Posts Tagged ‘John Surtees’

John Surtees looking very cheery prior to the 1960 Solitude GP aboard his Rob Walker/works/AFN Porsche 718/2, 24 July 1960…

And so he should, not long before he had won the 500cc motorcycle GP aboard an MV Agusta before jumping into his car for the Formula 2 Grand Prix, his fortunes in that event not so good.

I found this photo randomly on Getty Images, this brief Porsche chapter of the great mans career was not one I was familiar with but a couple of my online buddies identified the event- many thanks to Roger Virtigo and Glenn Ducey.

My initial plan for this article was a quickie on Surtees’ first year in cars but then I became rather enamoured of the Solitude circuit, in particular the significance of the 1960 race for reasons which will become clear when you read the great Denis Jenkinson’s MotorSport account of the weekend.

Whilst still the benchmark in grand prix motorcycle racing – he would retain both his 350cc and 500cc world titles aboard MV’s in 1960 – Surtees at 26 years of age, stepped into cars that year.

Surtees ventures onto Goodwood, Cooper T52 BMC FJ 19 March 1960 (LAT)

Clark from Surtees, Lotus 18 Ford and Cooper T52 BMC, Goodwood, 19 March 1960 (LAT)

His first race on four wheels was in Formula Junior at Goodwood on 19 March. He finished second to rising star Jim Clark’s Lotus 18 Ford during the BARC Members Meeting in a Ken Tyrrell Cooper T52 BMC. Click here for a short article about his debut; https://primotipo.com/2016/01/18/surtees-first-car-races/

Two months later he made his F1 world championship start at the Monaco GP in late May- Q15 and DNF gearbox on lap 17 in the race won by Stirling Moss in Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 Climax FPF.

In Surtees home GP in July, the British at Silverstone, he finished second, an amazing performance, Jack Brabham won on the way to his second World Championship aboard his works Cooper ‘Lowline’ T53 Climax.

Whilst the Lotus 18, Colin Chapman’s first mid-engined design was in many ways the 1960 ‘Car of The Year’ it was still amazing stuff, the transition from two to four wheels never done as smoothly before or since.

Surtees, works Lotus 18 Climax, on the way to 2nd in the 1960 British @ Silverstone-ain’t she chunky but pretty sans roll bar. And fast (unattributed)

It was with his tail up that Surtees headed off to the Solitude Grand Prix, that year an F2 race for cars of 1.5 litres or less in capacity.

The 7.1 mile Solitude circuit, a few miles out of Stuttgart had been in existence for many years- used mainly for motorcycle racing it took its name from Schloss Solitude, an old German castle on top of one of the hills overlooking the valley in which the circuit lay. The circuits narrow width precluded its use for cars until that was addressed, an international Formula Junior race was run in 1959 with the 1960 F2 race appropriate for a circuit Denis Jenkinson, who had raced on it as a motorcycle competitor, rated as one of the best in Europe.

The entry was excellent with the works Porsche, Ferrari and Lotus teams competing, as well as Jack Brabham with a Cooper

Porsche fielded five cars altogether, determined to win on their own proving ground with Bonnier, Hill and Herrmann driving the regular three factory cars. The Rob Walker car had been retrieved, a standard Porsche racing gear-change put back on it and loaned to Surtees, while a brand new car was finished the night before practice and driven by Dan Gurney, so the whole BRM team were being used!

Team Lotus entered three works Lotus 18’s driven by Ireland, Clark and Trevor Taylor, the last two also driving in the Formula Junior race with other 18’s.

Scuderia Ferrari sent two entries, one a normal front-engined 246 with a Dino 156 engine driven by Phil Hill, and the other a new version of the F2/60 rear-engined experimental car, driven by von Trips. ‘This car was basically the rear-engined model (246P) that appeared at Monaco and Zandvoort, but had undergone a lot of modifications. The construction of the wishbones had been altered and also their size and positioning on the chassis, so that although there were still double-wishbones and a coil-spring to each wheel they were of a new pattern. The 1 1/2-litre V6 Dino 156 engine was coupled to the gearbox/final drive unit used on the car at Zandvoort, still with inboard disc brakes, but instead of the clutch-operating mechanism being mounted on the last chassis cross-member it was now on an alloy casting bolted to the rear of the gearbox casing and curving round the left side of the clutch body, which was still exposed. Consequently the chassis tube extensions beyond the gearbox were cut off and the space frame finished under the gearbox. There was no water header tank over the engine and the vertical distributor had been replaced by a horizontal one on the front of the engine, so the high head faring could be done away with and the rear decking was made flat, like a Lotus, with a perspex bubble open at the front over the three downdraught Weber carburetters. The tail of the car ended in an aperture fitted with a grille that would have made a nice radiator cowling for a front-engined car, and two long thin megaphone exhaust pipes stuck out the back, protruding well beyond the extremity of the body. The short, stumpy nose of the car was much as before, with the radiator fed from a typical 1960 Ferrari cowling and the cockpit having a wrap-round screen’.

The significance of the above car, the mid-engined 1.5 litre V6 Ferrari 246P will be clear to most of you, the car referred to above was the prototype of the machines which would dominate grand prix racing in 1961, the commencement of the new 1.5 litre F1. I wrote about this car a while back;

https://primotipo.com/2015/10/04/monaco-panorama-1958/

GP gridding up. #22 Gurney Porsche 718/2, #4 Bonnier and #5 Herrmann ditto 718/2, #7 is the mid-engine Ferrari 246P 1.5 of Von Trips and the subject of extensive coverage by Jenkinson above. #6 Hill G Porsche 718/2, #14 Wolfgang Seidel Cooper T45 Climax, #16 Innes Ireland Lotus 18 Climax, #11 Jack Lewis Cooper T45 Climax (unattributed)

Jack Brabham represented Cooper with a 1959 car built up from bits and pieces, either a T43 or T45 and was looked after by his own mechanic- they were still cobbling the car together as practice got underway, whilst the rest of the Coopers were private entries.

