|By Jeremy McMullenWe are all talented and gifted in one or a couple of areas in life. The trick is to not be distracted, believing ourselves to be something other than what we are, and therefore, waste our time and attention where we are not truly gifted. This fact in life was no more-true than for Enrico Plate.|
Enrico was born in Milan, Italy in 1909. Despite his Italian heritage, Plate became a nationalized Swiss and, in fact, would be officially listed as a Swiss entrant when he started racing. Racing, however, was not what Enrico started out doing. In fact, Enrico began his involvement with motor sports as a mechanic. Not surprisingly, however, Enrico was taken by the idea of being a racing driver instead of just a mechanic.
Unfortunately, Plate proved to be perhaps a better mechanic than a racing driver. He proved throughout his career that he did not have the exceptional abilities necessary to be a contending driver.
Enrico's first race was in 1936, the voiturette Grand Prix of Milan. Plate drove a Maserati 4CM in the event and started from the 3rd row. The grid was three cars wide and consisted of only 12 entrants. Despite all that is known about Enrico's disappointing racing career, it actually didn't start out all that badly. Although finishing the race three laps down to Trossi, who won the race, Plate crossed the line to finish the race 6th. There have been many world class drivers who had a worse first race.
Plate didn't take part in any grand prix or sports car races in 1937, but in 1938, Enrico would experience one of his greatest finishes as a racing driver, but, it would be the only highlight for the Italian/Swiss driver the whole year.
Enrico suffered from two DNFs, one at the Grand Prix of Tripoli and, then, another at the Targa Florio. Both races were voiturette races. In August, Enrico competed in another voiturette race at the Swiss Grand Prix. This event was comprised of two heat races followed by a final race. Plate drove a Maserati 6CM for Gruppo Volta in heat 2. Unfortunately, Enrico finished his heat race 10th, two laps down to heat winner Mays in his ERA. This result disqualified Enrico from taking part in the final race.
In September of '38, Plate went to Modena to take part in the Modena Grand Prix. Some of the big names of grand prix racing at the time were present: Villoresi, Biondetti and Cortese. Enrico proved he was not truly fast enough to compete as he started the race from second-to-last on the grid. However, it isn't always the fastest who win or do the best. It is about finishing and being fast. While Enrico wasn't fast he finished the race. Enrico was the last running car on the track but it resulted in the best result of his racing career to that point. Plate finished the race 4th, seven laps down to Cortese who won the race.
Although Enrico scored the best result of his career the year before, one of his better results took place at the Grand Prix of Tripoli the next year. Twenty-nine entrants took part in the race. No fewer than twenty-two entrants were driving either works or privately entered Maseratis of all types of models, from the 6CM to the 4CL. Alfa Romeo teams brought a total of six 158 Alfetta's. And Daimler-Benz, though greatly outnumbered, brought two Mercedes W165s. A great battle was expected, but due to the oppressive heat, Italian-after-Italian made car began to fail while the outnumbered W165s disappeared into the distance. Ten, out of the original number of twenty-two Maseratis, made it to the finish. And although seemingly not that special of a result, Enrico's 12th place finish, considering the conditions, was a rather good result. He was able to do something other drivers like Farina, Villoresi, Biondetti and Cortese could not do, and that was, finish.
The only other highlights for Plate in 1939 came in his next two races. Enrico scored a 6th place finish at the Targa Florio, held in Palermo. After starting the race dead last, Plate drove carefully and consistently around the 3.5 miles circuit in his Maserati 6CM and finished the race two laps down to Ghersi who won the race for Scuderia Torino, also driving a Maserati 6CM.
At the Grand Prix of Naples, Plate started the race second-to-last, but was able to finish the race 9th.
Enrico took part in three other races throughout the remainder of 1939, including the Coppa Ciano and Acerbo junior races, but suffered from DNFs in each of the three races.
