Posts Tagged ‘Bruce McLaren’

(N Tait)

‘Victory Swig’: Jack Brabham partakes of the winner’s champagne, Aintree, 18 July 1959…

Brabham won the British Grand Prix from the British Racing Partnership BRM P25 driven by Stirling Moss and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T51- Jack similarly works mounted to Bruce.

This story of the race was inspired by a couple of marvellous pieces from Nigel Tait’s Repco Collection. I wrote a largely photographic article about this weekend a while back too; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/01/masten-gregory-readies-for-the-off-british-grand-prix-aintree-1959/

(N Tait)

The reality of the win was a bit more complex than the Telex back to Repco HQ of course.

Brabham was aided by the very latest version of the Coventry Climax Mk2 FPF 2.5 ‘straight port, big valve’ engine as Doug Nye described it, and the very latest version of the modified Citroen-ERSA gearbox which used roller rather than plain bearings and oil pumps to aid the reliability of the transmission which was being stretched beyond its modest, production car design limits by the increasingly virile FPF. The short supply of 2.5 litre Climaxes was such that Denis Jenkinson noted ‘…Lotus have to share theirs between F1 and sportscars and a broken valve or connecting rod means a long delay’ in getting an engine returned from rebuild.

This you beaut gearbox was not made available to Stirling Moss or Maurice Trintignant, driving Rob Walker’s T51’s so Moss elected to race a BRM P25- he had lost leading positions in the Monaco and Dutch GP’s due to dramas with the new Colotti gearboxes the team had been using in their Coopers. The BRM was prepared by the British Racing Partnership given Moss was not confident in the Bourne marque’s standard of race preparation after brake failure of his works Type 25 at Silverstone in May.

(Getty)

Moss in the BRP BRM P25- he raced the cars in both Britain and France (Q4 and lap record but disqualified after a push start) with Brooks #20 trying to make the most of a Vanwall VW59 that lacked the advantages of monthly competitive pressures and consequent development in 1959. The champion marque or ‘International Cup’ winner in 1958 of course.

Ferrari stayed in Italy due to industrial unrest, the metal workers were on strike. On top of that Jean Behra bopped Team Manager Romolo Tavoni in an outburst of emotion after Tavoni glanced at his tachometer tell-tale after the conclusion of the French GP and challenged his driver. His Ferrari career was over, and all too soon, two weeks after the British GP, he died in a sportscar race which preceded the German GP at Avus.

Without a ride in his home GP, Ferrari driver Tony Brooks (works Ferraris were raced by Brooks, Behra, Phil Hill, Cliff Allison, Olivier Gendebien, Dan Gurney and Wolfgang von Trips in 1959- no pressure to keep your seat!) raced an updated Vanwall instead. He was without success, back in Q17 despite two cars at his disposal and DNF after a persistent misfire upon completing thirteen laps.

The Vanwalls were the same as in 1958 ‘except that the engine had been lowered in the frame, as had the propshaft line and the driving seat, while the bodywork had been made narrower and some weight reduction had been effected’ noted Denis Jenkinson in his MotorSport race report. Such was the pace of progress the Vanwalls had been left behind after their withdrawal from GP grids on a regular basis. Nye wrote that the performance of the car was so poor Tony Vandervell gave Brooks all of the teams start and appearance money in a grand gesture to a driver who had done so much for the marque.

(unattributed)

Aintree vista above as the field roars away from the grid, at the very back is Fritz d’Orey’s Maserati 250F- whilst at ground level below Jack gets the jump from the start he was never to relinquish. Salvadori is alongside in the DBR4 Aston and Schell’s BRM P25 on the inside. Behind Harry is Masten Gregory’s T51- and then from left to right on row three, McLaren T51, Moss P25, and Maurice Trintignant’s Walker T51.

(J Ross)

So the race was a battle of British Racing Greens- BRM, Cooper, Lotus, Vanwall and Aston Martin- in terms of the latter Roy Salvadori popped the front-engined DBR4 in Q2, he did a 1 min 58 seconds dead, the same as Brabham but did so after Jack. He faded in the race in large part due to an early pitstop to check that his fuel tank filler cap was properly closed- an affliction Carroll Shelby also suffered. The writing was on the wall, if not the days of the front-engined GP car all but over of course- there were three front-engined GP wins in 1959, two to the Ferrari Dino 246, in the French and German GP’s to Tony Brooks. At Zandvoort Jo Bonnier broke through to score BRM’s first championship GP win aboard a P25.

The stage was nicely set for a Brabham win from pole but it was not entirely a soda on that warm summers day ‘The big drama was tyre wear. I put a thick sportscar tyre on my cars left-front. Even so, around half distance i could see its tread was disappearing…so i began tossing the car tail-out in the corners to reduce the load on the marginal left-front.’

‘Moss had to make a late stop, and that clinched it for me. I was able to ease to the finish with a completely bald left-front’ Brabham said to Doug Nye. The Moss pitstop for tyres was unexpected as the Dunlop technicians had calculated one set of boots would last the race but they had not accounted for Stirling circulating at around two seconds a lap quicker than he had practiced! Moss later did a fuel ‘splash and dash’, taking on five gallons, as the BRM was not picking up all of its fuel despite the driver switching between tanks.

(MotorSport)

Whilst Jack won, the fastest lap was shared by Moss and McLaren during a late race dice and duel for second slot- Moss got there a smidge in front of Bruce ‘…as they accelerated towards the line, which was now crowded with photographers and officials, leaving space for only one car, Moss drove straight at the people on the right side of the road, making them jump out of the way, and to try and leave room for McLaren to try and take him on the left. This was indeed a very sporting manoeuvre…’ wrote Jenkinson. McLaren won his first GP at Sebring late in the season delivering on his all season promise. Harry Schell was fourth in a works BRM P25 and Maurice Trintignant fifth in a Colotti ‘boxed’ T51 Cooper despite the loss of second gear, with Roy Salvadori’s Aston, after a thrilling, long contest with Masten Gregory’s works T51, in sixth.

(BRM)

Nearest is Schell’s fourth placed BRM, then Trintigant’s T51- fifth, and up ahead McLaren’s third placed T51. BRM took the teams first championship win at Zandvoort in late May. No less than nine Cooper T51’s took the start in the hands of Brabham, McLaren, Trintignant, Gregory, Chris Bristow, Henry Taylor, Ivor Bueb, Ian Burgess and Hans Hermann

Photo and Research Credits…

Nigel Tait Collection, MotorSport 1959 British GP race report by Denis Jenkinson published in August 1959 and article by Doug Nye published in December 2009, Getty Images, John Ross Motor Racing Collection, BRM, Pinterest

Etcetera…

(unattributed)

The relative size of the McLaren Cooper T51 and Moss BRM P25 is pronounced on the grid. The pair were to provide lots of late race excitement after Stirling’s second pit stop.

(J Ross)

Wonderful butt shot of the Salvadori Aston Martin, #38 is the Jack Fairman driven Cooper T45 Climax, DNF gearbox, and Graham Hill’s Lotus 16 Climax up the road- he finished ninth.

(J Ross)

Roy Salvadori racing his DBR4 hard, he was at the top of his game at that career stage- if only he had stayed put with Cooper for 1959! He recovered well from an early pit stop but ultimately the car lacked the outright pace of the leaders however well suited to the track the big beast was. Carroll Shelby failed to finish in the other car after magneto failure six laps from home.

Two of these magnificent machines found good homes in Australia in the hands of Lex Davison and Bib Stillwell in the dying days of the Big Cars- Lex only lost the 1960 AGP at Lowood from Alec Mildren’s Cooper T51 Maserati by metres after a magnificent race long tussle.

Tailpiece: Brabham, Cooper T51 Climax, Aintree…

(MotorSport)

It’s almost as though Jack is giving us a lesson in Cooper designer/draftsman Owen Maddock’s T51 suspension geometry arcs!

Jack was famous for his ‘tail-out’ speedway style of driving, one eminently suited to the Coopers of the era. Lets not forget, according to Jack’s account of the race, he was accentuating this aspect of his driving to save the load on his increasingly threadbare left-front Dunlop.

Jenkinson in his race report observed that ‘The Coopers, both F1 and F2, were going extremely fast, and looking horribly unstable, yet the drivers seemed quite unconcerned, whereas drivers of more stabile machinery following behind were getting quite anxious at the twitchings and jumpings of the Surbiton cars.’

However untidy it may have all been, they were mighty fast, robust weapons of war.

Finito…

(K Devine)

Three men and a car- the 1962 Australian Grand Prix winning Cooper mind you…

Eoin Young, journalist and author of considerable renown, Wally Willmott, mechanic of similar standing, the incomparable Bruce McLaren and Cooper T62 Climax at Styles Garage on the corner of Sussex Street and the Albany Highway, Victoria Park, Perth during the 18 November weekend. The Austin has a 15 kilometre tow from this inner south-eastern Perth suburb to Caversham now also a Perth suburb in the Swan Valley.

All so simple isn’t it, three blokes and a car?! And they won the race- with a little bit of luck thanks to Jack Brabham’s late race collision with Arnold Glass, but that in no way diminishes the achievement.

I wrote about this race and somewhat tragic car a while back; https://primotipo.com/2016/05/20/bruce-lex-and-rockys-cooper-t62-climax/

Here are a few more brilliant photographs from Ken Devine’s Collection of that weekend- I was going to retro-fit them into the old article but it seems better to let the photos ‘shine on their own’ so here they are with a few supporting notes.

(K Devine)

David McKay and Jack Brabham chewing the fat- don’t they look like youngsters?!

McKay didn’t race that weekend but was scooping up information for his newspaper and magazine reports of the race. Morover he was spinning Jack a line about how long-in-the-tooth his Cooper was and how much he would like to buy Jack’s brand-spankers BT4 Climax- a feat he would accomplish! The BT4 was in essence an FPF engined BT3- Tauranac’s first, 1962 F1 car.

Jack raced the car in New Zealand (a win at Levin) with David racing it in the Australian events- Graham Hill took the wheel in the 1964 Tasman Series achieving one win at Longford.

(K Devine)

Lex Davison looking stern as he motors past at some clip in his T53 Cooper- like McKay he was after a new car too- at the end of the summer Bruce’s T62 was his, a car around which a good deal of tragedy occurred. Lex was classified 8th from grid 4 but only completed 46 of the races 60 lap, 101 mile distance.

(K Devine)

Bib Stillwell must have been flogging quite a few Holdens from his Cotham Road, Kew, Melbourne dealership by then- he really went about his motor racing in a thoroughly professional manner.

To me he was slow to peak having started racing just after the war, but man, when he did he was an awesome racer taking four Gold Stars on the trot from 1962 to 1965- he had his tail up on this weekend as he had just taken his first Gold Star in this Cooper T53 Climax with wins in two of the six GS championship rounds.

Its interesting to look at Stillwell’s results that year- he had an absolute cracker of a season inclusive of the internationals when the big-hitters were about. His record is as follows; Warwick Farm 100 3rd, Celebrities Scratch Race Lakeside 1st, Lakeside International 2nd, Victorian Trophy Calder 1st, South Pacific Championship Longford 3rd, Bathurst 100 1st, Racing Feature Race Calder 1st, Victorian Road Race Championship Sandown 2nd, Advertiser Trophy Mallala 1st, Hordern Trophy Warwick Farm 1st, AGP Caversham 3rd- it was a year of amazing speed and reliability, the teams only DNF was at the Sandown International (engine) the only other ‘non-event’ was a DNA at Lowood- by early June Bib no doubt figured the long tow to Queensland from Melbourne was a waste of money.

Click here for Bib’s time in Intercontinental Brabhams; https://primotipo.com/2018/07/20/matich-stillwell-brabhams-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1963/

At Caversham Stillwell was third on the grid behind McLaren 1:19.6 and Brabham 1:20.1, Bib’s 1:20.3 was pacey- he finished third, 47 seconds adrift of McLaren and 5 seconds behind John Youl in a Cooper T55.

(K Devine)

Lets not forget the Cooper Monaco either- a car I wrote about a while back and which received the ex-Scarab Buick-Traco V8 a little later in its life- the motor which was in the engine nacelle of Arnold Glass’ BRM P48 (#7 below) this very weekend.

