To Sweden, for the Kanonloppet – to a non-championship F1 race with a bit of history, given that Stirling Moss (Rob Walker Lotus 18/21) won it in 1961 (from the back of the grid, after Jim Clark’s retirement) and Maston Gregory followed that with victory in 1962 at the wheel of a UDT-Laystall Lotus 24-BRM. (It should also be remembered that Graham Hill, fresh from his momentous victory for BRM in the 1962 German GP, drove Rob Walker’s Lotus 24-Climax the following week in the downbeat Kanonloppet. He qualified on the second row at Karlskoga but retired early.) The Swedish race was bracketed with with Danish GP (Roskildering) in ’61 and ’62 but it stood alone in ’63. As the former factory Lotus and BRM driver, Reine Wisell, recalls in the adjoining interview, Karlskoga was, and is, best-known for the Bofors armament factory. Thus the name of the race: Kanon (gun), Loppet (trophy).
Jim Clark won the two-part race (the results of which were based on points awarded for finishing positions, with total times deciding the ties) but – as at Solitude – it was Black Jack Brabham who again set the “non-championship” pace. Jim experimented with the spare, carburettored, Lotus 25, leaving the fuel-injected car for Trevor Taylor – but couldn’t live with Jack’s BT7 out of the slow corners (of which there were about five at Karlskoga, including the banked hairpin). Jack, who took the pole from Jim by half-a-second, was heading towards a sure victory in Heat One when his engine suddenly cut-out (as per Dan Gurney’s chronically at the Nurburgring). Jim thus won easily from Trevor.
Jim calculated during the lunch break that he could finish third in Heat Two and still win overall (providing he crossed the line no more than 1min 35.2sec behind Brabham) and so, on a wet afternoon, he did exactly that: Jack duly won the second heat; Jim let Trevor finish second – and thus the Kanonloppet was Jim’s. As it happened, he finished that second heat exactly 35 sec behind Jack and right on Trevor’s gearbox. Denny Hulme, having his first F1 drive in the 1.5 litre formula, finished fourth in the other works Brabham.
As I say, Reine Wisell paints a nice picture for us of the 1963 Kanonloppet in the video interview below. I caught him last week on a day similar to that of August 11, 1963, dragging him out of a restaurant on a wet day Motala. His chat is best watched in conjunction with the “Kanonloppet 1963” video (also embedded here) which has become something of a YouTube cult hit. Think a very early Swedish Woodstock and you have some picture of what that Karlskoga meeting, on August 9-10-11, 1963, was all about. You get a feel for ’63 Karlskoga (the town) and for what it was like for the fans there. I kind of like the Swedish commentary, too! Reine also mentions a video of the 1967 Kanonloppet but I couldn’t find it on a quick, initial search. Let me know if you have more luck.
Images: LAT Photographic