all for Joe Gibbs Racing. The victory was Bobby's first driving a Pontiac Grand Prix. His previous wins came in Chevrolet Monte Carlos. He has now won two consecutive Atlanta NAPA 500s plus the 1995 Charlotte 600 and both Michigan 400s in 1995. The victory was the seventh for Joe Gibbs Racing, as Dale Jarrett won the 1993 Daytona 500 and 1994 Charlotte 500 for Gibbs driving Chevrolet Luminas. Pontiac won more than one Winston Cup race (2 in 1997) for the first time since 1995's two-race victory total; the Grand Prix won only once in 1996. Pontiac was winless in 1994 after its best "modern era" (1972-97) season of ten wins in 1993. With the Ford Taurus replacing the Thunderbird in 1998, the Thunderbird's Winston Cup victory total is 190, second to the Chevrolet Monte Carlo's 248! During the 1995-1997 era of the "new Monte Carlo" the Chevrolet Monte Carlo has won 49 races, the Ford Thunderbird 40, and the Pontiac Grand Prix 5. Harris Devane (Georgia Peanuts C.L. Jones Ford Thunderbird) won a thrilling 3-way finish-line shootout to take victory in Saturday's Reese's 400 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Supercar event! The victory was the first ever for Devane! Devane ranked seventh in 1995 ARCA points and third in 1996 but has run a limited schedule in 1997!
ARA MODEL REVIEW
BRUMM 1:43 DIECAST
AUTO UNION TIPO C 1936
The Brumm (R38) #4 Auto Union Type C model is a very accurate representation of the 1936 Type C carrying #4 driven by Achille Varzi at Monaco in 1936 (second place), Hans Stuck in the 1936 GP of Tunis at Carthage (retired with engine failure), and driven to wins by Bernd Rosemeyer in the 1936 German GP at the Nurburgring, the 1936 Swiss GP at Bremgarten, and the 1936 Italian GP at Monza. The Auto Union Type C was one of racing history's most unusual appearing Grand Prix cars! The silver Brumm model #4 captures this unusual appearance stunningly; the bodywork segmenting and detail is verifiably accurate per contemporaneous photography! A nice added touch: dashboard gauge detail! Perspective on the famed Auto Union-Mercedes Grand Prix battle of the 1930s is provided by L.J.K. Setright in his book The Grand Prix: "The Auto Union had a V16 with but one camshaft high up between the two banks of cylinder heads and its crankshaft was built up from no less than thirty-three component parts. It had two valves seated in each combustion chamber." Setright continued: "The cars (Auto Union and Mercedes) varied considerably in a large number of details such as suspension geometries, supercharging techniques, use of bearings, but all of these details were subordinate to the principal contrast that in the Mercedes the engine was in front of the driver and in the Auto Union it was behind him." Setright notes: "The chief designer of the Auto Union was the late Doctor Ferdinand Porsche, who had been responsible for the design of the cars which had carried the names of Mercedes and Mercedes-Benz into racing up to 1931." Setright continues: "The Auto Union was a car that very few people could drive effectively; and only one man, Bernd Rosemeyer, whose previous competition experience was on motorcycles, was able to drive it so fast as consistently to extend the Mercedes-Benz opposition. The Auto Union oversteered wildly and often unpredicatably; all its designers' care in endowing it with what was conceived to be an ideal weight distribution was valueless in face of the dynamic peculiarities of the suspension. Even the pains taken to ensure consistent handling and constant weight distribution by locating the fuel tank at the centre of gravity bore little fruit, the most remarked effect being to force the driver's seat even further forward." This evaluation was echoed by Nigel Roebuck in his Rosemeyer appreciation in Grand Prix Greats and by David Owen in his Automobile Quarterly Fall-Winter 1970 article, Porsche: The Man. Setright elaborates on the fine year Auto Union achieved in 1936: "The tables were turned in 1936. Mercedes-Benz enlarged their engine to 4.3 and then to 4.74 litres from which, with alcohol fuel, they obtained as much as 494 bhp, still at 5800 rpm; but Auto Union, this time increasing both the stroke and bore of their engine and raising the permitted crankshaft rate even higher, emerged with a full 6 litres and a mighty 520 bhp at 5000 rpm. Add to this the poor controllability of the new short chassis adopted by Mercedes Benz and the virtuosity of the young Rosemeyer, and it is easy to see why the fortunes of the latter team were as favourable to them in 1936 as they had been unfavourable the previous year." In fact, in 1936 the Type C entered 12 races and won six of them, scoring two 1-2-3 and two 1-2 finishes! While the World Championship did not begin until 1950, a "European Championship" was contested in the 1930s; four races were part of this Championship in 1936 (Monaco, German GP at the Nurburgring, Swiss GP at Bremgarten, Italian GP at Monaco) and Auto Union C types contested all four events, winning three (1-2 at Nurburgring, 1-2-3 at