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[Sports] - Grand National 2018: How to back a winner at Aintree depending on your betting habits, luck and personality

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[Sports] - Grand National 2018: How to back a winner at Aintree depending on your betting habits, luck and personality | The Independent

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[Sports] - Grand National 2018 tips, odds and bets: Which of the runners should you back at Aintree on Saturday?

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Grand National 2016: Latest betting odds tips and guide to the 40 confirmed runners at Aintree

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Grand National 2016 betting: Tips and guide to the likely runners at Aintree

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[Sports] - Grand National 2018 tips, odds and bets: Which of the runners should you back at Aintree on Saturday? | The Independent

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My Therapy

At my most recent Problem Gambling Support Group meeting via Skype (the same one posted on here weekly) it was my turn to do a therapy session. This is my journey from starting gambling until now. I thought it would be worth sharing here as someone may get something from it. It is a bit of a long read.
My name is Mark and i’m a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. The day of April 2nd was a massive turning point in my life, it was the day I finally admitted to my long term partner, who is the mother of my two children, and to my parents that I was a compulsive gambler and needed help. The weekend prior was when I finally said to myself I’ve had enough, I had been betting for 14 years and it had beaten me so badly that I was a mess mentally and financially. Although no one knew that because I was an expert at hiding it.
I started gambling like almost anyone in the UK or Ireland, The Grand National. The one day of the year where it seems like every man, woman and child has a bet on. The biggest horse race in the world. That and those glorious holidays spent in Portrush playing the 2p machines (penny fall machines). I don’t for one second blame those experiences for my gambling problem, they are just my first memories of gambling. One really vivid memory I have of gambling was when I was begging my dad for the latest Official Playstation Magazine, the one with the demo disc, and he was just sitting down to watch England play against someone and said to me “if Paul Scholes scores the first goal I will get you the magazine.” Now, I know for a fact win or lose my Dad would have gotten me the magazine, he just said that so I would give him peace to watch the match. Well I remember watching the game with him hoping with all my might Paul Scholes would score 1st and he did. That adrenaline rush, even at a young age (I was 13 years old at most I would say) was unbelievable. Now, again, I am not blaming that for my gambling addiction at all, it is just one of my first vivid memories but that mentality of gambling to get something I want for free would be a regular pattern throughout my gambling career.
Once I turned 18 I opened my first betting account with Blue Sq and that started my online sports gambling journey. Friday nights were spent betting on Wolverhampton all weather horse racing and the Dutch and French 2nd Divisions. All harmless fun, controlled gambling, small stakes. I was still working part time at this stage, left school that summer and gambling was not in the way. Once I got my full time job though that all changed.
The first time I could put my finger on when my gambling changed was the first day of the 2008/2009 football season. I’d been working full time for about 3 years and my gambling was still under control, well, at least I thought it was. My stakes were still low and I was doing football bets at the weekend for a bit of fun. I gambled, but it wasn’t causing me any issues. That Friday I walked into a Paddy Power and decided instead of placing a load of stupid football bets for £1 or £2 I’d pick three teams for the season and do a £20 treble each week. Sheffield United, Leicester City and Leeds United were the picks. Of course, the first weekend it landed (the only time it landed all season I think) and my betting changed from that moment. I genuinely can’t remember the odds but I must have lifted over £100 from that £20 stake and after that staking £1 or £2 just wasn’t appealing. What was the point in that when I could stake £20 and win more. From that moment my gambling started to get out of control over time. Then came the loans, the credit cards and the payday loans.
At some point around this time I had opened a spread betting account due to a sign up offer. Now I did not have the first clue about spread betting but the offer was they gave you a free £100 or something to sign up so I did. I was still living at home at the time and we had one computer which everyone used. Well my Dad stumbled upon this website and was able to access the account (he’s not technically minded so I imagine I left it logged in) and he seen the betting history and he went mental at me. Now, I did explain that it was just bonus funds and I hadn’t actually deposited any of my own money but still the lecture came. It felt like a lecture at the time to me but he was just warning me of the dangers of gambling. Giving me examples of people he knew who had a problem and how easy it is for a gambling problem to begin. So I can never turn around and say that I wasn’t aware of the dangers, I was, my ego was just too big to listen. I paid lip service to the lecture and said I wouldn’t do it again and my Dad took me at my word and trusted me.
So, I knew early on I had a problem. I self excluded from places over the years but never really wanted to quit. I was getting in debt but was able to continue with my lifestyle as I was living at home. I remember one day going to a cheque cashing place where I could write a cheque for £100, dated on my next payday, and they’d give me £90 there and then. I did two cheques for going out that weekend (and a couple of bets on the Aintree Festival) walked straight to the bookies and had the £180 on Denman to win the Aintree Bowl at even money. Denman was a monster of a horse, a machine. He could not lose...then he suffered the first fall of his career. Back I went to the cheque cashing place for another £90 so I could still go out that weekend.
I wasn’t learning from my betting mistakes either as I was just borrowing more money to cover the cracks. I got a few debt consolidating loans over the early years to try and get a handle on my debt but it just gave me an excuse to take out more credit. The payday loans which I used to either gamble or cover my expenses for going out because I used all my money gambling. I would borrow money off my Dad and give him the puppy dog eyes when I paid it back and normally he’d only take half of what I owed him. He thought he was doing the right thing and he wanted me to have money to be able to go out with friends, I was just manipulating the situation.
I moved out and into my friends house for a year and the gambling continued, although I had less money to gamble with. My credit rating was taking a battering but I was young and didn’t really care. Then I met my current girlfriend in February 2010 and we moved in together that September. The gambling continued and was getting worse. I made the smart move to get a second job to supplement my gambling…...at a greyhound track. I’d be earning about £20 a night but gambling £60 or £80. Insanity. We had our first child in April 2012 and not long after she found out I’d be gambling some of the money we’d saved. It wasn’t a lot of money, but she was pissed (rightfully so). I managed to talk my way out of it and that was when I became really good at hiding things. She took control of the rent money and any money for our son so that was never in danger thankfully. We had our daughter in 2016 but the gambling still continued.
It may seem like I have glossed over an important period of time there but the truth is I can’t really remember any of the details. The only details I am able to recall with any great clarity are coming up but I just want to touch on a couple of things from this period. This was a time when I had the biggest wins of my gambling career, two separate occasions. One was an insane run of luck where I couldn’t lose all weekend and ended up with enough money for me, my partner and our Son to have our first and only foreign holiday. Another time I had a £5 free bet and landed a treble at Sandown, all Gary Moore horses and won £3.5k. That money went towards decorating the nursery for my soon to be born Daughter, my partner got money, my Mum and Dad and her Mum and Dad. I bought a PS4 and gambled the rest from memory. The two reasons these moments stick in my head isn’t just the amounts, it’s the only time I walked away in profit, at least for the sessions in question and the reason is that I told my partner I had won the money. That was the only way I knew I wouldn’t gamble it all away because she would ask questions if the money I promised didn’t materialise.
Another part of this time period I want to explore is how I was emotionally. I was 25 when we had our Son and he wasn’t planned. It was a shock to say the least and my life, as I knew it anyways, changed. No longer was I able to do what I wanted socially, I had a Son to provide for. I was working two jobs, money was tight, was I still gambling? Of course I was but slowly I started to strip everything else out of my life. We had our daughter when I was 29 and to be honest here, as much as it sadeness me I thought this way I resented having kids, especially at that age. I felt trapped at times, people I knew were able to do what they want but yet I had all this responsibility. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my kids during this time as well and they meant the world to me, but I do feel that I got into the thought process that I was trapped because of them and my only escape was into the world of online gambling.
I would go through phases where I’d stop altogether for months on end, a year at one point which I imagine was around the time my partner found out about me using the savings for gambling, but I’d always go back to it thinking I was in control but I never was. When gambling I’d deposit £10, lose it, deposit another £10, lose it, rinse and repeat until all my money was gone. If I won it just meant I could gamble longer. It was never about the money. I thought it was, but really the money was the fuel that could keep me gambling longer. Most months I was skint a few days after payday and couldn’t gamble until the next payday. It may not sound like a lot of money but it was a relentless cycle month after month after month.
At the end of 2016 I got an overdraft of £2k and gambled it all on soccer all around the world. Woke up and started gambling in Asia, moved across the globe into the Middle East, Africa, Europe and then fell asleep betting on South American football. It was out of control. Betting on Egyptian football on Xmas Day a particular lowlight. This was what my gambling looked like when I had money. All these bets were in-play as that’s how I gambled, watching a little graphic on Bet365 and thinking I could predict what was going to happen. I also gambled heavily on tennis as well, picking a player to win a set 6-0 was one of my favourites. Generally I would start with £10 as I mentioned and if the bet won I would keep “investing” all the money until it got to a certain amount, normally a couple of hundred quid. Once I got to that point I would raise my stakes significantly because I would tell myself it wasn’t my money. It wasn’t if I didn’t count all the loses it took to get to this point over the previous few days. I would then gamble that until it’s gone cursing myself for not taking the money when I had the chance. Placing the last of my money praying to a god I don’t believe in that if he could just make this bet land then I wouldn’t bet again. Once the money was done I would just sit there, looking at my bank balance, the lack of money, the direct debits due to come out in a few days, trying to figure out how I would survive the next 3-4 weeks until payday. Then I would dust myself off and start working on some budgets. What direct debits I could bounce, who I could ask to borrow money from or maybe what I could sell to fund another round of gambling to try and win my money back.
Coming into 2018 I was in a “good place” with gambling, or so I thought. I was Matched Betting which was a way of making money via bookmakers offers. It worked well for a few months but it all went to shit in the Summer of 2018. Matched Betting introduced me to the casino side of things and I lost £3.5k on roulette. I’ll not go into the ins and outs of how I had that sort of money, lets just say I didn’t and I found a way to deposit via direct debit on PayPal and of course those all bounced. Luckily Paddy Power rewarded me by making me a VIP customer after that, every cloud and all that. So I was chasing big style and getting free £50 bonuses each week from them but I could never get enough money to stop, because no amount was ever going to be enough. Their offers of Money Back if Horse X wins are normally £10 max refund, I was getting £100 max refund. Eventually I was running out of ways to get money and when I started to bet less with Paddy Power they removed my VIP status. I did win £1000 on an NFL bet and lost the lot on roulette the next week. Another lowlight.
The win on the NFL followed by the lose on roulette sticks in my mind because visually it summed up how miserable I was. I had promised my partner back at the start of the year that we would get the living room redecorated and I would pay with it from my Matched Betting and she was happy with that. Of course I explained it was risk free and nothing could go wrong and it wasn’t even gambling. Anyways, come November we are due to have our living room redecorated and of course I do not have the money for it so I have to go to my Mum and Dad. I give them some sob story about how when I was Matched Betting I made a mistake, layed off the wrong horse and lost my money so could then lend me it and don’t tell my partner. It was a complete lie and to be honest at the time I didn’t think they had bought it but they lent me the money. Turns out when I told them about my gambling problem back in April they had smelt bull shit but my Granda (on my Dad’s side) was ill in the hospital and he was stressed about that so he just let it slide. So the redecoration was on and it was going to take a couple of days. One Monday night I had a bet on the NFL and it landed, £10 at 100/1. Happy days, I can give my Mum and Dad back their money, it’s nearly Xmas, this is amazing luck. So on Tuesday night I sat in my half decorated living room and thought if I could just win a little bit more then things would be even better so loaded up the roulette. I lost it all sitting in the living room and during it I could literally see what the money would be paying for but it didn’t stop me, nothing would stop me.
2019 I could feel myself struggling. My life was consumed with gambling or working out how to get money to gamble and then how I was going to pay people back what I owed them. I was in a bad place, I was a bad person, lying, angry but still no one knew the truth. January had always been a tough month as I run several NFL Fantasy Football leagues for money and I am in charge of the money. Of course, that was always gambled away by me and January was the month people expected pay outs because the season was over. Usually I would have won enough money in my leagues to cover it or convince people to pay for next year with their winnings that I could cover it. This year I could not and I had the added pressure of owing people money. A lot of these people were friends of mine I knew personally, others were people I had gotten to know over a few years and only talked online. Either way I had stolen their money and gambled it away. I managed to use my Granda’s death in January as an excuse for why I had not paid people yet, I was in a bad way with the funeral etc, all the excuses, the truth is I was just trying to buy more time.
Then came the weekend prior to April 2nd. I had just been paid and deposited some money into my Bet365 account and managed to get my balance up to £910 on Friday 29th March. I should say by this stage I was fully gambling on tennis. Not match winner, that took too long, generally set winner or next game winner as that was quicker. Now this £910 would have cleared some of my urgent debts to allow me to continue on gambling. All I had to do was withdraw, and I was going to…...once I got it up to a nice round £1000. As you can guess I lost the lot. £300-£400 on Benoit Paire was one of the worst hits but I was gambling like a mad man. That was how I bet when I had winnings, the stakes got out of control. By the time I was leaving work at 6pm on the Friday the whole £910 was gone. I was betting on ATP, Challenger, ITF, any tennis that was on I was betting on it. Back in the day I remember betting on a tennis match where they had one ball. Still a story that brings a smile to my face if I’m honest. A smile that consists of a mixture of shame and cringe. That Friday night I deposited whatever I had left in and managed to win back a good chunk of the money, but it still wasn’t enough. It still wasn’t what I had before. So the whole weekend went like that, up and down, up and down. I went to a family dinner and sat betting on my phone the whole night. That’s how my life has been the last number of years, i’m present at gatherings, or nights out but my mind is deep in my phone gambling away not giving a shit about anyone.
Eventually the money ran out that weekend. I was a mess. I could have actually made it work financially and gotten through the month but mentally I was gone. I could tell my brain had put me into a nosedive and the only way this was all ending was in disaster. Maybe not this month, or this year but I was being flown towards rock bottom.
I sat down on the Monday and wrote out everything that I owed, who I owed it to, a budget going forward. It was grim enough reading, £18k in the hole. The money wasn’t the issue, it was how it was making me feel, the time I’ve been wasting. The fact that I finally couldn’t take anymore, that I was ready to wave the white flag and say gambling has won, it defeated me. I found out when and where the nearest GA Meeting was to me and wrote that down too. So I found a set of balls and on the Tuesday I told my girlfriend. My attitude was that life can’t be any worse for me than it currently is. I was a mess, I cried, I honestly expected her to tell me to get out and I wouldn’t have blamed her, but she was amazing. She was angry obviously, but she was so supportive. Then I called my parents round and told them. They were disappointed, confused but also really supportive. Then the next day I told my closest friends who were again all really supportive. I owe them some money too and they’ve been great about setting up a payment plan to pay that back. I can imagine some people saying that I didn’t hit rock bottom in comparison to others, I felt that way myself to be honest. I felt like I had gotten off lightly but looking back the cycle I was in was soul destroying and although I didn’t cause the devastation others have caused I knew I needed to reach out for help as I couldn’t do it on my own.
I registered for GAMStop and self excluded online for 5 years which has taken the avenue of online gambling away from me. A vital step if online is your vice. I also handed over control of my finances to my partner which again removed another temptation. I’ve since learned in recovery that gamblers need 3 things, time, opportunity and money, take away one of those and you won’t be able to gamble. I took away two with these simple steps.
I then went to my first GA Meeting on Wednesday 3rd April. The time doesn’t suit me for that, Monday at 9pm is my meeting but I felt I needed to get to one ASAP. I don’t know what I expected GA to be, some sort of church run cult filled with a bunch of old men desperate for a bet but it’s one of the most amazing groups I’ve ever found. It’s a dumping ground for all my shit and it’s a place where I can listen to other people’s stories. Without sounding sexist, it’s something a lot of men could do with outside of addiction, a place to talk about life and how they are feeling. I take a 50 mile round trip every Monday to get there. When I was gambling if I had to travel 50 miles to get internet to gamble you can guarantee I’d have travelled every day. When I leave a meeting I am buzzing, for all the right reasons. I’m a lifer when it comes to GA now and I am fine with that.
I am also a member of the Problem Gambling Support Group and we run three meetings a week via Skype. This group has been so influential to my recovery and I have met so many good people I now consider friends through it. The topic meeting style is completely different to what happens at my own GA so it fits into my recovery perfectly and gives me a different perspective.
I have a sponsor, who has had a massive impact on my recovery. He has helped me work the Steps and is always there if I need him. At times it’s hard to tell who is sponsoring who but that sort of dynamic works well for me as I see him as a friend first and sponsosponsee second.
I have also found a passion for writing about my journey and post my stuff on my blog, on GamCare and on the Reddit Problem Gambling Sub. I have been told my stuff is very good and people seem to get a lot from it. As I explained at a recent meeting I am still learning how to deal with praise, it makes me feel awkward. I’m not sure if it’s from years of not wanting to be the focus of people's attention because of the fear they might ask questions and my addiction would be exposed. Whatever the reason I am working on being able to accept praise and enjoy it and as I was told at the last meeting...a simple thank you is usually enough.
I’ve been clean for over 9 months now, and I have not struggled with urges to gamble. My life is amazing, it always was but I was too wrapped up in my addiction to notice. I literally had everything I could ever want. I have an amazing partner and two amazing children along with my parents who are absolutely fantastic. I have my health, a job and my friends are another support network I couldn’t do without now. They stood by me when I admitted my problem and they gave me the belief that I could do this.
Recovery is now my focus along with my family. The debt can be managed, stopping gambling is one day at a time, but the main focus of my recovery will be fixing my character defects, helping others, being open and honest to people and not being a selfish asshole. I would like to think those that know me now can at least drop the selfish part when describing me.
I have put plenty of work into my recovery and I feel like I am getting the benefits out of it. I have a routine when it comes to meetings and they don’t impact on my family life. Is every day amazing? No it’s not. Some days are rather boring and some days are tough, but that’s life. Some days you have to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. I have accepted what I am, I am a compulsive gambler and I need to be the one who changes. No one else around me needs to change, I am the common denominator. I have noticed a change in myself and those closest to me. They all seem happier, more content, happy to have this me in their life and not the old me. I wasn’t a nice partner, father, son or friend when I was in active addiction. I don’t want to be the person I was before I started gambling either because I am pretty convinced he was an asshole as well. I am using this recovery to become the man I want to be, the man I can look in the mirror and be proud to be.
As I said, I have accepted that I am a compulsive gambler and I cannot have a single bet because it will lead me back to active addiction. I have no issues with the gambling industry or people who gamble, I just know that I am unable to gamble as it ends in disaster. I feel there should be more discussion around problem gambling and the industry should be putting more money into helping problem gamblers and to help identify problem gamblers. It’s a fine line though, as I know if a bookie told me they felt I had a problem and wouldn’t accept a bet I’d have been angry and just went somewhere else. You need to be ready for recovery to fully embrace it. I never was until April 2nd. For the people in recovery we need to be ready to help those that get to the stage where they are ready for recovery. We are the ones who these people will come to rely on as we’ve been through it, you can tell when talking to someone who hasn’t had a gambling addiction they just don’t understand. Over the coming years I think there will be a significant rise in people looking for help with problem gambling. I don’t feel like my story is close to the worst out there and I have read and heard some people who have the opinion that you need to cause devastation before recovery will work. That’s bollocks and that sort of attitude is why GA is filled with old men and young people are reluctant to stay. I have come to believe it doesn’t matter how much you have lost, how many relationships you have destroyed or what age you are, all you need is a desire to stop gambling and that is the qualification for entering recovery.
For now though, for me, my next bet won’t be about the money I lose, I’ll lose my partner and my children as well and that’s not a bet that I am not willing to make.
Mark
submitted by russ_789 to problemgambling [link] [comments]