The story of Bib’s Cooper Monaco is here; https://primotipo.com/2015/03/10/bib-stillwell-cooper-t49-monaco-warwick-farm-sydney-december-1961/

(D Van Dal-K Devine)

The cut and thrust between Brabham and McLaren went on for over forty laps- Jack saw an opportunity when Bruce ran wide lapping Arnold- Jack focussed on Bruce, Arnold on taking his line for the next corner, a collision the result. Jack was out on lap 50 whereas Arnold survived to finish in fifth place from grid 7.

The story of the BRM P48 is here; https://primotipo.com/2018/03/16/bourne-to-ballarat-brm-p48-part-2/

(K Devine)

Jack and Roy fettle the 2.5 litre Climax engine lent to them by Bruce McLaren, Jack having popped his 2.7 ‘Indy’ FF in practice.

The Brabham BT4 was the first in a long line of ‘Intercontinental’ chassis built by the Tauranac/Brabham combination all of which (BT4/7A/11A) won a lot of motor races in this part of the world.

Paragons of practical, chuckable virtue the cars won races in the hands of World Champions Hill, Stewart and Brabham as well as championship winners in domestic competition for the likes of Stillwell, Spencer Martin and Kevin Bartlett (whilst noting the latter’s Gold Star success was aboard a BT23D Alfa Romeo.

(K Devine)

 

(K Devine)

Plenty of hopefuls entered the meeting not least Jim Harwood in the ex-Whitehead/Cobden Ferrari 125 which by then was fitted with a small-block 283 cid Chev V8.

His times were too far behind the modern mid-enginer racers of the top-liners so he elected not to start- with 1962 still just into the period of Austraian motor racing where everybody could have a go with a high-born special such as this ex-GP 1950 Ferrari.

The car is notable for the fact that it was one of Tom Wheatcroft’s first Donington Collection acquisitions.

(K Devine)

 

(K Devine)

Brabham, Stillwell and McLaren from left to right at the drop of the starters flag. Brabham BT4, Cooper T53 and Cooper T62 respectively. On the second row its John Youl at left, Cooper T55 and Lex Davison’s red T53 alongside him. In the dark helmet on the row behind is the red with white striped BRM P48 Buick of Arnold Glass and at very far left is Jeff Dunkerton’s Lotus Super 7 Ford 1.5- to the right of the Lotus is the red front-engined #14 Cooper T20 Holden Repco of Syd Negus.

(K Devine)

Whilst ten starters is not a big grid, Dunkerton’s achievement in finishing ninth in the little Lotus 7 was an amazing one- the last placing ever gained by a sportscar in an AGP.

(K Devine)

Bill Patterson was the reigning 1961 Gold Star Champions but his old Cooper T51 was never going to be a competitive tool going into that year with plenty of more modern well-driven machines on Australian grids.

In reality Patto was easing himself slowly out of racing as a driver albeit he would remain involved as a sponsor/entrant in the next couple of decades. He started from grid 6 and finished fourth albeit three laps behind McLaren.

Bill Patterson’s story; https://primotipo.com/2017/02/02/patto-and-his-coopers/

(K Devine)

John Youl is another driver I’ve waxed lyrical about in the past- its a shame commitments running the family pastoral properties in northern Tasmania took him away from motor racing. Youl’s ex-works Cooper T55 was beautifully prepared by Geoff Smedley and pedalled very quickly by John in the 1963 Internationals. It would have been very interesting to see just how far he would have progressed up the elite level totem-pole had he stuck with his racing career.

Click here; https://primotipo.com/2017/09/08/bay-of-plenty-road-race-and-the-frank-matich-lotus-19s/

(K Devine)

Bruce on the way to a Caversham win, Cooper T62 from Youl, Stillwell, Patterson and Glass. Bruce McLaren Motor Racing had rather a bright future.

Credit…

Ken Devine Collection

Tailpiece: McLaren takes the flag…

(K Devine)

Is it Jack in the blue driving suit obscuring the man with the flag?

Bruce won two AGP’s, the other aboard his self designed and built- with Wally Willmott, Cooper T79 at Longford in 1965.

Both were great wins after a long tussles with Jack Brabham- at Caversham Arnold Glass ruined the fun when he mistakenly put Jack off the road and at Longford he won by a smidge under four seconds from the Aussie’s Brabham BT11A Climax and Phil Hill’s Cooper T70 Climax. It was a great day for the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing as Phil drove a terrific race- in the American’s opinion one of his best in the T70, another car built by Bruce. (McLaren’s winning T79 was an updated T70)

Longford joy was tempered considerably by the death of Rocky Tresise early in the race aboard the very same Cooper T62 in which Bruce won at Caversham in 1962…

Finito…

Bruce McLaren awaits his crew making changes to the setup of his new McLaren M7A Ford, chassis M7A-1, Silverstone 25 April 1968…

Its a day or so before the BRDC International Trophy, one of three non-championship F1 races run in Europe that season. Bruce is to have another good weekend, off the back of his Brands Hatch ‘Race Of Champions’ win in March, his teammate and Kiwi buddy Denny Hulme won the prestigious Silverstone race in an emphatic demonstration of the quality of Bruce McLaren and Robin Herd’s F1 design and construction capabilities.

McLaren in the M7A, from pole, Brands Race of Champions in 1968- he won. Alongside is Mike Spence BRM P126, Jackie Stewart Matra MS10 Ford and on row 2 Chris Amon Ferrari 312 and Denny in his M7A. That’s Jo Bonnier in last years McLaren M5A BRM V12 with his hand up on the second last row. Bruce won from Pedro Rodriguez BRM P133 and Denny LAT)

That season Bruce McLaren famously became one of the very few to win a championship GP in a car of his own name and construction when he won the Belgian GP. Denny Hulme took another three GP victories and challenged for the 1968 World Championship ultimately won by Graham Hill’s Lotus 49B Ford, the car for which the Ford Cosworth DFV was designed.

At the end of 1967 Ford’s Walter Hayes implored Colin Chapman to allow him to offer the DFV to other teams ‘for the good of Grand Prix racing’ such was his fear of Team Lotus dominance. Chapman, to his credit, waived his contractual entitlement to exclusivity- Lotus, Matra and McLaren raced the Ford engine in GP events in 1968.

McLaren M7A Ford cutaway (Dick Ellis)

The duo concepted a car which typified the ‘Cosworth Kit Car’ era. A short monocoque chassis ended aft of the driver’s seat and consisted of three steel bulkheads- one at the back, one at the front, and one open bulkhead at the dashboard which was then skinned with aluminium panels to form a full monocoque over the driver’s legs. It was an immensely torsionally rigid and strong structure compared with the very best spaceframes of only a few years before.

The M7A used glued and riveted skins of L72 aluminium alloy, a British standard for the aviation industry in a thickness of 22 gauge and in a few places 20 guage magnesium sheet. 40 gallons of fuel were distributed between four rubber bag-tanks- one either side of the driver in the tub, another behind his seat and the fourth in the scuttle. The Cosworth DFV engine was bolted directly to the rear bulkhead and at that stage of its development produced circa 420 bhp @ 9500 rpm.

Early test of the M7A at Silverstone on 5 April 1968. Denny up, Bruce by front wheel. Notice the McLaren wheels, ‘nostril’ ducted radiator outlets and top and bottom front suspension radius rods which mount to the bulkhead in the dash area of the tub (R Dumont)

The suspension, of conventional outboard design was derived from the very successful 1967 Can-Am Championship winning M6A Chev. It comprised outboard coil spring/damper units at both ends and single lateral links and trailing arms at the front- and single lateral top links, reversed lower wishbones and twin radius rods at the rear. Uprights were cast magnesium with of course adjustable roll bars front and rear. Steering was McLaren rack and pinion, brakes Lockheed discs all round and the transmission the ubiquitous Hewland DG 300 transaxle five-speed.

The radiator was conventionally mounted at the front, with a sleek fibreglass body topping the whole visually arresting package- hot air vented McLaren style out of ‘nostrils’ in the nose with an oil radiator at the rear above the ‘box and clear in the opening shot.

‘Pop’ McLaren and Alastair Caldwell supervise the McLaren pit in the French GP paddock, Rouen 1968. Note general car layout as per text, suspension, rad duct in lower shot- quality of design, execution and presentation a treat. #8 Denny 5th, #10 Bruce 8th. Shocker of a wet race with Jo Schlesser dead on lap 2 in the experimental Honda RA302 (unattributed)

Allen Brown reports in oldracingcars.com of the M7A’s 1968 season; ‘The first two cars were finished in March 1968, and both debuted at the 1968 Race of Champions, where Bruce McLaren dominated the race, winning from pole position, with his new teammate Denny Hulme finishing third. At the next race, the Silverstone International Trophy, Hulme took pole position and won, with Bruce content to take second place. It was not quite so easy at the first GP, the Spanish, but the M7As were third and fourth on the grid and Hulme finished second.’

‘After a poor weekend in Monaco, Bruce McLaren took his team’s first GP victory in the Belgian GP at Spa in June after Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS10 retired on the last lap. Results were mixed over the next few races, but Hulme won in Italy and in Canada to equal Graham Hill’s score at the top of the World Championship standings. A crash at Watkins Glen and retirement in Mexico ended his challenge, but had been a wonderful season for McLaren’s F1 team’.

McLaren M7A from Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P133- 1st and 2nd, Spa 1968 (unattributed)

McLaren and M7A at Watkins Glen 1968. Note the mount and location of the rear wing in the context of the text below (A Upitis)

In terms of the ebbs and flows of the season, in ‘The Year of Wings’, Matra and Ferrari- on Firestone and Dunlop tyres respectively won races later in the season and Lotus set the aerodynamic standard with high-wings after their initial appearance on the Ferrari 312 and Brabham BT26 Repco at Spa. McLaren lost some of their edge- the cars wings were less effective than Lotuses, when they remained attached to their cars, mounted in the middle of the M7A on the cars sprung mass, rather than Lotus 49 style at the rear on the unsprung suspension uprights, and Goodyear too lost their edge. Remember when there was competition between the tyre manufacturers?!

Goodyear’s new G9 boots gave Denny the kicker he needed to win at Monza and then at St Jovite, Canada but Graham Hill and Lotus deserved the title in a year during which Hill held the team together and picked everybody up after Jim Clark’s tragic death at Hockenheim in April.

Looking at the M7 design from a commercial perspective, whilst McLaren by this stage were well funded by the standards of the day- the M7 design worked hard in contributing to the companies success by providing the basis of the M14 F1 car and the phenomenally successful M10A and M10B F5000 designs which were the ‘class standard’ from 1969-1971- constructed as they were under licence by Trojan Cars in Croydon.

Bruce, M7A Silverstone (V Blackman)

Lets get back to the photo which inspired this piece though, here is none other than DC Nye’s race report of the BRDC International Trophy, in full, from the June 1968 issue of MotorSport, the photographs are all my editorial selections…

‘For the 20th B.R.D.C. International Daily Express Trophy race at Silverstone, the Club amassed a small but fairly representative field of Formula One cars. Heading the entry were Hulme and McLaren in the two impeccably-prepared McLaren M7A-Cosworth V8s, which finished first and third in the Race of Champions, and Ferrari sent over two cars, one a new, slightly sleeker-chassised V12 with the engine lower-mounted than hitherto, and the other the car which Amon normally races. Drivers were the young Belgian, Ickx, and Amon, and though the New Zealander tried both cars he decided he preferred his own, and Ickx raced the new one.

Amon’s Ferrari 312’s, Ickx car in the foreground, Silverstone 1968. Amon Q5 and Ickx Q7 with Chris proving the pace of the Ferrari, despite the Cosworth onslaught with a fastest lap and 3rd place, Jacky 4th (unattributed)

Graham Hill had a solitary Lotus 49-Cosworth V8 which was entered by Gold Leaf Team Lotus, and B.R.M. were well represented with Rodriguez in the Bourne-built, Terry-designed P133 V12 and Spence in the similar, T.A.C.-built P126. Also in a P126 was Courage, having his first F1 race this season for Parnell, and Hobbs had Bernard White’s relatively unsorted Tasman 2-litre B.R.M. P261 chassis, specially lengthened by the works to accommodate the new V12 engine. Also B.R.M.-powered was the lone works Cooper T86B, with Gardner driving, as Scarfiotti was away practicing for the Targa Florio and Redman was reputedly testing F2 Dino Ferraris in Modena. Rob Walker had acquired a new Tasman Lotus 49 chassis to replace the one lost recently in a fire at his Dorking headquarters, Siffert driving as usual; Bonnier was in his 1967 McLaren M5A-B.R.M. V12, and the Swiss Moser had the ex-Hulme, ex-Ligier Brabham BT20-Repco V8. Lanfranchi completed the field in a 2.7-litre Climax 4-cylinder powered Brabham BT23.

