1982 BMW 323i Baur

1982 BMW 323i Baur
Memorial Day 2010 First Drive 1982 323i BMW Baur Lapisblau M20 5 speed #4154 of 4595 made. The car was imported to California by Dietel Enterprises. I have since changed the wheels, installed the clear turn signal lenses, and I am in the process of installing a new cabriolet roof. I have to do something about those bumpers, too. :) I love this car! To see one of the reasons why, check my post "Score One For the Good Guys" on 6/26/2011.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

If you are not grinning when driving.....

In the 1955 Mille Miglia, Stirling Moss, accompanied by Denis Jenkinson, set the record for the fastest time ever for the 1,000 mile race, averaging about 97 mph for the 10 hour race.  Here is the story:

The greatest race

Can you imagine driving 1,000 miles in 10 hours? Doug Nye recalls the famous Mille Miglia of 1955, when Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson did just that

1955 Mille Miglia map

Fifty years ago this month, Stirling Moss (then aged 25) and motorsport journalist Denis Jenkinson (34) shared a works Mercedes-Benz 300SLR sports car in its debut race. The result was the most iconic single day's drive in motor racing history.
With Stirling driving, and diminutive Jenks using an ingenious roller-chart of pace notes that he communicated by pre-arranged hand signals (see page 3), they hurtled around the leg of Italy on closed public roads to smash all records for that racing-mad nation's most charismatic race - the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia.
The route for the 1955 event - then being held for the 22nd time since its foundation in 1927 - began on the ramp in the Viale Rebuffone, Brescia, in northern Italy. Cars started at one-minute intervals, slowest first, from 9pm on Saturday, numbered with their start time to allow spectators to keep track of relative progress; with a huge entry, it would be almost 12 hours before the fastest machines were flagged away.
The police closed the roads to other traffic as the racers boomed south-east through Ferrara and Ravenna down the Adriatic coast to Pescara. The course then headed inland, squirming across the Abruzzi mountains to L'Aquila, then into Rome. From the eternal city the field tore north through Siena to Florence, over the Futa and Raticosa passes to Bologna, and then home via Piacenza, Cremona and Mantua to the finish in Brescia. One lap - 1,000 miles.
To picture the scale of this madcap road-race and what was required of Moss and Jenks to win it, imagine blasting off from Marble Arch, London, at 7.22am one Sunday, next stop Cardiff... and no motorways. From Cardiff north to Manchester, on to Glasgow, then Edinburgh.
Turn south for York and back to London, 150mph down the closed Edgware Road - spectators four deep and hanging from every available window - and across the finish line back at Marble Arch. Despite several fuel stops, you stop the clock there just 12 seconds short of 5.30pm that same Sunday. Such performance demands a very special car, and a very special crew...
Moss and Jenks also had three minor accidents en route, but their staggeringly robust Mercedes, carrying start-time number 722, soaked up every impact. Only its rear tyres were changed, and its bonnet was never even lifted. Jenks was sick over the side and he lost his first pair of spectacles, plucked off by the airstream during that bye-bye-breakfast moment; typically, he had a spare pair.
In the entire 10 hours, he missed only one critical pace-note call, when distracted by fuel-spray from an over-filled tank. And when Stirling spun the car into a ditch on the Radicofani Pass, he ungratefully trapped Jenks's helping finger in the gearchange gate. Meantime, Moss's personal skill and stamina - plus a little chemical help (of which more later) - hurled that brutally fast Mercedes-Benz around the 1,000 miles at the staggering average speed of 97.9mph. How would you rate your chances of matching that, even after 50 years of "progress"?
Certainly in May 1955 it was an achievement of almost supernatural dimensions. It played a crucial role in finally re-establishing, post-war, the legend of Mercedes-Benz invincibility in racing.
It was the Mercedes way to leave no stone unturned, not only in engineering frontier-technology cars, but in hiring the best drivers available. For 1954, they signed up Juan Manuel Fangio from Maserati, and for 1955 added young Moss's precocious promise. The sports car they built was the 300SLR.

