EPIC Footage and the 1954 Belgian GP

XVI Grand Prix de Belgique

Original artwork prepared in advance of the 1954 Belgian GP at Circuit-de-Spa-Francorchamps

Artwork for the Belgian Grand Prix of 1954

The 1954 Belgian Grand Prix took place in June 20.  It was a sunny and rather mild day.  To me, this race is extremely significant; but not for the events of the day.  I will get to the significance of the race, shortly.  First, the new Mercedes-Benz chassis is released at the next GP in France.  So, for me, this is a high water mark for the Maserati 250F.  I do not know for sure, as it is not my practice to look ahead of the particular race I am covering, but I am reasonably sure that the Maserati 250F will probably not enjoy the same success as it has had with “The Maestro” Fangio at its helm.  Also, in a sense, this is the end of an era.  Mercedes-Benz will enter.

If you look at team participation so far, the entrance of Mercedes-Benz signals a change in direction.  Who was the first team to dominate?  It was Alfa Romeo, of course.  But wait, “were not they a major auto manufacturer?” you might justifiably ask.  If you remember, however, Alfa Romeo was only in the sport because the pre-war 159 “Alfetta” turned out to remain so dominant in the years following the war.  The chassis was at the end of its development cycle.  As soon as Alfa needed to develop a new chassis, they had to withdraw, as they were participating on a shoestring riding on the glory of yesterday’s car.  So, they do not count.  Scuderia Ferrari was not the ubiquitous Ferrari that we know today.  Sure, it was the same company.  But, Scuderia Ferrari (the specific name of the racing team) was in its infancy.  Essentially, Ferrari–to its credit–began as a racing team and ended up selling cars.  Accordingly, they do not fit the mold formed by Mercedes-Benz.  Other teams, such as Gordini, were essentially privateers.

So, not until Mercedes-Benz bursts onto the scene has a major auto manufacture, with correspondingly deep pockets, funded a Formula 1 Championship team.  Because this is the end of an era, in my eyes, I figured that this would be a good time to kick back, relax, and watch some epic footage.

But first, I need to address the race, again, more for posterity than anything else.  But, Farina set the fastest practice lap, and challenged Fangio for–and even held–the lead.  Allegedly, and I was not able to independently confirm this, Farina was driving with his arm (And hand?) constrained in a plaster cast following a Mille Miglia accident prior to the race.  In any event, Fangio and his Maserati 250F carried the day.  If you are interested in more, hit either of these two links.

 

On-Board with Fangio in the 250F.

This is so epic, that at first, I refused to believe it’s real.  But, by comparing his face to a picture I know was taking just one year prior, this is most definitely Juan-Manuel Fangio.  Second, this is most definitely his 250F as the exhaust was structured in its early 1954 form.

On-Board with "The Maestro"

Jeremy Clarkson Stuffed in a 250F.

This clip needs no explanation.  But, I am glad to see Mr. Clarkson giving credit where it is due.