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Italian Grand Prix 1961-2011: Monza, Death of von Trips & A Yankee Champion

When we started the 2011 Formula One season back in March, I noted that 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the magical 1961 F1 season in which Phil Hill, driving for Ferrari, became the first, and other than Mario Andretti in 1978, only American Formula One Grand Prix World Champion. From our season opening post in March, Circus Starts Anew, 50 Years On From the Yankee Champion:

As starts the 2011 Formula One season, so too started the 1961 F1 season fifty years ago. For all the differences brought by technology and time over five decades, there is much in common. The excitement and anticipation of the drivers, the longing to put the knowledge of the off season testing and tech changes finally to proof in actual race conditions, the first drivers’ meetings of the season, the beautiful people and the eyes of the international sporting world focused. There is nothing like the Formula One circus; that was the case then as much as it is now.

Longtime regulars here at the Emptywheel Trash Talk threads will likely remember that I had the privilege of knowing Phil Hill as I was growing up. Phil was the first, and still one of only two (Mario Andretti), Americans to win the Formula One Grand Prix World Championship and his career was immortalized in the excellent biography Yankee Champion by William Nolan. 2011 is the fiftieth anniversary of his championship season. In honor of that, I will be comparing and remembering the races and excitement of the 1961 season over the course of the current season. See here for some simply superb [Cahier Archive] photos from the 1961 season.

Phil was my friend, and my mentor. I miss him.

Phil Hill German GP 1961 - Cahier Archive

This will be the last formal installment in the 1961 retrospective series. While there are 19 races in this year’s 2011 F1 schedule, with six remaining after the Italian, there were only eight races on the 1961 docket. The Italian was the seventh and penultimate race, and the one that will not only live in infamy, but in which the Championship was determined. Indeed, with both the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships decided at Monza in the Italian, and in light of the tragic death of their star factory driver, Count Wolfgang von Trips, the dominant Ferrari team did not even travel the Atlantic to contest the final race, the inaugral United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, NY.

So, in 1961 all the marbles came down to the famed steep banked course at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Read more

Trash: F1 British Grand Prix, Sweater Vest Forfeitures & Foxsuckers

There are a lot of sports deserving of some Trash Talk this weekend, including the one and only British GP from Silverstone, Derek Jeter…Jetah…, getting his 3,000th hit and the gleeful schadenfreude over The. Ohio. State. University. having to self forfeit all its wins from 2010. All are glorious sports stories, but we will start where we always do this time of year, with the F1 Circus.

This weekend is the British Grand Prix from historic Silverstone in Northamptonshire (and Buckinghamshire) England. Silverstone has evolved over the years and, in its current configuration is a fast track with several straightaways, coupled with two near hairpins and a smattering of other turns that make it a great track for racing and overtaking. Combined with the potential for the wet stuff, Silverstone holds promise for great races.

Aussie Mark Webber of Red Bull was fastest in practice, which was hampered in the second session by the rain. the Red Bull dominance continued into qualifying this morning with Webber taking P1, followed by teammate Sebastian Vettel in P2 and the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in P3 and P4 respectively. Di Resta in the Force India, Maldonado in the Williams and Koayashi in the Sauber were pleasant surprises in P6-P8. Of the three upstarts, I think Kobayashi has the best chance to break through for a podium, but it will be really tough. Lewis Hamilton continues his downward slide from Read more

Trash Talk: Fox TV Sucks a Bag Of Big Honking Salted Dicks

Well, I am getting ready to watch the European Grand Prix. It is being broadcast for all of us lucky discriminating American viewers on Fox TV, and coverage will start at 12pm EST and 9am PST. Did I mention it is on Fox TV?

I hope one and all will join me in a discussion as we watch the race live. We can regale in how young Sebatian Vettel started from pole and drove away from the field for his sixth victory in eight races this year, basically racing against himself while the rest of the grid actually had a competitive race. We can marvel at how Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari is putting on a hell of a show throughout the entire race in front of his home country Spaniard crowd in Valencia. We can take sides with some of us supporting Fernando’s foil today, Mark Webber, in the Red Bull and us Scudderia aficionados screaming with glee as Alonso out bulls Webber’s Red Bull for the precious P2 podium finish; especially in that heart stopping Senna like pass that put the crowd breathless and on its feet.

