Front Engined Formula Junior Grid
The principality of Monaco played hosts to the Front Engine Juniors for their Diamond Jubilee. With 48 entries, Pilotes from 10 countries, cars from 23 different constructors, it was always going to be exiting, and did the Juniors deliver! In 1959 the entry was dominated by Italian constructors, and it was heart-warming to see so many red cars entered. One last minute change, Murray Smith had to drop out under doctor’s orders, nothing too nasty, and his place in the Volpini was taken by none other than HRH Prince Joachim of Denmark, with a little help from fellow countryman Jac Nellemann.We may think 48 a high number, but in 1960, there were 54 Juniors entered, with the race limited to 22! So let’s turn the clock back to the Junior’s first outing at Monaco…
In 1959, a certain Continental Correspondent of ‘Motor Sport’ magazine, whilst reporting on the Grand Prix, noted the “dropping of early morning practice, with another change being the addition of a Formula Junior race on the Saturday” This was the sole reference to Juniors in the report.
With 34 entries, mainly Italian constructors, using Fiat engines, there were no less than 16 Stanguellinis entered. Of the 20 entrants that actually turned up, the most significant British entry, was Ecurie Dolphin with David Latchford in the Halson- BMC/Westlake. The race was dominated by Michel May, in a Stanguellini, taking pole and going on to win the 32 lap race, with a fastest lap of 1’ 54.5”
By 1960, the Junior category had expanded beyond all recognition, and provided many more column inches in ‘Motor Sport’. DSJ reported; “Very early on Friday morning, the gentle old ladies of Monaco, just retired from the gambling tables, and the not so gentle young gentlemen who were just returning, had their rest rudely shattered when the miscellaneous foreign contingent of Formula Junior cars rent the silence, from the hard and very noisy exhaust of the Dagrada – Lancia to the screaming ding- ding- ding of the DKW engines. Some of the driving was horrible to watch while others showed terrific enthusiasm and enjoyment, even if they lacked skill!” These drivers faced a “multitude of stone walls and kerbs, to say nothing of trees and lampposts”!
For the second practice session he wrote “Having closed the track to F1 cars, the place suddenly became knee deep of Formula Junior cars, of all shapes, sizes and colours, 54 cars having been accepted by the organisers, of which the fastest 22 in practice would be allowed to start in the Junior race. The entry was divided into two groups for practice, first the French, German, Swiss and Italian runners, of which Colin Davis with the beautifully made O.S.C.A. – Fiat was the fastest.” However in the other group, there were Ken Tyrell with a Cooper, Team Lotus and a Chequered Flag Gemini, here this weekend, in the hands of Paul Dixon. Jim Clark, Lotus 18, made pole, but slipped back during the race, which was won by Henry Taylor in a Cooper, followed by Peter Ashdown in a Lola Mk2, still an extremely competitive car, especially for Monaco. Fastest lap Jim Clark in 1’ 45.8”, 109.53KPH.
FAST FORWARD TO 2016
Friday, dry and overcast.
On Friday afternoon the great and good of Monaco, took a break from massaging their offshore accounts on their lap tops, as the engines of 48 Formula Juniors burst into life.
Thankfully Auto Club de Monaco, split the Juniors into two groups, even, and odd racing numbers. There were two practice sessions on Friday, the results counting towards grid position for the two qualifying races on Saturday, which in turn gave the starting places for the race on Sunday, for all 48 entries!
