Bob Anderson blats his Brabham BT11 past the watching crowd, its little 1.5 litre Coventry Climax V8 echoing off the Monaco buildings on his way to a very good 9th place in his self-run car…
Anderson was born in Hendon, North London to a well-to-do family on 19 May 1931.
He made his name in the 1950s as a motorcycle racer, by 1959 he was a front running competitor in the 350cc World Championship against the stars of the day including John Surtees, Mike Hailwood and Geoff Duke. He nearly won the 1958 Swedish GP, finishing inches behind Duke but he never came so close to GP victory again.
He switched to car racing aged 30 in 1961. Anderson raced a Jim Russell Lola Mk2 Ford in some early season UK Formula Junior races before doing some events in Europe in a Lotus 20 Ford entered by Henry Taylor. His results weren’t sensational but he moved to Lotus’ factory FJ team in 1962.
His best result that year was a second place in the 1962 Coupe de Salon at Monthlery behind teammate Peter Arundell, both in Lotus 22 Fords. He was also third in the 1962 Monaco FJ event also Lotus 22 Ford mounted, the race again won by Arundell. It was a first class result, on the grid that year were Mike Spence, Jo Schlesser, Alan Rees, Richard Attwood, Frank Gardner and John Love amongst dozens of other hopefuls!
Arundell pretty much won everything in FJ that year, rocketing into a Team Lotus, ’25’ GP car in 1963.
Anderson felt it was time to progess, at the start of 1963 Bob he acquired an ex-Bowmaker Team F1 Lola Mk4 Climax. He began racing as a Formula 1 privateer ‘DW Racing Enterprises’, based at Haynes, Bedfordshire comprised Bob and his French wife Marie-Edmee! Close friends David Stanbridge and Alan Brodie were important to his success and most critically George Copeland, his fulltime mechanic.
In those far away days a living could be made, sort of, with some trade support, from start and prize money as part of the European F1 Circus participating in a mix of Championship and Non-Championship (NC) Grands Prix.
Bob’s aims in his first year were to ‘cut his GP teeth’ by mainly competing in NC events taking in some Championship GP’s later in the season.
In 1963 there were 14 NC meetings, 13 of them in UK/Europe. These events were well supported by factory teams so he had his chance to ‘strut his stuff’ in fields made up of folks like him as well as seasoned professionals.
He did well in the Italian events in ’63; victory at the GP of Rome at Vallelunga, admittedly in not the strongest grid of the season, 3rd in the Imola GP, 4th at Syracuse and was 6th in the ‘II GP del Mediterraneo’ at Enna-Pergusa. He was also 8th at the Solitude GP in Stuttgart.
In addition the ex-factory Lola Mk4 ‘#BRGP43’ contested UK NC meetings at Snetterton and Oulton Park. He also travelled to France to race in the Pau GP on the northern edge of the Pyrenees and to Sweden to take the grid in in the ‘9th Kanonloppet’ at Karlskoga. His transporter did plenty of miles that year!
Checkout this short YouTube footage of the ’63 Rome GP Won by Anderson;
His Championship events were at home at Brands Hatch where he was 12th having qualified 16th of 23 and at Monza where he was again 12th having qualified 18th of 28 entries.
By any objective assessment it was a strong start to GP racing. The Lola was a good choice, maybe not the fastest ‘tool in the shed’ even in 1962, but John Surtees placed second twice in it in 1962.
For 1964 he was looking for a more competitive mount.
He switched to a Brabham BT11, again powered by the Coventry Climax FWMV 1.5 litre V8 for 1964, the years highlight third place behind Lorenzo Bandini and Richie Ginther at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Zeltweg airfield. Most of the fancied runners went out with mechanical trouble caused by the incredible bumps on the runways of the circuit, but it was a very strong performance all the same.
Other strong 1964 races were 6th at the Dutch GP, 7th at both Monaco and British GP’s and 11th at Monza.
His best NC results were 3rd in the Rand GP in South Africa and 6th at Syracuse.
1965 Monaco GP and the the Brabham BT11 Climax…
The Ron Tauranac designed and built Brabham spaceframe customer cars of all formulae were popular with customers in the 1960’s. Perhaps, statistically the most successful customer single seaters of that decade.
It was therefore an easy choice for Anderson to make when he needed a more competitive mount to buy one of the five BT11’s built. Three were sold to customers and 2 retained for use by the factory ‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ team. The BT11 was an evolution of the BT7 with which Dan Gurney won 2 GP’s in 1963.
So Bob had a very competitive tool for the final year’s of the 1.5 litre formula. The Lotus 25/33 was the dominant car of 1964/5, Jim Clark took his second world title in it in 1965, but the BT11 was a good, fast, reliable, robust, easy to maintain customer car.
Gurney used his BT7 during 1965 with three 3rds and two seconds to finish the title in third place. Jack changed from his BT7 to a BT11 in Germany, it was not his best season, third at Watkins Glen his best result, better was to come for him in 1966!
Magnificent shot of a typical 1.5 litre F1 car of the 1961/5 period. Andersons BT11 ‘F1-5-64’. In this case a spaceframe chassis, Lotus ‘pioneered’ the monocoque with its type 25 in 1962. Mid-engined of course, the Coventry Climax FWMV V8 the most successful engine of the period in terms of race wins. Hewland HD5 gearbox and all independent, infinitely ‘tunable’ suspension.