With the outbreak of World War II racing came to a halt. The halt in racing gave Enrico time to evaluate where his talent truly lie. He didn't have the pace necessary to compete at the top levels, but it is hard to give up racing once the bug has bitten. As with anything, it is hard to give up something once it becomes a habit. So when the world emerged from the ravages of war, and racing started back up again, Enrico was there behind the wheel ready to compete. However, he did come to realize that he could possibly come to enjoy more success giving up his cars to those drivers who were faster than he. This gave rise to the team Scuderia Enrico Platé.
Almost immediately the decision by Enrico to concentrate more on being a team director than driver began to pay dividends.
Fortunes seemed to turn for Plate, not merely because of his decision to start fielding cars for faster drivers, but he himself was awarded as a racing driver. At the Grand Prix du Marseilles, in May of 1946, Enrico scored his career best result as a driver. The race consisted of 35 laps of a 2.2 mile street course around Marseilles. Raymond Sommer ended up winning the race, but Enrico came in 2nd, albeit one lap down.
In July of 1946, Enrico supplied the famous Tazio Nuvolari with a Maserati 4CL (see Maserati 4CL article) for the Grand Prix d'Albi. The famous racer took Plate's car to victory. Tazio navigated the 32 laps of the 5.5 mile course in just under two hours time and had lapped the entire field. Enrico supplied what was to be Tazio's last grand prix victory.
Though things appeared to start looking up for Plate as a driver; as well as a car owner and team director, soon, bad fortunes returned. He suffered a DNF at the Coupe Rene le Begue race, held at the Circuit de St. Cloud in Paris, France. Enrico finished only eight of the scheduled 30 laps of the 3.7 mile road course. He had to retire due to clutch problems. Another DNF followed in October of that year when he took part in the Gran Premio de Penya Rhin in Barcelona, Spain. Unfortunately, Plate never got to take part in the 80 lap event as he was involved in an accident on the second lap of the race and was forced to retire.
In between the races in Paris and Barcelona, Enrico competed at Torino, Italy in September. Plate took part in the Gran Premio del Valentino. Driving his Maserati 4CL, Plate finished the 60 lap event, five laps down to Achille Varzi in his Alfa Romeo 158, but went on to take 5th.
Plate returned to Marseilles a year later to take part in the 1947 Grand Prix de Marseilles. This was the sight of his best result of his career and was looking for a repeat performance. Well, Enrico was able to do exactly that. Though a lap down, Enrico finished the 69 lap event in 2nd once again, beaten only by Eugene Chaboud. For his 2nd place finish, Enrico earned a little over $1,000.
Enrico followed his 2nd place at Marseilles with a 7th place at Nimes, France in June of that year. He ended the race five laps down to Villoresi who won the race for Scuderia Ambrosiana in a Maserati 4CL.
Plate brought two cars to take part in the Grand Prix de Reims in July of 1947. Enrico drove one of the cars, Christian Kautz drove the other. The race consisted of 51 laps of the 4.8 mile road course near Reims, France. While the race was not a memorable one for Enrico as a driver it was memorable for him as a team owner.
Enrico was the second car out of the race due to an accident he suffered in his Maserati 4CL. However, Christian Kautz not only completed the 51 lap race distance, he did so by finishing 1st. Kautz defeated Louis Chiron and Bob Gerard. It took Christian a little over two and a half hours to complete the race. This was Plate's second major victory as a team owner, in as many years.
In July, at the Grand Prix de Nice, Plate prepared a car for Emanuel de Graffenried. Fellow Swiss, de Graffenried, intended to take part in the 100 lap race on the street course around Nice, France. However, eighteen laps into the race, Graffenried's Maserati developed engine problems that forced him to retire from the race.
Then, in August, Plate supplied a Maserati 4CL to Louis Chiron in order for him to take part in the Grand Prix d'Alsace. This was another car-breaker race. It was 85 laps of a 2.2 mile street course and seven of the sixteen starters failed to finish the race. Unfortunately, Chiron was one of them. It wasn't the engine, but the gearbox that failed this time.