Withdrawn entries included a second Parnell B.R.M. for Attwood and Sheppard’s Mallite McLaren fitted with a 3-litre version of the original Climax Godiva V8 for Taylor. Two works Brabhams were listed, but were not complete.

Last year’s G.P. practice record of 1 min. 25.3 sec. by Clark in the Lotus 49 looked a little sick compared with this year’s speeds, Hulme taking pole position with 1 min. 24.3 sec. to Spence’s 1 min. 24.9 sec., McLaren’s 1 min. 25.1 sec. and Rodriguez’s 1 min. 25.3 sec. Behind these four on the front row came Amon at 1 min. 25.5 sec., Hill 1 min. 25.6 sec., Ickx 1 min. 26.4 sec., and Siffert 1 min. 27.6 sec.

One minutes silence in memory of Jim Clark before the off. Hulme at far left on pole, then Spence BRM P126, McLaren M7A and the other BRM P133 of Pedro Rodriguez. Amon, Hill and Ickx on row 2 (Getty)

After a poignant silence in memory of the late Jim Clark, the field were given a maximum of three warming-up laps, and from the start McLaren took an immediate lead ahead of Spence, Hulme, Rodriguez, Ickx, Hill, Amon, Courage, Bonnier and Gardner. Lap 2 and the leading bunch were all scratching hard to draw out some sort of advantage; Courage was briefly ahead of Amon at Copse and Siffert and Gardner were both by Bonnier, who was being harried by Hobbs.

The leading McLarens, B.R.M.s, the lone Lotus and the two Ferraris soon towed each other away from the rest of the field, with Hulme slotting by Spence into second place on lap 4, then being repassed by the B.R.M. Lanfranchi had already stopped for a plug change on his 4-cylinder, and at the start of lap 6 Spence led McLaren into Copse, and was re-passed on the way out to Maggotts to remain the meat in an orange McLaren sandwich for a short distance before chopping by again and leading the bunch on lap 7 from Hulme, McLaren, Rodriguez and Hill, all nose-to-tail. Amon and Ickx had become slightly detached in the works Ferraris, but as they sped down Hangar Straight on that lap a stone was thrown up from Spence’s B.R.M., smashing Hulme’s goggles and giving him a nasty moment which dropped him back to seventh.

Hill and Amon in 3rd and 4th- Ferrari 312 and Lotus 49 Ford (LAT)

Almost immediately Rodriguez’s B.R.M. V12 began to misfire, an ignition lead dropping off, and he stopped before Maggotts, replaced the wire and drove on to the pits, where a more lasting repair was made. By lap 9, with Spence leading narrowly from McLaren, Hill was third in the lone Lotus, Amon was a close fourth and Hulme, whose eyes had stopped watering, was already on his tail and looking for a way by. Positions remained unchanged until lap 14, when the Lotus’ V8 engine died, and, seeing a lot of fluid resting in the vee, Hill thought the engine had suffered a serious breakage and had thrown water. In fact, a fuel pipe had split, and the fluid was petrol, but he was out anyway, and walked back to the pits. Hulme had nipped by Amon on this lap, and was going out after Spence, who had been re-passed by McLaren. lckx was falling back in fifth place with the very new and understeering Ferrari, with Siffert some distance behind, followed by Courage, Gardner, Hobbs, Moser, Lanfranchi and then an unhappy Rodriguez in the misfiring B.R.M., last.

Next lap Hulme was up into second place, and on lap 20 he passed McLaren after getting round in 1 min. 25.3 sec. to take the lead narrowly from his “number one”, Spence and Amon, and these four were still driving in very close company. But Lanfranchi had retired with bad oil surge, and Siffert’s sixth place evaporated on lap 26 when the clutch broke in the Tasman-chassised Lotus, and two laps previously Gardner had gone out in a trail of smoke and steam when the B.R.M. engine broke a liner.

Lap 28, and Spence slotted his slim B.R.M. past McLaren into second place, and as they lapped the tail-enders the leading group began to space out. But Amon closed on McLaren noticeably on lap 36 and was looking for a way by, but then lost time lapping Moser at Copse and dropped back, letting McLaren get away and latch on to Spence’s tail in second place. These two then drove very hard, entering corners side-by-side occasionally until lap 41 when the B.R.M.’s engine stopped suddenly at Club with a timing chain breakage, letting McLaren up into second place, but delaying him sufficiently to let Amon catch up in the Ferrari. Rodriguez had finally retired his sick B.R.M., Ickx was running a lonely fourth, with Courage fifth and about to be lapped, while the only other cars still running were Hobbs’ B.R.M. and Moser’s Brabham-Repco.

Hulme on his way to the first of four M7A wins in 1968, Silverstone, April 1968 (LAT)

Amon was trying hard to wrest second place from McLaren, setting a new outright circuit record on lap 44 of 1 min. 25.1 sec., 123.82 m.p.h., but Bruce was trying equally hard to stay ahead, doing 1 min. 25.2 sec. on the same lap, and, although the two of them were very close together on lap 45, Amon’s luck was running out and his goggles strap broke. Shielding his eyes from the airstream with one hand he drove for two laps before managing to haul his stand-by pair into position on his face, and this dropped him well back from McLaren, and although closing the gap slightly before the finish he came home in third place. Hulme was battered but triumphant, Bruce McLaren had a lot to smile about with his cars’ first one-two victory, and B.R.M. were well pleased with their turn of speed and not too worried about the frailty their cars had shown since they are still at an early stage in their development. The Ferraris had been rather outpaced from the start, but on a clear track and with McLaren as his target Amon had proved that he is one of the quickest drivers around.’—D. C. N.

Denny on his way to a win at St Jovite, Canadian GP 1968 (unattributed)

Etcetera: M7A Chassis by Chassis courtesy Allen Brown at oldracingcars.com…

‘The first two cars were finished in March 1968, and both debuted at the 1968 Race of Champions, where Bruce McLaren dominated the race, winning from pole position, with his new teammate Denny Hulme finishing third. At the next race, the Silverstone International Trophy, Hulme took pole position and won, with Bruce content to take second place. It was not quite so easy at the first GP, the Spanish, but the M7As were third and fourth on the grid and Hulme finished second. After a poor weekend in Monaco, Bruce McLaren took his team’s first GP victory in the Belgian GP at Spa in June after Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS10 retired on the last lap. Results were mixed over the next few races, but Hulme won in Italy and in Canada to equal Graham Hill’s score at the top of the World Championship standings. A crash at Watkins Glen and retirement in Mexico ended his challenge, but had been a wonderful season for McLaren’s F1 team

Bruce 8th, with Tyler Alexander and Alastair Caldwell and M7A at Rouen, Chris Amon 10th Ferrari 312 just heading out (unattributed)

Denny and Bruce at Jarama prior to the 1968 Spanish GP, M7A’s fitted with pannier side tanks. Denny 2nd and Bruce retired in the race won by Hill’s Lotus 49 Ford (unattributed)

Bruce on the way to that historic win aboard his M7A at Spa in 1968 (unattributed)

Hulme’s M7As was retained for 1969 for the Kiwi to drive, and the latest car, M7A/3, was modified to M7B specification with pannier tanks.  When that did not work, both the M7B and the prototype M7A were sold to privateers; both were crashed later in 1969 and both cars scrapped. Bruce drove a new McLaren M7C for the rest of 1969, and a huge amount of effort was wasted on the four-wheel-drive McLaren M9A. It didn’t help that Goodyear, McLaren’s tyre supplier, were well behind Firestone and Dunlop until the end of the season, when the latest rubber helped Hulme win the Mexican GP in his well-used sole surviving M7A. That last M7A was bought by Tony Dean for Formula 5000, and was then sold to a French Museum where it remains, the museum owners having turned down all McLaren International’s offers for the car.’

McLaren, Brands, M7A British GP 1968 (M Hayward)

More on the M7A’s…

Check out Allen Brown’s article which I have referenced and filched from extensively in this article

http://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m7a/

Credits…

Getty Images, Victor Blackman, Ronald Dumont, Alvis Upitis, MotorSport June 1968 article by Doug Nye, Dick Ellis, LAT, Mike Hayward, Allen Brown-oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(AMR)

Bruce McLaren points his Ford F3L/P68 into Druids Hill Bend during the 1968 Brands Hatch 6 Hour on April 7…

I guess we all have our favourite racing eras, my own are the seventies and eighties but visually the ‘last front engined decade’, the fifties and the ‘first mid-engined decade’, the sixties have to be right up there.

In sportscar terms the latter is stunning- the bill of fare without limit from the Ferrari 250P early in the decade to the 512S at its end (1969 design and 1970 raced), Lola Mk6 to T70 Mk3B, Chaparral 2 to 2H, Porsche 904 to 908, Elfin Mallala to ME5 and Ford GT40 to F3L.

The F3L has to be a candidate for the hottest of hotties with its extravagant length, voluptuous but subtle compound curvature- it’s possibly the spunk-muffin of them all but sadly, as is so often the case with stunning chicks, the beauty was only skin deep.

On the face of it Fords 3 litre Group 6 challenger- the designation is an acronym for Prototype 1968 Ford 3 Litre had all it needed to succeed; the backing and funding of Ford UK, Castrol and Goodyear the most punchy, torquey and reliable F1 engine of the day- the Ford Cosworth DFV, it was designed by the very well credentialled Len Bailey- then on the payroll of Harley Copp, Ford Director of Engineering and built by Alan Mann Racing in Byfleet, Surrey. On top of that the roll call of drivers included the best GP and sportscar racers of the day. How could they fail? But tank they did, by early 1969 the project was dead. What went so terribly wrong?

No less than father of the Ford DFV program, Ford’s European Director of Public Affairs, Walter Hayes launched the F3L at a large function of motor racing’s great and good at the Hilton Hotel in early 1968.

The car blew the brains away of all present in terms of its looks, aerodynamics and advanced specification- it was indeed an amazingly compact, fully-enveloped two-seater Grand Prix car in its conception and execution.

(AMR)

Len Bailey was apprenticed at Austin and moved to the US in 1955 where he worked for American Motors and Ford in Dearborn. He was part of a team which worked on Fords racing efforts and then returned to the UK, still employed by Ford as Chief Draftsman on the Ford Advanced Vehicles GT40 project designed by Eric Broadley. The body shape of the GT40 in its successful form was designed by Bailey in the workshops of Specialised Mouldings with assistance from stylists from Ford UK and US. Bailey designed the Mirage adaptation of the GT40 raced by John Wyer in 1967 and the engineering of many of the Alan Mann Racing touring cars.

In Australia Bailey is best known for his late 1968 Alan Mann Racing built, monocoque Mildren ‘Yellow Submarine’ single-seater, which used some Brabham BT23 componentry (uprights, wheels, steering rack) and was raced very successfully by Frank Gardner, Kevin Bartlett, Bob Muir and Ray Winter way into 1974 powered by Alfa Tipo 33 2.5 V8 and Waggott 2 litre TC-4V engines in ANF1 and finally the Ford Hart 416B twin-cam ANF2 motor.

Frank Gardner in Len Bailey’s AMR built Mildren Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5V8 Tasman Formula car in the Warwick Farm Esses during the sodden ‘WF 100’ won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW in a blinder of a wet weather drive, FG was third in this excellent car. It was a front three car, the absence of wings before the Australian leg meant the car didn’t realise its ultimate pace that summer- god knows why it was delivered from the UK sans wings, its not as tho Bailey or FG didn’t know they were needed?! Superb car which won races throughout Australasia and Asia thru till 1974. Still extant in the hands of the Ayers Family in Waggott engine form (B McInerney)

 

Superb Ford Cosworth DFV V8 cutaway by Vic Berris (Autocar)

Bailey was inspired to build the F3L by the Ford Cosworth DFV given its small size and light weight. Len decided it would make an ideal sprint engine but Keith Duckworth questioned the engines durability, it was designed for 200 mile Grands Prix events after all- so in the first year, 1968, it was not intended to contest Le Mans.

