As the official photographer to Team Lotus in the 1960s, Peter Darley, like the photo-journalist, David Phipps, was close to both Colin Chapman and the Team Lotus personnel. He was at Monza in 1968 when Mario Andretti (and Bobby Unser) were scheduled to make their F1 debuts for Gold Leaf Team Lotus and BRM. He recently sent us his recollections:
Colin asked me to collect Mario Andretti and Bobby Unser from the airport. No-one knew which one – Linate or Malpensa? Anyway, I researched which was used for transatlantic flights and rolled up. Bobby was driving for BRM, Mario for Lotus. I found them both and we piled into my Fiat 124 hire car. After a few kms, Mario decided he wanted to drive, although Bobby wasn’t so sure, muttering things about crazy Italians. It was thereafter a drive of a lifetime: Mario had the pedal to the metal for the entire journey. When we reached Monza, Mario and Bobby found they had no passes but a few words from Mario to the local police resulted in the gates opening and the crowds parting as if we were going through the Red Sea. We were there.
Unfortunately all this was in vain: since they had competed in the US the previous day, Monza’s Race Director, Snr Baccagalupi, refused to allow them to race in Italy under the 24 hr rule. We knew better, of course: with Mario a definite contender for the pole and a possible win – even though this would have been his first F1 race – it was in Ferrari’s interest to keep him away. He made up for it by taking the pole for what was his first race – the 1968 US GP at Watkins Glen.
The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is upon us. Enjoy it, for there may not be a million more, given the state of the F1 economy right now. As AJ Foyt memorably said to Nigel Roebuck recently, “Is that Monza place still going?”
I hope it survives; I love circuits that touch the past. We need them – just as we need the past in order to create the future.
That subject, though, is for another day. It’s time to celebrate Monza, 2015, and to start us on the path, courtesy of Movietone News, we’ve put together a collection of Monza Moments – well, almost Monza moments, because I couldn’t resist a bit of Tazio Nuvolari in Tunis or that amazing Ferrari dead-heat at Syracuse in 1967. Finally, the spirit of Monza is I think encapsulated by the enthusiasm of the starter in the last video (1968 1000km). By the time the back of the grid reaches him they’re travelling at well over 100mph… Avanti!
As if it’s not enough to live without a French GP we’ve also had to survive this year minus a race in Germany. I suppose you could argue that France isn’t exactly a strong force in F1 at the moment – but no-one can deny the global allure of Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel and the Nicos Rosberg and Hulkenberg.True, Hockenheim is back on the calendar for 2016, but, in this of all (Mercedes) years, it does seem odd (to say the least) that we haven’t had the chance to see F1’s German stars performing in front of their home crowds…doing something, in the context of the history of our sport, that they’ve been doing since the 1920s.
In the absence of a 2015 German GP, therefore, and courtesy of AP, here are some brief reminders of what it used to like when F1 came to Germany…
A big thankyou to AP and their superb new archive for this short colour Movietone film of the 1962 British GP at Aintree. The race resulted in a resounding win for Jim Clark and the Lotus 25-Climax but until now our feel for the occasion – well, mine, at least – has been limited to classic photographs – particularly those of Jim shaving the grass through Melling Crossing and of those famous shots taken from behind the grid as the flag dropped. Now the last British GP to be staged at the Liverpool circuit comes to life as never before. Image above: LAT Photographic
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.
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.
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