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Welcome once again to Classic Wheels and our monthly preview of future events and other information from the classic automotive scene. Coming up later this month in our weekly blog are features by three well-known personalities from the motoring and motorcycle media.


Joe Scalzo was on hand in the 1960s to witness the battles between Craig Breedlove and Art Arfons to set the Land Speed Record in their jet-engined projectiles as well as Mickey Thompson’s efforts to top 400mph with a car powered by normal internal combustion engines. This month he recalls those days for us as well as general LSR history from back in the times of Henry Segrave, Malcolm Campbell, George Eyston and John Cobb from the 1920s to the 1950s. It is an extensive and absolutely fascinating piece, especially about the Breedlove/Arfons rivalry that Joe witnessed at first hand, having interviewed and written about both men on many occasions back then.


Still on the Land Speed Racing theme, Tony Thacker recently took a trip for us to the dry lake at El Mirage, California to watch car and motorcycle guys satisfy their ‘need for speed’. Tony is well-known and highly respected in the US performance car field as an author and journalist. He is recognized as an authority on 1932 Ford hot rods via his books and features on that subject, While with the famed SoCal Speed Shop in 2006, Tony built his own hi-boy roadster with a monster V8 and a ’28 Ford Model A body on ’32 Ford frame rails. He then drove this beast 600+ miles to the Bonneville Salt Flats where it then ran on the salt and set a class record at 206.74mph! We are proud to be able to add Tony to our list of star contributors.


And talking of star contributors, Alan Cathcart is back this month with a feature on an essentially forgotten four-cylinder bike from Ducati. In the mid-1960s the Italian company built a prototype for the US importer which they hoped would sell in large numbers to the American police bike market. That didn’t happen and only the prototype of the 1280cc Apollo V4 remains. Alan, a successful former racer, is probably the world’s best-known motorcycle journalist as he syndicates his writings to magazines in 31 countries around the globe. As such he has strong contacts with all the major motorcycle manufacturers and thus was able to persuade Ducati to freshen up the Apollo so that he could take it out on the autostrada.



To make sure you get all of these features and more, subscribe (free of charge) to Classic Wheels by going to www.brgmultimedia.com and inputting your e-mail address as indicated.


FLORIDA OVAL TRACK SEASON OPENS

The 2021 season for oval track racers will kick off with the Sunshine Nationals weekend at the Volusia Speedway Park, just north of Daytona Beach in north-east Florida from January 14th to 16th. The event will showcase the World of Outlaws ‘Late Model’ stock cars with their unique lowline bodies.


Picture courtesy of Sunshine Nationals organisers

Two weeks later the ‘late model stockers’ will be joined at Volusia by the World of Outlaws sprint cars for the Dirt Car Nationals from February 2nd to 13th – almost two solid weeks of racing on the world’s fastest half-mile oval track. The premier class open-wheel sprint cars are the fastest short course oval track racers in the world, distinguished by the huge aerofoil wings situated above their otherwise traditional-looking front-engined racers. They are powered by 800 horsepower V8 motors and average over 100mph for a half-mile oval lap.

Picture courtesy of Dirt Nationals organisers


FORD GT40s WILL RACE FOR THE AMON CUP IN 2021

The arrival of the Ford GT40 in the 1960s remains one of the most significant moments in motorsport history. Arguably the most iconic GT car of a generation, it shifted the sands of Ferrari’s long-standing dominance in the Le Mans 24 Hour race. A machine of great technological advance, the GT40 still commands great respect and affection from competitors and enthusiasts alike but current owners have limited opportunities to use their cars in anger.


Picture via Bing Images


To address this void, Motor Racing Legends has announced the launch of a brand-new Historic one-make race series for the GT40, with two 80-minute races for the Amon Cup in 2021.


As the 1966 Le Mans winner with fellow New Zealander, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon will forever be associated with the GT40 and the series organisers are deeply honoured that members of the Amon family will present the awards at each of the 2021 races for the cup that bears their name.


