GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ron Howard's Rush, Niki's Monza & my visit to Maranello

I am eagerly looking forward to seeing the Ron Howard film Rush. I've heard good feedback about it but that is beside the point. I want to see it because I was there at Monza in 1976 for the Italian Grand Prix when Niki Lauda made his courageous return to Formula 1 only four weeks after his horrific crash in the German Grand Prix. He managed to finish fourth and the fans loved his heroic effort. I did, too.

My father in the streets of Milano with Tom Meade in the background leading the way

I was spending a month in Italy at the time to buy cars and my father came along for the adventure of it. While there, we meet up with the late Tom Meade who helped me find cars, introduced us to some great restaurants (always with his Belgian Shepherd Pig in tow) and led us to the nightclubs where the models congregated it being catalog time in Milano.

 Me with Beverly and Stuart Baumgard in the stands at Monza during the Grand Prix of Italy

We were joined at the Italian Grand Prix by my friend Dr. Stuart Baumgard and his wife Beverly. Stuart had acquired my GTO from Alain de Cadenet. I spent a lot of time with Stuart in those days just hanging out or going to events like the Virginia City Hillclimb in Nevada. He had a quaint English accent and a unique way of looking at things.

On the Monday after the Grand Prix, I took my father to Maranello where we visited the Ferrari factory and talked with people there about the race results. Needless to say, everyone was mightily impressed with Niki Lauda's valiant effort and fourth-place finish.  I was surprised, however, to find that my enthusiasm for Clay Reggazoni's second-place finish was not mirrored by those present. There seemed to be a muted and grudging acknowledgment of his result. Later, I realized that the decision for him to leave the team had already been made and Clay was already in the persona non grata category to some extent.

Racing movies have always been a source of frustration for me as they tend to mix fantastic racing footage with shallow story lines that present every racing cliché possible. I hope Rush will be different given that it is covering real life events as opposed to a screenwriter's vision of what racing must be.

[Since writing this post, I saw the movie. It scores an A+ for being something that will appeal to hard-core F1 fans and the public alike. Very well done!]

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