A Great German at Ferrari

Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips 1928 - 1961


Enzo Ferrari, born on 18th February of the snowy winter of 1898, died on 14th August 1988 in a hot late summer, was a lonely, merciless man full of inexorable harshness both to his fellow creatures and to himself. It was exactly this inhumanity making this bizarre, deeply split character look so human. Born under pretty average social conditions he always had lived in a modest environment despite being a wealthy man, where neither pomp and swank  nor a certain form of prestige was available. Sixteen hours of hard work per day, in a pretty simple equipped office, were the daily business until a very old age. Ferrari, who never appeared at the tracks with the exception of Monza`s Friday practice, got his neccessary informations via phone, telex and television and, of course, he read the press of his country. Order and industriousness, discipline and last but not least  unconditional obedience were neither ideology nor religion for him, but the only method to reach one aim: To win races. Money and equipment and also human destinies were of minor importance for the people outside. Today we know this simple image was only one point of the same aspect. The other one was this difficult to understand form of humanity we also can find at his many  decade`s rival Colin Chapman. Enzo Ferrari was a mixture out of cold-blooded technological strategist without the slightest scruple and an enterpreneur in the classical meaning. It was not foreseeable, which side of his personality is on the way to come into action. Discussions with his employčes not rarely ended in very big maniacal fits as a lot of contemporary witnesses are still remembering. Enzo Ferrari was dictator and democrat, atheist and Catholic, barbarian and humanist in personal union. Tyranny and modern management changed reguarlarly at  thr Scuderia Ferrari. Far into the seventies none of his employčes was on the same level with this genius. Men like Tavoni, Dragoni, Lini, later also Forghieri and Schetty, were recipients of orders to be replaced whenever their boss wanted to do so, not equal partners on the same standard. Enzo Ferrari was a genius because of his inner conflict, not despite it. That made him so successful for decades, including  negative periods coming reguarlarly. Times of order and discipline very often were followed by periods ruled by chaos and disorganization. It took many years for  Enzo Ferrari to get  a real  opponent within his own company by charismatic Niki Lauda. Enzo Ferrari sent his drivers to the slaughter. Everybody knew that. They died or they left Maranello as human wrecks, completely humilated and emotionally destroyed. Also great Fangio had been in such a danger, when he had entered Maranello for a short guest appearance in 1956, caused by a political emergengy situation. A hostility for life between him and Enzo Ferrari was the consequence. Lauda, with the burns of the fire of the 1976 Nuerburgring hell in his face forever followed by the second worldchampionship title against and not for Ferrari, was the first driver to have the courage to terminate, before it was too late. Enzo Ferrari made the dreams of his youth come true at the expense of his employčes and his fellow men: I construct an engine to fix wheels on it. Ethics and moral standards only existed for the technology. No doubt, that  one was a work of art. Ferrari`s technology has got a soul, says Sir Jackie Stewart.  Nearly the same time Enzo Ferrari celebrated and suffered his dream of the perfect automobile both in a glorious and beastly way; the title of his autobiography published at the beginning of the seventies is: My terrible pleasures.



The Ferrari 156 was the first ever Grand Prix racing car from Maranello with the engine in the middle and the most beautiful car of the 1.5 litre Formula One from 1961 to 1965. The car was designed by Carlo Chiti, had got a length og 4060 mm, a height of 1000 mm and a weight of 460 kilograms. Tyres and disc brakes were made by Dunlop. The V6 engine designed by young Mauro Forghieri had got 1476.6 cc and 190 horse powers at 9500 rpm. Very soon after finishing the work at the 156  type Carlo Chiti left Maranello and later he became the boss of the Alfa Romeo racing  department in Milano for many years. Until the end of the eighties Mauro Forghieri was the chief engineer at Ferrari before  also falling out of favour for pure private reasons. Forghieri was replaced by Briton John Barnard and he switched to Lamborghini. The model car shown here is from the private collection of Steffen Schulz, who also has taken the photos.


