A historic setting
The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is one of the oldest purpose-built racing track still in use. While some changes have been made for safety reasons, the high-speed circuit still includes legendary corners like the two Lesmos and the tricky Parabolica that leads back on to long straight. As a vivid reminder of the venue's very rich history, the original banked sections of the track have been retained, even though they have not been used in decades. As such, Monza forms the ideal backdrop for a historic race meeting. Although not organised by Peter Auto, the 2015 Monza Historic did include all of the familiar grids, complemented by the Alfa Revival Cup. As at Dijon a few weeks earlier, the competitors as well as your reporters were treated to absolutely scorching conditions.
We braved the heat at the 'temple of speed' to bring you this concise report, illustrated by a 250-shot gallery
Touring cars were particularly strongly represented with the Under 2-Litre Touring Cars (U2TC), the Heritage Touring Cup (HTC) and the Alfa Revival Cup. The HTC boasted a particularly colourful and diverse field that ranged from early Escorts and Camaros through to a choice of BMW 635 CSIs and even a Volvo. Fastest of all in qualifying was the blisteringly quick but fragile Cosworth-engined Ford Capri of Mr John of B. and David Ferrer. The French pairing grabbed an early lead but the engine started to develop an intermittent misfire. Eventually only Steve Dance in a slightly earlier Capri managed to get by, while Andrew Beverley placed third in his Volvo, which was enough to clinch the championship. A three-way fight between Cortinas, Alfa GTAs and BMW 1800s, the U2TC race was ultimately dominated by Richard Shaw and Jackie Oliver in the former's BMW. David Tomlin and Richard Meaden placed second in a Cortina, and fittingly an Alfa Romeo, driven by Dominik Roschmann was third.
Trofeo Nastro Rosso
Dedicated to Italian and/or Italian engined cars, the Trofeo Nastro Rosso was right at home at Monza. Due to the ever increasing value of these machines, the Nastro Rosso grids are usually the smallest but while only 20 cars were entered at Monza, the quality of the grid was fantastic. Among the entrants were a Ferrari 250 LM, Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan, Ferrari 330 GTO and Maserati 300S. Fastest of all during qualifying was Carlos Monteverde in his glorious 250 LM. In the race, the car suffered more from the heat than its rivals and as the brakes faded, the quick Brazilian slipped to third. The two cars that managed to get by were the 250 GT Breadvan of Niklas Halusa and Carlo Vogele in his four-litre GTO, who raced nose to tail until the finish with the former eventually enjoying the spoils of victory. Further mechanical issues prevented Monteverde from taking part in the second race. The second time round, Vogele made the most of the power of his larger V12 engine and scored an easy victory over Halusa in the Breadvan. This time third was for Arnold Meier in his Ferrari 275 GTB/C. In both races, the drum-brake class was won by Martin Halusa in his Maserati 300S.
The two-hour Sixties' Endurance race is the traditional finale on Saturday afternoon and is more often than not dominated by the Shelby Cobras. The high-speed nature of the Monza circuit also suited the Cobra, which was underlined in qualifying. The first six places were filled by Cobras with the car driven by the Dutch pairing of David Hart and former F1 racer Giedo van der Garde fastest of all. Hart also grabbed the lead early in the race but despite controlling his pace, his Cobra succumbed to the heat with boiled brakes. It was the first of many Cobra retirements, which also included later leader Andrew Beverley. He had just grabbed the lead from Siamak Siassi in his Jaguar and tried to build a safe margin with two fast laps. Sadly these proved too much for his Cobra and Beverley parked his overheating Cobra before doing any serious damage. This promoted Siassi back into the lead in the E-Type Coupe that had been started by German ace Wolfgang Kaufman. Second was for Philipp Oettli with one of the Cobras that had survived in the scorching conditions. The Index of Performance was won by Serge Kriknoff in the Lotus Eleven he nursed home with a borrowed differential.
Classic Endurance Racing 1
Unquestionably the most evocative field during the 2015 Monza Historic lined up for the Classic Endurance Racing 1 (CER1) race. The grid was headlined by the Ferrari 512 S and 512 M brought by brothers Peter and Steven Read, and driven by local hero Emanuele Pirro and American sports car racer Bob Earl, and Steven Read and Giovanni Lavaggi respectively. Among the other entries included a rare Ferrari 312 P and a pair of Alfa Romeo Tipo 33s. Lavaggi clinched the pole position but Pirro managed to grab the lead on the opening lap. Chuffed to bits to drive a Ferrari at Monza, the Italian built up a healthy lead, which was maintained by Earl in the second half of the race. The gloriously howling Ferrari 512 S looked set to clinch the win until it sadly ground to a halt in the second to last corner. This allowed David Hart to claim a surprise win his Lola T70, closely followed by the Chevron B19 shared by Martin O'Connell and Andrew Kirkaldy. Third was for Philipp Bruehwiler in another Chevron B19. In the GT class the victory was scored by Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac in the former's Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0.
Classic Endurance Racing 2
No race was so affected by the conditions than the Classic Endurance Racing 2 one-hour race, staged on the hottest moment of the weekend. The grid of the most modern cars was headed by three Cosworth DFV-engined machines; two Lolas and a TOJ. Although starting third, Yves Scemama grabbed the lead before the first corner. His brother Philippe, who had started on pole with his Lola T290 was one of the first retirements. Eventually only half of the 22 cars that had started the race were still running at the finish. Still heading the field after one hour was Scemama with his striking TOJ. Second was for Patrice Lafargue in his two-litre engined Lola T298, while Dominique Guenat finished third in his DFV-powered Lola T286 after starting second. With neither of the BMW M1s entered making it to the grid, the GT2 class was a classic Ferrari vs Porsche affair with 512 BBLMs taking on a 934 and several 935s. Finishing fifth overall and first in class was the 512 BBLM shared by Mr. John of B and David Ferrer, who beat two Porsches to class honours.
Located in a park and lined by majestic trees, Monza seems to have been made for howling V12 engines, the sound of which resonates gloriously all around the track. This soundtrack alone was worth the trip the Monza Historic. Unfortunately, the high temperatures may have deterred the public to enjoy the sights and sounds as relatively few spectators made it to the track. To experience what they missed, we have created this action-packed, 250-shot gallery