‘With rain pouring down during the first session of practice there was little hope of judging how things would go, except that von Trips was outstandingly fast in the rear-engined Ferrari, at one time being 30 sec faster than anyone else and passing the factory Porsches on the winding leg of the circuit and leaving them. Although the car was sliding and slithering about in the wet von Trips seemed quite unconcerned, feeling perfectly safe in the car.’

‘The second session was a lot better…The rear-engined Ferrari was still going well and was soon down below the old sports-car record of 4 min 34.4 sec, and went on to get below 4 min 30 sec. The only driver to challenge von Trips was Jimmy Clark, who was benefiting from double practice, being out with the Formula Junior cars as well as the Formula 2 cars, and as the afternoon wore on he went faster and faster. The only other driver to get below 4 min 30 sec was Hans Herrmann and he was down to 4 min 28.3 sec, but von Trips had done 4 min 24.1 sec, while just as practice finished and the track was at its driest for the day, Clark did 4 min 23.6 sec…Practice took place again for 11/2 hours on Saturday afternoon, but once again rain completely washed things out and everyone’s times were nearer 5 min than 41/2 min.’

The challenges of the road circuit resulted in Australian rider Bob Brown’s death later from head injuries sustained when he fell from his Honda 250-4 during the motorcycle practice session.

The 30 year old, born at Little Plains near Inverell, New South Wales trained as motor mechanic and worked as such and as a taxi-driver in Sydney before local success led to seeking fame in Europe in 1955.

After doing well on privately owned bikes he was picked up by Gilera in 1957. In 1959, riding his private Nortons he was third in both the 350 and 500 World Championships beaten only by the works MV’s. Because of his experience aboard the Gilera fours in 1957 he was offered a works Honda 250-4 in 1960 on a race by race basis. On one of these technically very advanced machines, commented upon by Jenkinson below, he was 4th at the IOM TT becoming the first Western rider to score points on a Japanese bike.

Bob Brown, place and date unknown (AMCN)

Solitude was only a month later, Brown crashed on dirt or grit brought onto the surface by errant cars on the ‘notorious sand pit curve’ on the twisty Mahdenthal section of the course. Another theory has it that he was cruising back to the pits with a misfiring engine which suddenly popped onto all four cylinders- whatever the case he was tossed off his mount sustaining head injuries to which he later succumbed.

Even though he only contested four of the seven 500cc championship rounds in 1960, Brown was still 4th in the championship standings aboard his trusty Norton behind three MV’s- at Assen he was 2nd where he split the MV entries. In an lovely tribute to this little known Australian, Honda in its book ‘The Race for Leadership: 1961 World Championship Road Race’ the company produced to celebrate its maiden World 125/250 titles won by Tom Phillis and Mike Hailwood-Honda wrote that ‘Brown untiringly helped the Japanese riders who were new to the game and actively helped to improve the Honda-Four. Bob Brown was one of the foundations of Honda success’.

GP, the off. Bonnier from Hill and Hermann all Porsche 718/2, then Von Trips Ferrari 246P and to the outside of him Ireland’s Lotus 18, #19 Surtees and #22 Gurney both Porsche 718/2 with Jim Clark’s distinctive Lotus 18 to Gurney’s outside and the rest (Getty)

‘Sunday was happily fine and sunny and a crowd of 250,000 lined the circuit to watch first of all the motorcycle races, then a vast procession of publicity vehicles, and finally, the Formula Junior and Formula 2 car races.

In the 250-cc motorcycle race the outstanding thing was the Japanese Honda machine which finished third, this having a four-cylinder twin-overhead camshaft engine with four valves per cylinder and developing its peak power at 13,500 rpm, while it would safely run up to 16-17,000 rpm.

The technical variety of engine development in the motorcycle-­racing world was something which made the Formula 2 racing world realise that we are stagnating for want of new engine designs. The 250-cc motorcycles had vertical twins, transverse fours, single cylinders, and two-strokes both air- and water-cooled, and there seemed to be no accepted layout which everyone was following.’

Surtees on the way to his 500cc MV Agusta Solitude GP win (unattributed)

‘The 500-cc class saw the usual easy win for John Surtees on the MV Agusta four-cylinder machine, and then we passed to Formula Junior.

The race was a complete sweep for Lotus-Ford cars, the works car of Jimmy Clark having an unchallenged win after Henry Taylor in Tyrell’s Cooper­-BMC had blown up his engine. Trevor Taylor was confidently following Clark in second place and they forgot the opposition so much that they overlooked Ouveroff in another Lotus-Ford, who suddenly closed on them two laps before the end and split their confidence, finishing in second place. Of the first six cars, five were Lotus-Fords, odd man out being Ballisat with Tyrell’s second Cooper-BMC.’

Grid of the FJ race. #1 Clark Lotus 18 Cosworth, black Cooper alongside Keith Ballisat Cooper T52 BMC?, #9 Juan-Manuel Bordeu Lola Mk2 Ford, #3 settling into his car Pater Arundell Lotus 18 Cosworth and the rest (unattributed)

‘Finally we came to the race of the day, with weather conditions perfect and twenty cars lined up on the grid, the only non-starter being de Beaufort, whose Climax engine was beyond repair…The race was to be run over 20 laps, a distance of 228.340 kilo­metres and the start was perfect, with Bonnier just leading the field towards the first corner. At the end of the opening lap the first nine cars were so close that it was relatively unimportant who was leading, though in fact it was Graham Hill in front of Bonnier, with Herrmann, von Trips, Gurney, Ireland, Surtees, Brabham and Clark following.

