Thursday, 26 January 2012

"Silver Clouds" reviewed in Automobile

Late last year, I sent copy of my limited edition book "Silver Clouds: The 1934 Grand Prix season" to Jean Jennings, President and Editor-in-hief of Automobile magazine to get her impressions.

Just before Christmas, Jean called me to interview me about my book. She asked very good, detailed questions about it, and it was a great interview.

On Tuesday, the March issue came out on the newsstands, and the review was published in Jean's column "Vile Gossip", which is always the last page sign-off of the magazine.

As you can read, the review is wonderful, with Jennings really capturing all the subtle elements and the "raison d'être" of the book.

Now, I'm more eager than ever to start book #2 of my series on a significant year from each Grand Prix decade. This next one will cover the 1986 Grand Prix season.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The 1956 Italian Grand Prix

For the 1956 Formula 1 season, Scuderia Ferrari was fielding the Lancia-Ferrari D50’s that that they inherited from Lancia when they folded their racing efforts.

They had a strong driver line-up of Juan Manual Fangio, Peter Collins, Luigi Musso and Eugenio Castellotti.

Pen& ink, paint markers and markers on red archival stock 12"x 11'5" (30.5cm x 29cm) 
© Paul Chenard 2012
Private collection – limited editions are available.

Before the Italian Grand Prix, the last race of the season, Fangio had 2.5 wins, Sir Stirling Moss had 1 win, Collins had 2 wins, Pat Flaherty had 1 win, and Musso shared a win with Fangio.

Points-wise, it was a very close match-up between Fangio, Collins and Moss, with all 3 having a good chance at winning the World Championship into that last race at Monza.

During the race, the Monza track, with it’s steep banked section, took it’s toll on the Ferraris, with the D50s of Castellotti, Fangio and Musso dropping out.
Pen& ink and colour pencils on gray archival stock © Paul Chenard 2010
Detail from "Peter Collins – Targa Florio 1955" limited edition.

When the remaining D50 of Collins came in for a pitstop, he spotted Fangio there, and immediately hopped out of his car to hand it over to Juan Manual so he could get back into the race. Fangio came in second place behind Moss, giving him enough points to take the Championship.

When he was asked why he so unselfishly gave up his car, thus his Championship chances, Collins said that he thought that Fangio deserved it more.

Spoken like a true gentleman!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Richie Ginther: The Race Car Developer

Paul Richard “Richie” Ginther was born in Granada Hills, California in 1930.

He was raised in the same town as Phil Hill, and worked for Douglas Aircraft in the tool and die shop. Ginther met Hill and helped him in the repair and maintenance of his race cars.

He started his own race career in 1951, driving a Ford-powered MG. Shortly afterward, he was drafted to the Korean war, and worked on aircraft maintenance. 
Page from the 1959 Fuller Brush catalog.

Once out of the military, Ginther was drafted by Hill as his riding mechanic for the 1953 Carrera Panamericana, racing in a Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale. They ran well until they left the road and severely damaged the Ferrari. They returned the following year, racing a Ferrari 375 MM Vignale and finished in second place.

Page from the 1959 Fuller Brush catalog.

Not long after Hill left for Europe to drive for Scuderia Ferrari, and Ginther took his place in the States, racing more and more frequently, gaining successes.

He drove Healeys, Porsches, Aston Martins, and finally Ferraris. He moved to Europe, joining Hill with Ferrari, where he stayed for the 1960 and 1961 seasons. He was instrumental in the race development of the famous 156 F1 “Sharknose”.

Sharknoses at Spa 1961, where Ginther finished in 3rd place. Pen&ink, pencils and markers on white archival stock 12"x 9" © Paul Chenard 2012

From there he moved to BRM for 1962, also helping in the development of their Championship-winning P57 Formula 1 car.

Tamiya 1/20 Honda RA272 kit that I built.

He joined Honda in 1965, racing their new RA272 F1 car. In the last Grand Prix of the season in Mexico, he won the race, giving Honda and Goodyear their first Formula 1 win. Unfortunately, it was Ginther’s only Formula 1 win.

Sketch on a package I shipped to California for a good client.
Pen&ink and markers on Foamcore.  © Paul Chenard 2012

Ginther had a small part in John Frankenheimer’s 1966 film “Grand Prix.”

Ginther finally retired in 1967, and sadly passed away in 1989 while camping with his family in France.