Jochen Mass: Coupe de Spa

Sitting in the wait and see mode, about to jump into action when things turn better again. But at those times it’s very normal to reflect of races from the past, to see them as beautiful parts of your life.

Coupe de Spa

I admire the cars of yesteryear, the mighty Ford Capris and the BMW’s , their epic battles on the circuits of those days.  Many of those tracks have gone by now or are not in use anymore for serious races with the modern cars, but thats more the fault of these modern machinery, which have developed characteristics, unsuited for the circuits of those years.

Why had the races then been so tremendously popular, the attractive cars surely, but the drivers in them made the difference. Many F1 drivers, Jacky Stewart, Ronnie Peterson, Jody Scheckter

Jean Pierre Beltoise, Jaques Larousse, Jacky Ickx, HJ Stuck, Niki Lauda, and myself, Jochen Mass, we all raced either for BMW or the Ford Capris much to the joy of the fantastic crowds of up to 250 000 spectators, at the “old” Nurburgring as an example.

A short story of the great Spa Circuit…

…, still in use in its sensibly modified version of the old track

Before the 1000km race , the 10 lap Coupe de Spa for Saloon cars was one of these classics;

Mass Porträt 90The late Niki Lauda in a beauty of a CSL Bovensiepen Alpina 3ltr Coupe and me in the Cologne Capri. A very fast affair, my Capri had a slight advantage from Stavelot corner slightly uphill towards the hairpin before the pits, going down hill again towards the eau rouge .

Nikis car was a little faster on the straight, but not enough to pull away, so I could overtake again before the Stavelot right-hander . No chicanes slowed the cars right up to the Hairpin and the fast left-handers leading up to the hairpin where flat out . Let me tell you it raised your pulse nicely.

Naturally  both of us tried to work out a strategy which would give us the advantage over the other.

Since I was faster uphill I thought I had the race in the pocket, but as the saying goes, to finish first you must first finish !!

Coming up to the hairpin, Niki in a safe distance, just a little to far behind for an attack under breaking,  I lost my brake !!!   you arrive very fast, there’s hardly a runoff area and plenty of people standing in front of this huge Metal Gate which will be the point of contact in a situation like mine in that moment. I tried  with some feeble success to find some breaking for slowing down enough to give the people a chance to get out of the way.

This I managed and when I got out of the car, angry because Niki won and curious to see what happened, I tripped over the left rear drive shaft, which had slipped out of the Axle, taking the Wheel and brake completely with it. Very charming ! Luckily I had found some brake effect to avoid some horrible crash! That’s the luck you need occasionally .

What was amusing , many journalists , in their zeal to get to me,  asked what happened, having tripped over the extended driveshaft which still held the car up.

These had been great races, short but intense. The picture shows our cars on the way towards the start finish , just before the Hairpin which I have just written about.

Lucky !!!

Report by Jochen Mass for collectorscarworld