29 Jan 2015

Monaco Grand Prix 1976

John Crawford dug deeper into his archives after finding the shot of the Renault 16TS in the previous post and has come up with a great selection of shots he took of the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix.
John had the benefit of a media pass and he made full use of it to capture some great atmospheric scenes from the race including a shot of motoring journalist,Motor Sport magazine's Continental Correspondent Denis Jenkinson who signed himself as DSJ.

Now "Jenks" as he was affectionately known was more than a little eccentric and more than a little mad.He was very short and sported a bushy beard.Quoting from Wikipedia :-
"He spent his summers touring Europe and his winters in a succession of 'digs' in England; Jenks eventually settled near Crondall in Hampshire in a tiny run-down house with no mains electricity or water, largely full of his archives and of parts of vehicles he was 'fettling'. He was legendary in the sport for the lack of basic domestic amenities in his home; to Jenks nothing mattered but racing. He became accepted as the 'elder statesman' of British racing journalists due to his closeness to the teams and drivers, his conversational writing style and his obvious and enduring passion for the sport."

Jenks navigated for Stirling Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia road race in Italy in the winning Mercedes.This was an extraordinary drive-they averaged over 160kmh for the 1000 miles over public roads.His account of that drive is considered a motor sport classic.Before that Jenks had been passenger for Eric Oliver when he won the 1949 world motorcycle sidecar championship.Being a pasenger in a racing sidecar on the unsafe tracks of 1949 required a special kind of madness which made Jenks an ideal navigator for Stirling Moss on that epic Mille Miglia.

Jenks was a great journalist and he played a key part in developing my personal enthusiasm for motor racing.He definitely triggered my enthusiasm for Porsches as he had a 356 as his company car and he used it to crisscross Europe during the F1 season visiting the tracks.What a wonderful life.He wrote about his travels in his monthly Motor Sport columns which I devoured with an enthusiasm which it is difficult to appreciate today.And they were long,detailed columns in a very small font-not a few paragraphs.He also wrote a number of books including the very readable "A passion for Porsches" and "A passion for Motorsport".At the time Porsche was almost unknown in the UK and Jenks' advocacy of the brand did much to put it on the map-not least with me.I even went and bought a 356 at the time-although regrettably it was only a Dinky model.

I met Jenks at the 1996 Goodwood Festival of Speed where Stirling Moss was driving the Mille Miglia winning Mercedes up the hill.Jenks was sitting in a secluded shady spot well away from the action and I came upon him quite by chance.He was very frail and obviously not at all well but we chatted for a few minutes.It would have been crass to take his photo so I did not.Sadly he died later that year.

One of the photos below shows three times F1 World Champion Jackie Stewart who had retired from F1 in 1973 and was in Monaco as a commentator for US ABC and for mixing with the rich and famous.
Now he is rich and still famous and is still mixing with the rich and famous.Along the way he has made a serious amount of money including the masterstroke of selling the struggling Stewart F1 team to Jac Nasser's Ford in 1999 for a very large wheelbarrow load of money.The team then became the struggling Jaguar F1 team before being sold to....but that's another story.I'm sure Jac Nasser is still on Jackie's christmas card list.

Niki Lauda won the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix in a Ferrari.A few months later he he suffered horrific burns-including losing both ears- in a fiery crash in the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.Amazingly he recovered enough to race in the Italian GP six weeks later and only lost the World Championship by one point to James Hunt after he pulled out of the rain deluged final race of the championship,the Japanese GP, due to the conditions.

The 1976 Formula 1 season was the subject of the film "Rush"- by far the best motor racing film ever made.It is definitely better than Steve McQueen's "Le Mans" because it has a storyline.

What a contrast that era is to today's highly contrived and controlled F1 circus.
A year ago I read a story on Australian F1 driver Daniel Riccardio which made a big point of how approachable and personable he was and how he chatted to fans and journalists without a PR spin person at his elbow.What a difference a year makes because this weekend I read a very tedious story on him based on a recent interview where a PR person sat in on the interview.Au revoir Mr Natural hello Mr Wooden PRspeak.Why do they do it? Jenks would have hated it.
Thank you John for these great photos and for stirring some personal memories.

Niki Lauda on his way to taking the chequered flag.It's been a long time since a Ferrari has seen the chequered flag in F1 in recent times.They have Seb Vettel on the team for 2015.Best of luck-they will need it.
The start.Look at the lack of protection for the photographer and the officials .One touch and a car or debris would be into them.

What an atmosphere and what great weather.

View from an apartment towards the swimming pool .

James Hunt walking back to the pits after retiring on lap 24 with an engine problem.He looks pretty deflated
Louis Chiron.Veteran racing driver.Monagesque and Chief du Corse for the Grand Prix.He died in 1979.
Nikki Lauda -complete with ears -interviewed after winning.The interviewer seems bored.

Motor sport journalist extraordinaire Denis Jenkinson.And how about those high waisted pants on the guy standing next to him.Let's hope that they never come back into fashion-if they ever were in fasion that is.

Jackie Stewart.I've heard of a wing collar but never heard of a delta wing collar.Knowing JS it was very fashionable at the time.

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