The first race in the Amon Cup series will be held at the Donington Historic Festival on May 1st & 2nd; with the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit being the venue for the final race of the season on October 30th & 31st at Motor Racing Legends’ newly-announced end-of-year meeting. Further details will be published on www.motorracinglegends.com as the season progresses.



MRL TO RUN JAGUAR CHALLENGE SERIES

Photograph by Roger Cooper


The Motor Racing Legends organisation will run the Jaguar Classic Challenge for the 2021 season. Open to Pre-‘66 E-types, C and D-types, XKs and Mk 1 and Mk 2 saloons, the 2021 season will feature UK races at Donington Historic Festival, Thruxton Historic, the new Motor Racing Legends end-of-season soiree on Silverstone Grand Prix circuit; and into Europe for the Spa Six Hours Meeting in Belgium,. Further details and additions to this calendar will be announced via www.motorracinglegends.com.



CLASSIC MOTORCYCLE SHOWS 2021

Mortons Media, UK-based publishers of classic motorcycle magazines and organisers of many bike shows and autojumbles throughout the year, have announced their 2021 events calender, beginning with the popular autojumbles at Newark (on January 30th) and Kempton Park on February 20th,

Highlights are the International Classic Motorcycle Show at Stafford on April 24th/25th, the Classic Dirt Bike Show at Telford on May 15th/16th and the Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show at Stafford on October 15th/16th,

For more information on all shows throughout 2021 go to www.classicbikeshows.com. For autojumbles around the country check www.autojumble.info.



MORE FROM MORTONS

Mortons also publish Classic American car magazine – so if you are a fan of ‘big Yanks’ put their car show dates at Tatton Park near Knutsford in your 2021 diary – the Classic Car Spectacular Show on June 5th/6th, the Stars and Stripes Classic American Car Show on July 3rd/4th and the Passion for Power Show on August 21/22nd . More info at www.theclassiccarshows.com.


E-TYPE 60TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION AT LONDON SHOW

Next year marks the diamond anniversary of one of the most acclaimed and admired cars in automotive history – the legendary Jaguar E-type. This magical 60-year milestone will be celebrated in style at the London Classic Car Show. For 2021 the show has been moved outdoors

to a new Covid-compliant venue in the scenic grounds of historic Syon Park near Brentford in West London and is scheduled for April 16th-18th.

Photograph courtesy of London Classic Car Show organisers


The show’s central ‘Evolution of Design’ theme will feature seminal cars from all automotive ages stretching back 135 years to the dawn of motoring - and few creations fit that evocative billing better than the iconic E-type. Adding further pertinence to the landmark celebrations being planned for Syon Park, the springtime weekend now chosen for the rescheduled event falls very close to the seminal sportscar’s actual birth date. It was in March 1961 that Jaguar caused a sensation by unveiling the British beauty at that year’s Geneva Motor Show. Quite apart from its film star looks, the dazzling two-seater coupe offered 150+mph performance for a fraction of the price of rivals with similar gusto. Famous early E-type owners included Tony Curtis, Peter Sellers, George Harrison, Charlton Heston, Bridget Bardot, Frank Sinatra, George Best and Princess Grace of Monaco.


To mark the car’s 60th anniversary, a number of very special E-type displays are being curated for the show, dedicated Jaguar dealers, restorers and specialists, as well as the UK’s leading Jaguar car clubs, are also being invited to participate.



MV AGUSTA SPECIAL EDITION SOLD OUT IN SECONDS!

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, MV Agusta announced the launch of a special, limited-series anniversary model, the Superveloce 75 Anniversario. Reservations officially opened online through the brand’s newly designed website on Sunday November 15 at midnight and were originally planned to close exactly 75 hours later. Within seconds, however, the 75 planned units of the Superveloce 75 Anniversario had gone – sold right out!


Photograph provided by MV Agusta


The already iconic Superveloce was chosen as the base for this anniversary collector’s bike as it represents the perfect balance between modern forms and MV Agusta’s racing legacy. The result is a truly beautiful bike, with its Italian flag colour scheme, the dedicated graphic detailing, the black and gold Inmotion spoke rims and the red Alcantara rider and passenger seats. The engine is the same F3 800-derived inline three-cylinder engine as the Superveloce, developing 147 hp at 13.000 rpm for top speeds of over 240 km/h.