Despite the DFV being concepted by Colin Chapman and designed by Duckworth to be a stressed member of a car the aluminium monocoque Bailey laid down provided for the engine to be carried by traditional aluminium side booms, a choice which was both unnecessarily heavy and problematic in terms of utility. It took too long to remove and replace th engine and it was said heat problems were caused.

The choice of the chassis design is intriguing- whether it was Bailey’s choice or one imposed on him ‘due to political problems within Ford’ is unclear. The latter seems odd- by the end of 1967 Chapman had agreed to Hayes request to make the engine more widely available in 1968 to other teams ‘so as not to destroy Grand Prix racing’, as Hayes was fearful the Lotus 49 Ford cars would do. So Chapman agreed to that, despite his contract providing Lotus with engine exclusivity for a period of time. The point in this chassis design context is that McLaren and Matra, in designing their 1968 M7A and MS10 GP cars located their engines exactly as Chapman did on the 49- they were bolted the the rear chassis bulkhead, that is used as stressed chassis members rather than supported as Bailey/Mann chose to do, or were forced to do, with their F3L sportscar.

Inperial College wind tunnel in 1967 (unattributed)

To finish this long treatise on the F3L chassis Autosport’s John Bolster in an article he penned about the car in March 1968 reported it ‘was a full monocoque with riveted and bonded aluminium panels; in fact the only unstressed panels are in the small removable nose section and the tail. The skin is of 0.03 inch malleable aircraft alloy throughout, and the shape of the body is intended to produce the lowest possible drag while keeping the small, light car on the ground. At 200 mph it is calculated that a downward force of 600 pounds will be generated’.

The compact size of the F3L is stunning in any picture of it, this is in part due to the cars wheelbase which was a short 7 feet 3 inches with a track of 4 ft 7 ins. The wheelbase was ‘considerably shorter than that of the grand prix single-seaters employing the same power unit’ Bolster wrote. He continued, ‘No doubt this short wheelbase can be used because of the stability conferred by the body shape, and in particular by the Ford-patented vortex generating tail. The overall length is 13 ft 10 ins, the width 5 ft 10 ins, the height 2 ft 11.5 ins and the frontal area 14 sq ft’. Whilst the car undoubtedly had the hands of stylists involved, the fundamental shape was developed with the aid of extensive testing in the Imperial College Wind Tunnel during 1967.

Suspension was GP car standard of the day- upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/damper units at the front and single top links, inverted lower wishbones, two radius rods and again coil spring/dampers at the rear. Roll bars were of course adjustable at both ends. Girling brakes of 11.5 inches diameter were carried inboard of the uprights in the interest of cooling with drive from the hubs provided by short live axles. Light alloy wheels used three-eared knock-on hubs, with peg drive and were 15 inches in diameter with rim widths of 8/9 inches at the front and 14/15 inches aft. Goodyear tyres were used which, given the tyre contracts of the day meant that only Goodyear contracted drivers could be used- not that in any way that limited the talent pool available! Uprights were cast magnesium, steering rack and pinion and the gearbox was a Hewland DG300, relatively understressed in this application.

The 3 litre Ford DFV developed around 420 bhp @ 9000 rpm at this stage of its development, the radiator was mounted at the front of the car with electrics and fuel injection the same as those used in the single-seaters mentioned above. The fuel filler was concealed in the scuttle, the fuel tank capacity was 26.5 gallons, the mandated spare wheel was carried flat behind the engine with compulsory luggage capacity also in the tail. The minimum weight for Group 6 cars was 1435 pounds, the F3L in its early form weighed in at a comparatively svelte 1480 pounds.

Breathtaking artistry of Theo Page- F3L P68

Bolster reported that ‘It is intended that 1968 be a development season for the car, and Alan Mann will enter it in five or six races. Most of the test driving will be performed by Denny Hulme and Frank Gardner, but Jim Clark/Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren/Denny Hulme are scheduled to drive the cars at the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch on April 7, which will be the first public appearance’.

If only Jim Clark had raced the F3L that fateful weekend the course of motor racing history would have been quite different, instead the Lotus/Firestone contracted driver raced an F2 Lotus Ford FVA F2 car to his death at Hockenheim.

Bolster concluded his article with the observation that ‘This brilliant design will allow the Ford Cosworth V8, hitherto a Formula 1 unit, to appear in a new sphere. Though the enclosed two-seater is heavier than the single-seaters, its vastly better aerodynamic shape will enable it to reach higher speeds and over 200 mph will certainly be within its compass. This is yet another proof that when Fords go motor racing, they employ all the latest advances in technology and there are no half measures.’

All of Bolster’s observations held true with the exception of half-measures- it was only half-measures in terms of commitment to the cars development which precluded the success that was well within its performance reach…

Gardner’s Nurburgring crutch. The tall, lanky pilot had an extra one and a half inches added to the wheelbase of ‘the second chassis’ built to give him a bit more ‘wriggle room’ (Getty)

The legendary bearded scribbler, Denis Jenkinson, of course attended the cars launch and spoke extensively to Frank Gardner about the car during the function- he was keen for a ride in the new machine with Gardner happy to oblige, a Goodwood test date was soon sorted.

Jenkinson takes up the story in MotorSport ‘I spent a whole day at Goodwood watching Gardner drive the car and he didn’t like the way it steered, though he was unable to explain clearly why. The front end gave no hint of confidence on fast bends and seemed to want to step out sideways, but he could offer no technical suggestions and Bailey and Mann seemed out of their depth with a car they had conceived but were unable to suckle. Jack Brabham was there testing one of his F2 cars (BT23C Ford Cosworth) so Alan Mann asked him to try the Ford. On three laps Brabham approached the chicane and at the last moment thought the better of it and took the escape road. After about 5 laps he drew into the pits, opened the door, and before anyone could speak, he said, in that dead-pan voice that is so typical of Brabham, “How brave do you want me to get?” Without more ado he got on with his Formula Two car and left Gardner, Bailey and Mann scratching their heads, not knowing where to look for the root cause. The late Mike Spence tried the car and was more explicit, describing the movement of the car as being as if the steering rack was moving, making the car step sideways at the front when the torque was applied to the steering wheel. Some primitive, strong arm stuff with long levers indicated that the front structure was rigid enough, and Spence did wonder if the car was aerodynamically unstable, but this was out of the question, for the Ford publicity boys had written pages on the new secrets of the aerodynamics of the tail section which gave the car very special stability. Before the abortive day finished I suggested to Gardner that I’d still like a run around in the passenger seat, if only to be able to see at close quarters what they were complaining about. He was adamant; he said he was reluctantly prepared to risk his own life, but he was not prepared to risk somebody elses. It must have been bad, so I went away and got on with something else’ Jenkinson concluded.

Nonetheless the testing of the car continued, Gardner, Richard Attwood, Mike Spence and John Surtees all drove it and assisted in its development and by the time of the intial Brands outing the car was quick- if unreliable. This is of course not unexpected- the 917 was a pig in 1969, Gardner famously thought he and David Piper should have been awarded an Iron Cross for wrestling it around the Nurburgring 1000 km when none of Porsche’s contracted drivers would- won Le Mans in 1970.

Lets have a look at how the F3L fared at each of its competition appearances.

Alan Mann and Walter Hayes in suit, and the lads, Brands 1968. McLaren/Spence car (AMR)

1968 Season…

Brands Hatch 6 Hour (April 7)

The two-car Alan Mann transporter rumbled into the Brands paddock late for the first day of practice, the second P68 having been just completed. The cars were to be driven by Rindt/Spence and McLaren/Hulme (substitutinq for Clark/Hill, Clark having to take late Lotus 48 FVA F2 commitments at Hockenheim).

McLaren was second fastest in practice with the works Siffert/Hermann Porsche 907 on pole. The other F3L broke its engine and was withdrawn due to the lack of a spare. As a consequence the driver pairings were shuffled with McLaren/Spence teamed to race. McLaren drove a great race, the engine hesitated off the line with Bruce dropping to sixth, but he recovered to lead after 30 minutes. A great dice with Jo Siffert and Vic Elford in works Porsche 907’s saw some place-changing, but McLaren still led at the first pit stop. Spence resumed in third place, but within 20 mins coasted to retirement opposite the pits with a broken driveshaft coupling. The Ickx/Redman John Wyer Ford GT40 won from Q5 with the Porsche 907’s of Mitter/Scarfiotti and Elford/Neerpasch second and third.

Denis Jenkinson saw the race and observed ‘The lone race entry completed only 65 laps, but it held the lead at times, which was most impressive, and when it retired with a broken driveshaft joint everyone was genuinely sorry and we all thought “that car is a certain winner when they get it sorted out”. Oddly enough the strange handling experienced at Goodwood was an aerodynamic instability, and tail spoilers were claimed to have cured all the troubles, as simply as that. For a first attempt in an experimental year the BOAC outing was fair enough, for the car was clearly a winner.’

Gardner, Karrussell, Nurburgring 1968 (unattributed)

Nürburgring 1000 km (May 19)

In a shocker of a meeting for the F3Ls- two cars were entered for Pedro Rodriguez/Chris Irwin and Attwood/Gardner, Irwin crashed at Flugplatz during practice, receiving severe head injuries. The car landed badly on its tail, flipped end to end, the ferocity of the prang caused injuries which hospitalised him for some time.

Interestingly Irwin had done an 8:40.4 lap- quicker than Gardner’s 8:42.5 and good enough for fourth on the grid had be been able to start. On the ultimate test of handling the F3L’s were fast- off the pace of the fastest 907’s but they were very much on home turf and crewed by drivers who knew the place like the back of their hands.

Attwood started the race, but on lap 1 the retaining clip on the right front brake caliper disappeared and the brake pads fell out, Attwood limped back to the pits. On lap 2 the driver’s door came open and twisted itself out of shape, to compound a shocker of a weekend the right rear tyre punctured. On lap 3 Attwood got going again a lap and a half behind the leaders. After a few more laps the engine died due to a broken ignition transistor, the sleek coupe was retired out on the long circuit.

The Siffert/Elford 908 won from the Hermann/Stommelen 907 and then the Ickx/Hawkins Wyer GT40- just under four minutes covered the top 3 cars after 1000 Km of racing.

Chris Irwin about to saddle up for his last, fateful, motor racing laps, Nurburgring 1968, F3L P68 (unattributed)

In a June 2008 MotorSport interview Chris Irwin spoke of that fateful weekend which ended his incredibly promising motor racing career.

‘How the accident happened and why it happened don’t know. I have no memory of it whatsoever. All I can remember of the weekend is that the car I was driving went incredibly quickly and every time I came in I asked them to put a higher top gear in it. We were doing something like 240 mph on the straight. It really was the most lovely piece of equipment before I finished with it.’

Irwin’s completely wrecked F3L P68 ‘1002 or ’02’ after its Flugplatz landing. I wonder who the Ford fellow with the helmet is? (M Forster)

Irwin spent ten days on life support following the accident. ‘When I woke up they asked me how I felt and I said my right ankle hurt. I’d got a broken ankle and they didn’t know about it. I had to go back to hospital quite a few times for further surgery. I had some very good treatment; the finest that money could buy. I was left with epilepsy as a legacy of the accident, which is controlled by pills, and i’m still allowed to drive’ Irwin concluded.

It is ironic that the death of another F3L driver, Mike Spence at Indianapolis could have opened up a seat for Irwin, with ten GP starts behind him, at BRM for the balance of 1968. The ifs, buts, and maybe’s of motor racing fortunes…

Chris Irwin, BRM P261, Longford, The Viaduct, during the 1967 Tasman Series. Irwin raced this chassis when Richard Attwood returned to Europe- he contested the Warwick Farm, Sandown and Longford rounds for a DNF, 4th and 3rd (DKeep/oldracephotos)

 

Spa 1000 km (May 26)

The single surviving F3L was driven by Gardner and German racer Hubert Hahne.

High speed stability and predictability are all for driver confidence on the Ardennes Forest daunting road circuit as is the aerodynamic efficiency of the car.

The early handling developmental problems of the F3L seemed to be cured with Gardner taking pole at 145.8mph, with a huge 4 second margin from Jacky Ickx’s John Wyer Ford GT40-and this on a circuit Ickx knew like the back of his hand. The F3L achieved 211 mph on the Masta Straight.

