TeamsEcurie Maarsbergen: 1958 Formula One Season By Jeremy McMullen
From an office within the Hotel Maarsbergen, and from a small garage around back, Ecurie Maarsbergen would launch its assault on the 1957 German Grand Prix. From those minimal and quaint surroundings Carel Godin de Beaufort would prepare for his next endeavor.
Jonkheer Karel Pieter Antoni Jan Hubertus (Carel) Godin de Beaufort would be born in the town of Maarsbergen in April 1934. From that moment on, Maarsbergen would serve as the pivot point for everything in Godin de Beaufort's life.
Born of a Dutch aristocratic family, Carel would have the means to be his own man, and, he would be just that. In the days before he painted his cars the brilliant bright orange in honor of his Dutch heritage, Carel would already be a flashy character around the Formula One and sportscar paddocks of Europe.
Though already of a dying breed, Godin de Beaufort would be a true gentleman racer that wouldn't take himself, or anything else, too seriously. However, this aloof attitude about some details should not be confused with flippancy about every detail, especially when it came to racing. Meticulous in relationship and efforts with the mechanics, Carel would take great care to get the factory, which from the very beginning would be Porsche, to set up the cars exactly the way he desired. He would become known for his constant contact with the mechanics and his willingness to associate with them in order to find that better balance and pace from his car. Though he was a Dutch Earl, he certainly didn't mind rubbing shoulders with the commoners.
From out of the office within the Hotel Maarsbergen, Godin de Beaufort would operate his small Ecurie. Heading into the 1958 season, Carel would turn to his usual manufacturer of choice, Porsche, and would purchase one of their latest sportscars.
In 1957, Porsche would introduce its latest mid-engined sportscar. A development of the 550, the 718 RSK would be an important leap forward and would maintain Porsche's dominance within the sportscar scene. At the German Grand Prix in 1957, there would be a couple of Porsche sportscars entered in the Formula 2 field of the World Championship round. However, instead of the brand new 718 RSK, the cars that would be entered in the race would be the older RS550s.
The 718RSK would maintain Porsche's reputation for building small, lightweight cars that routinely punched above its weight class. Carel would recognize this and would purchase one of the 718 RSKs for himself.
Godin de Beaufort was seen as something of a specialist despite being an amateur racer. Around the more difficult circuits, like Le Mans and the Nurburgring, Carel was held in great honor for his skill. He would back this reputation up in 1957 when he co-drove in Ed Hugus' Porsche 550 RS at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The pair would finish the race 8th place overall but would be first in the 1.5 category. Results like these made Carel a dark horse in many events. He would hope that would continue to be true in 1958 as he prepared his two cars for the upcoming season.
Ecurie Maarsbergen would be anything but a factory effort. A privateer team, Carel would not concern himself with championships. Instead, he would concern himself with those events he wanted, or could afford, to take part in. The limited resources of Ecurie Maarsbergen would rather prohibit Carel from looking across the Atlantic in the early part of the season. Instead, he would have to wait a couple more months before the racing season got into gear around Europe.
Even when Formula One arrived in Europe in May for the Monaco Grand Prix, Carel would not concern himself with the race. First of all, the Monaco Grand Prix did not include Formula 2 entries, which severely hindered his chances. Furthermore, a race like that in Monaco had only a few number of starting places on the grid. This was a losing matter from the very beginning despite the fact the 718 RSK and 550 RS were both light and nimble machines. They still did not compare to a Formula One car.
While Carel wouldn't look over seas with his own team, he would make a trip to the United States in late March to co-drive with Art Bunker in his Porsche 550 RS in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Unfortunately, this trip would prove largely fruitless as the Porsche would fail to make the finish as a result of clutch failure. Carel would, therefore, head back to his native Netherlands and would take part in his first race on European soil in the middle of May.
Carel would pull out his 550 RS and would take part in the Flugplatzrennen Wien-Aspern on the 15th of May. The event would start promising with Godin de Beaufort 3rd on the grid. Sadly, the end would prove to be less fulfilling as troubles would force the Dutch driver out of the event before the end.
Having the happy-go-lucky attitude, Carel would quickly put behind him the difficult start to his season. He would need to do that quickly as the opportunity to hold up the national colors was soon approaching.