With the track nice and dry for the first time this little lot were really motor racing, the standing lap being in 4 min 24 sec, and the first flying lap in 4 min 15.1 sec (virtually 100 m.p.h. average). Bonnier led on lap two, von Trips on lap three and Clark on lap four, while the others were nose-to­-tail in varying orders, there being no signs of a procession begin­ning as yet. With the exception of Clark and Taylor, who had just driven in the Junior race, none of the others knew anything about the circuit in the dry, so we were witnessing, in effect, the first really serious practice session, and it was really serious. While Trevor Taylor was a bit out of his depth in this race, only his second with an F2 car, Clark was really profiting from his Junior race and his progress on the first few laps was 9th, 6th, 3rd and 1st, and having got the lead he drew away steadily, driving most beautifully, setting a new lap record at 4 min 08.0 sec.’

Clarks’s Lotus 18 Ford during his victorious run in the FJ race, he won from two other Lotus 18’s- Aussie Steve Ouvaroff  and Lotus teammate Trevor Taylor (unattributed)

‘Meanwhile the rest of the runners were learning the circuit in the dry, and Herrmann led von Trips, Bonnier, Gurney, Graham Hill, Brabham and Ireland, while Surtees was having gear-change trouble and dropping back a bit, to be caught by Phil Hill in the front-engined Ferrari. Then came Lewis all on his own, having outstripped the rest of the private owners, but not quite fast enough to keep up with the works drivers, and already Schlesser had fallen out with crankshaft trouble. On lap six von Trips passed Herrmann once more and Graham Hill passed Gurney, but on the next lap Gurney was in front again, and at the end of the field Bianchi retired with a broken oil pipe and Seidel gave up as he thought his shock-absorbers were not working.’

On lap eight Clark had 1/2 sec lead but Herrmann was back in second place and Phil Hill had moved up a place into ninth position ahead of Surtees, and still the first ten cars were all pressing on at unabated speed. On lap nine Clark began to get worried about rising water temperature, for there had been signs of a head gasket leak on the starting line, while Herrmann and von Trips were now getting into their stride and the Ferrari brought the lap record down to 4 min 07.5 sec, and for the first lap since the start of the race there was no change in the order anywhere through the field. Halfway round lap 10 the leading Porsche and the rear-engined Ferrari were gaining rapidly on the Lotus and as Clark finished his tenth lap he drew into the pits, just as Herrmann and von Trips went by. In a flash the next eight cars were past, while water was poured into the Lotus and Clark restarted in tenth place, for Lewis also drew into the pits to retire with two broken main-bearing caps and a ruined crankcase. Behind the leading bunch came Trintignant, Taylor, Gregory, Gendebien, Laureau, Barth and Cabral in that order but spaced out.

Having got the lead Herrmann really flew and lapped in 4 min 07.0 sec, but von Trips was not giving in and two laps later recorded 4 min 06.4 sec and closed on Herrmann, and the two of them were now leaving Bonnier behind, who was being followed by Graham Hill and Gurney, who were changing positions continuously, and behind them came Phil Hill and Ireland, also chopping and changing places, while some way back Trevor Taylor had got in front of Trintignant. On lap 11 Brab­ham gave up with a split head gasket, never having been in the picture, and Surtees was slowing visibly, his continual gear-­selection trouble having caused missed gears and subsequent bent valves.

On lap 13 von Trips was only a few lengths behind Herrmann’s Porsche, on the next lap he was right on his tail and he stayed like that for two more laps, while the two of them drew 16 sec ahead of Bonnier, but Graham Hill and Gurney were urging each other along and were catching Bonnier. On lap 16 Herrmann did 4 min 06.0 sec, but on lap 17 von Trips replied with 4 min 04.7 sec and sailed by into the lead, and the Ferrari really showed its possibilities by pulling out a 11/2-sec lead over the Porsche. Graham Hill and Gurney were still passing and re-passing and were now up with Bonnier, while Ireland and Phil Hill had not yet settled their battle.

On lap 15 Trevor Taylor had retired at the pits when a cam-­follower had broken and on lap 16 Surtees had run wide on a corner trying to take it in a high gear to save the trouble of sorting the selectors out, and had spun on some loose gravel and stalled. Clark was still running, but a long way back from the leaders, and most of the tail-enders had been lapped. The rear-engined Ferrari was now safely in front and von Trips was making no mistake and he finished the 20 laps nicely ahead of Herrmann, having thoroughly trounced the Porsche team on their own door­step. On lap 19 Graham Hill got into third place, but on the last lap Bonnier got by him down the straight and led him over the line with Gurney right behind them, and a little way back Phil Hill led Ireland on the penultimate lap only to be re-passed yet again on the last lap.

For once this had been real motor racing, with the first seven cars all going as hard as they knew how for the whole race, and if this was a foretaste of 1961 Grand Prix racing then no-one is going to be disappointed. Dan Gurney summed up this excellent race very nicely when he said : “I’ve never had to drive so hard in my life just for fifth place”. DSJ.’

Beautiful shot of Surtees Lotus 18 on the cobbled pave of the Oporto streets (LAT)

Surtees further showed his mettle at Oporto, the Portuguese Grand Prix held on 14 August.

In only his third event in 2.5 litre Grand Prix cars he put his Team Lotus 18 on pole on the unfamiliar challenging portside/coastal circuit.