We can do all of the above, of course, because the fucking race is over. And, thanks to the MENSA geniuses at Fox TV, we Americans were denied the ability to watch it live and have no alternative but to watch it on tape delay long after the checkered flag dropped for Vettel.

This is just craven and malignant jackassery by Fox; and there is simply no excuse for it. Formula One is the biggest and most popular sporting league in the world. Contrary to the ignorant belief of most Americans, the circle jerk that is NASCAR is NOT the highest form of motorsport, and its drivers are nowhere near the best in the world. No, that distinction would belong squarely to F1. The entire rest of Read more

F1 Trash: Bernie Ecclestone Takes a Swing At Sultans of Bahrain

This week is the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. We will get to that shortly, but perhaps the most significant news from the Circus this week is the swing of F1 from reinstating the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was previously pulled from its season opening slot in mid-March due to civil unrest and corresponding governmental oppression, to again yanking it from the schedule.

The race was called-off Friday after Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) announced its withdrawal to stage the event in the wake of objections from the teams and its drivers. The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council last Friday had re-instated the race to October (28-30) but removal of it now is most likely to make way for the staging of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix on the same dates.

“We will be back to normal. We have to put it to the World Council. I sent something this morning, so it will be quick,” Ecclestone was quoted as saying by The Guardian Wednesday.

Ecclestone, while defending his earlier decision, said the teams had the right to object to the re-scheduling of the race that was cancelled in March due to anti-government protests.

“The truth of the matter is we put the calendar together and the teams race on the calendar,” he said. “We were trying to help Bahrain, who have been very helpful to Formula One, and hoping they could get themselves sorted out.

“I don’t know whether there is peace or not. I have no idea. The FIA sent somebody out to check and they said it was all OK. I think the teams had different information and they have the right to say they don’t want to change the calendar.”

Since not everybody can translate jive, here is the deal. After the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt began in late January and started to spread, there was a brutal crackdown on protesters in Bahrain. A wave of pressure was placed on F1 and its governing body FIA by supporters of the protesters and reform movement to pull the Grand Prix. I certainly doubt I was responsible for diddly squat, but I was among the early suggesters that putting the GP in play would be perhaps the biggest single blow that could be leveraged against the oppressive Bahraini government and the Khalifa clan that owns, runs, and dictates it.

They paid dearly and through the nose to build the facility and buy their way into the F1 schedule and, like the crown jewels to a monarchy, it is the very symbol of their belonging and relevance in the international community. It means everything to them. To Bernie Ecclestone, who does not just run F1, he IS F1, it is simply a giant wad of money. And Bernie likes money. Having seen Bernie in action over three plus decades, and casually meeting him a couple of times, my take is Ecclestone does not care about the Read more

Formula One Trash Talk: Malaysian Grand Prix

Coverage is again on Speed TV and the race goes off at 3:30 am Sunday morning East Coast time which is 12:30 am West Coast time Sunday morning.

Picking right up where he left off at the Australian GP, Sebastian Vettel has taken pole for the run at Sepang in Kuala Lampur. Vettel barely nudged out Lewis Hamilton in the last seconds of the final qualifying round, with Webber, Button, Alonso, Heidfeld, Massa and Petrov following in that order. Petrov had a great run in OZ, placing third for his first podium in his young career. It will be fun to see what he can continue to extract from the Renault, both at Sepang and during the rest of the year.

Little noticed was the fact that the fastest lap turned at the Aussie GP was put in by Massa. The Ferraris are stronger than they have shown in the results so far this year; they will come around I think. Not so for the Mercedes cars and Michael Schumacher. Schumi, again, could manage only eleventh place on the grid. The poor qualifications are shocking for the all time, by a large margin, leader in F1 poles with 68. Certainly the quality of machinery is a large part, but Michael made his reputation for wringing incredible things out of lesser cars well before joining Scuderia Ferrari, so it is really looking like the lion’s skills and drive are not what they once were.

It appears that Major League Baseball is back and the boys of not quite yet sumer have taken the field again. Except of course Manny, who being Manny, has apparently juiced and walked off into retirement. A shame, he was one hell of a professional hitter and a heck of a character; a sad way to see him him go. Also the NBA season is winding up, so there are plenty of sports to jabber about.

