(MotorSport)

French Grand Prix ace Francois Cevert raced this McLaren M8F Chev with great skill, flair and commitment during 1972, here over the July 23 weekend at Watkins Glen.

His best results in the Young American Racing Team (YART) ex-works/Peter Revson 1971 Can-Am Cup winning M8F/1 chassis was a win at Donnybrooke in mid-season, second place at Road America and third placings at Watkins Glen and Laguna Seca.

The dashing, fast Frenchie adapted well to the big-cars, was rarely out of the top-five qualifiers, and finished fifth in the drivers title behind three Porsche 917/10s – headed by George Follmer – and Denny Hulme’s second placed McLaren M20 Chev.

(MotorSport)

The shot above shows the great Frenchman pressing on at Watkins Glen, and loading up below in front of 8 to 8.4-litres of 740-830bhp big-block aluminium injected Chev V8.

(MotorSport)
(MotorSport)

The wonderful thing about Can-Am cars is the subtlety and nuance of the things! Everything about them is big, brash, brassy and loud, quintessentially American some might say.

What’s not to like? Oh to have seen theses babies race in anger, in period…

(MotorSport)

Watkins Glen, the first of sixty 5.435km laps, 326km in total. Francois leads a pack comprising David Hobbs, Lola T310 Chev, Jackie Oliver’s Shadow Mk3 Chev, then Greg Young in the other YART M8F #2 and Milt Minter’s Porsche 917/10 to the right. The Hulme and Revson McLaren M20s, and Follmer’s 917/10 are already up the road a bit.

Hulme won from Revson and Cevert but it was all Porsches up-front for the remaining six rounds with the exception of Francois’ Donnybrooke win; the McLaren Can-Am era which commenced in 1967 was finally, sadly, over.

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch-MotorSport Images, classicscars.com

Finito…

(LAT)

What a magic Pau Grand Prix vista on April 5, 1964.

Jim Clark’s one-litre Formula 2 Lotus 32 Cosworth SCA leads Peter Arundell’s F3 Lotus 27 Ford Cosworth MAE during the 80 lap, 220km race held around the streets of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques city in France’s southwest.

The yellow nose car in third is Richard Attwood’s Lola T54 SCA. Clark won from Attwood and Arundell in a stellar field which included Paul Hawkins, Tony Maggs, Frank Gardner, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Maurice Trintignant and Denny Hulme.

Jim Clark right up Paul Hawkins’ clacker during the 1964 GP. Hawkeye was seventh aboard John Willment’s F3 Alexis Mk4 Ford Cosworth MAE. There were nine or ten Ford Cosworth MAE, and Renault Gordini engined F3 cars in the F2 race, doubtless to keep numbers up in the first year of the new 1-litre F3 and F2 (LAT)
Dickie Attwood during the ’64 F2 race, Midland Racing Partnership Lola T54 Cosworth SCA. Past Saint Martin Church perhaps, help please Frenchies? (LAT)

It amused me, flicking through some Pau GP photographs that numbers two and four also loomed large the year before, in 1963, when the F1 Lotus 25 Climax V8s of Clark and #4 Trevor Taylor (below) finished one-two from Heinz Schiller’s Porsche 718.

(LAT)

The 1930 French Grand Prix was held on a triangular 15.8km road circuit at Pau. It was won by Philippe Etancelin’s Bugatti T35C, this toe-in-the-water for the town led to the Pau GP’s inauguration as an annual event in 1933.

Marcel Lehoux’ Bugatti T51 won that snowy February race from Guy Moll’s similar car.

The 1930 grid including #10 Lehoux Bug T35B, #44 the winning Etancelin Bug T35C, the #28 or 38 Bugatti of De Maleplane or De L’espee, while towards the top is the #42 Daniel T35B. 25 cars started this race (unattributed)

Happily, the race is still held around the 2.769km Circuit de Pau de Ville.

The Pau GP is up-there in a list of global continuous events. Down the decades it’s been held for GP cars until 1963. It then morphed thru F2 (1964-1984), F3000 (1985-1998), F3 (1999-2006), World Touring Car Championship cars – an unfortunate aberration – (2007-2009) then back to F3 (2012-2012), Formula Renault (2013), then F3 again (2014-2019) until this year (2022) when Vladislav Lomko, a Russian (oh dear, how very passé and politically incorrect) won the May race aboard a Dallara 320 Euroformula (F3 variant) machine.

Far-canal I HATE all the global one-make shit, it’s so fuggin boring. I don’t want to sound like a silly old tugger, but it is boring isn’t it, the lack of variety? And don’t give me the economics lesson, I just don’t give a shit…

Tazio Nuvolari on the way to victory at Pau in February 1935, he is closely followed by Rene Dreyfus, both driving Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeo Tipo P3s (unattributed)
Alberto Ascari in the fabulous Ferrari 375 during the ‘51 Pau GP, DNF transmission from Q2. His teammate, Gigi Villoresi, won from pole in another 375. Ascari won in 1952-53 aboard Ferrari 500s (unattributed)

The list of drivers who have won around the demanding track includes many of the gods; Tazio Nuvolari, Jackie Stewart and Lewis Hamilton won once, while JM Fangio, Alberto Ascari and Jack Brabham were victorious twice, Jochen Rindt won thrice during his King of F2 reign, with Jim Clark a four-time winner.

This wonderful poster for the 1963 event shows 1962 first lap action. Jo Bonnier’s Porsche 718 leads Ricardo Rodriguez’ Ferrari 156 and Jim Clark’s Lotus 24 Climax, #8 is Lorenzo Bandini’s 156. Maurice Trintignant’s Lotus 18/21 Climax won from Rodriguez, and Jack Lewis’ BRM P48/57

Throughout motor racing history France has held god knows how many car races on road circuits. It would be a great idea to tour France and tick a few off, for me Pau and Clermont Ferrand are top of the list. Doubtless that’s a function of my age, ten years older perhaps the top-two would be Reims and Rouen…

Jean-Pierre Jabouille aboard his self constructed Elf 2J (nee Jabouille 2J) Renault 2-litre F2 car, from Jacques Laffitte, Chevron B35 BMW during the height of the F2 era in 1976. First to fourth were Frenchmen; Rene Arnoux, Martini Mk19 Renault, Laffitte, Jabouille and Jean-Pierre Jarier, Chevron B35 BMW (DPPI)

The 2-litre F2 and F3000 period of incredibly quick, spectacular racing cars stretched from 1972-1998, any of you who saw the race during that period had a special treat.

