Posts Tagged ‘Chris Amon’

(P Mellor)

John Surtees cruising his Lola Mk4A Climax around the Lakeside paddock during the 1963 Australian summer…

No doubt he is on the way to or from scrutineering, the Lola devoid of its usual slinky ‘Specialised Mouldings’ fibreglass body. These cars were designed by Eric Broadley as F1 machines, they were the front line weapons of the Bowmaker Racing Team during the 1962 season.

Strong results at championship level were skinny even when the too flexible spaceframe Mk4 chassis was braced with aluminium to become the ‘semi-monocoque’ Mk4A. The last of the Mk4’s was modified in this manner and is the car Surtees raced in Australasia in the summer of ’63- chassis ‘BRGP44′. The chassis made its debut in the non-championship Kanonloppet at Karlskoga in Surtees hands on 12 August 1962 and was then raced in the GP’s of Danske and Italy before being converted for Surtees’ use in the South Pacific.

The Mk4’s were fitted with both the Coventry Climax FWMV 1.5 litre V8 for F1 use and the 2.5 or 2.7 litre Coventry Climax FPF engine for the Intercontinental Formula and for Formula Libre as the Australasian summer races then were.

The global stock of FPF’s found a ready home in Australasia after the commencement of the 1.5 litre F1 as the ‘engine de jour’ in our Formula Libre, Gold Star and Tasman races until 1966 when ‘multi-cylinder’ engines arrived. The BRM P261 V8 won the Tasman in 1966 in Jackie Stewart’s hands, soon the Tasman was awash with interesting engines from BRM, Repco, Ferrari and Ford. Mind you, the good ‘ole FPF was still a contender in Gold Star events with Spencer Martin and Kevin Bartlett consistently knocking off Repco V8’s in domestic Australian events into 1967.

Surtees was on the cusp of four-wheel greatness of course. In 1964 he won the World F1 Drivers Championship for Ferrari in a Tipo 158, an additional title to match those already won on bikes.

Surtees in the Bowmaker Racing Lola Mk4A chassis ‘BRGP44’ Coventry Climax 2.7 FPF during the 1963 Australian GP weekend at Warwick Farm in February. He was 2nd in between winner Brabham and 3rd placed Bruce McLaren in Brabham BT4 and Cooper T62 respectively, both 2.7 FPF powered (Ellacott)

Bowmaker Racing entered cars for John and Tony Maggs that season in Australasia achieving a good measure of success. Competition was stiff too. That year the internationals included Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Graham Hill (Ferguson P99) and coming-man Chris Amon. In addition Australian and New Zealand Champions included Bib Stillwell, Lex Davison, John Youl, David McKay and Jim Palmer- not all of these blokes did the whole series mind you.

The Lakeside International was held in blistering Queensland summer heat with Surtees taking a fine win from Graham Hill and Bib Stillwell. He was first in the NZ GP at Pukekohe early in January too, having gearbox dramas at Levin and Wigram and a distant 9th at Teretonga with undisclosed problems. He then contested the Australian events at Warwick Farm, finishing 2nd in the AGP at Warwick Farm, took the win at Lakeside and then jetted home to the UK and testing duties with Ferrari. The rest, as they say is history…

Photo Credits…

Peter Mellor on The Roaring Season, John Ellacott

Surtees Article…

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/30/john-surtees-world-champion-50-years-ago/

Amon on the way to 7th in the Lola Mk4A ‘BRGP44’ now re-engined with a Coventry Climax FWMV V8, at Rouen, French GP June 30 1963. Clark won in a Lotus 25 Climax (unattributed)

Tailpiece: Chris Amon, Lola Mk4A Climax, French GP 1963…

Lola Mk4A ‘BRGP44’ raced on into 1963. The car was converted back into an F1 machine, the 2.7 FPF was lifted out after its sojurn in Australasia and an FWMV Coventry Climax V8 re-fitted back at Lola in Bromley. Chris Amon was allocated the car for the ’63 F1 season, although Maurice Trintignant raced it at Monaco. The cars best result that year was funnily enough Amon’s first race in it- 5th in the Glover Trophy at Goodwood.

amon 1963 agp cooper

(David Mist)

Chris Amon, 19 years of age, awaits the start of the 1963 Australian Grand Prix, Warwick Farm, Sydney. Cooper T53 Climax…

Amon didn’t finish in his ‘Scuderia Veloce’ entered Cooper, the cars fuel pump failed after 24 laps. Jack Brabham won the race in his Brabham BT4 Climax, Amon’s team-leader and ‘SV’ owner David McKay finished 4th in another Brabham BT4 Climax.

