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Archive for the tag “BRM”

The Battle of Reims

20172.tifJim Clark makes it three-in-a-row

The drive down to Reims was the usual cavalcade.  They left Zandvoort, after a celebratory dinner/cabaret at the Bouwes Hotel, early on Monday morning.  First practice for the French GP would commence on Wednesday afternoon (or just one clear working day from the Dutch GP.  As with Monaco now, there was a “free” day within the French GP schedule back then.  At Reims, this was on the Saturday, following three successive afternoons of official practice.  No thought, apparently, was given to the ‘double-header’ pressures facing the mechanics.)  At some point in the road trip Ian Scott-Watson joined Jim and Colin in their rental car and allowed Trevor Taylor behind the wheel of his yellow Elan.   Ian would thereafter spend much time telling the French police that, no, it wasn’t he who had been driving the English sports car at the time in question and that his friend, the culprit, had since flown to Canada…or anywhere…

This wasn’t the usual sun-baked French Grand Prix.  Showers muddied the paddock on Thursday, leaving the Wednesday and Friday sessions for grid-shaping;  Taylor, indeed, set his fastest lap on that Wednesday – and on Thursday, in the rain, neither Lotus driver completed a lap.  (One significant casualty that day was Ludovico Scarfiotti, who crashed heavily in the works Ferrari.  He was for the most part uninjured but shortly afterwards would announce his retirement from racing.  Rescinding this a few months later, he went on to win the 1966 Italian GP for Ferrari at Monza.  He would sadly lose his life in 1968, in a hill-climbing accident.  He was a good friend of Jim’s.)

Wet or dry, flying stones were always an issue at Reims, inducing Lotus to revert to standard windscreens for this race.  With the aeroscreen, it was thought, there was always a risk of debris finding its way into the “jet”.  Slipstreaming on the long, ultra-fast (160mph) French public roads could gain you seconds per lap;  the trick in practice, if you were searching for the pole, was to keep your mirrors free.  Despite a considerable straight-line speed deficiency to the BRMs (including Innes Ireland’s BRP-BRM) and also to the Ferraris, Jim took the pole – and the local champagne that came with it.   In the 25, running the same set of Dunlop R6s he had raced at Monaco, Spa and Zandvoort, Jim found a sweetness in the balance on high-speed corners that he had not felt before – or would feel again in 1963.  “I could set the car up in a whacking great drift around the back, keep my foot it it and achieve cornering speeds that I wouldn’t have thought possible,” he would say later.  Very few photographers – if any – seemed to venture out to these corners in those days (they focussed on the “long” shots on the pit straight and the 90 deg right hander leading on to it) so we are left only to imagine what Jim describes as that “whacking great drift”.  To my mind, given the understeer with which he lived at the International Trophy race at May, the 25 at Reims was now far more neutral – neutral leading to oversteer.  I think it’s also probably significant that by this race Team Lotus seemed to have found some sort of fix for their gearbox drams.  Jim, at last, was able to drive the 25 with both hands on his red leather-rimmed wheel.1963 French Grand Prix. Ref-20133. World © LAT Photographic

Saturday was support-race day, which meant big sports cars and Formula Junior.  Jim was at the track, of course, primarily supporting the Normand Lotus 23Bs (Mike Beckwith and Tony Hegbourne) and Peter Arundell in the FJ race.  There had even been talk of Peter racing the third (spare) 25 in the Grand Prix but ultimately it was felt (when balancing prize money against running expenses!) that Peter should race the works (“mini-25”) 27 FJ.  Denny Hulme again won the FJ battle in the works Brabham, pulling away definitively from the second-place slipstreaming group and finally finishing ahead of Peter, Richard Attwood (MRP Lola), fellow Lotus drivers, Mike Spence and John Fenning, and David Hobbs (MRP Lola).  (As the 50th anniversary of the formation of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd approaches, it’s also worth noting that the talented American, Tim Mayer, finished eighth in this Reims FJ race in one of Ken Tyrrell’s Cooper-BMWs.  Tim and his brother, Teddy, would in the months that follow become an integral part of the new McLaren team.)

Tall and talented Mike Parkes should have won the sports car event with his formidable 4-litre Ferrari but a clutch problem early in the one-hour event effectively handed victory to Carlo Abate (also of powerboat fame) and his 3-litre Ferrari.  Lucien Bianchi (great uncle of Jules) placed third behind Dick Protheroe – and the tough Australian, Paul Hawkins, finished fifth overall with his Ian Walker Lotus 23.  Mike Beckwith had been right up there in third place in the early phase, when Jo Schlesser was leading with his 4-litre Aston, but he fell back a little after a slight “off”.  The small-car class was won by Jose Rosinski, who would go on to become one of the greatest of all French motor racing journalists.

