Posts Tagged ‘Denny Hulme’

(G Bruce)

Ron Tauranac’s two Brabham BT5 Lotus-Ford twin-cams’s were built in 1963…

The Ian Walker Racing ‘SC-1-63′ achieved plenty of success in the hands of both Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins.

The car used a typical Tauranac multi-tubular spaceframe chassis with upper and lower wishbones at the front and lower links, inverted top wishbone and two radius rods- coil spring/shocks front and rear. Rack and pionion steering, disc brakes all around, a Hewland 4-speed gearbox and a Cosworth tuned Lotus-Ford Twin-Cam of 1596cc giving circa 140 bhp completed the package.

The photograph below is a BT5 test session at Goodwood early in 1963 with the Aussies out in force, oh, and a Kiwi.

From left in the nice, warm ‘jumper’ is Paul Hawkins, lanky Frank Gardner, the Guvnor and Denny Hulme. All rather handy at the wheel of a motorcar- and on the end of a ‘spanner’.

(unattributed)

Credits…

Gordon Bruce, frankgardnermotorsport.com

Tailpiece: Gardner, BT5 Ford, Mallory Park…

(FGM)

Finito…

(W Byers)

Bob Jane, Elfin 400 Repco ‘620’ 4.4 V8 entering KLG Corner, racer Ross Burbidge tells us, 12 February 1967…

It’s a very early race for Bob in his brand new Elfin, this car notable in several ways not least for the fact that it was the first to be fitted with a customer Repco Brabham engine V8- I’ve written a feature on it so let’s not repeat ourselves;

https://primotipo.com/2018/04/06/belle-of-the-ball/

What struck me about William Byers’s photo and the unusual angle and locale in which it is taken is the degree of difficulty in sighting these big Group 7 sportscars through the corners. Admittedly Bob was a ‘short-arse’- mind you there was plenty of bounce in every ounce- but I bet the problem was the same for tall fellas like Dan Gurney.

Who won the sportscar races that day- had Matich debuted the SR3 at this point?, it certainly raced at the Farm and Sandown Tasman rounds that summer- Frank would certainly have given Bob a run for his money if present.

(W Byers)

The top-guns of the meeting were the Tasman 2.5’s of course.

We have photos of second placed Jack Brabham, Brabham BT23A Repco ‘640’, (above and below) Denny Hulme’s similarly engined fourth placed Brabham BT22, sixth placed John Harvey in the 1.65 litre Ford twin-cam powered ex-Stillwell Brabham BT14, and Spencer Martin’s Bob Jane owned Brabham BT11A Climax but not Jim Clark’s victorious Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre V8- he won five of the eight Tasman rounds that year. A pity, but hey, let’s be thankful for some marvellous photos.

(W Byers)

1967 was the Tasman Series Repco had a red-hot go to win, two cars, one each for Denny and Jack with both drivers contesting all eight rounds- but the might of the F1 World Championship winning team did not triumph over Jim Clark and the very reliable, fast, special 2 litre FWMV Coventry Climax engined Lotus 33 of the Scottish ace.

In 1966, 1968 and 1969 Repco had limited Tasman campaigns, 1967 was the one they should have won, you might say, I’ve covered this series before, so no point repeating the many problems which cost the Maidstone outfit dearly.

Arguably the most important aspect of the Tasman for Repco was to blood their new for 1967 F1 engine- the 740 Series V8- in advance of the GP season, than win the series itself. In the event Repco’s Norm Wilson designed 700 Series block was not quite ready so Jack and Denny raced with ‘640 Series’ motors- the new 40 Series, exhaust between the Vee two-valve heads and 600 Series (Oldsmobile F85 modified) blocks.

(W Byers)

 

Denny had a rather successful 1967 season didn’t he!, taking the F1 drivers title and finishing second to Bruce in the Can-Am Championship aboard one of McLaren’s M6A Chev papaya coloured machines.

