Posts Tagged ‘BRM P153’

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‘yer don’t tend to think of Rodriguez as a Can-Am driver but he contested many races over the years without ever doing a full season’s program. A pity, as his fearless, blinding speed aboard big hairy V8’s would have been worth travelling a mile or three to see…

Here Pedro is with the 7.4 litre BRM P154 Chev during the Monterey Grand Prix weekend at Laguna Seca on 18 October 1970.

BRM built the P154 Chev to contest the 1970 Can-Am with George Eaton as its driver, the car was one of two brand new cars by Bourne’s just joined designer, Tony Southgate.

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The immensely talented BRM Chief Engineer, team manager and designer Tony Rudd fettling his nemesis, the complicated, heavy and recalcitrant! BRM P83 ‘H16’, Monza, Italian GP practice in 1966 (GP Library)

BRM had two terrible years by their lofty standards in 1968 and into 1969. The BRM H16 engine was finally made reliable-ish in 1967 but it’s corpulence, it was well over 300 pounds in excess of it’s designed weight made the cars power to weight ratio poor whatever the chassis designers did to take weight out of the rest of the bolide.

The replacement P101 2 valve 3 litre V12, first raced by Bruce McLaren in his McLaren M5B at the Canadian GP  in late 1967 was concepted as a sports car engine. Whilst light it wasn’t a match for the Ford Cosworth DFV’s power, torque, fuel efficiency or reliability, the same problems being confronted by Ferrari and Matra with their own V12’s.  Into 1968 the DFV was being raced in numbers; by Lotus, McLaren, and Ken Tyrrell’s Matra International team.

As the Bourne engineers focussed on engines they lost their way with chassis direction, a strength prior to this. As a consequence Tony Rudd, who had masterminded BRM’s rise and consistency for over a decade left in mid-1969 to join Colin Chapman at Lotus.

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British GP practice, Silverstone 1969 with Surtees telling the boss just how shite things really are! Sir Alfred Owen, the immensely successful industrialist listens carefully and acts, with ‘generational change’ at Bourne. Allan Challis is the BRM mech in orange (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

’69 BRM driver, John Surtees was having a shocker of a season on both sides of the Atlantic, Jim Hall’s conceptually brilliant but flawed Chaparral 2H CanAm car was an even bigger ‘sheissen-box’ than his BRM F1 P139 BRM. Time was ticking in terms of his own driving career, he was 35 and had managed to land in the wrong team at the wrong time, twice in the same year when time was very much a precious commodity!

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Surtees in the BRM P138 in Monaco 1969 practice. The cars all raced raced sans wings due to a CSI  overnight safety decree severely limiting them. Surtees Q6 and DNF after Jack Brabham ran up his clacker when his gearbox failed, no injury to either driver (Rainer Schlegelmilch)

With BRM owner Sir Alfred Owen’s consent Surtees approached Tony Southgate, with whom he had worked at Lola on the T70 Can Am and T100 F2 cars and more recently designed competitive cars for Dan Gurneys ‘All American Racers’ in Santa Anna, California.

Southgate’s Eagle 210 Offy won the 500 in Bobby Unsers hands in 1968, he also designed a successful Formula A car and a stillborn ’68 F1 car design, elements of which were picked up in the Indy and ‘A Car’.

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George Eaton at Monaco in 1970 in Tony Southgate’s brand new, BRG BRM P153 V12. Compare the ‘old and new’ P138 Monaco ’69 with P153 Monaco ’70  (The GP Library)

Southgate’s brief when he joined BRM was twofold; ‘do what you can now to get the P139 competitive and design a new car for 1970’…

The Brit quickly decided their was little he could do with the P139 so pressed on with the design of the P153, it and the evolved for ’71 P160 were front running, GP winning (4 wins) cars.

Whilst in the middle of the P153 design the chaotic BRM ‘decision making process’ determined that a Can Am challenger for 1970 was a good idea. It was a good earn after all. In a way it was a good decision as Southgate had Can Am experience at Lola and AAR but at the time focus on the ‘main F1 game’ would have been the more prudent course, but racers to the core the BRM outfit were!

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Tony Southgate’s quarter-scale layout drawing of the BRM P154 (Tony Southgate)

Given the designation P154, the car was very much a wedge-shaped device, developed at quarter scale in the Imperial College wind tunnel, then in MIRA’s full-size tunnel when it was completed.

Southgate recalled testing the car at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association test facility); ‘MIRA has a large test track, with high banked corners to enable high average speeds to be maintained…the one and only Jaguar XJ13 was there for a filming run…an hour or two later whilst in the wind tunnel we heard a load bang. The XJ13 crashed violently at 125mph when a rear wheel collapsed, it rolled four times, I’m glad to say Norman Dewis, Jag’s legendary test driver was only bruised’.

‘By comparison with the 1965 prototype Le Mans car, certainly pretty but what then seemed like old technology, basically it looked like an E Type with an engine in the middle, very round in section with low drag the clear priority. By comparison the P154 was very aggressive looking, wedge-shaped with square sections and downforce was written all over it.’

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‘The P154 model in the Imperial College wind tunnel. There was no moving floor in those days so the wheels were fixed with a small 1mm gap between them and the floor. The model was covered in chalk and paraffin so that when it dried the chalk left a surface air flow pattern for studying.’ (Tony Southgate)

The P154 had a neat lightweight monocoque chassis, the front suspension was similar to the P153 with a single upper link, lower wishbones, coil spring/Koni shocks and an adjustable roll bar. But the rear suspension was quite different as Southgate sought to run the exhaust low down, locating the exhaust primaries below the rear suspension lower wishbones, the aim was to lower the CG. ‘The end result looked good’. The suspension itself was conventional, single upper link, lower wishbones, twin radius rods for forward and lateral location and coil spring/Koni shocks and adjustable roll bar.

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‘The prototype BRM P154/01 being assembled at Bourne. I am showing (TS left) the Castrol USA representative (sponsor) around whilst Tim Parnell (team manager at right) looks on. The monocoque was quite neat and full-length, finishing at the gearbox. The engine is a Chevy developed by BRM, the gearbox a Hewland LG500.’ (Tony Southgate)

Designed for super wide 19inch wide Firestones which never appeared, the car always looked ‘over bodied’ with the 17’s the car raced with. This contributed to the handling dramas attributed to the beast.

The engine was built in-house at BRM and seemed competitive; Chev ZL1 aluminium blocked 7.4 litre, Lucas injected, magneto ignited, dry sump V8 developing circa 650 BHP. The gearbox was one of Mike Hewland’s LG500’s.

The car had little testing, ‘it was thrown together and sent to America for the mechanics to sort out on the hoof” Southgate quipped in a MotorSport interview. The poor unfortunates sent to the US with the car were Roger Bailey and Mike Underwood!

The car sorely needed testing as BRM’s first Can Am machine and the cars driver, Canadian George Eaton didn’t have the experience of big sports cars of both other 1970 BRM F1 drivers, Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver. ‘It was a low budget operation and the results reflected that. For me, it was a distraction at the time from the real thing-Formula One’ said Southgate.

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‘The completed P154 outside the Bourne workshop in 1970. Note the paintwork was not complete when this photo was taken. In this shot you can see the undersized tyres front and rear, which proved a problem on the circuit (Tony Southgate)

Racing the P154: George Eaton 1970…

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George Eaton with the BRM P154 Chev, 11 June 1970 (Dick Darrell)

Eaton was far from devoid of ‘Big Car’ experience, however.

He raced a McLaren M10A Chev Formula A, 5 litre chassis successfully in North America in 1969 and had raced customer McLarens in the Can Am since 1967.

He was a very strong performer in his beautifully prepared McLaren M12 Chev in the 1969 Can Am consistently qualifying in the top 6 in a field with great depth of talent. His best results were in Texas 2nd, Edmonton 3rd, Watkins Glen 4th and Mid Ohio 6th. He was a bright young spark in these, big, demanding cars.

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‘An early race for the P154, George Eaton, Eatons distant 3rd at St Jovite Canada being a rare highlight’ (Tony Southgate)

So George knew what a good, sorted McLaren was all about and how to drive it figuring a bespoke BRM works car would be a very good thing. Which it was not! The lack of development miles told in the early part of the season.