Three Weeks

My Story
My name is Mark and i’m a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. The day of April 2nd was a massive turning point in my life, it was the day I finally admitted to my long term girlfriend, who is the mother of my two children, and to my parents that I was a compulsive gambler and needed help. The weekend prior was when I finally said to myself I’ve had enough, I had been betting for 14 years and it had beaten me so badly that I was a mess mentally and financially. Although no one knew that because I was an expert at hiding it.
I started gambling like almost anyone in the UK or Ireland, The Grand National. The one day of the year where it seems like every man, woman and child has a bet on. The biggest horse race in the world. That and those glorious holidays spent in Portrush playing the 2p machines. I don’t for one second blame those experiences for my gambling problem, they are just my first memories of gambling.Once I turned 18 I opened an account with Blue Sq and that started my online sports gambling journey. Friday nights were spent betting on Wolverhampton all weather horse racing and the Dutch and French 2nd Divisions. All harmless fun, controlled gambling, small stakes. I was still working part time at this stage, left school that summer and gambling was not in the way. Once I got my full time job though that all changed.
The first time I could put my finger on when my gambling changed was the first day of the 2008/2009 football season. I’d been working full time for about 3 years and my gambling was still under control. I gambled, but it wasn’t causing me any issues. That Friday I walked into a Paddy Power and decided instead of placing a load of stupid football bets for £1 or £2 I’d pick three teams for the season and do a £20 treble each week. Sheffield United, Leicester City and Leeds United were the picks. Of course, the first weekend it landed (the only time it landed all season I think) and my betting changed from that moment. I genuinely can’t remember the odds but I must have lifted over £100 from that £20 stake and after that staking £1 or £2 just wasn’t appealing. What was the point in that when I could stake £20 and win more. From that moment my gambling started to get out of control over time. Then came the loans, the credit cards, the payday loans.
I knew early on I had a problem. I self excluded from places over the years but never really wanted to quit. I was getting in debt but was able to continue with my lifestyle as I was living at home. I remember one day going to a cheque cashing place where I could write a cheque for £100, dated on my next payday, and they’d give me £90 there and then. I did two cheques for going out that weekend (and a couple of bets on the Aintree Festival) walked straight to the bookies and had the £180 on Denman to win the Aintree Bowl at even money. He suffered the first fall of his career. Back I went to the cheque cashing place for another £90.
I moved out and into my friends house for a year and the gambling continued, although I had less money to gamble with. My credit rating was taking a battering but I was young and didn’t really care. Then I met my current girlfriend in the February and we moved in together that September. The gambling continued and was getting worse. I made the smart move to get a second job to supplement my gambling…...at a greyhound track. I’d be earning about £20 a night but gambling £60 or £80. Insanity. We had our first child in April 2012 and not long after she found out I’d be gambling some of the money we’d saved. It wasn’t a lot of money, but she was pissed (rightfully so). I managed to talk my way out of it and that was when I became really good at hiding things. She took control of the rent money and any money for our son so that was never in danger thankfully. We had our daughter in 2016 but the gambling still continued.
I would go through phases where I’d stop altogether for months on end, a year at one point, but I’d always go back to it thinking I was in control but I never was. When gambling I’d deposit £10, lose it, deposit another £10, lose it, rinse and repeat until all my money was gone. If I won it just meant I could gamble longer. It was never about the money. I thought it was, but really the money was the fuel that could keep me gambling longer. Most months I was skint a few days after payday and couldn’t gamble until the next payday.At the end of 2016 I got an overdraft of £2k and gambled it all on soccer all around the world. Woke up and started gambling in Asia, moved across the globe into the Middle East, Africa, Europe and then fell asleep betting on South American football. It was out of control. Betting on Egyptian football on Xmas Day a particular lowlight.
Coming into 2018 I was in a “good place” with gambling, or so I thought. I was Matched Betting which was a way of making money via bookmakers offers. It worked well for a few months but it all went to shit in the Summer of 2018. Matched Betting introduced me to the casino side of things and I lost £3.5k on roulette. I’ll not go into the ins and outs of how I had that sort of money, lets just say I didn’t and I found a way to deposit via direct debit and of course those all bounced. Luckily Paddy Power rewarded me by making me a VIP customer after that. So I was chasing big style and getting free £50 bonuses each week from them but I could never get enough money to stop, because no amount was ever going to be enough. Their offers of Money Back if Horse X wins are normally £10 max refund, I was getting £100 max refund. Eventually I was running out of ways to get money and when I started to bet less with Paddy Power they removed my VIP status. I did win £1000 on an NFL bet and lost the lot on roulette the next week. Another lowlight.
2019 I could feel myself struggling. My life was consumed with gambling or working out how to get money to gamble and then how I was going to pay people back what I owed them. I was in a bad place, I was a bad person, lying, angry, grumpy but still no one knew the truth.
Then came the weekend prior to April 2nd. I had just been paid and deposited some money into my Bet365 account and managed to get my balance up to £910 on the Friday 29th March. I should say by this stage I was fully gambling on tennis. Not match winner, that took too long, generally set winner or next game winner as that was quicker. Now this £910 would have cleared some of my urgent debts to allow me to continue on gambling. All I had to do was withdraw, and I was going to…...once I got it up to a nice round £1000. As you can guess I lost the lot. £300-£400 on Benoit Paire was one of the worst hits but I was gambling like a mad man. That was how I bet when I had winnings, the stakes got out of control. By the time I was leaving work at 6pm on the Friday the whole £910 was gone. I was betting on ATP, Challenger, ITF, any tennis that was on I was betting on it. Back in the day I remember betting on a tennis match where they had one ball. Still a story that brings a smile to my face if I’m honest. That Friday night I deposited whatever I had left in and managed to win back a good chunk of the money, but it still wasn’t enough. It still wasn’t what I had before. So the whole weekend went like that, up and down, up and down. I went to a family dinner and sat betting on my phone the whole night. That’s how my life has been the last number of years, i’m present at gatherings, or nights out but my mind is deep in my phone gambling away not giving a shit about anyone.
Eventually the money ran out that weekend. I was a mess. I could have actually made it work financially and gotten through the month but mentally I was gone. I could tell my brain had put me into a nosedive and the only way this was all ending was in disaster. Maybe not this month, or this year but I was been flown towards rock bottom.
I sat down on the Monday and wrote out everything that I owed, who I owed it to, a budget going forward. It was grim enough reading, £18k in the hole. The money wasn’t the issue, it was how it was making me feel, the time i’ve been wasting. I found out when and where the nearest GA Meeting was to me and wrote that down too. So I found a set of balls and on the Tuesday I told my girlfriend. My attitude was that life can’t be any worse for me than it currently is. I was a mess, I cried, I honestly expected her to tell me to get out and I wouldn’t have blamed her, but she was amazing. She was angry obviously, but she was so supportive. Then I called my parents round and told them. They were disappointed, confused but also really supportive. Then the next day I told my closest friends who were again all really supportive. I owe them some money too and they’ve been great about setting up a payment plan to pay that back.
I registered for GAMStop and self excluded online for 5 years which has taken the avenue of online gambling away from me. A vital step if online is your vice.
I then went to my first GA Meeting on Wednesday 3rd April. The time doesn’t suit me for that, Monday at 9pm is my meeting but I felt I needed to get to one ASAP. I don’t know what I expected GA to be but it’s one of the most amazing groups I’ve ever found. It’s a dumping ground for all my shit and it’s a place where I can listen to other people’s stories. Without sounded sexist, it’s something a lot of men could do with outside of addiction, a place to talk about life and how they are feeling. I take a 50 mile round trip every Monday to get there. When I was gambling if I had to travel 50 miles to get internet to gamble you can guarantee I’d have travelled every day. When I leave a meeting i’m buzzing, for all the right reasons. I’m a lifer when it comes to GA now and i’m fine with that.
I’ve been clean for 3 weeks now, and i’ve had no urges to gamble. My life is amazing, it always was but I was too wrapped up in my addiction to notice. I have an amazing girlfriend and two amazing children along with my parents who are absolutely fantastic. My friends are another support network I couldn’t do without now.
I’m also a member of this sub (clearly) and they run a weekly meeting via Skype every Wednesday which is becoming part of my weekly routine (they are also adding an additional one on a Tuesday).
Recovery is now my focus along with my family. The debt can be managed, stopping gambling is one day at a time, but the main focus of my recovery will be fixing my character defects, helping others, being open and honest to people and not being a selfish asshole.
I have no issues with the gambling industry or people who gamble, I just know that I am unable to gamble as it ends in disaster. I feel there should be more discussion around problem gambling and the industry should be putting more money into helping problem gamblers and to help identify problem gamblers. It’s a fine line though, as I know if a bookie told me they felt I had a problem and wouldn’t accept a bet I’d have been angry and just went somewhere else. You need to be ready for recovery to fully embrace it. I never was until April 2nd. For the people in recovery we need to be ready to help those that get to the stage where they are ready for recovery. We are the ones who these people will come to rely on as we’ve been through it, you can tell when talking to someone who hasn’t had a gambling addiction they just don’t understand. Over the coming years I think there will be a significant rise in people looking for help with problem gambling.
For now though, for me, my next bet won’t be about the money I lose, I’ll lose my girlfriend and children as well and that’s not a bet that’s worth making.
Mark
submitted by russ_789 to problemgambling [link] [comments]

The Story of 'Il Bello', Eugenio Castellotti

Hey y'all, been a while away thanks to university, and it kinda sucked the wind out of me writing stuff about F1 for a while. But never mind that, I'm back.
Or for those who are new to the subreddit, hi. I write some historical F1 stuff when time permits.
This isn't a Random Driver Highlight, no it isn't. I wanted to write about this driver really, REALLY bad. So I decided, screw it, I'll write about him, probably my 'historical hero' of Formula One. I might write more about some more drivers in F1 history that I feel like writing about, but my writing production may be limited.
This driver's story isn't that unknown, given how F1 Racing released a publication on him just a year ago. However, for a story as spectacular as this, I'm surprised it isn't retold more. He was F1's youngest polesitter at one point in time. He is directly involved with the death of a legend of a sport. His rookie season is one of the best in F1 history. He dated a rather famous Italian celebrity that got them on gossip pages. And he was very, very handsome. Like, ridiculously handsome.
This is the story of Eugenio Castellotti.

Eugenio Castellotti

STATISTICS
Nationality: Italian
Years in F1: 1955-57
Teams Raced For: Lancia, Ferrari
Entries: 14
Starts: 14
Podium Finishes: 3
Pole Positions: 1 (1955 Belgian Grand Prix)
Points: 19.5
Highest Finish: 2nd (Twice -- 1955 Monaco and 1956 French Grands Prix)
Good looks: On a scale from 1-10, he was a goddamn 17.

