TeamsEcurie Maarsbergen: 1957 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
The days of the privateer racer were quickly coming to an end. To compete against the large factory efforts meant being a factory effort as well—professional, stern and somewhat dictatorial. At least that is what it seemed. And, though Carel Godin de Beaufort was of Dutch aristocracy he would be anything but what was believed to be the hallmark of success, but it would be a mistake to believe the humility hinted at inability.
Jonkheer Karel Pieter Antoni Jan Hubertus Godin de Beaufort would be born in April of 1934. Simply called ‘Carel' Godin de Beaufort, the Dutch nobleman would be born in Maarsbergen and would hold the small village dear to his heart.
Being born on a vast estate, the grounds of the Maarsbergen estate would boast of all the usual things expected of aristocracy. However, there would be one element that would seem a little out of place. There would be Carel tearing up the nicely manicured lawn with his latest experiment. Dirt racing, jumping from a moving jeep and then having a tire fall off of a BMW 328 after he had failed to secure the wheel after tearing the car right down to its last nut and bolt and then rebuilding it again.
De Beaufort seemed to flirt with danger almost constantly, and why wouldn't he when he was nearly killed by his own father following a practical joke Carel had played on some local officers. His father was irate at the stunt and would go and get his gun. Carel would run away to safety but would not give up on the stunt.
This seeming comfort with danger and a carefree attitude would lead him to look to motor racing. And, in 1955, at the age of just 21, he would take part in his first race. The event would be the Tulip Rally and he would fare rather well in the race, but it would soon become evident that circuit racing was much more to his liking than rally-style racing.
It would take just a couple of years from his first exposure to motor racing before he would take his first steps in Formula One. Being a privateer with more than enough means he could make the leap with relative ease, but it wasn't as if he lacked the talent either.
De Beaufort would take part in a number of sportscar races in 1956 and would come away with some mixed results, but this was to be expected given his inexperience. However, a 2nd place in a national sportscar race held at Zandvoort race would go a long way to opening doors for his racing career.
Heading into the 1957 season, de Beaufort would concentrate mostly on his sportscar racing as he would take part in events with Porsche 550 and 356 sportscars. The season would start out with a 3rd place result at the wheel of a Porsche 356 in the International Auto Flugplatzrennen Wien-Aspern. This early podium would come at the end of April. Only a matter of a few weeks later, de Beaufort would line up for his opportunity to take part in the Mille Miglia.
In the 1957 Mille Miglia, the first time in which the Dutchman would take part in the Arduous event, he would take and drive a Porsche 356A Carrera to a 41st result overall. The event would end up being won by Piero Taruffi driving the entire course alone in a Ferrari 315 Sport. In fact, Scuderia Ferrari would sweep the top three positions in the race. However, the race would be much more memorable to de Beaufort given the fact he had had a drink with Alfonso de Portago the night before he went out and died in a crash during the race. Somewhat kindred spirits, at least when it came to affluence, the loss would impact de Beaufort deeply being just 23 at the time.
Following the tragic Mille Miglia, de Beaufort would take part in the Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers under a new name. Up until the race at the Nurburgring at the end of May, de Beaufort had entered races under his own name. However, as a sign of pride of who he was and where he came from he would start his own team and would race under the name Ecurie Maarsbergen.
Many racing drivers avoided the infamous Nurburgring, or at least looked forward to when the experience would be over. Carel would be different. Following his debut in 1955, de Beaufort would make the Nurburgring his next object of conquest. He would immediately fall in love with the circuit and, very rapidly, would develop an affinity for the circuit that would manifest itself in great knowledge of the circuit's 174 corners. Very quickly he would learn the points where to push and others that required holding back.
Driving a Porsche 550 along with Sepp Liebl, de Beaufort would start the race from 17th on the grid. However, when the 1000 kilometers was finished, the number 29 Porsche 550 would cross the line in 14th place. This result would be followed up with a 2nd place in the Easter Zandvoort event in early June and then an entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans toward the end of the month.