He qualified 7th at Mosport and 3rd at St Jovite for a DNF with oil and transmission problems and a strong 3rd place. At Watkins Glen he had brake failure, Edmonton a wheel bearing failure and at Mid Ohio fuel pressure problems having qualified 13th, 6th and 25th. At Road Atlanta an engine blew having qualified 5th.

Pedro Rodriguez joined the series from Donnybrooke in September where he was 9th, ‘it didn’t go well in Eaton’s hands so we put Pedro in a car’ was Southgate’s quip, it rather implied the problem was George, which it was not.  The Mexican finished 5th at Laguna and 3rd at Riverside but was out qualified at each round by George. Frustrating for Eaton was Pedro’s results given the hard yards he had put in. He had rocker failure at Donnybrooke and crashes at both Laguna and Riverside, in the latter event a practice shunt which prevented him taking the start.

No way did Eaton have Pedro’s speed in a GP BRM but he was certainly mighty quick in a Can Am car. Southgate ‘Pedro wasn’t a technical driver , he’d just get in and drive his heart out’, clearly Eaton was quick, Pedro was Top 5 in the world at the time, Top 7 anyway! One rather suspects the P154 needed testing miles with a development driver to both stress componentry, the role Eaton played in races early in the season and to re-engineer or tweak the package to make it behave. Southgate says the suspension geometry, designed for 19inch wide tyres didn’t work well with 17’s.

Best results for the P154 in a season dominated again by the papaya McLarens, the M8D in 1970, were George’s qualifying performances at Road Atlanta and Donnybrooke, his 3rd place at St Jovite, Pedro’s 3rd at Riverside and 5th at Laguna.

In essence Eaton did a very good job with an under-developed, evil handling car, one of the best in the world also struggled with it…

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Eaton P154/01 Chev, Laguna Seca (The Enthusiast Network)

Development of the P154: Pedro raced the car later in the season and afterwards ‘came to see me in my office in Bourne to talk about the experience and told me in its present form the car was horrible to drive’ said Southgate.

‘I had great admiration for Pedro, so I knew it must be really bad. I was very embarrassed and immediately set about re-engineering it and fixing all the problems. The revised car, the P167 went on to be very good in 1971 but it was still a low budget operation’.

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This is an interesting drawing of mine because it shows the wind tunnel development shapes that were produced to arrive at the distinctive ‘shovel’ nose on both the P154 and P167. The heavy line indicates the final shape.’ (Tony Southgate)

Modifications to make the car competitive comprised a large rear wing, widening the front and rear tracks to get the outsides of the wheels out to the most extreme width which the proposed for 1970 19 inch wheels were supposed to achieve. The front to rear balance was achieved with a shovel-type concave nose section. ‘It was the same design theory I arrived at in the wind-tunnel for the nose of the P160 ’71 F1 car.’

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The 1971 BRM P167 was a P154 extensively modified.’…A new shovel nose section was added, new rear bodywork created and a rear wing fitted. The tracks, front and rear were widened.’ (Tony Southgate)

In fact when Howden Ganley, the talented Kiwi mechanic, engineer, racer and test driver drove the 1971 evolved car, the ‘P167’ at Goodwood the nose ‘grounded’ under brakes as so much downforce was being created. The fix was making the nose mounts more rigid.

Said Tony, ‘This was my first experience of very large aerodynamic loads deflecting the structure. The phenomenon was the visual interpretation to my understanding the sheer power of aerodynamics which could be produced on a modern car’.

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‘The BRM developed Chevy V8 performed well and was quite reliable, the trouble was we had no spare available. The car ran without bodywork between the wheels as shown here.’ 1971 P167 (Tony Southgate)

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‘The rear view of the P167 shows the exhaust system, which was unusual for a US V8 engined car. I liked it because of the lower CofG’ Note the rear suspension; single upper links, lower wishbones, coil spring/Koni alloy body dampers and roll bar. Inboard discs, LG500 Hewland ‘box with oil cooler above and magneto above it again. Note ‘stays’ to locate ‘mudguards’ above lower wishbones and monster wing compared with wingless P154 (Tony Southgate)

In a very limited Group 7 program by BRM in 1971 Pedro first raced the P167 in the European Interserie at Zolder in June, for Q7 and a DNF with a cylinder liner problem. He missed the next couple of rounds and then came the fateful Norisring round at which he lost his life, more of that below.

In September Brian Redman drove the P167 to a win at Imola and then in early October at Hockenheim against good fields, not Can Am quality mind you. The car was entered by Sid Taylor Racing, that year also running Brian in European F5000 events in a McLaren M18 Chev.

Buoyed by those results the Bourne hierarchy shipped the car to North America to contest the last two Can Am rounds in California. The car was raced again by Sid Taylor with his team providing the support. Jerry Entin and engine man George Bolthoff were with the team at both US races.

At Laguna Seca, Brian was Q6 and a strong 4th, and Howden Ganley raced the car at Riverside, Redman stayed in Europe to attend Jo Siffert’s funeral. The poor Swiss perished at the wheel of a BRM P160 at the end of season, 24 October, Brands Hatch ‘Victory Race’ after a tyre failure, the tyre moved on the rim and suddenly deflated, causing him to veer off the track and roll in the dip before Hawthorn Bend. He was almost uninjured but perished in a horrible fire. The plucky Swiss started the race from ‘equal pole’ with Peter Gethin, it demonstrated his competitiveness right to the very end of his career.

The talented Kiwi, Ganley a BRM F1 driver that season qualified 9th and finished 3rd behind the dominant McLaren M8F’s in the P167.

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Howden Ganley at The Times Grand Prix, Riverside, P167/01 in 1971 definitive form, 4th (The Enthusiast Network)

‘Alcan Team BRM’ ran the car as a works entry in the 1972 Interserie with Ganley scoring wins at the Nurburgring and Zeltweg amongst a swag of DNF’s for the P167. Mike Pilbeam engineered the car with Reg Richardson, principally an engine man, the cars mechanic. Once the Porsche 917/10 appeared in Europe the going got much tougher for the V8 brigade, Leo Kinnunen took the title, Porsche mounted in ’72.

In an unfortunate and bizarre sequence of events the P167 led to Pedro’s death, Southgate again; ‘During 1971 when the P167 was showing promise, Pedro decided he wanted to race it in Europe. So the car was entered for the big Interserie race on the Norisring street circuit in Nuremberg’

‘Part of the preparation was to re-run the engine on the Bourne dyno, hoping to find a few more horsepower. Tragically, as it transpired, the engine was damaged and we had no spare so we cancelled our entry’.

Pedro ‘phoned me that evening to see how the cars preparation was going, only to be told as far as we were concerned the race was off. I told him I was sorry for letting him down. ‘Never mind he said, I have been offered a drive in a Ferrari (512M) for good money-£1500′. I wished him luck in the race. Little did I know this would be the last time that I ever spoke to Pedro. He was killed driving that Ferrari’.

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Pedro and P167/01 in still evolving aero form, first race, Zolder, June 1971 (unattributed)

Tony Southgate has very fond memories of the great Mexican; ‘Pedro was extremely popular with everyone and I admired him both as a person and driver. He was a charismatic character with a particular aura about him, always appearing immaculate to the outside world, sleeking back his hair and wiping his brow after driving before he would talk to anyone. Actually he was a very private and quiet man…He never was a balls out qualifier; he preferred to save his efforts for the race. When his grid position was not as near the front as we would have liked, he would tell us that he would simply overtake a few cars on the first lap, which he often did. He was easy to work with, not a technical driver, but naturally talented and brave. Very brave…’

Bibliography…

‘Tony Southgate: From Drawing Board to Chequered Flag’ Tony Southgate, MotorSport interview by Simon Taylor, Jerry Entin on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, classiccars.com

Credits…

The Enthusiast Network, Southgate biography as above, Getty Images

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Pedro, P154/02 1970, Can Am circuit unknown (unattributed)

Build Numbers…

British racer and former twice national hillclimb champion David Hepworth bought all of the chassis’, patterns, drawings and moulds when BRM dropped the Can Am program, his best Interserie result was 5th at Silverstone in 1972.