Every winner of the Pau classic in that period raced in F1 with the exception of Jorg Muller, who was a test driver for Arrows, Sauber and Williams but never quite got a race-steer.

Mike Thackwell’s Ralt RH6/81 Honda during the June 1981 race won by his teammate, Geoff Lees, Thackwell was sixth (MotorSport)

Red Bull Supremo, Christian Horner raced at elite level including F3000. He is shown below at Pau in 1997 aboard his Lola T96/50 Zyrtec-Judd leading Marcus Friesacher.

It was after following Juan Pablo Montoya for a few laps the following year that Horner realised his future was better devoted to racing outside the cockpit! Still, his management capabilities are enhanced by the knowledge of exactly what his drivers are dealing with.

(MotorSport)
Pau modern era F3 race (unattributed)

Etcetera: 1952 Pau GP…

A couple of days after publication, Australian enthusiast/restorer/vintagent Chester McKaige got in touch and provided these wonderful colour images taken during the 1952 race by his father, George McKaige.

George was doing what we Colonials have always done, the Grand European Tour enroute to the UK. There he worked for the de Havilland Aircraft Company for a couple of years, on his weekends and holidays he attended many British and European racing events taking along his trusty camera.

Twenty years ago Chester printed two volumes of George’s photography in Europe and Australia, my copies of ‘Beyond The Lens’ are among my favourites of that golden-age.

Alberto Ascari in typical race attire, and Ferrari 500 in 1952. Note the stub exhausts fitted at this stage (G McKaige)
Toulo de Graffenried, Plate Maserati 4CLT-48, sixth and final car classified, Pau 1952 (G McKaige)

The XIII Grand Prix de Pau – also the first round of the Grands Prix de France F2 Championship – was won convincingly from pole by Alberto Ascari in a Ferrari 500, chassis #0003 it seems, not #0005, the car in which he won so many races in 1952-53 before passing into the hands of Australians Tony Gaze and Lex Davison.

Sharing the front row with him were Gigi Villoresi’s similar works car, and Lance Macklin’s HWM Alta. Second and third placings in the three hour, 280km race were Louis Rosier’s Ferrari 500 and Jean Behra Simca Gordini T11.

Johnny Claes’ Simca Gordini T15, DNF transmission. Pau 1952 (G McKaige)

By that early stage of the season Ascari had also won the GP di Siracusa. In a year of complete dominance he was also victorious in the GP de Marseille, a heat of the GP di Monza, the GP de Comminges, the GP de la Baule plus the championship Grands’ Prix of Belgium, France, Britain, Germany, Holland and Italy; not to forget the drivers World Championship!

Lance Macklin, HWM Alta, running at the end but unclassified, Pau 1952 (G McKaige)

Credits…

MotorSport Images, LAT, Jean Philippe Gionnet, DPPI, F2 Index, George and Chester McKaige

Tailpiece…

(JP Gionnet)

Lewis Hamilton pinging his F3 Dallara F305 Mercedes through the Esses in May 2005.

He had the perfect weekend, two poles, wins and fastest laps early in the season on the way to winning the F3 Euro Series with victories in 15 of the 20 races – and F1 beyond.

Finito…

(bilsportarvet.se)

Ronnie Peterson in the style which made him a famous crowd favourite ahead of a gaggle of other karts at Laxa, Sweden circa 1965.

3,000 people watched the Laxa Motorstadion’s – Sweden’s first Kart track – first race meeting in 1961, a venue that can take some of the credit for Sweden’s seventies and eighties motor racing successes.

Ronnie regularly practiced and raced there together with his father Bengt ‘Bagarn’ Peterson, a skilled car builder/fabricator. His competitive instinct was there from the start, but Laxa pit-pundits bet on Ronnie hitting the straw-bales on either lap one or two in his early days.

Prize presentation at Laxa circa 1964 (bilsportarvet.se)
Ronnie, Robardie Parilla circa 1965 (federicascarscelli.com)

By 1964 Ronnie had made a clean sweep of Laxa events, two years later, in September 1966 he place third in the World Kart Championships at Kopenhamm, Denmark in front of Toine Hezemans and one Keijo Rosberg.

While all the hotshots raced Parilla powered Tecnos and Birels, Ronnie’s Robardie was built by his dad. Bengt’s Robardies were good enough to win world kart titles for Tomas Nilsson in 1968 and Francois Goldstein in 1968-69.

By mid 1966 Peterson father and son had progressed to Formula 3, racing the Swebe Ford (most references have it as Svebe but the name on the original steering wheel says Swebe) which was built by Bengt and engineer Sven Andersson. It was essentially a Brabham BT15 clone fitted with Brabham like suspension, uprights and other components.

Ronnie’s best result in a half-dozen mid-year Swedish events was a third at the Dalsland Ring (below) in July.

Ronnie’s car control was legendary from the very start. He was never the best at working with the engineers to get the best out of a car, preferring to just drive around the problem
Ronnie, BT18, on the grid of the Danmarksmesterskab final at the Jyllandsringen, Denmark in October 1967 – second behind Reine Wisell’s BT18

By the Karlskoga meeting in October Ronnie raced a Brabham BT18 Ford in advance of a full campaign at home in 1967. He was fourth in the Swedish F3 Championship won by Reine Wisell, Ronnie then took back-to-back titles in 1968-69.

The 1969 F3 win which vaulted him into consideration for Colin Crabbe’s privately run F1 March 701 Ford in 1970 was victory over Europe’s cream-of-the-racing-crop at Monaco in May.

That field included fellow future F1 drivers Reine Wisell, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Tim Schenken, Patrick Depailler, Howden Ganley and Mike Beuttler. Ronnie won his heat and Wisell the other, with Ronnie nine-seconds in front of Reine in the final.