The car above, a BT22, is essentially a BT11 frame fitted with BT19 suspension- Allen Brown writes that ‘F1-1-64’ was used by BRO until Denny’s F1 car for 1966 BT20 was ready. Fitted with a Repco-Brabham V8, it was raced by Denny in the Tasman and then sold to Rorstan Racing, who fitted a Coventry Climax FPF 2.5 and ran Aussie Paul Bolton in it, it’s present whereabouts is unknown.

Jack’s BT23A was built on the redoubtable BT23 F2 jig/frame.

BT23A has never left Australia thank goodness, and been very much in the news in the last twelve months with its acquisition by the National Motor Museum from Peter Simms who restored and then raced the car for decades.

It’s post Brabham race record was with Scuderia Veloce, the car driven by Greg Cusack and Phil West before being sold to Brian Page.

(W Byers)

John Harvey (above) drove the wheels off this ex-Bib Stillwell car, the first BT14 raced ‘FL-1-65’, then owned by Sydney car dealer Ron Phillips in 1966.

Prepared by Peter Molloy, the Brabham BT14’s Lotus-Ford twin-cam engine progressively got bigger and not too long after this shot the car was given ‘a birthday’, it was the recipient of a Repco-Brabham 640 Series 2.5 litre V8 fitted with the assistance of Rennmax’s Bob Britton, allowing Harves to run with the ‘big boys’.

In fact the combination is sorta related to Spencer Martin’s Brabham BT11A shown below.

(W Byers)

The very gifted Sydneysider won both the 1966 and 1967 Gold Stars aboard this Bob Jane owned Brabham BT11A ‘IC-4-64’ Coventry Climax FPF- his dices with the similarly mounted Kevin Bartlett in Alec Mildren’s car were highlights of racing for enthusiasts of the period.

When Spencer decided to retire at the end of the 1967 Gold Star campaign Jane offered Harves the ride, and acquired the Brabham BT14 from Phillips. It’s 640 engine was fitted into the BT11A- like the BT14 it was not designed for a V8 motor, and raced by John in the 1968 Australian Tasman rounds.

Harvey in the Bob Jane Racing Brabham BT11A Repco during the 1968 Warwick Farm 100 Tasman round (unattributed)

 

 

 

 

Nice overhead shot from the Longford pits of the Repco 640 or 740 Series V8 installation in the BT11A

Jane then bought Jack’s 1968 Tasman mount, the BT23E at the series end for John to race in ’68 with Harvey very lucky to survive a huge shunt at Easter Bathurst in that car after a rear upright failure.

Harvey and Molloy had largely sorted the BT14 Repco by the end of the ’67 Gold Star, he had won a feature race in it at Oran Park. It does make you wonder why Bob didn’t race that car as it was rather than do the engine swap they did and develop the BT11A afresh- no doubt it all made sense at the time?!

The Jane Estate owns BT11A, the BT14, re-engined with a Ford/Lotus twin-cam is i think still in Peter Harburg’s hands in Australia.

William’s camera also captured some other interesting cars during that meeting.

(W Byers)

Bill Gates superb Lotus Elan 26R, Ross Burbidge tells us Gates raced both this car and an Elan Series 1, both of which are still alive and well in Australia. Ex-Geoghegan car originally?

Queenslanders will know the story better than I but its said that race promoter Bill Goode had the Bee Gees, the Gibbs brothers, performing between events at his Redcliffe Speedway and introduced them to Bill who promoted them on his radio show on 4BH Brisbane thereby assisting them in their climb to global success.

(W Byers)

Ross Burbidge says this is the last time Pete Geoghegan ran his first Mustang at Lakeside.

He won the 1967 one-race Australian Touring Car Championship in the Australian, John Sheppard built, Mustang ‘GTA’ back at Lakeside on 30 July 1967 from the Brian Foley and Peter Manton Cooper S’s after various of the other V8’s fell by the wayside with mechanical dramas. The shot above is on the entry to ‘Hungry’ or then KLG corner.