It appears there were 5 chassis built: the two P154’s raced by Eaton and Rodriguez in 1970- P154/01 and P154/02. P154/02 was reduced, it’s parts donated to the P167 program, in recent years the car has been rebuilt/reassembled.

There was one P154/167 and two P167’s. The P154/167 ‘bastard car’ combined the P154 short wheelbase with P167 suspension geometry- this car does not appear to have been raced upon perusal of published records.

Rodriguez, Redman and Ganley raced the definitive P167/01 in 1971 in both the Interserie and Can Am.

Ganley raced P167/01 in the 1972 Interserie, Vern Schuppan practiced the same chassis but did not race it at the Nurburgring after engine failure in practice. Hepworth raced P154/01 in 1972 and in the 1973 Interserie, P167/01.

P167/02 was assembled later from spares acquired in the ‘job lot’ acquisition of cars and parts from BRM in 1972- it appears, entered for Hepworth, at the Nurburgring Interserie in 1974.

For many years the Hepworth family owned four of the five cars. I’m not sure of the present status of said racers but wouldn’t P167/01 be a nice thing to have?- ex-Rodriguez, Redman, Ganley, Schuppan and Hepworth…

Tailpiece: Racers Racer…

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Pedro, Laguna Seca and P154/02 1970 (The Enthusiast Network)

 

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George Eaton, BRM P153 in gorgeous pre-Yardley, traditional livery. Monaco 1970 (GP Library)

George Eaton navigates the tricky Monaco circuit in an unsuccessful attempt to qualify his new BRM P153 at the principality in 1970…

Tony Southgate’s new design was a very competitive machine, after the teams disastrous 1969.  Pedro Rodriguez won a classic Spa duel in the P153 with Chris Amon in 1970 but Eaton, the Canadian racer struggled to get the best from it in his only fullish F1 year.

Looking objectively at his results in Grand Prix racing, the wealthy young heir to the Eatons Department Stores empire didn’t appear to have what it takes at the absolute elite level, but comparing his and Pedro’s performances in the Can Am BRM P154 Chev later in 1970 perhaps puts things in a slightly different perspective.

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Eaton’s BRM P153 DNF oil tank, buzzes past the works McLaren M14D Alfa and M14A Ford of Andrea de Adamich DNQ and Peter Gethin DNF prang, respectively in the Zandvoort pitlane, 1970 (Schlegelmilch)

Eaton started racing in a Shelby Cobra in 1966. He raced a Chev Camaro at Daytona in 1967 and soon bought a McLaren Elva Mk3 Chev Can Am car in which he contested the USRRC and the Can Am Series in 1967. In 1968 he bought a McLaren M1C Chev, his best result was a 3rd place at Laguna Seca, in the wet, in 1968.

In 1969 he took a big step up contesting both the Can Am with a McLaren M12 Chev and the US Formula A, nee F5000 Championship in a McLaren M10A Chev, the ‘ducks guts’ chassis to have that year.

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Eaton, McLaren M10A Chev, Mosport 1969, DNF transmission in the race won  by John Cannon’s Eagle Mk5 Chev (ORC)

His best Can Am races in the M12 were a 2nd at Texas and 3rd at Edmonton but he was quick, consistently qualifying in the top six all year. In FA, in fields of some depth he raced in most of the US rounds, 6th at the Shaefer GP his best. He contested only four of the Canadian rounds taking a good win at Mont Tremblant in May.

Off the back of these results he was offered drives in the F1 BRM P138, a ‘roughy’ of a car, in the US and Mexican GP’s in late 1969, retiring from both after qualifying last in both. Hardly the basis upon which to extend a contract for the following season, but that’s exactly what Lou Stanley offered George for 1970- a drive alongside the quick, unlucky Jackie Oliver and the blindingly fast Pedro Rodriguez.

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Dutch GP, BRM P153, Q18, DNF. Rindt won in a Lotus 72 Ford (Schlegelmilch)

Eaton had a terrible F1 season, Pedro made the P153 sing. Oliver was quick but seemed to have all the engine unreliability, whilst George, probably not getting the best of equipment, was slow on the circuits which were unfamiliar to him and the car unreliable.

He qualified best in his home, Mosport event, 9th, outpacing Oliver and finished 10th. He qualified 14th at Watkins Glen and again retired but otherwise didn’t qualify higher than 14th with DNQ’s in Spain and Monaco.

His speed in the Can Am series was a bit different though…

1970 BRM P154 Can Am Season…

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George Eaton with the BRM P154 Chev, 11 June 1970 (Dick Darrell)

Eaton’s pace was put into better perspective when compared with Pedro Rodriguez, his team leader and undoubtedly one of the fastest five blokes on the planet at the time, in Can Am cars.

Rodriguez contested the Donnybrooke, Laguna Seca and Riverside events, the last three of the series races from late September to 1 November. The ‘head to head’ comparison in identical P154 chassis on circuits upon which both had competed before is as follows;

Donnybrooke; Pedro Q7 P9 George Q5, DNF rocker

Laguna Seca; Pedro Q9 P5 George Q8 crash on lap 11

Riverside; Pedro Q7 P3 George Q 1.5 secs quicker than Pedro in practice but boofed the car and DNS

So, George appears to have had Pedro’s speed if not consistency in Can Am cars noting there was a veritable gulf between the pair in F1. Nobody ever suggested these 700bhp Can Am roller-skates were easy-peasey to drive, interesting innit?! Maybe Eaton should be given a little more credit for outright pace than he is usually accorded. He was not just a rich pretty-boy.

Before Pedro arrived to drive the other P154 chassis Eaton started the season at Mosport with Q7 and DNF with oil leak and transmission problems.

At St Jovite he was 3rd having  qualified 9th. To Watkins Glen Q13 and brake failure, Edmonton Q6 with a wheel bearing failure. The car had little pre-season testing some of these problems are indicative of that. At Mid Ohio he had fuel pressure problems which outed him, the dramas resulted in Q25. His results for the last three races are listed above in the comparison with Pedro.

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Eaton P154 Laguna Seca 1970, Q8 and crashed (The Enthusiast Network)

Further perspective on Eaton’s performance is provided by Pedro’s opinion of the car, the Mexican had been ‘around the block’ in terms of experience of big cars since his ‘teens and driven some horrid ones, the Ferrari’s he raced in 1968 and the BRM’s in 1969 prime examples.

Pedro visited Tony Southgate after racing the P154, Southgate recorded in his book ‘Pedro raced the car later in the season and afterwards came to see me in my office at Bourne to talk about the experience and told me in its present form the car was horrible to drive.

I had great admiration for Pedro, so I knew it must be really bad. I was very embarrassed and immediately set about re-engineering it and fixing all the problems. The revised car, the P167 went on to be very good in 1971 but it was still a low budget operation’.

The BRM Can Am program was minimal in 1971, two events plus Interserie races for Pedro at Zolder and wins for Brian Redman at Imola and Hockemheim, after Pedro’s death at the Norisring in a Herbert Muller owned Ferrari 512M.

In terrible irony Pedro took the Muller ride only after a testing engine failure in the P167 meant he could not race the BRM and therefore took the Ferrari drive.

Brian Redman raced the P167 at Laguna to 4th, and Howden Ganley the same chassis at Riverside to 3rd, proof positive that progress had been made.

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George Eaton in the BRM P154 Chev, Q6 DNF wheel bearing in front of Gary Wilson’s Lola T163 Chev 6th, at Edmonton on 26 July 1970. Denny Hulme won in a McLaren M8D Chev. Lots of available wheel arch a function of the P154 being designed for 19 inch wide wheels but only 17’s available- unsuitable suspension geometry one of the cars many issues (John Denniston)

But Bourne were not in a budgetary position to offer George another Can Am season in 1971, one he deserved.

Another season in F1 was a different thing, he had not done enough to keep that seat. As it was BRM were very competitive in F1 in 1971, Siffert and Rodriguez both taking a win apiece before their untimely deaths. Peter Gethin took another at Monza in the drive of his life in one of THE great GP finishes.

Into 1971 and 1972 George raced in endurance events although he was invited to guest drive a P160 BRM in the ’71 Canadian Grand Prix, qualifying 21st, slowest of the four BRM’s entered, he finished 15th.