On Sunday – another overcast day – Jim prepared for a torrid French GP as a fighter prepares for a bout, applying white masking tape across his face for extra protection.  Even in the dry, this race would run for well over two hours.

The start, as they say, was the usual shambles.  A fuel vapour lock killed the engine in Graham Hill’s BRM.  Push-starts were forbidden by the regulations…but “Toto Roche”, the autocratic leader of French motor sport and official starter, instructed the BRM mechanics to push Hill’s car nonetheless.  The V8 now revving purely, Roche then quickly stepped away and dropped the flag – except that he dropped a red flag rather than the French national tricolor.   No-one was exactly sure what to do – but they went for it nonetheless.

Jim Clark accelerated hard through the gears to 9,600 (with a max set at 9,800) and then focused on driving the perfect lap:  “Before the race,” he would say later, “I had said to Colin that if I could make the fast corners in front I felt I could open a gap and break the tow.  If I wasn’t in front we agreed that it would be better if I just sat back for a while and let them get on with it…”

Jim was in the lead by the time he reached the first, quick right-hander.  And the second.  And the third.  Full tanks or not, he four-wheel-drifted the 25 with fluid inputs and pin-sharp judgement.  By the time he reached Muizon, the right-hand hairpin, he had free air behind him.  He could forget about his mirrors.ACT

Jim’s standing lap was completed in 2min 31.0sec;  his Indy team-mate and friend, Dan Gurney, lay second a full 2.7sec behind.  Richie Ginther, powered by probably the best engine on the circuit that day, catapulted his BRM up to second place on lap two.  Even so, Jim was leading by nearly four seconds as he passed the Team Lotus signalling board, the 25 sitting on 9,600rpm.

And so it went on.  John Surtees (Ferrari), Dan and Jack (working together in the Brabhams), Bruce McLaren (Cooper), Trevor and Graham Hill scrapped over second place, swapping track space either in top gear, in the tow – or under braking.  At the front, Jim continued to pull away.   By lap 12 of the 53-lap race, he was 19 seconds ahead of Brabham.

Then, for Jim, it all seemed to go wrong.  His Climax engine began to mis-fire at 9,600rpm.  Jim immediately throttled back to 8,000 rpm, where he found a “sweet spot” around which the engine seemed to be half-ok.   He then concentrated even harder on those fast corners but was forced to sit back helplessly on the straights, waiting for the engine to blow – and/or for the next round of bad news on the pit board, for  Brabham was now catching him.  All around the circuit, what’s more, Jim could see parked cars.  Reims was forever tough on all mechanical components – so why was this circuit, on this day, going to be any different for him?

Because on this day – as it had been all week – it would rain.  Jim felt the grease on the track even before his goggles went smeary, for the grooves of the R6s were now worn virtually to slicks.  He was dancing on ice – focussing once again on those fast, very drifty corners where still the 25 felt perfect.  His lap times climbed by ten, 15 seconds;  Graham Hill’s ballooned by 20 seconds.  Maximum revs became irrelevant;  it was all about delicacy.

And so, maintaining that lead, Jim Clark crossed the line, acknowledging Toto Roche’s chequered flag with a raised left arm.  In the grandstands, umbrellas dominated the visage.  On the rev-counter of Jim’s 25, the tell-tale needle sat resolutely at 9,600rpm.  On the work bench later, back in Coventry, Jim’s engine was found to have two broken valve springs.  Trevor (who for this high-speed race, like Jim, raced without a peak on his helmet) might well have finished second had the crown-wheel-and-pinion not failed.  As it was, Graham Hill’s second place was subsequently disallowed due to that push start (subsequently, as in “by the time they got to Monza”.)  Tony Maggs therefore finished an excellent second for Cooper, catching and passing Hill in the closing stages when the monocoque BRM ran into both clutch and brake issues.  Jack took Graham’s third place, with Dan finishing fourth.

Post-race, there was more pandemonium:  a policeman suffered an epileptic fit as he was attempted to clear the crowds from the pit area.  Through the melee, though, Jim and Colin found their way opposite to “the press box”, where they chatted to journalists like Gregor Grant (Autosport), Philip Turner (Motor), Peter Garnier (Autocar) and several of the Fleet Street types.

