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Archive for the tag “Lotus”

No time to relax…

July 11, 1965. Rouen Grand Prix (F2) Incredibly, Jim had little or no time to enjoy the Silverstone win. He was due to race the following day (Sunday) at Rouen in another F2 event, again in the Ron Harris Lotus 35-Cosworth. Jim had always been very quick at the fast, demanding, sweeping, uphill-downhill Rouen circuit but to date had never won there: he had led both the 1962 and 1964 French GPs at Rouen before having to retire. Now he was returning with a nimble F2 car against the usual, formidable, opposition. Rouen was nothing less than a complete drivers’ circuit and Jim, his Silverstone victory still ringing in his ears, was as hungry as ever.

The logistics, with the passing of time, seem incredible: Jim (together with the other F1 drivers) practised at Rouen on the Wednesday before flying that night to Silverstone. They all then returned to Rouen a few hours after the British GP to be practising again at Rouen on Sunday morning for a race that afternoon. In the midst of all that, Jim’s Cosworth engine was flown from Rouen to Northampton on Wednesday night, completely rebuilt, and sent back to France on Saturday night.

Jim qualified on the pole but it was Jochen Rindt who led into the first, fast, downhill right-hander. Jim slipped past on the ultra-quick uphill section after the famous Nouveau Monde hairpin – then it was Rindt again, slipstreaming back into the lead before the final hairpin.1965 Rouen F2

Again it was Clark versus the Winkelmann team, for Alan Rees was quickly up there too. The two Brabhams burst past the pits – then Jim drew gasps from the crowd as he darted out of the tow and dived for the inside for the flat-out right-hander. And so it went on – with Jack Brabham and Graham Hill joining the fight. The racing was spellbinding. It was slipstreaming…but on very fast, sweeping corners…

Jim’s concentration, given recent events, was astounding. Inch by inch, braking area by exit, his monotonous perfection began to give him some space. Jochen and Graham became enmeshed in a battle; Rees retired with a broken drive-shaft.

Suddenly Jim found himself on top. It was one of the best bits of driving he’d produced all year.

And yet…and yet…

In an eerie re-run of Silverstone, his Cosworth engine suddenly lost its edge with but two laps of the race to go. Graham Hill, in John Coombs’ Brabham-BRM, was catching him quickly. Colin Chapman jumped from the pit wall in disbelief. In the cockpit, Jim again nursed the engine, winding down the revs and saving it on downshifts. More than ever, he focused on massaging the dynamic weights, eliminating the lumps.1965 Rouen 2

And he did it. He crossed the line to win a relatively minor F2 race in about the time it takes to win a Grand Prix today – 1hr 48min. In this amazing of seasons, it was win No 26. Images: LAT Photographic

Thanks to my colleague, Richard Wiseman, we can see a little of the action from Rouen in this short AP Archive newsreel. There’s no sound but there are some nice shots of Jim, Graham Hill and the Winkelmann Brabhams. It’s a huge field, too, that rushes down to the first corner. Note, at the end, Jim asking Graham Hill to join him on the podium. A nice touch in the days when three-driver podia were rare. http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/view/bcffc7a67072bdb29e559f55e7e19ca4?subClipIn=00:00:00&subClipOut=00:01:56

Clark in an orbit of his own

Note: with the exception of the Month of May at Indy, all of Jim Clark’s 1965 season – from East London, South Africa through to the Belgian GP at Spa – can be read on one post (entitled “Jim Clark’s epic 1965 season”). The four weeks at Indy have all been posted separately – and we will be doing so for the remainder of this year. All can be found under the category “Jim Clark’s 1965 season”. We take up the story as Jim prepares for the French Grand Prix…

Clermont-Ferrand, June 27, 1965. French GP (Grand Prix de l’ACF) After Spa, Jim was finally able to spend a week in Scotland. The changes were dramatic. On the back of Jim’s Indy win – and of his most recent success in the F1 car – the Border regions seemed to have gone motor sport-centric. And with Roger Clark – no relation! – also winning the Scottish Rally over the same weekend as Spa, the two Clarks were in much demand. Jim allowed TV cameras on the farm; Edington Mainsentertained the famous Indy commentator, Tom Carnegie, together with his American film cameras and cameramen; added a postscript with Graham Gauld to Jim Clark at the Wheel; and welcomed Colin up in the Borders, reminding him, as he always did, to look for the “red roofs” on the farm barns when lining up the grass runway near Edington. There was also an approach from Hollywood: with John Frankheimer well advanced with pre-production for MGM’s upcoming movie, Grand Prix, starring James Garner, Jim was approached by Warner Bros and Brookdale Films about lending his name to a rival F1 film starring Steve McQueen. Day of The Champion was to shot primarily at the 1966 German GP and possibly after that at Oulton Park. Jim agreed to the proposal.