It is raining like hell here, so tonight is right for some storm music courtesy of the Doors.

F1 Trash: Circus Starts Anew, 50 Years On From the Yankee Champion

It is the most wonderful time of the year – that’s right, the start of the Formula One season. 2010 turned into a nailbiter at the end, with the young and fast Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull pulling out the Driver’s Championship over runner up Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Red Bull teammate Mark Webber by winning the last race with in Abu Dhabi. And so we start the new 2011 season full of hope and expectations for all the teams, but with the strength still where it was last year, with Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren.

Already the season has been affected by extraneous forces, as it was scheduled to begin two weeks ago in Bahrain; but the turmoil of the crackdown on the Arab Spring in that country, thanks to the aid from shock troops from the oppressive US client state of Saudi Arabia, squelched that and delayed the season start until this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. But the boys are already tearing up Albert Park in Melbourne as qualifying just went off as I write this post. There is a new rule for qualifying in 2011, to be eligible for the grid you must be within 107% of the fastest time clocked in the first qualifying session. This is a concept toyed with once before in F1, but sacked. The premise is that you do not want to many slow cars in the field buggering up the path for the faster vehicles. We shall see how it plays out this time and how the grids fill out with the 107% rule in place.

Another significant change is that Bridgestone is gone as tire supplier for the teams. The new supplier will be Pirelli and all teams are, for once, working closely with the manufacturer to insure that no teams get favored status. The early reports are that the rubber is burning off slightly faster than was the case with the Bridgestones; the upshot is there may be more pit stops and there may be more of a premium Read more

Zenyatta! An LA Woman Runs For The Roses & History

There is great football this weekend, both by student and professional athletes. Obviously, that should be discussed in comments. It’s what we do here. Bizarrely as it may be, this blog exists in its current form because of some weird joining of legal thought and passion for football, with a smattering of divine intervention by Phred and perhaps a few too many pitchers of Beamish. Go figure; that is the randomness of entropy and the blogosphere. Nevertheless, here we are.

And so, here we are and I serve up a prime weekend Trash Talk of horse. Sue me if you object; my attorney, Mary, she of midwestern common horse sense, will answer and defend. Aggressively.

The story of Zenyatta was first adopted and incorporated by the Emptywheel blog just over a month ago when she ran to defend her crown in the Lady Secret Stakes at Hollywood Park in the City of Angels, California. Well, we are all in now. So much so that we had an official liveblog reporter at Hollywood Park for the Lady Secret, Rosalind. Rosalind not only went to Hollywood for the Lady Secret, she took pictures and came to feel the force that is Zenyatta. Although a bit bottled up and not quite as focused as normal, Zenyatta brought the heart of the champion she is and closed out a win, and defense of her crown, in the Lady Secret.

The Lady Secret win at Hollywood park made Zenyatta an unprecedented 19-0 in her racing career. She won the Breeders Cup Classic last year; other than the Triple Crown races of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the biggest, and arguably more annually competitive, horse race in the world every year. No woman had ever won this bring all comers race before, but Zenyatta closed out all the best boys in the world, in the biggest race in the world. In style.

Last years’ Breeder’s Cup Classic win made Zenyatta a star, and fixture among the greatest horses of all time, and almost certainly surpassing the truly remarkable and astounding Rachel Alexandra to take her place as the greatest filly of all time. But now comes the 2010 Breeders Cup Classic. Rachel Alexandra, other fillies, and indeed almost all other horses regardless of sex are either in the backseat, or paying damn close attention as Zenyatta makes a move on unquestionable immortality.

A second Breeders Cup Classic win against the best male horses the world has to offer would put Zenyatta in the untouchable category. Babe Ruth and Secretariat land. Where, arguably, no horse, male or female, has gone before. This is truly stunning stuff.

Now, I have no idea whether this horse can close the deal or not. But, at a remarkable and unprecedented 19-0, Zenyatta has earned the reputation, and buildup, that puts her in this position. Seriously. In spades. The last horse that came into a race like this with the weight of history and expectation of otherworldliness on it’s shoulders was Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. We know what happened in that race.