Surtees lost out in the early skirmishes as Dan Gurney’s BRM P48 grabbed the lead, but he soon overcame Stirling Moss, Lotus 18 Climax – returning from injuries sustained at Spa – to run 2nd. The Lotus then closed on Gurney and was poised to challenge for the lead when the BRM hit engine trouble. Moss now moved forward and started applying pressure to Surtees, only to have to pit for a plug change on his Lotus 18. That left Surtees comfortably clear of reigning world champion Jack Brabham.

But Surtees had been battling with a fuel leak and, eventually, his petrol-soaked feet slipped off the pedals. The resulting incident burst the Lotus’s radiator and forced Surtees out of the race, but he looked at home up front of the field, which is rather where he belonged!

Another shot of Surtees on the run at Oporto (B Cahier)

Did you say the motel was to the left or right? Surtees on the road @ Riverside 1960. Lotus 18 Climax (Getty)

With his motorcycle commitments the only other F1 championship appearance for the great Brit that year was at Riverside, site of the 1960 US Grand Prix in late November.

There he qualified his Team Lotus 18 6th but spun and was collected by teammate Clark causing John’s retirement. Clark soldiered on using the nose cone off Surtees car! Stirling Moss won the race in the Walker Lotus 18, the fastest combination of the year- and noting Moss’ monster accident at Spa in June which outed him from mid-June till late November.

Surtees made a huge impact in his first season in cars- he was off to UDT Laystall for 1961 on an inexorable rise which took him via Lola to Ferrari in 1963 and a world title in 1964. Click here for an article on his Ferrari 158 championship year;

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

Etcetera: Denis Jenkinson’s description of the wild Solitude road circuit…

‘The starting area is wide and level and a short straight leads into a series of four left-hand bends, they can be taken in one complete arc, to form a very large-radius hairpin, “Glemseck,” turning the direction of the road through 180 degrees. Between the start and the first corner are the pits, intelligently placed at an angle to the main track, the first pit being some 20 feet from the edge of the track and the last one being about 10 feet from the edge, thus allowing everyone in the pits a fairly unobstructed view and making a very large wedge-shaped pit area.

After turning through 180 degrees the road climbs steeply up the side of a hill, round a very tight hairpin to the right, “Hedersback,” and on up the hill on a gradient of nearly 1 in 61/2, levels out a bit on a left curve and then climbs up round a fast right-hand curve to the top of the hillside. Here it takes a long fast left-hand bend over the brow, “Frauenkreuz,” and down the other side, followed by another very fast downhill right-hand curve, and drops over a sharp brow to plunge down into a sharp left-hand corner, in thick woods. As the road levels out here this corner can be taken faster than imagined for the sudden cessation of losing height as you hit the corner means that the car gets a terrific downward thrust from its own weight, helping the cornering power of the tyres. From here the road is more or less level and to all intents and purposes is straight, although in actual fact there are two left-hand curves, but these are flat out. This ends in a very sharp right-hand hairpin that drops downhill to a left­hand hairpin that continues to drop downhill and is followed by a short straight rush down to a lake.

Here the road turns sharp left round the edge of the lake and from here to the start the road runs along the bottom of a valley and is flat, but by no means straight. From the lake to the starting area there is a series of fast and slow corners, running through woods with a high bank on the right. This is the most difficult part of the course, for so many of the corners look alike and all are rather similar as regards surroundings, making them difficult to identify, and for 31/2 kilo­metres after leaving the lake, on this home stretch, there is no straight and the car has to be whipped from one lock to the other. The last of this long series of swerves is a left-hander which brings you out of the woods and onto the short pits straight.

The circuit measures 11.417 kilometres to the lap (approximately seven miles) and contains just about every situation one could wish for in a racing circuit, and the whole thing is on normal public roads, closed for the occasion of racing, and sports cars lapped it at 150 kph (approximately 93 mph).’

Innes Ireland clipping the grass for the Solitude organisers during his victorious run during the 1961 GP- his works Lotus 21 Climax won from Jo Bonnier’s Porsche 718 and Dan Gurney’s similar car. Here he leads Jack Brabham Cooper T53 Climax not long after the start. The fast, open, wooded terrain of the circuit shown in this marvellous shot (Sutton)

Bibliography…

Solitude GP race report by Denis Jenkinson in MotorSport August 1960, Autosport, oldracingcars.com, Australian Motorcycling News article by Don Cox, ‘Motorcycle GP Racing in The 1960’s’ Chris Pereira, F2 Index

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, LAT, Sutton, Bernard Cahier, Australian Motorcycle news

Tailpiece: Likely Lads- Ireland, Clark, Surtees and Chapman, what an array of talent! Team Lotus, Oporto, Portugal 1960…

Finito…

 

 

John Surtees poses with his Ferrari 312, the Scuderia’s 3 litre V12 new season and new formula contender, March 1966…

‘Big John’ is probably feeling fairly confident at this point, Ferrari seemed to be as well prepared as they had been for the last formula change from 2.5 to 1.5 litres in 1961. They took the title convincingly of course, Phil Hill won it in the Carlo Chiti designed ‘Sharknose’ 156 V6.

Coventry Climax had withdrawn as an engine provider at the end of 1965, other than some transitional support of Team Lotus with a couple of 2 litre FWMV V8’s to tide them over. Generally, 1966 was a year of transition and therefore of opportunity for those who started the season with a fast, reliable package, the Ferrari seemed just that.

Click on this link for my article on the 1966 Grand Prix season;

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

surtees 2

‘Down Under’ Jack Brabham installed the first Oldsmobile F85 blocked Repco Brabham ‘RB620’ V8 into a year old Brabham chassis, BT19, built for the stillborn Coventry Climax Flat-16 engine and contested the Non-Championship South African GP at Kyalami in it on 1 January.

Repco then popped a 2.5 Tasman Formula RB620 V8 into BT19 for a couple of Tasman rounds, at Sandown Park and Longford, each time learning a little more about the engine and making it reliable.