NATIONAL MOTORCYCLE MUSEUM WINTER RAFFLE

The UK National Motorcycle Museum has announced the details of its 2020/21 winter raffle, with Museum Director James Hewing stating: “We have yet another great first prize, this time of a brand new/old stock 1979 Triumph T140D Bonneville Special which has never been run or registered and which is showing only 11 ’push’ miles on its odometer!”


Photograph from the National Motorcycle Museum.


The prize draw for the winter raffle will take place on Sunday 25th April 2021 at The International Classic Motorcycle Show, Stafford, UK. Tickets cost £2.00 each & will be distributed during Nov/Dec 2020 via subscription copies of the specialist classic motorcycle press. Tickets may also be purchased on-line by visiting www.thenmm.co.uk.


MOTOR RACING LEGENDS 2021 DATES

Motor Racing Legends is the name behind nine highly prestigious historic racing series that form the main attraction of several classic motor sports festivals during the UK season. These are the Amon Cup for GT40’s; the Jaguar Classic Challenge; the Pre-1966 Three-Hour races for GT and Touring Cars; Pre-1963 GT cars; the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy for Pre-1955 Sports Cars; the Stirling Moss Trophy for Pre-1961 Sports Racing Cars; the Sixties Touring Car Challenge with U2TC for under 2-litre Touring Cars; the Tony Dron Trophy for Touring Car racers from the 1970s and ‘80s, the Historic Touring Car Challenge and the Motor Racing Legends Pre-War Sports Car Series.

Photograph courtesy of Bicester Historic Festival organisers.


Motor Racing Legends season dates for 2021 are May 1-2 - Donington Historic Festival; June 12-13 - Thruxton Historics; July 30-August 1 - Silverstone Classics; October 1-3 -Spa Six Hours Race and October 30-31 – the Silverstone Finale.

HAMPTON COURT CONCOURS 2021

The 2021 Concours of Elegance will take place from Friday 3rd to Sunday 6th of September at Hampton Court Palace by the side of the River Thames, west of London. The Concours of Elegance began at Windsor Castle in 2012, before moving to St James’s Palace in 2013, Hampton Court Palace in 2014 at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (Her Majesty The Queen’s official residence in Scotland) in 2015 before returning to Windsor Castle in 2016 and Hampton Court Palace in 2017. It has made its home at Hampton Court ever since.


Photograph courtesy of Thorough Events


The Concours of Elegance will once again bring together a selection of 60 of the rarest cars from around the world – many of which will never have been seen before in the UK. Many of the Concours cars will also take part in a two-day driving tour in the days running up to the main Concours event. Uniquely, the Concours of Elegance winner is not selected by a panel of judges but by the owners of the cars themselves. Each participant is asked to vote on the other models on display to decide which car is then considered to be the ‘Best of Show’.


Complementing the Concours of Elegance will be displays of hundreds of other fine motor cars, including entrants to The Club Trophy. Now in its seventh year, The Club Trophy sees some of the UK’s most prestigious car clubs offering up their finest examples to an independent panel of judges. The winning Club Trophy car will secure a place in the following year’s main Concours of Elegance event.


CITY OF LONDON CONCOURS MOVES TO JUNE FOR 2021

The London Concours, presented by Montres Breguet, is a luxurious automotive garden party hosted right in the heart of the City of London from Tuesday 8th – Thursday 10th June. This hugely exciting automobile extravaganza will see 80 of the world’s most precious cars gather in the gardens of the historic and beautiful Honourable Artillery Company Headquarters and will include a ferocious collection of horsepower arranged in specially curated and themed displays chosen by the editorial panel of Octane Magazine.

