Here is a young Stirling Moss about to go out to practice in his first World Championship F1 race, the Swiss Grand Prix which took place on the dangerous Bremgarten circuit at Berne on May 27, 1951. Moss is in one of John Heath’s F2 HWMs which were powered by the two liter four cylinder Alta motor. Heath had been invited (which means starting money) to bring two of his cars, the second one to be driven by Heath’s partner George Abecassis.
Of course these F2 cars were much slower than the 4.5 liter Ferrari 375F1s and the 1.5 liter supercharged Alfa Romeo 159s. Alfa had brought four cars, as had Ferrari for their three drivers, but one would take the older 125C supercharged version. Moss, slowed by a misfire, qualified some 22 seconds slower around the 4.5 mile Bremgarten course than the Alfa 159 of Juan Fangio on pole, although he still had six other cars, including Abecassis, behind him on the grid.
Race day found rain which would always add to the dangers at Bremgarten due to the Belgian blocks surface, as seen here as Moss comes by. Note the closeness of the spectators, “protected” by a wooden fence. Moss thought that given the Alfas having to stop for fuel and their and Ferrari’s power a reduced factor in the wet conditions, that the HWMs might do better than expected. Indeed that was true until the Moss HWM collected a bit of debris just short of 1/3rd distance which smashed its windscreen and thereafter left Moss fighting to keep his visor from blowing off, along possibly with his helmet. Abecassis shortly after this retired with magneto failure. Nevertheless Moss kept going well until his HWM ran out of fuel just 500 yards before the finish. Moss then coasted to the finish, but Louis Chiron was able to overtake him so seventh overall became eighth but with six others still behind him.
Photos by Alan R. Smith ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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