Using the same car supplied to Graffenried and Chiron for their races, Enrico lent his Maserati to Henri Louveau for the Grand Prix du Salon at Montlhery, France in November of 1947. Henri completed 45 of the 48 laps and finished the race 5th. Yves Giraud-Cabantous won the race for Ecurie France.
More success, and tremendous loss, came to Scuderia Enrico Plate in 1948. At the Grand Prix du Pau, Nello Pagani entered the race for Plate driving the same car Kautz drove to victory at the Grand Prix de la Marne at Reims the year prior. This was a wise move. Nello lapped the field and finished the 110 laps 1st, ahead of Raymond Sommer.
Then, in July, Christian Kautz was behind the wheel of one of Plate's Maserati 4CLs. Of course, the event would be mostly remembered for the death of Achille Varzi during practice. But the event would be further mired in blackness as Christian Kautz also died while at the wheel of Plate's Maserati 4CL. Unfortunately, Kautz's death brought a tragic end to the team's promising year.
Ever since 1946, Scuderia Enrico Plate had been able to score at least one victory each year. The string of victories in successive years continued into 1949 and, in fact, increased. The team was able to score one major grand prix win and two minor grand prix victories throughout the year.
In April of 1949, Swiss driver Emanuel de Graffenried appeared at the Grand Prix of San Remo driving a new Maserati 4CLT/48 for Plate. The new car offered hope to a team looking to emerge from the tragic death of Christian Kautz the year before. The new chariot provided just that. After 90 laps of the 2 mile street course around Ospedaletti, Juan Manuel Fangio took the checkered flag for the win. De Graffenried ended up coming home in 3rd place, one lap down. This was a good start to the season.
The good start was followed up by an even better result a week later at the Grand Prix du Pau. After 110 laps, de Graffenried again followed behind race winner Juan Manuel Fangio, but instead of a 3rd, Emanuel was able to score a 2nd place finish.
Ten days later, de Graffenried was at it again, this time at the JCC Jersey Road Race. The race was held on the island of Jersey in the English Channel and was 55 laps on a 3.2 mile street circuit. This time Bob Gerard took the victory, but de Graffenried again finished a very good 2nd. For his efforts, de Graffenried and Scuderia Enrico Plate earned a little over $600.
Having a new and competitive car makes a lot of difference to a driver, and de Graffenried was enjoying the new Maserati 4CLT/48 so much that he was behind the wheel once again in the early part of May for the Grand Prix du Roussillon. Although unable to improve and score the first victory of the season for Scuderia Enrico Plate, de Graffenried drove a splendid race finishing 4th. Emanuel finished three laps down to Fangio. The top six places were taken by Maserati 4CLT/48s.
A week later, one of the big grand prix races of the season was run, the British Grand Prix. This was a big stage and a big opportunity given the new car. De Graffenried took advantage of the opportunity presented him. The affair was 300 miles, or, 100 laps of the 3 mile circuit. Villoresi and Bira occupied the first-two starting spots on the grid. De Graffenried started the race 4th. De Graffenried drove a steady race and then was handed the lead as Villoresi, Bira and Walker all had problems and were not to finish the race. De Graffenried was able to take advantage of the failures and scored the team's first victory of the season! Only Bob Gerard remained on the lead lap with de Graffenried.
Two weeks later, de Graffenried kept his winning streak going as he entered the Preis der Ostschweiz in Helvetia, which is the female personification of Switzerland. This race was for cars rated under 1500cc. Though already having an engine that was 1.5 liters, Enrico made some changes to one of his Maserati 4CLs to take part in the race. De Graffenried then promptly drove the updated old 4CL to victory.
Scuderia Enrico Plate also prepared cars for other drivers throughout 1949. And, for the Swedish Summer Grand Prix, Enrico Plate entered a car for Prince 'B.Bira' Birabongse. The race was held in Skarpnak on a 1.36 mile street course. Bira took the victory at the last race in Sweden until 1955.
