Monday, May 1, 2017

Alfa Romeo GTZ's at Sebring, 1964-1966

I backed into this post partly because of my amusement (with the distance of years) at Chuck Stoddard's reversal of fortunes at Sebring, and partly because I hadn't realized that Alfa TZ 2's raced at Sebring in 1966.  Three class wins in three years: not bad.

In 1964, three cars were entered by the (Italian team) Scuderia Sant Ambroseus, but were, in fact, the factory team.  For the drivers of one car, Alfa chose three Italian mainstays including Consalvo Sanesi, its long-time race and go-to test driver.  The other two cars were offered to American drivers with successful SCCA records in Giulietta Veloces.

Chuck Stoddard behind the wheel of the class-winning '64 car here.  His co-driver was Jim Kaser.  The primary
competition at Sebring in '64 was the factory Lotus-Cortina team, led by Jim Clark, which failed to last the
distance.  Knock-off wheels on GTZ's were seen almost exclusively on factory-entered cars, although
they were a customer purchase option.  Cockpit ventilation was almost nonexistent in TZ's and the
extractor vents in the rear quarter windows didn't help.  Stoddard raced his own TZ in the States in
'64 and '65 with the vent windows held "full open" by rubber bands.

The American-driven sister car in 1964, by Bill Wuesthoff and Chuck Dietrich, who, like Stoddard, had stellar careers in
small-bore cars in the SCCA.  The exhaust shown here was the factory 4-2-1 race system, with a flattened final pipe,
exiting in front of the rear wheel.  Note the "New Jersey Manufacturer" plate.  This car was DNF, gearbox. 

The third car in '64 was driven by Alfa's factory driver European "regulars," Consalvo Sanesi, Roberto Bussinello, and
Giampiero Biscaldi.  Sanesi was driving a wounded, lightless, car slowly past the pits when hit by Bob Johnson's
Cobra, which was going a ton.  Sanesi might have been broiled alive but for the heroic effort of a driver
standing in the pits, Jocko Maggiocomo (an American).  He was painfully but not seriously burned.
Sanesi was by now a  middle-aged guy; unsurprisingly,  he ended his racing career after this shunt.

Alfa upped the ante in 1965 with four GTZ's, now entered by an undisguised factory team, Autodelta. This was the famous "gullywasher" Sebring rain race--the one of the iconic motorboating pictures, although, surprisingly, rain did not hamper Alfa's 1-2-3 class-winning results: Rolland/Consten (both French), Bussinello/de Adamich (Italian), and Deserti/Zeccoli (also Italian; Zeccoli was another regular FIA European driver).  In a role reversal from 1964, the only American drivers, Gaston Andrey/Chuck Stoddard were DNF.

Above and below: minor inconveniences for Roberto Bussinello and Andrea de Adamich (who went on to a career in
big-bore sports cars and Formula One) on their way to 2nd in the GT 1600 class in 1965's "gullywasher" race.

The Rolland/Costen GTZ follows the Maglioli/Baghetti Ferrari 275 P through the Hairpin en-route to a trouble-free
class win in GT 1600.  GTZ's typically ran with their Ferrari GTO-like supplementary radiator nose vents fully or
partially open, even in moderate ambient temperatures, except at high-speed circuits like LeMans and Monza. 

Above: the Reed/Gerber Cobra, already with nose damage, on its way to a three car DNF.  Below: the remains of the
Riley/Cone Volvo P-1800 after the three-car accident.  I've not found a picture of the Andrey/Stoddard GTZ.  The
Volvo blew it's engine in the Webster Turns and spun in its own oil.  The Cobra punted it, bigtime, into the infield
of the circuit and spun to the outside (the Cobra is barely visible in the picture below).  Chuck Stoddard in his
GTZ hit the oil, collected the wreckage, and was out.  From Hero ('64) to Zero ('65) in the Alfa team.

In 1966, Alfa again entered 4 cars, with consecutive race numbers, although one car was allegedly a private entry, driven by Americans Sam Posey and Teddy Theodoracopulos.  The factory cars were driven by Russo/Andrey, Ziccoli/Russo, and Bianchi/Casten.

Unlike other homologation specials of this era, the TZ 2 was actually a true "evolution:" a lower, wider, lighter, fiberglass-bodied version of the TZ on the same frame.  But time had passed it by.  Nobody was doing front engine, rear drive GT cars with tubular space frames any more, even in the small-bore classes.

As in 1964, but unlike the sweep in 1965, Alfa won the GT 1600 class (Russo/Andrey)--with the last car standing.  The other three cars were pfffffftt.  One blew its engine at 16 laps.  Another retired with an "oil leak" 6 laps later.  Let's call that a blown engine as well.  The last non-finisher ate its gearbox before quarter distance.

Above: the 1966 Russo/Andrey class-winner.  Below: remember suspension?  Body roll?  Theoretically streetable GT
cars?  The # 61 car was out early with an "oil leak" probably caused by a rod through the block.

No comments:

Post a Comment