Vintage car racing continues to grow in popularity, and as time goes by, more cars are eligible to compete in this sport which is as much about ‘Show’ as it is about ‘Go’. Vintage car racing has broad appeal to all age groups. Older fans can reminisce about the races they attended in their youth or watched on television, while younger fans are enticed by the retro styling and back to basics design that ruled racing before technology entered onto the scene.
One of the most famous car races of the post-war era was the Carrera Panamericana that was run between 1950 and 1955 across a rough and uneven Mexican course. This race was truly legendary, with Mercedes and Porsche battling American makes such as Lincoln (yes, Lincoln) for the glory of road racing victory. Porsche later celebrated their successes in the race by using the ‘Carrera’ name on some of their more sporty models. The race was revived in the 1980s and is now run by vintage vehicles. I guess one could say, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.
In the US, vintage auto racing’s home is the historic racetrack at Watkins Glen NY. The track celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998 by hosting the Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand Prix. The event was so well attended and received that the ‘Zip’ has become an annual event. Not only original racecars, but also their original drivers, are featured in the Grand Prix Festival Race Reenactment that runs on the original 6.6 mile long circuit winding its way through the village of Watkins Glen.
Michael Schumacher is without a doubt one of the world’s most outstanding Formula One drivers. Statistically speaking Schumacher is F1’s greatest driver ever. World Champion seven times over, Michael Schumacher has received worldwide recognition and has a massive following of fans. Schumacher was also well-known as the first billionaire athlete in the world with his 2004 annual salary coming in at $80 million. A name spoken of widely, Michael Schumacher will always be a Formula One racing legend.
Formula One driver Michael Schumacher was born on 3 January 1969 in Germany. At the tender age of 4 he began using his father’s homemade kart in races. A whiz behind the wheel of the simple pedal-kart with a motorcycle engine, Michael won his first championship when he was 6 years old. His racing talents were soon recognized by his parents and others who sought to sponsor him. As a youngster he went on to claim a number of European and German kart championships. In the year 1988 Michael Schumacher competed in the Formula Ford series and later won the German Formula 3 series in 1990. At the end of that year he became a member of the Mercedes junior racing program. He gained victory in both 1990 and 1991.
Schumacher as a F1 driver for Benetton won two championships. In 1996 he joined Ferrari. In no time at all Schumacher turned the flailing team around, winning a number of championships for them. What made Michael Schumacher such a remarkable Formula One driver? He became renowned for taking his car to its limits, for creating fast laps at vital times and excellent driving skills even in wet conditions. In fact his mastery over wet tracks gained him the title “Regenmeister” or “Rain Master”. Throughout his career Michael Schumacher has taken home a number of awards and titles. In 2002 and 2004 he was the recipient of the prestigious Laureaus World Sportsman of the Year. The FIA Gold Medal for Motor Sports was awarded to Schumacher. Currently Michael Schumacher has gained practically every F1 record including most races won in a season, fastest laps, most drivers’ championships, pole positions and race victories.
Sadly, Michael Schumacher suffered a serious head injury while skiing in December 2013 and remained in a coma for nearly six months. As of December 2014, he is said to be making some cognitive progress in that he is starting to recognize people he knows, but he remains paralyzed and wheelchair bound.
Sir Stirling Moss OBE was born on 17 September 1929 in London. Moss is a former British racing driver who succeeded in many categories of racing, making him one of the world’s elite. He has often been called the “greatest driver never to win the World Championship”.
Stirling Moss raced from 1948 to 1962 and won approximately 194 out of the 497 races that he entered and took part in. This incorporated a total of 16 Formula One Grand Prix events. Once when he was interviewed he told the interviewer that over the years he had participated in 525 races in total and that he raced as many as 62 races in one year in just as many different cars. Drivers who came out of that era competed in many categories, often at the same time.
Stirling was a pioneer in British Formula One racing and was second four times in the Drivers’ Championships from 1955 to 1958. His first win was at the British Grand Prix at Aintree, with the incredible Mercedes-Benz W196 Monoposto. One of his favourite drives was the 1955 Mille Miglia, a race 1597 km long endurance race on open road through Italy. Here he managed to beat teammate Fangio in second place when he finished with a record time of 10 hours and 8 minutes. His navigator was there to support Moss with notes on the long trip and anything that might affect Stirling’s decision making. This helped immensely as Stirling competed against many local drivers and this gave him as much information as what they would have had.