The good work in practice was ruined in the race however. Ickx led Gardner through Eau Rouge, but the F3L slipped to 10th and pitted after the first lap. This was the car’s first run in the rain and cool air ducting funnelled water all over the electrics. Given there was no easy fix the team withdrew the car- again a developmental issue which should have been foreseen but was not difficult to put right with appropriate changes to the machine.

The race was won by the Ickx/Redman Wyer GT40 from the Porsche 907 of Mitter/Schlesser and Hermann/Stommelen 908.

These two front and rear shots are of the Gardner/Hahne F3L at Spa 1968- the car an absolute (unattributed)

 

RAC TT, Oulton Park (June 3)

A single car was entered for Attwood who took pole at 1:36.0. The F3L led for 10 laps but retired with a Hewland differential failure.

Lacking confidence in the ability of the car to finish the race, Attwood had also been nominated as co-driver in David Piper’s Ferrari 412P- they drove superbly to second place just 9.4 secs behind Hulme’s winning Lola T70 Chev after three hours’ of racing. Paul Hawkins was third in his GT40.

Martini Trophy, Silverstone (July 27)

Another good performance was spoiled by fragility.

Frank Gardner qualified second behind Hulme’s Lola T70 Mk3 Chev, but led from the off staying there for 41 of the 65 laps, causing Denny to spin in his spirited pursuit of the red Alan Mann car. With 16 seconds in hand the DFV engine lost oil pressure, FG retired the car after 41 laps rather than pop the expensive motor. During the race Gardner proved the cars speed setting a new lap record of 1:28.6.

The race was won by Hulme’s Lola from the GT40’s of Paul Hawkins and Ed Nelson.

Later in the year the car was entered in the (sportscar) Austrian Grand Prix at Zeltweg in late August but was withdrawn, Jenkinson said because of ‘political strife at Ford’.

The 1968 Manufacturers Championship was won by Ford with 45 points from Porsche on 42 and Alfa Romeo on 15.5.

Gardner testing the new P69 at Goodwood. Poor quality shot shows front wing between the two guards and fully enveloping nature of the body  (D Phipps)

 

 

Due to changes in the Group 6 regulations made by the CSI in relation to windscreen heights amongst other changes Bailey designed a new car for 1969, it was essentially an open version of the P68 but much more revolutionary in its aerodynamic specifications.

When announced to the press on 7 April the P69 was described by Ford as ‘a research vehicle…designed as an integral airfoil study…the P69 continues the (F1) study to the sports prototype field. The P69 integral airfoil utilizes a system of interconnected adjustable airfoil wings mounted at front and rear. Action of the two wings is controlled both mechanically and hydraulically with the pitch angle being governed directly by air pressure bearing on the wing surfaces when the car is in motion’.

‘The front airfoil is mounted low down between the extended front fenders. The rear airfoil is attached by its leading edge to the upper surface of the car. The prototype has a maximum speed in excess of 200 mph and is 15 inches shorter, 5 inches lower, and 2.5 incjes wider than the P68 prototype- a closed car- which first raced last year’.

Len Bailey is quoted as saying ‘We have set out to promote positive downward lift forces with a minimum of drag. Later it is envisaged the rear flap will serve as an air brake which will be directly controlled by the driver’. The engine was of course the Ford Cosworth DFV as used the year before ‘with the water radiator in a special duct at the rear of the car while ducts are cut into the side and underside of the car for the engine and transmission oil cooler as well as the rear brakes and engine trumpets’.

The chassis, suspension and brakes are similar to the P68. At the time of the public announcement wind tunnel tests had been completed at at the MIRA facility at Nuneaton and Gardner had completed a ‘comprehensive test at Goodwood. Drivers announced for the 1969 Brands Hatch BOAC 500 on 13 April were the Australian duo of Gardner and Brabham.

Gardner on the move at Goodwood, shots of car rare, especially in its original form, rear wing/spoiler clear (D Phipps)

Talk about Mann and Bailey doubling their bets!?

You might think the safe move, the winning one would have been to make reliable what was clearly the fastest sportscar of 1968 and win in 1969. But instead the AMR crew added more complexity. One can’t help but wonder if the car wasn’t some type of publicity stunt- the press release said the car had moveable aerodynamic devices which were illegal under the rules then and now. Predictably, the FIA acted swiftly, before the P69 had even raced!

With its moving aerofoil flap between the front headlights and enclosed ‘single-seat’ cockpit there was no way the car could be made compliant without spending a great deal of money. The cars rear mounted radiator was said to be 30% more efficient than the one in the front of the F3L coupe, but if the cars central body section was altered the performance advantages would be lost.

In order to race the car at Brands the car was fitted with a pair of conventional free-standing wings mounted to the front and rear uprights…

Gardner in Ford jacket, Alan Mann a couple of blokes away to his left. Wings added clear, Brands Hatch (unattributed)

 

Ditto above (unattributed)

1969 Season…

Brands Hatch 6 Hour (April 13)

The new open-bodied P69 ran its bearings in practice, yet again this problem had ruined a race weekend.

Various reports have Brabham not wanting to have anything to do with the car at all having initially driven it but even in the limited practice laps at Brands completed the car recorded a 1:33.0 lap- way off Siffert/Redman Porsche pole of 1:28.8 but again, limited laps were completed and it was the cars first race run.

Hulme?Gardner F3L on the 1969 Brands 6 Hour grid (unattributed)

In any event, that now left the P68 coupé- with a suspension-mounted rear wing, in the hands of Hulme/Gardner to start the race without its younger sibling . The car qualified 3 seconds adrift of pole with tired engines a continuing problem, the car, driven by Denny Hulme retired with low oil pressure on lap 14, he held 5th position at the time.

Porsche 908/2’s took the placings- the Siffert/Redman crew won from Elford/Attwood and Mitter/Schutz.

P69 at Druids Hill, Brands 1969, probably Frank Gardner at the wheel (unattributed)

The ongoing engine failures were odd, the motors were not racing beyond GP distances but were failing consistently with atypical bottom end problems.

Richard Thwaites, who acquired the 1968 BOAC chassis #1000 in the nineties identified the cause of the engine problems.

‘When I bought the car ‘chassis No 1000′ was dynotaped to the dashboard, I belive this was original as it was exactly the same faded dynotape as the labelling for all the switches. I had the car restored by Hall & Fowler 1994-96…with regard to the engine problems in 1968 which were mainly bearings, when we restored the car we found a major design fault with the oil tank. Whilst the oil was collected from the bottom of the tank, the outlet pipe came out of the top of the tank and over the monocoque before going down to the oil pump. The oil had to be sucked up about 18 inches and I believe that with the thick oils that were used at the time, it caused cavitation in the oil pump which led to bearing failure. We changed the oil tank so the pipe came out of the bottom of the tank and did not have any problems’ Thwaites wrote.

By this stage faith in the project was well and truly disappearing.

Alan Mann had wanted to gain experience from racing the cars whilst Ford had not wanted to race them until they were race-worthy so there was a certain amount of deadlock. From Ford’s perspectine the good old reliable GT40 had won at Le Mans in 1968 and of course the same John Wyer run chassis ‘1075’ took victory again in 1969- they hardly needed Alan Mann’s cars, as it turned out

Gardner’s F3L P68 in the Silverstone paddock, Martini Trophy meeting 1969 (unattributed)

Martini Trophy, Silverstone (May 17)

Frank Gardner repeated the  previous year’s pace, by taking pole with 1:28.0. There was very heavy rain on race day, so the team removed the rear wing because speeds would be lower. The engine badly misfired with wet electrics on the warm-up lap, Bailey recalled ‘…suitable rain shields were available , but they were not fitted when the car set off on its warming up laps. The engine popped and banged over the deep Silverstone puddles and there was nothing Gardner could do when seven or eight cylinders all chimed in together at an unexpected moment and put the car off the track.’

Chris Craft won the race from Brian Redman, David Piper and Paul Hawkins, all four raced Lola T70 Mk3B Chevs.

The F3L’s were put to one side in a corner of Mann’s workshop, the final ignominy was for them to be raided as a suspension parts source for AMR’s second Can Am car- the ‘Ford Open Sports’- has there ever been a more sexless name for a spectacular racing car?

But let’s come back to that tangent in a moment, a Ford Cosworth DFV engined car did win an endurance event in 1969- the Imola 500 Km in September.

Ickx at the wheel of the Mirage M3/200 Ford Coupe, Nurburgring 1000 Km 1969 (unattributed)

Mirage M2-300 and M3-300 Fords…

When legendary team boss/manager John Wyer considered his JWA Automotive options for the new sportscar rules of 1968 he was keen to get hold of the DFV too- he planned to build a ‘sprint’ car like Alan Mann to supplement his GT40’s which he suspected may struggle with ultimate speed. That option wasn’t available to him as the supply of the motors was limited and AMR got the sports-racer gig.

Undeterred, Wyer briefed Len Terry to design a 3 litre Coupe powered by the BRM ‘sports car’ V12 which Bruce McLaren first used in his McLaren M5 in late 1967 GP events. Whilst quick, the BRM engined cars were not fast enough with Wyer finally getting his hands on the DFV in 1969.

The team quickly modified their existing chassis to accept the smaller, punchier DFV with the M2-300 Coupe having its first race start in the hands of Jackie Ickx/Jackie Oliver in the 1 June Nurburgring 1000 km, why not start with one of the toughest of all events, after all the chassis was well sorted?! The coupe qualified fifth and retired with rear suspension failure.

Bonnier/Muller Lola T70 Mk3B Chev alongside the Ickx/Oliver Mirage M3/300 Ford, further back is the Matra MS650 of Servoz-Gavin/Rodriguez (unattributed)

 

Jackie Oliver in the Mirage M3/300 Ford, Osterreichring 1969 (LAT)

At Watkins Glen the same pair raced an M3-300 Spyder- JWA made some minor changes to the racers spec and hacked off most of the heavy body. Q5 and DNF with camshaft failure on lap 112 was the result. Off to the Osterreichring in August Ickx popped it on pole but steering failure stopped the pair short on lap 199- at this stage the Mirage appears to have a ‘touch of the P3L’s- lotsa speed but no endurance!

But Ickx and the little racer redeemed themselves at Imola on 14 September winning the 500 km race in a classy field which included works Alfa Romeo T33/3’s driven by Ignazio Giunti, Nanni Galli and Andrea De Adamich as well as works Porsche Salzburg 908/02’s piloted by Kurt Ahrens, Rudy Lins, Vic Elford and Hans Herrmann.

Giunti’s 2nd placed Alfa T33/3 alongside Ickx in the Mirage M3/300 Ford 1st and Art Merzario’s Fiat-Abarth 3000 behind DNF. Imola 500 Km start 1969 (unattributed)

To rub salt into his F3L wounds Frank Gardner co-drove Mike De Udy’s Lola T70 Mk3B in the race and had a front row seat to view the Mirage’s pace as it lapped his troubled Lola several times…

Ickx won from the Giunti T33/3 and Van Lennep/Ortner Fiat Abarth 2000. What Alan Mann and Len Bailey made of this win when they read about it in that weeks Autosport is unrecorded, but if it had been me I would have said- ‘There ya go, you should have stuck with us Walter, we would have got there eventually!’ Perhaps Walters polite response would have been ‘Well Alan, waiting till hell freezes over was longer than acceptable’.

Ickx, Giunti and Merzario from the off, Imola majesty (unattributed)

Where were we?

The F3L’s had been cast to one side in AMR’s workshop as Len Bailey embarked on the design and construction of their last car, the ‘Ford Open Sports’ Can Am racer.

This aluminium monocoque machine was built during early 1969 and tested by Frank Gardner and Can Am ace Denny Hulme before delivery to the ‘States where it was raced in the final two rounds of the 1969 Championship- at Riverside, DNF halfshaft failure by Frank Gardner and at Texas International where Jack Brabham raced it.

Jack qualified the experimental Holman Moody prepped alloy 494cid injected Boss V8 engined car seventh and worked his way up to second late in the race before being slowed by an oil leak which dropped him to third behind Bruce McLaren’s dominant McLaren M8B Chev and George Eaton’s McLaren M12 Chev.

Had the swoopy, curvaceous car been built and tested earlier in the season who knows what the 740 bhp, Hewland LG600 5 speed equipped racer could have achieved?

