Juan-Manuel Fangio is “The Maestro.”
Juan-Manuel Fangio was known as to the things: (1) “The Maestro”; and, (2) “El Bandy Legs.” I am not sure about the latter. So, we are going to stick with the former reputation for our present discussion. To catch you up on Fangio, he was second place in the 1950 championship, first place for Alfa Romeo in the 1951 championship, and injured his neck and sat out all of last season (1952). But, before we get to the IV Grote Prijs van Nederland, I’d like to go through what I have learned about Fangio’s background. It is pretty unique.
So, the year was 1911 when Juan-Manuel Fangio was born to a pack of wolves in San Jose de Balcarce, Argentina. Well, perhaps he was not born to an wolf whose howl mimicked a screaming V12. But, the next fact, is absolutely true. At 11 years old, little Fangio dropped out of school and became a full time auto mechanic. I kid you not, eleven-year-old-mechanic.
He won is first major auto race in 1940. Then, European racing effectively shut down, as the world war tore through the continent. Fangio’s skills had no home for the next eight years or so. In 1948, he had returned, but his career almost came to an end. He rolled his car over a Peruvian cliff and his copilot lost his life. Fangio questioned whether he had lost the edge.
Returned in the summer of 1948 to Formula 1. As mentioned, he went on to become runner-up in the inaugural Formula 1 championship, and win the subsequent season, only to hurt his neck in a non-championship race and sit out 1953. Fangio also missed the Argentine Grand Prix and, of course, did not race in the Indianapolis 500. So, this, the 1953 Dutch Grand Prix is his first race back. Fangio came to be known not only for his technical skill, but also his demure attitude. He was the most interesting driver in the world. At the very least, he is remembered as a true gentleman.
Fangio Returns; Ascari wins the 1953 Dutch Grand Prix.
It would have been a story-book finish if Fangio had won his first race back. But, the reliability of 1953 Maserati a6gcs F2 caught up with Fangio and he retired in the first half of the race due to a rear axle issue. Ascari put Scuderia Ferrari on pole at Circuit Park Zandvoort with a time of 1:51.1. Villoresi was well off this pace, even though he had the fastest race lap with a time of 1:52.8, on lap 59. Reportedly, it was a sunny, mild, and dry day. Again, the race turned out to be another Scuderia Ferrari processional. Ascari led Giuseppe Emilio “Nino” Farina from the grid to the winner’s circle.
I have a few other notations on the race. José Froilán González took over Felice Bonetto’s car and usurped Mike Hawthor, the recently signed Ferrari driver. The highest place British car was 8th. It was Collins in a HWM-Alta. Stirling Moss was the last person to finish the race; he was seven laps down.
By the way, this is the 25th race covered by GP Evolved. Here’s to twenty-five more.