Until today it is the burning desire of nearly all racing automobilists to drive a Ferrari and to win races and the worldchampionship, too, if possible. Intrigues and battles between different rival groups within the company have decreased during the last decades, but, no question, they are still existing. The legend creates wishful thinking very quickly being caught by reality also bringing extreme pressure to strong personalities. Everybody, who signs a contract at Maranello, should know this fact. Of course, Enzo Ferrari  had made  von Trips and Hill fight each other  as he had done at many other drivers before and after. That behaviour was part of the system. Wolfgang Alexander Albert Eduard Maximillian Reichsgraf Berghe von Trips and Philip Toll Hill were very similar characters with no necessity of rivalry to be created between them. Von Trips was an aristocrat and polyglot intellectual, the music fan and expert Hill was a real aesthete and artist. The battleship of Scuderia Ferrari, where a whole generation had been wiped out before with Collins, Musso, de Portago, Castellotti and Hawthorn killed in murderous fights within the team, both the German and the American were much too sensitive to survive in this environment. There were drivers, that Enzo Ferrari had put unbelievable hatred on. These ones were in the majority. And there were only a few ones he loved like his own sons. The reasons for that are not clear; some observers thought, that this behaviour was originated in the early death of his only legitimate son Alfredino, who had died of a muscle desease in 1956 in the age of only 24 years. Enzo Ferrari pretty often  had forgiven von Trips  a fauxpas concerning a lot of accidents happening  at the beginning. Later, at Gilles Villeneuve, the logical successor of von Trips, Ferrari`s statements became clearer: New racing cars can always be  built by us. Very soon Ferrari made Phil Hill invalid out, after he had done his duty  winning the 1961 worldchampionship. Ferrari had made him rise, Ferrari had him destroyed, wrote famous German Richard von Frankenberg. Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips was a glowing fan of Bernd Rosemeyer, the pre-war Auto Union driver from Lingen in Lower Saxony, who was married to famous aviatrix Elly Beinhorn. The charismatic go-getter was killed in 1938 when trying to break the  absolute speed record  in a direct duel with his rival from Mercedes, Rudolf Caracciola: On the motorway from Frankfurt to Darmstadt Rosemeyer became a victim of a gust of wind. Von Trips was the Rosemeyer of the post-war era and the economic miracle, he was popular like a rock star and millions of young women and girls were in love with him. Enzo Ferrari`s personnel policy for the 1961 season was the same he had practised for many years. Beside the regular drivers von Trips and Hill another US-American drove a 156 car:  Blond, freckled Californian Richie Ginther, very important for the growing American sportscar market. Giancarlo Baghetti was an ambitious Italian and new national hero  standing ante portas when winning his debut Grand Prix at Reims in 1961. And only 19 years old  Mexican Ricardo Rodriguez, who had got the image of a Wunderkind when competing in Latin American sportscar racing partnered by his older brother Pedro nearly being a child, gave his Grand Prix debut in the decisive Italian round of the worldchampionship. Normally nothing else has to be said about the subject of rivalry. In Monza Wolfgang Graf Berghe von Trips was the fastest of all four  Ferrari drivers to put his 156 onto pole position. It was not absolutely necessary for him to win at Monza; under certain conditions a third place was sufficient enough to win the title. The man from Hemmersbach Castle had brought back Germany to the glorious times of Caracciola and Rosemeyer and also in Italy euphoria was on it`s climax during these hot days in late summer of 1961. Wolfgang von Trips, as a human being for a longer period, now as a racing automobilist, matured, was absolutely conscious of the responsibility he had got to find the right strategy for the situation. At Monza in the times of the great slipstream battles nobody wanted to do the both drivers and equipment tiring  leading  job from the start of the race on, because the cars were additionally under pressure by going through the banking.
We all know every detail of what we have done on the day, when John F. Kennedy was murdered, the first man landed on the moon or on 9/11 in  2001; also trivial things can be clearly remembered until today. The radio transmission of Guenter Jendrich and Guenther Isenbuegel followed by  the tagesschau  television news at 8:00 P.M. also bringing the sad message of the plane crash at Shannon: The 10th September, 1961  seems to me only being a few days away.

Klaus Ewald




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