Happy and exhausted, Peterson after winning the 1969 Monaco F3 GP, Tecno 69 Ford Novamotor (LAT)
Quayside at Monaco. Tecno 69 chassis #TO334 won 16 F3 races in 1969 in Sweden, Italy, France and of course Monaco (unattribured)
SuperSwedes both; friends and rivals Ronnie and Reine Wisell at Anderstorp in June 1969 (LAT)

Even more impressive was that all of his F1 compatriots, with the exception of Howden Ganley, raced works or quasi-works cars, while Ronnie’s Squadra Robardie Tecno 69 Novamotor was spannered by Ronnie and his mechanic.

The world was on notice.

Nascent March Cars co-owner Alan Rees chased Ronnie’s signature at Crystal Palace the following weekend to drive the very first March, an F3 machine designated 693.

Ronnie at Karlskoga, Tecno Ford on the way to a win in May 1969
(MotorSport)

In September Peterson had his first F2 drive for Roy Winkelmann Racing (above) in the Albi Grand Prix.

Ronnie finished fifth aboard the unfamiliar Lotus 59B Ford FVA, in front of him were GP drivers Graham Hill, Johnny Servoz-Gavin, Jochen Rindt and Henri Pescarolo. It was his first Lotus drive, but far from his last!

Ronnie was on his way, and the rest, as they say, is history…

Credits…

‘Laxa-The country’s first Go-Kart Track’ Anders Bjork, bilsportarvet.se, olaussonphoto.com, federicascarscelli.com, LAT, MotorSport, F2 Index

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

So often Ronnie had his cars all cocked up well before the apex of a corner, as here at the Osterreichring aboard his March 721G Ford in 1972.

It wasn’t always the quickest way of course but car control exhibitions like this was the best part of a weekend for many spectators.

He ran as high as third from Q11 in Austria, finishing 12th. Colin Chapman liked what he saw, Ronnie had a Lotus seat in 1973 and gave Emerson Fittipaldi, the reigning World Champ a serious run for his money. Emerson won three GPs, and Ronnie four, which gave Lotus the constructors title but Jackie Stewart won the drivers championship with five wins…

Finito…

James Hunt and Jochen Mass, McLaren M23 Fords, Fuji 1976 (MotorSport)

We all have favorite Grand Prix seasons, for me 1976 was an enchilada with the lot.

It was a technically interesting year filled with pathos, drama, politics and a cast of personalities the spreadsheet jockeys who own F1 this week can only dream about.

Early in the season Ferrari appeared likely to take back-to-back titles. Mauro Forghieri’s 1975-76 3-litre flat-12 engined 312T/312T2 machines were amongst his best work in a long career with the Scuderia. Reigning champion Niki Lauda won in Brazil and South Africa, then his teammate, Clay Regazzoni prevailed at Long Beach.

Lauda and Fangio, two of the bravest of the brave at Fuji (MotorSport)
Mount Fuji during the 1976 race weekend, not a race-day happy-snap mind you (MotorSport)
Breakfast of champions for James, while Barry Sheene, World 500cc Champ that year on a Suzuki RG500, looks on. Fuji 1976 (MotorSport)

James Hunt had been threatening from the get-go. Starting from pole at Interlagos and Kyalami, he finally won at Jarama with the big-league Marlboro McLaren outfit.

He’d been racing for the Boats-Bolly and Big-Boobies Hesketh outfit – Silverstone International Trophy and Dutch GP wins duly noted and admired – and got his chance in the majors after Emerson Fittipaldi committed F1 suicide by leaving McLaren for his brother’s Fittipaldi Automotive outfit.

Stuff brotherly love, I’ll take a competitive car every day of the week.

That Jarama weekend was notable for the first race-appearance of Ken Tyrrell and Derek Gardner’s absolutely wild P34 six-wheeler, and because Hunt’s win was swiped from him. His car was measured as being too wide in post-race scrutineering.

McLaren appealed on the grounds that this was due to the expansion rate of the tyres during the race. Two months later the appeal was surprisingly upheld, after all it’s up to the team to manage the width of the car in accordance with the regs knowing full well the behaviour of its Goodyears.

When Lauda won in Monaco he had a massive 33 point lead in the drivers championship from Regga and Hunt.

Teddy and ‘Kojak’ – what is the name of the mechanic with the wild and woolly hair? – and Alistair Caldwell look after Hunt’s M23. Gotta’ be amongst everyone’s favourite GP designs, long-lived as it was? (MotorSport)
The usual witty McLaren mechanic’s missive to their pilot, Hunt’s raceday message (MotorSport)
Ermanno Cuoghi and crew attend to Lauda’s Ferrari, Daniele Audetto, team manager at right. The 1975-1979 312T-312T4 were fast, reliable jewels of cars driven by some of the worlds best (MotorSport)

Who can forget the stunning shots of the P34s opposite locking their way around Anderstorp’s constant radius turns on the way to a history making one-two; Jody Scheckter from Patrick Depailler.

Hunt won from pole at Paul Ricard but only after Niki’s Tipo 015 525bhp flat-12 went pop while in the lead.

Niki Lauda took pole at Brands Hatch from James, then came Mario Andretti who again reinforced the growing pace of the Lotus 77 Ford. Colin Chapman, with Andretti’s developmental help, was finding his mojo again after a year or so in the wilderness.

The British GP controversy started when Regga tagged Lauda after the start and took out Hunt as the Swiss spun. In contravention of the rules, Hunt, Regazzoni and Jacques Lafitte started in their spares. Lauda led the restarted race until halfway, then slipped back with a gearbox problem, then the hometown boy was through and took a hugely popular, well merited win…for a while anyway.

Despite starting Regga in their spare, Ferrari, Tyrrell and Fittipaldi appealed against Hunt being allowed to start in McLaren’s spare. Two months later, amid great controversy Hunt was disqualified gifting Lauda the win.

I thought this was, and still do think this was a bum-deal. I would have pinged the organiser for allowing three teams to start drivers in their spares, but allowed the results to stand.