Racing-wise, there were other details to finalise. There was talk about running the Indy Lotus at Reims, ostensibly as a demonstration but also in an attempt to break the lap record there; thankfully that fell through due to a lack of starting money. Then came an idea to run the 38 at Silverstone, before the British GP. Jim quite liked this idea but again it came to nought: Ford, the new legal owners of the car, decided it would be of more use at the New York World’s Fair. Eventually Chapman signed a relatively lucrative deal to run a 38 in two Swiss hill-climbs at the end of August. Jim liked the sound of that. He’d last competed up a hill at Rest-and-be-Thankful back in 1958.

Too soon, it was back down the A1 – to London in the Lotus Cortina – first to Cheshunt, to go through the accounts with Andrew (now more complicated than ever due to the Indy win), and then to nearby Panshangar Airport to fly with Colin, Sally and Mike Spence to Clermont Ferrand. The glorious mountain circuit – home of Michelin – had never before staged the French GP. Now it was to play its role in F1 history as the “mini-Nuburgring”.

Upon arrival at the low-key Clermont airport, Jim and Colin were drawn to a crowd outside in the car park. Cameraman and newspaper journalists were in abundance, all focused on one man.

And, for once, it was not Jim Clark.

“That’s Yuri Gagarin!” said Colin, fascinated. “Come on. Let’s go and say hello…”

The Russian cosmonaut, at that stage on a USSR-sponsored world tour in honour of his 1961 orbit of the earth and other exploits, quickly appreciated the stature of Clark and Chapman. He invited them, indeed, to a reception being held that night in Clermont’s civic centre. Colin and Jim looked at one another, worked out that they could easily drive to their hotel in Charade later than night, and agreed to attend.yuri-gagarin-timeS1420011

The evening sparkled. Jim and Yuri spoke through interpreters and quickly formed a bond: Jim was as fascinated by the space programme as Yuri was by the Lotus racing cars.

Then, later, the group of four set off in their rented Peugeot for the race hotel. Colin drove, with Sally him and Mike and Jim in the back.

Suddenly, in the middle of a slow, innocuous corner, the Peugeot swerved and lurched down a bank. “Is everyone all right?” gasped Colin as the car came to rest, windscreen shattered. “I think I’ve strained my thumb…”

Jim, uncoiling himself in the middle of the front seat, where he’d landed, replied in the affirmative. As did Mike, who had squashed up against the back of Colin’s seat.

“Sally?”

“I’m ok but I think I’ve cut my head or something,” she said, looking at the blood on her blouse and hands.

Jim looked across and began swaying from side to side. Then he fainted at the sight of the blood.

Eventually the Peugeot was pushed back onto the French road. The hotel was found; Sally was treated by a doctor in the dead of night; and Colin promised the medic a pit pass for the weekend in return for keeping the incident away from the media.

Despite a few light-hearted jibes from Jim about his suit being ruined, Sally recovered well enough to perform regular timing duties in the pits at Clermont. Colin’s thumb, however, remained a race weekend talking-point…

Jim showed no signs of the incident when practice began on Friday. Of far more import was the failure of his 32-valve Climax engine out on the circuit: Jim hitched a ride back to the pits, straddling the engine cover of John Surtees’ V8 Ferrari. As a result, Chapman decided to concentrate on the 1962-built R6 two-valve chassis (still in Lotus 25 form) rather than the 1964-built Lotus 33B R11.