Thus it was done.  A new era had begun.  Jim Clark and Team Lotus had won three in a row – Spa, Zandvoort and Reims – and had changed the face of Formula One.  The driver lay low in his monocoque car.  The speed, and the suppleness of that speed, was extraordinary.

Next:  the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.FH000006

Captions from top: face taped to provide at least some protection from flying stones, Jim Clark readies for battle at Reims;  Reims practice shot of Jim in the aeroscreened 25; for the race, the conventional screen was used.  This was also the last race for a 25 sans yellow stripe; Jim and his friend, Ludovico Scarfiotti, photographed at the Rockingham NASCAR race in 1967  Images: LAT Photographic; Peter Nygaard Collection; Peter Windsor Collection

La Bananeraie

1963 Monaco Grand PrixJim Clark’s 1963 season (continued)

From Indy Qualifying, Jim flew to Nice from London, where he had been staying on Monday and Tuesday in the apartment of his friend, Sir John Whitmore.  They had first met in 1959, when they had shared Ian Scott-Watson’s Lotus Elite at Le Mans, and they had stayed in touch ever since.S2520004  Their bond, ironically, had been their shared despair after Alan Stacey’s death.  A farmer like John and Jim, Alan had been hugely helpful to Whitmore in the early years.  At Le Mans in ‘59, with Alan now on the verge of a full F1 career and driving at Le Mans a factory Lotus 17 with Keith Greene, the three of them had had a ball, with Alan very much playing the role of the mentor. Early in that Le Mans week, over dinner at the Team Lotus hotel in a little village away from the main town, John had read aloud a report in L’Equipe about one of the drivers having an artificial leg.  Jim, still very new to motor racing, was both appalled and disbelieving.  “Disgusting,” he said, making it unclear whether he was talking about the lies in the article or the concept itself.

Jim was up bright and early the following morning, in his usual way, and knocked on the door of the room being shared by John and Alan.

“Come on.  Wake up.  Rise and shine.  Time to get going.”  Then silence.  Jim had seen Alan’s prosthetic leg lying on the floor by the bed.  The next sound was of Jim’s feet, running as far away as possible.

A few days later, John and Alan were still laughing at Jim’s embarrassment…

Alan was killed at Spa the following year in a Team Lotus 18 – in the second Grand Prix of Jim’s career – when, it is said, he hit a bird at high speed.  (Some people close to Team Lotus are convinced that the steering column broke on Alan’s car and that the “bird” story was merely a cover.)  Jim was of course devastated – but thought instantly of John, who had been even closer to Alan.  Thus the mateship.600112_22

John’s small two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat was in Balfour Place, Mayfair – an ideal location for racing drivers on the move.  The Lotus factory at Cheshunt was half an hour away.  And London was great for Heathrow and Gatwick airports, Crystal Palace, Brands Hatch and of course the A1 – the road to Scotland.  After days – weeks – of non-stop travel, these two days in Mayfair for Jim offered a welcome break.  John’s wife, Ghinsella, caught up with Jim’s washing – including his blue Dunlop overalls – and Jim finalized the detail arrangements of his travel over the next few weeks.  He would return immediately to Indianapolis after Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix;  then he would race at Mosport; then, two days later, he would race at Crystal Palace.  He’d return to Balfour Place at that point before leaving for Spa, for the Belgian GP.

Nice was bright and sunny when Jim and Colin arrived on Wednesday, May 22.  They drove out to Monaco by the coast road, stopping on the way to check in to their regular hotel in Eze sur Mere.  S2550010Little more than a railway station and a small café today, Eze in 1963 was somewhat more prosperous, boasting a couple of good restaurants, a garage and a small market.  The Team Lotus hotel, La Bananeraie, was perfect for the group’s needs, boasting a spacious, secure, three-car garage out the back in which the Lotus 25s could be housed.  Towing race cars to circuits on public roads was not only normal back then;  it was a part of the show.  Spectators would line the streets, awaiting their favourites – and sometimes, if the travel distances was short, the cars would be driven under their own power.  Nothing clears a crowd faster than a quick blast of Ferrari V12…20179.tif

Jim had brought with him to Europe his newly-painted Bell Magnum helmet and wore it for the first time at Monaco on Thursday, when he was fastest.  The overall look was completely different:  it was as if the slightly thicker Bell had been specifically designed for the gorgeous, slow-slung lines of the Lotus 25.  And Jim again wore a white peak!  It was as if the ’63 season was entering a new phase, and the Jim Clark era was now upon us.