So, we shall see. There is stiff competition from the boys (so to speak). She will have to beat some studs including Paddy O’Prado, Blame and, perhaps most significantly, Bob Baffert’s Lookin at Lucky. Despite her eternal greatness, the odds and history are stacked against Zenyatta. While there is almost no chance Zenyatta will pull away from a talented field like Secretariat did in the 1973 Belmont, may the modern day Pegasus fly to a win of any nature and history!

There is also, of course, college and pro football; not to mention the penultimate race in the F1 Circus this year, the Brazilian Grand Prix. Somewhat incredibly, Fernando Alonso of the real red animal, the prancing horse of Ferrari, leads Mark Webber of Red Bull by eleven points going into Sao Paulo. Red Bull is fast in practice, but it is Sebastian Vettel leading the way. With only this race and Abu Dhabi left in the season, the race is indeed on!

It has been a long hard slog this week folks, let’s rip this joint and trash it up!

Trash Talk: Big Blue v. Golden Domers, Other Football & F1

Okay, as promised, here is the real Trash Talk for the weekend. Not sure what other football games and sports there are after the Geezer’s debut Thursday night, but I will try to find some to talk about……

Hey, turns out there is a game in South Bend today! That’s right Wheelers and Wheelettes, it’s the Wolvereenies versus the Flighting Irish. Emptywheel versus Masaccio. Just like when they had the battle of the unvictorious and untieds in 2007 – except better! Both teams appear to be resurgent this year and, all joking aside, that is good for college football. Bothe teams come in at 1-0 and are desperate to get to 2-0 to make a run at a prime bowl spot. Michigan is keyed by Denard Robinson, the super soph quarterback. Last week against UConn, Robinson threw for 186 yards and ran for another 197 as the Wolverines rolled to a 30-10 victory. Thankfully, after last year’s fiasco, Rich Rod seems to have seen the light and made Tate Forcier permanent number two.

Notre Dame seems already to be much more disciplined and cohesive under new coach Brian Kelly. Look for QB Dayne Crist to go deep to Michael floyd, maybe the best receiver in the country, especially considering Big Blue’s defensive secondary is beat up. The real test in this game will be whether Notre Dames defensive front and linebackers can stop Robinson and Michigan’s running game. If they do that, Notre Dame wins, and that is what I expect, although it should be a pretty good game. If Robinson gets loose again like last week, however, the Wolverines will win easy.

There are a lot of other really good games on the bill too. First and foremost is The U at the Ohio State Sweatervests. We will see if Jacory Harris and the Canes are back enough to nip the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe. Also, Georgia at South Carolina, the newly Bowdenless Florida State Seminoles at Oklahoma, Penn State at Bama, Oregon at Tennessee and in an unusually early Pac-10 matchup, Stanford at UCLA. That is a hell of a lot of really good games.

PROS: The big tilt is of course on Monday night when Ray Lewis and the Ravens travel to the Jets Jets Jets and their loud coach and new stadium. That ought to be really something; two nasty defenses, both coached up at one point by Rex Ryan. Revis Island, Bart Scott and Jim Leohnard along with a solid line provide the Dee in the Jets’ fence. They will show up. So will Ray Lewis, although the other superstar ball hawk for the Ravens, Ed Reed, is out. Really, this game will come down to how the two offenses perform. In that category, you have to take the Ravens all the way with Flacco and Ray Rice over Mark Sanchez and a worn out LaDanian Tomlinson. Ravens get the job done

In other key games, the Boys and Romeo visit McNabb and the Skins. Everybody is high on the Boys this year, but I dunno. Still McNabb is banged up, so I will take the Boys this week; later maybe not so much. Pack at Iggles could be interesting. If Kevin Kolb is what he has looked to be in preseason and a couple of games last year, this might be interesting. Might, but won’t; Pack easy. Bengals at Pats; if the Bill Bels can muster any defense at all, they win – I think they will. I think the Lions at Bears may actually be pretty interesting just to see what happens. Lions should be MUCH improved, and who knows what the hell is up with the Bears, they could be good or horrible – who knows? I’ll take the Lions in what I guess is an upset. I saw some cluck on MSNBC website predict the Texans will beat the Peyton Mannings; nuh uh, Peyton scores too much for the Texans. Broncos beat the Jags, Stillers eke out a win over the Dirty Birds, Fish beat the Bills, Browns over the Bucs, Raiders upset the Titans, Eli and the Gents take the Panthers, Cards beat the Rams, SeaSquawks somehow over the Niners, and the Bolts kill the Chiefs.

