With the Passione Caracciola rally taking off in Milan, it was only natural for the 58 teams – the age that Rudolf “Karratsch” Caracciola reached – to have their first stopover at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza. It was here that the German racing driver had won the Italian Grand Prix in a Mercedes-Benz W 25 back in 1934. On this hot day, right before the fleet of classic cars (up to 1980) started heading to the rally’s next stopover in St Moritz, Jochen Mass and Carmen Jorda share a profound passion for beautiful, classic racing cars. We met with the legendary former racing driver and the Spanish F1 test driver at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza to talk about muscles, bumper cars and – of course – racing.
Jochen Mass: Do you live in Madrid?
Carmen Jorda: No, in Valencia. Have you been there?
Jochen Mass: Three times. It was nice, Valencia is great!
Carmen Jorda: Where do you live?
Jochen Mass: I live in the South of France.
You have both seen all these beautiful cars here in Milan and Monza during the Passione Caracciola. Which one is your favourite?
Carmen Jorda: I would definitely say the [Mercedes 190] SLR that I drove this morning, because it didn’t have a big engine; it was very easy to drive, unlike the one I drove yesterday [Mercedes-Benz SLS], where the steering was quite difficult.
Jochen Mass: The Brazilian, the Roadster. Yeah, yeah – I love that car, too. You’re absolutely right. It has pretty amazing power.
Carmen Jorda: Well, not that much, around 160
Jochen Mass: Yeah, 160/170, but that’s okay.
Carmen Jorda: Yeah, that’s okay, but I’m just saying that it was incredibly hard to turn. It was unbelievable.
Jochen Mass: You get used to it. You’ll grow muscles [laughs].
Carmen Jorda: It’s not about muscles, it’s about turning and stability in the corners. Steering this one is like steering a truck, it’s so big. I have never driven …
Jochen Mass: Trucks?
Jochen/Carmen: [both laugh]
Carmen Jorda: No, no. I’m not used to trucks.
What about you, Mr Mass, what’s your favourite car?
Jochen Mass: My favourite car is actually the [Mercedes-Benz] SS in terms of steering forces [turns towards Carmen]. You should drive that one. You would love it. It is very heavy. The S, which is from 1929/30, is a lovely car. It’s a straight-eight, normally with a big engine but not much power – so I drove the Mille Miglia with it and the tight corners are … well, you can forget it! You can’t make it, so you have to go forwards and backwards going up to San Marino. But it’s a beautiful car. I just drove it now at the Nürburgring again. It was the car that Rudolf Caracciola used in 1927 in the Nürburgring inaugural race. Ah, it’s fantastic. You sit in the car, Rudolf Caracciola’s 1927 winning car. It’s very interesting, very touching actually in a certain way. It’s nice.
Settle your mind - stay modest
When it comes to driving, what is the biggest challenge when you’re in a racing car? Is it the focus, the mentality or perhaps the strength?
Carmen Jorda: Of course, I think you have to be very focused. You go through the preparations, so you know every step you’re taking. But I also think it’s a slightly different preparation for each of the three: free practice, the qualifying and the race. For every session, you need to have a different mentality. For example, for qualifying, you know that you have to fight for the best and quickest lap time, while for the race maybe you have to settle on something different in your mind like the starting grid or the first two laps that are more crucial for the race. So I would say focus, concentration (obviously) and being aggressive as soon as you jump in the car.
Would you agree with that?
Jochen Mass: Yeah, absolutely. It’s perfectly correct. You need to have a certain gift. Of course, a talent for driving is one thing, that’s the obvious part, but then you need a lot more. You need to be nice. You need to be reliable. You need to be cool enough in order to absorb all that in a positive way and don’t ever think that you are too important. That’s the key thing. Stay modest in a certain way and drive well. But that’s like a lot of things in life, you know.
Carmen Jorda: Well, you are more experienced than me…
Bumper cars and the passion for racing
Do you remember the first time you sat in a car and realized that you wanted to become a racing driver?
Jochen Mass: The first time I raced, I remember it clearly, because it was a GTA, the Alpha. It was exactly what I had thought it would be. It was funny when I drove it, I thought it was déjà vu. I had mentally prepared myself long before that. It was very interesting and revealing. Driving both nicely and aesthetically was the key thing. I thought that if I drive nicely and beautifully, I would drive quicker than the others.
Carmen Jorda: I remember my first time very well. I was 11 years old. My dad had pulled out his old go-cart, the ones that have a button for the fuel. I remember that my dad had worked on it and he said “I’m going to try and fix it for my daughters and then bring it out here to the car park”. My sister didn’t end up liking it at all, but I immediately got in and asked “what is this? Can we go to a track and do something with it?” I still recall that moment so vividly. From then on, I realized that the speed and the adrenaline of racing were going to be big part of my life.
Jochen Mass: You obviously had the talent, otherwise you would have never experienced that. You had already worked it out …
Carmen Jorda: You know, it’s funny. My dad was a driver himself, and when I was five years old, he took me to have a go on the bumper cars.
Jochen Mass: Bumper cars?
Carmen Jorda: Yeah, so I always said to him “daddy, I want to drive, I want to drive”. He would answer “okay, but I have to sit next to you”. So when I got to the end of the driving platform, I started oversteering and such, and my dad was probably thinking I was mad! Since then, he always says that I had it in my DNA. And I think it’s true.
Jochen Mass (laughing): Because you just have it. Otherwise, you can’t make it!
Carmen Jorda: Either you have it or you don’t. It’s as simple as that.
Jochen Mass: You just know it. When you get into a car, you know you can do it – you don’t even think about it.
So what advice would you give to up-and-coming racing drivers? What are the qualifications and qualities you need to have?
Jochen Mass: I think you have to believe in yourself. Never doubt your talent. Be critical of yourself, but still kind. Don’t let yourself be deterred. You can’t go in tentatively and say “let’s see if I can do it”. No, you definitely have to be determined and convinced.
Carmen Jorda: I completely agree. I have doubted myself at times because I didn’t have a good race. But I have learned that doubting is a mistake. If you put your mind to it and just do it, as Jochen just said, that’s when you make it. Then you go on the track and think “I am going to overtake this one!” And that’s when you are going to overtake him – no matter what.
Carmen Jorda wore the Ingenieur Automatic (Ref. IW357002), Jochen Mass the Portofino Chronograph (Ref. IW391009) during this event.
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