Saturday, January 15, 2011

Jochen Rindt's Alfa

For all I know the mighty Austrian driver Jochen Rindt drove several different Alfas, but the one I have in my diecast model car cabinet has just sent me on an interesting little wild goose chase around the net, trying to find out its history. Here's the car in question.

Alfa Romeo GTA 1600cc, the car which Rindt drove in the 1966 touring car race at the Aspern
Circuit near Vienna. Uncharacteristically for him, Rindt didn't win that day. He DNF'd
with a gearbox problem. The winner was Nanni Galli. You wouldn't believe the trouble I
had finding out even these bare facts. And I blame it all on the car's model-maker, M4.
Wrong year, and they couldn't even spell Rindt's name correctly, either. After
much searching I found a site which listed all the touring car race results of
the era, and Rindt is there in 1966 in car 31, but he wasn't in the race in 67.

I even found a photo of Rindt at the wheel in 1966, in car 31.
The good thing about this is that I rediscovered the history of this great driver,
the only man to win the World F1 Championship posthumously, in 1970.
Rindt was killed in practice for the Italian GP at Monza, on September 5, 1970.
He had already won in Netherlands, France, Britain and Germany that year.
One major cause of his death was removing the rear wing, in an effort to
get more speed at the very fast Monza circuit. This destabilised the car,
and Rindt lost control under brakes at the Parabolica curve and hit the crash
barrier. All this I knew already (if sketchily), but one thing I didn't know is
that he was actually German. He was born in Mainz in 1942; both of his parents
were killed in a bombing raid at Hamburg, and Jochen grew up with his
grandparents in Austria. While he never took out Austrian citizenship
he always raced with an Austrian licence. He is buried in Graz, Austria.
That 1970 F1 season featured some classic races. Rindt chased down Jack Brabham at Monaco that year, pushing so hard that old Black Jack overcooked the brakes in the last corner and Rindt got by to win. Footage of that is easy enough to find on You Tube, but I prefer this piece, starting with a modern interview with second place-getter Jacky Ickx from Belgium, about the battle he (in the Ferrari) and Jochen (in the Lotus 72) had in the German GP at Hockenheim that year. Ickx tells a great story about their overtaking methods while drafting at speed (all very gentlemanly), and there's some good race footage here which shows how hard Rindt pressed his car.

However, as I have titled this post 'Jochen Rindt's Alfa' I really should sign off with a short 20-second You Tube video of a GTA Alfa being driven in the right manner out on the open road. I don't know why so many countless thousands of You Tube car videos have to be set to the accompaniment of crappy music which drowns out the engine, but there are far, far too many of them. This one just lets you listen to the music of the engine of this great 1960s car with the beautiful Bertone body that has kept legions of club car racers very happy (if not always wealthy): the Alfa Romeo GTA.


1 comment:

  1. Feel the adrenalin when you use tis car during the race in 1970's. This is one of the fastest car of that decade.