In July of 1949, both de Graffenried and B. Bira took part in the Grand Prix of Switzerland. B. Bira qualified 2nd in the Maserati 4CLT/48. Guiseppe Farina, also in a Maserati 4CLT/48 took the pole. Unfortunately, for Farina, the pole didn't automatically translate into a victory, or even a finish. The same held true for B. Bira. Despite qualifying 2nd, he wasn't able to hold on to even finish on the podium. The Prince ended the race 5th. De Graffenried finished the race 7th, one lap down.
One week later, in Albi, France, the two drivers turned in solid performances. De Graffenried qualified 4th for the 34 lap race that took place on the 5.5 mile street course. But it was B. Bira who really shone during the race. Bira climbed his way up through the field to finish the race 2nd behind the Maserati 4CLT/48 of Juan Manuel Fangio. Emanuel started the race from 4th and finished right there.
The new 4CLT/48s were making a huge impact for the team and it was hard to keep the drivers out of them; they were enjoying the performance that much.
Bira scored a 2nd place finish one week after Albi when he took part in the Grand Prix of France, which was held at the 4.8 mile road course near Reims, France. Being, essentially a triangle, and, with its long and straight front-stretch, the average speed for the race was just under 100mph and it took just three hours to complete the race distance.
Another couple of weeks later, on the 31st of July, it was de Graffenried's opportunity to switch positions with Bira. Bira had finished higher at Albi a couple of weeks prior and de Graffenried finished after Bira. However, in Zandvoort, though Luigi Villoresi won the 40 lap Grand Prix of the Netherlands, de Graffenried came in 2nd followed by Bira in 3rd.
Toward the end of August, both de Graffenried and B. Bira headed back to Silverstone, England for the 1st BRDC International Trophy race. This race, unlike back in May, was only 30 laps or 90 miles on the 3 mile circuit. The team, especially de Graffenried, wasn't able to repeat their performance from back in May and the British Grand Prix, but both cars finished the race, and finished well. Emanuel finished the race 4th and Bira finished in 6th. Bira was the last car on the lead lap. Alberto Ascari won in his Ferrari 125.
Another week later, the two drivers were in Lausanne, Switzerland for the Grand Prix de Lausanne. Up until this point none of Enrico's cars had suffered a failure. But when the cars were being raced at the pace they were during the 1949 season there were bound to be failures. And a DNF bit in Lausanne. After 69 laps, Bira's 4CLT/48 developed problems and forced him to retire from the race. This was frustrating given the good results the team had been able to achieve over the run of the year to that point. However, not all was lost as de Graffenried finished the 90 lap event 3rd behind race winner Farina and 2nd place Ascari. The pace on the 2 mile circuit was such that Emanuel finished the race some three laps down to Farina and Ascari.
On September 11th, 1949 the Grand Prix of Italy was held at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. The course lay-out used that year was similar to the present-day circuit except that which is the 'parabolica' corner was much more squared-off and called 'Vedano'. Also, the chicane at the end of the front stretch was not present at the time.
Scuderia Enrico Plate fielded three cars for the 80 lap race. The three drivers for the race consisted of B. Bira, de Graffenried and Nello Pagani, who had won a race for Enrico back at the Grand Prix du Pau the year before. In total, twenty-four cars started the race. The Italian Grand Prix's history was always one of being a car-breaker. 1949 was no exception. In the end, only nine drivers took the checkered flag. Pagani was not one of them. In fact, Nello's race was nothing short of being utterly frustrating. After all of the preparation and work on strategy, Pagani's race came to an end after having completed only two laps. The race fared far better for de Graffenried and Bira however. Despite finishing the race some three laps down to winner Ascari, Bira finished the race 3rd, followed, another lap down, by de Graffenried. On a whole, Scuderia Enrico Plate made it through the carnage and attrition rather successfully.