US Open: Federer pulls one last major win over Nadal and Kim Clijsters wins another Open over Vera Zvonareva.

F1 Circus: This weekend the Circus sets down at the Autodroma Nationale de Monza for the one and only Italian Grand Prix. Monza is the fastest circuit on the tour and is a great track that always provides great racing. Not surprisingly, fast, good teams go fast at Monza, and so they did at practice. Sebastian Vettel led the way for Red Bull followed closely by the two home town heroes in red, the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa. The two Mclarens of Hamilton and Jenson Button followed with Mark Webber trailing with mechanical difficulties. This is another critical race with only three points separating Webber from Hamilton for the driver’s crown and only one point between Red Bull and McLaren for the Constructor’s Championship. The big chattering for the weekend has been over the use of team orders. FIA hit Feerrari with a $100,000 fine for the incident at Hockenheim. I have no clue why this is always so shocking in today’s F1, team orders have been a part of the Circus for over six decades; that is just the way it is and the way it is going to be. Ecclestone should give up the ghost on this one. The race goes off at 7:30 am EST and 4:30 PST Sunday morning on SpeedTV.

Are You Ready For Some Futbol? Special FIFA Trash

Yeah, well, gather round the campfire boys and girls, because this may be the only time you get soccer trash talk out of me. And it took some extreme measures from mom to get it at all. But Mr. Wheel, being Irish and all, has the beautiful game in him and that is enough for me; so here goes.

Tomorrow’s match with England may be, at least in some respects, the biggest soccer tilt the US has ever played; certainly at least in a very long time. The tilt goes off at 1:30 pm EST and 10:30 PST. From NBC Sports:

The bars are stocked across America, and the pubs are getting ready in England. A 70½-foot billboard of Clint Dempsey stands near Penn Station in Manhattan, and there’s even a large poster of Landon Donovan in a store along Piccadilly Circus.

American soccer has never been more popular in the United States or its players more well-known across the world. And on Saturday comes the first competitive match between the U.S. and England since the great American upset at the 1950 World Cup. For one afternoon, millions will be watching from California to New York island. Like never before in the United States, this is the sport’s moment.

Yep, sounds about right. Brits v. Yanks. Old Glory v. Union Jack. The big tilt. If the US is going to do anything in this, they need to get out of the gate early, get the point and get out of group and into the sweet sixteen. That process, if it is to happen, starts by beating England tomorrow. England is a little beat up and a lot cocky; they are ripe. The Yanks must put a clamp on Wayne Rooney and Landon Donavan must step up and Jozy Altidore must hold up. Game on. Above and beyond this opening match, the smart money is on Spain or Brazil taking the cup. Germany is down, but always dangerous; the Netherlands is the hot longshot if you are in a betting mood and feeling loose.

Next up is some real football. You may have heard, there is a bit ‘o shuffling afoot in the major NCAA football conferences. Nebraska has already officially joined the Big-10 Big-11 Big-12. the Colorado Buffaloes have already joined up with the PAC-10. Ralphie and the Buffs hooking up with my homeboys, the PAC-10, is fine by me. I went to graduate school in Boulder for a year and a half; it is a beautiful and wonderful town and university. Gotta love a place where the restaurant in the student union building is named after a cannibal and Vail, Copper, Mary Jane and Breckenridge are all within 90 minutes or so bed to slope. So I Read more

The Last Days Of May Trash

Now that the Top Hat is back in BP style, I constantly think of this when I hear the term “Top Hat“. Oh well, whatta ya gonna do? Beer Thirty, that’s what!

Lots of junk to blather about, only a few of which are Los Suns hosting the pinche Lakers, baseball (look out, here come the amazing Mets and Sawx), college baseball is in the playoff run, something called the Stanley Cup is supposedly being played, although you would hardly know it here, and early tomorrow morning the Turkish Grand Prix goes off. Crappy cookie cutter track that makes for forgettable racing. Don’t know why the Circus stops in Turkey.

Hoop it up, and I will be along with a couple of real posts in a bit.