George Eaton was a very fine driver and quicker than he is given credit for in Can Am cars at least. He extracted more from the very ordinary BRM P154, in qualifying in three consecutive events than an ace like Pedro Rodriguez could produce from the same chassis, a pretty ordinary one at that…

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George in the ‘Klondike 200’, Edmonton pits awaiting chassis changes in 1970. BRM P154 Chev, Q6 and DNF, wheel bearing. Fundamental issues with the car were the late decision on doing the program, one forced upon designer Tony Southgate- and lack of testing miles and development before it left the UK for the US. George did the development miles in the races, lots of stuff breaking as a consequence. Article on the P154 and P167 coming soon (Denniston)

Credits…

GP Library, The Enthusiast Network, classiccars.com, John Denniston, Dick Darrell

Tailpiece: Monaco 1970, this time from above. The BRM P153/P160 are wonderful cars, in reality the great Bourne marques last really consistently competitive hurrahs…

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Such beautiful and fast cars, one of the surprises of 1970, Tony Southgate’s BRM P153, Eaton at Monaco, DNQ (Schlegelmilch)

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The spare Lotus 48 Ford FVA, chassis 48-2 during the Eifelrennen Euro F2 round in the Nurburgring pitlane on 24 April…

Oliver’s Lotus Components entered Lotus 41B was the most successful of the Lotus works entries, he finished 11th. The Team Lotus duo of Graham Hill were 15th with Clark retiring with fuel metering unit failure. The latter two drove Lotus 48 Ford FVA’s, Oliver’s car was an update of Lotus’ 1966 contender. Jochen Rindt won the race in a Brabham BT23 FVA.

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Oliver on his way to 4th place and first F2 home during the Oulton Park Spring Trophy. His Lotus 41B was behind the Brabham Repco’s of Jack and Denny Hulme, and the Honda RA273 of John Surtees. 15 April 1967 (Brian Watson)

Oliver raced for the Charles Lucas factory Lotus F3 team in the second half of 1966, driving a Brabham BT18 Ford and Lotus 41 Ford finishing third in the Les Leston British F3 Championship, Harry Stiller won it from Chris Lambert.

For 1967 Oliver contested the British F2 Championship, finishing 5th, as well as many Euro F2 rounds, for 1968 he was a member of the ‘works’ F2 team racing Lotus 48’s together with Jim Clark and Graham Hill.

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Lotus Team compound during the 25 June 1967 Reims GP weekend. The white car is Ollies Lotus 41B 7th. Jim Clark is talking to Jackie beside his car #8 Lotus 48 DNF, the car under the cover is the spare carrying #8. Hill is talking to the mechanics next to his chassis, 2nd. The race was won by ‘F2 King’, Rindt in a Brabham BT23 FVA (unattributed)

Then, in the worst of circumstances he ascended to the F1 team upon Jim Clark’s death at Hockenheim on 7 April during the second round of the 1968 Euro F2 Championship.

Oliver was 5th in the championship won that year by Henri Pescarolo’s Matra MS5 Ford, Rindt the dominant driver, as ever, in the category but ineligible for the title as a graded driver.

Olivers first Gold Leaf Team Lotus F1 race was the Monaco Grand Prix in which he qualified his Lotus 49B Ford 13th but was out on the first lap after colliding with Bruce McLaren.

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Oliver Q10 in the Dutch dunes where the Lotus 49B made its victorious debut in Clark’s hands the year before. He was non-classified having done insufficient laps. Jackie Stewart won in a Matra MS10 Ford (unattributed)

In a character building year, he had a monster accident at during French GP practice when the cars rear wing support failed-pinging the fence of a chateau on an amazing 125mph trip thru the Rouen countryside. He was able to walk away but the car was hors ‘d combat, so that was his meeting.

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Oliver reflecting on life after a wild, wild, wingless ride thru rural France. Whilst his mechanic reflects on the long night ahead (sic) Jackie is sussing out his DG300 box and rear suspension which is 50 metres back up the road from whence he came (unattributed)

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The chateau gates Oliver hit are to the right past the Lotus 49’s rear end (unattributed)

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Chapman, Hill and Oliver during the tough 1968 season (unattributed)

His best result from a year in which Graham Hills tour de force of leadership gave him and the team world titles was Q2 in his home race at Brands Hatch, the race won by Jo Sifferts Rob Walker Lotus 49B, and 3rd in the season ending Mexican GP, Hill was the winner of that race.

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Oliver DNF gearbox after qualifying 2nd, ahead of Jo Siffert 1st both in Lotus 49B’s, Chris Amon 2nd, Ferrari 312, the last car in the group Surtees Honda RA301 5th (Getty)

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Oliver leads Pedro Rodriguez BRM P133, 3rd and 4th in the 1968 Mexican GP, 3 November. Hill won from Bruce McLaren (unattributed)

For 1969 Jackie was off to BRM, Jochen Rindt took his Lotus seat for 1969 in an ‘all star’ team with Hill. It was a tough year in  1969 as BRM had  ‘lost their way’ in a design sense, the P133/138/139 uncompetitive, better was to come  in 1970 with the Tony Southgate designed P153.

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Oliver, BRM P133 Monaco GP 1969 , Q13 and DNF with an accident of lap 1. Hill won in a Lotus 49B Ford (Schlegelmilch)

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Jack Oliver giving his brand new BRM P153 V12 plenty during the season opening South African GP weeeknd at Kyalami in March 1970. Car looks gorgeous without its Yardley branding! Brabham won in a Brabham BT33 Ford, Oliver DNF with gearbox dramas (unattributed)

Chapman waxed and waned between monocoques and space frame chassis for his ‘small bore’, production single-seaters throughout the 1960’s…

Whilst the marketing advantage of a you-beaut monocoque ‘just like Jim Clark’s Lotus 25’ was clear, equally the relative cost of repair of a spaceframe, especially in the field, a long way from the Norfolk was something which wasn’t lost on a lot of customers. Local garagiste ‘Louis the Torch’ may have been able to fix bent RF corner tubes, but he was less likely to be able to assist with curved sheet metal/aluminium complexities…

Statistically the most successful FJ/F3/F2/FB cars of the 1960’s were Ron Tauranac’s spaceframe Brabhams which were built to a consistent design philosophy throughout.

The cars were simple, strong, fast and forgiving straight outta the box. The latter because Jacks ‘finely tuned arse’ in testing contributed the ex-factory suspension settings which could be relied upon as a competitive, starting position by customers. Plenty of championships were won by not straying too far from them.

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Jim Clark, Pau GP, 25 April 1965, victorious in his Lotus 35 Cosworth Ford SCA from Richard Attwood’s Lola T60 and Jochen Rindt’s Brabham BT16, both also SCA powered (unattributed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pau GP, ’65 JC ponders setup changes on his monocoque Lotus 25 inspired 35 (unattributed)

 

 

 

 

Lotus Components 1965 F2/3 car was the monocoque 35, a modified version of the 1964 32, with Clark winning plenty of races in the car including the  Trophee de France, the Scot won 3 of the 4 rounds.

Aussie John Joyce (later the designer of magnificent Bowin racing cars when he returned to Australia) with assistance from Dave Baldwin were briefed to build a spaceframe F3/F2 frame for 1966 designated the 41. The Lotus brains trust were having second thoughts about monocoque chassis suitability in the junior classes. Issues were cost, weight and utility and expense of repair. The 41 was raced from 1966 to 1968 and whilst a good car didn’t have the factory support needed to further develop it, the exception the Lotus Components 41 raced by Oliver. The chassis was also raced in the US FB class.

The works Lotus F2 car for 1967, the first year of the 1.6 litre F2, the Lotus 48 was a monocoque, the car Oliver raced was the customer 41B, a spaceframe.

Both cars were comprehensively blown off by Tauranac’s Brabham BT23 which had some mighty fine pilots; aces like Rindt, but also coming drivers who extracted all the performance the car had to offer. The Matra F2’s, the MS5 and MS7 were also fairly tidy, fast (monocoque) devices…

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Leo Geoghegan, Australian Gold Star Champion in a Lotus 59 Waggott 2 litre in 1970. Here at Oran Park, Sydney that year (oldracephotos.com)

Chapman’s 1969 F3/F2 car, the Dave Baldwin designed 59 was a spaceframe. Its successor, the final Lotus production racing cars produced in volumes, the 1970 69 was a spaceframe for FF/F3 (spaceframe chassis are mandated in FF) and a monocoque for F2. Go figure!? Mind you, the 59 and 69 were very effective, successful tools whatever the variant.