Driving with Ed Hugus in Hugus' own Porsche 550, de Beaufort would experience an amazing sophomore Le Mans experience. In 1956, Carel failed to finish the race after suffering suspension failure. One year later, he would be standing on the podium in the S1.5 category having taken victory with an 8th place overall result!
Carel Godin de Beaufort's circuit career was certainly beginning to take shape. Despite being a privateer entry, his wisdom behind the wheel was providing his some great results and opening up other opportunities.
After the 24 Hours of Le Mans there would be a number of races all throughout the country of France. There would be the French Grand Prix on the first weekend of July. Then, on the 14th of that month there would be the Grand Prix de Reims and the 12 Hours of Reims. De Beaufort was still to make his debut in open-wheel racing but he knew quite a few of those that took part in the series as they would also take part in sportscar races as well.
Following the death of de Portago, Carel would spend time socializing with fellow friend Herbert MacKay-Fraser. They would be out grabbing a drink the night before he would perish in a Formula 2 crash prior to the non-championship Formula One event. Not only would de Beaufort fail to finish the long-distance race but he would also lose yet another friend. Two deaths in one year, and both being good friends of de Beaufort, would well and truly affect him, and for the rest of his racing career.
Carel was never one to be known to go barreling into a corner fighting tooth and nail with his car to get the most out of it. Because he owned the equipment he would take care of his car. However, the deaths of de Portago and MacKay-Fraser would cause the usually sedate driver to place much more emphasis on tactics and knowledge of a circuit than in sheer outright speed. Absolute knowledge of a circuit, where time could be gained or lost made all of the difference in de Beaufort's mind. To him, consistency was of greater importance than one banzai lap.
After yet another tragic weekend, de Beaufort would find a great opportunity presented him heading into the month of August. While the losses of de Portago and MacKay-Fraser would impact de Beaufort's mentality of attack, his wisdom and ability to know when to push or hold back would come in handy heading into the German Grand Prix on the 4th of August.
Carel loved the Nurburgring. Some 14 miles of ups and downs, twists and turns, the epic circuit struck fear into more than one racing driver. Pitfalls around each and every corner, the circuit just seemed to lie in wait, looking for the smallest mistake before it would strike, and strike hard.
Nestled in the Eifel mountains in the western part of Germany, the small village of Nurburg provides a spectacular setting and backdrop for one of the greatest road courses in all the world. With Nurburg Castle looming high above, the Nurburgring acts as a defensive moat around the keep, providing a formidable defense upon which many a car and driver have broken upon.
It promised to be a long weekend of racing for de Beaufort. Besides the sixth round of the Formula One World Championship, there would also be a Formula 2 race and a sportscar race. Carel would take part in them all. In the case of the sportscar race, de Beaufort would use a Porsche 356 Carrera. However, the Porsche 550RS qualified under Formula 2 regulations, which would be run at the same time as the Formula One event. Therefore, de Beaufort would have his first shot at Formula One and he would end up taking part in one of the most memorable of German Grand Prix.
Of course, de Beaufort would come to the race as a privateer entered under the Ecurie Maarsbergen team name. Besides himself, de Beaufort would find himself amidst a large contingent of Formula 2 cars preparing to take part in the race against other factory efforts like Officine Alfieri Maserati, Scuderia Ferrari and Vandervell Products.
The Porsche drivers would find themselves at a bit of a disadvantage. The slightly bigger and wider cars compromised handling. Still, the cars offered good top-end performance and this would be important around the circuit.
In the offseason, the circuit had been resurfaced. This would cause the lap times to drop dramatically. As a result, Juan Manuel Fangio would end up taking the pole for the race with a lap time of 9:25.6. This was more than 15 seconds faster than his best effort in the race the previous season. Mike Hawthorn would qualify in the 2nd position after posting a lap time nearly three seconds slower than Fangio. Jean Behra and Peter Collins would complete the front row starting in 3rd and 4th place.
