SI Vault
 
One-two punch from Italy
Joseph Raff
August 24, 1959
At Lime Rock, under a sun as scorching as the international competition, the Swedes quite unexpectedly lost a title
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
August 24, 1959

One-two Punch From Italy

At Lime Rock, under a sun as scorching as the international competition, the Swedes quite unexpectedly lost a title

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

The Abarths held on through the rest of the hot afternoon, and at 5:30, half an hour before the finish, the die was cast. Walter Cronkite brought his Volvo in to change a wheel and allow Vern Bennett to take over. Bennett drove in third over-all behind the Abarths, placing first in the sedan class. In fourth place was a Gran Turismo Saab, privately entered and consistently well driven by Alan Dillenberg and John Iglehart. "I think," Dillenberg had said when the race was six hours old, "that we are going to beat the factory cars"—and he did.

Of the other entries, Skoda, the badly dented Dyna Panhard, Anglia, Saab 93-B and NSU Prinz, smallest of the small, all won class prizes.

The winning Abarth turned 334 laps at an average speed of 62.47 mph, covering 501 miles. "This race," said Lime Rock's technical director, John Fitch, "shows many important features of automobile design. These cars are just as they come from the factory—the way you and I would drive them on the road. If they pass this endurance test, they show the public what the economy product can do." To give the small car race added interest, Fitch had put in a sharp right-hand turn at the end of the straightaway which forced all cars to shift to lower speeds (otherwise some would have been able to go all the way around in top gear). With no casualties, relatively few breakdowns and 27 of 34 cars finishing, Fitch could be well satisfied that the Little Le Mans indeed proved what he hoped it would.

1 2