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Jochen Rindt doing his thing in his Lotus 69 FVA during the Crystal Palace Euro F2 round, the ‘London Trophy’ on 25 May 1970. Jochen’s car DNF battery lead, Jackie Stewart’s John Coombs Brabham BT30 FVA won the race. The 69, a monocoque, was a mighty fine car in the hands of the works and customers, competitive into 1971 (unattributed)

These Lotus chassis changes are only of arcane interest over the decade I guess. Perhaps the reasons for the choices were simply the opinions and preferences of the individual designer who worked on each cars design or layout, not that I am suggesting Chapman ever lacked clarity about direction or objectives in terms of giving design direction!

In terms of the general specifications of F2 cars of the early 1.6 litre Formula, those and that of the engine de jour, the Ford Cosworth FVA 1.6 litre unit are well covered in my article on the Lotus 48, click here to read it, there is no point repeating it all;

https://primotipo.com/?s=lotus+48

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Lynn Oliver, Monaco 1968. Husband Jackie and Bruce McLaren collided on the first lap, both DNF. Car is Lotus 49B Ford, Graham Hill’s sister car won (Schlegelmilch)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, Brian Watson, oldracephotos.com, Getty Images

Tailpiece: Ollie’s Lotus 48 aerobatics at Klostertal during the ’67 German GP weekend, he was the F2 category winner…

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In a great performance Jackie was 5th in a Lotus 48, the race won by Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT24 Repco (Schlegelmilch)

 

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(The Enthusiast Network)

Hoss Cartwright’ checks out his new ‘Can-Am’ Genie Mk10B Traco Olds with driver John Cannon…

As a sixties Aussie kid i grew up on a diet of fantastic American TV, our own tele/movie industry wasn’t what it is today. I have wonderful memories of ‘Flipper’, ‘Gilligans Island’, ‘The Jetsons’, Freddy Flintstone, ‘The Munsters’, ‘The Addams Family’, ‘McHales Navy’, ‘Batman’, ‘Hogans Heroes’, ‘Get Smart’ of course and ‘Bonanza’, all of which explains how i turned out i guess!

‘Bonanza’ was a Western the whole family sat down to watch, Dan Blocker the Genies owner played ‘Hoss Cartwright’ in the popular show which ran from 1959 to 1973, shite thats a long time! This publicity shot was taken on 3 February 1966 at ‘The Western Street’ set, Paramount Studios, Los Angeles.

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(The Enthusiast Network)

Genie Mk10B Traco Olds…

Blocker, a motor racing enthusiast acquired the car from Ray Huffaker its constructor, Nickey Chevrolet provided some sponsorship with British born Canadian ex-RAF pilot John Cannon engaged as the cars driver.

Cannon contested the 1965 and 1966 USRRC seasons, he finished 2nd in the 1965 Nassau Tourist Trophy and won the USRRC race at Stardust Raceway, Las Vegas in April 1965.

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Times Grand Prix, Riverside 31 October 1965: John Cannon’s Genie Mk10B Olds 8th ahead of Chris Amon in the Ford GT40-X1 5th. Hap Sharp’s Chaparral 2A Chev won from Jim Clark’s Lotus 40 Ford and Bruce McLaren’s McLaren Elva Mk2 Olds. It was a great performance from Cannon in a car not as quick as many, the field also included McCluskey, Pabst, Follmer, Dick Thompson, Revson, Parsons, Titus, Hobbs, Bondurant, Ginther, Hill, Gurney, Grant and Hansgen! Quite a field (The Enthusiast Network)

In 1966 John won the first USRRC round at Stardust on 24 April and retired at Riverside, Laguna and Bridghampton in May. After another retirement due to an accident at Watkins Glen in June Cannon left the team and bought a McLaren-Elva Mk2 finishing 2nd at Kent on 31 July.

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The Genie at Bridghampton in 1966 (Frederic Strauss)

In the first, 1966, CanAm series, stunt driver Bob Harris took over the Genie. 15th at St Jovite and 11th at Stardust his best results, the series won by John Surtees ‘works’ Lola T70 Chev.

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Genie Mk10 as raced by Bob Harris in the ’66 CanAm (Larry Fulhorst)

The Genie passed through various hands but is still extant and runs in historic racing owned by Tom Stephani, the son of Jack Stephani who co-owned Nicky Chevrolet, the Genie’s sponsor when Cannon raced it.

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The Genie M10B as it is today owned by Tom Stephani, the son of original Nickey Chev/Genie sponsor Jack Stephani (Paul Stephani)

Paul Stephani, Tom’s son picks up the story; ‘My grandfather owned Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago (with his brother Ed and sister Jean). Jack was a big racing enthusiast and used Nickey as an excuse to go racing’.

‘It doesn’t stop there as Michael Cannon (son of John cannon) married a close friend of our family and has driven the Vinegaroon to the car show from Road America to Elkhart Lake a few years back. Michael is the head engineer on Conor Daly’s IndyCar entry this year. Here’s how the Blocker/Nickey/Cannon combination went their separate ways after the ’66 CanAm round at Watkins Glen! : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxClHhH4xto

Tom Stephani recalls how Dan Blocker and his father Jack Stephani came to create a race team together; ‘Basically, my Dad met Blocker at the West Coast races in the fall of 1965. Dad saw a natural connection between the two. Both loved racing, Nickey had a fairly substantial racing team and budget, and Blocker could provide a promotional opportunity for Nickey Chevrolet. ‘Bonanza’ was sponsored by Chevrolet so the tie-in really worked well. His personal appearance at the Nickey Dealership in February 1966 drew at least 5,000 people. Shut the whole place down for a couple of days!’

Joe Huffaker started building racing specials and Formula Junior’s. He switched to sportscars as the greater market opportunity became clear. The first Genie Mk4 was a ‘G Modified’ car powered by a BMC 1100cc engine.

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Jack Stephani co-owner of Nickey Chevrolet in the glasses behind the toolbox, ‘Hoss’ Dan Blocker and John Cannon at the USRRC Bridghampton round in May 1966 (The Enthusiast Network)

The Genie Mk10 was an improvement on or evolution of his Mk8, his first ‘big-banger’ USRRC series car. It comprised a multi-tubular space-frame chassis, accommodated a range of American V8’s and utilised the ‘usual’ sixties suspension mix of wishbones and coil spring dampers at the front and inverted wishbone, single top link, coil spring/dampers and radius rods at the rear. Brakes were Dunlop calipers with outboard discs all round, the whole lot clad in a curvy fibreglass body.

The Blocker Mk10B was powered by a Traco-Olds 300cid/5 litre engine fed by 4 48IDA Weber carbs, the transaxle was a BMCD unit. The teams Chief Mechanic was ex-F1 UDT/BRP guy John Harris who extensively modified the car during the winter of 1965/6, the car christened the ‘Vinegaroon’ from then.

The Genie Mk10 retailed at around US$9500 winning a few races but was soon left behind by Chaparral, McLaren-Elva and Lola.

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(The Enthusiast Network)

John Cannon…

Of Canadian nationality, but born in London on 21 June 1933, John Cannon initially raced a $750 Morgan at St Eugene in 1959. A Canadian newspaper report dates his emigration to Canada from the UK as 1957 so i am not sure that some earlier races in the US attributed to him in some sources are correct. In any event he progressed with an Elva Courier in 1959, 1960 and into 1961. He also raced a Jag  D Type and the Dailu Mk1, results in that car brought him to the attention of NART who teamed him with NASCAR star ‘Fireball Roberts’ in a Ferrari 250 GTO in the 1963 Daytona 3 Hour (15th) and Jo Bonnier at the Sebring 12 Hour (13th).