It looks jolly enough, and I’m sure it was, but laced with no shortage of tension as well given the stakes. James, Niki and Ronnie at Fuji as officialdom rubs its Chrystal Ball as to the likely weather patterns for the balance of a Fuji Sunday (MotorSport)
Slightly soggy Fuji start…Andretti on pole, Lotus 77 Ford, Hunt alongside in his M23, Niki behind, Ferrari 312T2, and John Watson’s Penske PC4 Ford by the fence. The other car in the distant gloom is Carlos Pace’ Brabham BT45 Alfa Romeo. Goodness gracious, all that variety, three V8s and two different makes of flat-12, something Liberty Media’s Q-Department only have in their wet-dreams (MotorSport)
This shot of Ronnie Peterson retiring his March 761 Ford without completing a lap due to engine problems further reinforces the staggering amount of water on circuit (MotorSport)

Then it was off to the Nurburgring where Hunt put in some scintillating laps to start off pole from Lauda who was nine-tenths adrift of his British buddy.

Niki’s terrible, lap two accident on the left kink before Bergwerk was probably caused by rear suspension component failure. Were it not for the efforts of Guy Edwards, Brett Lunger, Harald Ertl and Art Merzario to get Lauda out of the car – in advance of the arrival of marshals – he probably would have been fried alive there and then.

Instead, the staggering Lauda, having been given the last rites at the Ludwigshafen Hospital trauma unit, showing indomitable will of human spirit, returned two races and just six weeks later at Monza.

While Lauda set about the business of survival and recovery, Hunt won the restarted German GP, and the Dutch at Zandvoort. John Watson (Penske PC4 Ford) took a well deserved and very popular win for Roger Penske on the Osterreichring in between Hunt’s victories.

Lauda out of the car, content with the decision he had made to stop. Regga was fifth (MotorSport)
(Gloomy isn’t it. Hans Stuck out with drowned electrics, March 761 Ford (MotorSport)
Battle for second between Mario Andretti and Vittorio Brambilla, aboard Ford Cosworth powered Lotus 77 and March 761 (MotorSport)

When Niki Lauda appeared at Monza he stunned everyone, not least Enzo Ferrari who had hired Carlos Reutemann to drive in his place.

In great pain, his burns not fully healed with balaclava and skin enmeshed in blood, the crazy-courageous Austrian finished the race in fourth place behind Ronnie Peterson’s March 761 Ford, then Regga second and Jacques Laffite, Ligier JS5 Matra V12, third. Hunt collected no points having spun on a charge up the field.

In the week between Monza and Mosport James’ British GP disqualification was made. So, with three races to run – Mosport, Watkins Glen and Fuji – Hunt had 47 points to Lauda’s 64. It seemed and was a tall order for the British babe-magnet.

Undaunted by the Mosport challenge, James took pole and led from lap 10 having made a typically tardy start, while Niki ran fifth but faded with handling issues.

It was then well and truly game on, Lauda’s margin slimmed to eight points, there was plenty of debate globally between racing mates about which of the drivers you wanted to prevail.

I was in Niki’s camp, his sheer bravery and dogged – cussed – will to go on and win was and still is an outstanding moment of human spirit in any sport.

Andretti’s Fuji winning Lotus 77, look at the volume of water early in the race, Hunt below looking similarly soggy (unattributed)
(unattributed)
Brambilla dived down the inside of Hunt on lap 20 but James anticipated the move so the Italian didn’t take him out in the process (MotorSport)

But Hunt kept on coming. Watkins Glen was one Grand Prix racing’s great challenges, he popped his McLaren on pole – his eighth of the year – and won the race after a duel with Scheckter’s six-wheeler while Lauda bagged the other podium spot.

As the teams travelled to the orient, Niki’s margin was down to three points, it was a showdown that either racer could win.

I remember trying to follow events at Fuji over the weekend in those far way pre-internet days with shithouse international motor racing coverage in the local Melbourne ‘papers, the sporting coverage of which extended to footy (Aussie rules), cricket (a British insomnia cure), donkeys and dish-lickers (greyhounds).

I negotiated with my father captaincy of the TV set at my nana’s place. There was a family celebration at her joint, at all costs I wanted to watch the scratchy Channel 2/BBC (?) coverage of Fuji. Do you (Australians) remember that we only got colour-telly in March 1975?

Such were the dramas that year that many non-racing folk were interested in the Japanese Grand Prix with most I knew rooting for that plucky Austrian.

The Fuji weekend was ruined by the tropical Sunday rain, Mario Andretti’s Lotus was on pole from Hunt and Lauda.

There was intense, long debate about whether the race should start at all, such were the challenges of fog, rain and vast amounts of running water all over the track. But the decision was to race, the majority of drivers didn’t disagree.

Hunt led from Watson and Andretti, then Watson went down an escape road on lap two, on that lap Lauda pulled in. Larry Perkins completed one lap, Carlos Pace seven, and Fittipaldi nine. The Brabham duo came in, I think, on the command of Generalissimo Bernie. In all of the circumstances who could blame Niki. His courage was not in doubt.

McLaren pit – sixth with 3 laps to run and 4 seconds adrift of Depailler, James’ task is clear. Teddy and Alastair Caldwell at right with 6 to run, 45 seconds in hand and tyre stop pending (MotorSport)
Hunt’s critical tyre change on lap 68 of 73 laps – you can see how shot the discarded left-front is (unattributed)
Patrick Depailler’s Tyrrell P34 Ford when running second (MotorSport)

James still needed points, he had to finish no lower than third in immensely difficult conditions, no pressure…

He continued to lead, by lap 10 his margin was greater than eight seconds. For a while local boy, Kazuyoshi Hoshino’s privately run Tyrrell 007 Ford was running third, from grid slot 21! He failed to finish after one of his Bridgestones (yes Martha) failed.

More worrying for Hunt was the second place contest between Andretti and Vittorio Brambilla, March 761 Ford. Vit was pretty-pacey in the wet – remember his ’75 Austrian GP win – soon passed Mario and on lap 20 challenged for the lead but spun. Anticipating/seeing the move, James gave him room then cut-back inside the hapless Italian.

Hunt then seemed set for the win, his team mate Jochen Mass was second with Andretti slipping back, but Hunt lost ground as the track began to dry.

He took no notice of pit signals to cool his soft-wets by seeking out the still watery sections of the track, as Mass was. Andretti picked this up, cooled his tyres and never pitted, while Mass closed on his team leader, then spun on lap 36.

