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  1. #1
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    Ferrari vs Maserati at Indy

    Ferrari and Maserati battled for decades at circuits around the world, usually with Ferrari having the upper hand. Not necessarily having better designed cars, Ferrari did have backers with deeper pockets than the Orsi family and generally handled business affairs better than they could manage.

    One place where Maserati did excel was at the Indianapolis 500. Though never competing directly, Ferrari appeared a decade later, Maserati enjoyed great success, while Ferrari achieved very little.
    Wilbur Shaw had consecutive wins in 1939-40 with the 8CTF, and was leading handily in 41 when a wheel broke. This same car claimed two 3rds in 46-47 and 4th in 48 with Ted Horn. Two sister cars also ran well at Indy during the period, Maseratis were competitive here 10 years after first appearing.

    Ferrari sold 3 of his redundant F1 racers American racers in 1952 and prepared one for a serious works entry in the 500 for Alberto Ascari. The cars were heavy with useless 5 speed transmissions where the hot setup was a 2 speed. The engines were powerful enough, but lacked the torque which was required here. Observers warned them about the small hubs on the cars, and Ted Halibrand even offered a set of his magnesium wheels to try, but Ferrari wasn't interested. One of the customer cars did switch to the Halibrands, as the Maserati wheel problem was still fresh in everyone's mind. Ascari did qualify with the help of a 3 carb manifold air lifted from Italy, but the customer cars failed to make the show.

    On race day Ascari circulated smoothly just outside the top 10 until lap 40 when the inevitable wheel collapsed. This put an end to the day and to any further serious attempts by Ferrari at Indy. The customer cars quickly faded into obscurity.

    Could a return visit to the speedway have been successful? With a special off-set chassis, a torquey 4 cyl motor, American wheels and tires and especially local input into strategy, possibly yes. After all, Cooper and even Lotus were handicapped by the peculiar rules and habits of the place, and they had no language barrier. Perhaps the Offy domination was just too great to overcome, they won every race but one between 1941 and 64.

    Indy was apparently one race which Ferrari did want to win, especially since Maserati had gone so well, maybe after 1952 he was reluctant to try and fail again.

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    Re: Ferrari vs Maserati at Indy

    They did try a Ferrari engine in a Kurtis roadster chassis in 1956 driven by Farina. It failed to qualify.

    The full story is here: http://forix.autosport.com/8w/ferrar...olis-1956.html
    Duncan Rollo

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  3. #3
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    Re: Ferrari vs Maserati at Indy

    I knew Farina attempted to qualify but didn't realize it included factory backing. The link is a great site for accounts of both 1952 and 56 500s.

    While Ferrari failed to impress many railbirds in 52, the same cannot be said of Ascari. His 4 qualifying laps differed by only .08 seconds and 2 were identical, a record at the time for the brickyard. Everyone was enthused by his smooth, precise approach, they hoped for a return visit.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Stan Reid's Avatar
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    Yes, Ascari finished 31st out of 33 in what was the only World Championship event in 1952 that was run under F1 rules. All the other WC GPs were run under F2 rules due to lack of F1 competition. Actually, Ascari finished 28th against the cars that were Formula One legal. The two Novis (supercharged) and the Cummins Diesel (turbocharged) were above F1s displacement limit for "compressor" engines. Since this was the only F1 points paying event in 1952 (same in 53), does that mean that Troy Ruttman was the 1952 Formula One Champion?
    Last edited by Stan Reid; 23rd November 2015 at 18:07.
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    Hi Stan, it's good to see a new name posting here.

    The Indianapolis 500 was NOT run under Formula 1 rules, it was run under its own rules. Had a Novi or the Cummins won the race it would have scored points.

    In 1952 there was no such thing as a "Formula 1 World Championship". Up until 1981 it was simply the "World Drivers' Championship" with no mention of "FIA" or "Formula 1" in the title. And therein lies a tale ... When you have a spare evening take a look at http://8w.forix.com/fiasco-introduction-timeline.html

    One example of the difference in rules is that Indianapolis classified all cars whether they were running at the finish or not. Ascari failed to finish but was classified 31st. Most European GPs and other race regulations required a car to cross the finishing line to be classified, ie if you broke down on the last lap. You simply didn't get points even if you were on the 'lead lap' and the second place man was a lap behind - tough. The classic example is the 1958 Portuguese GP. Hawthorn crossed the line over 5 minutes behind Moss where a lap time was about 2min 40secs. Lewis-Evans who was third had been lapped so Hawthorn could take as long as he liked (within limits). The notable exception was Monaco who did classify cars based on the laps they had completed.
    Last edited by D-Type; 23rd November 2015 at 11:49.
    Duncan Rollo