The long grand prix season was beginning to take its toll. Over the course of the last two races the team had suffered one DNF at each of the races. Unfortunately, the endurance and consistency displayed throughout the year, up until August, began to unravel and, then, totally fell apart a couple of weeks after Monza at the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic at Brno. Everything looked good after qualifying; real good. Bira qualified his Maserati on the pole. De Graffenried qualified his 4CLT/48 3rd. Everything looked good for the 20 lap event of the 11 mile street course. Unfortunately, it all fell apart, and quickly too. Bira's race came to an end on lap three after an accident caused him to retire from the race. De Graffenried's race lasted a little while longer. On lap thirteen, the Swiss' race came to an end when his Maserati developed engine problems. Like that, the promise that was after qualifying vanished.
The last race the team took part in for 1949 was across the South Atlantic. The team headed to Buenos Aires, Argentina to take part in the Gran Premio del General Juan Peron in December of that year. This event was a Formula Libre race that was 35 laps of a 3 mile road course. The total race distance covered was a little over 100 miles.
For the race, Bira had a brand new 4CLT/48 to drive. Plate had only received the car the month before. Unfortunately, Bira struggled with the new car during qualifying; only able to set the 12th fastest time. De Graffenried fared a little better as he was able to set a time that would have him start the race 7th. The competition was stiff as Ferrari had just produced their new 166. In fact, 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th on the starting grid were all Ferrari 166s. Only Farina, in a Maserati 4CLT/48 was able to sneak in amongst the top five. Despite the struggles in qualifying, the new car worked out well for Bira in the race. The Prince stayed out of trouble and climbed his way up through the field, even passing de Graffenried, finishing the race 6th. De Graffenried, ever the model of consistency, started and finished the race 7th. These were positive results for the team after such a disappointing race in the Czech Republic.
As most are aware, there were many other grand prix races throughout the first years of Formula One's existence. Well before the British Grand Prix in May of 1950, the grand prix season was well underway. And for Scuderia Enrico Plate, the season started in the very place it left off in 1949.
1950 started off in Buenos Aires, but this time for the Gran Premio de Eva Duarte Peron Formula Libre race. This race took place in January on the same road course and for 30 laps, just like the race the month prior. This time, Bira got a better handle on his Maserati during qualifying and started the race from 6th on the grid. It was de Graffenried that struggled this time as he started the race from the 13th starting spot. For de Graffenried, the race did not go particularly well. He was forced to retire from the race due to problems. Despite starting the race 6th, the competition was fierce for Bira. Although he finished the race on the lead lap with the winner Villoresi, Bira slipped down through the field and finished the race 9th.
Fortunes turned around for Emanuel a couple of weeks later at the Gran Premio del General San Martin race in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, another Formula Libre race. The race distance was just under 93 miles in length, or 37 laps of the 2.5 mile road course. Alberto Ascari won the race in his Ferrari 166, but de Graffenried, although a lap down, finished the race 5th. Prince Bira finished the race 9th, another lap down.
De Graffenried took part in one more race before the team packed up everything to leave for Europe. Emanuel raced in the Copa Accion de San Lorenzo Formula Libre race in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. In the end, Emanuel finished some three laps down to Villoresi in his Ferrari 166. Emanuel finished the race 9th.
After the races in Argentina it was back to Europe, specifically, England and the Goodwood circuit for the 2nd Richmond Trophy race. On that same day, but earlier on, Bira took part in the Chichester Cup Formula Libre race. Driving his 4CLT/48, Bira was able to score a victory. For the Richmond Trophy race later that day, Bira started from 9th on the grid, while de Graffenried started 13th. De Graffenried turned around his poor qualifying performance during the race. Emanuel ran all the way up through the field to finish the race 2nd behind Reg Parnell and his Scuderia Ambrosiana Maserati 4CLT/48. Only seven of thirteen starters finished the race and Bira wasn't one of them. Seven laps into his race, Bira's day came to an end, an unfortunate end after such a promising start earlier in the day.