Jim was unnerved for a second or two on Thursday when he spied a black cat running across the track by the pits.  He wasn’t about to label himself “superstitious” but, in that world, back then, he wasn’t going to go out of his way to walk under ladders or spill salt on the table.  He was delighted, then, to see the car suddenly freeze and scamper back the way it had came.  Nor was he reluctant to tell a few of his friends about it, either!

Practice over – and the temporary pole secured – Jim then joined his fellow drivers in a GPDA meeting at the Hotel Metropole.  These gatherings had been a regular fixtures at F1 races ever since the drivers had first got together in a formal way at Monaco, in 1960.  As a group, they were now respected by the team owners and by the circuit organizers – something that couldn’t be said about the drivers’ group of the 1950s, the UPPI (Union of Professional Pilotes International).  Jo Bonner presided over the GPDA meetings;  Autocar’s Sports Editor, Peter Garnier, recorded the minutes for posterity.  As well as discussing important safety and organizational issues, the drivers also took time to talk to one another.  In Jim’s case, he was keen to learn about Dan Gurney’s first drive in the new Brabham (Dan had been eighth quickest on a troublesome day) and to discuss the growing shortage of Coventry Climax Mk 111 engines.  Just as Dan had been obliged to miss Silverstone, now Jack Brabham himself was flying straight back to England to pick up a replacement for the engine that had failed that morning.  There was also general chit-chat about the new, sticker Dunlop R6s, now re-designed around the 1962-spec 28 deg cord angle.  In theory, this greatly improved the tyre’s breakaway without detracting from its better adhesion.  A bit like Pirelli reverting to Kevlar casing in 2013!

Problem was, the new Dunlops were also in short supply.  The bulk of them would only reach Monaco, by truck, late on Thursday night.

Matters of Moment in that GPDA meeting:  the prize for the best-run Grand Prix would go to Zandvoort.  The Taffy von Trips trophy for the best private entrant would go to Count Carel de Beaufort; and Graham Hill would receive a Roy Nockolds painting for winning the 1962 World Championship.

F1 practice was also held on Friday back then – but at the absurdly early hour of 7:30am, by which time two Formula Junior sessions had also been staged.  The idea was to have everything over by 9:00am, thus allowing the town to go about its usual business.  The track was cold but Jim was faster still.  Then, with the day still ahead, it was all over.  Jim  joined other drivers on Carribee, the yacht hired by Ken Gregory (Stirling Moss’s manager) and the former driver, Mike McKee.  S2560001After a few hours in the sun, enjoying life with his mates Bruce McLaren, Dan Gurney and Lorenzo Bandini,  it was back to Eze for a look at the cars and an early dinner at La Bananeraie.S2550013  It turned out that Cedric Selzer and the boys had had a relatively easy day with the 25s – particularly as a nice blonde seemed to have joined the team as wheel-polisher and go-fer.  Jack Brabham, meanwhile, had flown his own single-engined Cessna 180 back to England to pick up a replacement Climax engine.  He planned to be back in Monaco by late afternoon but was held up by bad weather in France.  He didn’t make it until about 5:00pm on Saturday – by which time the Climax in Dan’s car had also burned a piston.

Jim was again quick on Saturday afternoon, when the session was run from 2:00pm – 3:15pm.  Perenniel gearbox worries aside, the 25 was running perfectly – so much so that Jim was happy to run full tanks for most of the afternoon while he pushed the R6s to the limit.  (With more grip on line, he was only a second slower than his Thursday, empty-tank, pole time.)  Jim also completed a few laps in the spare car (fitted with the old carburettored Climax engine), lapping as quickly as the Ferraris and fourth-fastest overall.  The Brabham engine issues remined dire but everyone was deeply moved when Jack stood aside to let Dan have the only spare Climax for the race on Sunday.  Drawn to Jack because of his decision to run a Lotus 24 for the first half of the previous season (while he was working on his own car) – and also because of the Indy ties with Dan – Colin Chapman then offered the spare Team Lotus 25 for Jack to race on Sunday.  The 1959-60 World Champion readily agreed, even though he would be unable to put in a single lap with it before the flag dropped.

Serious work over for the day  – Jim was on the pole from Graham Hill, John Surtees, Innes Ireland and Dan Gurney – everyone settled back to watch the Formula Junior race. An electrical problem had ruined his day when he was leading the FJ race by a mile in 1960, so he was not really surprised when Peter Arundell, who had won his heat in the Team Lotus 27, retired from the final early with a blown engine.  Richard Attwood went on to win in the MRP Lola from an excellent Frank Gardner (Brabham).S2550014

Sunday, May 26, 1963 was a gorgeous day – much like May 26, 2013.   There were no support races;  instead, great F1 drivers from the past were paraded in open sports cars.  Prince Rainier drove a few laps of the circuit in his Porsche Super 90.  The drivers, staring at 100 laps of Monaco, gathered in the pits beneath the trees.

