On the eve of this year’s US Grand Prix in Austin, I thought it might be nice to have a look at some video cameos of the five American drivers who have to date won World Championship Grand Prix races (or a race). Thanks to Pathe and AP Movietone, I’ve put together a YouTube playlist of video content that to date has had very little airing; and, wherever possible, I’ve tried to steer clear of the obvious. Phil Hill, for example, is encapsulated by a charming (and I think very funny) video-documentary shot around his first GP win (at Monza, 1960). It features such advanced techniques as “sound recordings”; Phil reading a script, post-race; and the transfer of images, from Monza to Fleet Street, via “photo-electric cell”. Watch for the dispatch rider delivering said photos to the studios at Teddington – today’s home of F1 Racing, Autosport and Motor Sport News… For Mario Andretti, I’ve chosen some nice colour footage of the Lotus Cavalcade staged in Norwich in late 1978.
Where possible, I’ve left the original audio. The silent videos have been re-voiced.
So here they are (in the order in which they won their first race): Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Peter Revson and Mario Andretti
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…
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:
While trolling through the YouTube library today I came across this recently-uploaded gem. Thanks, straight way, to Patrick Pagnier for its discovery. It’s a little cameo interview conducted for Swiss TV by Jo Bonnier on August 22, 1965. Jo Siffert, fresh from his spectacular F1 win at Enna the previous Sunday, sits on Bonnier’s left while Jim Clark lies back in a replica of his Indy 500-winning Lotus 38-Ford prior to a “demonstration run” up the formidable Ste Ursanne-Les Rangiers hill-climb, south-west of Basle. Jim never took these sorts of events half-heartedly, of course. His early days in Scotland were filled with autotests and hill-climbs, and he climbed an F1 Lotus 21 (a difficult Filipinetti car) at Ollon-Villars in 1962 before returning to Switzerland again with the Indy car in ’65. It seems amazing today that Jim would go along with the concept of threading the big four-cam, 500bhp Lotus Indy car up between the unprotected pine trees over three miles of semi-wet road, through very fast sweepers and unguarded hairpins, but such was the character of the man. As he says in the interview, it was “different”. For this event, Lotus converted the 38 back to symmetric suspension and fitted a five-speed ZF gearbox, so in this sense, too, there was more than a hint of seriousness about the performance.
Despite having no chance of outright victory, Jim was determined to put on a show for the vast crowds. He completed six practice runs with the 38 on a dry-ish Saturday, the best of which was only four seconds slower than the much more suitable Rob Walker Brabham BT7-BRM of Jo Siffert, but his heart would have sunk on Sunday, when rain shrouded the mountains. Still on its dry, Indy-spec Firestones, the 38 was virtually undriveable. Even so, Clark gave it his all and finished the day – and the event as a whole – with a climb in 2min 36.9sec (or about 10sec slower than Siffert). Words like “Wheelspin” and “opposite lock” don’t even begin to do justice to his performance. Jim looks typically shy in this video and he shows his humility when Bonnier asks him about Siffert’s recent win at Enna. “Very good! What can I say?” replies Jim – although a driver of today’s times might then also have added “but then you have to remember that they dropped the flag early, I was caught in neutral, I drove up through the field, caught Seppi (Siffert) and only lost out because his BRM engine had more top end power than the Climax – particularly on lighter tanks.” He said none of that, though. Instead, as you can see, he just laughs. (Mind you, Siffert also beat Jim in the 1964 Mediterranean GP at Enna, so Jim had an excuse to be non-plussed!) Jo Bonnier, incidentally, also drove a Rob Walker Brabham (Climax) up the Ste Ursanne hill. He finished fourth.
Enjoy then, this little chat. Note the “Jim Clark” name across the 38’s number roundel in the first few seconds of the video and the boys in the background working on a lightweight Lotus Elan.
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.