Great Scots: Lakeside 1967, winner Clark Lotus 33 Climax chases Stewart BRM P261 (Tasman Book)

Hulme, Clark and Stewart, Tasman 1967…

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/24/1967-hulme-stewart-and-clark-levin-new-zealand-tasman-and-beyond/

Photo Credits…

William Byers, oldracephotos.com.au, ‘Tasman Cup’ Tony Loxley and Others

References…

Ross Burbidge, oldracingcars.com.au

Tailpiece: Bob Holden, Improved Touring Morris Cooper S…

(W Byers)

Bob Holden won the 1966 Bathurst 500 in a Series Production Cooper S, co-driving the works BMC Australia car with rally-ace Rauno Aaltonen.

In a year of dominance the Cooper S took the first nine placings in the race! This car, not the same machine, is built to Improved Touring rules, the category to which the Australian Touring Car Championship was held at the time- mind you Bob didn’t return that July to contest the title race. He is still racing…

In the background Denny’s Brabham BT22 is being pushed past with perhaps the light coloured car Frank Gardner’s Mildren Racing Brabham BT16 Climax?

Finito…

Pete Makeham and the King Alfa Spyder at Reims (B King)

‘What you can do with a dodgy camera…

The story really begins in May 1965 in Aden in the Federation of South Arabia (now Yemen) where the ship on which I was travelling as the ships doctor made its first landfall after leaving Australian several weeks earlier.

Aden, then as now, was a hell-hole, but I was advised by the experienced ship’s crew that there were bargains to be had. Hence the cheap, and supposedly new, Practica IVb SLR camera- ‘state of the art’. But something was seriously wrong; was it a reject that found its way to Aden? Anyway, its deficiencies are my excuse for the poor quality of the photographs accompanying this article.

After two European Tours in a VW and then a Minivan, it was time for better things- or at least my future wife thought so- and bought a three year old Alfa Romeo Giulia Spyder 1600. My late lamented friend Pater Makeham and I set off with our first destination being Reims for the Grand Prix de l’ACF. The Alfa gremlins set in early, and with no generator charge, our arrival in the Oort of Dover was lit by the equivalent of two candles.

We camped that night outside Reims on the top of a hill and were able to roll-start the car. It was a Saturday morning and as we approached Reims we had no idea how we would resolve our problem- then suddenly we were confronted by a large Alfa Romeo badge  hanging in the centre of the street- a quick left turn and we were in a large Alfa workshop. In our best French we said ‘dynamo-kaput’ which was sufficient to gain the necessary attention.’

Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari 312 being attended to in the Alfa Romeo dealership, Reims (B King)

 

#22 is Mike Parkes’ 312- World Champions in 1966 almost certainly had the kept Surtees within the Scuderia Ferrari, ‘Ifs, Buts and Maybes’ don’t count however (B King)

‘We then noticed that half the workshop was devoted to the Ferrari Formula 1 Team. Hence the grainy images with the Practica. While the GP cars sat idle, it seemed that the whole Ferrari team were devoting their attention to designer Mauro Forghieri’s road car- I think it was a just released 330GTC. With much revving, Mauro would take of around the block, only to arrive back with the car misfiring. About six red-suited mechanics would put their heads under the bonnet and the procedure would be repeated.’

King’s Alfa outside the Champagne cellars in 1966 (B King)

‘I think our problem was resolved before Mauro’s and we were able to depart for a tour of the Champagne cellars. Perhaps if the team had devoted more time to the racing cars, Lorenzo Bandini might not have surrendered his lead to Jack Brabham because of a failed throttle cable!’

Lorenzo Bandini seeks to sort his throttle linkage problem after completing 32 laps- he led the race from Brabham and Parkes to this point (unattributed)

‘What a day it was to go to the races with Jack and Denny first and second in in the F2 support race in Brabham Hondas, and Jack winning the race in the ‘All Australian Repco Brabham’ designed by Ron Tauranac.

