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F1’s unlikeliest winner

All bets were off by the time they arrived at The Glen in ’66. Jack Brabham and his fabulous Brabham-Repcos had secured the world championship; John Surtees had switched mid-season from Ferrari to Cooper-Maserati, thus ending Maranello’s realistic title challenge (despite producing a car that could have won it). Dan Gurney had debuted his gorgeous Eagle, albeit still with 2.7 litre Climax engines. BRM had tried unsuccessfully to make their big 3-litre H16-engined cars serious runners. And Lotus, in the wake of that BRM disaster, vacillated between the 2-litre Climax-engined Lotus 33 and the Lotus 43-H16. As the field prepared for F1’s richest race to date, the US GP at Watkins Glen, Lotus’ Colin Chapman was unsure of whether to follow his head (race the 33) or his heart (delight the fans with the temperamental but throaty-sounding Lotus 43-H16). Aware of the recent success of big sports car racing in North America, he chose the latter course. And the rest is history.

This video includes little-seen footage of the 1966 USGP and a start-up, in more recent times, of the winning car.

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One thought on “F1’s unlikeliest winner

  1. William B Canfield III on said:

    I attended the 66 USGP and saw Jimmy win in the H-16 BRM. My college roommate and I drove his Porsche 356 from central Ohio and slept in it in the infield swamp. The next day, just before the start, I walked up to the back stairs of the white Kendall Timing Tower and noticed that it was unguarded. I walked up the stairs, got to the rooftop viewing area and watched the race standing right next to Carroll Shelby. Old Shel kept poking me in the ribs to ask who was in the lead! What a thrill! MGM had a Gt-40 there with the front bodywork removed and replaced with a Cinarama movie camera. The GT-40 was driven by Phil Hill but none of the footage appeared in the movie.

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