Louis Chiron, Clerk of the Course, presided over a shambolic drivers’ briefing on the grid.  Photographers pushed and shoved;  some drivers listened, others joked with friends.  “Remember it is a sport,” said Chiron.  “Good racing, good driving, good amusement and God bless you.”  As Bruce McLaren later, “We knew how hot it was going to be and we knew that it wasn’t exactly going to be very amusing…”

Jim was instantly in trouble.  In total contrast to his full-tanks run on Saturday, his engine coughed badly under acceleration.  He couldn’t believe it.  Perhaps it was a plug or something.  Perhaps it would clear itself over the opening lap.

It did not.  The mis-fire persisted.  Graham had unsurprisingly out-dragged him into Ste Devote and down out of Casino Square, and into Mirabeau and the Station Hairpin, he was all over the BRM.  Out on the seafront, however, and on the fast run through Tabac and towards the Gasworks Hairpin, the BRM pulled away as it was a 2-litre car.

Jim couldn’t understand what was happening.  And so he just drove with the problem, trying to apply the power in different throttle loads – and trying, of course, to find ways of braking so late that he could sustain an attack.

It’s interesting to note, I think, that very, very few reports of the day mention Clark’s problems in this early phase of the race.  Observers and spectators were enthralled, instead, by Jim’s attempts to outbrake Graham and his BRM team-mate, Ritchie Ginther, into the Gasworks Hairpin – and by the BRM drivers always regaining the initiative under acceleration.  It never occurred to reporters that Clark was adjusting his driving in order to compensate for a problem.  They saw Jim hit the cement dust bags protecting a fire hydrant with the left rear wheel on about lap 15 and they put it down to “Clark under pressure”.   They saw Jim throwing the 25 around with armfulls of opposite lock and they just assumed he was having fun…

It was when the engine problem began to go away that Jim worked out for himself what had been happening:  “The trouble stemmed from the two little pipes which stuck up behind my head and above the engine.  These were fuel tank breathers and at the start, with full tanks, they tended to blow excess fuel out of the top whenever I accelerated hard.  This would blow fuel straight back down the injector pipes and thus richen the mixture.  The engine would bang and splutter.  It was murder.  Whenever I was out on my own with no-one around I could scramble through the corners and have the car running properly before anyone noticed but when, in the early phase of the race, I was fighting both Graham and Ritchie, I kept losing places.  I’d pass Ritchie into a corner and then there would be this bubble, bubble, snort, bang and while I was trying to clear the system Richie would pass me again.  Eventually, though, I managed to get with it, pass Ritchie and pull away.  Of course, as the race progressed, less and less fuel came up the breathers and the trouble gradually disappeared.”

Jim was leading easily – just as he had led the FJ race in 1960 and then again the Grand Prix in 1962 – when it all went suddenly, finally, wrong.  Wary of the gear selection trouble that had coloured the early-season races, he was now changing gear nice and precisely, easing the lever into the next slot without any strain.  Suddenly, into Tabac, changing from fourth to third, the gearbox jammed.  He still had drive – in fourth gear – but the gear lever was in “neutral”.  He tried the lever again – and suddenly the car was in second, spinning itself to a standstill in the middle of the Gasworks Hairpin. Declutching did nothing.  The car was locked in second.  Jim’s first reaction was to jump from the 25 and thus to warn a fast-approaching Graham Hill, who at that point was ten seconds behind.  Then, drained, he walked quickly back to the pits.

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Thus ended Jim’s first Championship Grand Prix of 1963.  The gearbox problems would continue (both Trevor Taylor and Jack had transmission problems in the race) but Cedric Selzer was not slow in coming up with solution to the fuel mixture issue:  he fitted a motorcycle tap to the cockpit for Spa and gave Jim an instruction he would never forget:  “It’s like a factory.  It opens up and it closes down!”

They had an early night at La Bananeraie:  on Monday, May 27, Colin, Jim and Dan flew from Nice to London on the 6:00am BOAC Comet. From there, via New York and Chicago, they would fly again to Indianapolis.  The 500 would take place on Thursday, May 30.