In 1957, there would be a couple of potential rounds of the Formula One World Championship that would be left off the calendar as a result of disputes and other issues. One of those to be bypassed would be the Belgian Grand Prix held at Spa. The other would be the Dutch Grand Prix held at Zandvoort. One year later, the Grote Prijs can Nederland would be back on the Formula One calendar for the 26th of May. It was Godin de Beaufort's first opportunity to hold up the national flag in a Formula One World Championship event.
The Dutch Grand Prix in 1958 would be Carel's second time racing in the Formula One World Championship after competing at the Nurburgring the year before. However, this would be his first time racing in the World Championship on home soil, and therefore, was an event he wasn't about to miss even though there wasn't a Formula 2 category held concurrently. Entering his new RSK, Carel would pray and seek Providence to enable his car to fight well above its weight class.
Just 50 miles north from Maarsbergen, Zandvoort was very much Carel's home circuit. However, the circuit that would become known as Zandvoort was not the intended home for the Dutch Grand Prix. There had been plans before the start of the Second World War to hold a race in Zandvoort. However, the original plans were for a street race held right in the town.
During the war, the German military would build roads throughout the area to speed up communications. Following the war, S.C.H. 'Sammy' Davis, a former Le Mans winner, would visit the area and would be consulted about a potential track design. Utilizing many of the roads built by the Germans, a circuit would be conceived. The circuit would be opened in August of 1948 and would host the Dutch Grand Prix for the first time in 1950.
The Dutch Grand Prix in 1958 would be the third round of the World Championship that year. The first two rounds had seen a surprise winner win both events. Amazingly, the surprise winner in both events would be the same team. Stirling Moss had pulled a shocker when he took Rob Walker's Cooper to victory in Argentina. Then, in the Monaco Grand Prix just a little more than a week earlier, Maurice Trintignant would be handed the lead and the victory, again driving for Rob Walker.
But now the series moved to Zandvoort. And, even though the circuit measured just 2.60 miles in length, the circuit would be fast. This certainly favored the more powerful Formula One machines like the Vanwalls and new Ferrari 246s. But, it was the Dutch Grand Prix. Carel now had his own team. He was very patriotic, and therefore, could not pass up on the opportunity. Therefore, Godin de Beaufort's name would be listed along with his new 718 RSK.
The RSK often contended with more powerful race cars, but it would be a little too much to ask for the car to compete with the likes of Moss behind the wheel of the Vanwall. Over the course of practice, Carel would routinely be found nearer the bottom of the time sheets. But, he never really concerned himself with proving he was the fastest, at least not before the race anyway.
The man at the top of the time sheets would be Stuart Lewis-Evans in his Vanwall. His lap time of 1:37.1 would end up nine-tenths of a second quicker than the time posted by Moss in another Vanwall. Then there would be Tony Brooks. He would be a full second slower than Lewis-Evans, but, he would help Vandervell's team sweep the front row of the grid.
Carel would be at the tail-end of the grid. His lap time of 1:46.7 would be nearly 10 seconds slower than Lewis-Evans around the 2.60 mile circuit. As a result, the Dutch driver would start the 75 lap race from 17th on the grid, or, what was the last spot on the seven row grid.
Being positioned within easy walking distance of the North Sea coast, the Zandvoort circuit was well known for its blustery winds and sand-blown tarmac. This made for dangerously-slippery conditions. Nonetheless, the cars and drivers would all take their places on the grid. It was a holiday in the Netherlands and so a large crowd would assemble all around the circuit. They would eagerly await the start of the race and would be cheering on their countryman despite the fact he was starting from the tail-end of the field.
The flag would wave and Moss would get away from the grid extremely well. The Brit would appear as if shot out of a cannon as he charged to the lead before heading into Tarzan for the first time. Among the whipping flags and the cool temperatures, Moss would appear cool and calm as he led the field around through the first portion of the first lap of the race. Taking his usual calm approach to the start, Carel would be at the back of the field looking to make it through the first couple of laps without incident. Then he would try his best to charge up through the field.
Moss would come down the long straight powered along by the strong winds. Right behind him would be Lewis-Evans in another of the Vanwalls. Harry Schell would make a great start to the race and would complete the first lap in 3rd place just ahead of Tony Brooks in the third Vanwall. Carel would come through the first lap of the race in careful order. He would be at the back of the field, but he would not be concerned with that. His race was just beginning.