Practice 1, Even numbers
At 2.30 Jac Nellemann in the Alfa Dana followed by Prince Joachim in the Volpini (after a quick chat and words of encouragement from Ruling Prince Albert of Monaco), led the group of even number cars out onto the track. There was drama as early as lap 3, when odds on favourite Chris Drake, having already posted a time worthy of pole on lap 2 , in the very nimble and powerful, downdraught engined Terrier, had an seal on the oil filter fail entering the old Station Hairpin. He lost control on his own oil, stalled, restarted, and did a 180, only to realise that the oil light was on, so with quick thinking did another 180 through a gap in the barriers, and stopped the engine. The whole of the hairpin was covered in oil. The next car to arrive, the Autosud of Paul Halford, slid on the oil, and nudged the barrier, whilst a helpless Nick Grewal in the OSCA hit the back of the Autosud, and then pirouetted around its back wheel, and gave it a further kiss in the side! Thankfully both drivers were unharmed, and miraculously the OSCA suffered relatively minor body damage, while Keith Roach exercised his skills on the Autosud tail, as only a true craftsman can. As there was so much oil on the track, the even number practice was red flagged and ended after 3 laps, with Drake fastest at 2’.04” then Christian Traber, Lola, and Jo Colasacco , Stanguellini, third.
Practice 1 Odd numbers
In the odd number session Ray Mallock led the pack out on to the track. Less than a week ago the U2 seized its engine whilst being run up on a rolling road back at base, and a new block and pistons had to be sourced over the weekend, and the engine built up from scratch. On its journey through England, there was a diversion and 2 hour delay on the M1, a three hour delay on Le Shuttle, and then probably like many other competitors, fog in France. That it was ready in the paddock on time, was down to the skill and sheer determination of the Mallock engineers. 2 laps into practice Monaco first timer Mallock waved past another first timer, a very feisty looking Jonathon Hughes in the Lola, and then waved through John Chisolm, in the Gemini, who was struggling to keep up with the Ford engine car on the straights, but was more comfortable around the corners. Hughes was setting the pace, from Nick Taylor in the Elva, Mallock in the U2, and Stuart Roach, in Tom de Gres’ Stanguellini, a couple of seconds adrift.
The Bandini of Tupper Robinson had a huge amount of smoke billowing from the engine, that had been kindly loaned by Nick Grewal, having dropped a valve, and sadly took no further part in the event.
Hughes was fastest with a 2’05.2”, Chisholm and Tony Olissoff in the FWD Elfin, 4 seconds adrift, followed by Stuart Roach in the Stanguellini, Mallock and Nick Taylor in the Elva.
Practice 2 Even Numbers.
The Terrier had new oil and filter, and was on the pace straight away, whilst Colasacco, was suffering from brake degradation, visiting the pits to let them cool down. This was all within a 15 minute practice session! With the seconds ticking away he shot out of the pits and put in a front row time, in just one lap. Exciting stuff!
The session ended, with Drake on pole for the qualifying race with a 1’59.24”, Colasacco only 8 tenths adrift, with a further 7 tenths to Christian Traber, Lola, and in 4th, a great drive by 70s F3 star Mike Walker, who last raced here in 1972, in the FWD Bond. Jac Nellemann was 5th, but still struggling with the brake issue. Francesco Liberatore was having gear box problems with his Stanguellini.
Practice 2 Odd numbers
Jonathon Hughes was straight out on to a hot lap, but outbraked himself at the chicane, whilst Roach also decided to take the short cut. On his final lap Hughes actually posted a time of 1’.58.4” but had cut the chicane again, so, his fastest time stood at 2’.00.2” 8 tenths shy of the Terrier. Nick Taylor in the Elva put in a stunning lap to finish 2nd, with new boys Mallock and Roach ever faster in 3rd and 4th. Olissoff was 5th, and Chisholm, although driving his socks off dropping back to 6th.
The times of the faster cars had improved by 4 seconds or so in the second sessions, whilst further down the grid, times were improving by 10 seconds or more as new to Monaco drivers became more confident. Clear laps were an issue, and I doubt if anyone had a perfect lap.
Saturday; Dry and overcast.