I wrote an article about McKay a while back; https://primotipo.com/2014/07/03/pete-geoghegan-ferrari-250lm-6321-bathurst-easter-68/

These were the early days of a very successful collaboration between Amon and McKay which resulted in the pair winning the 1969 Tasman Series in the fabulous Ferrari Dino 246T. Chris was the first of many drivers the racer/writer/team owner nurtured over the years.

In Amon’s case it was at a stage of his life when McKay was about to vacate the driving seat and evolve into a new stage of his career as owner/entrant of cars driven by others. Amon, then racing a Maserati 250F in NZ tested McKay’s Cooper T51 at Warwick Farm in August 1962 and contested Australian Gold Star rounds later in the season at Mallala and Sandown, non-starting in both but taking a strong 3rd place at Warwick Farm in the Hordern Trophy behind Bib Stillwell and John Youl in October.

This was all valuable experience before the NZ and Australian Internationals with McKay entering the Kiwi in a later model T53 Cooper.

He was 7th from grid 6 in the NZ GP at the brand new Pukekohe circuit on 5 January, and had DNF’s with ignition and gearbox dramas at Levin, Wigram and Teretonga. He qualified 4th, 6th and 7th. In Australia he had slightly more luck.

He contested the AGP at Warwick Farm, for grid 5 and DNF fuel pump. At the Lakeside International he was 4th from grid 6, his best result. In Tasmania, at the South Pacific Championship at Longford he was 7th from grid 8 and at the Sandown International, the Australian Grand Prix, he finished 6th from grid 12 in the last meeting of his tour on 10 March.

It was a critical period in Amon’s progression as a driver. Chris raced his ex-Owen Racing Organisation Maserati 250F in the first of the Kiwi Internationals at Renwick in November 1962. He then graduated to McKay’s Cooper and so impressed Reg Parnell (who ran Lola Mk4A’s for John Surtees and Tony Maggs in Australasia) that summer in a car that was not the latest bit of kit, and 2.5 Coventry Climax FPF powered rather than the 2.7 variant used by much of the opposition, that he was off to Europe for the rest of 1963. 7th place in the British and French Grands Prix were his best results in the Parnell Racing Lola Mk4A Climax V8 that season.

His climb went all the way to the top echelon of Grand Prix Racing of course, championship Grand Prix win or not, he was undisputably a ‘Top 5 In The World’ pilot in several seasons during the 1967-72 period…

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Chris Amon, Cooper T53 Climax Lakeside 1963. 4th in the race won by John Surtees’ Lola Mk4A Climax (Bruce Thomas)

Cooper T53 Climax ‘F2-8-60’…

The car was built by the CT ‘Tommy’ Atkins team for Bruce McLaren to drive but using the identity of one of the 1960 works F1 cars. (Jacks 1960 chassis)

The chassis was either built late in 1960 for McLaren to race in 1961 UK Intercontinental races or at the end of the season for his use in the 1962 New Zealand and Australian Internationals, depending upon the account you reference.

It was then sold to David McKay for the 1962 Australian Gold Star Series, raced by Amon in the ’63 Kiwi/Australian Internationals and then passed into the hands of a succession of Kiwi owners; Bill Thomason in 1963, Feo Stanton and Ian Rorison 1964 or 1965 and rebuilt as the Rorstan Sports with 2.7-litre Climax engine, then to D Lupp in 1970. Ted Giles bought it in 1978, it’s still in the families ownership in 2012.