Ferrari’s own 3 litre V12 was a trusty old warhorse which had served them well. It was a reliable Le Mans winning unit and more powerful than the Repco V8 but the car was heavy. Brabham’s BT19 was a light spaceframe and his 300 horses were stallions not geldings.

surtees 3

The first GP of the new F1, the 1966 XV Gran Premio di Siracusa was on 1 April, Surtees won it in a 312 from teammate Bandini’s Ferrari Dino 246. The only other ‘new’ F1’s were the Cooper T81 Maserati’s of Jo Siffert and Guy Ligier both of which failed to finish. So too did Brabham’s BT19 with a Repco failure.

On 14 May the teams met at Silverstone for the XVIII BRDC International Trophy which Brabham won from Surtees and Bonnier’s Cooper T81 Maser.

Game on!

Off to Monaco for the first Championship round on 22 May, Jackie Stewart’s BRM P261 took the race from Hill’s P261 both cars with 2 litre versions of the old P56 V8 1.5 litre F1 engine, and Bandini’s Dino. Surtees and Brabham were out on laps 16 and 17 respectively with transmission dramas.

Bandini’s use of the Dino which as the teams #1 Surtees should have been allowed to race, in Johns assessment the better of the two cars for the unique demands of Monaco, was one of many dramas within the team which famously resulted in the headstrong Brit telling Ferrari to ‘shove it’ costing both a title which they may well have taken.

surtess 4

Surtees joined Cooper for the balance of ’66 and made the cars sing but Jack was away and running taking the title he and Repco deserved but which perhaps should have been Maranello’s not Melbourne’s…

Click here for an interesting article on Surtees;

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

Ferrari 312 Specifications…

312 engine

The heart of any Ferrari is its engine of course, and what a glorious thing the Tipo 218 unit was.

Cast in aluminium alloy with cast iron wet cylinder liners, the 60 degree V12 had dual chain driven overhead camshafts per bank operating 2 valves per cylinder. The compression ratio was 11.8:1, heads incorporated 2 plugs per cylinder which were fired, old school, by a battery of 4 coils. The engine was dry sumped, the cylinders fed by Lucas indirect fuel injection. Claimed output was circa 360bhp at 10,000rpm, the reality probably a little less than that.

312 rear

The engine wasn’t really the cars weakness, it was probably more so the Tipo 589 chassis’s overall weight. Ferrari really didn’t get the hang of building a modern monocoque in the British idiom until they contracted John Thompson to build them one circa 1973!

Before then their tubs were sheet aluminium panels in a double wall riveted to a tubular steel structure. It was effective but heavy. The Ferrari’s suspension, as you can see is period typical; inboard at the front with a top rocker and lower wishbone and outboard at the rear with a single top link, inverted lower wishbone with forward facing radius rods for location. Uprights were cast magnesium with coil spring/shock units. Girling provided the disc brakes, which were inboard at the rear.

The Tipo 589 5 speed transaxle was sportscar derived, beefy and heavier than the DG300 Hewland box which became ‘de rigour’ in the Pommy cars of the era.

312 engine side

Shot above shows the beautiful standard of Ferrari fabrication and finish. Note the chassis, Lucas injection, twin-plug heads, alternator driven by the cams and wonderful exhausts which are fine examples of the pipe-benders art.

Credits: Popperfoto, GP Library, Reg Lancaster

Tailpiece: Why is that Simple Little Thing So Fast?…

image

Enzo Ferrari ponders the 1966 consistent speed of Jack’s BT19 Repco at Monza on September 3 1966, the ‘Wonder From Down-Under’ beating the might of the Europeans…

What is he thinking I wonder? ‘why is it so fast, its last years spaceframe chassis, engine from someone i’ve never heard of in Australia and the block is an American Oldsmobile…’

In fact the following day was a good one for the Scuderia, Ludovico Scarfiotti’s 312 V12 took the win from Mike Parkes similar car with Denny Hulme’s Brabham BT20 Repco third.

 

 

John Surtees struggles to restart his stalled Lola T70 Mk3 Aston Martin at the commencement of the Nurburgring 1000 Km, 28 May 1967…

Alongside him , slightly obscured, poleman Phil Hill in the sensational Chaparral 2F Chev is also slow away, meanwhile a gaggle of Porsche 910’s sprint away, likely culprits the works cars of Rolf Stommelen, Gerhard Mitter and Jo Siffert.

A happy confluence of events was the construction of Aston Martin’s new V8 engine and racer/entrant Jackie Epstein’s approach to Eric Broadley to build a coupe variant of the 1966 Can Am Championship winning Lola T70 Spyder Group 7 machine. John Surtees of course won the very first Can Am series in a T70 Mk2 Chev. Eric Broadley and Surtees formed Lola Racing Ltd as a works development and racing arm, Surtees honed the T70, he outlined his philosophy in developing the car in a MotorSport interview in August 2003.

‘With a long distance car you can’t have something that rides on a knife edge like a top F1 car…You are trying to get consistency, you don’t want an unpredictable and volatile character. By the time the T70’s got some running in them they were very driveable, very predictable cars which you could drive up to the limit and perhaps a little bit over. This gave the driver confidence’.