‘Certainly the potential was there. And yet the Open Sports Ford vanished as quickly as it appeared. Perhaps a victim of Ford Motor Companies lack of commitment to the Can Am, or its drastic budget slash for 1970, or Alan Mann Racing closing its doors at the end of the 1969 season, but the Open Sports Ford never raced again’ wrote Steve Holmes. Click here for more about this interesting car, rather than me getting lost in this tangent- the car still exists too, on Steve’s ‘The Roaring Season’ website; http://www.theroaringseason.com/showthread.php?53-The-Open-Sports-Ford

Gardner testing the Ford Open Sports at Goodwood in mid-1969 (AMR)

FOS- 494 cid ally Holman Moody prepped Ford V8, circa 740 bhp (TRS)

Jack Brabham, Ford Open Sports with Chuck Parson’s Lola T163 Chev at Texas International (unattributed)

After the closure of Alan Mann Racing the two remaining Fords ‘languish under dust covers in a hangar on an aerodrome in Surrey… neither of the surviving cars has suspension, gearbox or engine installed. The suspension was robbed to be put on the Ford Open Sports…In view of the poor results obtained the top brass at Ford were probably happy to see the project at an end. But they had provided one of the most exciting looking sports cars ever seen. Furthermore it was an All-Ford effort which is praiseworthy, and a contrast to other Ford-financed racing ventures’ MotorSport wrote.

One of these Ford financed racing ventures MotorSport referred to was the Ford Cosworth DFV mind you! They go on ‘Bailey is obviously sorry that his baby should have been spurned by its godparents, and indeed thinks it could still be competitive (in April 1970). Weight could come down by replacing the metal nose and tail sections with glass-fibre parts and he still thinks the car would give a Porsche 917 a good run down the Mulsanne Straight’.

Doug Nye picks up the story of the F3L’s in the late 1970’s ‘…I was telephoned by Harry Carlton who was head of Ford’s press department at Warley, Essex’.

‘Knowing of my connection with Tom Wheatcroft and the Donington Collection he told me that Ford’s management had just concluded that the progressively deteriorating pair of Ford P68’s they owned were simply a waste of space. “Unless we can find a home for them, they’re going to be cut up- d’you think Tom might be prepared to house them?”.

‘I told Harry I was sure he would, to guard the P68’s with his life and I’d get straight back to him. I called Wheatie “Ooh aye lad, bootiful, bootiful, get ’em to send ’em oop ‘ere all right”. I called Harry back and put him in direct contact with Wheatie. I think the cars were removed to Donington’s store the next day. One was quite sad and sorry, the other a little less damaged. One of them had a door come open while being trailed back from a motor show…and the airstream on the motorway had then ripped the door clean off…Like so many Len Bailey designs it looked terrific but was somewhat deficient in many areas, not least its nervous SWB handling and-I was told-its structural strength was inadequate to contain the DFV’s devastating vibration’.

‘Tom subsequently, as I recall, part-exchanged one of the cars with Gavin Bain in New Zealand in return for the remains of the Alfa-Aitken Bimotore. The other went to David Piper, and he subsequently built a replica with a slightly longer (more congenial) wheelbase…or something like that.’

‘Richard Attwood recalls one of his greatest disappointments as being in the P68 in the Oulton Park TT. It was so immensely superior to anything else in the field around Oulton, that he was absolutely confident of success- only to be sidelined by some pettifogging fault…I’m quite proud that in small part I contributed to the car’s survival’ Nye concluded on The Nostalgia Forum.

F3L, Brands 1968, McLaren/Spence (AMR)

So, what do we make of the F3L program and why it failed? What would it have taken to succeed? Why did Ford get the jitters?…

 Whatever the design shortcomings of the car, the F3L P68 was an incredibly fast car on medium/quick Brands Hatch, the blinding speed of Spa and the tremendous, unique test of chassis the Nurburgring represents. The speed of the thing is not in doubt.

 The ability of AMR to respond to the necessary developmental changes and preparation is though.

In 1968 AMR built and prepared the Lotus Cortina and Ford Escort twin-cam in which Frank Gardner retained his British Touring Car Championship crown won the year before in an AMR Ford Falcon Sprint. So, its not as though the team ‘lost their touch’, and to be fair the only problems with the P3L which were repeat ones rather than one-offs or learnings were engine ones- which they really should have solved.

Maybe the perfect combination in 1968 was Alan Mann built cars raced by JW Engineering who did know a thing or two about sports-prototype preparation and development!

FG and Peter Arundell play follow my AMR twin-cam leader during the Silverstone BTCC round on 27 July 1968 (unattributed)

The P69, unless there were political reasons for doing it was bonkers. The ‘68/9 winter would have been far better spent sorting what they already had- a very fast but unreliable P68. Had Alan Mann Racing done that and raced the cars perhaps Ford would have won the 1969 manufacturers championship with points gained by its 3 litre P3L and the 5 litre GT40- a win at Brands in early 1969 possibly would have breathed life into a program which was from that moment ‘dead in the water’.

 Its said money was tight and that Ford equivocated in their support. What certainly changed or continued in 1968 was that the GT40 was still a reliable car and a race winner- the venerable Mk1 may have had its sad moments early on in its racing life but it paid back bigtime in 1968/9! Wins at Monza, Spa, Watkins Glen and Le Mans in 1968 and Sebring and Le Mans in 1969 apart from secondary level events fell to the 5 litre beastie. From Ford’s point of view, as 1968 unfolded, they didn’t need the P3L as they thought they did when the car was mooted in mid-1967.

Denny Hulme, McLaren M7A Ford- 2nd behind Graham Hill’s Lotus 49 Ford, 1968 Mexican GP Jarama (unattributed)

Whilst the Ford DFV delivered bigtime in F1 from its debut win at Zandvoort in 1967 it was a sprint not an endurance design, the 3.9 litre endurance DFL Le Mans winner came much later. As the roster of GP teams and privateers formed a queue at Duckworth’s Northhampton door he was up to his armpits in conrods keeping up with the manufacture of engines, rebuilds and ongoing development of the 90 degree V8 to keep ahead of the Matra, BRM and Ferrari twelves. He didn’t have time to mess about with the changes necessary to evolve the DFV into an endurance motor and may well have expressed to Hayes his reservations about the engines being used in an unintended application, with resultant failures- and the risk to Ford’s reputation in relation thereto!

 In addition ‘Going Ford Is The Going Thing’; Ford were winning Grands Prix and World Titles, the Escort was winning rallies, the Ford Indy engine won its share in the US, the Boss 302 Mustang was a winner on three continents- ‘who needs a sportscar program when we have winning global programs and local ones?’ such as that in Australia where Ford GTHO’s were dominant/competitive in touring car racing- may well have been the views of FoMoCo’s top brass.

 On 12 March 1969 a Porsche 917 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show- the ante was being upped by the 4.5 litre Porsche, and soon too Ferrari with their 5 litre V12 512S, the P3L was destined to be a bit player in this company even if they were reliable.

‘And so there was no further P3L publicity from the prolific Ford writers, no explanations, no excuses as to why they hadn’t swept the 1969 board: in fact nothing more than a deathly hush’ wrote Jenkinson…whilst the remains of the P68’s left over from the Ford Open Sports build were moved, interred really, to a hangar at Fair Oaks aerodrome, near Chobham, Surrey not too far from Byfleet where they were born little more than eighteen months before.

 Sad really for such stunning, fast, under-developed and prepared cars- the P3L’s were on the cusp of delivering all their looks promised but for the application of some race and developmental basics for a professional team like Ford/AMR…

Designers original intent- Ford press shot (Ford)

Chassis Numbers et al…

Treat this as being indicative rather than definitive, none of my usual online sources have neato, fully debated and therefore resolved  summaries of which P68 is which. I have relied mainly on the opinion of Richard Thwaites who owned ‘1001’ for years- but provided the information on the P68’s after he had sold his car and therefore he had no vested interest in the outcome of his particular version of events.

Owners claims always need to be treated with a degree of circumspection during the period in which they own cars in my experience. In most cases the connection between bullshit and the upward trajectory of the fiscal sale implications of the bucket of bolts in question seems way too often to be a temptation even the most devout Catholic of owners fall prey to.

McLaren F3L P68 with one of the works Porsche 907’s behind, Brands 6 Hour 1968 (AMR)

F3L P68 #’1000′ or ’01’

The #34 McLaren/Spence Brands 1968 car Richard Thwaites believes is the car he acquired from Australian Ian Cummins who in turn bought it from Kiwi Gavin Bain who had part-exchanged it in a deal with Tom Wheatcroft.

‘..I am sure it is the one that raced in the BOAC 500 in 1968 as the bodywork is identical to race pictures and the car came with solid discs. I believe David Piper’s original car is the one that was built after Irwin’s crash and subsequently raced in the 1969 BOAC 500. My car did not have the holes in the alloy bodywork for the wing supports, nor were there any signs of welded patches. When I bought the car chassis ‘No 1000′ was dynotaped on the dashboard…the car was later sold by Gregor Fisken’

Rare shot of Jochen Rindt in an F3L P68 before the engine popped, Brands 6 Hour practice 1968 (LAT)

F3L P68 #’1001′ or ’02’

Rindt/Spence car at Brands 1968-unraced. Destroyed in Irwin’s 1968 Nurburgring crash.

One version of events is that the car was progressively stripped of useful parts and the remains scrapped- this is the theory to which I subscribe.

The other (David Pipers) is that the remains were retained by Len Bailey after AMR closed and were rebuilt by ex-AMR chief mechanic Brian Lewis in modern times. Raced by Piper and others and later bought by Alan Mann.

Richard Thwaites ‘The Piper continuation car has nothing to do with F3L history. No part of the car is original and it only looks like an F3L because it has a fibreglass replica body with about 10 inches added on the engine cover to cover the extended wheelbase’.

Car has a modern AMR chassis plate ‘P67-F3L-002’ (P67 is not a typo

1969 Brands 6 Hour vista behind Amon’s Ferrari 312P. 55 Elford/Attwood and 54 Mitter/Schutz Porsche 908/02’s, 58 Denny Hulme aborad the F3L P68 he shared with Frank Gardner, 908/02 alongside is Herrmann/Stommelen, blue T70 Mk3B Lola is Taylor/Dibley, red Lola T70 3B is Hawkins/Williams and the white one Sid Taylor’s car driven by Revson/Axelsson…and the rest! (unattributed)

F3L P68 #’1002′ or ’03’

New car built up after the Irwin crash. Raced in the 1969 BOAC 500 by Hulme/Gardner. Eventually to Tom Wheatcroft and then to David Piper

Gardner, F3L P69, Brands 1969- pretty as a picture without the wings! (unattributed)

F3L P69

The car was cut up by AMR after the BOAC 500 debacle in 1969- tested and practiced but did not race.

No doubt the chassis number mystery is ‘resolved’ in the Ed Heuvink book ‘Alan Mann Racing F3L/P68’- if anybody has a copy fill us all in. The jist of the above is right even if the precise minutae is not- noting the veracity and precision of the minutae is critical in these matters of historic accuracy.

Talented craftsmen at AMR Byfleet during the first F3L build. Alan Mann in suit (AMR)

Arcane Irrelevance…

After his first lap in the early, unwieldy, recalcitrant Porsche 917 during the ’69 Nurburgring 1000 km, I’m sure Frank Gardner wished he was in his nifty, nimble, small, responsive, fast…if somewhat unreliable P3L- he qualified the P3L fifth in 1968 and tenth in the Panzer-Wagen in 1969. Mind you, the pace of change, particularly in tyre technology back then is such that his time in the 917 was 4.7 seconds quicker than in the F3L the year before. Gardner and David Piper were 8th in the race won by the Jo Siffert/Brian Redman Porsche 908/2.

(unattributed)

Bibliography…

Autosport 22 March 1968 article by John Bolster, ‘The Nostalgia Forum Ford P68’ thread in particular the contributions of Doug Nye and Richard Thwaites, ‘Classic and Sportscar’ February 1996, MotorSport April 1970 article by Denis Jenkinson and June 2008 article by Paul Lawrence, Darren Galpin’s International Race Report

Photo Credits…

Alan Mann Racing, Getty Images, Vic Berris, Brendan McInerney, David Keep/oldracephotos.com.au, Manfred Forster, David Phipps, LAT, The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Ain’t she sweet…

(AMR)

Finito…

Gary Knutson and Jerry Mallett with their Lotus 11 Climax at the ‘Garden of The Gods’, Colorado Springs, Colorado circa 1959…

Knutson went on to become one of the ’main men’ during the McLaren ‘Papaya Period’ after doing stints with Traco and Chaparral, but here he is posing with his later business partner and their new car just acquired from Jim Hall.