Brooks' race would come to an end after just a couple of laps. He would come into the pits to have the problem checked. He would head back out but would last only a few more laps before retiring for good. Moss, on the other hand, would be having no problems and would continue to lead his teammate up at the front of the field.
A third of the way through the race, Carel would begin pressuring some of the slower Formula One cars. Graham Hill would be one of those that would not have a full 2.5-liter engine. Hill's Lotus would be a target then and Carel would do his best to challenge the future double World Champion. It would help that Hill would be struggling, but the Dutch would come to life when Godin de Beaufort moved up from last place in the field.
Past the halfway mark, Moss would continue to put in a dominant performance at the head of the field. His lead over the hard-charging Harry Schell would still manage to grow with each passing lap. At the back of the field, however, Hill's race would be run. Therefore, Carel would be back at the tail-end of those still on the track. But, in light of the handicaps the Dutch driver faced coming into the race, he was still performing quite well.
Carel wasn't quite performing as well as the man out front. Stirling Moss would go on to lead every single one of the 75 laps and would cruise to victory by nearly 48 seconds over Harry Schell in 2nd place. Jean Behra would capitalize on late engine problems suffered by Lewis-Evans to take the 3rd and final spot on the rostrum.
In spite of his best efforts, Carel just would not be competitive against the other Formula One cars in the field, unless they began to run into trouble and faded. Nearly every 13 laps the Dutch driver would be paid a visit by Moss in his Vanwall. Moss would do his little wave and would carry on, further extending his advantage over the final runner in the field.
Carel would finish the race some 6 laps behind Moss. Though he would finish in 11th place, the result would still be an impressive performance given the fact he did it in a 1.5-liter Porsche and a sportscar on top of that. There was no way he was going to be able to keep pace with the best of the Formula One cars, but, he would still be impressive in his performance nonetheless.
The Dutch driver finally had the opportunity to take part in his home grand prix with his own, Dutch, team. Finishing 11th place in an underpowered car would be a decent result for the day. The carefree Carel would just go on looking toward to his next race.
After taking part in his home Formula One grand prix, Godin de Beaufort would turn his attentions back to sportscars and would look forward to another event at a circuit he absolutely enjoyed. Ecurie Maarsbergen would have an entry in the Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers on the 1st of June. Art Bunker had given Carel a drive in Sebring back at the beginning of the year. Carel would return the favor for the race at the Nurburgring.
Godin de Beaufort would enter his Porsche 550 RS in the race for Art Bunker and Heinz Schiller. Carel would actually have a drive with the factory Porsche team. He had Richard von Frankenberg would be at the wheel of another 550 RS.
While the pairing of Bunker and Schiller would suffer an accident in the Maarsbergen Porsche that would end their day, Carel would have a spectacular race finishing 6th overall and 1st in class.
Then, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans later in the month, Carel would enter his Porsche 550 RS and would have Herbert Linge as his co-driver for the long distance event. The Porsches would again punch above their limit with two factory 718 RSKs finishing 3rd and 4th overall. Carel would be impressive as well finishing 5th overall just three laps behind the first of the Porsches.
Another class victory would follow in a sportscar race at Zandvoort toward the end of July and this would set the stage for Godin de Beaufort's next foray into the world of Formula One.
Leading up to the Dutch Grand Prix toward the end of May, Carel had suffered a couple of disappointing races. However, he would overcome them with a solid effort against much stronger Formula One cars in the World Championship round. This would seem to kick-start the year for him as he would score a number of class victories and strong results from that moment on. After another class victory at Zandvoort in the Porsche 550 RS, the Dutch driver would prepare to head back into Germany in an effort to better his 3rd place result within Formula 2 at the 1957 German Grand Prix.
The German Grand Prix would take place on the 4th of August in 1958 and would do so around the same infamous Nurburgring. Measuring 14 miles in length and more than 170 corners per lap, the Nurburgring was certainly daunting just once. Many approached the Nordschleife from the standpoint of wanting to merely survive. Other drivers relished the opportunity to slay the beast that wound it way through the Eifel Mountains. One of those that looked forward to every visit of the 'Ring' was Carel.