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    Come to think of it, prior to 1961 Formula 1 had no lower capacity limit and no minimum weight, so a 2-litre car could run in a Formula 1 race - even 1100cc in the case of Harry Schell at Monaco. Some grand prix races also had a formula 2 class - but that's different.
    Duncan Rollo

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    Senior Member Stan Reid's Avatar
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    Hi D-Type:

    Yes, I know that Indy ran under different rules but the displacement limit for normally aspirated engine cars was 4.5 liters from 1950-53 which was the same as F1; that was what I was refering to. I think the Indy winner could have run the same basic car in F1 races those years although they would have been non-championship events in 52-53. In 54, F1 went down to 2.5 liter and USAC went down to 4.2 liter in 58 but they were never the same limit after 53. Today, IRL and F1 are pretty close but super precise restrictions would make it impossible for either to run the same car in the other's series (Ward did run a USAC Midget in the 1959 US GP which was only 110 cu" and much smaller than F1 at the time). I should mention one exception and that was back maybe 30 or so years ago when the suggestion was proposed that F1 use F2 cars and Indy cars to fill out some small fields. I am not sure if the proposal was ever approved but, if I was, it was never exercised.
    This is my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking

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    Senior Member Stan Reid's Avatar
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    Alfa Romeo even had more success at Indy than Ferrari.
    This is my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking

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    It gets complicated. Here are a few key points:

    Before and during WW1 European cars and drivers regularly competed at Indy with some success. In the 1920s Indy and Grand Prix frequently had the same limits up until the years of the so-called "Junk Formula". Indianapolis was a qualifying round for the fledgling World Championship (for manufacturers) and there was some crossover: Jimmy Murphy in a Duesenberg winning the [French] Grand Prix in 1921, Millers taking podium positions in grands prix, Ballots and Sunbeams competing at Indy.

    In 1938 Indianapolis adopted the International Formula (predecessor of F1) of 4.5 litres unsupercharged / 3 litres supercharged complete with the CSI's sliding scale of minimum weights against capacity. But they didn't adopt the minimum body width requirements. They carried this formula on through the wartime races and immediately afterwards. When European racing restarted and in 1947 the new Formula 1 was introduced for 4.5 litres unsupercharged / 1.5 litres supercharged, the Indianapolis organiser was planning to follow suit. But the owners of the 3-litre Maseratis, Mercedes and Novi argued strongly for the 3-litre limit to be retained and Indianapolis acquiesced. One argument was that on an oval, 1.5 litres was not a fair equivalence.

    Then, when the World Drivers' Championship was introduced initially with 6 European Grands Prix being qualifiers the US delegation at the FIA/CSI argued strongly that a World championship without the world's greatest race was pretty meaningless and Indianapolis was included.

    The re-opening of the Monza banking led to the Two Worlds Races there. But the Europeans had no cars suitable for a high speed oval. Ecurie Ecosse vainly tried with stripped D-Type Jaguars in 1957. They could compete with the US cars for speed over a single lap but their Dunlop tyres could not sustain the speed for any length of time. In 1958 the Europeans made more of an effort with various hybrid cars. The only car designed for Indianapolis was the Maserati Eldorado Special driven by Stirling Moss which finished 4th and 5th in the first two heats but suffered a steering failure in the third. A Grand Prix Ferrari with a 3 litre engine finished 3rd driven by Musso, Hawthorn and Phil Hill. After theses two races the idea died away.

    Then came Brabham in 1961 and Lotus and Lola a couple of years later and the 'rear-engined revolution' spread to Indy. And a few years later Dan Gurney's Eagles and Penske and Parnelli ran in GPs with limited success.
    Last edited by D-Type; 2nd December 2015 at 17:02.
    Duncan Rollo

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Reid View Post
    Alfa Romeo even had more success at Indy than Ferrari.
    Correct, I didn't realize they raced there so much. But both firms paled in comparison to Maserati. The Maserati Indy model of 1969 was a credible tribute to that success, unlike a host of American cars named Grand Prix, Monza, GTO etc.

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