Part 1: Baby You're a Rich Kid

Every report on how Castellotti began his career states that it was due to his wealth, being able to buy a Ferrari sportscar at the young age of 20. Most 20 year-olds would be worrying about paying off their university fees, but here was Eugenio, buying himself a Ferrari. So, naturally, the narrative was that he had a mollycoddled childhood by two rich, wealthy parents and was able to buy his way into motorsport. Right?
Well...not quite. I think. His mother, Angela, according to some accounts, was unmarried and only sixteen when she gave birth to Eugenio. Not to mention that his father, a very, very wealthy lawyer, reportedly first met Eugenio at the age 9. Most other sources just hook onto the fact that his family was wealthy, but if the above is true, that his dad impregnated someone at 16 and didn't bother taking care of their child until nine years later, life may not have been that rosy for young Eugenio as some sources claim.
Eugenio, however, quickly gained a fascination for cars, and supposedly learned how to drive through the Castellotti's family driver. As he grew up, he even tried to fake his age to obtain a driving license. Despite the probable family tensions between his mom and his dad for, well, that situation, there was one thing that both his parents agreed on: that Castellotti should not race. They became increasingly restrictive with Castellotti's passion, but that probably drove young Eugenio further into getting a racing career.
This was until his dad died when Eugenio was either 12 or 19. I don't know this for sure as sources are picky, but more sources point towards 19. Because, when his dad died, he left a massive, and I mean massive, inheritance to Eugenio. I don't know how much, but damn if it didn't look like Loadsamoney. From there, Eugenio went into a manic shopping spree, often fancying finely-tailored suits here and there. However, still against his mother's wishes, Eugenio used his money to explore his passion, motor racing.
And that's how Eugenio Castellotti bought his first Ferrari, a 166MM sportscar, at the young age of 20. But, unlike most ridiculously rich youth of the generation, he didn't buy the 166MM to stare at it in his garage every once in a while. He was going to race it.
However, Castellotti figured that the best way to start off racing wouldn't be a few simple club races, oh no. His first race was the gruelling 1,080-kilometre Tour of Sicily, where he unsurprisingly failed to finish. Not to be perturbed by this little blip, Castellotti opted to enter the frikin' Mille Miglia, or 1000 Miles in Italian, probably one of the grandest road races ever. There, he actually finished a credible 6th in class and 50th in an overall field of 322 starters. As inexperienced as he was, Castellotti proved he wasn't just a regular rich kid who bought his way into racing. His first two races were only two of the toughest sportscar races, and by golly did he do well.
Into 1952, and Castellotti's form in sportscars just got better and better over time, leading to his first win in the Gold Cup at Pescara. Buoyed by all this success, he felt it was about time he entered the grandest event of all, the Monaco Grand Prix. However, it wouldn't be his first Formula One start. The Monaco Grand Prix was going through some financial difficulties, and with radical changes in rules in the World Driver's Championship, the organisers played a safe bet and hosted the 1952 Grand Prix for sports cars instead.
That's not to say the field was any weaker, though. A number of British up-and-comers like Stirling Moss and Peter Collins entered, not to mention crafty French veterans in Robert Manzon and Louis Rosier. Entering a Grand Prix of such prestige so early in his career, Castellotti would have his work cut out for him.
However, Castellotti showed an oddly cool head when everyone lost theirs, especially when Stirling Moss and other drivers ploughed into Reg Parnell's broken down Aston Martin. Following the pile-up it would be Castellotti who would inherit the lead from Vittorio Marzotto. However, the heat would take its both drivers and cars, and both had to make a mandatory pit stop to attend to both the cars and drivers.
According to urban legend, when Castellotti stopped, he also requested for a bottle of Coke. Apparently, this slowed Castellotti's stop significantly, maybe because Coke was hard to source in Monaco, or Castellotti just had to sip Coke leisurely, I don't know. Whatever the case, this was enough to hand the lead back to Marzotto, who went on to win the Monaco Grand Prix.
Castellotti's performance, where he lost the Monaco Grand Prix to a bottle of Coke, didn't go unnoticed, though, and despite a lucky escape in Vila Real where marshals carried him out of the way from an oncoming pileup, through the next two years, including a win at the Portuguese Grand Prix in 1952 and the Messina 10 hours in 1953.
His shot at the big time, though, was just on the horizon. And it would come from none other than the reigning champion of Formula 1, Alberto Ascari.

Part 2: Lancia's Lancer

In his career so far, Castellotti had just been entering races as a privateer, mainly entering with Ferrari's purchased from his father's inheritance. Being a relatively youthful driver in the sport, he was seen as one of Italy's brightest young talents to carry Italy's motorsport image into the future, so he was probably in high demand. It would probably be just a matter of time before he got snapped up.
Then he met Alberto Ascari. Holder of the record for most consecutive victories in F1 at the time (and all the way until 2013) and had secured his second consecutive World Driver's Championship by the time of the Italian Grand Prix, when he met the young Castellotti. Despite his service for Ferrari, pay disputes and other issues led the current reigning champion to leave the Prancing Horse and join, out of all teams, Lancia, who were all set to make their leap into Formula One.
And, out of all people, Ascari hand-picked both his mentor, Luigi Villoresi, and his now-protege, Eugenio Castellotti, to join him in Lancia. Yep, he was handpicked by probably the best driver in the world to not only be his teammate for the upcoming season, but also taken under his wing as his protege.
Lancia had doubts over his drive, though, after a dismal showing at the Nurburgring 1000km, but those doubts were cast aside after a brilliant third place in the Carrera Panamericana. Heck, sources say him and teammate Piero Taruffi could have actually contested for the win, but received orders from above to hold station behind leader Fangio to play it safe, already having a massive lead to the rest of the field and to keep a 1-2-3 finish for Lancia.
However, for 1954, Lancia's F1 project encountered delay after delay. Not quite as delayed as "The Thief and the Cobbler", but still, delayed by a lot. So much so that they let Ascari and Villoresi race for other teams while they continued to toil over their chassis.
Castellotti, meanwhile, didn't follow down their path. He remained loyal to Lancia and, as their 'junior driver', was given the opportunity to race in a multitude of sportscar events. However, instead of anticipated success, Eugenio recorded DNF after DNF after DNF in many sportscar races, from the Sebring 12 hours to Mille Miglia to Targa Florio, poor Castellotti didn't have anything going right for him in 1954, save for winning his second Italian Mountain Championship on the trot in hillclimbing. And when Lancia were finally able to enter their long-awaited D50 in the season-closing race at Spain, they only had enough for Ascari and Villoresi, leaving Castellotti by the sidelines once again.
1955 came around, and finally Lancia were ready with their D50 project. It took a while, but come the Argentine Grand Prix, Eugenio was all ready to step foot into the big leagues, Formula One. However, as most people who know their F1 history, the 1955 Argentine Grand Prix was probably the worst race possible to take your first steps in F1. The heat was held in mind-melting temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.
Not only was it mind-melting, but also car-melting. This proved to be the case when Villoresi's Lancia gave up on lap 2. As shared drives were essentially part-and-parcel with Formula One at the time, Castellotti was relieved by Villoresi on lap 20 to cut his first Formula One start short. Probably mercifully, too, as Villoresi wrecked the Lancia just 15 laps later.
The next race for him at Monaco, though, finally showed off what Castellotti was capable of. He qualified a stellar fourth in just his second race for Lancia, and in his first lap, moved up the field with a great start and this downright bonkers overtake for 1955 standards on Stirling Moss at the station hairpin to take second on lap one. After a crazy battle with Moss early on, Moss's Mercedes dominance won out and Castellotti settled into a battle for third with teammate Ascari and Jean Behra.
In that battle, though, Castellotti cut a tyre after driving too aggressively and mounting several kerbs on the streets of Monaco, forcing a pitstop that dropped him to ninth, essentially being a precursor to the crazed, balls-out driving style that Castellotti would go on to develop with time in future Formula One starts. However, the dashing youngster here was only in his second race, and yet, thanks to some retirements and some seriously impressive driving, Castellotti came in second place in just his second Grand Prix start, a result that undoubtedly would've been a victory had it not been for the tyre trouble mentioned earlier.
One of those retirements, though, was his mentor and teammate, Ascari, as he ploughed through barriers and past bollards into the Monaco harbour in one of F1's most famous crashes never filmed, primarily because all the focus was on Stirling Moss' smoking Mercedes just ahead in the pitlane. Despite the frightening looking crash and the aftermath, Ascari mercifully left the accident scene with nothing more than a broken nose.
This was bad for Castellotti, as just the week after that, he and Ascari were teaming up to drive a Ferrari 750 Monza for the Supercortemaggiore in Monza. On the 26th of May, 1955, Castellotti and Villoresi were ready to test the unpainted, newly developed car before the race, and had invited Ascari to spectate, probably to give advice to young Eugenio like he always had, or just to see how the car handled before their upcoming event. Impulsively, during a break in action before lunch, Ascari elected to drive the car for a few laps. Some say it was to test the car he was due to race in a couple of days, others say it was to test his psyche and get back on track after his mammoth crash in Monaco.
Dressed in a suit and tie, he didn't have any racing gear on him, especially his lucky blue helmet, still under repair from his accident in Monaco. So, without thinking, he borrowed Castellotti's helmet and set out for a few laps. On the third lap, at Curva Vialone, Ascari spun out, either due to ill-effects from Monaco, distractions from his flapping tie, or someone or something crossing the track ahead of him. The car proceeded to somersault, killing the two-time champion.
Castellotti was distraught. He was one of the first at the scene and saw his close friend and mentor pass in front of his very eyes. He lent Ascari his helmet that allowed him to test the car in the first place. Emotionally, he was probably a mess. Yet, at the same time, he was probably more driven than ever.
Which was why it came to be a shock when Lancia announced their immediate withdrawal from Formula One. It was partially due to the loss of their stalwart, but financial problems had also been piling on the Italian outfit, which was the main reason for their withdrawal. Unperturbed, though, Castellotti begged them to participate in the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix. Lancia couldn't send their team to Belgium, though, so they just lent Castellotti two of their D50s to enter as a privateer.
Full of emotion, Eugenio arrived at Spa with a fire lit under him. The Mercedes team were clearly the team to beat, and with the revolutionary W196, looked near unstoppable through the season. Castellotti hadn't even been to Spa before today. And yet, on the first day of practice, his lap times were falling rapidly on the near nine-mile circuit. As the day came to a close, Castellotti had already run a full-race distance in practice. But on one of his last laps, the time he set was a purely incredible 4:18.1. Half a second better than Fangio, a full second ahead of Moss. And, luckily for Castellotti, the second day was completely rained out.
All this meant that Eugenio Castellotti, in just his third Grand Prix, following the recent death of his mentor and close friend, after the withdrawal of his team and entering the race all by himself, had just beaten the near-unbeatable Mercedes to become the youngest polesitter in Formula One history.
Although his Lancia was eventually outpaced on race day by the Mercs and retired from a still-impressive third place with transmission issues, there was almost no doubt in many people's minds, that he truly was the next Ascari.
Well, one of two potential future Ascaris.

Part 3: Ferrari's Future

After the closure of Lancia, Ferrari had snapped up most of their assets, and this included Castellotti, the Prancing Horse having been impressed by the promise shown by their young countryman. Indeed, it was out with the old, in with the new at Ferrari, as Nino Farina was forced to scale back his racing commitments due to persistent injuries, and so in stepped Castellotti for the next race at the Netherlands.
The next two results weren't exactly the greatest for Eugenio, salvaging a 5th in a troublesome Ferrari in Zandvoort and transmission issues plaguing him all weekend in Aintree, retiring from his main entry, and substituting Mike Hawthorn late in the race only guaranteed them a then sixth place finish, which scored them nul points back in the 50's.
The season-ending Italian Grand Prix, though, was his first real great race for Ferrari. Having acquired the Lancia D50's, Ferrari elected to race them for the Italian Grand Prix, seeing them as much faster than the Ferrari 625s and 555s they had with them. However, throughout practice, both D50's suffered intense tyre wear with the Ferrari-contracted Englebert tyres on the oval banking as opposed to the Pirelli tyres it was designed for. So, after qualifying 4th, Castellotti switched to the supposedly lesser-competitive 555 for the race. For the opening portions of the race, he surprised everyone by sticking with the four dominant Mercedes machines, giving the tifosi something to cheer about. However, ragged Eugenio slowly fell off the pace. And up stepped his rival.
Luigi Musso was born into nobility in Rome in 1924. Being a few years Castellotti's senior, he had an earlier start into racing than him, and had impressed for the Maserati in most of his starts, including a podium in the Spanish Grand Prix and a couple of wins in non-championship Grand Prix. And him being a Roman driving for Maserati, he simply couldn't let a Milanese driving for Ferrari beat him in their home Grand Prix. So, for a good twenty-odd laps, the two battled hard, being separated by a matter of inches at some point in the Grand Prix.
Eventually, Castellotti won out as Musso's Maserati petered out after the intense battle. And with that battle won and the retirement of a few Mercedes machines, Eugenio salvaged a podium for Ferrari in their home race, ending the season with 12 total points. With other drivers like Farina and Hans Herrmann unable to complete a full season due to injury, and the inconsistency of others like Trintignant and Musso in such a short season, these 12 points were enough for Castellotti to finish third in the World Driver's Championship, best of the rest behind the Mercedes duo of Fangio and Moss. This was the best championship finish for a debutant in F1, a record that would be equalled, but never beaten for 41 years before Jacques Villeneuve finished 2nd in the 1996 championship, a record equalled by Lewis Hamilton in 2007.
Enzo Ferrari kept his services for 1956, where they'd be using the D50, now badged as a 'Lancia-Ferrari', that Castellotti had used to good effect the previous season. However, Castellotti wasn't going to spearhead the team, as with Mercedes' withdrawal from motorsport following the Le Mans disaster, Fangio made waves by signing for Ferrari. Also signing for Ferrari was Luigi Musso, setting the scene for a potential rivalry between the two rising Italian stars. Among the two, though, Ferrari seemed to prefer Castellotti, being selected to pair with Fangio for major endurance races that year, while Musso was stuck with Schell.
In Formula One, though, Musso got the early upper hand when a shared drive with Fangio led to victory for the pair of them, though that only really came to pass when multiple drivers, including Castellotti, had all sorts of mechanical issues.
If you recall from earlier, Castellotti had developed a reputation as being a wild driver, often blasting off straight from the gate before wearing out as the race goes on. However, given all that I've seen from nearly every source about Castellotti's wild driving style, it's all the more puzzling that his greatest triumphs in 1956 came in endurance racing, out of all things. The first of such victories came in the 12 hours of Sebring, where he and Fangio fought off the challenge of the Jaguar squad in the fastest Sebring 12 hours at the time. His second victory, however, was more impressive.
Back in the previous year's Mille Miglia, Castellotti was embarrassingly dominated by Moss and Denis Jenkinson before his retirement with tyre issues. He would find out later that Moss and Jenkinson were using a navigation system, which would later turn out to be a prototype for pace notes now commonly used in rallying events. Upon Jenkinson letting him know of the news, Eugenio simply shook his head, saying he couldn't possibly drive with such a navigation system.
Besides, come 1956, Castellotti would enter the Mille Miglia by himself, so there was no navigator for him to follow. If that wasn't so much of a disadvantage for him, it was made worse as the weather conditions started to turn especially nasty. Normally, drivers as manic as him would fall victim to the conditions. Indeed, another young, manic driver attempting to make a name for himself that race was Wolfgang von Trips, who, while chasing the leading driver, tripped over the tricky conditions. (I swear I'm a natural comedian guys).
But that leading driver von Trips was chasing was none other than Castellotti himself. In rain that essentially blinded the roads ahead and ferocious winds, Castellotti wasn't even fazed. He never put a foot wrong. And apart from a short stint where he had to refuel, through each control point on the course, Castellotti never lost the lead for the full 1000 miles.
Yes, you heard right. Never. Lost. The. Lead.
Denis Jenkinson, co-driver to Moss, would comment on the event: "We were not racing against Musso, Castellotti or Fangio; it seemed that we were fighting for the mere right to go on living.". And yet, in this battle for survival, Castellotti turned it into a driving masterclass. And, despite the undeniable truth that having a navigator in a thousand-mile road race would certainly help, Castellotti pulled this off all by himself. What an absolute legend.
Back to Formula One, though, his performances weren't so legendary. One thing he was very good at was qualifying, as evidenced when StatsF1 placed him 13th all-time in best average qualifying performances (min. 10 GP starts). On race-day, his starts would be fantastic, but more often than not, a whole bevy of mechanical problems would drop him down the grid. This was the case for most of 1956, retiring from 3rd in Argentina, 5th in Monaco and 4th in Belgium despite having promising starts in all these races.
In France, he got a similarly fantastic start, and actually led for a few early laps before seceding the lead to Fangio. However, once Fangio retired, Castellotti was all but in the clear and seemed to be destined to win his first ever Grand Prix and the spearhead in a Ferrari 1-2. However, teammate Peter Collins was competing for the title, and so the order was given through the pit-board for Collins to pass Castellotti for the win. One of the earliest examples of team-orders lost Castellotti his chance for an F1 victory, but he still trailed Peter Collins right on his bumper, being separated by just 0.3 seconds at the line.
After these performances, though, the wild side of Eugenio came back to form, having probably the worst race of his F1 career to date in Silverstone, dicing with many local entries and spinning out on the opening lap at the Nurburgring. Teammate and rival Musso had also had a rough season, with a crash in a sportscar event sidelining him for a couple events, not to mention every other race since his shared win in Argentina has ended with him failing to finish. With just one event left in the calendar, their home race in Monza, both Castellotti and Musso were determined to make the race their highlight of 1956. And neither wanted to give way.
Their team leader, Fangio, was well aware of their competition, despite being in a championship hunt at the time. He also remembered how the D50s ripped every tyre to shreds in the last Italian Grand Prix, so he gave Eugenio and Musso sage advice. He'd lead the way so Castellotti and Musso could pace their laps without destroying any tyres. With ten laps, he'd pull over and let Castellotti and Musso duke it out for the finish, keirin style.
Measured and steady was the advice from Fangio to the young drivers. But they didn't listen.
Instead, Musso and Castellotti went for a BALLS OUT, FLAT-OUT, BAT OUT OF HELL, NO FUCKS GIVEN, MY DICK IS BIGGER THAN YOURS, TRADIN' PAINT scrapheap for the lead the moment the green flag dropped. Castellotti was the leader for the majority of this intense battle, but Musso was nowhere near giving up. It was the battle the tifosi wanted, the two Italian drivers for the Prancing Horse, battling for supremacy on hallowed racing ground.
Of course, this battle couldn't last forever. Fangio's advice was right. The tyres on both Musso's and Castellotti's cars didn't last the whole race. They didn't even last for half distance. Heck, not even quarter-distance.
Both of their tyres completely wore out their threads by lap 4. You heard me. Lap. FOUR.
Worse for Castellotti, his stop was a measure longer than Musso's and was left playing the catch-up game. Paying no heed to his earlier lesson or Fangio's prior advice, he continued the PEDAL TO THE METAL, I DON'T GIVE A DAMN, DON'T LIFT OR YOU'RE A PUSSY strategy to catch up to Musso. And by lap nine, his tyre punctured yet again and sent him spinning onto the main straight, ending his race.
By all accounts, his 1956 season, results wise, wasn't the best. Just the two points finishes left him sixth in the championship, though to be fair his pace was far, far greater than those results indicate. In fact, over on GP Rejects, I ran an alternative championship where points were scored after just three laps. And, spoilers, CASTELLOTTI FREAKIN' WON (though admittedly thanks to dropped scores, but still).
What's more, he had plenty of things to smile about that year outside of F1. Securing his seat at Ferrari. Sharing the win with El Maestro at the Sebring 12 Hours. And finally dominating the field at the Mille Miglia. And it's not just racing achievements Castellotti had to smile about as well.