In 1957 Moss completed one of the longest Grand Prix circuits, winning the daunting 25 km Pescara Circuit. He again beat friend and archrival Fangio showing his skills at high speeds and over a long distance. Stirling Moss was equally gifted in the sports car as he was in the Grand Prix car, winning for three years consecutively the hard and tiring 1000 km race at Germany’s Nurburgring.
It is quite obvious that vehicle manufacture plays a vital role in the sport of Formula One racing. Certain Manufacturers such as Ferrari and Renault completely manufacture their own Formula One cars. Other teams will form close working relationships with manufacturers. Millions are spent on creating excellent cars, able to handle the road well and reach remarkable speeds. Formula One manufacturers therefore form an integral part of the success and safety of the Formula One drivers who pilot the cars produced. The global motorsport ruling body, Federation Internationale d’Automobile or FIA, introduced a new commission into the world of Formula 1 in 2007. A number of senior position employees from F1 manufacturers were invited to represent their companies on the commission. FIA representatives are Max Mosley, Tony Purnell, Peter Wright and Charlie Whiting.
Whilst Ferrari, Renault and Toyota are “factory” teams, that is, they manufacture their entire F1 car, “independent” teams such as Sauber, Williams and McLaren need to purchase engines. BMW, Honda and Mercedes are popular engine suppliers.
The final touch to the vehicle is the tyres. Two renowned F1 tyre manufacturers are Bridgestone and Michelin. Formula One drivers compete each season for the honorary Drivers’ Championship. However, Formula One car manufacturers are not left out, they can compete for the prestigious Constructors’ Championship. Cars racing for the season are awarded points depending on their finishing position. By the end of the season the points are added up and the Formula One manufacturer with the most points is winner of the Constructors’ Championship.
Bruce McLaren was the founder of the McLaren F1 Team. He was born on 30 August 1937, and started his interest in racing by competing in motorcycle races, before moving over to cars. It was the heritage he left behind after his death in 1970 that formed the platform for a world known racing team, and a name that is carried with pride.
The partnership between McLaren and Mercedes started in 1995. It was a year full of new beginnings that not only included Mercedes as their new engine partner, but new regulations as well. Mercedes was the fourth engine partner since the 1970’s and there was a lot on the line. The new Mercedes engine, which was designed and built according to the new regulations, was smaller than the engine McLaren had used previously. This made the car design teams’ life a lot simpler. Refinement details on the engine and chassis meant that the units were almost completely new, and McLaren Mercedes worked hard on the balancing problems that came to the forefront in 1996. The new engine was modified with regard to its mid-range torque, and McLaren Mercedes managed to make the unit lighter and increase its power by 5%. By 1999, McLaren Mercedes had become a force to be reckoned with on the racing track.
The new century kicked off with close rivalry between McLaren’s Mika Häkkinen and Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher. Following Häkkinen’s retirement from Formula One at the end of the 2001 season, Kimi Räikkönen stepped into his position on McLaren’s F1 Team. The 2003 F1 season started off well enough with teammates Coulthard and Räikkönen each claiming a victory for the first two races, but rival teams soon caught up. The unreliability of McLaren’s newly developed MP4-18 put the team at a disadvantage as they were forced to use the older MP4-17D model car. Nevertheless, Räikkönen proved his impressive driving skills by consistently finishing in the points, closing the season just two points short of victory. Car problems continued to plague McLaren during the 2004 season, but Räikkönen managed to clinch a victory at the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix breaking the winning streak of Michael Schumacher. 2005 saw Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya teaming up with Räikkönen for most of the season, but persistent car problems robbed Räikkönen of possible victories. The 2006 F1 season presented a number of challenges, including Montoya crashing into Räikkönen on the start line, putting them both out of the United States 2006 Grand Prix. This resulted in Montoyo parting company with the team. After the Italian Grand Prix that same year, Räikkönen signed with Ferrari to replace Michael Schumacher.
Dissent in the McLaren team during 2007, as well as a scandal regarding the team being found guilty of obtaining technical information of a rival team, were some of the setbacks to be dealt with, and at the end of the season, Fernando Alonso was released from his contract after just one season. Both the 2008 and 2009 season saw the McLaren F1 team recover to some extent, with Lewis Hamilton and Heikkii Kovalainen as drivers. At the end of the 2008 season, Hamilton became the youngest ever driver to win the Formula One Driver’s Championship. It was also the first time in nine years that McLaren had clinched this title.
For 2010, the McLaren F1 Team has a contract with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, both world champions with promising careers ahead of them. This double champion driver line-up, the first for McLaren since the Senna/Prost partnership in 1989, along with the new MP4-25 car, promises great things for the coming year.