After Goodwood, the team travelled to Ospedaletti, Italy for the Grand Prix of San Remo. This event proved to be a car-breaker and it broke Scuderia Enrico Plate's cars. Bira lasted only 11 of the scheduled 90 laps and had to retire due to head gasket problems. De Graffenried's race lasted 51 laps but came to an end when his Maserati engine began to suffer from oil loss. Despite the victory in the smaller scale Formula Libre race back in Argentina, the season was not starting out all that well for the team. Perhaps the number of races driven, especially on de Graffenried's Maserati, was beginning to really take its toll.
Fortunately for the team, the next race the team took part in was the first event of the world championship calendar, the British Grand Prix. In qualifying, de Graffenried was able to push his 1.5 liter Maserati to an 8th place starting spot, some 5+ seconds behind the pole time set by Guiseppe Farina in his Alfa Romeo SpA team's 158 Alfetta. Bira fared even better; setting a time only 2+ seconds behind Farina's, and good enough to start the race 5th. Unfortunately, neither driver was able to turn these results in qualifying into good results in the race. De Graffenried's engine developed problems after 36 laps and Bira ran out of fuel on his 49th lap of the race. Just like that, after a previous year of good result after good result, the team left the first round of the championship without having finished the race, and obviously scoring no points.
The next race for the team was the next round of the world championship one week later, the Monaco Grand Prix. Bira qualified 15th for the race around the tight streets of the tiny principality. The Prince was off the pole time of Fangio by some 12+ seconds. De Graffenried did a little better during qualifying. He was able to set a time only 10+ seconds behind Fangio, good enough to start the race 12th. The race would be a memorable one. It would be memorable, not just because it was the first official Monaco Grand Prix of Formula One's existence, but also, because of the freak wave that crashed up onto the track from the harbor-front. This wave, which happened on the first lap, caught many competitors off-guard, and led to a large accident on the very first lap. Nine cars were taken out on the first lap alone. Emanuel was one of them. Bira made it through and, from that point on, took off through the pack. Bira ended up finishing the race 5th, five laps down to race-winner Fangio. This result earned Prince Bira two points toward the driver's championship!
Two weeks later, the team arrived in its homeland of Switzerland for the Swiss Grand Prix, held in Berne in the early part of June of that year. The race took part on the 4.5 mile road course around Bremgarten. Bira qualified 8th for the 42 lap event, while de Graffenried would start the race 11th. De Graffenried looked to turn around the unfortunate events at Monaco and score a good result in his native land. He would drive a splendid race and would come up and finish the race 6th, two laps down to Farina who won the race in his Alfa 158. Bira, riding the wave of his escape and good result at Monaco, kept the momentum rolling. The Prince's pace was good enough to come up further through the field from his 8th place starting spot, and he finished the race, also two laps down, but in 4th. This earned him another 3 points toward the championship.
The busy grand prix season kept going. Scuderia Enrico Plate prepared two cars once again for Bira and de Graffenried for the British Empire Trophy race held in Douglas in the middle-part of June. Cuth Harrison set the pole time with a 3:10 lap of the 3.88 mile road course. Prince Bira started the race from dead last after having set no time during qualifying. Emanuel was able to post a time good enough for 7th on the starting grid. Bira's last place starting spot didn't improve as he failed to finish the 36 lap race due to an accident on the second lap. David Murray and Joe Kelly were also involved and out by the end of the second lap of the race. De Graffenried performed much better. Despite finishing the race three minutes down, de Graffenried came across the line 3rd.
Amazingly, although Prince Bira had been impressing in Formula One races, the team missed the next round, the Belgium Grand Prix. The team had decided to compete in the British Empire Trophy race just three days prior, and thus, skipped the world championship round. In fact, the team bypassed the next round after the Belgian Grand Prix as well, the French Grand Prix. Only Prince Bira competed in any races before the 13th of July and that was the Grand Prix of Bari, in Italy. Bira was the first one out of the race due to mechanical problems, so that brought an end to that race for him.