Part 4: Il Bello

Most drivers from the 50's had cool-ass nicknames. Fangio was El Maestro, also known as 'The Master'. Jose Froilan Gonzalez was known as The Pampas Bull. Luigi Fagioli was known as the goddamn ABRUZZI ROBBER. Seriously, if you were a racing driver in the 50's, it was almost part and parcel that you'd get a dope-ass nickname as a reward.
So, when Castellotti got his nickname, there was only one obvious choice: Il Bello. Put simply, The Beautiful.
And goddamn, he was beautiful. So. Damn. Beautiful. That perfect chin, the neat at hell hairstyle, those pecs...
...wait, where was I? Right. Ahem. Yeah, he was called Il Bello, and for good reason. Castellotti was ridiculously vain. He wore the finest of suits and shirts tailored exactly to how he wanted it. He kept his hair in perfect shape. He was even self-conscious about his lack of height, so much so that he often wore lifts in his shoes. He didn't earn the nickname Il Bello for nothing. And likewise, he didn't put the nickname to waste either.
Partly because of his vanity, Castellotti was definitely a ladies man. He had many short flings throughout his racing career, all of which was followed relentlessly through gossip magazines. But, in 1956, he finally found someone to settle down with. And it couldn't have come with someone more high-profile.
Delia Scala was one of Italy's leading actresses at the time, and through 1956 and 1957, was beginning the transition to the silver screen to become one of Italy's pioneering television personalities. In the summer of 1956, she met Castellotti at a restaurant, and started talking to him simply because the pale blue colour of his trousers matched the car. Eventually, conversations about matching colours became a date, and then a relationship. A relationship that apparently newspaper reporters could not get enough of. Italy's future legend in motor racing pairs up with leading young actress, both of whom were ridiculously hot. A gossip writer's wet dream.
This was two people's nightmare, though. First was Castellotti's mother, who upon meeting Scala for the first time, took her by the hand and said "You look like a waitress, the kitchen is over there". Good going, Mrs. Castellotti.
Second, and maybe more importantly, was Enzo Ferrari. He hated it when his drivers would get all caught up in intense romance, furthermore if it affected them emotionally, and even more so if it said relationship was spread over nearly every damn newspaper in Italy. He thought it'd affect their race pace and their drive to continue. And, for a while, it seemed Enzo was right.
Castellotti and Scala proposed and planned to get married in April. However, between the two, there was an intense discussion that turned into a disagreement. Scala wanted Castellotti to give up driving, fearing that it was getting too dangerous for him. However, Castellotti told Scala that she should give up acting as it would cost them time together when he wasn't racing elsewhere. I don't know where the two stood on the compromise, but it was certain that Castellotti would probably have to focus less on racing should he wish to remain with Scala.
However, on track, results were still going pretty well for Castellotti in 1957, claiming both first and third in his respective driver lineups in the 1000 km of Buenos Aires. Additionally, in the Argentine Grand Prix for 1957, he took an early lead and was launching a serious challenge to the now-dominant Maseratis, but his Ferrari, like all the other Ferraris, gave up the ghost while running in third.
As was tradition in those days, the Argentine Grand Prix and other events in South America was run in their January summer, then Formula One would take a break until May to restart that season in Monaco. With marriage around the corner, Castellotti took the time to take a nice vacation in Florence with his bride-to-be Scala, who was booked for a play there for the time being. Call it a pre-marriage honeymoon, if you will.
A pre-marriage honeymoon that got rudely interrupted by none other than Enzo Ferrari. He rang up Castellotti in a huff and instructed him to go to Modena the next day to test the Ferrari. But this was more than just some last-minute test set up by Ferrari or a call for Castellotti to deputize for another driver.
As it turns out, Jean Behra and Maserati were testing at Modena that day, and Enzo found out that they had beaten Ferrari's ultimate lap record around the Autodrome. According to some people, most notably Luigi Villoresi, Enzo Ferrari had placed a lunchtime wager on the lap record, so when he saw it got beaten, he called the first person he could find - that being Eugenio - to come down to Modena to take that record back.
Castellotti was undoubtedly fuming, having had precious time with his fiancée interrupted for a stupid lap record. But he had to listen to Enzo. Nobody dared to oppose him. On March 14th, he left Florence at 4 a.m. to make the long drive to Modena, to get suited up and get ready for practice.
On just his second or third flying lap, Castellotti lost control in the esses at the start of the lap, and the car overturned through a fence and into a (mercifully empty) grandstand. Castellotti was thrown out. The local parish priest, Don Sergio Mantovani, was present to read him the last rites as he laid dying on the track. He was only 26 years old. His wedding with Scala was just twenty-five days away.
The reason for the crash has been disputed. Jean Behra, present at the track having set the aforementioned lap record, insisted there was a problem with the gearbox, having heard it shift to neutral just before the crash. Other sources feel it was just a mistake in downshifting. Most attribute this error to the fact that Castellotti was robbed of a holiday with Scala for the pettiest of reasons, thus the claim that his mind was not in the right place. This theory was exacerbated by the fact he had to wake up extremely early and drive a considerable distance to reach Modena in the first place. The true cause of his death was still unknown. Multiple sources claim that Enzo Ferrari, upon hearing news of the crash, said something to the tune of, "Castellotti? Dead? What a pity. How's the car?"
Whatever it was, a petty debate over a trivial lap record robbed Formula One of a rising star in his prime. One who could've done so much more. And yet, despite this, his story in motor racing is extremely colourful.
He scored a podium in just his second start in F1. He was the protege to Alberto Ascari, and also heavily involved in the scene of his death. Impacted by this, he convinced a major manufacturer shutting up shop to loan him a chassis, with which he would become the youngest ever polesitter in F1 at the time. He would finish his rookie season third, a feat that remained unbeaten for 41 years. He won the Mille Miglia all by himself in downright atrocious conditions. He had a fiery rivalry with a fellow compatriot to see who would be their country's next future star. He married one of Italy's most famous celebrities at the time. And he died because of a wager set over lunch.
That is the story of 'Il Bello', Eugenio Castellotti.
Sources:
The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era by Michael Cannell
Enzo Ferrari: A Life by Richard Williams
Too Fast A Life by Martin Shepherd
Motorsport Magazine (This plus many of their contemporary race reports) -- 8W @ Forix -- Motorsport Memorial -- Ferrari Owner's Club -- Scuderia Ferrari Legends
F1 Racing (via PressReader) -- Veloce Today -- Racing Sportscars -- StatsF1 -- Revs Institute
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What Races Are Worth Betting On?

Just new to betting on the horses. Only previously put a few bets on out of boredom, but have found so far I’m alright at picking them - enjoyed some success at Aintree.
I just wanted to know what races are worth betting on? Obviously everyday isn’t going to be as big as the National, but I don’t want to be betting on races that aren’t worth it or silly bets. Or do you just go with whatever is on that day?
Sound like a complete novice and probably a stupid question. But just want to make sure I’m not wasting my time or money.
submitted by Grant_King to HorseRacingUK [link] [comments]

Cheltenham 2019 - Tuesday bets

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve uploaded two previews for Tuesday: Supreme & Arkle. smithmustscore has also given you a preview of the Champion Hurdle, too, and I am fully on board that train. This is just to go through the other races on the card.

Ultima.

When I was studying recent renewals of this race, I expected to see that to win this valuable handicap horses would need to have significant amounts in hand of the handicapper - but that’s not actually true. Since 2010, only ONE horse has had to show any improvement on their previous best to win this, Coo Star Sivola last year, with the other eight winners all running between one and four lbs below their best on Timeform Ratings. What you need to win this is an experienced chaser with a touch of class, and there is one in here that’s the classiest of them all. The biggest Cheltenham cliche is spotting one in a handicap which has been “laid out for it”. It’s true of most festival fields, so it goes without saying. Except this time, I’m sorry, I must point out the obvious and say that Minella Rocco has been laid out for this. Well, if not this then the Grand National, but there’s no reason he won’t win this on the way. Since finishing second in Sizing John’s Gold Cup he hasn’t shown any form of note, but that performance stands up in terms of form and on the clock. After that performance he got hike up to 166 by the handicapper and didn’t take up the National that year, presumably with the aim being to win the Aintree showpiece the following year and from a much lower weight. Jonjo spent the next 12 months getting his mark down to a workable 155, but last year the ground was too soft for him to run. In two runs this season he has shown little since, but for the first time since that Gold Cup he has got a tongue-tie and cheek-pieces combo back on, and he’s had a nice little spin over hurdles LTO in preparation for this - the same prep that Alfie Sherrin had in 2012, who also won this for the same jockey, trainer and owner. He is the best horse in this field, and one of the best handicapped, he’s still only nine years old, and as far I’m concerned the only thing that stands between him and first place is his jumping ability. If he jumps well he wins this, and if he takes to the Grand National fences he wins that too.

Mares.

I have no strong opinion on this. Benie Des Dieux, on her best form, deserves to be about even money. Roksana would be my pick against her - won a Grade 2 Mares’ race last season, and then a screamer when second to Santini in a Grade 1 at Aintree. She’s only ran once this season, but that’s as clear a prep as you’ll ever see and I would trust Dan Skelton to have her primed for this.

Close Brothers.

This race tends to be won by a horse who is still improving - only one renewal since 2010 did a horse win this without doing so, and that was Ballyalton in 2016. There’s one in here who I found surprising to still be a novice, who is lightly raced enough to still be better than we have seen and who looks on a really good mark, and that’s Movewiththetimes. He ran some really good races in his first novice season - five lengths behind North Hill Harvey and Sceau Royal, and then two lengths behind Finian’s Oscar - but always had a mistake in him. He looked to have put that behind him when running a blinder in the BetVictor Gold Cup back in November as he jumped like a stag and looked set for third, before then over-reaching at the last and falling. Ahead of him that day he had Baron Alco, who was in the form of his life, and Frodon who has since won a big handicap from a rating of 164 and a Grade 2, and will probably be in the frame of the Ryanair. He was on a mark of 140 then, and 140 now, but this looks a less-hot race. You need to show about 5lbs worth of improvement to win this, but he has easily got that in hand of the handicapper. The fact he hasn’t been seen since suggests that connections think he’s too well handicapped to waste that anywhere but here - this team did something similar with Le Prezien to win the Grand Annual last year, in terms of putting one away and bringing them here fresh. He’s currently 7th favourite at around 17/1 on Betfair Exchange, but he often gets backed and it wouldn’t be a surprise were he to be a money horse on the day.

National Hunt.

I think Ballyward is the nap of the day. He has just gone 4.00 favourite on Betfair Exchange, but I think he will go off a lot shorter because, at the moment, OK Corral is holding up his price. OK Corral doesn’t really strike me as a four miler and Nicky Henderson’s record of training horses over really long distances does not inspire - since 1997, he has only trained 3 winners of races longer than 3m3f from 87 attempts since 1997. Willie Mullins, meanwhile, has trained the winner of this twice with a further three hitting the frame. He has only had two starts over fences, but he’s a solid jumper and his performance LTO shows he’s clearly the best horse in this race. It is the best chasing performance on the clock from any in here, and the form has been franked as the horses he beat by 11 and 12 lengths respectively, on their next start finished first and second in a Grade 2. Discorama did fall when meeting Ballyward and is definitely over-priced at 8.00, but I do think Ballyward would have won anyway. For me, his price should be somewhere between 3.00 and 3.50, so while he’s still available at 4.00 he’s worth backing and probably worth doubling up with Apple’s Jade.

My bets for Tuesday.
- Apple's Jade is ante-post. If he drifts, I will also back Buveur D'air to cover myself.
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Champion Hurdle Preview

For me, this usurps the Gold Cup as the race of the festival with Buveur D'Air seeking to become the 6th horse to win 3 consecutive Champion Hurdles (Hatton's Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War, See You Then and Istabraq being the other 5). He faces Apple's Jade who has been completely dominant this season, Laurina who destroyed the Mares' Novices Hurdle at the meeting last year and 7 further contenders.
 
Brain Power is the choice of Nico De Boinville ahead of Verdana Blue and he looked rejuvenated by the switch back to hurdles when winning the International Hurdle. He beat Silver Streak on that day and did so with a fair amount to spare although the runner-up would have finished closer were it not for some poor jumping (he was also forced to give Brain Power 4lbs). He was disappointing as a 13/2 shot in the race in 2017 after impressive handicap performances. I'd argue his International Hurdle win was a career best performance so a better showing would be expected this year. The Racing Post, taking into account the weight allowance, has him level with Silver Streak performing to an RPR of 159. That seems to be the right sort of figure with Western Ryder a reliable yardstick in behind. Possible he improves on that performance here, he did idle late and should have place chances.
 
Buveur D'Air has more questions to answer than his price suggests. Yes, he's won 2 Champion Hurdles but he only scraped home last year and his form has plenty of holes in. Vision Des Flos would have likely found the Contenders Hurdle trip too sharp, certainly based on his improved performance at Fontwell. He got beaten by Verdana Blue at Kempton after a bad mistake and should reverse the form here but it still wasn't quite as sparkling as his 2017 efforts. To quite a large extent, this is partly by design since the races he's contested have resembled processions. The Fighting Fifth form looked phenomenal at the time but everything in behind ran below form, even Vision Des Flos in my opinion. This is the toughest Champion Hurdle he's faced and I've not seen anything to convince me he's in the same form as 2017 now the Newcastle form looks dodgy. You'd have to doubt whether his performance in the race last year is sufficient to beat Apple's Jade with the mares' allowance.
 
Espoir D'Allen was very well regarded last season amongst the Juvenile hurdle division and was, quite wisely, put away after running miles below form at the Dublin Racing Festival. He confirmed his impression as last season's best juvenile with 2 wins in 4 y-o Grade 3's and stepped up to open company last time. He beat Stormy Ireland with a similar ease to Laurina in the latter of those 2 events but it's hard to infer too much from that. His latest win was against 4 horses who seem to be past their best and I struggle to see how he's a backable proposition for this. Like Laurina he could be anything but his form is basically liquid. Surprising if he's up to this, but very encouraging if he got in the frame.
 
Global Citizen won't be the only horse to improve a colossal amount for leaving Jonjo O'Neill and he bounced back from a poor Kempton run to win very impressively last time. His 2 wins this season have both come left-handed but David Bass is going to be fighting a losing battle to stop this horse from going to the front. If he succeeds, I could see this horse improving 10lbs or more but Haydock showed it will be tough. He has enough natural talent to win a race like this but he's vulnerable to be taking on out in front. He's related to De Plotting Shed and A Hare Breath so I'd be worried that he might deteriorate next season. Could be a case of now or never and I don't think he's tactically versatile enough for this. That said, the absence of Charli Parcs is a help and possible he doesn’t have as much competition as first feared.
 
