Jackie Stewart passes the burning molten alloy remains of Jackie Oliver’s BRM P153 and Jacky Ickx’ Ferrari 312B, fortunately both drivers escaped with only minor injuries, burns in Ickx’ case, lucky, it could have been much worse…
On lap 1 of the 90 lap 19 April 1970 event Oliver had a suspension failure at the Ciudalcampo, Jarama, Madrid circuit, ploughing into Ickx and puncturing his fuel tank.
The other P153 BRM of Pedro Rodriguez was withdrawn as a precautionary measure, Ollie reported stub axle failure as the accident’s cause.
Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT33 Ford was on pole, reinforcing the speed of Ron Tauranac’s first monocoque GP contender, but Jackie Stewart won the race in one of his least favourite cars, the March 701 Ford.
The accident happened at the 2nd corner, the ‘Esses Bugatti’, a stub axle failed and Oliver’s BRM rammed Ickx’ Ferrari puncturing its fuel tanks and releasing 45 gallons of avgas, a similar amount aboard the BRM. Oliver got out quickly, Ickx finally emerged with his overalls on fire, the flames put out by a soldier, Ickx suffering as a result of keeping on his fuel soaked overalls.
‘The accident created race havoc, not only the visibility being dangerously reduced for drivers…but the flaming petrol constituted another hazard. The fire-fighting was abysmal, vast quantities of water being hosed on the flames for a long time-a procedure which caused the magnesium elements to ‘gas’ and flare up time and time again. The BRM was still burning at the end of the race, but miraculously no-one was hurt’ the Automobile Year report of the race said.
Stewart didn’t have the race to himself; he initially pulled away from Brabham and Hulme, electronic dramas causing the Kiwi’s demise. Despite spinning twice Jack chased Stewart and Pescarolo, taking second when the Frenchmans Matra V12 seized, he was 5 seconds behind JYS. Only a few metres separated them when Brabham’s Ford Cosworth failed, allowing Jackie to ease off to take victory.
Bruce McLaren was 2nd, McLaren M14A and Mario Andretti in another privately entered March 701, 3rd.
Jarama 1970 was also notable for the race debut of Chapman’s latest design the Lotus 72. Jochen Rindt qualified his 8th, John Miles in the sister car did not make the cut. Rindt was out of the race on lap 8 with ignition failure.
It would take intensive development by Colin Chapman and his team to make the car competitive, the cars monocoques had to be ‘unpicked’ to make the suspension changes to eliminate a lot of the anti-dive/squat geometry and many other modifications but by June they had a winning car; victorious for Rindt in the sad Dutch Grand Prix, unfortunately the fire on that day had far more serious, fatal consequences for Piers Courage and his De Tomaso 505 Ford.
The sad reality of days like Jarama and Zandvoort in 1970, look how ill equipped in terms of fire protective clothing the marshalls are in the photos above, was the acceptance that safety standards in every respect; circuits, car construction and race support services had to improve to societal levels of acceptability. Thankfully we are on a different level in every respect today…
Tailpiece: Stewart’s winning March 701 passes the conflagration…
Automobile Year 18, The Cahier Archive