Bremgarten, first and third at Monza, second and third at Monaco) as Rosemeyer won three of the four events, ceding victory only to Rudolf Caracciola (Mercedes-Benz W25) at Monaco! Not surprisingly, Auto Union drivers Bernd Rosemeyer and Hans Stuck finished 1-2 in the Championship with Auto Union pilots Achille Varzi, Ernst Von Delius and Rudolf Hasse fourth, tied for seventh, and tied for tenth, respectively. Interrupting the Auto Union driver dominance were Tazio Nuvolari and Raymond Sommer, third- and fifth-ranking, respectively, driving Alfa Romeo entries, and Mercedes' Caracciola in sixth. In addition to the four "Grand Epreuve" European Championship events, Auto Union contested eight other nonchampionship events. At Monaco on April 13, 1936, Varzi finished second with Stuck third; Stuck also set Fast Lap. Rosemeyer retired due to a wreck. On May 10 at Mellaha (Tripoli), Varzi won and set Fast Lap with Stuck second; Rosemeyer retired due to a fire. May 17 at Carthage (Tunis) produced three retirements; Rosemeyer led, set Fast Lap, but retired due to another fire but still placed fifth. Varzi wrecked and Stuck suffered engine failure. June 7 at Montjuich Park (Barcelona) saw Ernst Von Delius make his first 1936 appearance; he finished fourth with Rosemeyer fifth. The June 14 Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring saw Rosemeyer win and set Fast Lap; Varzi, Stuck, and Von Delius finished 7-8-9. June 21 at Budapest saw Rosemeyer lead and finish second with Varzi third and Stuck (relieved by Von Delius) fifth. Only Varzi competed in the June 28 Milan event; he led, set Fast Lap, and finished second. Rosemeyer won the July 26 German GP at the Nurburgring; he also set Fast Lap; Stuck was second, Rudolf Hasse (in his first 1936 appearance) fourth and Von Delius sixth; Varzi did not compete. The August 2 Coppa Ciano at Montenero saw Rosemeyer (relieved by Stuck) finish fourth; Varzi led but retired with brake problems, placing sixth. Rosemeyer won the August 15 Coppa Acerbo at Pescara with Von Delius second and Varzi third! Stuck wrecked in practice and did not start. Auto Union scored another 1-2-3 in the August 23 Swiss GP at Bremgarten, Rosemeyer leading Varzi and Stuck to the podium as Rosemeyer also set Fast Lap. Hasse was fifth! The final 1936 appearance, the September 13 Italian GP at Monza, saw Rosemeyer qualify fastest, set Fast Lap in the race and win! Von Delius finished third. Varzi, relieved by Hasse, retired with engine failure while Stuck, who had led the race, wrecked. All told, the 1936 Auto Union Type C effort made 36 starts in 12 races, won six times, achieved seven runnerup finishes and five thirds for 18 "podium" finishes, a 50% success rate! Three finishes apiece in fourth and fifth place plus two sixths gave the marque 26 finishes in the Top Six positions; six more placings in positions seventh through tenth were achieved. Only eight retirements were posted, five due to mechanical causes and three due to wrecks. An Auto Union driver led 10 of the 12 events, and Auto Union accounted for eight Fast Laps! Rosemeyer was the most successful 1936 Auto Union driver, with five wins, a second, a fourth and a fifth in eleven events. He led seven races and set Fast Lap in five. Bernd retired from two events due to mechanical reasons and wrecked in one. Varzi took a win, three runnerup finishes, two thirds and a sixth in ten races. He wrecked once and suffered two mechanical retirements. Achille led three races and set two Fast Laps. Stuck achieved no wins but took two seconds, two thirds, a fourth and a fifth in eight races. Hans wrecked once and suffered one mechanical retirement plus one Did Not Start due to an accident. He led one race (Monza before wrecking) and set one Fast Lap (Monaco). Von Delius started five races, Hasse two; each also drove in relief in one event. Von Delius' five starts (plus one relief effort) saw him take a second, a third, a fourth, a fifth (the relief effort), a sixth and a ninth as he posted no retirements! Hasse started only two races, finishing fourth and fifth, and relieved Varzi at Monza only to have the engine expire! While the specifications of the Type C changed slightly in 1937, the appearance of the car remained very similar and thus the Brumm model of car #4 provides a fairly accurate representation of Rosemeyer's winning car in the 1937 Roosevelt Raceway Vanderbilt Cup "Indycar" event! In addition to that race, the Type C appeared in twelve other 1937 events and achieved a total of five wins in the 13 events. In addition to Rosemeyer's Vanderbilt Cup victory, he also won the 1937 Nurburgring Eifelrennen race, the 1937 Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, and the October 2, 1937 Donington Park (England) GP. Rudolf Hasse won the 1937 Belgian GP at Spa in a Type C.
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* * HAPPY HOLIDAYS! HAPPY NEW YEAR! * *
* * Final Weekly Racefacts Bulletin of 1997! Next Weekly Bulletin January 18, 1998 * *
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