Melon enters the race in disappointing form, a bit similar to last year although there has been a regression. Nevertheless, his record around Cheltenham is really good. Obviously, he gave Buveur D'Air a race last year and was 2nd in the Supreme on only his 2nd hurdles start and 1st in graded company. He was 3rd in the International Hurdle last season as well. Aside from a maiden hurdle win, he's been unplaced in all 3 starts at Leopardstown so I'd expect a better showing here. First-time cheekpieces provide further optimism that he could step up significantly for the return to the Festival. Townend is also the only jockey bar Ruby to actually get a good run out of the horse.
 
Sharjah looks 3rd string on jockey bookings but I think his form is strongest (this season) of the Mullins trio. He won the Morgiana and Ryanair Hurdle after finishing behind Bedrock and Samcro at Down Royal (Bedrock would have been a significant player here). This built on his Galway Hurdle win (on going described as soft). Don’t think the Ryanair Hurdle win was desperately strong form with Supasundae running below form all season and Tombstone finishing 3rd. Nevertheless, he did that with yielding in the going description. Possible that he won’t be completely inconvenienced by slower ground here. His Morgiana win was very impressive and many people, although I’m not one of them, seem to think the 2nd horse - Faugheen has a very good chance in the Stayers. He can come from the back like Melon and might be able to pick up the pieces if the front-runners go too quick.
 
Silver Streak has been a huge eyecatcher in almost every handicap he’s run in. Unfortunately, his jumping has rarely been excellent and his trainer has performed a u-turn to run the horse here after expressing concerns about his jumping ability. The stronger the pace the better and he would have got closer to Brain Power were it not for jumping errors and a 4lb penalty. He has plenty of raw ability, more than enough to get involved here but whether he ever displays it is another matter.
 
Apple’s Jade receives the mares allowance putting her well clear of Buveur D’Air in my eyes. She might have preferred tackling that rival in the Aintree Hurdle but her 2 mile form has stepped up a gear this season. She looked to be holding Faugheen over Christmas and has dispensed with all her opponents with ease this season. Last season ended poorly but I don’t buy the argument that she doesn’t like Cheltenham. Her disappointing Mares run last year was backed up by a similar disappointment at Punchestown where she had won easily twice before. In 2017 she won the strongest Mares Hurdle ever ran beating Limini and Vroum Vroum Mag. Whilst that wouldn’t be enough to make her favourite here (particularly as Vroum Vroum Mag had a terrible prep) her 2nd in the Triumph on only her 2nd hurdles start reads well. If anybody wants to argue this season has been a flash in the pan, re-watch her Anniversary Grade 1 win at Aintree. She won by 41 lengths against what could have been a better than average crop. There is a risk she’ll be in season for the Champion Hurdle but connections had kept her in the Mares Hurdle until declarations so they may feel that risk has gone with a change in training methods. She’s also best with a recent run behind her, so 38 days should be OK.
 
Laurina is unbeaten but she’s never raced against a gelding which highlights how weak her races have been. Her latest run was probably a career best if you account for the favourable way the Mares’ Novices was run last season (her main rival got caught in a pace war with Laurina’s pacemaker). She’s been impressive and gets the allowance but trying to guess the merit of her performances probably requires a number generator between 150 and 180. Ruby Walsh picks her, but he made the wrong call in the race last year so it shouldn’t be treated as gospel. Another bone to pick with Laurina is her hurdling technique which has been lamented by far better judges than myself. She’s a very big mare and one wonders whether connections missed a trick not sending her chasing this season. Her last 3 runs (although one was a match) have been over further trips and, possibly likes Apple’s Jade, would have been suited by a go at the Aintree Hurdle rather than this speed test. Unlike Apple’s Jade, she hasn’t proved herself over 2 miles in open company. With so many unknowns, I think she falls into the Espoir D’Allen category of “could be anything”. How she’s a bet at current prices is beyond me.
 
Verdana Blue beat Buveur D’Air at Kempton but you’d strongly suspect a form reversal at Cheltenham. The reigning champion made a bad mistake and Verdana Blue would have been suited both by the quick ground and the nature of Kempton. That shouldn’t preclude her from having place claims however. Firstly, her latest defeat on the flat came at the hands of a promising horse in Gumball (who connections regarded, last season, as similar to Detroit City). Secondly, Gumball was given a superb ride by Oisin Murphy after missing the break. She gets the mares allowance and she’s obviously improved this season but she really wouldn’t want it too soft. Davy Russell a good booking for her run style.
 
Bet365 prices
Apple's Jade 9/4
Buveur D'Air 9/4
Laurina 7/2
Sharjah 12/1
Melon 14/1
Verdana Blue 16/1
Espoir D'Allen 16/1
Brain Power 20/1
Global Citizen 33/1
Silver Streak 50/1
 
Summary: I think 2 of the front 3 are vulnerable here. Assessing Laurina's form is complete guesswork and I'm not convinced that this is the trip, obstacles or class of race she requires. At 7/2, I think she's one of the worst bets at the festival. Buveur D'Air has not had many opportunities to match his 2017 form, so some allowance can be made but you'd have wanted to seen a better showing at Kempton even allowing for the mistake and, more crucially, in this race last year. Unlike Laurina, I'd suggest he's roughly the right price. Some of Laurina's implied % chance should be transferred to Apple's Jade in my opinion. The Cheltenham fears have been overblown and she's produced some exceptional performances this season, where she would have been entitled to win by much smaller margins and still contend here.
This is not a 3-horse race with the 7 remaining horses entitled to line up. Global Citizen would be interesting if he got an easy lead but that depends largely on what Jack Kennedy decides to do. As an eachway alternative to the main 3 I'd be torn between Brain Power and Melon with Silver Streak's jumping too poor on reflection. Brain Power is interesting mostly based on one performance, his International Hurdle win which might actually have more substance than any of Buveur D'Air's form this season (although probably below his 2018 Champion Hurdle win). Melon was 2nd in this race last season and shouldn't be too harshly judged on this season's efforts at a track he doesn't like.
 
I'm on at much bigger prices with Apple's Jade but if I was playing the race now I'd probably go (2pt Win @ 9/4). Given I'm undecided between Brain Power and Melon, that will suffice.
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Aintree Festival - Day One tips

Also available at my blog. We're currently losing to the tune of 6.525pts (represents a -14.2% ROI) but it's early days yet - I've only tipped at three meetings.
https://valueburglar.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/aintree-gn-festival-2019-day-one-tips/
Uttoxeter provided a lovely bit of profit with Poker Play slamming home at 25/1 for… Well, probably just for me, as you’d have been mad to follow me on the back of Cheltenham. Here are a couple of mini thoughts ahead of the first day at Aintree – though, of course, the Big One is what it’s all about:
1.45 – La Bague Au Roi @ 13/8 – 2pts win. She gets 7lbs and Greatrex swerved Cheltenham with Aintree always as the plan. I can’t help but think she’s the most likely winner and I’m happy to be an unimaginative favourite back for once. Kalashnikov and Glen Forsa weren’t as tidy as many seem to think over the Arkle before the URs, so I’m happy to take them on.
2.20 – Christopher Wood @ 12/1 – 0.5pts e/w (Betfair and Paddy Power, 1/5 1-3). With nine runners and three places in this race, we’ve got near-optimal value thievery, and Christopher Wood is similar in some respects to Pentland Hills in terms of exposure before the latter’s Triumph victory (marred, of course, by the devastating fatality of Sir Erec). He can only beat what’s against him, and did so very well the last twice, so can definitely come on and take a chunk out of one of the top three – most likely Fakir D’Oudairies in the market.
2.50 – Kemboy @ 5/2 – 2pts win (Bet365, Sky Bet and others). He’s essentially fresh after unseating at the first in the Gold Cup (easily excused as tight for room), and the more I look back at his Leopardstown win at Christmas, the more I like his chances. The price is probably fair, but again, I’m happy to be unimaginative.
3.25 – no bet. Buveur D’Air should win this. Maybe Silver Streak can be admirable in defeat again, but this isn’t really a race for me, despite Silver Streak, Summerville Boy and Brain Power all offering each way scumbaggery options.
4.05 – Seefood @ 16/1 – 0.5pts e/w (Ladbrokes, PP, Coral, 1/5 1-5). A very open race in which I think Road to Rome is definitely the most likely winner, but the odds are prohibitive. As with all double figure priced shots, we have risks attached here, but he knows the fences and won last time out, so worth a shot with five places paid.
4.40 – Lady Buttons @ 8/1 – 1pt win (365, PP, Betfair and others), and Movie Legend @ 16/1 – 0.5pts e/w (SkyBet, Hills, PP etc – 1/5 1-5). I think 8s is a fair price for Lady Buttons, who’s really likeable and has run very very well over all obstacles this season. Movie Legend looks potentially progressive though this demands more, but he’s been incredibly consistent and I hope that can continue.
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Tipster Club: Aintree Festival 2017, Saturday - Tips

RULES:
 
SATURDAY 8th APRIL CARD:
 
 
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Betfred to Sponsor Crabbies Grand National Festival

It has just been announced that leading betting company Betfred that will be an official sponsor of The Crabbie’s Grand National Festival. Betfred recently signed a three year sponsorship deal, which will make the company the betting partner of races that have been specially named in its honour as the Grand Opening Day Betfred Bowl Steeple Chase, the Ladies Day Betfred Mobile Mildmay Novices’ Steeple Chase and the Grand National Day Betfred TV Handicap Steeple Chase. This vibrant three day festival will be held at Aintree from April 3rd until April 5th and was established 175 years ago. This is one of the most famous races in the world and is sure to attract a lot of attention from people who gather to watch the fun unfold on televisions all around the globe. In a recent interview John Baker, who is the Aintree and northwest regional director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said that he was pleased to be working closely with Betfred during the races as they two companies have a very good working relationship. He added that Betfred has a particularly good reputation and as the company already partners Jockey Club Racecourses at Haydock Park, they were the natural choice to sponsor this prestigious race. Betfred recently completed the successful purchase of Tote and the company currently operates some 1,380 gambling outlets throughout the United Kingdom. Betfred has sponsored more than six hundred races in the past, including popular Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup as well as the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup, which took place last year at Haydock Park Racecourse.
from
via Casinoreviews
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Testellotti

Hey y'all, been a while away thanks to university, and it kinda sucked the wind out of me writing stuff about F1 for a while. But never mind that, I'm back.
This will be the start of a little series of mine, where I focus on F1 drivers that should be recognised for their stories behind their career, yet for some reason, are barely footnotes in history. You all know the story of Ascari and Fangio, of Lauda and Hunt, of Prost and Senna, of Schumacher and Hakkinen and so on. However, there are many more stories of drivers that don't receive the attention they deserve. Whether stories of success or failure, glory or ignominy, tragedy or happiness, these stories are worthy of remembering and retelling. This little series of posts are not Random Driver Highlights, given how they're not...y'know, random. But instead, they'll each have their own post, cause they deserve it.
The first driver I want to spotlight is an Italian driver for Ferrari in the 1950's. His story isn't that unknown, but compared to his contemporaries, it's very, very hidden unless you search for his name. He was F1's youngest polesitter at the time, with that record lasting for 13 years. He is directly involved with the death of a legend of a sport. He dated a rather famous Italian celebrity that got them on gossip pages. And he was very, very handsome. Like, ridiculously handsome.
This is the story of Eugenio Castellotti.

Eugenio Castellotti

STATISTICS
Nationality: Italian
Years in F1: 1955-57
Teams Raced For: Lancia, Ferrari
Entries: 14
Starts: 14
Podium Finishes: 3
Pole Positions: 1 (1955 Belgian Grand Prix)
Points: 19.5
Highest Finish: 2nd (Twice -- 1955 Monaco and 1956 French Grands Prix)
Good looks: On a scale from 1-10, he was a goddamn 17.

Part 1: Baby You're a Rich Kid

Every report on how Castellotti began his career states that it was due to his wealth, being able to buy a Ferrari sportscar at the young age of 20. Most 20 year-olds would be worrying about paying off their university fees, but here was Eugenio, buying himself a Ferrari. So, naturally, the narrative was that he had a mollycoddled childhood by two rich, wealthy parents and was able to buy his way into motorsport. Right?
Well...not quite. I think. His mother, Angela, according to some accounts, was unmarried and only sixteen when she gave birth to Eugenio. Not to mention that his father, a very, very wealthy lawyer, reportedly first met Eugenio at the age 9. Most other sources just hook onto the fact that his family was wealthy, but if the above is true, that his dad impregnated someone at 16 and didn't bother taking care of their child until nine years later, life may not have been that rosy for young Eugenio as some sources claim.
Eugenio, however, quickly gained a fascination for cars, and supposedly learned how to drive through the Castellotti's family driver. As he grew up, he even tried to fake his age to obtain a driving license. Despite the probable family tensions between his mom and his dad for, well, that situation, there was one thing that both his parents agreed on: that Castellotti should not race. They became increasingly restrictive with Castellotti's passion, but that probably drove young Eugenio further into getting a racing career.
This was until his dad died when Eugenio was either 12 or 19. I don't know this for sure as sources are picky, but more sources point towards 19. Because, when his dad died, he left a massive, and I mean massive, inheritance to Eugenio. I don't know how much, but damn if it didn't look like Loadsamoney. From there, Eugenio went into a manic shopping spree, often fancying finely-tailored suits here and there. However, still against his mother's wishes, Eugenio used his money to explore his passion, motor racing.
And that's how Eugenio Castellotti bought his first Ferrari, a 166MM sportscar, at the young age of 20. But, unlike most ridiculously rich youth of the generation, he didn't buy the 166MM to stare at it in his garage every once in a while. He was going to race it.
However, Castellotti figured that the best way to start off racing wouldn't be a few simple club races, oh no. His first race was the gruelling 1,080-kilometre Tour of Sicily, where he unsurprisingly failed to finish. Not to be perturbed by this little blip, Castellotti opted to enter the frikin' Mille Miglia, or 1000 Miles in Italian, probably one of the grandest road races ever. There, he actually finished a credible 6th in class and 50th in an overall field of 322 starters. As inexperienced as he was, Castellotti proved he wasn't just a regular rich kid who bought his way into racing. His first two races were only two of the toughest sportscar races, and by golly did he do well.
Into 1952, and Castellotti's form in sportscars just got better and better over time, leading to his first win in the Gold Cup at Pescara. Buoyed by all this success, he felt it was about time he entered the grandest event of all, the Monaco Grand Prix. However, it wouldn't be his first Formula One start. The Monaco Grand Prix was going through some financial difficulties, and with radical changes in rules in the World Driver's Championship, the organisers played a safe bet and hosted the 1952 Grand Prix for sports cars instead.
That's not to say the field was any weaker, though. A number of British up-and-comers like Stirling Moss and Peter Collins entered, not to mention crafty French veterans in Robert Manzon and Louis Rosier. Entering a Grand Prix of such prestige so early in his career, Castellotti would have his work cut out for him.
However, Castellotti showed an oddly cool head when everyone lost theirs, especially when Stirling Moss and other drivers ploughed into Reg Parnell's broken down Aston Martin. Following the pile-up it would be Castellotti who would inherit the lead from Vittorio Marzotto. However, the heat would take its both drivers and cars, and both had to make a mandatory pit stop to attend to both the cars and drivers.
According to urban legend, when Castellotti stopped, he also requested for a bottle of Coke. Apparently, this slowed Castellotti's stop significantly, maybe because Coke was hard to source in Monaco, or Castellotti just had to sip Coke leisurely, I don't know. Whatever the case, this was enough to hand the lead back to Marzotto, who went on to win the Monaco Grand Prix.
Castellotti's performance, where he lost the Monaco Grand Prix to a bottle of Coke, didn't go unnoticed, though, and despite a lucky escape in Vila Real where marshals carried him out of the way from an oncoming pileup, through the next two years, including a win at the Portuguese Grand Prix in 1952 and the Messina 10 hours in 1953.
His shot at the big time, though, was just on the horizon. And it would come from none other than the reigning champion of Formula 1, Alberto Ascari.