Photographs provided by Thorough Events


MORE ON THE NORTON ‘UNIFIED TWIN’

Thanks to motorcycle historian and Salon Prive judge, Dennis Frost, we can correct an error that we made in our coverage of that Blenheim Palace event back in September. A 1965 Norton 650cc ‘Unified Twin’ topped the class for Exceptional Street Motorcycles and we assumed that the name came about because the bike ‘unified’ parts from both Norton and Matchless, both brands being in the Associated Motor Cycles group. That was indeed the case but there was a lot more to both the bike and its name than just the mix of parts,


Pictures via Bing Images



As Dennis informed us, the Norton on show at Salon Prive has its crankcase and gearbox contained in a single casting, thus giving the machine its name – the Unified Twin. Just two prototype engines were produced before the Norton factory in Birmingham was closed by its parent company, Associated Motor Cycles. With production relocated to AMC’s plant in south-east London, work on the unified twin was abandoned. Now 55 years later one of these engines has been built into a 1960s chassis, re-creating the sort of machine AMC might have produced had the Unified Twin gone into production. We should have taken a much closer look at that bike at Salon Prive!



DUCATI SUPER SIX IN MOTORCYCLE FILES E-BOOKS RANGE

For less than the price of a cappuccino, Ducati enthusiasts can enjoy any one of six Amazon-listed e-books in The Motorcycle Files series by well-known author and journalist, Alan Cathcart. These include the actual V-twins that famously scored victories for Paul Smart in the 1972 Imola 200 F750 race and for Mike Hailwood in his legendary 1978 Isle of Man TT comeback. Plus the only remaining example of the monster 1280cc V4 Apollo prototype that was intended as a contender for American police bike sales in the mid-1960s.


Also featured are three more of the V-twins by legendary designer, Fabio Taglioni, these being Ducati’s 1971 500cc Grand Prix contender. along with the 1973 750SS evolution model that was developed into a two-time winner of the Barcelona 24 Hours race and a 900SS that beat the Japanese four-cylinder opposition in US Superbike racing.


To view The Motorcycle Files complete catalogue go to www.brgmultimedia.com. From there you can link directly to Amazon for lengthy free previews of each book’s content and ordering procedures.







































The Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance is one of the major such events during the year and has been scheduled for March 4th to 7th 2021. A number of special classes have been selected for the Florida event, They are listed as follows, along with a brief summary of the marques and individual cars involved.


Hispano-Suiza


King Alfonso XIII of Spain was himself an enthusiast of the fabled Spanish-Swiss grand marque and owned as many as 30 of its products. His enthusiasm for the marque and its reputation for exquisite engineering made it a favorite of royals, celebrities, heroes of all stripes and even a few literary characters who drove Hispanos across the pages of bestselling fiction when the need to project a sense of wealth and style was required. Every famous European coachbuilder of the custom body epoch dressed Hispanos. Their V-8 engines helped win the air war in WWI. That elegant engineering blood gave the cars that wore the “flying stork” mascot, as the sales brochure put it . . . “vitesse, securite, confort, silence, elegance.” It wasn’t hyperbole. Even today the reputation of Hispano-Suiza ranks it with the greatest, most respected and revered names at the pinnacle of the auto industry.


Porsche 935

The Porsche 935. Photo courtesy of The Brumos Collection.


“The Racers’ Concours” class honors and celebrates the 45th anniversary of the long-lived, fire-belching 200-plus mph Porsche 935 turbos that once ruled international endurance racing. The 935 was the backbone of international endurance racing for nearly a decade and owned championship titles from Daytona to Le Mans and back. Its popularity remains so potent that nearly five decades after its debut Porsche is creating 77 tribute cars to the 935/78 Moby Dick Le Mans racer based on the 911 GT2 RS.



Chevy Thunder


Truly the “heartbeat of America” from Indy, Sebring, Daytona, Le Mans, Pro Stock, Can-Am, Trans-Am, Club Racers, Sprint Cars, Baja & Desert Racers, IROC, F5000, Swamp Buggies, Dune Buggies, Hot-Rods, Kit Cars and even to both inshore and off-shore powerboats, Chevrolet’s small blocks, big-blocks and pure racing engines set records, crushed competitors and dominated practically every type of motorsport for well over half a century. Chevy’s small block V-8 of 1955 was the elegantly simple engineering masterpiece that inspired hot-rodders and race car builders alike. Chevy small block power even sat on the front row of the Indy 500 (in 1981), outran the fabled Offenhausers on dirt tracks, ruled NASCAR’s high banks, short tracks and road courses, won the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and almost totally owned the legendary Can-Am series in its early days (at one point winning 33 races in a row).


