Spearheading summer's annual tourist invasion, American athletes last week popped up all over the continent of Europe for a wide variety of international contests, from tennis at Wimbledon to an automobile race at Monza (see these and following pages). Competition, happily, was sparkling, and results, for Americans, were mixed. At England's famous and frothy Royal Henley Regatta, which annually attracts the world's crack oarsmen, Russia and Britain each won two of the six truly international events, America and Australia each won one. This was the wettest and stormiest Henley within memory, with the climactic race between Russia's Trud Club and the University of Washington's heavyweight eights rowed in lightning, thunder and rain all the way (see opposite). The Huskies relied as usual on a smooth, rhythmic stroke that derives its power from long legs and backs; Trud's shorter, stockier crew, their bulky arm and shoulder muscles built up by training with weights, rowed in herky-jerky style, pulled away at the start as expected but then never yielded to occasional Husky spurts. Their margin at the finish was a length and a half, their time of 6:49 was only the fifth since 1839 to better 6:50 over Henley's one mile 550 yards. After thus eliminating Washington, Trud went on to win the Grand Challenge Cup from Australia's Leichardt Club by 2½ lengths in the even more remarkable time of 6:40. Harvard's undefeated lightweights (150-pounders) swept the Thames Challenge Cup series for the sole U.S. victory, rowing often against heavier opponents.
American disappointment in the Grand Challenge was matched by Russian despair later when Olympic single sculls champion Vasilyev Ivanov was outdistanced by more than 22 lengths in the Diamond Sculls by Australia's Stuart Mackenzie. The tall, tough Aussie coasted lazily home with a new record (8:06) after pressuring Ivanov into exhaustion by the¾-mile mark. Harvard and Washington moved on to further international competition, the Crimson to Hamburg for a July 12, 13 regatta, the Huskies for another meeting with Trud in Moscow, July 19.
The cheerful news from Monza, Italy resided as much in who was there as in who won. Last year, the big names in European racing refused to compete in the 500-mile event. Such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins and Harry Schell described the event as "dangerous, stupid, unfair, etc."—leaving the strong suspicion that they were afraid to meet America's Indianapolis drivers on Monza's high-speed banked track. When the 1957 race proved a triumph of speed and safety, the Europeans began looking around for cars for this year. Moss, Schell and Hawthorn entered, and Marcel Giambertone, Fangio's manager and leader of the anti-Monza movement, couldn't have scrambled harder to find a car for Fangio. The 500 miles were run in three equal heats of 63 laps each, and although America's Jim Rathmann proved his Zink Leader Card Special to be fast and reliable by winning all three, he did not have it easy all of the time. Most of the road racing Europeans got over their qualms about track racing soon after Italy's Luigi Musso put on a great display of skill and courage in handling Ferrari's big V12 cylinder car in the qualifying trials. (Tragically, Musso was to lose his life only a few days later in a crash on the 10th lap of the French Grand Prix at Rheims.) Musso put on American-type shoulder harness and used all 430 hp to take pole position on the starting grid. In the first heat, facing Rathmann, Eddie Sachs, Don Freeland and Jim Bryan (driving his Indy-winning Belond A.P. Special), Musso fought valiantly for 20 laps, wheel to wheel with the leaders, though the Ferraris did not slide the banks like the American cars. However, after Musso let Hawthorn take over during a pit stop, the British driver appeared unable to maintain this sort of driving and put on no show at all. Fangio was out of luck; his Dean Van Lines Special was found to have two cracked pistons just before the first heat started, and although mechanics rebuilt the engine in time for the third heat, he was forced to quit after a single lap with fuel trouble. Moss drove the first heat steadily, threw away all inhibitions halfway through the second as his Maserati-Eldorado gave the Americans rough competition. Moss, Bryan and Troy Ruttman (driving an Agajanian) ran in a tight bunch for a full 25 laps. But once again the European chassis proved inferior to the American in handling. The third heat was an all-American show, with Rathmann, Bryan and Bob Veith lapping consistently at 172 mph. Bryan, possibly overconfident after Indianapolis, finished second over-all, while the three Ferrari drivers did an excellent job of placing the Italian car third. Monza is, apparently, here to stay, since, as British motor expert Denis Jenkison put it, "the Europeans now realize that the Indy cars are not unbeatable."
July 13, 1958
Elsewhere on the Continent, "old squire" Gene Sarazen put on a fine show in the British Open, six U.S. track stars won their events in a four-nation meet in Milan, and American horsemen surprised at Aachen by placing second to Spain's Grand Prix champions. All in all, a busy week for our touring athletes.