By mid-race Merzario, Watson and Brambilla had succumbed to mechanical dramas, Stuck to drowned electrics, Hoshino with tyre troubles, while Mass’ car was damaged after his spin.

Trance like, Hunt continually stuck to his dry line, his choices then were to pit for new tyres or tough it out and hope others wouldn’t run him down.

His choice was settled on lap 68 when both left-hand tyres deflated due to excessive wear. He scraped into the pits and endured a long pitstop – the well-drilled pit-stoppers were nearly a decade away – then emerged in fifth place with four laps to run and needing third to win the title.

For two laps he didn’t progress, then with two to go he passed Alan Jones’ Surtees TS19 Ford on the exit of turn one, only Regga was in the way now.

The tough, swarthy, experienced Swiss normally would have been a big, probably insurmountable problem, but he’d already been sacked by Ferrari for 1977, so when Hunt’s intent was clear, Regga all but waved him past. Faaark Ferrari team orders/expectations he not unreasonably thought.

Hunt endured a nail-biting two final laps, but with third place points he snitched the title from Lauda

It wasn’t all bad for Ferrari though, they won the Constructor’s Championship, meanwhile Mario Andretti, somewhat forgotten a bit in all of this melodrama, won the race in a portent of what Lotus had to come, with Depailler a very well deserved second.

Even Liberty Media couldn’t have written a script like this. And yes, I know Ron Howard, or rather Peter Morgan did.

What a year and race it was…

At the end of the race James remonstrates with Teddy Mayer thinking he had fallen short, he had not! (MotorSport)

Credits…

MotorSport Images

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)
(MotorSport)

Finito…

image

(B Hardy)

Sales promotion of the Mini Cooper early-sixties style…

The shot above is by Bert Hardy, the extraordinary photographer of the UK’s Picture Post by then plying his trade in advertising. See here for more about Hardy; 1947 JCC Jersey Road Race… | primotipo… The photos below are via other agencies working on the BMC account.

It’s a decade before my time but are very much of the time aren’t they?

The caption for the opening shot, ‘Mini Rally at Brands Hatch’ is dated January 6, 1965. Touring car racing was never quite the same again when the Minis joined in on the fun, the magic little cars punched above their weight, as often as not being outright contenders in addition to inevitable class wins.

Click here for my Cooper S articles; https://primotipo.com/2015/09/29/monte-carlo-rally-1967-morris-cooper-s/ and here; Cooper S… | primotipo…

image

Bruce McLaren is at left in the shot above, taken at Goodwood in 1961, and again at far left in the one below..

image

Partially hidden behind the attractive babes (I don’t spose I’m allowed to make that kind of factual, complimentary observation these days) is, my friend and Cooper Historian Stephen Dalton tells me Jack Brabham’s 1961 Indy 500 spare car, a Cooper T53 Climax 2.7 FPF. See here for a feature on Coper’s Indy adventure; Jack’s Indy Cooper T54 Climax… | primotipo…

It is it a real-test day, John Cooper is tending to the engine in the similar shot above, “they tested a Cooper T55 that day too.”

Stephen comments further, “KEL 236 is a numberplate borrowed from a motorbike and fitted to the 997 Cooper prototype. The brochure cover image has the grille and bonnet badge touched in by a graphic artist.”

“It’s totally different to the colour shots, as they were still developing stuff for the car when these April 1961 photos were taken. No production 997s existed until July 1961.”

“They also did Austin Healey Sprite Mk2 press photos in similar scenes to this on the same day, neither BMC car was officially released at the time.”

Credits…

Bert Hardy, Getty Images, Stephen Dalton

Finito…

(Classic Auto News)

Bruce McLaren blasts past the Royal New Zealand Airforce control tower building during the 1965 Lady Wigram Trophy.

The reigning Tasman Cup champion finished second in his Cooper T79 Climax to Jim Clark’s Lotus 32B Climax with Jim Palmer’s Brabham BT7A Climax third. Clark won the title that summer with wins in four of the seven rounds.

Wigram Aerodrome was located in the Christchurch suburb of Sockburn, now named Wigram/Wigram Skies. It operated as an airfield from 1916, and as an RNZAF training base from 1923 to 1995.

Sir Henry Francis Wigram was a successful Christchurch businessman, politician and promoter of the fledgling aviation industry. He gifted land for the airfield to the Canterbury (NZ) Aviation Company (Sockburn Airport), later the land was re-gifted to the RNZAF.

The Lady Wigram Trophy was named in his wife’s honour.

Charles Kingsford Smith’s Fokker F.VII Trimotor Southern Cross at Wigram having made the first Tasman flight from Sydney to Christchurch on September 10, 1928 (discoverywall.nz)

 

Wigram August 1937. The first aircraft is a Gloster Grebe, others include De Havilland Tiger Moths, with Vickers Vildebeests at the end. Happy to take your input/corrections (natlib.govt.nz)

The first motor racing event took place at Wigram in 1949 when the Canterbury Car Club organised the NZ Championship Road Race meeting on February 26.

Winners of the Lady Wigram Trophy subsequently included many internationals such as Peter Whitehead, Archie Scott Brown, Ron Flockhart, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt. Other F1 drivers who won around the hangars include Graham McRae, Larry Perkins and Roberto Moreno.

Suss this series of excellent Talk Motorsport articles which tell the Wigram motor racing tale in full; Wigram Motor Racing: The First Decade | Talk Motorsport

The 1949 feature, the NZ Championship Road Race was won by Morrie Proctor’s Riley 9 at the far left of this photograph.

The legendary Ron Roycroft leads in his ex-works/Sir Herbert Austin, Austin 7 Rubber-Duck s/c from Hec Green in a Wolseley Special with Bob Christie aboard an MG TA Spl at the tail of this group.

(teara.govt.nz)

Jack Brabham leads Bruce McLaren, Brabham BT7A Climax and Cooper T70 Climax, at Wigram with the Port Hills forming a lovely backdrop in 1964.

Bruce won the 44 lap race from Jack with Denny Hulme’s works Brabham BT4 Climax third.

McLaren won the inaugural Tasman Series. His three wins in New Zealand matched Brabham’s in Australia, but Bruce’s 39 points haul trumped Jack’s 33. 