Surtees in ‘SL73/101’ at the Nurburgring upon the Lola Astons race debut. The sensational body of the Mark 3 was designed by New Zealander Jim Clark for Specialised Mouldings to make. It was the first racing car to use carbon-fibre reinforced bodywork. Tony Southgate, then at Lola, spent many hours in the Imperial College wind tunnel to give both low drag and some downforce front and rear. The cars side windows were made of Perspex and had small diagonal flaps which could be set open to aid cockpit ventilation, as here (Schlegelmilch)

Surely one of the swoopiest, voluptuous and sexiest racers ever- the Lola T70 Mk3 Coupe ‘SL73/101’ was the first Lola Aston built and was shown to rapturous crowd approval at the annual Racing Car Show at London’s Olympia in January 1967. Tadek Marek’s new Aston Martin ‘DP218’ V8 engine also made its first public appearance at the show on the Surtees Racing stand, the announcement of the relationship between the concerns- Lola, Astons and Surtees was made at the show.

On the face of it the association had every chance of success.

The combination of one of sportscar racings best chassis, a lightweight, powerful engine which promised to provide the Lola with better balance than the Chev engined T70’s and John Surtees track testing ability and sheer speed promised much. Aston Martin chief David Brown was of the view that ‘racing improves the breed’ whilst his chief engineer Tadek Marek was not especially enamoured of the a high risk strategy. After all, his new engine was designed as a road car motor not a race engine.

Undaunted David Brown proceeded and Aston Martin Lagonda supplied special versions of Marek’s design with a capacity of 5008.5cc- bore/stroke of 98x83mm. The all aluminium, duplex chain driven quad cam, 2 valve, dry-sumped, Lucas fuel injected V8 was quoted by Astons as producing 450bhp @ 6750rpm and 413 lb/ft of torque at Le Mans 1967.

‘SL73/101’ in the Nurburgring paddock. Note the shape of the aluminium monocoque chassis, high pressure fuel pumps, note that the engine is now Lucas injected compared with the Webers used at the Le Mans test weekend. DOHC, but 2 valve and chain driven cams. The two suspension radius rods are clear as is the top of the coil spring and roll bar. Ditto the ‘luggage box’ (Schlegelmilch)

‘DP218 was first tested in a T70 Spyder in Autumn 1966. At that first development stage, using a compression ratio of 11:1 and fitted with four Weber 48IDA carburettors the engine was quoted as giving 421bhp @ 6500rpm and 386 lb/ft of torque. Testing showed there were many problems with the engine most notably the motor popped a rod through the side of its aluminium block due to oil starvation. Eventually a much developed engine, one of a batch of ten that had been delivered, with attention to the dry sump system, was installed in March 1967 into the new Coupe for Team Surtees to run. The most obvious problems in testing were a bad vibration and an inability to rev beyond 6100 rpm.

Surtees aboard ‘SL73/101’ at the Le Mans test weekend in 1967 running ahead of the Claude Dubois Shelby Mustang GT350

The big, booming car was the third fastest machine present in the dry and fastest in the wet at the Le Mans test days on April 8 and 9…

The car was fast through the corners but was unable to top 186mph as a consequence of not being able to pull more than 6000rpm on the Mulsanne. Aston’s were convinced that Lucas fuel injection, which was shortly to be installed would cure the problem. The quickest cars were the works Ferrari P4’s of Bandini, Amon, Scarfiotti and Parkes with Bandini at the end of the day the quickest. The two Fords driven by McLaren and Donohue ‘rumbled ominously but did not press the button’. Mind you the Mark 4 was timed at 205mph and Ferrari 198 on the Mulsanne.

T70 ‘SL73/101’ exposed at the Le Mans test weekend. Note the Weber 48IDA carbs and wild exhaust system- two variants were tried that weekend. Gearbox is Hewland LG600 5 speed. Surtees with helmet to right (LAT)

The MotorSport report of the test weekend wryly observes ‘…the two giants (Ford and Ferrari) kept an eye on Lola, Ford knowing that their whole racing effort was born of the brain of Eric Broadley and Ferrari knowing that Surtees can never be underrated’… ‘Although on paper Ferrari left Le Mans as top dog, no one was being fooled by the freak circumstances, for had it been dry on Sunday it might have been a different story and both teams were very impressed with the Lola Aston Martin efforts, remembering their own experiences when running a brand new design for the first time. It seems that Ford did not want to run in the rain for fear of a repetition of the accident to Hansgen last year…’

So, in short, Lola Astons peers were impressed by the car and the threat it potentially represented.

Great front end shot of ‘SL73/101’ at the Nurburgring- the aluminium monocoque chassis, upper and lower wishbone front suspension, magnesium upright and 12 inch ventilated disc brakes. The brakes were a mix of Kelsey Hayes rotors, Girling calipers with some Lola bits too. Steering rack was from the BMC Austin 1800 and wheel widths 8 inches at the front with 10 inchers at the rear. Beautiful Lola knock on mag-alloy wheels  (Schlegelmilch)

Lola Astons first race appearance was at the Nurburgring 1000 Km on May 28…

It was planned to race the car at Spa but it was not ready in time so the beautiful beast made its race debut at the daunting Nurburgring. Lucas fuel injection was amongst the latest refinements to DP218.

On the face of it the car was far from the most nimble present, nor was the Phil Hill/Mike Spence Chaparral 2F Chev on pole, but Surtees popped ‘101’ second on the grid, he shared the drive with David Hobbs. Porsche 910’s were the next quickest group of cars.

Surtees stalled the unfamiliar car at the start but was soon up to 7th place by lap seven when a rear wishbone broke going down through the Fuchsrohre. Surtees managed to stop the car without damage to either the machinery or the driver, but that was the end of the meeting- and of useful testing miles. Udo Schutz and Joe Buzzetta won the race in a 910.