The fastest Formula 2 car on the grid would be the Porsche 550RS of Edgar Barth. His best lap around the circuit would be 10:02.2. Despite being far more than 30 seconds behind Fangio, Barth would start from the fourth row of the grid in the 12th position. De Beaufort's best effort around the circuit would end up being a full minute behind Fangio. This would result in the Dutchman starting the race from the sixth row of the grid in the 20th position.
Unlike the previous year in which it rained everyday except the day of the Formula One race, the weather over the course of the weekend in 1957 would be beautiful. Taking part in the Rheinland Nurburgring with the 356 Carrera, de Beaufort would come away with a splendid 5th place result and would add to his knowledge of the 14 mile long circuit heading into the grand prix on that Sunday.
A tremendous crowd would assemble around the circuit leading up to the start of the German Grand Prix. The cars and drivers would begin to take their places on the grid. Back on the sixth row of the grid, de Beaufort would have a sea of cars and drivers ahead of him. Final adjustments would be made and the drivers would take to their positions behind the wheel. The engines would be brought to life; the race about to start.
The flag would drop and the race would get underway with a great roar of engine noise as both Hawthorn and Collins would get great jumps off the line to lead the way in the sprint toward the Sudkurve. The 22 lap race was underway.
Taking his usual, rather cautious approach, de Beaufort would be swallowed up by those starting on the grid behind him as he looked to avoid the impeding doom he saw potentially to take place in the sprint toward the first couple of turns. The cars would make it through without too much trouble and it would be Hawthorn and Collins leading the way ahead of Fangio.
Over the course of the first lap it would be Hawthorn and Collins leading the way with Fangio still remaining in 3rd place. Carel de Beaufort would be well back in the field looking to use his superior knowledge of the circuit to his advantage. At the end of the first lap it would be Hawthorn leading the way with Collins right there with him. Fangio would be a few seconds back in 3rd place while de Beaufort would use the speed and his knowledge to good use to come through the end of the first lap in 19th position.
Over the course of the first two laps it would be the Ferraris of Hawthorn and Collins leading the way. However, Fangio was quickly gaining on them as it would become apparent he had started the race on fuel tanks that were only half filled. This made the car much lighter and faster, but it also meant needing to pit for fuel as well. Therefore, Fangio needed to get into the lead and pull away as fast as he could if he had any desire of taking victory. This Fangio would do on the 3rd lap of the race. At the same time, de Beaufort would be locked in a battle with Brian Naylor for 19th. Naylor had actually posted a faster practice time and started on the row ahead of de Beaufort but the Dutchman's knowledge and affinity for the circuit were paying dividends.
Fangio would get by to take over the lead of the race. He would look very comfortable behind the wheel. His fifth World Championship was within reach, but he needed to stretch his advantage as far as he could get it knowing he would have a stop to make.
While Fangio looked to stretch his advantage as much as possible, de Beaufort would continue to run right around 19th still chasing after Naylor while keeping Tony Marsh behind him on the circuit.
The Argentinean would be pushing hard. He would break the lap record routinely as he tried to increase his lead. Despite Fangio's efforts, Hawthorn and Collins would not allow him to escape into the distance all that quickly.
Right at the halfway mark in the race there would be seven cars out of the race. Included among them would be Jack Brabham, Stuart Lewis-Evans, Roy Salvadori and Chico Godia-Sales. Each of these men were running ahead of de Beaufort prior to their falling out of contention. Therefore, de Beaufort's careful running would be rewarded as he would be up to 17th by the halfway mark.
At the same time, Fangio would be coming into the pits for his one and only stop for fuel and tires. The fuel would go in while Fangio stepped out for a drink and refreshment. However, at the same time the hub nut would be lost underneath the car. The fueling and the tires would be done. Fangio would get back into the car but would have nowhere to go as the team scrambled to find the nut. The 30 second advantage would evaporate very quickly and the duo of Hawthorn and Collins would go by into the lead. By the time Fangio rejoined the race he would be 45 seconds behind. It seemed the victory had slipped right through his fingers. Fangio would take back to the circuit and would immediately set off in pursuit.