In this front end shot you can see the oil reservoir in front of the pedal box and Lucas fuel injection pump mounted vertically in front of the radiator. The spaceframe chassis tubes are clear, as is the pendant pedal box, aluminium fuel tank and front suspension comprising upper and lower wishbones. Small rotors and Girling brake calipers, they were light cars after all!
Heart of the matter is the ubiquitous Coventry Climax FWMV 1496cc 90 degree V8 engine. In Mk4 spec the 2 valve, DOHC, Lucas fuel injected, all alloy motor produced circa 200bhp@9750rpm. Trick 32 valve engines available to some of the factory teams in 1965 developed more but the engine was an excellent customer choice.
The gearbox was Mike Hewlands HD5, 5 speed transaxle. The cars rear suspension, typical of the period comprised a single upper link, inverted lower wishbone, coil spring/damper unit and two radius rods providing fore and aft location. Adjustable roll bars were fitted front and rear.
In 1965 Anderson’s Championship results had too many DNF’s. Highlights were qualifying 12th for the South African GP, finishing and qualifying 9th at Monaco and finishing 9th in the French GP at Clermont Ferrand.
In ’65 NC events he was 6th at Syracuse with again too many DNF’s; at Silverstone, Goodwood and Brands Hatch.
For 1966 Grand Prix racing had a new formula based around engines of no greater than 3 litres capacity, this presented a big problem for most entrants as Coventry Climax, suppliers of engines to the British teams since the late 1950’s withdrew from F1.
My detailed account of the 1966 season and related engine issues can be read by clicking on this link, rather than repeating it all again here;
Anderson’s solution was to use the old Coventry Climax 4 cylinder FPF engine, dominant in the last years of the 2.5 GP formula in 1959 and 1960. This engine had ongoing use and development in Australasia where it was essentially the engine of choice in the Tasman Championship, an annual series of 8 races, 4 each in New Zealand and Australia in January and February.
Bob was in good company, Dan Gurney also used the 2.7 litre ‘Indy’ Climax FPF in his new for ’66, Eagle T1G until his Weslake built V12 engine was raceworthy, that engines first GP at Monza in September. In fact Anderson outqualified Dan at Reims in the ‘battle of the FPF’s, Gurney in front elsewhere the drivers met.
The conversion of his BT11 from Coventry Climax V8 to 4 cylinder FPF specification was relatively easy as Ron Tauranac built a variant of the BT11, you guessed it, the BT11A for Tasman use, selling 5 such cars in the Antipodes, competitive tools until late in the decade.
Given all of the foregoing, remember his car was already 2 years old at the start of the season, his results in this year of transition were impressive. He qualified 8th at Monaco for DNF, 10th at Brands for the British GP DNF, finished 6th at Monza having qualified 15th and qualified 14th on the Nurburgring, half way down the big grid in his little old car, again DNF.
Bob never fully left motor-cycle racing, he contested the Dutch 250 GP at Assen in June 1966, an interesting interlude in mid-season!
He was hired as a ‘safe pair of hands ‘ to provide feedback as an experienced rider to Yamaha who were developing their new 4 cylinder engined bike, the Yamaha RD05.
Anderson’s assistance was around the bikes handling, he rode to 5th, only Hailwood, Phil Read, Jim Redman and Derek Wood were head of him. Not bad for a current F1 driver and someone who had been away from bikes for a bit!
I wonder if he is the only driver/rider to race in F1 and motor-cycle GP’s in the same year? Not sure if John Surtees raced his MV and for Lotus in the same season?
Anderson contested the French GP at Reims straight after Assen qualifing his old car 12th and finishing a fine 7th in the first race won by Jack Brabhams 3 litre Repco Brabham V8, on his way to the title that year.
In 1966 non-championship events he was 7th in the International Trophy at Silverstone and won the Rhodesian GP at Kumalo on December4.
Looked at objectively, his results deserved a factory drive, if not in F1 then certainly in sportscars. Perhaps one of you can explain why he seems to have been overlooked?
He started 1967 well having left his Brabham in South Africa that summer. He was 2nd in the Cape South Easter GP on 1 January, John Love took the win in the Cooper T79 Climax he acquired from Bruce McLaren, that car having won the Australian GP at Longford in early 1965.
Even better was 5th place in the South African GP, that year a championship round. In April he was 8th at Silverstone’s International Trophy.
At Monaco he didn’t qualify which is not so much an indication of his speed but rather his aging car and the relative number of full 3 litre F1 cars now competing.
In Holland he was 9th, 8th at Spa. He retired at Le Mans with ignition failure, the race held at the legendary track, or a shortened version thereof in ’67.
The shot above shows Bob Anderson’s old Brabham BT11 Climax beside F1’s state of the art; the new at Zandvoort, Lotus 49 powered by the 3 litre Ford Cosworth V8, Bobs Climax FPF was giving away around 150bhp to the 400bhp Cossie.
Sadly, Silverstone was the Brits last race, he qualified 17th and retired on lap 67 with engine failure, Clark won the GP in a dominant performance.
Anderson missed the following German GP but was testing in the Brabham in the wet at Silverstone on 14 August prior to the Canadian Grand Prix. The car slid off the circuit and collided with a marshal’s post. He suffered serious chest and neck injuries and died later in Northampton General Hospital.
It was a sad end to a fine rider and driver with strong engineering/mechanical skills, somebody i was aware of but did not know much about. A driver who deserved a ride in a factory car methinks!?
Dave Friedman, Bernard Cahier, Brian Watson, classicyams.com, Getty Images, Bruce Anderson, f2index, silhouet.com, Michele Lupini
Tailpiece: Bob and Dan Reims 1966…