Its amazing how you find stuff such as this wonderful photograph. I was trying to find the correct spelling of Gary’s surname which I always get wrong- off to Google. Click away. Bingo! The trouble is the photo is on ‘The Nostalgia Forum’, the most content rich motorsport website on the planet. I can never deal with a new thread on TNF in less than an hour.

Tyler Alexander and Gary Knutson tend to their charge in the Bridghampton paddock, 1968. Bruce waits patiently. Both M8A’s had engine dramas this race- Bruce ran a bearing and Denny’s chucked a rod. Mark Donohue won in Roger Penske’s M6B Chev (P Lyons)

Contributions to this thread of TNF include bits by Wally Willmott, Howden Ganley, Jerry Entin and others. Here are some snippets, its not a comprehensive article about Knutson but a pot-pourri of bits and bobs plus a link to a fantastic, detailed article in Hot Rod magazine on development of the Big Block Chev ZL1 V8- Knutson was up to his armpits in that project of course.

The connection to Jim Hall was via Jims brother Chuck who was going to the University of Colorado, at Boulder, as was Knutson. Gary prepared Chuck’s Corvette with which he was third in class at Pikes Peak in 1958.

Knutson and Mallett shortly thereafter saw a sportscar race in Phoenix and were hooked- they then approached Jim via Chuck to buy the 1.5 litre Coventry Climax powered Lotus 11 Le Mans Series 2.

Bruce McLaren and Robin Herd’s superb, simple monocoque M6A Chev- the ’67 Can Am Champ. ’67 engines developed on Al Bartz’ dyno in Van Nuys, Cal by Knutson as McLaren then did not have a dyno- look closely on the rocker cover and you can see the Bartz tag in addition to the McLaren Flower Power one! Cast iron Chev 350, four-bolt main bearing caps, 2.02 /1.60 inch intake/exhaust valves with 4 Weber 48IDA carbs 525 bhp @ 7600 rpm. An additional 25 bhp was gained with the adoption of Lucas fuel injection- Knutson used Traco throttle bodies on a Mickey Thomson cross-ram intake manifold intended for Webers. Also used was a Corvette Rochester fuel injection distributor to drive the metering unit and a Vertex magneto instead of a distributor. McLaren was reported disappointed with the power gain but the improved throttle response and driveability was significant with the M6A’s winning 5 of the 6 rounds and Bruce the championship from Denny (unattributed)

Knutson, born in 1937 lived in Colorado Springs where his mother was a teacher and father a photographer. His mechanical interest started with Soapbox Derby devices, a Maytag washing machine motor powered trike and Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engines, then ‘Whizzer’ ‘bike engines and soon an Ardun flat-head Ford V8 engine which went into a 1932 ‘5 window’ Ford which was ‘dragged’ and hill-climbed. Gary won a dirt hillclimb event in the car aged 16 at Georgetown.

Mallett recalls ‘When we ran the Lotus 11, both of us worked two jobs each to pay for the thing, but we would roll out of Colorado Springs on Friday night at about 7 pm and drive all night to Salt Lake City, Utah, New Mexico or Texas. The first race was in Dallas, Texas and after the all night drive, a shower and a cup of coffee, we really thought we were in the big leagues. Around 8 am a trailer showed up with four Ferraris. It was a long day’.

1967 Chev 350 McLaren engine detail at Road America. Note the Traco throttle bodies and Mickey Thomson magnesium manifold referred to above. Below is the Vertex maggy and roller-rocker valve gear- by whom I wonder? (D Friedman)

Knutson worked for Chaparral in the early days when the Chap 2 was first built and the team comprised Jim Hall and Hap Sharp, chief mechanic Franz Weis, ace fabricator Troy Rogers, with Gary as the engine man. At Traco Engineering before commencing McLaren’s in-house Chevy engine program, he worked on a ‘Who’s Who of all branches of motor racing engines doing 14 hour days with Wally Willmott, with Gary having oversight of the Ford Quad Cam Indy to McLaren F1 engine project.

The in-house CanAm project started with the ’67 McLaren Chev 350 cid engines which produced about 525 bhp @ 7600 rpm on Webers, before Knutson adapted Lucas fuel injection…

At this point, click on this link to a wonderful article in ‘Hot Rod’ magazine about the development of the McLaren Chev aluminium, big block ‘Rat Motors’ in which Knutson was the major player, it’s a beauty;

http://www.hotrod.com/articles/unlimited-rat-motor-racing/

1968 7 litre Chev ally LT1 ‘Rat Motor’. Development work initially done with cast iron block and the new L88 ally heads till the blocks became available. 4.25 inch standard bore and 3.76 inch stroke with Moldex steel crank, Cloyes roller timing chains, cam by Vince Piggins group at Chev R&D. Production solid lifters, Forgedtrue pistons and Carillo rods. Dry sump pumps by Weaver and magnesium dry sump pans by Chev R&D. The L88 heads had 2.19/1.84 inch intake/exhaust valves with the ports enlarged and re-shaped. Crane aluminium roller-rockers. Magnesium intake manifolds had a 2.9 inch bore for each cylinder with a fuel injector into each of the curved and tuned length steel velocity stacks. Intakes were modified Crower with MacKay making the intakes, Lucas metering unit, Vetex magneto and tach drives from magnesium. That lot generated  a real 650 bhp @ 7600 rpm with McLaren quoting 620 in-period . In ’68 the M8A won 4 of the 6 rounds and Denny the title. McLarens won every round of the series (HotRod)

Bibliography…

The Nostalgia Forum, classicscars.com

Photo Credits…

Gary Knutson Collection, Pete Lyons, Dave Friedman Archive, hotrod.com

Tailpiece: Moss, Hulme and Knutson astride another McLaren mechanic, McLaren M6A Chev, Road America 1967…

Stirling Moss is interviewing the winner Denny Hulme whilst Knutson looks pleased that his engine has won first time out. Road Am the first ’67 Can Am round on 3 September. Donohue and Surtees were 2nd/3rd in Lola T70 Mk3B’s with Bruce #4 below out with an oil leak on lap 6 (D Friedman)

Finito…

 

(Fistonic)

Jim Clark takes in a few rays and a touring car race from his grandstand atop a Ford Zodiac, Levin, New Zealand Tasman, January 1965. In the distance are the Tararua Ranges, alongside the Team Lotus mechanics are fettling Jim’s Lotus 32B Climax.

The champions relaxed nature and the scene itself epitomises all that was great about the Tasman Series. We had the best drivers on the planet visit us every summer and whilst the racing was ‘take no prisoners’ the atmosphere off track was relaxed- the parties, water skiing, golf and annual cricket matches at the Amon family beachhouse are stories told many times over.

Jim Clark cruising through the Lakeside paddock during the 7 March 1965 weekend. The ‘Lakeside 99’ wasn’t a Tasman Round in 1965 but Internationals Clark, Gardner and Grant contested the event- Jim won from Gardner and Spencer Martin in the Scuderia Veloce Brabham BT11A just vacated by Graham Hill’s return to Europe (Mellor)

Few racing drivers have had a season like Jim Clark did in 1965, surely?

He started the year in Australasia and took the Tasman series with four wins in a Lotus 32B Climax FPF, won the F1 Drivers Championship in a Lotus 33 Climax with 6 wins and topped it all off with victory at Indy aboard a Lotus 38 Ford. In between times he contested the usual sprinkling of F2 events and some Touring Car races in a Lotus Cortina. Lets not forget a few longer sportscar races in the Lotus 40 Ford Group 7 car in the US. Not to mention other races as well. Amazing really.

 We were lucky enough to have the immensely likable Scot in the Southern Hemisphere at the seasons commencement though.

Colin Chapman had the Lotus Components lads build up a Tasman Special for Clark which was a mix of an F2 Lotus 32 chassis, 2.5 litre Coventry Climax 4 cylinder FPF engine and ZF gearbox. The combination was very successful taking race wins at Wigram, Teretonga, Warwick Farm and here at Levin on 16 January 1965. 

Kiwi international journalist and early member of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, Eoin Young providing direction to the Lotus mechanics looking after Clark’s Lotus 32B. Technical specs as per text but note rocker/inboard front suspension and filler for twin tanks contained in each side of the monocoque chassis pontoons.Lola Mk1 Climax in the distance? (Fistonic)

Twelve Lotus 32 chassis were built plus Clark’s Tasman one-off car which was built around chassis or tub number 32/7. Unlike the 1 litre Cosworth SCA powered F2’s which used a full-monocoque chassis the 32B used a monocoque front section with the rear section removed and replaced by a tubular steel subframe to which the 235bhp, 2495cc, 4 cylinder Coventry Climax FPF engine was mounted. Otherwise the cars suspension, inboard at the front by top rocker and lower wishbone and outboard at the rear was the same as the F2 32. The gearbox was a ZF rather than the Hewland Mk6 of the F2 car. The car chassis plate was tagged ’32-FL-8′ where ‘FL’ was Formula Libre.

This car still exists and is owned and raced by Classic Team Lotus, a shame really as its entire racing history was in Australasia.

Clark won the Tasman in it, the car was then bought by the Palmer family, Jim raced it to NZ Gold Star victory and very competitively in the ’66 Tasman before selling it to Australian Greg Cusack. The car was also raced by South Australian Mel McEwin in period, albeit it was becoming uncompetitive amongst the multi-cylinder Repco’s and the like by then.

Eventually it passed into the very best of Lotus hands- the late John Dawson-Damer acquired it and restored it, eventually doing a part exchange with CTL to allow them to have a Clark Tasman car in their collection. John received a Lotus 79 Ford DFV as part of the deal, he already had Clark’s ’66 Tasman car in his wonderful collection, the Lotus 39 Climax, so it was a good mutual exchange.

Local boy McLaren surrounded by admirers in the Levin paddock. Cooper T79, alongside is the green and yellow of Clark’s Lotus 32B (Fistonic)

Clark won the ’65 Tasman title 9 points clear of 1964 champion Bruce McLaren aboard his self constructed Cooper T79 Climax and Jack Brabham’s BT11A Climax. Given the speed of the BT11A, it was a pity Jack contested only the three Australian Tasman rounds. Frank Gardner also BT11A mounted and Phil Hill were equal fourth with Phil aboard McLarens updated ’64 Tasman car, a Cooper T70 Climax.

Graham Hill was 7th in David McKay’s Brabham BT11A Climax with other strong contenders Frank Matich Brabham BT7A Climax, Kiwi Jim Palmer similarly mounted, Bib Stillwell in a BT11A, Lex Davison in a BT4 Brabham. In addition there were a host of 1.5 litre Lotus Ford twin-cam powered cars snapping at the heels of the 2.5 FPF’s and set to pounce as the bigger cars failed.

In this article I focus on one round, the Levin event held on 14-16 January 1965.

Kiwi enthusiast Milan Fistonic took some marvellous photos at the event which are posted on Steve Holmes ‘The Roaring Season’ website, check it out if you have not, it’s a favourite of mine. They are paddock shots which ooze atmosphere- Milan focuses mainly on local boy Bruce McLaren and Clark, they are magic shots which I hope you enjoy. This account of the weekend draws heavily on the sergent.com race report. It is another ripper site I always use as my Kiwi reference source.

Start of the 1965 NZ GP at Pukekohe, winner Hill on the outside, Clark in the middle and Lex Davison on the inside- Brabham BT11A, Lotus 32B and Brabham BT4 all Coventry Climax FPF powered (unattributed)

The 1965 Tasman series commenced the week before Levin with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe. Graham Hill took a great win in David McKay’s new BT11A, straight out of the box, from the equally new Alec Mildren BT11A driven by Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer’s year old BT7A. How about that, Brabham Intercontinental cars from first to third places, with Jack not driving any of them!

Ron Tauranac’s first in a series of three very successful Coventry Climax engined cars, Tauranac tagged them as ‘IC’ for ‘Intercontinental’, was the 1962 BT4, based on that years BT3 F1 FWMV Coventry Climax 1.5 litre V8 engined car.

Jack raced the first of these in the 1962 Australian Grand Prix at Caversham, Western Australia, having a great dice with Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 until a back-marker took him out late in the race. This was followed by the 1964 BT7A and the 1965 BT11A.