Part 2: Lancia's Lancer

In his career so far, Castellotti had just been entering races as a privateer, mainly entering with Ferrari's purchased from his father's inheritance. Being a relatively youthful driver in the sport, he was seen as one of Italy's brightest young talents to carry Italy's motorsport image into the future, so he was probably in high demand. It would probably be just a matter of time before he got snapped up.
Then he met Alberto Ascari. Holder of the record for most consecutive victories in F1 at the time (and all the way until 2013) and had secured his second consecutive World Driver's Championship by the time of the Italian Grand Prix, when he met the young Castellotti. Despite his service for Ferrari, pay disputes and other issues led the current reigning champion to leave the Prancing Horse and join, out of all teams, Lancia, who were all set to make their leap into Formula One.
And, out of all people, Ascari hand-picked both his mentor, Luigi Villoresi, and his now-protege, Eugenio Castellotti, to join him in Lancia. Yep, he was handpicked by probably the best driver in the world to not only be his teammate for the upcoming season, but also taken under his wing as his protege.
Lancia had doubts over his drive, though, after a dismal showing at the Nurburgring 1000km, but those doubts were cast aside after a brilliant third place in the Carrera Panamericana. Heck, sources say him and teammate Piero Taruffi could have actually contested for the win, but received orders from above to hold station behind leader Fangio to play it safe, already having a massive lead to the rest of the field and to keep a 1-2-3 finish for Lancia.
However, for 1954, Lancia's F1 project encountered delay after delay. Not quite as delayed as "The Thief and the Cobbler", but still, delayed by a lot. So much so that they let Ascari and Villoresi race for other teams while they continued to toil over their chassis.
Castellotti, meanwhile, didn't follow down their path. He remained loyal to Lancia and, as their 'junior driver', was given the opportunity to race in a multitude of sportscar events. However, instead of anticipated success, Eugenio recorded DNF after DNF after DNF in many sportscar races, from the Sebring 12 hours to Mille Miglia to Targa Florio, poor Castellotti didn't have anything going right for him in 1954, save for winning his second Italian Mountain Championship on the trot in hillclimbing. And when Lancia were finally able to enter their long-awaited D50 in the season-closing race at Spain, they only had enough for Ascari and Villoresi, leaving Castellotti by the sidelines once again.
1955 came around, and finally Lancia were ready with their D50 project. It took a while, but come the Argentine Grand Prix, Eugenio was all ready to step foot into the big leagues, Formula One. However, as most people who know their F1 history, the 1955 Argentine Grand Prix was probably the worst race possible to take your first steps in F1. The heat was held in mind-melting temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.
Not only was it mind-melting, but also car-melting. This proved to be the case when Villoresi's Lancia gave up on lap 2. As shared drives were essentially part-and-parcel with Formula One at the time, Castellotti was relieved by Villoresi on lap 20 to cut his first Formula One start short. Probably mercifully, too, as Villoresi wrecked the Lancia just 15 laps later.
The next race for him at Monaco, though, finally showed off what Castellotti was capable of. He qualified a stellar fourth in just his second race for Lancia, and in his first lap, moved up the field with a great start and this downright bonkers overtake for 1955 standards on Stirling Moss at the station hairpin to take second on lap one. After a crazy battle with Moss early on, Moss's Mercedes dominance won out and Castellotti settled into a battle for third with teammate Ascari and Jean Behra.
In that battle, though, Castellotti cut a tyre after driving too aggressively and mounting several kerbs on the streets of Monaco, forcing a pitstop that dropped him to ninth, essentially being a precursor to the crazed, balls-out driving style that Castellotti would go on to develop with time in future Formula One starts. However, the dashing youngster here was only in his second race, and yet, thanks to some retirements and some seriously impressive driving, Castellotti came in second place in just his second Grand Prix start, a result that undoubtedly would've been a victory had it not been for the tyre trouble mentioned earlier.
One of those retirements, though, was his mentor and teammate, Ascari, as he ploughed through barriers and past bollards into the Monaco harbour in one of F1's most famous crashes never filmed, primarily because all the focus was on Stirling Moss' smoking Mercedes just ahead in the pitlane. Despite the frightening looking crash and the aftermath, Ascari mercifully left the accident scene with nothing more than a broken nose.
This was bad for Castellotti, as just the week after that, he and Ascari were teaming up to drive a Ferrari 750 Monza for the Supercortemaggiore in Monza. On the 26th of May, 1955, Castellotti and Villoresi were ready to test the unpainted, newly developed car before the race, and had invited Ascari to spectate, probably to give advice to young Eugenio like he always had, or just to see how the car handled before their upcoming event. Impulsively, during a break in action before lunch, Ascari elected to drive the car for a few laps. Some say it was to test the car he was due to race in a couple of days, others say it was to test his psyche and get back on track after his mammoth crash in Monaco.
Dressed in a suit and tie, he didn't have any racing gear on him, especially his lucky blue helmet, still under repair from his accident in Monaco. So, without thinking, he borrowed Castellotti's helmet and set out for a few laps. On the third lap, at Curva Vialone, Ascari spun out, either due to ill-effects from Monaco, distractions from his flapping tie, or someone or something crossing the track ahead of him. The car proceeded to somersault, killing the two-time champion.
Castellotti was distraught. He was one of the first at the scene and saw his close friend and mentor pass in front of his very eyes. He lent Ascari his helmet that allowed him to test the car in the first place. Emotionally, he was probably a mess. Yet, at the same time, he was probably more driven than ever.
Which was why it came to be a shock when Lancia announced their immediate withdrawal from Formula One. It was partially due to the loss of their stalwart, but financial problems had also been piling on the Italian outfit, which was the main reason for their withdrawal. Unperturbed, though, Castellotti begged them to participate in the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix. Lancia couldn't send their team to Belgium, though, so they just lent Castellotti two of their D50s to enter as a privateer.
Full of emotion, Eugenio arrived at Spa with a fire lit under him. The Mercedes team were clearly the team to beat, and with the revolutionary W196, looked near unstoppable through the season. Castellotti hadn't even been to Spa before today. And yet, on the first day of practice, his lap times were falling rapidly on the near nine-mile circuit. As the day came to a close, Castellotti had already run a full-race distance in practice. But on one of his last laps, the time he set was a purely incredible 4:18.1. Half a second better than Fangio, a full second ahead of Moss. And, luckily for Castellotti, the second day was completely rained out.
All this meant that Eugenio Castellotti, in just his third Grand Prix, following the recent death of his mentor and close friend, after the withdrawal of his team and entering the race all by himself, had just beaten the near-unbeatable Mercedes to become the youngest polesitter in Formula One history.
Although his Lancia was eventually outpaced on race day by the Mercs and retired from a still-impressive third place with transmission issues, there was almost no doubt in many people's minds, that he truly was the next Ascari.
Well, one of two potential future Ascaris.

Part 3: Ferrari's Future

After the closure of Lancia, Ferrari had snapped up most of their assets, and this included Castellotti, the Prancing Horse having been impressed by the promise shown by their young countryman. Indeed, it was out with the old, in with the new at Ferrari, as Nino Farina was forced to scale back his racing commitments due to persistent injuries, and so in stepped Castellotti for the next race at the Netherlands.
The next two results weren't exactly the greatest for Eugenio, salvaging a 5th in a troublesome Ferrari in Zandvoort and transmission issues plaguing him all weekend in Aintree, retiring from his main entry, and substituting Mike Hawthorn late in the race only guaranteed them a then sixth place finish, which scored them nul points back in the 50's.
The season-ending Italian Grand Prix, though, was his first real great race for Ferrari. Having acquired the Lancia D50's, Ferrari elected to race them for the Italian Grand Prix, seeing them as much faster than the Ferrari 625s and 555s they had with them. However, throughout practice, both D50's suffered intense tyre wear with the Ferrari-contracted Englebert tyres on the oval banking as opposed to the Pirelli tyres it was designed for. So, after qualifying 4th, Castellotti switched to the supposedly lesser-competitive 555 for the race. For the opening portions of the race, he surprised everyone by sticking with the four dominant Mercedes machines, giving the tifosi something to cheer about. However, ragged Eugenio slowly fell off the pace. And up stepped his rival.
Luigi Musso was born into nobility in Rome in 1924. Being a few years Castellotti's senior, he had an earlier start into racing than him, and had impressed for the Maserati in most of his starts, including a podium in the Spanish Grand Prix and a couple of wins in non-championship Grand Prix. And him being a Roman driving for Maserati, he simply couldn't let a Milanese driving for Ferrari beat him in their home Grand Prix. So, for a good twenty-odd laps, the two battled hard, being separated by a matter of inches at some point in the Grand Prix.
Eventually, Castellotti won out as Musso's Maserati petered out after the intense battle. And with that battle won and the retirement of a few Mercedes machines, Eugenio salvaged a podium for Ferrari in their home race, ending the season with 12 total points. With other drivers like Farina and Hans Herrmann unable to complete a full season due to injury, and the inconsistency of others like Trintignant and Musso in such a short season, these 12 points were enough for Castellotti to finish third in the World Driver's Championship, best of the rest behind the Mercedes duo of Fangio and Moss. This was the best championship finish for a debutant in F1, a record that would be equalled, but never beaten for 41 years before Jacques Villeneuve finished 2nd in the 1996 championship, a record equalled by Lewis Hamilton in 2007.
Enzo Ferrari kept his services for 1956, where they'd be using the D50, now badged as a 'Lancia-Ferrari', that Castellotti had used to good effect the previous season. However, Castellotti wasn't going to spearhead the team, as with Mercedes' withdrawal from motorsport following the Le Mans disaster, Fangio made waves by signing for Ferrari. Also signing for Ferrari was Luigi Musso, setting the scene for a potential rivalry between the two rising Italian stars. Among the two, though, Ferrari seemed to prefer Castellotti, being selected to pair with Fangio for major endurance races that year, while Musso was stuck with Schell.
In Formula One, though, Musso got the early upper hand when a shared drive with Fangio led to victory for the pair of them, though that only really came to pass when multiple drivers, including Castellotti, had all sorts of mechanical issues.
If you recall from earlier, Castellotti had developed a reputation as being a wild driver, often blasting off straight from the gate before wearing out as the race goes on. However, given all that I've seen from nearly every source about Castellotti's wild driving style, it's all the more puzzling that his greatest triumphs in 1956 came in endurance racing, out of all things. The first of such victories came in the 12 hours of Sebring, where he and Fangio fought off the challenge of the Jaguar squad in the fastest Sebring 12 hours at the time. His second victory, however, was more impressive.
Back in the previous year's Mille Miglia, Castellotti was embarrassingly dominated by Moss and Denis Jenkinson before his retirement with tyre issues. He would find out later that Moss and Jenkinson were using a navigation system, which would later turn out to be a prototype for pace notes now commonly used in rallying events. Upon Jenkinson letting him know of the news, Eugenio simply shook his head, saying he couldn't possibly drive with such a navigation system.
Besides, come 1956, Castellotti would enter the Mille Miglia by himself, so there was no navigator for him to follow. If that wasn't so much of a disadvantage for him, it was made worse as the weather conditions started to turn especially nasty. Normally, drivers as manic as him would fall victim to the conditions. Indeed, another young, manic driver attempting to make a name for himself that race was Wolfgang von Trips, who, while chasing the leading driver, tripped over the tricky conditions. (I swear I'm a natural comedian guys).
But that leading driver von Trips was chasing was none other than Castellotti himself. In rain that essentially blinded the roads ahead and ferocious winds, Castellotti wasn't even fazed. He never put a foot wrong. And apart from a short stint where he had to refuel, through each control point on the course, Castellotti never lost the lead for the full 1000 miles.
Yes, you heard right. Never. Lost. The. Lead.
Denis Jenkinson, co-driver to Moss, would comment on the event: "We were not racing against Musso, Castellotti or Fangio; it seemed that we were fighting for the mere right to go on living.". And yet, in this battle for survival, Castellotti turned it into a driving masterclass. And, despite the undeniable truth that having a navigator in a thousand-mile road race would certainly help, Castellotti pulled this off all by himself. What an absolute legend.
Back to Formula One, though, his performances weren't so legendary. One thing he was very good at was qualifying, as evidenced when StatsF1 placed him 13th all-time in best average qualifying performances (min. 10 GP starts). On race-day, his starts would be fantastic, but more often than not, a whole bevy of mechanical problems would drop him down the grid. This was the case for most of 1956, retiring from 3rd in Argentina, 5th in Monaco and 4th in Belgium despite having promising starts in all these races.
In France, he got a similarly fantastic start, and actually led for a few early laps before seceding the lead to Fangio. However, once Fangio retired, Castellotti was all but in the clear and seemed to be destined to win his first ever Grand Prix and the spearhead in a Ferrari 1-2. However, teammate Peter Collins was competing for the title, and so the order was given through the pit-board for Collins to pass Castellotti for the win. One of the earliest examples of team-orders lost Castellotti his chance for an F1 victory, but he still trailed Peter Collins right on his bumper, being separated by just 0.3 seconds at the line.
After these performances, though, the wild side of Eugenio came back to form, having probably the worst race of his F1 career to date in Silverstone, dicing with many local entries and spinning out on the opening lap at the Nurburgring. Teammate and rival Musso had also had a rough season, with a crash in a sportscar event sidelining him for a couple events, not to mention every other race since his shared win in Argentina has ended with him failing to finish. With just one event left in the calendar, their home race in Monza, both Castellotti and Musso were determined to make the race their highlight of 1956. And neither wanted to give way.
Their team leader, Fangio, was well aware of their competition, despite being in a championship hunt at the time. He also remembered how the D50s ripped every tyre to shreds in the last Italian Grand Prix, so he gave Eugenio and Musso sage advice. He'd lead the way so Castellotti and Musso could pace their laps without destroying any tyres. With ten laps, he'd pull over and let Castellotti and Musso duke it out for the finish, keirin style.
Measured and steady was the advice from Fangio to the young drivers. But they didn't listen.
Instead, Musso and Castellotti went for a BALLS OUT, FLAT-OUT, BAT OUT OF HELL, NO FUCKS GIVEN, MY DICK IS BIGGER THAN YOURS, TRADIN' PAINT scrapheap for the lead the moment the green flag dropped. Castellotti was the leader for the majority of this intense battle, but Musso was nowhere near giving up. It was the battle the tifosi wanted, the two Italian drivers for the Prancing Horse, battling for supremacy on hallowed racing ground.
Of course, this battle couldn't last forever. Fangio's advice was right. The tyres on both Musso's and Castellotti's cars didn't last the whole race. They didn't even last for half distance. Heck, not even quarter-distance.
Both of their tyres completely wore out their threads by lap 4. You heard me. Lap. FOUR.
Worse for Castellotti, his stop was a measure longer than Musso's and was left playing the catch-up game. Paying no heed to his earlier lesson or Fangio's prior advice, he continued the PEDAL TO THE METAL, I DON'T GIVE A DAMN, DON'T LIFT OR YOU'RE A PUSSY strategy to catch up to Musso. And by lap nine, his tyre punctured yet again and sent him spinning onto the main straight, ending his race.
By all accounts, his 1956 season, results wise, wasn't the best. Just the two points finishes left him sixth in the championship, though to be fair his pace was far, far greater than those results indicate. In fact, over on GP Rejects, I ran an alternative championship where points were scored after just three laps. And, spoilers, CASTELLOTTI FREAKIN' WON (though admittedly thanks to dropped scores, but still).
What's more, he had plenty of things to smile about that year outside of F1. Securing his seat at Ferrari. Sharing the win with El Maestro at the Sebring 12 Hours. And finally dominating the field at the Mille Miglia. And it's not just racing achievements Castellotti had to smile about as well.