In the early 1960s, Carel would earn the nickname from the Germans, Der Letzte Ritter, which meant 'The Last Knight'. Carel would come to be revered for his knowledge of the Nurburgring. And, despite being a private entry, he would have his opportunities to show up the bigger teams and drivers. In 1958, the opportunity before him would be to embarrass some Formula One entrants, but also, to be first within the Formula 2 race that ran at the same time.
While Carel would take part in the Dutch Grand Prix with the 718 RSK, he would actually enter his 550 RS for the race around the Nurburgring. He would find the Formula 2 filled with Coopers and Lotuses. However, there would also be a couple of factory Porsche RSKs that would be further stripped-down to make them as potent as possible.
The Formula One field would continue to lower the track record throughout practice. In the end, Mike Hawthorn would find himself on pole having recorded a lap of 9:14.0. Tony Brooks would also beat Fangio's track record from a year ago with a lap of 9:15.0. Stirling Moss would barely miss out on the record himself as he would line up in 3rd. Then there would be Peter Collins in the final spot on the front row. He would be around 8 seconds slower than his friend and teammate Hawthorn.
The fastest of the Formula 2 cars in the field would be the Ferrari Dino 156 driven by Phil Hill. His lap of 9:48.9 would be nearly 14 seconds quicker than the pole time set by Edgar Barth in a 550 RS the year before. Unfortunately, had Carel posted the time he had in 1958 one year earlier, he would have ended on the pole.
Phil Hill would end up on the third row of the grid in his Formula 2 Ferrari. He would be joined on the row by Ian Burgess in a Cooper. The fourth row of the grid would be entirely made up of Formula 2 cars with the order being Bruce McLaren, Edgar Barth and Tony Marsh. Carel would be in the lead position on the fifth row of the grid. Starting 15th overall, Carel would find himself pretty much in the middle of the Formula 2 field heading to the start of the 15 lap race.
The weather around the Eifel Mountains can be very unpredictable. In 1957, the weather would be absolutely beautiful the day of the race. Surprisingly, the same would hold true as the German Grand Prix prepared to start on the 4th of August in 1958.
As usual, the crowd around the circuit would be tremendous. A great deal of excitement would build around the circuit as the battle within Formula One remained tight and then because of the Porsches lining up within the Formula 2 field as well. Everything would come to life as the engines fired and prepared for the start.
The flag would be shown to the field and immediately the Vanwalls of Moss and Brooks would springboard into the lead with the former leading the latter. Right behind the two Vanwalls would be the Ferraris of Hawthorn and Collins. A bit further back, Carel would make a good start behind the bottle-necked field and would be up a few places even before the field disappeared into the forest for the first time.
At the completion of the first lap, it would be Moss leading the way. Hawthorn and Collins would manage to get by Brooks over the course of the first lap and would follow Stirling through at the completion of the first circuit. Carel would also lose out a couple of places over the course of the first lap, but would still be running strongly just outside the top ten overall.
The attrition would start right from the very beginning of the race. Jo Bonnier would crash his Maserati 250F. Brian Naylor and Jack Brabham would find themselves out after just one lap as well. One lap later, Dick Gibson would retire with mechanical troubles making it three Formula 2 cars out of the race within the first 28 miles of the event.
Heading around on the third circuit, Moss would still be in the lead. Carel would remain just outside the top ten. Then, suddenly, the Dutch driver would slow. It was obvious there was a problem with his Porsche. Carel would make his way back around to the pits having lost a couple of spots, but, he would lose even more when he would call his day done as a result of mechanical troubles. It was obvious there was not going to be an improvement for Godin de Beaufort this time.
Not long after Carel departed the scene Moss' race would be run. Just like that, the overall lead of the race would be handed to Hawthorn and Collins. After one lap with Hawthorn leading the way, Peter Collins would take over the lead and would remain at the head of the field over the course of the next six laps.
Collins would begin his 7th lap while in the lead. It was the 11th lap of the race. Suddenly, Tony Brooks would be charging hard after falling all the way down to 4th place in the early stages of the race. In an effort to help his Vandervell teammate, Brooks would quickly sweep by Hawthorn for 2nd place, and then, would soon fly past Collins to take over the lead.