Great contrasting shot of the ‘standard’ T70 rear bodywork at left and ‘more streamlined’ aluminium body at right. #12 Irwin/de Klerk ‘SL73/101 and #11 Surtees/Hobbs ‘SL73/121’. Note mandatory ‘spare’ mounted atop the ‘box. The T70 standard rear bodywork was aerodynamically groundbreaking at the time by rejecting the usual fastback and ‘Ferrari ridge spoiler for a flat rear deck with a slot down the middle to provide visibility for the pilot and largely undisturbed air for the engines injection trumpets. Porsche/John Wyer famously adopted a similar configuration in evolving the 917 from its original far from satisfactory ’69 rear body to its race-winning 1970/71 configuration (Friedman)

At Le Mans the team had both ‘101’ and a new chassis ‘SL73/121’ which was fitted with a longer tail made of aluminium, the standard cars body was in fibreglass made by Specialised Mouldings. The new car was to be driven by Surtees/Hobbs, the other by Chris Irwin and Peter de Klerk.

Both cars had problems in practice caused by overheating, with the Lola mechanics looking after chassis setup claiming the engines ignition timing to be 180 degrees out. Some sources have it that the overheating was caused by the different aerodynamics of the longer tail which enclosed the engine. In addition, against Aston’s advice, Surtees negotiated a sponsorship agreement to use Marchal spark-plugs. The stage was set for the disastrous events which followed.

Before the off, Le Mans ’67. Surtees/Hobbs car in shot with the sister car behind- well down the grid after dramas in practice. Another angle on the unique for Le Mans rear body of chassis ‘SL73/121’ (Friedman)

Poor Surtees started the classic from grid 13 and then only covered 3 laps when ‘121’ was outed by a burned piston. ‘101’, the car started by Chris Irwin was back on grid 25. The drivers struggled with the car for 2.5 hours during which time the mechanics replaced a broken camshaft driveshaft, the engine lost oil pressure, overheated and finally broke a crankshaft damper.

The race was won by the Shelby American entered Ford GT Mk4 driven by the all-American crew of Dan Gurney and AJ Foyt.

Post race the Lola Astons were were returned to Slough, the ‘DP218’ engines removed and both cars re-engined with Chevrolet pushrod V8’s, the Aston experiment was over. It was clear the short term prospects of getting the engine race worthy were slim.

When the race engines were returned to AML and stripped it was found that the blocks had twisted and cracks were found in the main bearing housing. The engine went through a major redesign to strengthen the motors bottom end which prevented the launch of the Aston Martin DBS V8 road car until 1969, initially 6 cylinder variants were sold.

Early laps with Surtees T70 ahead of one of the John Wyer Mirage M1 Fords. Lola a handsome beast (Friedman)

Surtees had this to say about the Lola Aston Martin program…

‘The Aston V8 could have achieved so much but was a total disaster. We didn’t expect to compete on out and out speed- we were hoping to a degree that weather would play a hand. If it rained a bit as it did at the Nuburgring and the Le Mans practice we were very competitive. Before Le Mans we did a long test at Goodwood, ten or twelve hours, but in the race we only lasted a few laps because Aston Martin had changed the design of the head gaskets! As soon as we got the cars back from Le Mans we took the Aston engines out and that was the end of that’.

In addition Surtees felt the T70 Mk3 chassis was inferior to his Can Am T70 Mk2 ‘I didn’t like the Mk3. The front suspension was altered and i hadn’t done any development or testing on the changes. I didn’t like the effect on the character of the car, it lacked the positiveness of the original and didn’t suit my style of driving. I didn’t mind a car being a little loose at times, but i couldn’t stand something which you couldn’t point where you wanted. Some people tried to compensate by playing with the aerodynamics, but i just stopped using the Mk3. Luckily the previous years car was still in America so we dragged that out of retirement’.

In the same MotorSport article Surtees notes the contribution of Firestone tyres to the package. He did most of the Firestone testing in the UK, with a lot of work done on springs and dampers, and working closely with Koni to keep pace with tyre development, a spin-off of the Firestone/Goodyear war of the time. ‘That brought its problems too, because as you improve the tyres you put greater stress through everything, but the car retained its user-friendly character’.

There are some contradictions in the quotes above, Surtees was a tough character, after all, despite the Lola’s shortcomings he was off the front of the grid at the Nurburgring so the chassis cannot have been too bad!

In the end the Lola Aston Martin program was one of unfulfilled promise, but David Brown was right- racing did indeed improve the breed. The rigours of competition identified design shortfalls in the original DP218 engine which were not apparent during road testing. As a consequence the modified production V8 proved to be a strong, reliable unit- and the basis of a good race engine in the decades to follow!

From Surtees perspective he had bigger fish to fry. He was juggling multiple race programs on both sides of the Atlantic with the Lola/Honda F1 exercise, Lola T100 Ford FVA F2 car and in the Can Am where Lola’s dominance was being overtaken by the ‘papaya menace’- Bruce McLaren’s M6 McLaren Chevs. John’s endurance T70 program was best advanced by bolting Chevy’s into the back of the cars in place of the Aston engines. Only a week after Le Mans Surtees ran at the front of the pack so engined at the Reims 12 Hour…before popping his Chevy engine. Unfortunately the Chevs rarely provided the reliability the T70 needed for endurance success in the blue riband events. But what a car all the same!…

Another engine shot similar to one above. Nutty, mandated spare wheel/Firestone clear. Aston all-ally engine very compact and light compared with the cast iron pushrod Chevys which usually inhabited this space. Nurburgring 1000 km’s 1967

1967 Endurance Season…

I wrote an article a while back about the Ferrari P4 which also profiled the main protagonists of sportscar racing in ’67- Ford Mk4, Ferrari P4 and Chaparral 2F Chev which may be of interest. The article also has photos of the Lola Astons at Le Mans.