29578 1965FrenchGP Jim qualified the old car on the pole, his 3min 18.3sec lap shading Jackie Stewart’s best for BRM by a mere half-second. Ferrari qualified three and four, with Lorenzo Bandini again controversially racing the faster flat-12 car and leaving the V8 for Surtees; and Denny Hulme, who had subbed for Dan Gurney in the International Trophy and at Monaco, celebrated his second Championship GP start by qualifying an excellent sixth for Brabham (and quickest on Friday). His compatriot, Chris Amon, would dominate (until a puncture intervened) the 1972 French GP at Clermont with the Matra V12, but gave clear indication seven years earlier of what was to come by qualifying a brilliant eighth in the evergreen Reg Parnell Lotus 25-BRM.

As he had done on several occasions since 1964, Jim wore a white handkerchief over his face for this race: stones and rubble lay trackside. The Dunlops and Goodyears of the time were stiff enough and strong enough not to be hugely puncture-prone but there was a real risk of being injured by the local flint. Best place to be, of course, was out in front….

A brass band and a shower of Michelin balloons lit up the grid as heavy clouds assembled on the horizon. Morning rain gave everyone déjà-vu but then out came the sun over the Auvergne as the 2:00pm start time appraoched. Jim anticipated the Toto Roche twitch but Lorenzo nearly lost the Ferrari as he floored the flat-12 in first. With clear air behind him, Jim Clark thus set off for the first of 40, daunting Clermont laps – a potential race time, in the dry, of some 2hrs 10min.

29579 1965FrenchGPJim’s lead over Lorenzo at the end of his opening lap was 3.5 sec; by lap two, with Jackie now in second place, he was ahead by six seconds. And so it went on. Perfect poetry in motion. Twin high-level chrome exhausts (rather than the 33B’s low, wide-spaced exhausts) distinguished Jim’s car on this occasion; otherwise, it was 1965 at its Jim Clark best: by half-distance, with Jackie still second, Jim was leading by 14 sec; by the end, heading another one-two for the Scots, Jim’s winning margin was nearly half a minute. John Surtees finished third after a quick pit stop (and after Lorenzo shunted in the closing laps!), and the brilliant Hulme was fourth after dropping as low as 14th on lap one. Overall, though, it was another consummate Clark performance. Pole position. Led from start to finish. Fastest lap.

And with not the hint of a whisper about what had transpired on the Thursday…Win No24; images: LAT Archives

Here are two short videos from the race, courtesy of British Pathe and British Movietone News. Apologies for the way the Pathe video has obviously been speeded-up. That’s also Jochen Rindt shunting the works Cooper-Climax (not Lorenzo in the Ferrari); and you can see Chris Amon briefly in the Parnell Lotus 25 after being lapped by Jackie Stewart’s BRM. The second video, the Movietone News film, has only recently been uploaded to YouTube and contains some excellent footage from the race

29705 1965FrenchGP

 

Jim Clark wins the Indy 500

victory laneIn celebration of Jim Clark’s historic win at the 49th Indianapolis 500, there is perhaps no better person to recount the occasion than Jim himself. This is what he wrote shortly after the race in the (rare) updated version of his autobiography, Jim Clark at the Wheel:

“Practice at Indianapolis often serves as a guide to ultimate performances, but it goes deeper than this because even such things as the time of day can influence your practice times. Also, you are not restricted to a particular grade of fuel, as you are in European racing, so it is quite easy to brew up some juice to give you a great deal more power. We tried a nitro mix in our fuel in practice and got ourselves an extra 50bhp but in the race we chose to run on alcohol and play safe. AJ Foyt, my greatest rival, ran nitro in the race.

“I found myself in the middle of the front row with AJ on the pole. Unlike 1963, however, this race was going to be run with different tactics. For one thing, I didn’t expect to change tyres at all during the race; we would stop only twice (for fuel). We had the Wood Brothers from NASCAR and we knew we were going to be able to load 60 gallons in just 16 seconds. Foyt was carrying more fuel – and was using more power to counteract that.

“I had heard that he had had some gearbox trouble with the car and I guessed that all this extra power and weight might make his car suspect in the race. This is how it turned out.

“I made a good start and was first into Turn One, which, I was later told, was the first time in Speedway history this had been done. This is just one of the statistics that is thrown at you at a race like this. I don’t think it means too much. On lap two Foyt was right behind me and I saw him pull out to pass. I let him go but quickly he began to slow down, and though I didn’t mind him running faster than me, I didn’t want him running slower. So I repassed him and kept the lead from that point onwards.