Brabham was the dominant marque that summer, Graham Hill and Denny took a race win apiece aboard their BT4s giving Motor Racing Developments a total of five wins in the eight rounds.

Reg Parnell’s 3.5-litre Ferrari 555 Super Squalo alongside teammate Peter Whitehead’s similar car in the Wigram paddock – note the hangars – in 1957.

Whitehead took the win from Parnell with Horace Gould’s Maserati 250F third. See here for more these cars; Squalo Squadron… | primotipo…

1957 starting grid panorama (I Tweedy)

BRM’s Ron Flockhart won the 1959 race from pole in a convincing display, he gets the jump in the P25 here with the obscured Coopers of Brabham and McLaren immediately behind, and Syd Jensen’s at right.

Frank Cantwell’s Tojeiro Jaguar is on the left, then Ross Jensen’s light coloured sharknose Maserati 250F, then Tom Clark’s Ferrari 555 Super Squalo #22.

Jack Brabham crouched in the cockpit of his Cooper T55 in typical style during the 1962 running of the Wigram classic.

Stirling Moss won again in his final New Zealand victory, aboard a Rob Walker Lotus 21 Climax (below) from Brabham, with John Surtees third in a Cooper T53 Climax. Jack and John used 2.7-litre Indy FPFs, while Moss’ was a 2.5.

Moss motors away in Rob Walkers’ Lotus 21 Climax #935, who is aboard the chasing Cooper T53? (MotorSport)

We have lift-off in 1967.

Frank Gardner’s four cylinder Coventry Climax FPF was going to struggle against the 2.1-litre BRM V8s of Dickie Attwood and Jackie Stewart on the right.

Frank finished a good fourth in a series of great speed and reliability, but up front at Wigram were three different V8s; Jim Clark’s 2-litre Lotus 33 Climax, Attwood’s BRM P261 and Denny Hulme’s 2.5-litre Brabham BT22 Repco.

Clark won the series with three wins from six championship rounds. Stewart won two and Jack Brabham, Brabham BT23A Repco one. The BRMs were quick, as they had been in 1966 – Stewart won the Tasman that year – but the transmissions wouldn’t take the additional punch of the V8s, which that year were bored out to 2.1-litres, rather than the 1.9-litre variant of the original 1.5-litre F1 V8 which did the trick the year before.

The cars are on the start-finish straight and lining up for Hangar Bend. Look closely, there are two BRM P261s in the mix so it’s probably 1966 or 1967, not 1968 I don’t think.

Christchurch enthusiast Geoff Walls remembers this era well, “It was the most fabulous fast circuit as those airfield situations can be, particularly rounding Bombay Bend onto the main straight/ runway at 100mph before really opening up for the length of the straight.”

“The Lady Wigram Trophy weekend was always in the Summer school holidays so on the Thursday, practice day, and again on Friday, some mates and I used to bike to the airfield, hide our bikes in the dry grass covered ditch parallel with the main runway, crawl through the wire fence and then sprint across the track at the right time and into the middle of the circuit where all the cars and drivers were for the day, great stuff!”

“In later years the Country Gentlemen’s Historic Racing and Sports Car Club used to hold a race weekend there with 250 entries and I was Clerk of the Course, also great occasions on the circuit. That was a great social occasion too and I do have photographic evidence!!”

(G Danvers)

This photograph was taken in October 1968 from the top of the water tower, looking east towards the control tower. Don’t the hangars in the foreground make the control tower building which looms large over Bruce McLaren in our opening shot seem small!

(T Marshall)

Adelaide Ace John Walker – later 1979 Australia GP and Gold Star winner – with Repco-Holden F5000 V8 fuel injected thunder echoing off the hangar walls.

It’s the ’74 Tasman round, the tremendously talented Terry Marshall has captured the perfect profile of JW’s unique Repco-Holden powered Lola T330 with a perfect-pan. His DG300 Hewland was hors d’combat after 20 laps. John McCormack won in another Repco-Holden powered car, Mac’s Elfin MR5 was timed at 188mph on Wigram’s long straight, the two VDS Chevron B24 Chevs of Teddy Pilette and Peter Gethin were second and third.

Six months earlier, closeby, this BAC 167 Strikemaster Mk88 was pictured in repose. The jet-powered trainer and light attack machine had bones dating back to the 1950 Percival Provost.

(John Page)

 

(T Marshall)

Dave McMillan won two Wigram Trophies on the trot in 1979 and 1980 aboard one of Ron Tauranac’s most successful designs, a Ralt RT1 Ford BDA Formula Atlantic/Pacific.

They were good wins against strong opposition too. He won both races in 1979, in front of Teo Fabi and Larry Perkins in one race, and Fabi and Brett Riley in the other. In 1980 he was in front of Steve Millen, second in both, and Ian Flux and David Oxton in third.

An RNZAF Douglas A-4 Skyhawk single-seat subsonic fighter on display during the Wigram Wings and Wheels Exhibition February 1986 weekend.

(canterburystories.nz)

Credits…

Classic Auto News. The talkmotorsport.co.nz website provided most of the photographs, I’d love to provide credits to the snappers concerned if any of you can oblige. Terry Marshall, John Page, canterburystories.nz, Isabel Tweedy, the Gary Danvers Collection, discoverywall.nz, teara.govt.nz

Tailpieces…

Piers Courage, Brabham BT24 Ford DFW alongside the similarly powered Lotus 49Bs of Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt at Wigram in January 1969.

Chris Amon’s Ferrari Dino 246T is behind Jochen, Frank Gardner, Mildren Alfa V8 behind him.

Perhaps the Tasman Cup high point was 1968 when the field included two works Lotus 49 Ford DFW V8s, Amon’s factory Dino V6, works BRM P261 V8 and P126 V12s, Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT23E Repco, and various other Repco V8 engined cars, Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa V8 and the rest.

Jochen Rindt won the 1969 LWT, it was the great Austrian’s first Team Lotus, ok, Gold Leaf Team Lotus, victory.

He won from Hill and Amon with Chris winning the Tasman that year with four wins in the seven rounds.

(G Danvers Collection)

RNZAF Wigram in 1992 complete with a Tiger Moth and 11 Airtrainers ready to boogie, the wonderful building is still with us, and as a Listed Heritage Place always will be.