We were on the outside of the track at ‘Calvaire’, the fast bend at the end of Pit Straight and Jack was the only driver taking that corner at full noise. This was the last GP to be held at that wonderful circuit.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toto Roche drops the flag and makes his famous leap out of the way, Mike Parkes and Lorenzo Bandini in Ferrari 312’s sandwich the just departed John Surtees in a Cooper T81 Maserati. That’s Jochen Rindt’s Cooper on row two.

(unattributed)

Brabham speeds to victory in his Brabham BT19 Repco, his championship steed throughout 1966- famously the first driver to win a GP in a car of his own design and manufacture- noting the contribution of Ron Tauranac, Motor Racing Developments and Repco Brabham Engines in relation thereto!

Roche, below, flag in hand, pushes the winning car whilst Brabham acknowledges the plaudits of the knowledgeable French crowd. Mike Parkes’ Ferrari 312 was second, Denny third in a Brabham BT20 Repco and Jochen Rindt, Cooper T81 Maserati, fourth.

(unattributed)

‘I was able to buy the Alfa from the proceeds of working 110 hour shifts at Manchester Royal Infirmary. Another benefit of MRI was having access to the Nurses Home, housing many hundred nurses and from where I found my wife to be.

I also enjoyed our proximity to Oulton Park- where I was a regular attendee from 1965-1968. My photos with the Practica were improving; I found the light meter gave more accurate readings if I pointed it to the ground.’

Cor! says the young motor cyclist with the camera. Brabham’s BT20 Repco with new ‘740 Series’ Repco 3 litre V8 making its first race appearance. Brabham’s definitive 1967 chassis, Tauranac’s brand new BT24 is still several races away. Oulton Park 1967- ripper shot just oozes atmosphere of the (chilly) day (B King)

Daily Express Spring Cup, Oulton Park 15 April 1967…

The first European F1 race of 1967 was the ‘Race of Champions’ at Brands Hatch in early March, the race was won by Dan Gurney’s Eagle Mk1 Weslake from Lorenzo Bandini and Jo Siffert in Ferrari 312 and Cooper T81 Maserati respectively. Dan took wins in both of the two heats and the final, wonderful stuff and unfortunately a race which somewhat flattered to deceive.

The last chance for the teams to race test their cars before the European season championship opener at Monaco in May was the Spring Cup at Oulton, where Bob’s photos were taken.

Tony Rudd fusses over his complex and superb, BRM P83 H16. The engine’s only championship win was Clark’s Lotus 43 victory at Watkins Glen in late 1966 (B King)

 

Bruce McLaren sits on his Rover 3500 whilst the boys fettle his F2 based GP McLaren M4B BRM 2 litre V8, by the years end he was using the BRM P101 V12 but his saviour was the Ford DFV which was available to teams other than Lotus from 1968 (B King)

Jackie Stewart popped the BRM P83 H16 on pole from Denny Hulme and John Surtees- in Brabham BT20 Repco and Honda RA273. Brabham and Mike Spence were back on row two in the other BT20 and H16.

Denny won both heats in a portent of his season to come and Jack Brabham the final from Denny, Surtees, Jack Oliver’s F2 Lotus 41B Cosworth FVA, Bruce McLaren’s McLaren M4B BRM V8, Mike Spence’s BRM P83, Bob Anderson’s Brabham BT11 Climax FPF and Graham Hill’s Lotus 33 BRM. Stewart failed to finish in the other BRM after a collision.

The BRO pit with Jack’s 740 V8 engined BT20 front and centre. Circa 340 bhp by the seasons end- just enough to prevail in 1967 aided by Lotus 49 teething pain unreliability. Gearbox is Hewland DG300. Denny’s car devoid of bodywork behind (B King)

The winds of change blew at Zandvoort with the first race of the Lotus 49 Ford DFV at the Dutch Grand Prix but Bob’s photos reasonably convey, with the exception of the Ferrari’s who did not enter the Spring Cup, most of the the state of GP play in early 1967.

(B King)

Surtees’ magnificent, powerful, but oh-so-heavy Honda RA273 V12.