Credits…

David Mist, Powerhouse Museum, Bruce Thomas, Hammo

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com for the chassis history and race results, sergent.com

Tailpiece: Amon’s Scuderia Veloce Cooper T53 Climax 2.5 prowling the Longford paddock, he was 7th in the ‘South Pacific Championship’ race won by Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T62 Climax 2.7…

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(Hammo)

 

 

(Mr Reithmaier)

I love the build up and tension before the start of a big race; here it’s the grid prior to the start of the New Zealand Grand Prix at Pukekohe, in the north of NZ’s North Island on 6 January 1968…

Chris Amon readies himself and his Ferrari Dino 246T before the first round of the 1968 Tasman Series, a race in which he wonderfully and deservedly triumphed. Missing on the front row is Jim Clark’s Lotus 49T Ford DFW. Car #2 is Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P261, the Mexican is bent over the cockpit of his car but failed to finish with clutch problems. Car #7 is Alec Mildren’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo T33 2.5 V8 with chief mechanic Glenn Abbey warming up the one-off car. Lanky Franky Gardner is adjusting his helmet beside the car, it was a good day for Frank, the car was second.

Look closely and you can see a camera crew behind the Brabham which is focusing on 1967 reigning world champion Denny Hulme and his #3 Brabham BT23 Ford FVA F2 car- Denny’s head is obscured by Frank’s body. Hume boofed the ex-Rindt BT23 during the race badly enough for a replacement chassis to be shipped out from the UK.

I’ve always thought these F2/Tasman Ferrari’s amongst the sexiest of sixties single-seaters. The 166 F2 car was not especially successful amongst the hordes of Ford Cosworth Ford FVA engined cars in Euro F2 racing. However, the car formed the basis of a very competitive Tasman 2.5 litre Formula car when fitted with updated variants of the Vittorio Jano designed V6 which first raced in F2 form and then owered the late fifties Grand Prix racing front-engined Ferrari Dino 246. It was in one of these cars that Mike Hawthorn won the 1958 World Drivers Championship.

Amon won the Tasman Series in 1969 with Ferrari Dino 246T chassis #0008 with fellow Kiwi Champion Graeme Lawrence winning in the same car in 1970 against vastly more powerful, if far less developed Formula 5000 cars. The story of those championships is for another time, this article is about Chris’ 1968 Tasman mount and campaign.

Amon hooking his gorgeous Ferrari Dino 246T ‘0004’ into The Viaduct in the dry at Longford 1968. Early ’68, we are in the immediate pre-wing era, and don’t the cars look all the better for it! (oldracephotos.com/D Keep)

In many ways Chris was stiff not to win the ’68 Tasman, a title, the last, won by the late, great Jim Clark…

Ferrari entered only one car that year with chassis #0004 assembled in Maranello by longtime Amon personal mechanic Roger Bailey and tested at Modena in November 1967. It was then freighted by plane to New Zealand where it was assembled by Bruce Wilson in his Hunterville workshop in the south of the North Island.

The cars chassis was Ferrari’s period typical ‘aero monocoque’, a ‘scaled down’ version of the contemporary F1 Ferrari with aluminium sheet riveted to a tubular steel frame forming a very stiff structure. The 166 was launched to the adoring Italian public at the Turin Motor Show in February 1967.

In F2 form the 1596cc, quad cam, chain driven, 18 valve, Lucas injected engine developed circa 200bhp at an ear-splitting 10000 rpm. It is important to note that this F2 engine, designed by Franco Rocchi, and in production form powering the Fiat Dino, Ferrari Dino 206 and 246GT and Lancia Stratos is a different engine family to the Jano designed engines, evolved by Rocchi, used on the Tasman Dino’s.

The F2 166 made its race debut in Jonathon Williams hands at Rouen in July 1967, and whilst it handled and braked well it was around 15bhp down on the Cosworth engined opposition. Whilst the car was tested extensively at Modena, including 24 valve variants, it was not raced again that year.