1977 Chevrolet Corvette Supervette. Photo courtesy of Canepa Motorsport.


Chevy Thunder is the soundtrack of NHRA Pro Stock competition winning the championship 24 times - more than any other manufacturer. Its impact on American culture even extends to popular music. In 1962 the Beach Boys recorded a song commemorating the power of Chevy’s big block Turbo-Thrust V-8 entitled, appropriately, “409.” Specifically, included in songwriter Gary Usher’s words were “four-speed, dual-quad, Positraction four-oh-nine!” Since its first V-8 in 1917, Chevy V-8 power has touched practically every facet of American life, whether towing trailers, delivering groceries or taking the likes of McLaren, Scarab, Lola, Chaparral, Eagle, Corvette and Camaro to scores of racing victories and championships.



Ferrari 275 GTB


It is hard to imagine a tougher automotive act to follow than Ferrari’s landmark 250GT series. From the mid-fifties to the immortal GTO of 1962, these set the standard, won the races and were the fast-moving targets of every rival GT builder from Los Angeles to Coventry to Stuttgart.

Ferrari 275 GTB. Photo Courtesy of Peter Harholdt.


Unveiled in Paris in 1964, the 275GTB became Ferrari’s first GT to fit modern alloy wheels and utilize independent suspension at each corner. It proved itself in June 1965 with the Belgian racing yellow 275GTB/C finishing third overall and eclipsing the Le Mans distance record of every previous class-winning GTO. The 275 won Le Mans’ GT class again in 1966 and 1967 while, easily the most famous 275GTB -- one of just ten North American Racing Team convertible Spiders built -- was Steve McQueen’s signature ride in the 1968 double Academy Award nominated film The Thomas Crown Affair.


1970 Dodge Charger R/T. Photo Courtesy of Peter Harholdt.


1970s Muscle Cars


Purely American, the Muscle Car brought horsepower to the people with low monthly payments and practically unlimited brute force. Every manufacturer from Chevrolet to Ford, from Buick to Dodge offered an alternative competitor to the Pontiac GTO, the car that started it all in the mid-sixties. The peak of the Muscle Car Era was 1970, just before emission laws and the fuel crisis hobbled Detroit’s horsepower warriors. The 2021 Amelia Concours will host a special display class from the renowned Wellborn Muscle Car Museum in Alexander City, Alabama including a Muscle Car from every manufacturer that ever played Detroit’s high stakes high horsepower game at the overpowered breed’s 1970 showroom apogee.


Supercars of the 80s and 90s


While the term "supercar" dates back to 1920, the descriptor is often associated with the debut of the mid-engine Lamborghini Miura in 1966. The rules to play the supercar game were simple: big exotic engines between the driver and the rear wheels and a body shape that echoed Le Mans prototype contours. The wilder the betterwas the ethos – so enter the Lamborghini Countach, Porsche 959, Ferrari F40, Bugatti EB110, Jaguar XJR-15 and the

Ferrari F50.


Over time the term "supercar" expanded to describe an elite group of sports cars that stand apart in terms of design, performance, technology and price.

For 2021, The Amelia will gather some of the world's most iconic supercars of the 1980s and 1990s onto the main showfield.


Ferrari F40. Photo by Deremer Studios/Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.



Shadow


In 1970, the wildest year of Can-Am competition, everybody seemed to have a better, wilder or weirder idea. None more so than a radical, bizarre, unloved and evil handling little doorstop of a race car spawning a family that would claim the Can-Am Championship, deliver a future World Champion his first F1 victory and compete at the top level of Grand Prix racing. Don Nichols, Shadow Cars chief and a genuine international man of mystery, loved the Shadow radio serials and named his cars and team accordingly. The 2021 Amelia Concours will feature a special Shadow class including the bizarre and radical AVS (Advanced Vehicle Systems) Shadow Mk 1 of 1970, the 1974 Can-Am champion DN4 and Alan Jones’ 1977 Austrian Grand Prix winner, the Shadow DN8A. Shadow designers were an all-star team with world class credentials and imaginations: Trevor Harris, Peter Bryant and Tony Southgate drew the sinister shapes that were instantly recognizable as Shadows, right down to the team’s famous ‘cloaked spy’ logo.


