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Archive for the category “Days Past”

To Pau, for the first 1-litre F2 race…

Jim Clark’s 1964 season engendered a wide variety of nice – and sometimes not-so-nice – racing cars. The F2 Lotus 32 fell firmly in the former category. Jim’s first race with it was in the opening round of the French F2 series – itself the first race for the new F2 – around the familiar streets of Pau. Enter Ron Harris Team Lotus:  in this video we’ve tried to uncover a little more about the former motor-cyclist-cum-film distributor-cum Team Lotus entrant. We also chat with with the very rapid John Fenning, himself a Ron Harris Team Lotus driver, and for the bulk of 1964 a front-running F3 star.

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Jim and the Ron Harris Lotus 32-Cosworth were the class of the Pau, 1964, weekend

Goodwood Easter Monday: Jim Clark, P1

From Sebring back to the UK via a quick test day at Indianapolis: for Jim Clark, the 1964 season was now gathering pace. Next on the agenda was the March 30 non-championship F1 race at Goodwood, that gorgeous circuit on the Sussex downs on which he first tested the Aston Martin F1 car late in 1959. Jim had subsequently won prodigiously there in Formula Junior, and had had a lot of fun too with John Ogier’s Aston Martin Zagato – not to mention the Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro (crashed heavily by his team-mate, Maston Gregory in 1959) and the Border Reivers Lister and Aston DBR1 – but this was his first chance to race an F1 car at Goodwood. It was also his first race at Goodwood since 1962, although he had tested there in 1963.  As at Snetterton, he would drive the modified Lotus 25 on 13in wheels and “donut” Dunlops. Also on Jim’s race card on that Easter Monday: his third British race with the Ford Lotus Cortina.

Images: LAT Photographic and Peter Windsor Collection

 

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In front of a packed 1964 Easter Monday crowd Jim Clark drifts to victory in the 42-lap “News of the World” Trophy race for F1 cars at the wheel of Lotus 25B/R6. Note the wider Dunlops now mounted on 13in wheels (relative to the 15in wheels and narrower tyres used in 1963). Jim inherited his win from Graham Hill, who retired his new BRM with two laps to run, but even so was obliged to race for half the distance without a clutch

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In the early stages of the 10-lap St Mary’s Trophy race Jim chases Jack Sears’ Willment Galaxy and leads team-mate Peter Arundell plus the two Willment Lotus Cortina drivers (Bob Olthoff and Frank Gardner)

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Sally Stokes (Swart) in the Goodwood pits with that Heuer stopwatch Jim gave her after the Geneva Show. It was cold on Easter Monday, 1964

Jim Clark’s 1964 season – from Snett to Sebring

And so it begins…

Last year we looked at Jim’s classic 1963 season;  now, in video form, and with additional photographs on these pages, we continue our race-by-race reports of Jim’s racing career and racing life as it happened 50 years ago.  After a whirlwind winter of business activities, farming and award ceremonies, Jim’s season busts into life…amidst the rain and mud of a cold, wet Snetterton.  It’s the Daily Mirror Trophy race for F1 cars (non-championship) and the entry includes a new monocoque BRM for Graham Hill, Jack Brabham (Brabham BT7), Bruce McLaren (Cooper 66), Innes Ireland (BRP), Phil Hill (in the venerable Centro Sud BRM BRM) and Jim’s new team-mate at Team Lotus, Peter Arundell. Read more…

Timmy Mayer (and McLaren)…50 years on

64527He was an American in Europe, a racer to his fingertips. The previous fall he out-qualified Graham Hill at Laguna Seca. Both were in Lotus 23 sports cars; both were on the limit. In Europe, etching his name in Formula Junior and even in factory Minis, he was always there. He and Peter Revson. Two “East Coast crumple” American stars-in-the-making. It was his brother, Teddy, who first suggested it to Bruce McLaren.  Why not run Timmy Mayer in a second Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd Cooper-Climax in the inaugural (1964) Tasman Series, in New Zealand and then in Australia (January-February)? The Mayers would help with the finance and Timmy would bring with him his mechanic from the American sports car races – Tyler Alexander.

Bruce liked the Mayers and he liked Tyler.  The deal was quickly done.

And Timmy was quickly on the pace in NZ that January, 1964 – right up there with Bruce, his mentor, Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme and the brilliant Australian local, Frank Matich. He led for a while at the opening Tasman round, at Levin. He almost dead-heated with Bruce for the win at Teretonga. And then on February 22, at Lakeside, Queensland, three days before his 26th birthday, Timmy qualified his Cooper on the front row. On Sunday he led the race easily once Matich had retired – and before he, too, was obliged to stop trackside with a blown engine.

I saw Timmy race at Warwick Farm, in mid-February, 1964. Tip-toed behind the spectator fence, neck craning, I was struck by Timmy’s almost-straight arms and by his light blue Dunlop overalls flapping in the slipstream. His helmet was white, with two vertical stripes and a white peak. He sat quite high in the cramped F2 Cooper cockpit. He qualified just behind Bruce, despite being a rookie at the Farm, and I clearly remember Timmy biffing the back of Bruce’s Cooper right in front of us on the opening lap at Creek Corner.  Team leader nudged by his Number Two!  Both raced on, though, and finished second and third, albeit with the second Cooper’s nose section all askew. I watched them all afternoon. Timmy always fast, always aggressive, punching the throttle out of Creek, applying the opposite lock with crisp precision. Bruce, by comparison, was only slightly more fluid.

Timmy, clearly, was fast.64533

I heard the news on a warm Friday afternoon in Sydney, crackling its way from my black transistor radio.  “….Practice at Longford today was marred by the accident involving the young American, Timmy Mayer.  He lost control of his Cooper when it became airborne at high speed and crashed into trees.  Mayer succumbed to his injuries…”

“Dad,” I said.  “What does ‘succumbed’ mean?”

