Here is the Swiss sports car driver Hans Ruesch during the British Empire Trophy which was run on the Douglas Circuit, an open road street circuit, in the town of Douglas on the Isla of Man which is in the Irish Sea, on June 18, 1953. Ruesch is driving a Ferrari 340MM with bodywork by Touring, one of two such cars constructed. The Isle of Man was one of the allowable venues for public road competition after the war when that type of racing was banned in England and closed circuits were scarce.
This 340MM started out as a Scuderia Ferrari car and was a dnf in the 1953 Mille Miglia with Luigi Villoresi and then won the sports car race at Silverstone during the International Trophy meeting, driven by Mike Hawthorn. It was then acquired by Reusch who raced it numerous times during the 1953 season.
In the photograph above middle of the field for the British Empire Trophy approaches the corner seen at the top of this blog. On the inside is a Jaguar C-Type driven by Jack Swift while on the outside of the Ferrari is another C-Type, this one from Ecurie Ecosse and driven by Jimmy Stewart, the older brother of Jackie Stewart. The winner was Reg Parnell in an early Aston Martin DB3S, followed by Ken Wharton in a Frazer-Nash and then Ruesch,
Ruesch had started racing in the early 1930s with an MG and then graduated to open wheel cars, often for hillclimb events. His most famous mount was an Alfa Romeo 8C35 grand prix car, reputedly the same car raced by Tazio Nuvolari to win the Coppa Ciano in 1936. He had considerable success with the Alfa at various races in Europe and England. During the war years Ruesch escaped from Europe to America where he began a career as an author of novels, some which were optioned for films. In his later years he became an animal rights activist.
In September 1953 at the Supercortemaggiore race at the long and complex Merano road circuit in northern Italy Ruesch spun his Ferrari into a crowd on the first lap followed by Franco Cortese’s Ferrari who crashed into Ruesch’s car, resulting in the killing a policeman and injuries to several spectators as well as the drivers. It was Ruesch’s last competitive event.
His Ferrari 340MM was rebodied by Scaglietti after the Merano crash and spent many years in the United States.
Photos by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
To see more photos from our archive go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx
Let’s not forget Ruesh’s novel, The Racers. Made into a somewhat smaltzy movie, staring Kirk Douglas. The racing footage is more than worth as a view as isa scene where Douglas remarks that his well-endowed date has, “independent front suspension.”