Frank Gardner’s Mildren Brabham BT11A Climax being pushed onto the grid. The lanky chap at the back is Glenn Abbey, long time Mildren and Kevin Bartlett mechanic (Fistonic)

The BT11A’s were phenomenally successful in both Australasia and South Africa, winning lots of races and championships not least the 1966/7 Australian Gold Star Championship for Spencer Martin in the very same chassis raced by Graham Hill to victory at Pukekohe.

The cars were utterly conventional, simple and oh-so-fast spaceframe chassis cars with outboard wishbone suspension out the front and outboard multi-link at the rear- single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and coil springs with Armstrong shocks. Like all customer Brabhams they went like the clappers straight out of the box as the base suspension setup was done on circuit by Jack’s ‘highly tuned arse’. Many championships were won by Brabham customers not straying too far from factory suspension settings!

After the NZ GP the Tasman circus upped sticks from Pukekohe and drove the 500 km from the North of New Zealand’s North Island to its South, not too far from Wellington. Levin is now a town of about 20,000 people, then it would have been less than half that, and services the local rural and light manufacturing sectors.

Bruce, Ray Stone in blue and Wally Willmott? Cooper T79 (Fistonic)

Jim Clark quickly got dialled in to his new Lotus 32B and down to business, opening his Tasman account by winning the Levin Motor Racing Club’s 30.8-mile ‘Gold Leaf International Trophy’ at fractionally more than 76.6 mph.

The Flying Scotsman cut out the twenty-eight laps in fine style in 24 min. 5.9 sec and put in his seventh lap in 49.9 sec. In 1964 Denny Hulme (2.5 Brabham-Climax) had set records of 24 min 36.8 sec and 50.3 sec in this event. Repeating their NZGP form, Brabham-Climax conductors Frank Gardner and Jim Palmer, filled second and third spots, while next in line were the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team 2.5 Cooper-Climaxes of Phil Hill, T70 and McLaren, T79.

Graham Hill, Lex Davison and Arnold Glass shipped their cars to Australia after the NZ Grand Prix. Wanganui driver, and later multiple Kiwi Champion, 1970 Tasman Champion and winner of many Asian Grands Prix, Graeme Lawrence had at last got hold of his Brabham BT6 which was making its first appearance at Levin. As noted above Brabham was having a Christmas break and did not join the series until the first Australian round at Sydney’s Warwick Farm in mid-February.

Levin is a tight, twisty and bumpy circuit. Newcomers Clark and Hill quickly had the 1.1-mile track sorted. Clark’s qualifying lap was a 49.4 whilst Phil Hill managed 50 sec, the same time as his team leader McLaren.

Phil Hill aboard the updated Cooper T70 Climax raced by Tim Mayer and Bruce McLaren in 1964. Compare and contrast with the ’65 model T79 below (Fistonic)

Bruce had a bitter-sweet 1964 Tasman Series. He won the championship in one of two Cooper T70’s he and his Kiwi mechanic Wally Willmott built at the Cooper Surbiton works.

These cars, raced by Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, are generally acknowledged as the first McLarens, built as they were in a corner of the Cooper factory to McLaren’s design. The second car was raced by American ‘coming man’ Tim Mayer with great speed and skill until he made a mistake on the daunting, fast, unforgiving Longford road circuit in Tasmania which took the young drivers life.

The undamaged T70 was updated during the winter to be raced by 1961 F1 World Champion Phil Hill with Bruce racing a new chassis, an evolved T70 designated T79, a spaceframe chassis was again used. The main difference between the cars were inboard front suspension on the T79 whereas the older T70 was outboard. The T79 used a nice, reliable but then new Hewland gearbox whereas the T70’s used a Colotti in one chassis and a Cooper/Citroen CS5 in the other. I wrote an article about Tim Mayer a while back, read it by following the link at the bottom of the page for details of the T70 design rather than repeat it all again here.

Hill P had a terrific Tasman which was a tonic for him as his single-seater career had stalled somewhat since his F1 title winning year. 1962 was a shocker for him with Ferrari who had failed to develop the 156,1963 in an ATS was far worse and his drives for Cooper reflected the fact that design wise, their cars were becoming outdated. If there was any doubt about Hills single-seater speed, he proved he ‘cut the mustard’ aboard a competitive year old car in the ’65 Tasman.

Bruce McLaren aboard his Cooper T79 Climax in the Levin paddock (Fistonic)

The Mayer/McLaren/Hill Cooper T70 Climax raced by all three drivers, originally carrying chassis plate ‘FL-1-64’, re-plated by McLaren prior to the ’65 Tasman to ‘FL-2-64’ passed through the hands of Bill Patterson for driver John McDonald, Don O’Sullivan and others before being acquired by Richard Berryman in 1974. The car was eventually beautifully restored by his son Adam in Melbourne, who retains and races it. The T79 was sold after the Tasman to John Love in South Africa who won many races in it before it later returned to the UK, it too still exists.

Back to Levin practice and qualifying…

Levis with the 1.5 Brabham BT6 Ford was in the groove with a brilliant 51.1 sec, his time put all the 2.5 drivers to shame. Palmer could only manage 51.7 sec in his Brabham BT7A, Grant 51.9 sec in his BT4, Abernethy did 52.2 in his Cooper T66 and Gardner was credited with 53.5 sec in Alec Mildren’s BT11A. Grant was a late arrival. His Brabham-Climax had undergone a major engine rebuild since the discovery of a cracked crankshaft on the eve of the Grand Prix. Second quickest 1.5 was Buchanan’s Brabham BT6 Ford with 52.0 sec. Qualifying times were academic in the sense that grid positions for the feature race were decided on heat results.

Jim Clark again chillin at Levin ’65 (Fistonic)

The eight-lap heat on raceday morning contained all overseas drivers and favoured locals.

‘Clark, sharing the front row with McLaren and Hill, jumped into the lead from the start and remained there to the finish. Hill, McLaren, Palmer and Grant settled into the next four spots after Gardner had dropped out with distributor trouble. The contest was enlivened a little by Palmer catching Grant napping on the seventh lap and assuming fourth place. Clark won in 6 min 49.8 sec and set a new lap record of 49.9 sec’ sergent.com reports.

Council of war- Phil Hill in the pristine white race suit with Bruce front and centre, his allegiance to Firestone clear. Who are the other dudes? (Fistonic)

Levis had things all his own way in the second heat, winning in 7 min 13.5 sec, with Andy Buchanan, also in a 1.5 Brabham BT6 Ford, next. Third and fourth were Red Dawson Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 and John Riley in a Lotus 18/21 Climax 2.5. The situation was confused by Gardner who, anxious to make sure all was well with his car, was permitted to use the heat as a test run and took the lead in the last two laps.

Before the title race there was some feverish work in the Palmer pit to replace a cracked universal joint in his Brabham BT7A Climax. In a drama filled day for the team, an hour before the race was due to start, another close inspection revealed a hairline crack in a half-shaft. A replacement was found and fitted minutes before the cars were gridded.

Dummy grid or form up area prior to the Levin International- Clark on pole then McLaren and Hill, the yellow of Gardner on row 2 (Fistonic)

Clark, Lotus 32B had pole position in the main event with Hill, Cooper T70 and McLaren, Cooper T79 outside him.

In rows of three, the rest of the field comprised Palmer, Brabham BT7A, Grant, Brabham BT4, Gardner, Brabham BT11A; Levis, Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5, Buchanan, Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5, Abernethy  Cooper T66; Dawson, Cooper T53, Thomasen, Brabham BT4, Brabham BT4 Riley; Flowers, Lola Mk4A, Smith, Lotus 22 Ford 1.5 Lawrence, Brabham BT6 Ford 1.5; and at the back Hollier, Lotus 20B Ford 1.5. As the cars were forming on the grid, Abernethy could not select a gear and he had to abort the start’.

‘Clark made a good start with Grant, Hill and McLaren right with him. To the elation of the partisan crowd, Grant proceeded to take McLaren and Hill on braking into the hairpin. When they came round the first time the leaders were Clark, Grant, Phil Hill, McLaren, Palmer, Gardner and Levis

A 51.6 sec second lap gave Clark a 3 sec lead over Grant. In his fourth lap Palmer took McLaren and in another two laps had moved to third place ahead of Hill. Clark held on to his lead over Grant. There was then a gap of 3 sec to Palmer, with Hill and Gardner next in line. McLaren, probably to his embarrassment, had the 1.5 drivers Levis and Buchanan looming large in his mirrors.

Clark on the way to Levin International victory 1965, Lotus 32B Climax (sergent.com)

The pattern changed dramatically during the tenth lap. Grant tried to correct a slide at Cabbage-Tree Bend, dropped a rear wheel into the rough and spun off the course to lose all chance in such a short race. Palmer took second spot, but not for long. Gardner in the next three laps bridged the gap to take over second place just 5 sec behind Clark. Next in line were Hill, McLaren and Levis. Flowers was out with transmission failure in the troublesome Lola on lap 14.

Those opening laps had been fast and furious. In their sixth lap Grant and Gardner had returned 50.6 sec in the midst of heavy traffic. A lap later Clark equaled his morning record of 49.9 sec.

As the race reached the last stages, Clark continued to circulate in a steady 51 sec. Gardner in two laps reduced Clark’s advantage from 11 sec to 9 sec while Palmer closed up to be 2 sec behind the Australian, but Clark was given the ‘hurry’ signal and moved out again with effortless ease to come home 11.3 sec ahead of Gardner with Palmer 4.7 sec further back. Thomasen retired with only a handful of laps remaining.’

BP all the way, Bruce and Ray Stone in blue fuelling up the T79. Front on shot shows the top rocker/inboard front suspension of the car (Fistonic)

Bibliography…

sergent.com, oldracingcars.com

Cooper T70/Tim Mayer Article Link…

https://primotipo.com/?s=tim+mayer

Photo Credits…

Milan Fistonic, Peter Mellor, The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Winners are grinners, the first of many such occasions for Jim Clark in 1965 at Levin…

(Fistonic)

Finito…

 

 

image

Mike Barney prepares Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T53 Climax’, French GP Reims, 3 July 1960…

That racing drivers shouldn’t have too much imagination is shown by this shot!

#16 is Brabham’s winning chassis, #18 McLaren’s third placed car. Olivier Gendebien was second and Henry Taylor fourth in T51’s making it a Cooper 1-4!

Yer ‘fancy-schmancy’ high tech relatively, I say it again, relatively safe 2017 carbon fibre GP machine is another world away, 55 years or so to be precise. Mind you, one would hope we would progress.

Owen Maddock’s curvy spaceframe chassis is typical of the day, the spaceframe anyway if not the imperfect in an engineering sense bent tubes! At the front the water radiator and oil tank are the ‘deformable structures’ ahead of the drivers ankles and lower legs. The fuel tanks are neatly and very practically ‘bungee’ strapped to the chassis and prone to leakage as the ‘ally tanks chafe on the steel chassis tubes. The ‘deformable side structures’ are the tanks, no bag bladders in those days so the risk of fire was great, prevalent and occasionally fatal.

The 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF powered T53 ‘Lowline’ was the 1960 successor to the race-winning and built in vast numbers 1958/9 T51. That car in both F2 and F1 spec has to be one of the greatest customer racing cars ever? T53 was the design work of Jack, John Cooper and Maddock.  The Lotus 18, Chapmans first mid-engined car was the quickest bolide of 1960. Moss took wins in Rob Walker’s car at Monaco and in the season ending US GP at Riverside but it was not the most reliable, something Jack was happy to capitalise upon.

McLaren won the Argentinian GP at the seasons outset, then Jack had an amazing mid-season run winning the Dutch GP on 6 June and the Portuguese GP on 14 August. In between Zandvoort and Oporto he won the Belgian, French and British GP’s thereby setting up his and Cooper’s second world titles on the trot.

Its good to look at these cars in the ‘nuddy’ every now and again to remind oneself of just how close to the elements and how brave the drivers of yore were. Yep, the piloti are no more exposed than they had been in the past but the cornering speeds of a 1960 2.5 litre Cooper or Lotus were a good deal quicker than a 1954 2.5 litre Maser 250F, the road circuits in particular just as hazardous…

Cooper T53 Climax cutaway by Brian Hatton

Credits…

GP Library, Brian Hatton