The government rationalised their military properties in the 1990’s, in that process RNZAF Wigram was closed in September 1995. Wigram Aerodrome then operated until March 2009 when it was progressively redeveloped for housing. The aviation connection continues though, the Christchurch Air Force Museum is located on the northern side of the old aerodrome.

Finito…

(unattributed)

Man, what a shot!

A steam loco probably doing the Hobart to Launceston milk-run – from the south of Tasmania to its north – blasts its way over the Longford Viaduct circa 1930. Points for the train and car make/model/year folks?

The challenge of course was then to come up with a monochrome photograph of a racing car from exactly the same angle.

(R Edgerton Collection)

This one of Stan Jones’ Maserati 250F is the best I can do. It’s during a good meeting for Stan, he won the Australian Grand Prix that March 1959 Labour Day long-weekend. See here; Stan Jones, AGP, Longford: Gold Star Series 1959… | primotipo…

Credits…

Ron Edgerton Collection. As to the first shot, the fella who posted it on Facebook disappeared with his shot as quickly as he arrived. Happy to attribute whoever you are/were.

(unattributed)

Tailpiece…

Longford’s Viaduct and Railway Bridge close by to it are popular places for train-spotters.

The lattice-truss, wrought iron and steel bridge which spans the South Esk River was the equal longest bridge in Australia for a decade or so after the Welsh built structure was commissioned in 1870.

Those lovely pillars were removed during the 1960s – where were the Builders Labourers Federation when you needed them – there is a gofundme.com program to raise the $A80k required to replace the four pillars, two at each end of the bridge, an important bit of our industrial heritage.

More trains, planes and automobiles; Context and progress: Trains, planes and racing cars… | primotipo…

Finito…

(MotorSport)

It’s not what you know that gets ya, it’s what you don’t know.

I thought I’d done a nice piece on Ferrari’s 156 variants, that is, the cars which bridged the gap between the 1961 World Championship winning 156 Sharknose and 1964 158, victorious in the hands of Phil Hill and John Surtees respectively.

Then Doug Nye posted the photograph above on an internet forum. It’s Lorenzo Bandini at the Nurburgring during the 1962 German GP weekend in a Ferrari 156/62P. The prototype was designed by Mauro Forghieri in 1962 as the young engineer explored smaller, lighter-tubed spaceframes of the type built by the British manufacturers.

He sought to bridge the performance gap which had widened even more after Jim Clark debuted the first modern monocoque Lotus 25 Climax at Zandvoort that May.

Oopsie, missed that car, hmmm, back to the drawing board I thought. Sure enough, there are a few photographs of the 156/62P, which raced only at the Nurburgring and Monza 1962 if you look closely.

(MotorSport)

Forghieri’s learnings with this model were then applied to his 1963 spaceframe 156/63, a GP winner on the Nurburgring in Surtees’ hands that year. The shot above shows Il Grande John hard at it through the Dutch dunes at Zandvoort in June 1963.

So, do check out this article, Ferrari 156/62P, 156/63 and 156 Aero… | primotipo… I’ve re-written it and doubled the number of photographs. Hopefully it’s now a decent record of the 1.5-litre V6 engined 1962-1964 Ferrari 156/62P, 156/63 and 156 Aero…

(MotorSport)

The final variant of the 156 was the 156 Aero, here Lorenzo Bandini is on the way to his – and the 156 Aero’s only championship GP victory – at Zeltweg, Austria in August 1964.

This model was created to contest the 1963 Italian GP. When the Tipo 158’s engine was running late the venerable V6 was skilfully adapted to fit the new Aero chassis. The car was still competitive in 1964 too, Bandini raced them for a while as Surtees and Forghieri got the 158 up to snuff.

Credits…

MotorSport Images

Tailpiece…

(MotorSport)

“We could have a party in here Colin! It’s so roomy and comfy.”

Jim Clark trying Bandini’s new Ferrari 156/62P for size at the Nurburgring in 1962. “Our car may be a bit snug Jimmy but it’s 48 seconds a lap quicker than that little clunker”, may well have been Chapman’s retort.

Ferrari were way off the pace in 1962 but won a nip-and-tuck world title in 1964. As much as anything else it was text book stuff about having depth in the team when the 1961-62 Winter of Ferrari Discontent resulted in eight senior employees leaving the Scuderia. In the overall scheme of things they barely missed a beat, ahem, 1962 aside…

Finito…

(R Dumont)

Colin Chapman in thoughtful mode posed with a model of a Lotus Mk6, the shot is dated September 14, 1963.

I wonder what the purpose of the press visit was? For sure Ronald Dumont, the photographer and perhaps an accompanying motor-noter weren’t there to discuss the Mk6 or the Elite shown in the background.

Chapman’s primary programs that year were winning Lotus’ first F1 World Championship – Chapman’s part-credit for Vanwall’s 1958 Manufacturers Championship victory duly noted – together with Jim Clark and the Lotus 25 Climax, and winning the Indy 500 with Clark, FoMoCo and Lotus 29 Ford. He ticked the first box that year, but not the second, not yet anyway.

Design drawing of what became known as the Elan, by Ron Hickman dated November 1962 (R Hickman)

I know what the visit would have been about! The Elan was introduced in October 1962, that’s it. Ignoring the fact the car(s) in the shot are a 6 and Elite…

(unattributed but I’d love to know the artist if anyone can oblige)

It’s interesting how Ford sought to capitalise on the growing relationship with Lotus, something of a model for partnerships between a major automotive corporate and a more nimble performance specialist firm.

FoMoCo)
(Lotus Cars)
(Lotus Cars)
Elan production line at Hethel circa 1970 (Lotus Cars)

Where would motor racing have been, and historic racing now, without the giant-killing Lotus Ford twin-cam engine in all of its various guises; road, race and in the forests and hills?

(Lotus Cars)

Checkout the specifications of a Cosworth modifed twin-cam engine at the end of this piece; Allan Moffat, Single-Seater racer… | primotipo…

Credits…

Ronald Dumont, Getty Images, lotuscortinainfo.com, FoMoCo, Lotus Cars, Ron Hickman – see this piece on Hickman and the Elan; Ron Hickman and the Lotus Elan – The National Motor Museum Trust

Tailpiece…

Jim Clark with his new company car in June 1963. Love the Beetle and old-school parking meter behind, London?