Amon, who had not raced in the Tasman Series since 1964, could immediately see the potential of the car, suitably re-engined, as a Tasman contender given the success of the small, ex-F1 BRM P261 1.9-2.1 litre V8’s in the 1966 and 1967 Tasman Series. The same approach which worked for the boys from Bourne could also work in Maranello Chris figured. A parts-bin special is way too crass, but you get my drift of a very clever amalgam of existing, proven hardware as a potential winning car.

In fact Ferrari went down this path in 1965 when a Tasman hybrid of a then current F1 chassis was married to a 2417cc variant of the Jano 65 degree V6 for John Surtees to race in the 1966 Tasman. John had Tasman experience in Coventry Climax FPF engined Coopers and Lola’s at the dawn of the sixties and could see the potential of a small Ferrari.

That plan come to nothing when Surtees was very badly injured in a Mosport Can Am accident in his self run Lola T70 Chev in late 1965. This car, Ferrari Aero chassis ‘0006’ played the valuable role of proving Surtees rehabilitation when he completed 50 laps in the car at Modena. It was in the same chassis that Lorenzo Bandini finished 2nd in the 1966 Syracuse and Monaco GP’s as Ferrari sought to get the new 3 litre V12 F1 312 up to speed, Bandini electing to race the Dino on both occasions. He also finished 3rd aboard the car at Spa. The allocation of this more competitive car to Bandini rather than team-leader Surtees was amongst the many issues which lead to the confrontation between John Surtees and team manager Eugenio Dragoni during Le Mans practice and Surtees departure from the team.

An unidentified fellow, Jim Clark, Ferrari engineer Gianni Marelli, Chris Amon and Roger Bailey share a joke during the 1968 Longford weekend. Chassis ‘0004’ is fitted with the 24 valve V6 covered in the text. Note the quality of castings, fabrication and finish, inboard discs, sliding spline driveshafts and single plug heads of this very powerful- but less than entirely reliable engine in 1968 form, it’s shortcoming cylinder head seals (oldracephotos.com/Harrison)

The engine of the 166/246T was carried in a tubular subframe attached to the rear of the monocoque which terminated at the drivers bulkhead. The car was fitted with a 5 speed transaxle designed by Ingenere Salvarani and Girling disc brakes.

Suspension was also similar to the contemporary F1 cars in having an front upper rocker and lower wishbone with inboard mounted spring/shocks and conventional outboard suspension at the rear- single top link, inverted lower wishbone, two radius rods and coil spring/shocks.

For the 1968 NZ races- Chris won at Pukekohe after Clark retired and at Levin, leading from flag to flag, was 2nd to Clark at Wigram and 4th at Teretonga- a 3 valve variant (2 inlet, 1 exhaust) of the 65 degree fuel injected V6 was fitted which was said to develop around 285bhp @ 8900rpm from its 2404cc.

Chris crossed the Tasman Sea with a 9 point lead in the Series from Clark and the might of Team Lotus. It was a wonderful effort, whilst Ferrari provided the car free of charge, and took a share of the prize money, the logistics were of Chris’ own small equipe. And here they were serving it up to Gold Leaf Team Lotus with a couple of World Champions on the strength, plenty of spares and support crew.

For the four Australian races a 24 valve version of the engine was shipped from Maranello. Its Lucas injection was located between the engines Vee rather than between the camshafts and had one, rather than two plugs per cylinder. This engine developed 20 bhp more than the 18 valver with Chris promptly putting the car on pole at Surfers Paradise, a power circuit. He won the preliminary race and had a head seal fail whilst challenging Clark in the championship race.

At Warwick Farm he qualified with the 18 valve engine and raced the 24 valver having rebuilt it- they only had one of the motors. He was challenging both Clark and Hill in the race and then spun in avoidance of Hill who was having his own moment…he was 4th on the tight technical Sydney circuit.

At Sandown during the AGP, the pace of the car, and Amon, was proved in an absolute thriller of a race in which he finished 2nd to Clark- let’s not forget the best driver in the world driving the best F1 car of the era powered by the Tasman variant of the greatest GP engine ever- and took fastest lap.

