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Old 17 Jan 2011, 03:05 (Ref:2816596)   #1
Corktree
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AvGas

I have managed to displace my orignal notes regarding the CSI and its changes to the fuel to be used by the Formule Internationale beginning with the 1958 season.

I recall that the announcement was made at the Fall meeting of the CSI, which means probably October, but it seems that the original announcement was for the use of premium gasoline, being defined as the "best" available (highest Octane) fuel in that country. Given that the Championnat du Monde des Marques (World Championship of Marques) and the Formule Internationale No. 2 both required the use of such gasoline and did not use AvGas, I was never quite able to pin down exactly why the Formule Internationale regs ended up with the fuel being AvGas. Plus, it seems that there was some confusion regarding the fuel until some point either into the 1958 season or just before the season began.

All this is a minor point, but I am having trouble tracking this down. I am particularly interested in having references and not the usual anecdotal say-so.

Also, for the information of some might be unaware of this, please realize that the regulations for the Formule Internationale and the Championnat du Monde des Conducteurs (World Championship of Drivers) were two very distinct and separate sets of regulations, something that would be the case until the 1981 season.
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Old 17 Jan 2011, 18:18 (Ref:2816925)   #2
Corktree
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From what I have managed to gather, the formal decision to use Aviation Gasoline (130 Octane) for both the Formule Internationale and the Formule Internationale No. 2 was announced after the CSI meeting that ran from 8 thru 15 October 1957. Apparently, the technical committee had already decided to change from a free fuel to a gasoline fuel requirement about 12 to 18 months earlier to do so, but the issue of just what constituted commercially available gasoline had to be thrashed out. In the end, it was 130 Octane AvGas that was made mandatory.

In the Marques championship, the use of the highest grade of gasoline commercially available was directed, with the stipulation that the minimum Octane rating should that be at least 95 Octane, in which case AvGas could be used to boost the Octane to that minimum level.

Keep in mind that the Dino vee-six was designed from the start (1956) to use gasoline, which certainly suggests that the Ferrari team was aware of the direction that the technical rules were going.

At any rate, this should cast the conversion in a slightly different light, especially that regarding the Vandervell and Owen teams, the latter having relatively few problems as we now know.
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Old 17 Jan 2011, 20:43 (Ref:2817016)   #3
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I have always understood that it was G A Vandervall who told the CSI that there was a significant difference between the "best available" pump fuel in Morocco and in, say, France. The CSI then went for AvGas as it was the only petrol or gasoline for which there was an international standard.

Or is that simply a legend that has grown up over the years?
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Old 18 Jan 2011, 00:53 (Ref:2817129)   #4
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The latter it would seem, which is quite typical of what one finds endlessly repeated on both paper and in various fora. The usual "Why Spoil A Good Story..." idea at work. Of course, given that very few to almost no actual historians* have delved into this sort of thing, it is to be expected.

It is a never-ending source of amazement to see just how little knowledge seems to be available regarding formula and sporting regulations from even the relatively recent past.

* Not to be confused with journalists thinking that they are historians; however, it should be stated that a few writers managed to make the transition at least partway, for which they should be complimented. As for the other 99%, well, so it goes, they are good chroniclers.
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Old 19 Jan 2011, 21:57 (Ref:2818007)   #5
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Sorry Don, I missed the "No anecdotes please" in your first post.
But where do you draw the line? Do you classify Denis Jenkinson's contemporary report of a visit to the Vandervall factory as 'anecdotal', or record?
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Old 20 Jan 2011, 03:08 (Ref:2818082)   #6
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Originally Posted by D-Type View Post
Sorry Don, I missed the "No anecdotes please" in your first post.
But where do you draw the line? Do you classify Denis Jenkinson's contemporary report of a visit to the Vandervall factory as 'anecdotal', or record?
You begin to see the problems the occur when you begin to dig a bit into the past of automobile racing. The anecdote concerning Vandervell and the CSI seems to be absent from the Jenkinson/Posthumus Vanwall book -- at least I could not find it a few minutes ago, so draw your own conclusions.

As it has been said, the "truth" is out there somewhere, only that it is often not what it was thought to be.

One can, with some difficulty, pull together the various bits of information that are available and, by interpretation of that data, have an idea as to what may have actually happened and offer that "truth" for others to consider. However, it should be kept in mind that new information or reconsideration of existing data may change that "truth." This happens quite frequently and historians understand this much better than non-historians. As Gordon Craig put it, “What we consider as such [historical truth] is only an estimation, based upon what the best available evidence tells us. It must constantly be tested against new information and new interpretations that appear, however implausible they may be, or it will lose its vitality and degenerate into dogma or shibboleth.” (Gordon Craig, “The Devil in the Details,” The New York Review of Books, 19 September 1996)

The history of automobile racing has been, is, and will continue to be a shambles. This is due to many reasons, some major, some trivial. It is also due, it must be said, to the bald fact that few really care about it. However, this is nothing new and I doubt that it will change any time soon.

Which brings me back to the issue of AvGas.

From what I have gathered, both from the chronicles of the time and subsequent information, the commonly accepted story about it being suddenly thrust upon the racing community seems to be less and less true and more and more of a wives tale. Piecing it together has been slow and often frustrating, but that is what it appears to be at the moment.
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