By the seasons end the lighter RA300 ‘Hondola’- the monocoque chassis a variation on Lola’s T90 Indianapolis car, was raced to victory in the Italian Grand Prix, the popular Brit taking a famous victory for the car in a last lap, last corner fumble with Jack Brabham in his BT24 Repco.

(B King)

Etcetera…

Other reading…

1966 GP Season; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

1966 Ferrari 312; https://primotipo.com/2017/10/26/surtees-ferrari-312-modena-1966/

Brabham Honda F2 Cars; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/30/xxxii-grand-prix-de-reims-f2-july-1966-1-litre-brabham-hondas/

H16 Engine; https://primotipo.com/2015/02/17/jim-clark-taking-a-deep-breath-lotus-43-brm/

Bruce McLaren’s 1966/7 GP Cars; https://primotipo.com/2016/10/07/mclarens-19667-f1-cars/

(B King Collection)

Bugatti Afterthought: Reims 1929…

Classic Bob King ‘…and I just found this photo from 1929- if you should wish to make a comment about Bugatti being my real thing- it is such a good photo’- and indeed it is a marvellous shot!

The fifth GP de la Marne was staged at Reims over 400 km on 7 July and won by Philippe Etancelin in a Bugatti T35C in 2 hours 54 minutes 14 seconds. The cars above are those of (L-R) Juan Zanelli T35B second, Robert Gauthier T35C fourth, Rene Cadet T35 sixth and another T35 of Derrancourt, seventh.

Credits…

Bob King, Getty Images, Team Dan, silhouet.com

Tailpiece: Bandini, Surtees, Brabham- Reims start 1966…

(Getty)

Finito…

(R Wolfe)

Bugger!

Led Zeppelin first recorded ‘Communication Breakdown’ in 1969, although it was part of their live set from 1968. My whacko brain thought of that song and riff upon seeing this bit of ye olde school communication…

It would have been perfect if the song originated from 1967 given the date of the Brabham Racing Organisation team-leader’s (thaddl be Brabham JA) letter to the General Manager of Repco Brabham Engines Pty Ltd, Frank Hallam Esq is, according to Rodway Wolfe’s handwritten scrawl, 24 May 1967.

These days we have that internet thingy which makes our lives so instant in terms of communication, back then it was ‘snail mail’ or Telex machine if you were from the big end of town. I guess airmail from Surrey, UK to Maidstone, Victoria, Australia was three days or thereabouts? And the same in return with a neato ‘Par Avion’ sticker and a more expensive stamp affixed.

Jack’s note was sent between the Monaco and Dutch GP’s.

BRO had shown plenty of pace early in the season with Brabham and Hulme on pole and with fastest lap respectively at Kyalami albeit Pedro Rodriguez took the South African GP win in his Cooper T81 Maserati.

Jack flicking BT19 around with the abandon so characteristic during 1966-7. RBE740 powered, here ahead of Jim Clark’s Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre DNF, with Jack’s motor about to go kaboomba (unattributed)

At the following championship round- Monaco, Jack was on pole deploying the new RBE740 Series V8’s power and big, beefy mid-range punch for the first time in a championship round. But an unhappy early ending to the weekend was the Aussie’s new moteur breaking a rod on the first lap of the race. Denny won his first GP in a 620 engined BT20, so it was far from all bad from the team’s perspective- the race tragic for the sad demise of Lorenzo Bandini after a fiery crash aboard his Ferrari 312.

Merde! or Australian vernacular to that general effect- Brabham checks the hole in his nice new 700 Series Repco block, carved up somewhat from an errant conrod- Monaco 1967

But all the same their would have been a bit of consternation in the camp at the time, no doubt a phone call to Hallam was made about the buggered rod, or maybe Frank read about it in the late edition of Monday’s Melbourne daily ‘The Sun’?

The Lotus 49 Ford Cosworth DFV changed the GP world when it appeared in the hands of Clark J and Hill G at Zandvoort on June 4- the need to lift was clear!

So, lets address Jack’s requests.

Sorry about that sketch of Brabham’s requested 700 Series block modifications! Sadly we don’t have it- which is a bumma.

