Looking forward, then pausing: 1953

Project GP Evolved: Looking forward.


As a season, 1952 sucked.  I’m moving on and looking forward.  In the spirit of looking forward, I want to outline the general trajectory of this website.  So, I am retelling a story of facts, in large part, from facts readily available at your fingertips.  My goal is not to bombard you with facts, but, rather, to give you a place where you can occasionally check in on and see where Formula 1 is at.  I would like to cover each season at a pace of one year every two to three weeks.  But, that may prove to be an aggressive estimate.  In any event, if you’re not feeling the early years of F1, I encourage you to check back in a few weeks and see if the late 50’s and early 60’s interest you.


Also, watch for analysis to improve.  I’m facing several uphill battles right now in terms of bringing hard-hitting analysis.  First, in this era, teams interchanged various chassis with various engine setups like their jobs.  Cars were not numbered, as they almost always have been.  Second, I’m in a rural area sans university-quality archives.  But, by 1955 or so, major publications available freely start picking up F1 stories (i.e., finally, original sources).  Finally, there is little to no race footage of these early races.  By the sixties, there are full races available online.  Whenever decent coverage becomes available, I will make every effort to link to it.  So, stick with GP Evolved, things (should) be improving.


Looking forward‘ to 1953.


So, in (Bob) Varsha-esque character, here’s the story-lines for the season:


  • Ferrari dominates, but for how long?
  • The rise of Maserati.
  • The eventual return of Juan-Manuel Fangio.
  • Still stuck with Formula 2 regulations.


A moment of pause at the 1953 Argentine GP


‘By the numbers’ the 1953 was not an interesting affair.  Alberto Ascari, in his Scuderia Ferrari, qualified on pole, had fastest race lap, and led every single lap.  Notably, José Froilán González made a comeback with a new ride at Maserati.  In his maiden race with Maserati, in the a6gcs, González made it to the lowest level of the podium, a strong result for a new car.


Froilan Gonzalez demonstrating a Ferrari 500 a...


As I mentioned before, I am limited on sources.  I knew there was a group of spectators killed at the fifty-three Gran Premio de la Republica (official title of the Argentine Grand Prix).  I wanted to get the inside story, but was only able to find one secondary source on the actual events of the day.  That being said, I feel the need to retell the story on my own terms.  But, the article was written by Martin Williamson who has done another level of research on the events of that sobering day beyond what others have done.  So, I’m going to do what I call “Slate-dot-comming-it,” which is where I retell an article I just read, link to it, and act like its legitimate writing. But, it serves my purposes here.


So, in my own words, here’s what happened:


It was the first Formula 1 Championship race to take place in South America.  It was huge.  Reportedly, 400,000 people were in attendance.  Not even Daytona or Le Mans attract a crowd like that, but I could be wrong.  So, there is a reasonable inference that the facility was never designed to hold a crowd of that magnitude.  Needless to say, the crowds spilled over onto the track.

So, what happens when fans bust onto the field?  You guess it, all hell broke loose and people started acting crazy.  Allegedly, fans took there shirts off in and in an effort to out-bro each other, they started swinging their shirts like a helicopter, on the edge of the track.  Drivers threw-up their fists in anger, which only encouraged the crowd more.  Eventually, a fan crossed the track.  This caused Giuseppe Emilio “Nino” Farina to swerve to miss the fan running across the track.  In so doing, he lost control and ran straight into the crowd, who had edged to the tip of the track.  Ten people lost their lives that day and dozens were injured.  Death in Formula 1, unfortunately, was–and may continue to be–a reality.  The drivers of the day did not drive in ignorance of this fact.  They knew that they were putting their lives on their line every time they strapped on their strange old-timey leather ‘helmets.’  Joking aside, as a younger fan of motorsport, I have never witnessed a fatality in Formula 1.  I think my generation may forget how much a driver puts on the line each and every time he puts rubber to asphalt.

Something to think on…