Stirling recalls: "First impression, to be honest, was not too positive. It looked very big indeed for just a three-litre, big and heavy when compared with an Aston Martin DB3S or even the Jaguar D-Type.
"But when I got into it and started it up, that straight-eight cylinder engine sound was just amazing. It's still electrifying; it just doesn't sound like a mere three-litre, it makes a very different noise: hard-edged, a real racing engine. And every detail spelled proper engineering.
"But it was never easy to drive. You really had to apply yourself, consciously adapt to its mass and get used to the awkward gearbox. It felt much larger than its sister, open-wheeled grand prix car, but on the open road it was really exceptionally fast, and very rewarding.
It was not agile, yet it would steer very nicely on the throttle. You could set it up very accurately into a corner, and could make it nimble: squirt it and the back end would go out, but it was notably stable through the fast stuff, remarkably softly suspended, soaking up bumps, and would just bite very nicely and fire you out of corners.
"Only the drum brakes were, frankly, awful. They were always inadequate, especially since I was used to Jaguar's discs. Overall, the SLR was enormously fast with inferior brakes, but crucially they were not inferior to the brakes on most of our closest rivals in that particular race. One just made allowances... And above all, it just felt utterly bullet-proof. We believed that if we didn't break the car, it would never break on its own."
The SLRs had left-hand drive, and the offset clutch-housing split Stirling's foot pedals wide apart, with the clutch on its own to the left, brake and throttle pedal to the right. He liked this splayed-legs driving position: "It was very comfortable. If you want to brace yourself when standing up, you brace your feet apart. It's exactly the same in the SLR. The wrap-round seat was good, and of course we never even considered wearing seat belts, because of the fear of fire."
If Moss was fearless, so certainly was his intrepid passenger. "Jenks" was the 5ft 2½in-tall continental correspondent of Motor Sport magazine. He had raced motorcycles before becoming passenger to sidecar racing star Eric Oliver.
They promptly won the 1949 World Championship and when Stirling offered Jenks a Mercedes place on the Mille Miglia, this tough little nut was elated. Mercedes paid him $10 per day plus $15 per day expenses. Should Moss's car win, Jenks's prize bonus would be 2,000 Deutschmarks.
He later recalled: "Daimler-Benz offered us full seat harnesses and when we said that we wanted to be thrown out if the car went over a cliff, they said, 'We have a harness that comes undone when it is upside down.' We still preferred to escape in mid-air if the need arose, rather than stay with the accident..."
Stirling recalls the communication problem within the noisy SLR: "We tested an intercom. Initially it seemed fine, but then I said to Jenks, 'OK, let me try flat-out and see how it works then,' and I didn't hear a thing. When we stopped, I bawled, 'What's the matter? You didn't say a word!' and he protested, 'Oh yes I did - I was talking the whole time!'"
As Jenks later explained: "Everything worked well until Moss began to reach his personal limit and then he found that he used so much concentration through his eyes, that his hearing failed. Moss driving at eight-tenths could hear me clearly, at nine-tenths, he was not sure and approaching tentenths he did not hear a word I said!" Jenks took this as incontrovertible evidence that rally drivers can never be on the real limit, because if they were, they would never hear their navigators...
Stirling admits: "For me, the Mille Miglia was the only race which made me nervous, because I never really knew the course. To try to go as near ten-tenths as you can without knowing the circuit is not confidence-inducing. Having Jenks beside me was a tremendous boost. We believed this was the only way a foreign driver could hope to compete with the Italians' local knowledge. After three reconnaissance periods, Jenks had noted all salient points on his famous 'toilet roll' of notes. If he hadn't been there I would never have got anywhere near the average speed we did.

"Pre-race we had worked out where we could save time while other drivers would be backing off, and we also marked places where if we didn't back off, well, frankly, we'd be dead!
"Candidly, I also rather liked having someone alongside me to appreciate what I'd done. I'm very proud that he thought I'd done a pretty good job that day."
Years later, Jenks told him: "I noticed you glance at your watch when we began the Futa Pass section, and I knew you wanted to do it inside an hour so I rubbed my hands and thought, 'Cor, now I'm really going to see something'". Stirling: "I thought, 'Kee-rist!!! I'd just been flat-out for about six hours and here was this wonderful little nutcase, wanting to see me go harder still!' Typical Jenks...
"In fact the really difficult sections were not the twists through the mountains, but the really high-speed stuff up around 140-170mph for long distances, many of the curves very deceptive. That's where it was really difficult to maintain a high average, keeping the throttle open, and setting up and balancing the car.
"When you're travelling that fast on a public road, any mistake is major. Jenks's hand signals - flat, left, right, bumpy, slippery, brake hard, harder, we're both going to die! - were absolutely invaluable."
To his dying day (in 1996) Jenks recalled the surreal experience of overtaking a twin-engined aeroplane filming the event, until they reached the ring road avoiding a small town, while the 'plane flew straight on. Within minutes, their silver Mercedes repassed it.
And the physical stresses of that amazing 10-hour drive? Stirling: "We always finished races in those days with the famous black faces and panda eyes. It was a mixture of oil fumes and brake and clutch dust - but it never crossed my mind we were inhaling this stuff.