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Jim Parkinson/Jack Flaherty MGB DNF follows the NART Ferrari GTO of Bonnier/Cannon 13th at Sebring in 1963 (Bill Stowe)

In later 1963/4 Cannon raced a great variety of cars, proving his versatility; Dailu Mk2/3, Lola Mk1, Comstock EXP, Fiat Abarth, Chev Corvette and Elvas Mk 3/7. For John Mecom he raced the teams Lotus 19, Scarab Mk4/5 and Lola T70.

He progressed through to the Blocker drive and then became a McLaren CanAm customer and ‘foot soldier’ as the McLaren website puts it! Mind you, whilst they claim him as ‘their own’ he raced many cars other than McLarens after 1965!

He was never a member of the works team but his achievements both as a privateer and driving for independent teams earned him a worthy place in McLaren’s Top 50 (38th) drivers ranking.

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John Cannon circa 1970 (mclaren.com)

He took a superbly opportunistic victory in the rain-soaked Laguna Seca CanAm round in 1968 that pushed his career along.  Driving an aged M1B Olds, Cannon kept his cool when others were slip-sliding in all directions, finishing ahead of the Denny Hulme’s works M8A at the chequered flag.

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Press launch with John Cannon left beside Jack Saunders in the Mecom Lola T70 before Sebring in 1965. DNF (Lola Heritage)

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Cannon aboard his F5000 Eagle Mk5 Chev in 1969, Michael Cannon quipped ‘this shot is early in the season as they added an extension to the roll-hoop before the first round at Riverside’. JC won the Riverside and Mosport rounds, finishing the series 5th, Tony Adamowicz won it in another Eagle (Racing One)

In 1969 and 70 he moved into single seaters as well as CanAm, he raced a Can Am McLaren M6B in ’68 and Ford G7 in 1969, contesting the prestigious L&M Continental F5000 series, winning it in 1970 driving a McLaren M10B Chev for  St Louis trucking magnate Carl Hogan’s ‘Hogan-Starr’ operation.

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John Cannon in the first production McLaren M10B Chev ‘400-01’ the car in which he won the 1970 US Championship, when this shot was taken, and the 1971 Tasman Championship (oldracingcars.com)

Cannon used this success as a springboard to establish his racing reputation in Europe, raising funds to rent a semi-works March 712M in the European F2 championship in which Ronnie Peterson, Carlos Reutemann and Francois Cevert  were leading lights. In this company Cannon performed very respectably, well enough to be invited to drive as a member of the five-car BRM squad in the ’71 US GP at Watkins Glen.  He finished 14th in a P153.

An interesting insight into this part (1970-1) of John Cannon’s career was provided by his son John M Cannon on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’ in 2007, he wrote/posted;

‘After the 1970 F5000 season, my dad went down to do the Tasman Series. He already had an agreement with Carl Hogan to do the 1971 US series and wanted to stay sharp by racing the winter series.

At Sandown, he crashed the McLaren M10B beyond repair and was offered Chris Amon’s Granatelli Lotus Cosworth F1 for the last round at Surfer’s. (in fact he raced a Granatelli F5000 Lotus 70 Ford at Surfers to 7th place but probably had a steer of an F1 March 701 raced mainly by Chris Amon during the series in practice somewhere, that car was powered by the ‘Tasman’ Ford Cosworth DFV variant, the 2.5 litre ‘DFW’ engine) Well this car was a total revelation for him – he loved the nimble handling of the F1 car and decided then and there that he would do everything possible to pursue a ride in F1.

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John Cannon’s March 701 DFV in the 1971 Questor GP, Ontario Motor Speedway 28 March 1971. This was a combined F5000/F1 race won by Mario Andretti’s Ferrari 312B, Cannon DNF on lap 29 (MotorSport)

He was able to run an STP backed March F1 car at the Questor GP and this only whetted his appetite further. He broke off his agreement with Hogan (who was one of the nicest and fairest people you’d ever have wanted to meet by all accounts), grabbed every dollar he had and headed off to Europe to do F2. At the age of 38, he was a rookie in what was probably the most fiercely competitive series in the world!

The early season stuff went fairly well as was able to buy what he called a ‘stonking great (Ford FVA F2) motor’ from Jackie Stewart. However, once that motor blew and money began to get tight, things got tougher. He effectively ran out of money late in the season and I don’t know that he even finished the series.

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John Cannon cruisin’ his year old BRM P153 thru the Watkins Glen paddock, US GP 3 October 1971, the race was won by Francois Cevert’s Tyrrell 002 Ford from Jo Sifferts BRM P160 and Ronnie Peterson’s March 711 Ford (Chris Kennedy)

That autumn, (1971) he did the USGP in the 5th BRM. It was a bit of an old nail and the ‘qualifying engine’ was 500 rpm down from his practice motor… Anyway, he did finish the race and the team kept in touch, offering him a ride for 1972. He wouldn’t get paid but he would get a share the prize money. Now my dad had been earning his living as a driver for many years and thought this to be a ridiculous offer-if he wasn’t paid, he wasn’t going to do it.

That was the last time F1 came calling…’

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Cannons P153 running very soft roll bars! ahead of Siffert’s 2nd placed BRM P160 Watkins Glen 1971, BRM entered 5 cars. Cannon Q24, finished 14th. Amongst the other ‘guest/one off drivers’ Posey Surtees Q17 and Revson Tyrrell Q19 were quicker but so were their cars. Cannon was faster than regulars such as De Adamich. It would have been interesting to see how he would have fared with a regular BRM drive in 1972 but BRM was a ‘bear pit’ in the sense of running too many cars for too many drivers all fairly poorly! Beltoise’ P160 ’72 Monaco win duly noted. (Norm MacLeod)

In a varied and long career Cannon also contested 15 USAC events between 1968 and 1974, his best result 2nd at Mont Tremblant in 1968. He had two ‘cracks’ at Indy in 1970/4, failing to make the cut on both occasions.

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Riverside CanAm 28 October 1973: Bob Nagel’s #17 Lola T260 Chev 4th with Cannon’s #96 McLaren M20 Chev Turbo DNF up his chuff and boxed in by #64 Bob Peckham’s McLaren M8C Chev 6th. #11 Steve Durst McLaren M8F Chev 8th, #34 Tom Dutton’s McLaren M8R Chev 7th. Race won by Mark Donohue’s Porsche 917/30 Turbo (Schlegelmilch)

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Cannon in his McLaren M10B Chev during the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ 14 Feb 1971 Tasman round. Cannon was 7th on this technically challenging circuit, where locals always have an advantage! Gardner won in his Lola T192 Chev (Lynton Hemer)

John Cannon was a popular,  fast Tasman Series’ competitor; he contested the ’71 Tasman in NZ and Australia and the Rothmans F5000 International Series in Australia (The Kiwis went F Atlantic/Pacific from ’76) in 1976 and 1978. His 1978 Rothmans appearances were essentially his last races.

He raced his Hogan-Starr US Championship winning McLaren M10B Chev in 1970 his best results two 5ths at Levin and the Pukekohe NZGP rounds. He retired at Wigram, Teretonga and didn’t start the Sandown round as noted above. At Warwick Farm he was 7th and in the Lotus 70 Ford, 7th again at Surfers Paradise.

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Getting settled into Carl Hogan’s McLaren M10B before the off at Levin, NZ 1971. That oil cooler? duct would have cost a few RPM (Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season)

The Tasman was very strong in its early F5000 years, perhaps more so than the US Champion expected!

In well developed McLaren M10B’s were Graham McRae, Frank Matich, Niel Allen and Teddy Pilette. Frank Gardner raced his works Lola T192, other top-drivers somewhat hamstrung by poor/under-powered equipment included Graeme Lawrence Ferrari Dino 246T, Kevin Bartlett Mildren Chev, Max Stewart Mildren Waggott. Especially Chris Amon, at the peak of his career, the STP March 701 DFW and Lotus 70 Ford were inferior amongst such tough competition. Graham McRae won the first of his Tasman Cups in 1971.

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John Cannon’s one-off March F2 722 based F5000, the March 725 Olds at Silverstone in 1972 (oldracingcars.com)

March were led into F5000 by John Cannon, notes Allen Brown on his definitive race history website oldracingcars.com.

‘Cannon won the 1970 F5000 US series before becoming a March customer in F2 in 1971. For 1972, Cannon ordered a new 722 F2 tub to be fitted with a Race Engine Services Oldsmobile V8 for F5000. The car was called the ‘725’.