Photographs by Rupert Berrington courtesy of Porsche.


Since 1958, Porsches have won more than forty international hillclimb championships with modified road cars and purpose-built racers. Yet one of Zuffenhausen’s most successful cars was never meant to compete on the mountain roads. Porsche’s world conquering 935 turbo was not created to be a hill climber or to compete or even run on anything other than the smooth pampered circuits of Europe or the purpose-built speedways of North America.


But for 2020, Porsche enthusiast and loyalist Jeff Zwart chose the new 935-19 (a tribute to the Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring winner with only 77 examples built) as the basis of a car for his annual assault of Pikes Peak in Colorado.


The 156 turn, 12.42 miles road up the mountain has no guardrails protecting drivers from its huge drop-offs and is a climb of 14,115 vertical feet to the finish line. It is an unforgiving ‘race to the clouds’ and Zwart has previously set records and scored eight class victories (1994 to 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2015) in the legendary mountain climb, each one powered by Porsche. In 2015, he joined the Nine Minute Club when he became one of the relatively few competitors to post a sub-10-minute time of 9:46.243 as he captured the Time Attack 1 class record. In 2020 he bettered that time by almost three seconds but was bested by another Porsche driver (and fellow member of the Pikes Peak Hall of Fame) David Donner.



Zwart’s Porsche 935-19 is a single-seat race car based on the Porsche 911 GT2 RS road car. The 3,042 lbs. (1380 Kg) rear-engine machine is powered by a twin-turbocharged 700 HP, 3.8-liter flat-six engine. The seven-speed PDK gearbox transfers the power to the rear-wheels.


The bodyshell is created from an aluminum-steel composite with carbon-fiber and Kevlar parts added to improve aerodynamics and overall stability.


“Hill climbing is an exacting motorsport discipline” said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours.as he announced that Zwart’s car will be at the 2021 event.


“There are no second chances, no do-overs; everything has to be inch perfect on every run. Pikes Peak makes it that much harder because there are no guard rails or runoffs.


“A mistake on this mountain has profound and immediate consequences and we are proud that Jeff’s Pikes Peak 935-19 tribute car to the list of Porsche winners and champions that have been part of The Amelia since our founding in 1996.”





Throughout the course of his long career, American author and journalist, Joe Scalzo, has displayed an uncanny knack for unearthing stories about the more colourful and eccentric characters in motorsport. Both of those words perfectly describe Jean-Pierre Van Rossem who made a noisy entrance to Formula One in 1989 and very soon made an even more noisy exit!



Formula One racing these days is a respectable corporate enterprise, and no longer makes room for strange creatures like Jean-Pierre Van Rossem, a bizarre Belgian who described himself as a “beursgoeroe” (a stock market guru) but whose own father labeled him a psychopath, which seemed a far better title. Van Rossem, it may be recalled, was the curiosity who, in the late 1980s, was warmly welcomed for planning to join Formula 1 by sponsoring Team Onyx.


In some ways, Mijnheer Van Rossem, who died in 2014, was admirably respectable. In other ways, eccentric would be a better description. The color of his hair was dignified banker’s grey – though it hung halfway down his back. He dressed in correct evening dress, doing so in the daytime as well as nights. Guarding against the chill, even in the heat of a Brussels summer, he was seldom seen without his white winter shawl. He wore a starched white dress shirt, which he never bothered to tuck in but allowed to freely flow over his formidable beursgoeroe belly. Finally, fleshing out this fascinating sartorial portrait, Van Rossem day and night wore a pair of amber-tinted aviator’s glasses.


Van Rossem was born in Bruges in 1945 and raised in Brussels, but his formative semesters were spent in Ghent at the University, which acquainted him with Karl Marx. The philosophy of Marxism so inflamed him that he grew an anarchist’s beard and, in 1968, set off to promulgate it worldwide, first hurrying to Paris to riot with the rest of the students in the Days of Rage, then heading out to Moscow and Red Square to fire off a complaint about how the comrades in Russia were distorting the true message of Marx.