“I am often asked when I felt as thought the race was won and my stock reply is about 100 yards from the chequered flag. I did, though, begin to feel pretty confident after my first pit stop. I rejoined the track to find Parnelli Jones beside me and I didn’t know if he’d had his pit stop or whether he was a lap ahead of me. I set out and passed him and then a couple of laps later my pit board read ‘PLUS 58 PARNELLI’. I remember thinking ‘that’s good’ for, although we were actually running together, he was a lap behind me on the road. Then suddenly we shot past another car I didn’t recognize until I saw the number on the side: it was Foyt. He had just been in for his pit stop and when he saw us going past he got all gathered up again and started pushing hard. I let him past again and then shortly afterwards got another sign saying, ‘PLUS 58, PLUS 58’, telling me I was now a lap ahead of both of them.

“As I write these words Indianapolis is only a matter of three weeks behind me and I am only just beginning to realize that I did actually win the race. I remember the crowds cheering, the interviews – oh, the interviews! – and of course the wild claims of the tremendous amount of money I am supposed to have earned. At this moment I haven’t the faintest idea what I have won but I know it will be nothing like the fantastic figures quoted.

“Having missed Monaco, I had some points to catch up in the World Championship table and so, for my part, Indianapolis was quickly forgotten in preparation for Spa and the Belgian GP…”

Let’s hear also from two members of Jim’s pit crew during the race – the very talented Australian marine engineer, Jim Smith, and Allan Moffat, the Canadian-Australian who went on to become one of the greatest racing drivers in Australian touring car history. Finally, in this Indy-related trilogy, Dick Scammell, Team Lotus Chief Mechanic in 1965, recalls how Jimmy gave him the actual gloves he used to win the Indy 500 and how he tuned in to the American Forces’ Network (AFN) radio station in order to listen to the race live in the UK.

 

Jim Clark’s Indy 500 – the vital statistics

IMG_1703

Jim’s daily best speeds in build-up to Qualifying  May 3: first laps of Speedway. Best lap: 152.500 (P2); May 4: 152.284 (P1); May 6: 154.772 (P1); May 7: 156.500 (P1); May 8: 158.926 (P1); May 9: 158.7 (P1); May 10: 157.168 (P2); May 11: 157.800 (P2); May 12: 156.9 (P3); May 13: 160.142 (P2); May 14: 160.100 (P1); May 15: (Pole day)

Jim’s qualifying lap speeds: 160.772, 160.973, 160.714, 160.456 = 160.729 average (P2)

Jim’s official driver stats: Home town: Duns, Scotland; Age: 29; Birthdate: March 4, 1936; Height: 5ft 8in; Weight: 160 lbs; Marital status: single

Jim’s pit stops: L66 (17sec; fuel only), L136 (24.7sec; fuel only)

Jim’s winning time: 3hr 19min 5.34sec

Jim’s winning speed: 150.686 mph

Top three finishers 1) Jim Clark (Lotus 38-Ford); 2) Parnelli Jones (Agajanian Lotus 34-Ford); 3) Mario Andretti (Dean Van Lines “Brabham”-Ford)

Rookie of the Year: Mario Andretti

Jim’s race prize money: $166,621; equivalent value in 2015: $1,251,504; Jim’s share of race prize money: £46,000; equivalent value in 2015: £833,559

Additional Prizes:

Plymouth Sports Fury Convertible Pace Car; Borg-Warner Trophy; L.Strauss & Co Trophy; Bardach Brothers Ring; WFBM Trophy; John Hobbs Trophy; Wynn Oil Co diamond-studded pin; Premier Corp engraved watch; $1000 wardrobe from Dick’s Mens’ store, Wabash; Power twin-welder from Marquette Corp; Proto Tool Co “tote tray”; $100 merchandise certificate from Dorothy’s Inc; Speedway blanket from College House studios

(Note: Jim led 190 of the 200 laps, earning an extra $28,500 at the rate of $150 per lap although Colin Chapman always reckoned they were owed another $150 for the extra lap driven by Jim when the chequered flag was waved a lap late)

Jim’s Qualifying prize money: $1700; equivalent value in 2015: $12,769

1965 Festival Queen: Miss Suzanne Devine, of Chevy Chase Lane, Carmel, In.

Official race day attendance: 350,000

The month of May (1965): photo album/3

In shirtsleeves
And so it was time for qualifying. Saturday, May 15. Over 200,000 fans streamed into the Speedway. The sun was warm, the atmosphere electric. Jim wore a short-sleeved shirt to the track, then changed into his Hinchmans.  It was a media frenzy; the qualifying line was a mass of people, cars and equipment.  Jim found shelter under the Lotus pit wall gantry.Shelter2 Qual readyHe was due on track shortly after Mario, who took the temporary pole with a four-lap average of 158.849mph in his Clint Brawner/Jim McGee Brabham copy.