Brown; ‘Cannon missed the first four rounds of the UK championship but then took a surprise pole in his debut at Nivelles, Belgium the fifth round, some 1.3s ahead of McRae’s Leda/McRae. He was pushed back to fifth on the grid at Silverstone but qualified second at Mondello Park in 30 April, where he finished fifth. He then took the car to North America for the lucrative L&M championship where he took pole position at Watkins Glen in June but was let down by reliability problems.

He returned to the UK in time for the race at Silverstone in early August where he finished second. He had time to rush back to the US for the Riverside race at the end of September before returning again to England for the last few races of the season’. The 725 never appears to have raced again but Cannons attraction to the marque was well established!

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Cannon’s March 73A/751 Chev in the Sandown Park pitlane during Saturday practice, 1976. I watched the final laps of the race from the pit counter here, hoping with each lap that the ‘falling off’ airbox wouldn’t ruin a great run/dice and cause a black flag, fortunately it didn’t and John scored a very popular win! (Stupix)

Cannon returned to Australia in 1976 with the car he had been racing in the US which was a blend of March 73A F5000 and March 751 F1 components. In the US the cars best results were a 4th and 8th at Riverside in 1975 and 1976 respectively.It was a great looking car and fast amongst the local highly developed Lola T332/400’s, Elfin MR8′ s and Matich’s.

The series that year had depth, contestants included; David Purley, Vern Schuppan, Kiwis Graeme Lawrence and Ken Smith and Australians John Goss, Kevin Bartlett, Bruce Allison, John Leffler, Max Stewart and John McCormack. Schuppans Theodore Racing Lola T332 won the series.

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Cannon’s March sets off after David Purley’s Lola T330 Chev at Adelaide International in Feb 1976. Not a soul to be seen, Friday practice i suspect. Ken Smith’s Lola T330 won, Cannon 13th 16 laps down with dramas, Purley crashed on lap 28 (Kym)

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Sandown Rothmans start 1976; L>R Bruce Allison’s black Lola T332 Chev, JC March, John Walker orange Lola T332 Repco and John Leffler white Lola T400 Chev on the inside fence (unattributed)

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‘Great Australian Motor Racing Pictures’ with a Canadian on the cover, go figure! JC leading on the Rothmans ’76 first lap into Dandenong Rd corner. Following are Allison, Leffler, John Goss in the blue Matich A51/3 Repco and John Walker (Bryan Hanrahan)

He took a fantastic Sandown win by less than a half a second from Vern Schuppans Theodore Racing Lola T332 Chev, i can clearly remember the cars airbox coming loose and hoping the ‘underdog’ wouldn’t be black-flagged in the last couple of exciting laps! In NSW he retired from the Oran Park round with electrical problems and was well back, 13th in Adelaide.

At the end of the Rothmans he shipped the March to the UK and did several early rounds of the ’76 Shellsport F5000/F1/Libre Series without much success.

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Cannon, Sandown, 1978, March 73A/751 Chev. An attractive car, relatively narrow track compared with the Lola’s, quick in a straight line. Pretty circuits ‘double life’ for horse racing clear in the background grass and fencing (Robert Davies)

In 1978 he returned to Australia with the same March to again contest the ‘Rothmans’, like so many of the F5000’s by that stage the March was getting a tad long in the tooth.

1978 contestants included Warwick Brown, Keith Holland, Derek Bell, Alfredo Costanzo, John Walker, Kevin Bartlett, Vern Schuppan, John Goss, Graham McRae and John McCormack. Brown took the series in his new VDS Racing Lola T333/332C.

Cannon had a good run at Sandown again, 3rd in the race won by Warwick Brown’s Lola T333/332C Chev but had mechanical dramas elsewhere. Driveshaft flange/circlip problems in Adelaide and Surfers respectively and falling oil pressure in his Chevy engine at the final Oran Park round.

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JC cruises thru the Sandown paddock in 1978 (unattributed)

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Sandown Rothmans 1978: Cannon’s March 73A/751 Chev 3rd turning into ‘Shell’ or turn 1, ahead of John Goss’ Matich A51 Repco 6th. Race won by Brown’s Lola T333/332C (Anthony Loxley)

John Cannon, then 45 ended his racing career and focussed on  his businesss life which included an LA Ferrari distributorship. His son Michael who followed in his racing footsteps, has been one of the most respected race engineers in Indy Racing for over 15 years.

Ever the ‘thrillseeker’ John very sadly died as a result of injuries sustained when he crashed an ultralite ‘plane in New Mexico on 18 October 1999.

Etcetera…

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(Sports Car Graphic June 1966 cover courtesy of Thomas Voehringer)

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Cannon’s Eagle Mk5 Chev in 1969, note the lip addition to the roll bat compared to the earlier shot (Eric Haga via Michael Cannon)

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Shit that thing is fast! John Cannon is thinkin’!? of Matich’s M10B Repco L>R Aussie driver Don O’Sullivan, Cannon and Frank Matich during the 1971 Tasman, not sure where. JC probably thought his car would be quicker than it was in the ’71 Tasman but McRae’s M10B developed in Europe and Matich’s Repco engined M10B/C were mighty quick conveyances not to mention the Frank Gardner, Niel Allen and Teddy Pilette driven bolides…(unattributed)

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Photo Credits…

The Enthusiast Network, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Lynton Hemer, Robert Davies, Stupix, Kym, Ian Peak Collection/The Roaring Season, MotorSport, Bill Stowe, Norn MacLeod, Anthony Loxley, Paul Stephani, Larry Fulhorst, Frederic Strauss, Racing One, Eric Haga

Bibliography…

‘Montreal Gazette’ 3/4/63, Daniel Vaughan, Don Capps, mclaren.com, Allen Brown and his  oldracingcars.com, Sports Car Graphic cover courtesy Thomas Voehringer

Special thanks for Paul and Tom Stephani’s recollections and photos

Tailpiece: c’mon John just let me do a lap of the set, the horses will be ok and we will be done before anybody gets wind of it?!…

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(The Enthusiast Network)

stewart spain

(unattributed)

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.

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#2 Ickx Ferrari 312B and Oliver’s white BRM P153, inside an inferno. ‘Bag type’ safety bladder fuel tanks mandated from the start of the 1970 season. The FIA at this time, pretty much year by year changed the regulations to improve safety around fuel tanks; safety foam around tanks in ’72, crushable structures around tanks in ’73, selfseal breakaway tank/hose coupling in ’74. (unattributed)

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The full horror of the situation confronting the two drivers; Oliver has punched the release on his Willans 6 point harness and is jumping out of the BRM, Ickx is in the process of popping his Britax Ferrari belts…Johnny Servoz-Gavin’s Tyrrell March 701 Ford 5th passes. (unattributed)

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Ickx disoriented and on fire in search of a marshall (Automobile Year 18)

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A soldier beckons in Jacky’s direction. (Automobile Year 18)

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The soldier, not a marshall puts Ickx’ overalls fire out. At this stage foam is being sprayed on the car fire but the foam extinguishers were soon emptied leaving water only, the impact on the molten magnesium componentry was to make the fire worse. (Automobile Year 18)

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.