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

See also this article on Le Mans 1967.

https://primotipo.com/2015/09/24/le-mans-1967/

Bibliography…

‘Aston Martin: A Racing History’ Anthony Pritchard, ‘Lola, The Illustrated History 1957 to 1977’ John Starkey, MotorSport May 1967 and August 2003, Team Dan

Photo Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, Dave Friedman Archive, Autosport, MotorSport, LAT

Etcetera…

Tailpiece: The Lola Aston Martin relationship was rekindled a while later, here the Lola B08/60 Aston Martin 6 litre V12 in 2009…

 

 

 

(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.

fferrari pit 1966 monaco

(Jesse Alexander Archive)

John Surtees ‘P3’ at this point but his Ferrari gearbox failed in the race won by Stewart’s BRM P261…

surtees and stewart monaco 1966

(David Phipps)

Surtees in his big Ferrari 312, a new F1 car built to the 3 litre formula introduced that year leads Jackie Stewart in his light, nimble BRM P261, a 1.5 litre F1 car bored to around 2.1 litres and shortly to be victorious over ‘Big Johns’ heavy and not so powerful Ferrari.

It may have been different if he had driven the light, nimble Ferrari Dino 246 allocated to teammate Bandini, but that was not to be and so the pressures mounted which lead to Surtees departure from the Scuderia shortly thereafter. And with it any chance Ferrari had of winning the title that year. Brabhams year of course.

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

Photo Credits…

Jesse Alexander Archive, David Phipps, GP Library

Tailpiece…

stewy

Nice Stewart BRM P261 cockpit shot en-route to victory (GP Library)

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John Surtees races his North American Racing Team Ferrari 158 to second place at Watkins Glen on October 4, keeping alive his ultimately successful 1964 title chances…

Enzo Ferrari was in a spat with the Italian governing body at the time over its refusal, Ferrari having failed to build the minimum number of cars, to homologate the sports/racer Ferrari 250LM as a Sportscar. The result of which forced entrants to race it as a Prototype, a category in which it was not competitive and not designed for; putting aside the lucky, outright 250LM Le Mans win for Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt in 1965!

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Test session for the Ferrari 158’s, one of which is in NART colors, on 15 September 1964. John Surtees in drivers overalls, Technical Director Mauro Forghieri to his left, mechanic Giulio Borsari in the white cap. Modena Autodrome (GP Photo)

Not that the Italian autocrat was going to let principle, as he saw it, get in the way of practicality. There were Grand Prix World Championships to win so rather than race in traditional racing red he ‘relinquished his entrants licence’, the cars, works cars in every way, shape and form being entered by Ferrari’s concessionaire in the US, Luigi Chinetti’s N.A.R.T at both the final two 1964 championship rounds at Watkins Glen, New York State and in Mexico City.

Surtees 2nd placings in both races gave him the Drivers title and Ferrari the Manufacturers from Graham Hill’s BRM P261 by 9 points.

‘Honour’ and title won the Ferrari’s raced on in Italian Racing Red and the 250LM as a prototype, much to its private entrants chagrin…

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Surtees ready for the off, Modena 15 September 1964 (GP Photo)

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Photo Credits…

For all shots ‘Grand Prix Photo’

Tailpiece: Camper’s delight as Surtees Fazz speeds past, Watkins Glen ’64…

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(unattributed)

 

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Barry Sheene laps Brands Hatch in a 1976/7 Surtees TS19 Ford in his first F1 drive on 25 April 1978…

It would have been interesting if Bazz gave cars a ‘red-hot’ go from about then, born in 1950 he was 28 and had already won the 1973 Formula 750 and 1976/7 500cc World Titles for Suzuki.

Not too many motor-cyclists have made the transition from bikes to cars successfully at elite level. Three spring to mind; John Surtees, Mike Hailwood and less obviously Johnny Cecotto. His speed and race wins on bikes flowed into F2 drives, badly broken legs in his Toleman Hart during 1984 British GP practice, he had already banged himself about on bikes, ended an F1 career of great promise.

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Buckle up. At the time the Surtees TS19’s were being raced in the British F1 Series, so were ‘still current’

Sheene still had unfinished business on bikes though; always a threat when on a decent machine, he raced on in 500’s, his battles against Kenny Roberts the stuff of legend, his last win the 1981 Swedish GP.

An accident at Silverstone during 1982 British GP practice was one too many. He hit a fallen competitors obscured bike at around 160mph, slid for 150 metres, breaking both legs again, and an arm. Undimished, Sheene had enormous courage and resilience, he raced on into 1983 on a semi-works Suzuki even finishing 8th in the British GP 12 months after the awful accident. Unsurprisingly, his ultimate edge was dulled, he retired from bikes in 1984.

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Place, date and bike unknown (unattributed)

Barry did race touring Cars and trucks prior to emigrating from the UK to Oz in the late 1980’s, he left his beloved Britain in search of sun to help ease arthritis partially caused by his many race prangs down the years.

An immensely likable character, he was soon as popular here as in Europe mixing property development, motorsport TV coverage and commentary with product endorsements. He and Oz Touring Car Legend Dick Johnson did a series of TV ads for Shell for years which both polished its brand and were iconic in terms of their laconic humor. Sadly lost to cancer at the all-too-young age of 53 in 2003.

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Isle of Man 1971, Barry Sheene at Quarter Bridge after crashing out of the race in apalling conditions whilst 2nd in the 125cc race on his Suzuki. His only IOM TT race. 21, how young does he look!? (Bob Thomas)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘you missed the apex by that much!’ Sheene, George Harrison and John Surtees, Brands during the test

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Barry, George and those Linea Sport overalls so period!

Credits…

Roger Lings, Bob Thomas, Patrick Litchfield, Keystone France

Tailpiece: You can be certain the one thing, ‘the two amigos’ aren’t talking about is Texaco…

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22 May 1978 (Litchfield)