"There was never a point in the race when I was aware of any discomfort or fatigue. You've got to realise we were going bloody fast. We were passing people all the time. After each control we'd rush off uncertain whether we had retained our place, or improved upon it, or quite what was happening. So the pressure was just relentless.
"I just drove absolutely as fast as I could, trying relentlessly to save time. We'd see someone had gone off, and from his list of rivals' numbers Jenks would know who it was. If it was a significant runner, well, thumbs-up. And that would encourage me to drive faster to save still more. All the time that race was ON.
"When you're concentrating that hard, you become unaware of the passage of time... and of anything outside driving itself. I've been in rallies in which I thought, 'God, I feel tired,' but never in the Mille Miglia.
"The worst news we got was that we had been leading at Rome. I am superstitious and the Mille Miglia saying was: 'First in Rome is never first home'. But with the roadside crowds, such a fiesta feeling - it's wonderfully uplifting. You get an incredible, almost constant drip-feed of adrenaline. So fatigue doesn't come into it."
Jenks had consulted an aviation medicine friend after initial reconnaissance made him car sick. The doc suggested a motion-sickness pill, adding: "It can cause drowsiness". Unacceptable. Another was recommended, its only known side effect constipation. Jenks beamed: "Now that could be a positive bonus!"
Meanwhile, Fangio had offered to share a magic pill of his own. This "Dynavis" pill, by Pfister, had been given him to combat chronic thirst while racing, but Fangio found it also boosted stamina. Stirling: "In the first grand prix races that year in Argentina - run in terrible heat - the Old Boy had been the only one to complete the distance solo. So when he offered his magic pills (and that was the only time he ever shared them) we accepted. I took mine, Jenks didn't take his.
"To this day I've no idea if that pill would be legal or illegal, acceptable or banned. But at that time it was no issue. Dexedrine and Benzedrine were commonly used in rallies. The object was simply to keep awake, like wartime bomber crews.
"Anyway, I took mine and after we finished I noted in my diary: 'Fangio's pills are FANTASTIC!'" In fact, post-race, Stirling left Brescia at 12.15am, accompanied by his girlfriend Sally Weston, and drove through the night to breakfast in Munich, then to lunch with the Daimler-Benz directors in Stuttgart.
He left there at 5.15pm and reached Cologne by 9.15, when he and Sally finally took a hotel room. He had been largely behind the wheel, without rest, for at least 39 hours. He adds, thoughtfully: "I reckon I was pumped up as much by the buzz of winning as by Fangio's pill..."
Years later, Jenks was driving on the old Mille Miglia roads between covering races for Motor Sport and stopped for lunch in a roadside café. There he overheard two black-clad ladies discussing the great old days when the Mille Miglia used to blast past their door: "Do you remember," said one, "the dry year of the silver German car with that young English boy driving? He broke all the records you know."
Her companion replied knowingly: "Aah yes, but he was not alone. He had the most special help. For I saw it with my own eyes. He took along with him his very own little padre, with a long beard, who sat alongside as he raced, reading him verses from the Bible..."
Very special equipment
Stirling Moss's Mille Miglia-winning Mercedes-Benz 300SLR was actually the fourth of six then available to the works team. For Moss and Jenks it wore twin headrests but was modified thereafter to single-headrest form, as Moss's personal team car. He finished second behind Fangio in the EifelRennen at Germany's Nürburgring, but for the Le Mans 24 Hours Karl Kling/Andre Simon took it over while Moss co-drove Fangio's usual car, both fitted with airbrake flaps to save wear on the SLRs' drum brakes against Jaguar's superior discs.
Moss reverted to "0004" in the Swedish race at Kristianstad, "...the only place I was ever ordered to let Fangio win...", before he and American John Fitch co-drove her to win the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod in Ulster. He then shared her one final time - with Peter Collins - to win an epic Targa Florio race in Sicily. This third win for Moss's car clinched the Sports Car World Championship for Mercedes-Benz.
Valued beyond price, this iconic "silver arrow" survived at Stuttgart, to be refitted with twin-headrest Mille Miglia body in time for a reunion with Moss and Jenks at the 1995 Goodwood Festival of Speed, celebrating their 40th anniversary. Old "722" has since appeared at events worldwide, but this year's Festival of Speed (see below) is scheduled to be her last before retirement to the Stuttgart museum. At Brescia last week, Stirling autographed her, beneath the line: "We did it together. My thanks and affection". The car's appearance at Goodwood will be a last chance to hear that rich baritone exhaust.
• This year's Festival of Speed tales place over the weekend of June 24-26 at Goodwood House, near Chichester, West Sussex. Entry is by advance ticket only; call 01243 755055 or go to www.goodwood.co.uk (Friday tickets from £20, Saturday from £35, Sunday from £42, weekend from £77).
The main theme is "Racing Colours - National Pride and Culture" and the sculpture in front of Goodwood House celebrates Honda's 40 years of grand prix success. A new feature is a 1.5-mile forest rally stage (and special paddock) at the top of the hill. Other highlights of a packed programme include the Cartier Style et Luxe competition, current F1 drivers and machines from Renault, Ferrari, BAR Honda, Red Bull Cosworth and McLaren Mercedes, and the Blitzen Benz record breaker.

Here is a link to a video about the Last Mille Miglia: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/the-last-mille-miglia

Baurspotting actually met Sir Stirling Moss at the Lime Rock Park Historics in September 2012.  Check out  that story here:

Denis "Jenks" Jenkinson's original article on his experience with Stirling Moss in the 1955 Mille Miglia:

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