Qualifying race Even Numbers
After the warm up lap, Michael Sexton’s Gemini stopped on the grid with a broken diff and had to be pushed away, so the race was reduced to 6 laps. As the red lights came on for the start of the race for some inexplicable reason, the little Terrier, slipped its lead, jumped the start, and scampered off up the track, leaving the rest of the pack to follow a second or so later. Christian Traber had a great start and was second, but soon overtaken by Colasacco. These three were well ahead of Ralph Emmerling in the Gemini and Mike Walker in the Bond. On lap 2, the Alfa Dana of Jac Nellemann finally expired. By lap 4 the leaders were already lapping the slower cars, Alan Patterson retiring the Elva. Drake took his penalty for jumping the start, by cruising into the pits on the last lap, only losing two places. Luciano Carcheri spun his Taraschi on the last lap, but was able to continue. It was good to see the Bond in 5th place, just behind the Gemini of Emmerling.
Qualifying Race 1
1 Colasacco, 2 Traber, 3 Drake, 4 Emmerling, 5 Walker, 6 Flemming, 7 S.A.R. Prince Joachim, 8 Crispian Besley, 9 Stephen Barlow, 10 Graeme Smith.
Qualifying race . Odd numbers
This time the Stanguellini of “Mister John of B” stopped on the grid, so the cars set off on another green flag lap, while it the stranded car was pushed off the track, so another 6 lap race. The U2 was positioned for a fast start, and indeed outdragged the Elva of Taylor who then had to contend with Roach, as they drove though Saint Devote side by side. By now Roach had discovered that he could drive the red Stanguellini almost as sideways as his Alexis, and was pleasing the crowd with his driving style, even within the tight confines of this street circuit.
On Lap 3 Chisholm also passed Taylor, whilst at the front Hughes was lapping under, the 2 minute mark. Olissoff had a harmless spin at the chicane, after some very committed driving, but soon Chisolm’s car was smoking rather ominously. It coasted to a stop on the hill up towards the casino, with a blown head gasket. On the last lap Hughes had two cars lined up for a pass coming out of the tunnel, and the ever aware Kevin Musson in the Dolphin gave him just enough room under braking for the chicane. Great control by both drivers.
Qualifying race 2
1 Hughes, 2 Mallock, 3 Roach, 4 Taylor, 5 Olissoff, 6 Salodini, 7 Herrick, 8 Dixon, 9 Rollinger, 10 Bishop- Miller
Sunday, Race Day.
Air temperature 17C, Track Temp. 18C, 77% Humidity, 10 laps
Race day, dawned sunny, the sky blue and the Mediterranean twinkling in the background, in contrast to the two heavily overcast days of qualifying. 5 cars having dropped out with terminal mechanical issues, meant that 43 cars were lined up with the even numbers on the right side of the track, and the odds on the left. The cars looks absolutely stunning in the early morning sun, which was just as well as they came under close scrutiny from the TV cameras, with live links to the huge screens place strategically around the circuit. The combining of the two qualifying races , produced some interesting grid positions, as follows; Colasacco on pole, then Hughes, Traber, Mallock, Drake, Roach, Emmerling , Nick Taylor, Walker in the FWD Bond ,and Olissoff in the other FWD car in10th. It was satisfying to witness a red Stanguellini, on pole, just as it was in 1959, with an equally iconic Lola beside it. This left the exiting prospect, of the fastest qualifier out of position in 5th place on the grid having to overtake the 4 cars in front to win. However at Monaco it is not wise to count your chickens.
With such a large field, the race was started behind the safety car, which prevented certain carnage at Saint Devote! Colasacco had backed up the field, and and as the safety car pulled off, at 9.12 am he powered in to the lead at the start, but only half a lap into the race, Drake’s challenge came nought, as he coasted to a halt after the chicane, with a sheared outer UV driveshaft joint. Colasacco was pulling away from Hughes, with Traber and Mallock hanging on for all they were worth. On lap 3 Colasacco, succumbed to the brake problems, that had been plaguing him all weekend, and lost the back of the car, going in to Mirabeau, in a gentle half spin. Hughes powered by into the lead. On the same lap Justin Fleming in the Lola was on a charge, and coming up the hill from Saint Devote touched wheels overtaking the Elfin, which caused the Lola to spin across the track twice, before crashing into the barrier backwards. Fortunately he was fine, unlike the car. We had managed almost 3 laps before the safety car was deployed! The Lola was swiftly craned off the track, judging by the position of the crane, not the first ever car to end its race at this point.