As the team crossed Bass Straight from Port Melbourne on the ‘Princess of Tasmania’ Chris knew he had to win the Longford ‘South Pacific Championship’, with Clark finishing no better than 5th to win the Tasman title.

At Longford, still fitted with the 24 valve engine, which must have been getting a little tired, he qualified a second adrift of Clark and Hill. He finished 7th in a race run in atrocious conditions on the most unforgiving of Australian circuits having initially run 2nd to Clark but then went up the Newry Corner escape road and suffered ignition problems from lap 10.

Piers Courage won in an heroic drive aboard his little McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 car that streaming day, in a series which re-ignited his career.

Chris was a busy boy during the Australian Tasman leg as he also drove David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari 350 CanAm/P4 in sports car support events at each round in addition to the little Dino.

These races were outstanding as they all involved close dices between Chris and Frank Matich in his self designed and built Matich SR3 powered by 4.4 litre Repco Brabham ‘RB740’ V8’s- with Frank getting the better of him in each of these races. The speed of the Matich was no surprise to Chris though, both had contested rounds of the Can Am Championship only months before the Tasman in the US.

Click here for my article on the Ferrari P4/CanAm 350 #’0858’ Chris raced in Australia;

https://primotipo.com/2015/04/02/ferrari-p4canam-350-0858/

Amon lines David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce Ferrari P4/350 Can Am up for Longford’s The Viaduct during the 1968 Longford Tasman meeting. Matich didn’t take the SR4 to Longford so Chris had an easy time of it that weekend. The sight and sound of that car at full song on the Flying Mile at circa 180mph would have been really something! (oldracephotos.com/D Keep)

For the ’69 Tasman Chris applied all he learned in 1968 returning with two cars, the other driven by Derek Bell, four well developed 300bhp 24 valve engines with the logistics taken care of by David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce.

He promptly lifted the Tasman Cup in a very successful campaign from Jochen Rindt, Graham Hill and others. With a little more luck, or greater factory commitment in 1968 it may have been two Tasman’s on the trot for the Maranello team and Chris…

Bibliography…

oldracingcars.com, sergent.com.au, ‘Dino: The Little Ferrari’ Doug Nye

Photo Credits…

Mr Riethmaier, oldracephotos.com, Rod MacKenzie

Tailpiece: Love this moody, foreboding Longford shot by Roderick MacKenzie. Chris has just entered the long ‘Flying Mile’ in the streaming wet conditions during Monday’s ‘South Pacific Trophy’ famously won by Piers Courage little McLaren M4 Ford FVA F2 car. 4 March 1968…

(Rod MacKenzie)

 

 

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(Richard Meek)

The Ballinger/Stewart Arnolt Bristol Bolide at Sebring in March 1956 at dusk, such an evocative shot…

They were 13th outright and 2nd in the 2 litre sports class, the Fangio/Castellotti Ferrari 860 Monza won.

The photo below, of another time and age is the Miller/Maassen/Rast Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, DNF, in 2011. The race was won that year by the Lapierre/Duval/Panis Peugeot 908 5.5 litre turbo-V12 diesel.

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(Rick Dole)

Credits…

Richard Meek, Rick Dole, Racing One

Tailpiece: The ’69 Sebring field awaits the start with the Amon/Andretti Ferrari 312P on pole, the race won by the Ickx/Oliver Ford GT40…

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(Racing One)

 

 

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Glemser/Fitzpatrick Ford Capri RS2600 ahead of a Ferrari 312PB and a Porsche 911RSR, Le Mans 1973 (Schlegelmilch)

Ford’s battles with BMW in 1970’s touring car racing are legendary as both manufacturers battled for supremacy. The adage ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ was reflected in big marketing spends in the European Touring Car Championship at the time…

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Chris Amon in the CSL he shared with Hans Stuck, Le Mans ’73 DNF lap 162 with accident damage (Schlegelmilch)

In 1973 the protagonists in the big car class were the RS2600 Capri and 3.0CSL, the title that year won by Toine Hezeman’s BMW with wins at the Spa, Zandvoort and Paul Ricard rounds.

