Buy from Amazon

The Race of Two Worlds 1957-1958



by Dennis David
500 Miglia Di MonzaThey called it Monzanapolis or The Race of Two Worlds. The 500 Miglia Di Monza was meant to be a contest between ten of the best of the Old World against an equal number from the New World.

The race was held under rules based on those used at Indianapolis with 2.8 liter supercharged and 4.2 liter unsupercharged engine restrictions. Monza the oldest continuous Formula 1 venue was the site and its famous banking had recently been modified and was now much steeper and also unfortunately bumpier.

Jimmy BryanThe Americans at home on banking sometimes much worse than this were unimpressed. In the end the only opposition to the Americans came from a trio of Ecurie Ecosse Jaguars fresh from their LeMans triumph where they finished 1st and 2nd  just the weekend before. The Americans showed their experience and the fact that their cars were meant for this type of race took the first three places with Jimmy Bryan taking the victory and the prize of $26,801, an enormous amount of money for a European event. The next year the European teams determined to stop the Americans from winning this prize in their own back yard were out in force. Ferrari had three cars while Maserati had a special Indy-type racer built for Stirling Moss called the Eldorado Special after its sponsor Eldorado ice cream. Fangio was driving with the Americans in the previous year's winner.

Moss in "Eldorado Ice Cream Special"Musso in the lead Ferrari qualified for pole position and was followed by two American entries including Fangio's Dean Van Lines Special in third position. The event was divided into three heats with Musso leading the Americans Eddie Sachs, Jim Rathmann and Bryan. Sachs engine blew up but Musso had to pit, overwhelmed by the methanol fumes that were being used for the first time in many a year but common in the United States. This would prove top be the Achilles' heel for the Europeans as many of their drives succumbed to the fumes. The first heat would go to Rathman followed by Bryan. Rathman again took the second heat as well as the third and was crowned the victor. The final heat turned out to be an exciting one for the Englishman Moss as his steering sheared at more than 160mph. All Moss could do was ride out his uncontrollable mount as it shed parts while it tore against the retaining wall. Luckily the wall held and Moss was able to walk away unharmed. The average speed of the race winner was 166.73 mph for the 500 miles, a speed not approached by any other European events that year. This would prove to be the last race of the series as the Americans proved that when it came to banked speedways they were second to none.