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The 1970 speed of BT33 was reinforced by Jack’s pole. He won the season opening South African GP. Here spinning on the ‘extinguisher foam rink’. He spun twice but despite that was right on Stewart’s tail when his engine blew. Jarama 1970. (unattributed)

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…

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Rindt, Lotus 72 Ford, Jarama 1970. Look at the suspension travel on that early 72! (unattributed)

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Jochen and Colin making a long joblist during Spanish GP practice. The car which won at the Dutch GP in June was a 72C which shows how much change there was in 2 short months. ‘Sol’ pitboard is Alex Soler-Roig who failed to qualify a Lotus 49C. (unattributed)

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John Surtees ran as high as 3rd in his ex-works McLaren M7C Ford but faded and then retired with gearbox problems. Back at base his team were building John’s first F1 car the ‘TS7’ which made its debut at the British GP in July. (The Cahier Archive)

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Piers Courage during Jarama practice 1970. His Frank Williams De Tomaso 505 Ford non-started after a practice accident. (The Cahier Archive)

Tailpiece: Stewart’s winning March 701 passes the conflagration…

stewart spain 2

(The Cahier Archive)

Credits…

Automobile Year 18, The Cahier Archive

 

pedro spa

Rodriguez victorious at Spa in the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix in his BRM P153, the narrowest of wins from Chris Amons’ March on a circuit made for the Mexicans skill and bravery…

pedro & ricardo 1962

Pedro and brother Ricardo Rodriguez (right) in 1962. Ricardo died at the wheel of a Lotus 24 Climax in the Mexican Grand Prix 1962, the Rob Walker Racing entered cars’ rear suspension failed, the resultant collision killed him instantly at 20 years old. (Unattributed)

pedro in sebring

Pedro cruising through the Sebring paddock in his ‘NART’ Ferrari 330P  (Unattributed)

pedro cooper

1967 British GP, Pedro practices Rindts’ car, Silverstone, Cooper T86 Maserati. 5th in the race won by Clarks’ Lotus 49 Ford. (Bernard Cahier)

spa 1971 rod oli winner

Spa 1000Km 1971, victory with Jackie Oliver in a Wyer Porsche 917K, Siffert/Bell behind and finished 2nd…lookout marshall! (Unattributed)

pedro

Lotus 33 Climax, US GP  Watkins Glen 1966. Team Lotus entered an ‘old nail’ for Pedro, a 2 litre FWMV Climax engined 33 in a one off drive, he qualified 8th but DNF with transmission failure. Clark won in a Lotus 43 BRM. (Unattributed)

pedro and jo spa 1970

Pedro #25 and Jo Siffert #24 , Porsche 917K, Lap 1 Spa 1000Km, 1970. Friends and rivals in the JW Automotive Team, Rodriguez ultimately the better driver. A gaggle of 917’s and 512’s behind. Siffert/Brian Redman won the race, Pedro/Kinnunen DNF with gearbox failure on lap 44.(unattributed)

Rodriguez, Monaco 1967, Coopet T81 Maserati

Rodriguez delicately caressing the big Cooper T81 Maser around Monaco 1967. He was 5th in the race won by Hulmes’ Brabham BT24 (unattributed)

Rodriguez , Porsche 917, Brands 1000Km 1970

Pedro put in a stunning, famous drive to win the Brands Hatch 1000Km in his ‘JW Automotive’ Porsche 917K, partnering with Leo Kinnunen in 1970. He is #10 here ‘hunting down’ the rival ‘Porsche Salzburg’ #11 917K of Elford/Hulme/Ahrens. Oh to have been there! (Unattributed)

pedro portrait

Pedro portrait 1971 (Automobile Year 18)

MHC0177-1024x819fit

BRM P153 at rest, British GP, Brands Hatch 1970. Rindt won in a Lotus 72 Ford, Pedro DNF, prang on lap 58. (Mike Hayward Collection)

pedro 3

Porsche 908/3 1971 (Unattributed)

Rodriguez, one of those drivers who loved racing for its own sake, competed whenever he could was killed in an ‘Interseries’ (European CanAm or Group 7) race at the Norisring, Germany in July 1971.

He had started the season well, lightning fast in both his BRM P160 F1 car and Porsche 917 Sports Car and was pointlessly killed in a race of no importance when a slower car edged his Ferrari 512M into the wall, the car erupted into flames and one of the ‘aces’ of the era died shortly thereafter.

Photo Credits…

Bernard Cahier, Automobile Year, Mike Hayward Collection https://www.mikehaywardcollection.com/

forg

Mauro Forghieri asks Jacky Ickx about his wonderful creation on the Belgian GP grid, Spa 1970. Inboard front suspension, top rocker actuating a spring/shock, lower wishbone. Twin radius rods at rear in evidence. Single top link, and lower wishbone also used at rear. Well protected Lucas fuel injection trumpets, and low nature of engine clear. (Unattributed)

Jacky Ickx awaits the start of the Belgian Grand Prix, he finished eighth amongst a fantastic battle between Pedro Rodriguez and Chris Amon on this spectacular, fast and oh-so-dangerous classic circuit in the Ardennes…

Amon left Ferrari at the end of 1969 , a team he adored and had raced for since 1967. He had been very competitive throughout in F1, Sports Prototypes, and the Tasman Series, but the Championship F1 victory he sought had eluded him.

spa 1970

Spa vista 1970. (Bruce Thomas)

Mauro Forghieri designed the all-new 312B for 1970… the core of which was a horizontally opposed 12 cylinder engine utilising only 4 main bearings to minimise power-sapping frictional losses. The ‘Boxer’ engine layout allowed a very low centre of gravity, and cleaner airflow for the rear wing.

boxer

Engine ‘Type 001’. 180 degree, DOHC, four valve, Lucas fuel injected ‘Flat 12’. Distributor, coil and Dinoplx electronic ignition. Very oversquare at 78.5×51.5 Bore/Stroke, 2991cc. 11.8:1 compression ratio, circa 460BHP at 12000RPM in 1970, rising to over 525BHP throughout the 70’s. (Unattributed)

Chris tested the car late in 1969, several massive engine failures convinced him to leave the team to drive a competitive car powered by the dominant, powerful and reliable Ford Cosworth DFV V8. And so it was that his Cosworth DFV powered March was beaten throughout the seson by the 312B’s and in Belgium by the BRM P153 V12 of Rodriguez…

Chris’ Ferrari departure proved to be another of Amons poor timing decisions, his capacity for being in the ‘right place at the wrong time’ was legendary. Forghieris’ design was both reliable and fast in 1970, Ickx won three races and newcomer Clay Regazzoni one, Ferrari narrowly missing the drivers and constructors titles to Jochen Rindt and Lotus.

In fact the engine was brilliant, one of the greatest in F1, powering cars which took Niki Lauda (1975 and ’77), and Jody Scheckter (1979) to world titles, and in endurance form winning all the classic endurance events but the two 24 Hour races at Le Mans and Daytona. In its early form the DOHC, four valve, Lucas injected, 2991cc engine developed around 460BHP at a time the DFV developed around 435BHP.

The chassis of the 312B was also new and whilst not a ‘full-monocoque’, the combination of aluminium reinforced space-frame tubing was very effective and forgiving to drive.

Newcomer Ignazio Giunti was the best placed Belgian GP 312B in fourth, Ickx having a variety of problems. The race was won by Rodriguez by a second from Amon with Jean Pierre Beltiose third, a further 1.43 minutes adrift, such was the pace of Pedro and Chris.

Amon set a new lap record in his chase of Rodriguez at 152MPH, but Pedro was ‘Spa fit’ having set a 160MPH lap in a 4.5 litre flat 12 Porsche 917 the week before…oh to have seen either race!

There was a chicane at Malmedy for the Grand Prix which was unused during the 1000 Km Classic but all the same…160MPH was the fastest ever lap-time of a road circuit anywhere in the world at the time.

312 b cutaway

312 b spa

Jacky Ickx, Ferrari 312B, La Source hairpin, Spa 1970. (Unattributed)

312 b cockpit

The very cosy, comfy cockpit of Ickx’ Ferrai 312B. Lockout for reverse gear in the gated 5 speed ‘box plain to see , Momo steering wheel, Veglia instruments, just luvverly in every way (Unattributed)

Etcetera…

dfv

An all Ford DFV powered front row at the races start: Jochen Rindts’ Lotus 49 wedged by Amons March 701 on the nearside and Stewarts similar pole winner on the outside…Ickx the best of the 12’s on this ultimate power circuit on the second row (Unattributed)

rindt

Out into the Ardennes Forest …Rindt from Ickx, Beltoise, Brabham in the distance and the yellow speck Petersen…Lotus 49 DFV, Ferrari 312B, Matra MS120 V12, Brabham BT33 DFV, and March 701 DFV (Unattributed)

pedro spa

But Pedro Rodriguez won the day in the BRM P153 V12…over the years there have been rumours the BRM engine was ‘fat’ that day, but these have been scotched by Doug Nye amongst others. Also, Pedro was supreme at Spa and Tony Southgates’ P153 and ’71 P160 BRM’s were fast, if not always reliable race-winners (Unattributed)

Photo Credits…

Bruce Thomas, Illustrations Werner Buhrer