For Bira, neither the Bari Grand Prix, nor his next race at the JCC Jersey Road Race, went well. In Jersey, his race lasted only six laps until it came to an end due to supercharger problems. De Graffenried, again, put in a marvelous race. Emanuel finished the race 3rd, one lap down to Peter Whitehead and his Ferrari 125. Emanuel had started the race from 5th.
Three days later, both drivers were at Albi, France for the Grand Prix de l'Albigeois. Again, Bira fell foul of car trouble. His race ended immediately with a rear axle problem. Unfortunately, de Graffenried wasn't able to escape problems either. His race came to an end after 27 of the scheduled 34 laps.
Bira was able to score a descent result, despite his given results in the last couple of races, at the Grand Prix of Zandvoort in the Netherlands. Bira finished three laps down, but finished the race 5th.
At the end of July, de Graffenried was asked to drive in the Grand Prix of the Nations for Alfa Romeo SpA. He wisely accepted and would finish 3rd. Enrico Plate prepared a car for Bira. The Prince qualified a disappointing 14th and fared worse in the race. 24 laps into the event he suffered from exhaust pipe problems and was forced to retire.
The troubles continued to hit Scuderia Enrico Plate. At the Circuit di Pescara, in Italy, both drivers suffered DNFs. Compared to the previous year, failures to finish due to mechanical problems, engines problems and other issues were increasingly mounting. And, at least for Bira, the problems would continue right into the next round of the championship the team would take part, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Twenty-seven drivers qualified for the race. After Pescara, where Bira had used a Maserati 4CLT/48 he had purchased, he transferred ownership of the car over to Enrico. However, the same car was prepared for Bira for the race at Monza. De Graffenried used the same 4CLT/48 he had used the last year at this point, and that he had put many miles on. Despite the miles, de Graffenried's Maserati came ready to compete. Emanuel qualified a very quiet 17th. Bira actually bested the Swiss driver qualifying 15th, still some 16+ seconds off the pace of Fangio. The Italian Grand Prix was an attrition-filled race but was rather ridiculous for Prince Bira. His race came to an abrupt end after just one lap, when his Maserati developed engine problems. Emanuel's race went entirely different. Emanuel, in fact, just missed out on scoring one point in the championship when he finished the race 6th, albeit eight laps behind Farina.
While de Graffenried's race at Monza went rather well, Bira needed a lift. Both were rewarded, however, at the very next race they competed, the 3rd Richmond Trophy at the Goodwood Circuit in West Sussex, England. The race itself was short in length, only 28 miles, or, 12 laps of the 2.38 mile road course. Qualifying was nothing spectacular for either driver. Bira had the best starting spot, which was 8th. De Graffenried was right next to him on the grid in 9th. Reg Parnell, driving the 16 cylinder BRM, ended up winning the race, but Prince Bira came in 2nd, driving his old Maserati, and, de Graffenried finished 4th.
After sixteen races for Prince Bira, and fourteen races for de Graffenried, diving cars prepared by Enrico Plate, they each had one more race in 1950 in which they competed. After Goodwood, at the end of September, everyone headed to Barcelona, Spain, at the end of October, for the Gran Premio de Penya Rhin. Unlike modern Formula One racing where it is rare that a driver would compete an entire season in one chassis, it wasn't uncommon in 1950. And de Graffenried once again prepared to race in the same chassis number 4CLT/48, number 1601, that he had all year long, even reaching back into 1949. Prince Bira, as he had been the couple of races prior, was behind the wheel of his own 4CLT/48 which he had given to Enrico to race under the Scuderia Enrico Plate team name.