Captions, from top:  Lap one, Monaco, 1963.  Graham Hill leads for BRM, with Jim lying second in the mis-firing Lotus 25-Climax.  Then come Ritchie Ginther (BRM) and John Surtees (Ferrari);  Jim Clark and Sir John Whitmore compare notes at Le Mans in 1959 while Ian Scott-Watson’s Lotus Elite is given unscheduled attention.  Ian can be seen to the right of Sir John’s legs – and that’s Jabby Crombac with arms folded; Jim shares a laugh with the very excellent Alan Stacey;  La Bananeraie as it is today, now run by the grandson of the of the original owners.  It’s overgrown but Bohemian:  the bulk of the hotel is now an artist’s studio but the bar is still pretty much as it was; F1 cars often split the everyday traffic en route to the track.  This is (I think) Bernard Collomb’s Lotus 24; Louis T Stanley’s shot of Jim aboard the good ship Carribbee after early practice on Friday.  Note the Dunlop race trousers!; the garages around the back of La Bananarie; the bar/restaurant where Team Lotus refreshed in May, 1963; Cedric Selzer (right) and Colin Chapman (checked shirt) shepherd Jim back to the Lotus pit after his retirement. Photos: Sir John Whitmore, Louis T Stanley, LAT Photographic, Peter Windsor Collection

Clark brilliant at Aintree

18303.tifJim Clark’s 1963 racing schedule now begins to gather real pace.  The back-to-back early-season European non-championship F1 races behind him, Jim returns to the farm for a couple of days before driving the 225 miles down to Liverpool for his third non-title F1 race of the season, the Aintree 200. (Jim will drive approximately 40,000 road miles in 1963.)  At Edington Mains there is always farm work with which to keep abreast but in addition there is plenty of racing-related admin, the relevant papers of which he files in his red leather desk folder.  A good example of Jim’s meticulous attention to detail can be seen in his correspondence with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Although the Team Lotus entries and surrounding paperwork are handled by Andrew Ferguson and – for Indy, 1963, also by David Phipps, the tall photo-journalist who had become a close friend of Colin Chapman – Jim receives a personal letter from the Speedway’s Henry Banks, inviting him to take part in an upcoming race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Bearing in mind that the FIA inter-change between drivers licenced to different sanctioning bodies was a brand new thing in America, Henry’s letter to Jim, detailing an “all-comers’” race on April 28, in retrospect seems logical.  The exact description of the event – “a 300-mile race for American-manufactured cars in the improved touring category (or what would later be known as NASCAR’s Yankee 300!)” – obviously catches Jim’s attention because his written reply is as follows: “Unfortunately, like Dan Gurney and Jack Brabham, I am flying back and forth between Europe and America at the moment and on that particular date we are scheduled to race at Aintree here in Britain…”

As he sits at his desk, Jim also takes stock of his upcoming schedule.  Hectic travel is of course not new to him:  early in 1961 he competed in three New Zealand internationals before embarking on his European season – and he had finished that year, and begun 1962, with four South African races, an outing at Daytona in a Lotus Elite and then a one-off race in a Lotus 21 in Sandown Park, Australia.  What now lay ahead, however, takes him into new territory.  Following Saturday’s Aintree 200, Jim and Colin will fly immediately back to Indy via Chicago (Jim’s third trip to the States since January).  There they will continue to run the Lotus 29s at the Speedway before returning on May 7, with Dan Gurney now joining the group, to race at Silverstone in the Daily Express Trophy meeting.   Then it will be back to Indy again, this time for qualifying, before flying back for the Monaco and European GP on May 26.  (Assuming Jim qualifies on the first weekend, that is:  if rain intervenes, or they run into problems, Jim would then have to miss Monaco in order to qualify at Indy on the second weekend.)  Following Monaco, he, Dan and Colin will then fly back to Indy for the race the following Thursday (Memorial Day).  Jim will then drive to Mosport to race in the Players 200 two days later, catch a Toronto flight to London that night and race at Crystal Palace, in the Normand Lotus 23B, on June 3 (Whitmonday).  Nor will there be a break after that, for the Belgian GP at Spa is scheduled for the weekend of June 7-8-9.

Jim takes all of this merely as part of his job.  Comets and Boeing 707s make flying more fun than it had been in the turbo-prop days – and economy seats are relatively wide and relatively long.  You can actually sleep on a trans-Atlantic flight – and the immediate necessity to have to drive a racing car does away with jet lag.  Beyond that, Jim’s parents had never wanted him to race.  Now, with this sort of schedule, and with reasonable chances ahead of him for some good results, he can at least justify racing as a profession from which he can earn a living.