The modified Daimler rods and caps are RB620 bits, not 740- so Jack is after some bibs and bobs to keep alive some of the RB620’s by then in circulation in Europe. Not to forget Denny was still using RB620’s until he got a 740 for Spa in mid-June. The ‘620 Series’ Repco was the first of the Repco Brabham Engines series of race V8’s and was based on the standard Oldsmobile F85 block- ‘600 Series’ block and ’20 Series’ cross-flow heads in Repco nomenclature. The ‘740 Series’ was the new for 1967 motor- ‘700 Series’ bespoke Repco designed block and ’40 Series’ exhaust within the Vee heads.

The water rail changes appear routine race experience evolution, in fact whilst the whole letter is dealing with normal stuff its still interesting, if you know what i mean? And the engine fitters will have been given the bief to watch the chain tensioner fit.

Jack’s checklist of engine parts is interesting.

I thought all of the RBE engine rebuilds happened at Maidstone but clearly that is not the case, some engine work was being done in The Land of The Pom. Interested to hear from you RBE lads on this point.

Brabham and Hallam at Sandown with their newborn, January 1966 (R Wolfe)

The photograph above is of the two participants in the above correspondence at Sandown Park, Melbourne during the 1966 Tasman round. It is a ‘pose for the press’ shot given the race debut of the Repco V8 in the companies home town.

It was the second race for the RBE620 Series V8- the first was a 3 litre unit used by Jack during the non-championship South African GP weekend on 1 January, DNF with a fuel injection pump problem.

The engine above is a 2.5 litre jobbie- easily picked by its long Lucas injection trumpets, this time an oil pump broke- the chassis is the one and only BT19 which carried Jack to the 1966 title, and as can be seen in the Monaco photographs, well into 1967. The RBE620 became a paragon of reliability after some initial traumas were rectified…

The RBE 620 Series engine story is here;

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/07/rb620-v8-building-the-1966-world-championship-winning-engine-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-2/

The RBE 740 Series engine story is here;

https://primotipo.com/2016/08/05/rb740-repcos-1967-f1-championship-winning-v8/

Tailpiece: Denny en-route to Monaco victory aboard an RBE620 powered Brabham BT20, Jo Siffert’s Rob Walker Cooper T81 Maserati behind DNF…

Credits…

Rodway Wolfe Collection, Getty Images, Bernard Cahier

Finito…

(R Goldfinch)

Denny Hulme acknowledges the plaudits of the crowd upon his retirement from the February 1967 Australian Grand Prix at Warwick Farm…

The ‘Creek Corner Mob’ were a notoriously loud, knowledgeable group of spectators, ‘the bugler’ in particular always comes up in conversations about the place with Sydney enthusiasts even now.

Denny’s Brabham BT22 Repco ‘640’ V8 retired on lap 41 of the 45 lap race with a burst radiator hose, the race was won by Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261 2.1 V8. In a troubled weekend the Brabham Repco lads started raceday further out west at Sydney’s Oran Park attempting to sort fuel injection and handling dramas before heading back to the ‘farm for the race. Jack was fourth aboard BT23A Repco ‘640’.

Love this Bruce Wells portrait of Denny on the ’67 WF grid. Note the ducting used in the hotter races of that year to get cool air into the centre of the 640 and 740 Repco’s- aimed at the fuel metering unit (B Wells/TRS)

Stewart, Clark, Hill- BRM P261, Lotus 33 Climax, Lotus 48 Ford FVA, then Jack and Leo Geoghegan- Brabham BT23A Repco and Lotus 39 Climax with Denny alongside the pit counter on the row behind, Brabham BT22 Repco (B Wells/TRS)

Its weird the way your brain works, or mine does anyway?!

The first thing which popped into my mind when I saw Denny’s salute was the famous post 200 metre Mexico ’68 Olympics medal award ceremony, brave ‘Black Power’ medal presentation dais salutes of gold and bronze medallists Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

It was ‘big news’ in Australia as Peter Norman, a great Australian athlete, was the silver medallist who bravely stood with, and in support of the Americans and their cause. Norman was punished for his actions by the Australian Olympic Committee’s ‘forces of conservative darkness’ for the rest of his life.