The competition was tight but Emanuel was able to qualify 6th for the race. Bira struggled in qualifying and was only able to start the race from 15th on the starting grid. Undoubtedly, Bira's poor performance indicated a problem with his Maserati, which would show up during the race. Ten laps into the race Bira's 4CLT developed an oil leak, and this forced the Prince to have to retire from the race. Emanuel's race went much better. Despite the tough competition, de Graffenried was able to cross the finish line 5th.
All-in-all, 1950 was a busy, and, rather successful year for the team. The team had scored five points toward the driver's championship with Bira's results at Monaco and Bremgarten. And, with de Graffenried's results at Bremgarten and Monza, the team narrowly missed out on earning two more points.
After 1950, Scuderia Enrico Plate continued to enjoy success albeit mostly in the lower formulas of racing. With the presence of Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, victories in the top forms of grand prix racing were difficult to come by.
As a result of the increased competition, the Enrico Plate stable increasingly focused on other levels of racing, such as Formula 2, and, as a result, the team rebuilt a Maserati 4CLT to Formula 2 specifications. The alterations that were necessary to make the car fit Formula 2 specifications were such that Plate got permission from Maserati to actually produce their engines from Plate's operations in Switzerland. This meant that, other than Sauber in recent years, Enrico Plate was the only Swiss manufacturer to produce Formula One engines.
Despite focusing more and more on Formula 2, Scuderia Enrico Plate continued to score victories in non-championship races all the way up into 1953. Then, in 1953, Enrico's team began to suffer from financial difficulties. It was very expensive to go racing back in the early days of Formula One, just as it is today. But, in those early days it was almost necessary to win races to be able to stay in business, let alone compete. Unfortunately, because of these financial struggles, Plate's influence as a team owner began to wane. This was very unfortunate given the fact this, for all intents and purposes, failed driver was the one who provided Nuvolari his last grand prix win, Kautz a memorable win at Reims and Prince Bira five points in the first official world driver's championship. Enrico certainly had a talent for preparing race cars and managing a race team.
If the financial troubles caused Plate's influence as a team manager and car preparer to wane, then his untimely and gruesome death in Buenos Aires in 1954, brought Scuderia Enrico Plate to an end. Enrico's death happened in a Formula Libre race as he briefly made a comeback to racing. At the time of his death, the Swiss had just turned forty-five years of age.
It is interesting that it was while attempting a brief comeback at racing that Enrico's life came to an end. Plate was never known as one of the 'fast' racing drivers. His real talent ended up being as a team owner and manager, preparing cars for other drivers. Perhaps the most tragic end of all to Enrico's life was the fact that financial difficulties hindered his true talent. This leaves the life story of Enrico Plate as another example within racing history of 'What could have been?'.Sources:'Drivers (P)' (http://www.kolumbus.fi/leif.snellman/dp.htm). The Golden Era of GP Racing. http://www.kolumbus.fi/leif.snellman/dp.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
'Grand-Prix and Race 1945-1957' (http://jpgleize.club.fr/gp/gppost.htm). GP Winners: the lists. http://jpgleize.club.fr/gp/gppost.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
'Drivers (D)' (http://www.ultimateracinghistory.com/racelist2.php?uniqid=1880). UltimateRacingHistory.com. http://www.ultimateracinghistory.com/racelist2.php?uniqid=1880. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
'Drivers (B)' (http://www.ultimateracinghistory.com/racelist2.php?uniqid=2164). UltimateRacingHistory.com. http://www.ultimateracinghistory.com/racelist2.php?uniqid=2164. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
'F1: 1950' (http://www.oldracingcars.com/f1/1950/). OldRacingCars.com. http://www.oldracingcars.com/f1/1950/. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
Wikipedia contributors, '1950 Formula One season', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 July 2010, 14:22 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=1950_Formula_One_season&oldid=371206396
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Wikipedia contributors, 'Enrico Platé', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 May 2010, 23:02 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Enrico_Plat%C3%A9&oldid=360807830 accessed 12 July 2010