Aintree is bathed in sunshine on Friday, April 26 – and Jim, running the Lucas fuel-injected Lotus 25, feels as good in the car as he had at Pau and Imola.  Compared with the carburettored 25 of 1962, the fuel-injected 25 provides a more useable power band, particularly at low revs. The new short-stroke Climax engine can also be revved higher, additionally enhancing torque and power. The biggest talking-point in the Team Lotus truck is actually of the ZF gearbox and the ongoing problem of the thing jumping out of gear (a subject Colin Chapman prefers his drivers not to mention to the press!).  The root cause of the issue is that the ZF was basically a four-speed gearbox adapted to take an extra cog. The welds, reduced to a minimum, habitually came away from the spline.Trevor Taylor’s car occasionally runs a strong, heavier Colotti five-speed gearbox but Chapman does not want to compromise weight on the number one Clark car. He continues to work away with pencil drawings whenever he has a spare moment but an ultimate fix will not achieved until new ZF gearboxes, with the selector mechanism on the side of the gearbox, are fitted for 1964.  For now, Jim spends so much time wondering if the 25 is going to jump out of top that he begins to develop a one-handed driving style, steering with the left hand and holding the car in gear with his right. Jim also has reservations about the new Dunlop R6s. He hadn’t liked them at Snetterton, where the 25 had felt more skittish than at any time in its life – and he had used last year’s R5s (based on the older D9 and D12 tyres) at Pau and Imola.  He would do so again at Aintree but Dunlop are keen to try a new version of the R6 at Silverstone in two weeks’ time.   (Talking about Snetterton, Jim is a little surprised to see Denis “Jenks” Jenkinson write in the latest edition of Motor Sport that Graham Hill had won in the wet there because “Jim Clark was out of practice, Hill having raced in Australia and New Zealand over the winter.”  So Jim’s endless testing of the Lotus 29 hadn’t counted?

Jim is easily fastest on Aintree Friday, loving the circuit on which he had won the British GP in 1962 – and the 1962 Aintree 200 (in the Lotus 24:  he had also been quick in the wet at Aintree in 1961, before the Lotus 21 blew an oil pipe.). Strangely, though, he looks unfamiliar in the Lotus 25 on Friday, wearing, as he is, the older, 1961-spec, smaller-eyepiece, goggles he’d last worn at Zandvoort in 1962.  For race day, Jim switches to his customary wide-lens Panoramas (with black tape across the top-third of the lens).  Still he wears his trusty, stone-nicked dark blue, peakless Everoak.1963 BARC 200.

Despite the unchanged R5s, Jim’s pole time had been 1.2 sec faster than his fastest practice lap at the British GP the previous July. Jack Brabham is second, 0.8 sec slower in his 1962 BT3, but non-starts when his Climax engine throws a piston late on Friday. (This failure has the knock-on effect of delaying the completion of Dan Gurney’s new Brabham for the Daily Express Trophy, ensuring that Dan will remain a frustrated spectator after the long flight over from Indy. It is probably because of some of these dramas, and because Dan had initiated the Lotus Indy programme in the first place, that Colin Chapman will have no compunction about lending Jack Brabham a Lotus 25 for the Monaco GP a few weeks later.)

Graham Hill, who at Aintree is still in his 1962-spec BRM, is 0.8 sec quicker than he’d been the previous July – but slower than Innes Ireland, who is very fast in the Goodwood-winning BRP Lotus 24-BRM. Ireland qualifies third, Hill fourth and Ritchie Ginther fifth, equaling his team-leader’s time in the second BRM. Trevor, again in gearbox trouble, will start from the inside of the third row in the carburettored Lotus 25.

What should have been a Clark walkover under leaden skies on Saturday turns out to be one of the best races of the 1963 season. The record crowd at the famous Grand National venue can hardly believe it when Jim Clark’s hand goes up at the start and the field swarms around him.  With the 25’s battery completely flat, Jim is totally helpless. Ted Woodley and the boys push the car over to the pits, fit a new battery – and the car starts perfectly.  Jim leaves the pits even as the field is well into its second lap.

Clark drives brilliantly in these early stages but clearly the car still isn’t right.  A fuel-injection-related mis-fire comes and goes.  Trevor, meanwhile, is running fifth and looking good.18316.tif

On lap 16 Colin Chapman thus makes the sort of decision that even the most hardened of Team Principals always dread:  he pulls in both of his drivers and instructs them to swap cars. (I spoke only a couple of days ago to Anita Taylor, Trevor’s sister, about this. “Trevor was only too ready to oblige,” she said. “Of course he wanted to win. He was also a friend of Jimmy’s, a colleague, a huge admirer. If Chapman thought it was best for the team, Trevor went along with it. He was that sort of man.”)