Denny’s pose and actions are in an entirely different context (to say the least) but its funny the stuff which sticks in a childs mind only to pop out fifty years later. The Olympics scene resonated with me at the time, no doubt meeting Norman at a school holidays athletics training camp in the early seventies added to the potency of the moment, times of great social upheaval and progress as they were.

Peter Norman’s obituary; https://www.theguardian.com/news/2006/oct/05/guardianobituaries.australia

Credits…

Roger Goldfinch, Bruce Wells/The Roaring Season

Tailpiece: Peter Norman, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Mexico 1968…

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…

(R Schlegelmilch)

Vic Elford leans his machine gun on moustachioed teammate Lucien Bianchi’s, winged Cooper T86B BRM in search of a Messerschmitt BF109, Nurburgring 1968…

This is a pretty canny bit of impromptu PR by the Cooper boys at the height (sic) of the hi-wings explosion that summer in Grand Prix racing. That trend was all over pretty quickly due to the flimsy engineering of some of the appendages, that story covered by an article I wrote a while back; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/12/wings-clipped-lotus-49-monaco-grand-prix-1969/

Cooper’s built three T86B chassis for the 1968 season by adapting the 1967 Maserati V12 engined T86 design to accept BRM’s sportscar derived customer P101 V12 first used by Bruce McLaren during the later half of the 1967 season in the back of his McLaren M5A.

Cooper T86B- aluminium/electron monocoque chassis, front suspension by top rockers, lower wishbones and inboard mounted coil spring/dampers, rear suspension by single top link, inverted lower wishbones, twin radius rods and coil spring dampers, adjustable roll bars front and rear. Outboard disc brakes front and rear, Cooper steering rack. BRM P101 2998 cc DOHC, 2 valve, Lucas injected 60 degree circa 375 bhp V12, Hewland DG300 5 speed transaxle (Bill Bennett)

The heavy, relatively lower (a Cosworth DFV punched out about 410bhp at the time) powered machines were raced initially by Brian Redman and Ludovico Scarfiotti, who was tragically killed at Rossfeld Hillclimb over the June Spa weekend. He was replaced by Lucien Bianchi, who had an amazing year in sportscars, rally machines and in single-seaters. Click here for an article in part about Lucien; https://primotipo.com/2016/03/22/cowans-grunter/

Quick Vic got the steer after Brian Redman was badly injured at Spa when his suspension failed, the car then crashed into and over a concrete barrier, his progress arrested by a parked Ford Cortina- he escaped with a broken arm and minor burns but was out of racing for a bit. Johnny Servoz-Gavin and Robin Widdows had one-off drives. Best results for the cars were thirds for Redman in Spain and Bianchi at Monaco, whilst fourth places were scored by Scarfiotti in Spain and Monaco and by Elford in France.

German GP start, gloomy to say the least! Denny Hulme’s McLaren M7A Ford in shot, to his left and forward is John Surtees Honda RA302 with Elford’s Cooper to John’s front left. Up front are Ickx and Amon’s Ferrari 312’s, Hill is to Elford’s right in the hi-winged Lotus 49 and a slow starting Stewart, Matra MS10  in front of Hulme (PH Cahier)

Vic popped his Cooper on grid 5 at the Nurburgring but left the road on the first lap of the famously wet and treacherous race won by Jackie Stewart’s Dunlop shod Matra MS10 Ford. He won by four minutes from Graham Hill’s Firestone shod Lotus 49B Ford and Jochen Rindt’s Goodyear tyred Brabham BT26 Repco a further six seconds back. Stewart was magic that day aided by some schmick, trick Dunlop wets- one of his greatest drives in the minds of many including the great man himself.

JYS during his soggy, stunning run, Matra MS10 Ford (R Schlegelmilch)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, PH Cahier, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Finito…