Next, Van Rossem took his crusade to America aided by a scholarship to the prestigious Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. There he discovered computers, stocks and bonds, and the brutal backs-to-the-wall world of the U.S. futures market. All his goals shifted violently and, veering from Marxist to predatory capitalist, he returned to Europe to become a self-proclaimed stock market guru with his own Moneytron investment scheme.


So confident was he in his beursgoeroe abilities that he openly bragged that this scheme would some fine day earn him the Nobel Prize in economics. And many people believed him - even the Belgian Royal Family. Not surprising in that the scheme was already making him so enormously rich that he was opening his own Ferrari salon. At one point he was said to have owned 108 Ferraris as well as two Falcon private jets and a superyacht.


On a rather different level be became hugely interested in slot car racing, purchasing a raceway in Chicago and hosting two major slot-racing meetings in 1988 and 1989 to which he flew in top competitors from around the world.


His next step was motor racing for real, joining Formula One’s 1989 season tournament, where he was, not surprisingly, immediately welcomed as the tourney’s most exotic new member. Laying on some bodyguards, and firing up a few of his Testarossas, he showed up at Monte Carlo as team sponsor of Onyx. This was in spring and the team did feature on the podium that season when Stefan Johansson finished third in the Portuguese Grand Prix. But by winter Van Rossem was already gone, no longer wanting anything to do with F1 - allegedly after having dug up some dirt on the F1 head honcho of the time, Jean-Marie Balestre. Going public with the dirt, Van Rossem sped one of his Testarossas into Paris, to the Hotel Ritz, where he conducted a hysterical press conference in which he excoriated and libeled Balestre by the hour.


By now Van Rossem had courted and married Niki Annys, a siren of what exists of jet-set Flanders, but it was only after the nuptials that Niki shared with Jean-Pierre her macabre secret. This was her opinion that the dead could be restored to life, providing they were refrigerated and not thawed out until the passing of, say, half a century. When Niki died of cancer not long after the marriage, Jean-Pierre set out to honor her wishes but he got into a big fight with the city fathers of Brussels who he claimed were reneging on their promise to allow Niki’s custom-made ice block casket inside the city’s medieval cemetery.


Not long after this, Jean-Pierre surfaced anew, in Antwerp, where he called a standard hysterical, Van Rossem press conference, announcing good and bad news. The good news was that the world had one less capitalist and the bad news was that it was himself. He moaned that he was broke and had lost all his Ferraris. Two shifty Americans, he claimed, had flim-flammed him and clipped him of between $150 million and $300 million – most of which was not his own money but funds invested in his scheme by unsuspecting members of the public.


In fact, Van Rossem himself was held to be responsible for the scheme’s collapse and there was also the matter of his issuing false share certificate that needed to be taken into account. So, in 1991, with all the Ferraris and other trappings of wealth either gone, or going fast, to satisfy his creditors, he was sent to prison for five years, which totally broke his spirit as a stock market guru. While he was incarcerated, he turned his attentions toward literature, self-financing the publishing of one book and threatening to hunt-and-peck dozens more. However, corrosive reviews (even some from his own publishers) of his opus Prison Book, which was based on his personal diaries, made him decide not to be a man-of-letters either.


A switch to politics came after his release when he formed his own libertarian political party, which campaigned under the slogans “No Nonsense, Vote Libertine” and “No Whining, Everybody Rich”. These attracted enough supporters to gain the ROSSEM party three seats in the Belgian Federal Parliament in 1991, with Van Rossem himself serving in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and the Flemish Parliament until 1995. Even during his respectable political career, Van Rossem was still given to eccentric gestures such as much public posturing on the floor of the Parliament and even bellowing out “Long Live The European Republic” at the coronation of King Albert II of Belgium.


In some ways it is sad that Jean-Pierre Van Rossem only stayed around Fomula One for a few months, It would surely have been more colourful with him around…