More attrition would strike the field. Umberto Maglioli would fall out of the race after 13 laps. He was driving one of the three Porsche 550RS spiders in the race. Then, Hans Herrmann would retire his Maserati 250F after 14 laps. These retirements would bring de Beaufort up to 14th place. This would be a fine performance considering he had started the race in 20th spot in a Formula 2 Porsche. He couldn't come close to the speeds of the Formula One cars, but amongst the Formula 2 cars he would be en route to a podium result if he could just hang on through the final six to seven laps.
This would be the goal of Collins and Hawthorn, who would take turns leading the race. They would really need to work together over the final six laps if either had an intention of winning the race. That is because Fangio would lose the relaxed look he had earlier in the race and would be visibly working hard in an effort to claw back what he had lost.
While Fangio would go on a string of record laps after record laps, de Beaufort would be settled into a comfortable pace looking to make it to the end of the 22 lap race. He wasn't fighting for the lead; he was looking to win his battle with the circuit itself.
The Argentinean would be remarkable. The lap times continued to fall. Very quickly he would be well under his own best lap time set during practice that gave him the pole for the race. The 45 second advantage Collins and Hawthorn enjoyed was rapidly diminishing. The only question remaining was whether or not there were enough laps remaining for Fangio to retake the lead for it seemed absolutely clear there was nothing either Hawthorn or Collins could do on their worn tires, even with their lighter fuel loads.
Carel Godin de Beaufort would be running steady. He would be one of just four Formula 2 cars still remaining in the race and he was still in line for a podium finish. He just needed to make it to the end of the race. Because of his pace, and the absolutely torrid pace of Fangio, this meant he wouldn't have to go the entire 22 laps as he would be more than a lap behind by the end.
Heading up the long straight at the end of the 20th lap, Fangio would be right behind Hawthorn and Collins. It would be a remarkable charge put together by the World Champion. Never would two leading cars look so vulnerable and overmatched. Heading past the start/finish line, Fangio would just bide his time, looking for the best opportunity to sweep by both men and retake the lead. Before the end of the 21st lap he would do it. The crowd would rise with excitement and appreciation for what they had witness for 300 miles.
Heading around on the last lap of the race, Fangio would be in the lead and would greeted by waving spectators at every corner showing their appreciation for the show and the champion. Hawthorn would not go quietly but Collins would give up the fight as soon as he was passed for position.
Powering up the long straight and toward the finish line for the last time, the crowd would be in a frenzy as the Argentinean flashed across the line to take the amazing victory and come away with his fifth World Championship. Hawthorn would fight on to the very end but he would come across the line a distant three seconds behind. Collins would easily hold on to 3rd place finishing 35 seconds behind.
In his charge back to the lead, Fangio would pass by de Beaufort for the second time of the race. Holding on to the very end, the Dutchman would come through more than two laps behind in the 14th position overall. However, amongst the Formula 2 entries, he would finish the race in 3rd place.
Considering he had entered the race in a lower class of single-seater, de Beaufort's result in the German Grand Prix would still be rather impressive and seemed to suggest that while he may approach races like a privateer worried about his own equipment because he paid the bills, he still had the speed and the potential to make good things happen.
The debut in the German Grand Prix would not be Ecurie Maarsbergen's sign to switch to Formula One. Following the race, de Beaufort would go back to racing in sportscars and would not take part in another Formula One race, even a non-championship event, for the remainder of the season. However, in sportscars, he would go on to a 2nd place result in the Cadours Grand Prix and a 10th place in the Venezuela Grand Prix in November of '57.
It is entirely likely de Beaufort would have made his Formula One debut earlier in 1957 had the Dutch Grand Prix not been cancelled due to disputes over money. However, with the race on the calendar the next season, it was very likely Ecurie Maarsbergen would become something more of a regular in Formula One.