Jim and Mike fired up the Ford V8. The first engine had covered an amazing 1500 miles over the opening week, with a new boost-venturi fuel injection system providing improved consumption with no loss of power.  Jim had revved the engine to 9,300 in this period but would restrict the race engine to 9,100 for qualifying and then 8,800 for the 500 miles. No-one believed that Firestone could take the pole – and so it proved.Qual out  Having said that, Jim’s second lap broke the 160mph barrier (160.973mph) for the first time and paved the way to a four-lap average of 159.405mph. Amazingly, as Colin and the media swarmed around him, Jim apologised for “making a mess of it” on laps three and four due to the sudden gusts of wind. Qualifying P2

AJ Foyt (below) stalled his Ford engine just prior to his run but eventually took to the track in calmer conditions. Maximising his softer Goodyears, he won the pole at a stunning average of 161.233mph. Foyt on poleJim would start from the middle of the front row, with Dan to his right.

Then, for Jim, came a welcome break: he headed for the airport and a flight back to London. He would spend a few days in Scotland and then return, with Sally Stokes, to Indy for the race. Jim’s team-mate, Bobby Johns, would “sit in” for him during the traditional front-row photographs on the Monday.

Images: The Henry Ford Collection, The Peter Windsor Collection

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The month of May (1965): photo album/2

Action - no peakUnfamiliar in peakless helmet in the early testing days at Indy, Jim quickly established the race-winning potential of the Lotus 38.  With DanAs intense as the programme quickly became, there was also a feeling of isolation in the vast Speedway and within the town of Indy itself. Jim’s season until that point had been a blur of different cars, circuits, airports, aircraft, hotels and restaurants. Now he was at The Speedway and the rest of his European racing friends were preparing first for the non-championship F1 race at Silverstone and then for Monaco. Everyone, that is, except the driver closest to Jim’s heart – Dan Gurney. Dan had initially run as Jim’s Indy team-mate but was now managing his own, Yamaha-sponsored Lotus 38 on Goodyears as a precursor to his AAR F1 programme in 1966. Both drivers were going to miss the International Trophy at Silverstone (where Pedro Rodriguez would deputise for Jim, finishing fourth behind team-mate Mike Spence) and the Monaco GP; both had so much in common – including, while Jim tested them,  Goodyear tyres (below and below right). The Goodyears proved to be a little quicker than the Firestones but, as Jim Smith remembers in the adjoining video, Team Lotus eventually opted for Firestones after the Goodyears began to show signs of chunking. Tyres were always a concern for Jim Clark (using a new white peak from the second week onwards), particularly after the problems with the Dunlops at Indy in 1964

Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis, IN, 1965. Jim Clark prepares for practice in his Lotus-Ford 38. CD#0777-3292-0895-29.Tyre temps

Also at the back of everyone’s minds was the loss of Bobby Marshman, Bobby Marshmanthe ultra-quick US-based Lotus development driver (left) who had crashed heavily when the throttle stuck open while engine testing at Phoenix late in 1964; he had subsequently succumbed to his second- and third-degree burns

And so the month swept on. Colin Chapman couldn’t resist a bit of aircraft-spotting; 

Eyes up Flat out Flat out 2 Boys at rest Window sign Rubbing eyes

 

 

 

 

Jim often sat it out on the track; the boys took impromptu naps after the frequent all-nighters; and, while the inevitable joke-signs appeared on garage windows in Gasoline Alley, Jim worked hard, thinking of every possible angle.

Jim also befriended a young Italian-American named Mario Andretti (below).  Mario was in his rookie year but was already highly-rated by such drivers as Rodger Ward, Parnelli Jones and AJ Foyt.  With Mario

Images: The Henry Ford, The Peter Windsor Collection

 

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