Part 4: Il Bello

Most drivers from the 50's had cool-ass nicknames. Fangio was El Maestro, also known as 'The Master'. Jose Froilan Gonzalez was known as The Pampas Bull. Luigi Fagioli was known as the goddamn ABRUZZI ROBBER. Seriously, if you were a racing driver in the 50's, it was almost part and parcel that you'd get a dope-ass nickname as a reward.
So, when Castellotti got his nickname, there was only one obvious choice: Il Bello. Put simply, The Beautiful.
And goddamn, he was beautiful. So. Damn. Beautiful. That perfect chin, the neat at hell hairstyle, those pecs...
...wait, where was I? Right. Ahem. Yeah, he was called Il Bello, and for good reason. Castellotti was ridiculously vain. He wore the finest of suits and shirts tailored exactly to how he wanted it. He kept his hair in perfect shape. He was even self-conscious about his lack of height, so much so that he often wore lifts in his shoes. He didn't earn the nickname Il Bello for nothing. And likewise, he didn't put the nickname to waste either.
Partly because of his vanity, Castellotti was definitely a ladies man. He had many short flings throughout his racing career, all of which was followed relentlessly through gossip magazines. But, in 1956, he finally found someone to settle down with. And it couldn't have come with someone more high-profile.
Delia Scala was one of Italy's leading actresses at the time, and through 1956 and 1957, was beginning the transition to the silver screen to become one of Italy's pioneering television personalities. In the summer of 1956, she met Castellotti at a restaurant, and started talking to him simply because the pale blue colour of his trousers matched the car. Eventually, conversations about matching colours became a date, and then a relationship. A relationship that apparently newspaper reporters could not get enough of. Italy's future legend in motor racing pairs up with leading young actress, both of whom were ridiculously hot. A gossip writer's wet dream.
This was two people's nightmare, though. First was Castellotti's mother, who upon meeting Scala for the first time, took her by the hand and said "You look like a waitress, the kitchen is over there". Good going, Mrs. Castellotti.
Second, and maybe more importantly, was Enzo Ferrari. He hated it when his drivers would get all caught up in intense romance, furthermore if it affected them emotionally, and even more so if it said relationship was spread over nearly every damn newspaper in Italy. He thought it'd affect their race pace and their drive to continue. And, for a while, it seemed Enzo was right.
Castellotti and Scala proposed and planned to get married in April. However, between the two, there was an intense discussion that turned into a disagreement. Scala wanted Castellotti to give up driving, fearing that it was getting too dangerous for him. However, Castellotti told Scala that she should give up acting as it would cost them time together when he wasn't racing elsewhere. I don't know where the two stood on the compromise, but it was certain that Castellotti would probably have to focus less on racing should he wish to remain with Scala.
However, on track, results were still going pretty well for Castellotti in 1957, claiming both first and third in his respective driver lineups in the 1000 km of Buenos Aires. Additionally, in the Argentine Grand Prix for 1957, he took an early lead and was launching a serious challenge to the now-dominant Maseratis, but his Ferrari, like all the other Ferraris, gave up the ghost while running in third.
As was tradition in those days, the Argentine Grand Prix and other events in South America was run in their January summer, then Formula One would take a break until May to restart that season in Monaco. With marriage around the corner, Castellotti took the time to take a nice vacation in Florence with his bride-to-be Scala, who was booked for a play there for the time being. Call it a pre-marriage honeymoon, if you will.
A pre-marriage honeymoon that got rudely interrupted by none other than Enzo Ferrari. He rang up Castellotti in a huff and instructed him to go to Modena the next day to test the Ferrari. But this was more than just some last-minute test set up by Ferrari or a call for Castellotti to deputize for another driver.
As it turns out, Jean Behra and Maserati were testing at Modena that day, and Enzo found out that they had beaten Ferrari's ultimate lap record around the Autodrome. According to some people, most notably Luigi Villoresi, Enzo Ferrari had placed a lunchtime wager on the lap record, so when he saw it got beaten, he called the first person he could find - that being Eugenio - to come down to Modena to take that record back.
Castellotti was undoubtedly fuming, having had precious time with his fiancée interrupted for a stupid lap record. But he had to listen to Enzo. Nobody dared to oppose him. On March 14th, he left Florence at 4 a.m. to make the long drive to Modena, to get suited up and get ready for practice.
On just his second or third flying lap, Castellotti lost control in the esses at the start of the lap, and the car overturned through a fence and into a (mercifully empty) grandstand. Castellotti was thrown out. The local parish priest, Don Sergio Mantovani, was present to read him the last rites as he laid dying on the track. He was only 26 years old. His wedding with Scala was just twenty-five days away.
The reason for the crash has been disputed. Jean Behra, present at the track having set the aforementioned lap record, insisted there was a problem with the gearbox, having heard it shift to neutral just before the crash. Other sources feel it was just a mistake in downshifting. Most attribute this error to the fact that Castellotti was robbed of a holiday with Scala for the pettiest of reasons, thus the claim that his mind was not in the right place. This theory was exacerbated by the fact he had to wake up extremely early and drive a considerable distance to reach Modena in the first place. The true cause of his death was still unknown. Multiple sources claim that Enzo Ferrari, upon hearing news of the crash, said something to the tune of, "Castellotti? Dead? What a pity. How's the car?"
Whatever it was, a petty debate over a trivial lap record robbed Formula One of a rising star in his prime. One who could've done so much more. And yet, despite this, his story in motor racing is extremely colourful.
He scored a podium in just his second start in F1. He was the protege to Alberto Ascari, and also heavily involved in the scene of his death. Impacted by this, he convinced a major manufacturer shutting up shop to loan him a chassis, with which he would become the youngest ever polesitter in F1 at the time. He would finish his rookie season third, a feat that remained unbeaten for 41 years. He won the Mille Miglia all by himself in downright atrocious conditions. He had a fiery rivalry with a fellow compatriot to see who would be their country's next future star. He married one of Italy's most famous celebrities at the time. And he died because of a wager set over lunch.
That is the story of 'Il Bello', Eugenio Castellotti.
Sources:
The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One's Most Dangerous Era by Michael Cannell
Enzo Ferrari: A Life by Richard Williams
Too Fast A Life by Martin Shepherd
Motorsport Magazine (This plus many of their contemporary race reports) -- 8W @ Forix -- Motorsport Memorial -- Ferrari Owner's Club -- Scuderia Ferrari Legends
F1 Racing (via PressReader) -- Veloce Today -- Racing Sportscars -- StatsF1 -- Revs Institute
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Random Driver Highlight #23 -- Lucien Bianchi

Yeah. Almost two months without one of these. Got a busy streak with a new job. Also been travelling overseas a fair deal. And also working on something else for another site. So yeah.
But anyway, here's #532 from the Random Number Generator. And while not the most successful driver, it's a name that sounds familiar...

Lucien Bianchi

STATISTICS
Nationality: Belgian
Years in F1: 1959-63, 1965, 1968
Teams Raced For: Cooper (Equipe Nationale Belge, Fred Tuck, works), Emeryson (Equipe Nationale Belge), Lotus (Equipe Nationale Belge, UDT Laystall), ENB, Lola (Reg Parnell), BRM (Scuderia Centro Sud)
Entries: 19
Starts: 17
Podium Finishes: 1
Points: 6
Highest Finish: 3rd (1968 Monaco Grand Prix)
Times he got rudely awakened from his slumber: At least once (I'll tell you the story later)

Part 1: Getting a shot with the Claes Pigeon

Okay, that nationality bit may be a tad incorrect. Yes, Lucien Bianchi moved to Belgium and raced under a Belgian flag. But Bianchi wasn't born in Belgium. A clue as to where Lucien was actually born would be to look at his birth name, Luciano.
Yep, Luciano Bianchi was born in Milan, Italy on 10th November, 1934. He was fortunate, as he and his brother, Mauro, were born right into a racing family. His father, Roberto, was a mechanic at Alfa Romeo, or more specifically, Scuderia Ferrari, then Alfa Romeo's racing division at the time pre-war.
It was after the war, though, that Roberto sought greener pastures elsewhere, given how Ferrari and Alfa Romeo had split at that point. At this point, he got a call from a jazz musician in Belgium named Johnny Claes. Claes wasn't a massive name in jazz music, but he was a minor celebrity in the jazz circle. He had a band, called "Johnny Claes and the Claes Pigeons". He played music in the background and had one line in the movie that killed George Formby's career.
And now, either due to a meeting with George Abecassis or being a translator in the 1947 French Grand Prix, Claes had caught the racing bug. He wasn't so good at setting up cars though, and sought the help of Roberto Bianchi, the former Ferrari mechanic, to set up his cars. Bianchi would become heavily involved with Claes over the next few years, eventually moving to Belgium in 1950 with his two sons, Luciano and Mauro.
Fast forward to 1952, and Luciano, now known as Lucien, was getting his first major racing event at just the tender age of 17. With his father's contacts in the racing world, it wasn't too much of a surprise for him to enter racing at this tender age. He was acting as the co-driver of one Jacques Herzet. People would think of Herzet as crazy to pick Bianchi as his co-driver, especially since Lucien's debut was going to be the gruelling Tour de France.
Yep, Jacques Herzet picked a 17 year-old with no prior racing experience to be his co-driver in a cross-country race around France in a Jaguar sports car.
Predictably, Herzet and Bianchi finished a mediocre 38th. But that initial race was just the kickstarter for both Herzet and Bianchi. For 1953, Bianchi and Herzet would form a solid partnership with backing from Ecurie Francorchamps, who, funnily enough, were rivals to Ecurie Belge, the team where Bianchi's dad was working in. Together, they managed 7th place in the Tour de France and a few third places in the European Rally Championship. One of them was the Liege-Rome-Liege Rally, which featured not only an impressive performance from Herzet and the 18 year-old Bianchi to third, but a solid drive to second from Olivier Gendebien and a masterclass from Johnny Claes, who drove 52 hours straight to victory after his co-driver fell ill.
By this time, it seemed almost inevitable that Lucien would come and join back with his dad at Ecurie Belge to continue his racing career. By 1955, father and son were back together, but only through the two rivals, Francorchamps and Belge, merging together to become a joint operation, Ecurie Nationale Belge. At this point, Johnny Claes was in ill health, so a merger with his rivals, led by Jacques Swaters, seemed like the right thing to do.
Claes would still race, despite his rapid deterioration in health. For one of his final events before his death to tuberculosis in early 1956, he re-entered the Liege-Rome-Liege for one last time. Being unable to drive for long periods like in his incredible 1953 effort, he needed someone else to take over the main driving duties. He paid his chief mechanic, Roberto Bianchi, something of a favour by choosing his twenty year-old son, Lucien, to race alongside him in the rally.
With Claes' condition getting worse and worse as time went on, Lucien started to assert his role as a lead driver, and his performance took the duo to a third place finish, which was also the final time Claes would finish on the podium in any motorsport event.
Following this result, the young Bianchi's stock rose tremendously, no doubt thanks to his partnership with Olivier Gendebien. Together, the pair would go on to win the Tour de France three consecutive times between 1957-1959. With the constant success in the Tour de France and local rallies, Bianchi started to become a household name in rallying.
He also had some form of successes in sportscars, most notably a class victory in the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside Georges Harris with an additional win in the 1958 Coupe de Salon and various other good showings at other international sportscar races.
Well, you might be wondering, this is /formula1. This guy raced in Formula 1, right? How did he get on?
Well, let me tell you this. As much as Lucien Bianchi is a respected figure in Belgian motor racing, a man known for his sportscar and rallying prowess and a name many look back on with fondness, his F1 career, especially his early days, were pretty much...
...laughable.

Part 2: BELGE

It was 1959. The year that Lucien Bianchi would wrap up his trifecta of Tour de France victories with Gendebien alongside him. With these successes, Ecurie Nationale Belge thought it was about time to re-enter Formula 1, having last participated in Grand Prix racing way back when Johnny Claes wanted one last outing in an F1 car at the 1955 Dutch Grand Prix. Having been one of the better drivers for ENB, Bianchi was named to drive in the race alongside Alain de Changy, a co-driver of Bianchi in one of his less-successful Le Mans attempts, in privateer Cooper T51 entries.
Despite the Cooper being the dominant car of the era, both Bianchi and de Changy failed to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix. And that was it for Lucien Bianchi's F1 season in 1959, one and done.
Then came 1960. ENB were going to enter yet another Cooper for Bianchi, this time at their home race, the Belgian Grand Prix. Naturally, having failed to qualify at Monaco last time out, the ENB felt that their T51 was obsolete in a sense, and set about providing Bianchi with another Cooper chassis. And, naturally, the car they set Bianchi up with was an ancient Cooper T45, the model used by the works team way back in 1958.
Naturally, Bianchi was slow. Even then, his lack of pace was something to be admired that day in Spa. In the days where the old Spa layout was 14.1 km long, Lucien Bianchi managed to finish eight laps off the pace in dead last. And yet, thanks to a scoring quirk that classified Graham Hill as a DNF despite only failing to finish the final lap, Lucien Bianchi was credited with a championship point. That's right, he finished sixth.
I mean, it was still last, but it was a point nonetheless. He went to continue the season for a brief while with Fred Tuck's privateer team, this time providing him with his remotely competitive Cooper T51. However, failures to finish in France and Great Britain saw Lucien retreat back to ENB, where he would take a victory in the 1000km of Paris sportscar race.
And, there was 1961. And I have to say, 1961 was an absolutely nutty year for Bianchi and ENB in Formula One, and it starts with the most incredible story.
So. Come 1961, there are the new engine regulations that would severely limit engine regulations down to 1.5 litre engines. Ecurie Nationale Belge are worrying. As privateers, they are nervous as to which chassis they should run with, given how the change in regs might throw a toss-up in competitiveness. Most customer teams are looking towards the new Lotus chassis, but not ENB. They want something different. And so they attend the 1960 Coupe de Salon Formula 2 race at Monthlery.
There, they spot that there is a fairly unknown constructor, Emeryson, on the grid. And with the little-known John Turner behind the wheel, the Emeryson was putting up a creditable performance against the rest of the pack. With that impressive performance, Ecurie Nationale Belge went ahead and purchased the Emeryson 1000 series of chassis with Maserati engines powering them, and seemed all set to surprise the field when they took the green flag at Monaco.
Well, they sure surprised themselves. What they hadn't realized was, that at that race in Monthlery, the reason John Turner was doing so fantastically well in the race was because he, lap after lap, straight-lined a chicane that was out of spectators' view, gaining tons of time in the process. Turner was DQ'd after the race, but his little chicane-cutting cheekiness caused chaos in the ENB garage. When Bianchi, Willy Mairesse and Gendebien took the Emerysons out to the non-championship Grands Prix in Pau and Brussels, the problems with ENB were clear. Their Emerysons were total duds.
But they made the deal. And Lucien Bianchi was going to have to live with the Emerysons for the time being.
The 1961 Monaco Grand Prix came up. If Ecurie Nationale Belge couldn't qualify with championship-winning cars two years earlier, there was no way they were ever going to qualify with the stinky Emerysons. And boy, were they poopy. Barring Jack Brabham, who had problems in qualifying, Lucien Bianchi and Gendebien were the two slowest drivers in qualifying, and once again, ENB would come back from Monaco empty-handed.
Their next entry was their home Grand Prix at Spa, still with the Emerysons. Olivier Gendebien gained some common sense and took up Ferrari's one-off drive for this race, leaving Willy Mairesse to become Lucien's teammate in the trenches. And, around Spa, the Emerysons and the Maserati engines powering them were absolutely terrible. I'm not even exaggerrating. Lucien Bianchi, in qualifying, was a full 27 seconds off the pace. Mairesse did slightly better, but he was still right at the tail end of the order.
And, almost like it was a sign from God, one of ENB's chassis' literally fell apart near the end of practice. That was when ENB just gave up. They pulled both chassis out of the race. In a scene that's unthinkable nowadays, they walked down the paddock asking other teams to loan their spare chassis to them. Emeryson had turned the gallant sportscar and rally troupe to beggars in Formula One.
Thankfully, privateers Tony Marsh and Wolfgang Seidel weren't starting the race. Wikipedia says they had a dispute with starting money, though I couldn't find another source backing that up. Either way, they weren't starting, and so ENB stuck Mairesse and Bianchi in their Lotus-Climax machines in time for the race. And after all that, Lucien Bianchi and Willy Mairesse, somehow, finished in the points....
...I'm fucking kidding. They didn't score points. They were horribly slow. They both retired after just nine laps. That might just be one of the most rejectful outings by a team at a Grand Prix ever. As rejectful as Life, Andrea Moda and Coloni were, at least they didn't have to beg to borrow a chassis in the paddock.
After that, Ecurie Nationale Belge did the right thing and took a break until the Italian Grand Prix, where Andre Pillette was the poor soul nominated drive the Emeryson, being the only driver in that race to fail to qualify. Lucien Bianchi, for his end of the deal, did well in sportscars for ENB, taking two second places in his favourite events, the 1000km of Paris and the Tour de France. However, those Emeryson capers wouldn't be the end of his Formula One career in 1961.
At the Belgian Grand Prix, Cliff Allison got badly injured in a crash, sidelining him for the rest of the year. This opened up a spot at the UDT Laystall Racing Team, running customer Lotus 18's that year. Initially, for the French Grand Prix, UDT Laystall hired Juan Manuel Fangio's protege, Juan Manuel Bordeu. However, once ENB decided to take a break from their Emeryson nightmare, UDT Laystall brought in Lucien Bianchi, and despite running both Bordeu and Bianchi in practice, Lucien was the one driving the car for the race, ahead of the protege of Fangio that you've never heard of and probably will never hear of again. However, Bianchi was absolutely sub-par, qualifying last in Aintree and failing to finish his two Grand Prix starts with UDT Laystall before being substituted with Masten Gregory.
Lucien Bianchi went ahead and gave it one more shot with Ecurie Nationale Belge in Formula One. It was 1962, and surely after three years of floundering attempts at Formula One, ENB wouldn't do something stupid with Lucien Bianchi in F1.
The first race they entered that season, they were sensible. Okay, they were the only team to enter the obsolete Lotus 18/21 when the other chassis present were all 21's, 24's or 25's, but that's okay. Yes, Lucien Bianchi was only able to qualify 21 seconds off the pace, but at least he qualified and actually managed to finish the race, albeit in second-last. But still. At least they hadn't done something stupid.
In their second, and final, entry of 1962, ENB did something really stupid.
Remember the Emerysons? I bet Bianchi wanted to forget them.
ENB didn't. And they had three spare chassis left over, chassis numbers 1001, 1002 and 1003. Using the frame of the 1001 chassis, they used whatever was salvageable from the 1002 and 1003, smushed it onto the 1001 frame, crafted some bodywork that looked like Shrek in car form, and plastered their own ENB name on the car. If the Ferrari 156 was a sexy beast, the ENB F1 was it's ugly sister after its face got smashed by a truck.
Okay, that was a tad harsh from me. But still, in terms of F1 cars, it wasn't the prettiest.
What's worse, they didn't change any of the interior mechanisms and whatnot from the old Emerysons. They even kept the horrific Maserati engine. And they were going to ask Lucien Bianchi to tackle the Green Hell with that piece of machinery.
Lucien Bianchi did the best he could. At least, I bet he did. Even then, I don't think even Ayrton Senna, Jim Clark or Lewis Hamilton could make that car go fast. I mean, around the Nurburgring, Bianchi was nearly two MINUTES slower than Dan Gurney's pole time. He was a full twenty seconds behind the next slowest qualifier, Jack Brabham. Bianchi only qualified because he completed the minimum requirement of five laps in practice, something that Tony Shelly and Wolfgang Seidel failed to do, despite being faster than Bianchi.
A side note here, Seidel was baffled by that decision. I mean, if that thing was chosen to start ahead of you, I'd be mad too. Seidel went to race officials to argue. Right after that, Seidel was stripped of his competitive racing license.
Anyway, back to Bianchi, the race for Lucien was slow and uneventful, rooted to the back for the entire race. It's fair to say that Lucien did well in the dreadful ENB to not get lapped twice.
And that was it for Ecurie Nationale Belge in Formula One. After their dreadful experiments, with Lucien Bianchi as test dummy, they gave up on Formula One, retreating to their more successful ventures in sportscars and rallying.
Likewise, it seemed that Lucien Bianchi's career in Formula One was also pretty much over. Stuck in the worst of situations with ENB and unable to capitalize on other drives elsewhere, it seemed Lucien's career would be left to sportscars and rallies from now on.
All because of one chicane-cutting fool, we got a renowned garage in sportscars becoming the laughing stock of Formula One, a one-race oddity and monstrosity of a chassis and a waste of an upcoming talent in Formula One to some awful cars in Formula One...