Up until this point, Collins had been cruising along. Brooks' past for the lead would wake the Ferrari driver up and he would immediately kick it into gear to get back what he had just lost. Sadly, he would be too concerned with getting back his lead that he would head into once section of the circuit too fast to make a corner that immediately followed a crest in the road. Collins would come close to saving the car but would end up catching a ditch with the wheel. This would throw the Ferrari into the air and Collins up against a nearby tree almost killing him instantly.
Having witnessed the whole thing, Hawthorn would complete the lap but would immediately pull into the pits and step out of the car. He too was done. The season would be his last.
This left Brooks all alone at the head of the field with no challenger within a couple of miles of him. Completing the last five laps of the race without anyone in sight behind him, Brooks would cruise to the victory with nearly three and a half minutes in hand over Roy Salvadori. Maurice Trintignant would complete the podium being more than five minutes behind Brooks. Amongst the Formula 2 runners, Bruce McLaren would lead the way finishing just six seconds ahead of Edgar Barth in his Porsche. Ian Burgess would finish 3rd about 30 seconds behind McLaren.
Though the Nurburgring was usually very good to Carel, this time the Dutch driver would barely make it a couple of laps before his race was run. Of course, the fact he took part in the Rheinland Nurburgring sportscar race with the same car and finished 5th likely did not help his cause at all. But oh well.
Following the German Grand Prix, there would be one other round of the World Championship that would be open to Formula 2 cars and that would be the Moroccan Grand Prix at the end of the season. Carel would not be interested in making the trip to North Africa. Therefore, Carel's Formula One season would come to an end following his early retirement in the German Grand Prix. However, his racing season would carry on for a few more months.
Leaving grand prix racing behind, Carel would turn his focus and efforts back to sportscar racing. In mid-September Carel would get a Porsche factory drive in the Tourist Trophy race at Dundrod and would come away with an 8th place finish overall.
The next race in which Ecurie Maarsbergen would be on the entry list would be one week later in Germany. However, the event would not be at the Nurburgring, but another fearsome circuit.
On the 21st of September the city of Berlin would host the Grand Prix of Berlin and AvD Avusrennen. It would be a combined event open to Formula 2 cars and sportscars. Being that it was the Avusrennen it meant the race would take place on the 5.15 mile Avus circuit situated just to the west of Berlin and utilizing much of the autobahn for its layout.
Basically two straights with a tight hairpin turn at the south end, the Avus circuit would be rather infamous for its incredibly high speeds. It would also be rather infamous for its steeply-banked north curve that helped to keep those average speeds right up there.
The race would consist of two heat races and a final. The first heat race, which would last 20 laps, would be for the Formula 2 cars entered in the race and it would be won by Masten Gregory. The second heat race, which would also be 20 laps, would be for the sportscars. This is where Carel would be found with his Porsche RSK.
Carel would find his heat filled with Porsche RSKs. Jean Behra, the eventual winner of the second heat would be at the wheel of an RSK. So would the 3rd place finisher Edgar Barth. Carel would finish the second heat in 8th place, at least unofficially. It would be an unofficial result for he would later be disqualified as a result of the engine not being properly homologated. And, just like that, Carel's '58 season would come to an end. The happy-go-lucky Dutch driver would take the decision, the disqualification, and would look to another year.
He would take part in one more race for 1958 and it would be in Innsbruck with his Porsche 550 RS. Starting that race from 7th place on the grid, Carel would end his season on a bright note crossing the line in 3rd place earning himself one more podium finish on the season.
Competing in two World Championship events over the course of the '58 season, Carel Godin de Beaufort was beginning to show his interest in Formula One after having focused most of his career in sportscars. And, considering the fact he had an early exit at the Nurburgring and a solid, but handicapped, result at Zandvoort, there was certainly reason to believe that this Dutch driver could really make a name for himself within Formula One if he really wanted to apply himself.
A focused and determined individual when he wanted something, that would be perhaps the greatest challenge Carel would actually face about his Formula One options—whether or not he really wanted to do it or not. And, considering that it was Carel that had to make the decision, it was very understandable if the decision didn't come right away. He wasn't about to let anyone else take that authority from him.