Jan/Feb 2019 edition
Issue #3 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
If you are an enthusiast who delights in the history of our sport and finding out how, why and where things happened, you might appreciate Rachael Clegg’s artistic take on historic events, that took place on two of the most important and dangerous tracks in the world.
In my school days, my classmates and I were ferried on rare occasions to a large museum to view the works of famed artists. Many considered this akin to “casting pearls before swine”. We were kids! We yawned at Rubens portraits, pointed, tittered, and blushed at the site of plump semi-nude angels and yawned again at each landscape. And then there were the enigmas; the works of Van Gogh and Picasso, for which our guides had no plausible explanation that a pre-pubescent mind could ever comprehend.
Now I am drawn (forgive the pun) to art that has a story. It is a dimension now essential to adding pieces to the cherished detritus of my life. Some of the time the story is obvious in the image. At other times, a discussion with the artist is needed to give the piece meaning for me.
The 12.2 mile Nurburgring in Germany is unquestionably the most dangerous race circuit in the history of the sport. Dubbed “the Green Hell” by Jackie Stewart, it has been neutered and mercifully bears no resemblance to its earlier deadly iterations. Today’s 12.2 mile track is the site of an excellent driving school, and a “rent-a-road” format that by paying a toll, people without imagination or knowledge of history run their quick street cars.
When I first saw Rachael’s work, a calendar of pieces shot at the Nurburgring, I was interested but confused. I recognized the track and recognized her, but what was it all about? And then I read the stories accompanying each image. Rachel’s calendar retells tales which are now part of the history of each track, and by shooting at the precise spot where history took place, with relevant artifacts, she brings history to life.
Each image features her, a story about what happened at that precise spot on the track, and the pieces of cars or equipment involved in the incident. Each calendar tells twelve collectible stories. All, truly worthy of occupying space on the Incidental Collector’s wall.
FUCHSRÖHRE: For the 1971 1000kms World Championship Tony Goodwin entered a car with a sawn-off roof, having previously learned that cars with open roofs attracted twice the appearance money. But the car was rejected by scrutineers and so the team promptly had an Adenau blacksmith fabricate a roll cage. The scrutineers were so impressed with the makeshift repairs, that they allowed the car to enter the race. But the car went backwards through a hedge near the Fuchsrohre, and then suffered an exploded tyre at Antoniusbuche, which destroyed a bulk of the bodywork. Remarkably, they finished with a podium result.
KARUSSEL-THE REAL WHITE ELEPHANT: The White Elephant’s spiritual home is here, on the Nordschleife, and particularly at the section named after its victorious pilot, Rudolph Caracciola. Mercedes ‘S’ and ‘SSK’ series reigned at the “Ring” until the early thirties. The 6.8 litre, supercharged titans outpaced their more aerodynamic, lighter rivals in numerous races, and remain one of the world’s most desirable cars.
BERGWERK: The most evocative cars in the motorsport history owe their reputation to fluke. Known as the Silver Arrows, the Mercedes W25 were presented as aluminium ‘bullets’ simply because of a weight restriction at the Eiffel GP in 1934. The Mercedes cars - all painted in Germany’s racing colour of white - weighed just one kilogram more than the Nurburgring’s new weight restriction. Nothing further could be removed from the car to reduce its weight so Mercedes team manager, Alfred Neubauer, suggested stripping the paint down to the hand-bashed aluminium bodywork. This, combined with their sheer power, gave rise to the name ‘Silver Arrows’. So powerful was the W25 that when Mercedes driver Ernst Henne tested it at the Nurburgring in 1934 the force of the supercharger took him by such surprise that he finished in a stream at Berwerk, only to be rescued by an old woman.
Right - WIPPERMANN: Motorsport lost one of its greatest heroes last year, John Surtees CBE. Surtees was one of the few racing drivers - or riders - to be known as ‘Ringmeister’. It’s a title owing to his extraordinary success on the Nürburgring, which included six wins and three podium finishes. Surtees’ first Nürburgring victory was in 1955, on his MV Agusta. He won again on the MV in 1958 and in 1960 switched to racing cars full-time. Just three years after making the transition to four wheels he clinched his first Nordschleife win, driving a Ferrari he described as being made from nothing more than a ‘box of bits.’ Surtees was the only World Champion on two wheels and four.
To read more great columns like this one from Peter Bourassa...
The Incidental Collector