Ljungfeldt himself lost only one minute at Lod�ve, but next day in the north of France a tire blew as his Falcon was skimming along at 100 mph or so. There was no damage, and the tire was quickly changed. But then the clutch failed because, despite the generally superb preparation of the Falcons, a mechanic had forgotten to install a 1� cotter key. For 50 miles Ljungfeldt screamed on without the use of the clutch. Repairing it at one of the 37 Ford service points along the route cost Ljungfeldt the precious penalty minutes that lost him the rally. During the second night the fan jounced around and ripped Ljungfeldt's radiator hose, emptying the coolant. He had to replace the hose with a spare and wake up a farmer at 3 a.m., hustling him out into the cold to pump a replenishing supply of water from his well. Even so, he was able to reach the control at Rheims on time. He could not, however, recoup what he had already lost.
On the last leg from Chamb�ry the already defeated Ljungfeldt was magnificent. Driving without sleep, taking only Coca-Cola with a dextrose additive and a few cookies for nourishment, he negotiated six special speed stages below Chamb�ry—90 hideous miles of snow, ice, freezing rain and fog on high, twisty trails, some too narrow for two cars to pass abreast. The Great Bo beat Erik Carlsson's time by no less than four minutes and 24 seconds. With a handicap figured in, one unfavorable to the big-engined Fords, Ljungfeldt still defeated Carlsson on the special stages by nine points. Had he arrived at Chamb�ry clean, Ljungfeldt, who finished 43rd overall, would have beaten Carlsson by those nine points and increased his advantage in the Grand Prix speed test. For he was faster there, too, and for that last event no handicap was scored.
The reader may have concluded by now that rallying, Monte Carlo style, is a form of lunacy. Even when it is clear that a third of the cars are entered by manufacturers whose sole aim is to give their products glamour, what of the cars driven by amateurs? Against the factories their chances for major prizes are incalculably small. These amateurs spend a great deal of money, but only a fraction of the $2 million invested in last week's Monte Carlo. Perhaps the British magazine, The Motor, was right when it declared that the Monte Carlo "is for many people the last avenue of escape from the deadly normality of daily life."
Among the escapees was a rare variety of men and women: Church of England clergymen, a major in the Queen's Household Cavalry, a pair of motoring journalists past 50, the French Prince of Bourbon-Parma, in whose veins flows the blood royal, a former French women's tennis champion. Professionals and amateurs alike take the risks for granted, as this writer quickly discovered. "If we thought about driving off a mountain," said one rallyman before the start, "I don't suppose we'd be here in the first place."
The question was not why people went rallying but who might win. Who was best prepared? Which starting place—Lisbon, Monte Carlo, Glasgow, Paris, Athens, Warsaw, Frankfurt or Stockholm—would be the most favorable? The consensus was that the Stockholm route, flat for many miles and with two ferry crossings permitting a little serene sleep, was very good, and the one from Monte Carlo among the worst. Events proved the prophets right. Both winning Swedes had started from Stockholm. Ford chose Monte Carlo, despite the mountains on the outbound route, because the Falcon Sprints were first unveiled there and because there would be no red tape crossing frontiers; the entire route, apart from the principality itself, lay in France.
Ford spared no expense to outfit a superior team. Under Competition Manager George Merwin and Team Manager Jeffery Uren, a seasoned British rally-man, the three Falcons were tuned and equipped by John Holman, the race-wise American who prepares Ford Galaxies for stock car events at home. For night driving each Falcon had two fog lamps and two brilliant "flamethrowers" of searchlight candlepower, one forward and the other planted firmly on the roof. A huge supply of spare parts was carried in each car.
Starting in November, each team of drivers practiced the route endlessly, logging 15,000 to 18,000 miles of practice. Besides the 37 service depots, there were special support Falcons, each driven by a rally veteran and manned by two mechanics. These cars were to leapfrog the rally route and be ready to assist the team at designated points. If Britain's Sam Croft Jones had not gone sprinting in his service Falcon for a wrecker to pull Ljungfeldt out of his first mishap, Bo might now be just another Swede.
I rode with a Falcon support car. From the first the weather was bitter as our car climbed steeply into the mountains from Monte Carlo. By dinnertime, after we had seen Anne Hall and Peter Jopp flash through the silent, frozen streets of Serres, the slightest grade was an obstacle for our ordinary tires. But next morning, after a night in a tiny inn, we discovered that we could move reasonably quickly. While the two surviving Falcons were speeding northward in the west of France, we hurried north to catch the rally at St. Loup, near the German border. That night we left two bottles of drinking water in the car. Both froze and one burst by morning.
Farms lay under a thin blanket of snow. Cyclists, with their cargoes of French bread, pedaled the roads wearing enormous gloves that looked like hockey goalies' mitts. At midmorning Jopp and Jarman stopped to chat. We gave them some chocolate and cheese. They told us about the tie-up beyond Lod�ve. "We'd have been home and dry if there hadn't been such a bloody lot of rally cars in trouble ahead of us," said an irate Jopp.
By then there had been vague reports that Falcons had blocked the Lod�ve road. We later saw such accusations in the press, but back in Monte Carlo the Falcon drivers were furious. Said Jarman: "We had to stop on a little easy col because eight or nine other rally cars ahead of us were stuck. Bo was in front of us. We could not go on, so we changed from normal tires to spiked tires. Changing took a few minutes, but we sat for half an hour or so, unable to move. Then a car ahead got clear. Bo charged a snowbank and got through. We did the same." Later at St. Loup we heard other tales: "All Athens starters stopped by snowdrifts in Yugoslavia," "All Lisbon starters out." Stockholm and Paris starters in the meantime obviously were doing well. We saw them go by in large numbers.