Posts Tagged ‘Pedro Rodriguez’

(Mr Reithmaier)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography…

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

Photo Credits…

Mr Riethmaier, oldracephotos.com, Rod MacKenzie

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

(Rod MacKenzie)

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racing the P154: George Eaton 1970…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography…

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

Credits…

The Enthusiast Network, Southgate biography as above, Getty Images

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

Build Numbers…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tailpiece: Racers Racer…

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1970 BRM P154 Can Am Season…

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

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

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

Donnybrooke; Pedro Q7 P9 George Q5, DNF rocker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits…

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

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

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

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(GP Library)

The little girl seems lost amongst the flurry of pre-race preparation in JW Automotive’s workshop near Le Mans 0n 29 September 1968…

It was not to be a happy race for the pictured car #11, chassis ‘1076’ driven by Aussie Touring Car and Sportscar star Brian Muir and Jackie Oliver. Brian tipped the car into the ‘kitty litter’ on lap 1, and managed to dig himself out but in the process fried the cars clutch, causing its retirement after completing 15 laps.

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Teddy Pilette watches Muir digging his Ford out of the sand, the VDS entered Alfa T33/2 failed to finish with driveshaft failure on lap 104 (unattributed)

JW Automotive entered three GT40’s; ‘1074’ for Paul Hawkins and David Hobbs, ‘1075’ for Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi and the aforementioned ill-fated ‘1076’…

It was to be a great race for the team despite the poor start, Rodriguez/Bianchi won the classic by 5 laps from the Porsche 907 of Rico Steinemann and Dieter Spoerry. The Hawkins/Hobbs car retired on lap 107 with engine failure.

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JW 1968 Le Mans lineup; #9 the winning ‘1075’ of Rodriguez/Bianchi, #10 Hawkins/Hobbs and #11 Muir/Ickx (unattributed)

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Brian Muir gets away closest to the pits in GT40 #11 determined to make up lost ground…#14 Masten Gregory/Charlie Kolb Ferrari 250LM DNF , this NART entered chassis the car in which Masten won in 1965 co-driving with Jochen Rindt, #30 Andre de Cortanze/Jean Vinatier Alpine A220 Renault 8th, #3 Henry Greder/Umberto Maglioli Chev Corvette DNF and #60 Willy Meier/Jean de Mortemart Porsche 911T DNF (Schlegelmilch)

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All the fun of the fair, Le Mans 1968 (Getty)

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(Getty)

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Plenty of pommes frites (Getty)

Lucien Bianchi (below) in the victorious Ford GT40 ‘1075’ this chassis became one of the greats of the event winning it again in 1969 driven by Jackie Ickx and Jaclie Oliver who had rather better luck than the year before!

In 1968 JW also won the Brands 6 Hour, Spa 1000Km  (Ickx/Oliver in ‘1075’), Monza 1000Km (Hawkins/Hobbs in ‘1074’ and Watkins Glen 6 Hour (Ickx/Bianchi in ‘1075’) in addition to Le Mans winning for Ford the Manufacturers Championship.

At the 1969 years end the wonderful Ford GT’s from a ‘factory perspective’ competed no more having won Le Mans from 1966 to 1969, fitting results from one of the all time sports/racer greats.

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Bianchi in the winning Ford GT (Schlegelmilch)

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A Porsche 907 chasing 2 Alfa T33/2’s and below Rogriguez/Bianch aboard the winning JW GT40 (Getty)

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Rodriguez, Bianchi and well earned Moet (Getty)

Etcetera…

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John Wyer (left) confers with his timekeeper during the race (Getty)

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The gendarmes start to prepare for the traditional 4 pm finish (Getty)

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Credits…

GP Library, Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: ‘More friggin’ sand than Bondi Beach, Sydneysider Brian Muir is thinkin’ to himself?…

le amns digging

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The Formula Junior field starts the Vanderbilt Cup at Roosevelt Raceway, Long Island, New York on Sunday 19 June 1960…

On April 2, 1960 the New York Region of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) announced a ‘revival’ of the Vanderbilt Cup.

The feature race was one of nine events viewed by 37000 spectators and took place at the SCCA’s new road circuit on the Roosevelt Raceway’s grounds. The track used a portion of the car park and access roads of a harness racing track. Its 11-turn, 1.5 miles included a half mile straight.

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The ‘Cornelius Vanderbilt Cup Race’ was run on Sunday, June 19, 1960. Usually the province of amateur drivers, this SCCA event was granted special status which allowed professionals to compete in what was a ‘Junior Formula’ race. As a result Indy Winners Jim Rathman and Roger Ward competed along with Carroll Shelby, the ’59 Le Mans winner and future GP drivers Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez, Jim Hall and Lorenzo Bandini.

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Jim Rathman (left) and Carroll Shelby pose for a pre-meeting publicity shot (nydailynews)

‘At the turn of the 20th century the superiority of European automotive craftsmanship cast a long shadow over America’s fledgling car industry. To encourage American automobile manufacturers to challenge European quality, 26-year old William K. Vanderbilt Jr., heir to a railroad fortune and a pioneer race car driver, organized America’s first international road race, modeled after those held in Europe. The six Vanderbilt Cup Races held on Long Island from 1904 to 1910 were the greatest sporting events of their day. These colorful, exciting and dangerous races drew huge crowds from 25,000 to over 250,000 spectators’.

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Winner Henry Carter receives his little! trophy from Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, author, newspaperman and nephew of WK Vanderbilt the founder of the VDB Cup series of races (nydailynews)

The 1960 FJ race was a 50 lapper over 75 miles and won by Henry Carter driving a Stanguellini Fiat. Of the ‘name drivers’, only Pedro Rodriguez finished in a Scorpion DKW, 2nd was Chuck Wallace in a similar car and Jerry Truitt 3rd in a Stanguellini.

If any readers know the cars/drivers let me know, whilst there is some interesting information about the race i’ve not been able to find an entry list complete with race numbers.

Click on this link to an article about the 1960 race, have a fossick around this site which has a wealth of detailed information about the ‘real’ Vanderbilt Cup races;

http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/races/story/1960_vanderbilt_cup_race

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Henry Carter’s Stanguellini Fiat takes the chequered flag from Chuck Wallace’s Scorpion DKW in 2nd (nydailynews)

Credits…

New York Daily News, vanderbiltcupraces.com

Tailpiece…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rodriguez, Monaco 1967, Coopet T81 Maserati

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

Rodriguez , Porsche 917, Brands 1000Km 1970

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

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Pedro portrait 1971 (Automobile Year 18)

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

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Porsche 908/3 1971 (Unattributed)

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

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

Photo Credits…

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

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

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

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

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Spa vista 1970. (Bruce Thomas)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Etcetera…

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

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

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

Photo Credits…

Bruce Thomas, Illustrations Werner Buhrer