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Toine Hezemans/Dieter Quester CSL winning the class at LeMans in 1973 (unattributed)

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Jackie Stewart and Jochen Mass, Monza ETCC round 25 March 1973 (Schlegelmilch)

Such were the number of GeePee drivers involved one could have mistaken the paddocks for F1 events rather than touring cars; Stewart, Amon, Stuck, Hunt, Lauda, Ickx, Pescarolo and Emerson Fittipaldi all had a steer during the ETCC that year.

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Jean Claude Andruet/Richard Bond Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona 20th, Dieter Glemser/John Fitzpatrick Capri, out in the 20th hour with a broken rod (Schlegelmilch)

Whilst Le Mans was not part of the ETCC, Ford and BMW slugged it out in the 24 Hour Classic although only one of the factory cars went the distance; the Dieter Quester/Toine Hezemans BMW was 11th overall with 307 laps.

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The race was won by the superb 3 litre V12 Matra MS670B piloted by Henri Pescarolo/Gerard Larrousse, the rapid sports-prototype covering 355 laps. The best placed Ferrari 312PB was 6 laps adrift of the Matra, Art Merzario and Carlos Pace were second with another Matra 670B driven by the two Jean-Pierre’s, Jabouille and Jaussaud in third place.

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#53 Koinigg/Vinatier/Birrell and #55 Glemser/Fitzpatrick (Schlegelmilch)

As to the rest of the factory touring car entries; the Dieter Glemser/John Fitzpatrick RS2600 schnapped a conrod on lap 239, the Chris Amon/Hans Stuck BMW had an accident on lap 162.

The woe continued with the Helmut Koinigg/Jean Vinatier/Gerry Birrell Ford having valve gear trouble on lap 152, Gerry Birrell swapped into this car after his own Capri had ignition problems. Hans Heyer co-drove that entry.

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Mike Kranefuss, keeps an eye on proceedings, ‘the boss’ as the cap suggests (Schlegelmilch)

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Glemser/Fitzpatrick RS2600 at Le Mans, DNF with a broken rod (unattributed)

I guess the cars weren’t stressed for 24 hours so perhaps the results are not too surprising, I posted an article about the fabulous Cologne Capri’s which may be of interest to those who have not read it; https://primotipo.com/2015/04/09/australias-cologne-capris/

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Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: Glemser/Fitz in the pits…

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le mans 1966

(Roger Blanchard)

Bruce McLaren’s Ford GT40 MkII leads the Jo Siffert/Colin Davis 4th placed Porsche 906LE during his winning drive shared with Chris Amon…

The Kiwis’ took the chequered flag in the infamous, Ford executive determined ‘form finish’ which arguably deprived Ken Miles the victory he deserved.

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Bruce McLaren in the winning GT40 passes the ‘Maranello Concessionaires’ Richard Attwood/David Piper Ferrari 365P2, DNF lap 33 with water pump failure (Getty)

Credits…

Roger Blanchard, Getty Images

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(Schlegelmilch)

Chris Amons STP March 701 Ford, at Clermont Ferrand, French GP weekend 4 July 1970, reflected in the gals ‘sunnies’, this is a signature Rainer Schlegelmilch shot but I never tire of them!…

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Amon, French GP, Clermont Ferrand 1970, ‘works’ March 701 Ford (unattributed)

Chris qualified the car well in 3rd, one slot in front of Jackie Stewart in Ken Tyrrell’s similar, albeit Dunlop, rather than Firestone shod car. Chris raced the car into 2nd behind Rindt’s winning Lotus 72 and in front of Brabham’s Brabham BT33, all cars Ford Cosworth powered.

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Amons March 701 at Clermont in 1970. he won the Non-Championship BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone in April in it but no championship Grands Prix despite a very close 2nd to Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P153 in a Belgian GP Spa, slip-streaming thriller (Cahier)

Credit…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, The Cahier Archive

Tailpiece: Blurry Amon…

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(Schlegelmilch)