Part 3: But Wait, There's More...

For the next few years, Lucien Bianchi would only make a few one-off appearances at his home Grand Prix to very little fanfare and not a whole lot of success. He was one of the many drivers to crash out in the 1963 Belgian Grand Prix when he couldn't handle his Lola in the storm at Spa, and had a very underwhelming performance with BRM's customer team, Scuderia Centro Sud in the 1965 edition.
Instead, in those years, Lucien Bianchi was a sportscar menace. In the year that he had to cope with the awful ENB chassis, he also won the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring alongside Joakim Bonnier behind the wheel of a Ferrari 250 GT. He collected a whole host of podium finishes in the second half of 1963, none of them with Ecurie Nationale Belge/Ecurie Francorchamps, funnily enough.
He was with ENB, though, when he and Jean Blaton, who went by the pseudonym 'Beurlys', to a win in the GT 3.0 class at the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans. He also claimed his record 4th Tour de France victory while pairing with Georges Berger, with a second place at the 2000km of Daytona to complement all these accolades.
Also, his brother Mauro had started to compete in the occasional endurance race for Abarth in the early sixties, and by 1964 he was signed by the Renault Alpine squad. With Lucien being open to pretty much anything, he partnered up with his brother for the occasional race here and there. Their first event together was the 1964 Targa Florio, which didn't go too spectacularly for the pair, finishing 15th overall, but at least they were second in the Prototype 2.0 class. The next time they'd be together driving the car would be the 1965 Nurburgring 500 km. This time, brothers Bianchi clicked. Three cars in the top four were Abarths. The only car that wasn't an Abarth? It was Mauro's and Lucien's Alpine, and they were sitting pretty on the top step of the podium.
That would be the last time the brothers teamed up with any success, having paired up only one last time to a lowly 21st place in the Paris 1000km. However, Lucien had so much more on his plate. For 1966 and 1967, Bianchi paired up with the one and only Mario Andretti for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, though neither attempt ended well, which for their 1967 attempt, is a bit of an understatement. Don't worry, Andretti was okay, as his future racing career would show.
Bianchi also had several commitments for 1966 and 1967, having signed for not only Alfa Romeo's Autodelta squad, but also appearing on the rare occasion for Porsche. This caused a tricky gap in his schedule, especially since Lucien Bianchi really, really wanted to race in the Indy 500.
Yep. Little known fact, Lucien Bianchi did attempt to qualify for the Indy 500 in 1967. He even got a bit of practice, so to speak, in the USAC round in Trenton in late April, driving for Jim Robbins. He didn't perform too badly, mind, qualifying ninth before he had to pull out after a half-century of laps when his car overheated.
For his assault at Indy, he would once again drive for Jim Robbins' Vollstedt. However, he had a conflicting schedule with Porsche, where he was scheduled to drive in the Nurburgring 1000km with Gerhard Mitter. Nevermind, the 1000km was on the Sunday, the 28th, and the Indy 500 would be on the 30th of May, with days of time trials happening on the 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st of May. Giving himself a full week to practice for Nurburgring, Bianchi still had plenty of days to qualify for Indy, then head to Europe to practice and race in the 1000km and have enough time to fly back to the USA for the 500.
Bianchi couldn't set a time on pole day, and the second day of time trials was rained out. Nevermind that, Bianchi could still set a time on the 20th and fly back to Germany immediately afterwards. In the session on the 20th, Lucien set a time good enough for 29th on the grid. Not the highest position, but hey, at least he made it onto the grid. With that, Lucien set off for his flight to the Nurburgring, all set to pull of the double duty of a 1000km and a 500 mile race in the space of three days.
One minor problem for Lucien.
He forgot about Bump Day.
The final day of qualifying for Indy. The one where hopefuls have one last shot to 'bump' other drivers off the grid. And Bianchi wasn't present.
At the end of the day, Lucien was the last driver bumped off the grid. He qualified 34th. There were only 33 starters in the Indy 500.
Still, at least Bianchi could find some success at the Nurburgring, right? He and Mitter had an absolute blast, and they were dominating the field. To make up for the loss of Indy, at least a win at the Green Hell could boost Bianchi's mood a little, right?
They led as they started their final lap.
And then the battery failed. They lost their win on the final lap of a 1000 kilometre race. For anybody, that would be a massive hit to their confidence.
For Bianchi, that was just the prelude to his best season in racing yet...

Part 4: Celebrations and Crashes

The rest of Lucien's 1967 still went quite alright for him, redeeming his crushing blow at the Nurburgring just two months later with a victory in the 6 hours event at the same circuit. Besides, he still had a dedicated drive with Alfa Romeo for 1968 in sportscars, so everything still seemed alright for the Belgian at that point.
The start to his 1968 season wasn't spectacular, no race victories or podiums, but a surprising stream of consistent results, something that Bianchi found hard to do in his career, with his results sheets often littered with DNFs. His consistency was topped off with a podium at the 1968 Targa Florio.
And then his consistency got him a reward in the form of a Formula One drive. And no, it wasn't with Ecurie Nationale Belge again, they quit F1 for good after their Emeryson depression. It was an actual works team, the two-time constructor's champions, Cooper. One of their main drivers, Brian Redman, had a scheduling conflict as he was driving for John Wyer Automotive, one of the premier squads in endurance racing at the time, and their fleet of Ford GT40s. As it turns out, the Monaco Grand Prix was happening at the same time as the 1000 km of Spa, and Redman was committed to Spa. With little option left, they called out to Bianchi to race for them at Monaco.
At this point of their lifespan, Cooper were a shadow of the team they once were. Previously an innovator in motorsport, their form had dropped off in the past few years, and 1968 was Cooper at their lowest point. Still, they'd managed a podium at the previous race in Spain by simply being the last cars standing in a field that was hit by attrition.
Bianchi's previous attempts at Monaco, in 1959 and 1961, ended before the race even began. This time, though, Lucien Bianchi at least managed to qualify, though only in a lowly 14th out of 16 drivers, only beating teammate Ludovico Scarfiotti and Dan Gurney in his own Eagle car. From there, Bianchi and Scarfiotti stuck to the tried and tested Cooper tactic: Go slow, be safe, avoid any attrition, just finish.
With all the attrition Monaco usually brings, Bianchi and Scarfiotti slowly made their way up the order. At the end of the race, only five cars saw the chequered flag. Two of them were the Coopers of Bianchi and Scarfiotti, albeit four laps down.
And, thanks to all the chaos, Lucien Bianchi finished third. His first, and only podium in Formula One. Cooper's last in Formula One.
After that, Bianchi was kept onboard the Cooper team for the next round at Spa-Francorchamps, with Redman returning to the squad as Scarfiotti raced in a hillclimb event in Germany. Once again, Bianchi went with the tried and tested Cooper tactic. Stay slow, get out of trouble, and make your way up from retirements. Bianchi once again finished third-from-last, but with all the DNFs that race, that was all Lucien needed to score another point for the Cooper team.
However, as much as that point was worth, it came at a costly price for Cooper. Brian Redman's suspension failed on lap seven, and he was pitched into a concrete barrier and a parked car. He was lucky to walk away with a broken arm and minor burns, but Redman's season was over. Ludovico Scarfiotti went off-course in his hillclimb event and his Porsche catapulted down a slope. His body was discovered fifty yards from his car that was hanging in the trees. Scarfiotti died in the ambulance.
One of Cooper's main drivers' was dead. The other was out for the season. Involuntarily, Lucien Bianchi was now a full-time works driver for Cooper, alongside Vic Elford. They did the best they could with the dreadful Cooper T86, with Elford scoring a few points, but they couldn't do much else.
Bianchi couldn't even qualify off the back row of the grid. With his Alfa Romeo connections, Lucien almost orchestrated a partnership with Cooper and Alfa Romeo, and there were plans to enter an Alfa-engined Cooper for Bianchi in both the British and Italian Grands Prix. However, both entries were pulled at the final minute, and eventually Alfa Romeo abandoned the project when they realized their V8 was severely underpowered. Unable to carry out the Alfa deal, coupled with their failure to find sponsorship to build a DFV-powered car, Cooper closed their doors in 1969, with Lucien Bianchi's drive in Monaco being their final podium finish.
However, there was still more success to come for Bianchi. With Redman's injury, there was a spot vacant at John Wyer's Ford GT40 stable. Despite his commitments to Alfa and Cooper, Lucien was able to find time to take Brian Redman's spot in the 6 hours of Watkins Glen, pairing fellow compatriot Jacky Ickx. Together, the Belgian duo took outright victory, marginally ahead of their teammates Paul Hawkins and David Hobbs.
This was intended to be a one-off drive, but then he got another call-up for John Wyer. Pedro Rodriguez was looking for a partner for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, initially contacting compatriot and close friend Moises Solana for the co-driver spot. When Solana declines, the team reached out to Bianchi. Taking the opportunity with both hands, Lucien Bianchi took the biggest victory of his career, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans as Pedro Rodriguez's co-driver.
It would also be his last victory celebration, as three major incidents would tell the story of his career's final days.
The first was Mauro Bianchi's massive accident in the same 24 Hours. With 4 hours remaining, Mauro's Alpine lost its brakes at the foot of the Esses and crashed heavily. The car burst into a great, big fireball with Mauro still inside. Miraculously, Mauro escaped with his life, but only just. There are images on the internet showing Mauro and the extent of his burns after the wreck. I won't link them here for your sake, but those images are just... gruesome.
The second was Lucien's own accident at the 1968/69 London-Sydney Marathon. The marathon was one-of-a-kind marathon, crossing Italy, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, then finally to Australia. It was a massive event, and Bianchi entered the event with co-driver Jean-Claude Ogier (no relation to WRC champ Sebastian) in a Citroen DS.
Bianchi and Ogier, running in third at the end of the Asian leg, found themselves in a comfortable lead once in Australia, thanks to the technical problems of Roger Clark. In the penultimate stage heading to Nowra, less than 100 miles away from Sydney. Ogier was piloting the DS, Bianchi was taking a nap in the passenger-seat. Yep, their lead was so comfortable, Bianchi was literally taking a snooze.
Then, on a road that was supposed to be closed to the public, the DS collided head-on with a passenger car travelling the opposite direction. There were rumours that the occupants of the passenger car were two drunk off-duty policemen.
Paddy Hopkirk, the first driver on the scene, sacrificed any chance he had of winning the race to extinguish the flames on both cars in the accident and to help the trapped Bianchi out of his car. They had probably saved Bianchi's life, but Lucien was still badly injured in the wreck (This one is mildly NSFW).
Still, despite his injuries, Bianchi was back after just three months, racing alongside Nino Vaccarella in the Sebring 12 Hours. Despite his failure to finish, Bianchi was all set to defend his Le Mans victory, all set to progress from the amazing 1968 season that he had, with a Le Mans victory and a Formula One podium.
On 30th of March, there was a testing session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Lucien Bianchi was driving the new Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/3 with Nino Vaccarella. They had already set the sixth fastest time in qualifying, an incredible achievement on its own.
Lucien Bianchi was having problems with the rear bodywork of the 33/3 early on. When he went out for his second stint, he must have felt something wrong on the Mulsanne Straight, as eyewitnesses report him flicking on his indicator, almost like he was going to pull over. However, Bianchi didn't slow down at all. Instead, his car wandered to the verge on the right side, then suddenly shot to the left. His car hit a telegraph pole and flames erupted from the car.
Luciano "Lucien" Bianchi had zero chance of survival. He was only 34 years old. And, sadly, not the only Bianchi to pass away on the track.
Well, I'm back writing these. I'll try to get back up to speed, but that may be unlikely. We'll see.
All credit to the following sources:
Racing Sportscars -- StatsF1 -- Motor Sport Magazine -- 8w at Forix -- F1i
GPRejects -- Virtual Garage Channel -- ChampCar Stats -- EWRC -- Motorsport Memorial
My Other Random Driver Highlights:
#16, Piero Carini + Links to Highlights #1-15
#17, Trevor Taylor
#18, Bill Aston
#19, Chico Serra
#20, Eppie Wietzes
#21, Cecil Green
#22, Mika Salo
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