Years later, in the company of Geoff Harris, I visited the site of Timmy’s accident.  It was a gorgeous Tasmanian day.  A light breeze teased the long grass by Timmy’s trees.  Down at the pub, on the corner, the beer was cold and the flies lazy.  I walked up towards the hump in the road that had triggered the Cooper’s flight.

It was benign.  This couldn’t be the place.

And yet it was.  It was the afternoon practice session and Timmy was eager for another front-row start. I pictured him chatting by the car in the grassy paddock, Ford Falcon pick-up trucks nearby, eating a sandwich in polo shirt, sunglasses and shorts.  He would have been helping Tyler wherever possible and Bruce would have been around every ten minutes or so, asking if everything was on schedule. Pat McLaren and Garrill Mayer, just 23, would have been wearing headscarves and RayBans, laughing with Bette Hill and Betty Brabham.  Then Timmy would have pulled on his Dunlops and helmet, climbed into the Cooper T62, fitted his goggles and set off for another run. Trees, telegraph poles and sharp gutters would have flashed past. The Cooper would have been touching 160 mph on the long straights. It would have flicked from side to side over the bumpy bridges. No seat belts and no monocoque chassis. Just a tube frame, a big fuel tank and a vibrating 2.5 litre Climax engine for company.

Down the pit straight.  Through the Viaduct.  Out over King’s bridge. The Union Street straight leads then down to Pub Corner, a 90deg right. The trees are plentiful now, either side of the track. Top gear.  Can he fly the hump without braking…..?

We’ll never know what really happened. Was it a gust of wind? Did he land less-than-square? Did he brake upon landing, at just the wrong moment? It was over in an instant, in the blink of an eye. The Cooper slewed sideways into a 15ft plane tree (recalls Barry Green in his excellent book, Longford: Fast Track Back). The car split into two; Timmy was thrown 50 yds to the other side of the road, instantly breaking his neck.Fifty years ago.  A shining light, suddenly extinguished. And yet Timmy would live on – through Teddy, who became a major player in the history of McLaren; and through Tyler, who was, and is, a similar force. Thus we’ll never forget Timmy Mayer – never forget what he would have been – nor the legacy he left to Bruce and, thus, to motor racing.

Heartbroken at the time, but racing on at Longford 50 years ago, because that was what you did, Bruce in his Autosport column, with Eoin Young’s support, wrote about Timmy with timeless poise and eloquence:

“Intelligent and charming, Timmy had made dozens of friends during his career.  As often occurs, to look at him you wouldn’t take him for a racing driver.  You had to know him, to realize his desire to compete, to do things better than the next man, be it swimming, water-skiing or racing.

“So when, during second practice at Longford, he crashed at high speed and we knew immediately that it was bad, in our hearts we felt that he had been enjoying himself and ‘having a go’.

“The news that he died instantly was a terrible shock to all of us.  But who is to say that he had not seen more, done more and learned more in his 26 years than many people do in a lifetime?

“It is tragic, particularly for those left.  Plans half-made must now be forgotten and the hopes must be rekindled.  Without men like Tim, plans and hopes mean nothing.

“To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy.  I can’t say these things well, but I know this is what I feel to be true.  It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one’s ability.  Life is measured in terms of achievement, not in years alone.”

Bruce clinched the Tasman Championship, the first title for Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, at Longford, March 3, 1964.  He missed the two preliminary races because of Timmy’s accident but in the feature he drove brilliantly from the back of the grid to finish second behind Graham Hill’s Scuderia Veloce Brabham.  It was enough to give him the title by six points from Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme.

Timothy Andrew Mayer: February 22, 1938-February 28, 1964

Images:  www.autopics.com

 

 

 

 

 

The day he changed the world

IV_MDM_0914140114-PaddyPaddy Hopkirk’s win in the Monte-Carlo Rally 50 years ago was more than just another stat for the history books.  It was a ground-breaker, a medium for cultural change. For one thing, the Monte back then was really big – the biggest rally of the year and one of the most widely-covered international sporting events of western Europe’s new year. For another, he won in a Mini – in a Morris Cooper S, to be precise – and minis, at the point, were the thing, whether you were talking Mary Quant or Sir Alec Issigonis. The talk, before the Monte, was of the big Ford Falcon Sprints prepared by Holman and Moody in Charlotte, North Carolina (two of which were to be driven by Graham Hill and Bo Ljungfeldt) – and of the other rally-tuned classics:  the Ford (Dagenham) Cortina GTs of Vic Elford and Henry Taylor and of course Eric Carlsson’s Saab. It was Paddy, though, who on on handicap. He didn’t know he was close until he got to Monte-Carlo, where Bernard Cahier gave him the nod.  Then it was a matter of completing that final stage without incident. He did, complete with white shirt and tie – and thus he changed the world.  He received telegrams from the Prime Minister and from the Beatles.  His name would live on for longer than anyone could imagine.

I spoke to Paddy recently about that Monte win and what it meant to him – then and now.

Bruce’s first for McLaren

Fifty years ago – on Saturday, January 11, 1964 – Bruce McLaren not only won his home Grand Prix at Pukekohe, near Auckland, New Zealand, but also opened the single-seater account for his brand new team – Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd.  Driving his creatively-engineered lightweight Cooper-Climax, Bruce recovered tenaciously from a slowish start, passed Jack Brabham to take the lead and then parlayed a late-race shower into the victory margin he needed.  To commemorate this historic win, I’ve voiced-over a hithertoo silent piece of footage from the race:

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