Only a lap later at the safety car restart the race order was Hughes, Traber, Mallock, Roach, Emmerling, Taylor, Walker. Colasacco, was in down in 8 th place, and started a charge back through the field. Now this was fun to watch, as the leaders were having to race, as well as navigate the slower cars. To every drivers’ credit, despite the huge numbers of cars on track, there were no further serious incidents. At times the entrance to the chicane was one big moving mass of FJs, 3 abreast! Taylors’ Elva was expiring fast, and sadly retired from the fray with a broken diff, having been in the top 10 all weekend. On the 5th lap Colasacco was already in 6th place, on lap 6, he overtook Roach on the start/finish straight, then the U2 and was “back on for a podium”, whilst 2nd place man, Traber found himself blocked, by the Autosud for a few corners, with Colasacco ever closer. On lap 8 Luciano Carcheri ‘s Taraschi expired, and the blue Staguellini, of Peter Fenichel, having started the race minus 2nd gear, coasted to a halt at Mirabeau with no gears at all. Colasacco made it up to third and a potential podium very quickly, and the spectators were really enjoying the action. Frustratingly his clutch then started slipping, and he dropped back down the pack after a valiant drive. At the front, Hughes had been scything his way through the traffic extremely clinically to take the victory, a slightly more cautious Traber, 10 seconds down, with a delighted Ray Mallock in 3rd. Roach finished a splendid sideways 4th, then Emmerling, Walker, Colasacco, Ossiloff, Daniele Salodini in the Taraschi, and a solid drive, from Prince Joachim, who brought the Volpini home in very credible 10th.
The crowd was quite breathless after all of this action, and gave all the competitors a huge ovation on the slowing down lap.
It should be mentioned again, that although the majority of the drivers were having their first appearance at Monaco, the standard of driving, was indeed a credit to them.
After 10 exacting laps, and more action in one race, than a whole F1 season , there were quite a few dazed souls wandering around the paddock after the race, reflecting on what might have been, though happy in the knowledge that they have competed for 3 days, at the most iconic motor racing venue in the world.
Afterwards all the drivers and partners were invited by the ever generous Ned Spieker aboard his yacht “Passion”, for a well-deserved celebration brunch.
1 Jonathon Hughes Fastest lap 1’57.197”
2 Christian Traber
3 Ray MallockClass1
Ford engined cars
1 Jonathon Hughes
2 Christian Traber
3 Ray MallockClass 2
Fiat or Lancia engine
1 Stuart Roach
2 Jo Colasacco
3 Daniele Salodini
Class 3 Other
1 Ralph Emmerling
2 Anthony Olissoff
3 John Chisholm.
Notes on Monaco.
- I calculated that with 48 cars competing, each car would have 69.52 metres of track!
- It was refreshing to smell expensive perfume wafting around the paddock, it mixed with the Castrol R really well, better than the usual aroma of fried food.
- The electronic scoreboard at the end of the race, showed Stuart Roach as of German descent, and somebody called Prince in 10th position.
- The swift removal of crashed cars was fantastic, it took only a couple of minutes to remove Justin Fleming’s car, and someone commented that they have never seen so many cars hanging vertically from cranes.
- It is a shame that there was only a small crowd to watch the FJ race, at 9 am in the morning. However I suspect that the highlights were shown throughout the day on the big screens.
- Prince Joachim is an experienced Lotus Cortina driver, and has been instrumental in keeping the Copenhagen historic races alive, despite a large green movement within Denmark.
- The grid girls were absolutely gorgeous.
- I’m sure the commentator mentioned something about Duncan’s 500th race
- The two FWD cars came home in 6th and 8th, a tribute to their designer/constructors