Finito…

2022 McLaren MCL36 Mercedes (McLaren)

For the last few decades the aerodynamics of racing cars have been developed with the aid of complex computer modelling and sophisticated wind tunnel testing. Things were a bit different in 1964 as Bruce McLaren finalised the specifications of the first McLaren built from the ground up in his own factory – as against the Tasman Cooper T70s he and Wally Willmott built at Cooper in later 1963 – the McLaren M1.

The Kiwi’s head was full of ideas, he was up to his armpits doing countless laps of Goodwood helping to get the best from Ford Advanced Vehicles new Ford GT40. His nascent Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team was racing the Cooper Oldsmobile, a further mutation of the ex-Roger Penske Zerex Climax Special. Then their was his day-job with Cooper as leader of their F1 team.

Not to forget Cooper’s own Climax engined ‘Monaco’ sporty, or Lola’s Mk6 GT Ford, he had done plenty of laps in those too.

Bruce McLaren at right, and Eric Broadley – lead design engineer – in the brown shirt at left and Ford GT40. It’s the May 1964 Nurburgring 1000km, race debut of the car, DNF suspension. Note the radiator top-ducts (unattributed)

Never was a man better placed than Bruce right then to know exactly what a winning sports-racer’s attributes needed to be. After all, in June he’d just won the Players 200 at Mosport in front of some of the best in the world (Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, FJ Foy, Roger Penske and Ken Miles) aboard his just finished Cooper Olds aka Zerex Special. This very finely honed grandfather’s axe had just copped a new McLaren built centre cockpit section and 3.9-litre Traco modified Oldsmobile V8 to replace the lissom Coventry Climax FPF four. More on the Zerex Special here; Roger Penske’s Zerex Special… | primotipo…

While testing the Cooper Olds at Goodwood, McLarens mechanics, Wally Willmott and Tyler Alexander got tired of continually removing the front section of the Cooper Olds’ bodywork, just to check brake and clutch fluid levels. So they decided to cut a small access hatch above the master cylinders, it was hinged at the front and held shut with a Dzus fastener at the rear.

Cooper Oldsmobile and a busy Tyler Alexander in the Goodwood paddock, June-July 1964 – still with the Mosport ‘quickie’ stack exhausts and winning numerals attached (W Willmott)

On one of Bruce’s test runs the fastener came loose. McLaren noticed the flap lifting, showing negative pressure just where he thought it would be positive, and would therefore hold the flap shut.

Bruce, Wally and Tyler discussed the phenomena. They concluded that if it was a low-pressure area, they could exhaust hot air from the water and oil radiators through the top of the body to assist cooling. The method until then had been to exit the air around the front wheels.

They decided to change the radiator air exit, so Tyler set-to with tinsnips and cut a big square hole in the body behind the radiator. The flap of alloy wasn’t cut at the top but folded down behind the radiator to deflect the air upwards.

Tyler Alexander takes the tinsnips to form the Cooper Olds’ radiator exit duct. The smaller flap which popped open is clear, Goodwood (W Willmott)

After his test run with the changed nose, George Begg wrote, “Bruce reported that the front of the car now had better grip, this helped reduce high speed understeer. In turn this meant a larger rear spoiler could be employed so as to again balance the car’s handling at high speed.”

“This was a big breakthrough as it meant both better cooling and higher downforce from the body. Back at the factory an alloy panel was made and fitted to smooth the flow of air through the big square vent in the top of the bodywork.”

The Cooper Oldsmobile raced with the top-duct fitted for the balance of its life.

Bruce McLaren was the class of the field in the August 1964 RAC TT at Goodwood until clutch failure ended the Cooper Olds run – complete with now more refined bonnet top radiator duct (Evening Standard)

This innovation – I’m not saying McLaren were the first to do it, check out the duct on the Ford GT40 shown above that May – was then deployed on all front-radiator McLarens. Right from the first M1 sportscar – with the exception, for some reason, of the 1967 single-seaters – until the 1971 side-radiator M16 Indycar headed in a new aerodynamic direction initiated by Lotus’ epochal types 56 and 72.

McLaren’s approach quickly became the global paradigm.

It really was a major advance, one borne of a dodgy Dzus fastener and the computer like brain of Bruce Leslie McLaren, with not a data-base or wind tunnel to be seen.

(GP Library)

Bruce McLaren aboard his brand new McLaren M1 Oldsmobile at Goodwood in mid-September 1964.

It’s his first run with bodywork – note the neat radiator duct – his first laps of the spaceframe machine were completed sans body, a practice followed for years with McLaren’s single seaters and sportscars.

The McLaren M1’s Engine at this stage was a Traco prepped circa 310bhp 3.9-litre aluminium V8, gearbox a Hewland four speed HD, wheels are Cooper magnesium. More on the McLaren M1 here; Lola Mk6 Ford, Bruce McLaren and his M1 Olds… | primotipo…

(Getty)

The finished product during the Bahamas Speed Week at Nassau in December 1964.

Bruce placed second to the Hap Sharp/Roger Penske driven Chaparral 2A Chev in the feature race, the Nassau Trophy, despite giving away a litre or so and several years of ongoing development to the Rattlesnake Raceway boys.

Wally and Tyler sending Bruce away after a pitstop during the 405km race – 56 laps of the 7.2km Oakes Field Course.

Apart from the two factory Chaparrals (Penske jumped into Sharp’s car after an off-course excursion), the classy field of outright contenders included Pedro Rodriguez in a NART Ferrari 330P, Walt Hansgen’s Scarab Mk4 Chev, Dan Gurney’s Lotus 19 Ford and Jerry Grant’s Chev engined 19.

It was a great start for McLaren, orders for the cars poured in, this led to the deal Teddy Mayer concluded with Elva cars to produce customer McLarens, an incredibly smart and lucrative way to deal with the punters…

(Getty – Bernard Cahier)

Reference and photo credits…

‘Bruce McLaren: Racing Car Constructor’ George Begg, Wally Willmott, GP Library, LAT Images, Getty Images – Bernard Cahier

Finito…