How the Brits came to boycot the banking
- Mattijs Diepraam, Felix Muelas
- 8W December 1998 issue
- Eugenio Castellotti - The dashing Milanese that stayed young forever, by Mattijs Diepraam/Felix Muelas
Gino Munaron, Fred Gamble, Wolfgang Seidel
Scuderia Castellotti Cooper-Ferrari ('Cooper-Castellotti') T51, Camoradi International Behra-Porsche F4, Cooper-Maserati T45 (self-entered)
1960 Italian GP
The 1982 San Marino GP or the 1986 South African GP weren't the only World Championship races to be boycotted by a host of teams. But while these two boycotts had a political background - the first one internal FISA/FOCA politics, the second one protesting the apartheid regime - the 1960 Italian GP was boycotted by the British teams on safety grounds.
This may sound strange for a motorsport era in which death was seen as a calculated risk. Safety campaigns like the one Jackie Stewart set out on six years later, were non-existent and regarded a pastime for the weakly-hearted anyway.
The British teams had a valid reason though: the race was run over the legendary 10 km lay-out which included the current track - without the later installed variantes of course - as well as the historic banked loop. Too fast and bumpy for a modern Grand Prix car, the British claimed, remembering the havoc that was wreaked the last time the banking was used in 1956.
Road track and oval were intertwined in a clever eight-shape, with the wide start-and-finish straight divided overleaf. The right side took a right turn towards the west loop, taking the cars round to the east banking, at the end of which they entered the left-hand side of the Rettifilio, which ran all the way down to Curva Grande. They then followed the current track through the old Lesmos and at Serraglio ducked underneath the banking to enter the back straight. Through the Parabolica the field then returned to the right-hand side of the pits straight.
The result of the boycott was a quite remarkable entry list indeed. Of course, the Scuderia Ferrari turned out with a full fleet of cars at their home track - noblesse oblige, as they say - and Porsche fielded two cars for Herrmann and Barth, but the rest of the field mainly consisted of one-time lucky contenders to make up the 16-car entry.
Rare bird spotters had quite a field day. We had Piero Drogo in an F2 Cooper-Climax, Scuderia Centro Sud entered a Cooper-Maserati for Alfonso Thiele, there was Brian Naylor's JBW, British ex-pat Vic Wilson raced an old Cooper for Equipe Prideaux/Dick Gibson, while a certain Arthur Owen ran a self-entered T45 and big-sized Brit Horace Gould took his 250F out of its moth balls, only to be a non-starter due to crossed fuel lines.
Here, three more of these rare birds are seen entering the main straight. In the back we see another self-entered T45, this time occupied by German Wolfgang Seidel. A gentleman sportscar driver, Seidel had been entering GPs on and off in the past, first in 1953 in one of the home-built Veritases, then twice in 1958 for Scuderia Centro Sud and once in Rob Walker's F2 Cooper at his home race. The widely boycotted race seemed the perfect opportunity to take his own Cooper to Monza. Seidel had his longest run in GP racing the following season, when Scuderia Colonia - the team that fielded Drogo on this occasion - entered him for five races.
On the right is Fred Gamble's Behra-Porsche entered by Camoradi International. This shady outfit was partly Gamble's brainchild, which he formed in cooperation with American entrepeneur Lloyd 'Lucky' Casner. After dabbling with Maserati and Corvette sportscars, entering Le Mans and finishing a creditable 10th, the pair got their hands on an ex-Teresa de Filippis F2 Behra-Porsche, Jean Behra's dream design that tragically killed the French legend in a support race of the 1959 German GP at the dangerous banked Avus track in Berlin - a mere month after being shown the door at Ferrari by a livid team manager Tavoni. Casner and Gamble entered the Behra-Porsche in several F2 races like Chimay - where they got Hans Herrmann to drive it, who put it on pole! - and Solitude, where Casner himself took the wheel and duly failed to qualify.
At the beginning of the season, Masten Gregory raced the car in Argentina. He returned with the team's newly-acquired Cooper in 1961, while Casner entered several non-championship races in his new Lotus. Although both Casner and Gamble raced strictly for fun, the latter was definitely the better driver. Still he was surprised to be let in by the organizers of the Italian GP, who were desperate to attract entrants for their race. The Camoradi team were even offered $ 1000 to join!
The race itself brought more surprises, as it saw Gamble run out of fuel on the track, walk back to the pits and return to his stricken car with a 5-gallon jerrycan of petrol! Eventually he finished 10th and last.
Which leaves the car in front.
Italian Gino Munaron had been entered by the Scuderia Castellotti for three other races of the 1960 season, but with the Brits absent from the Monza entry he had a chance to run at the front. Castellotti's Coopers were powered by Ferrari Squalo engines, renamed Castellottis, to show the difference with the 625LM-powered T45 that Peter Lovely entered at the 1960 US GP at Riverside. So Sauber-Petronas isn't the only team in history to rebadge their customer Ferraris...
Munaron's one-off team mates for the race were Giorgio Scarlatti (in a Maserati-engined T51) and Giulio Cabianca, who followed three works Ferraris home in fourth, edging out the F2 Ferrari of Von Trips. In a sense, Cabianca was the star of the race, qualifying fourth and holding his position the entire race - the true high point of his career.
It was a Castellotti car as well that spelled the end of his life, however, when Cabianca got involved in a freak accident during the 1961 Modena GP: after he lost control of his Cooper somehow the car got underneath the guard rails and careered onto public road, where it hit a passing taxi cab, killing Cabianca and the cab's three occupants instantly.
It was also the place where Eugenio Castellotti died three years earlier after returning to Europe to test for Ferrari, hot from a famous sportscar win at the Buenos Aires 1000 kms. When the news reached his Buenos Aires co-winner Cesare Perdisa it prompted his immediate retirement.