It is a beautifully-orchestrated manoeuvre.  Jim comes in first and is ready, waiting, as Trevor screams to a halt. Out jumps Trevor and quickly Ted Woodley swaps seats. In slides Jim. He has the rear Dunlops alight before Ted is even clear of the car.

So Jim Clark is now in Lotus 25 Number 4 and Trevor in Lotus 25 Number 3. Out in front, Ritchie Ginther gives best to Graham after taking an early lead; Innes is third, followed by Bruce McLaren in the new 1963 Cooper 66-Climax.

Jim Clark then produces a supreme display of class driving, perfectly-balancing the carburettored 25 through Aintree’s medium-speed corners, blipping the throttle on the slow ones to keep the revs in the useable band. He works his way back to an eventual third place.  His lap times are consistent to within tenths; his fastest lap – a staggering 1min 51.8sec – is 0.6 quicker than his pole time and a full 1.8sec quicker than his pole lap at the British GP in ’62.  This in a car with the 1962-spec, 175bhp engine.

Afterwards, Jim says simply this:  “I really enjoyed this race – even though I didn’t win it;  I enjoyed it more than a number of the Grand Prix events I was to drive during the season.”

Graham Hill wins Aintree (from Innes Ireland, Jim/Trevor, Ritchie, Bruce, Chris Amon in the Reg Parnell Lola and Trevor/Jim) – wins his second F1 race since clinching the championship only four months before; and Graham wins the Saloon Car race, too, again heading the Jaguar 3.8 battle featuring Roy Salvadori and Mike Salmon.  Jack Sears wins his class in a Ford Cortina GT;  Sir John Whitmore wins the Mini division;  Roy Salvadori leads home Innes Ireland in the big sports car event (Cooper Monaco, Lotus 19); our friend Mike Beckwith wins his class with the 1600 Normand Lotus 23B;  Pete Arundell and Paul Hawkins head the 1100 Lotus 23 class; and Denny Hulme, a new rising star from New Zealand, brilliantly wins a wet Formula Junior race in the new Brabham (from Frank Gardner, Pete Arundell and Mike Spence).

With no vested interest other than as a guy who loves motor racing, Bruce McLaren has this to say about Denny’s win:  “For a driver who professes not to be particularly good in the wet, I thought fellow-New Zealander, Denny Hulme’s win in the works Brabham FJ was very good.  For a couple of years he ran his own FJ Cooper as a privateer with very little outside assistance, and he did much better than anyone expected.  18297.tifHe is now being trained in the Brabham tradition by building, working on, and developing his own car.  He works in the Brabham racing shop under Jack’s watchful eye and his fine drive in the rain at Aintree was the result – his first really big win for some time, and a most convincing one at that.”   No surprise, really, that Bruce would sign Denny to his McLaren F1 team some five years later.

And, about Jim Clark’s performance at Aintree, Bruce is unequivocal: “It is interesting to note the way that Jim Clark is taking over the Moss role in motor racing.  After practice at Aintree on the Friday, a certain well-known driver said to me, ‘I’m very pleased with my car – very pleased indeed.  I’m only half a second slower than Clark’.  There was a time when the proud phrase ‘only just slower than…’ just had to refer to Stirling Moss.”

Note:  driver-swapping would continue through to 1964, when Jim took over Mike Spence’s Lotus 33 at the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

Images:  LAT Photographic

Captions Top: Jim Clark dances with the throttle in Trevor Taylor’s carburettored 25. Middle: Jim in the early phase of the race in his own, fuel-injected 25. Bottom:  Denny Hulme made his name by winning the wet Aintree FJ race 1963aintree200   

Clark second in Lombank Trophy

1963 Lombank Trophy.Jim Clark’s first race meeting of 1963 did not go particularly well.  After several hectic weeks in the US (at Ford’s proving ground in Arizona and then at Indy, where he lapped at just over 150mph) and, before that, at Snetterton, testing the gorgeous Lotus 29 Indy prototype car, 1963 Team Lotus Factory.Jim drove back along the A11 to the Norfolk circuit  for the Fourth Lombank Trophy F1 race.  Probably at some point, I  suspect, the new Honorary President of the Scottish Racing Drivers’ Club would have been smiling at the thought of the Club Lotus dinner he’d attended a few weeks before at the Taggs Island Casino, near Hampton Court. He, Jabby Crombac and Mike Beckwith had driven one of the new Elans onto the stage and the evening had ended with Colin Chapman being spruced up in a pair of blue nylon knickers… As would become the norm for races at Snett, Jim would be staying with Jack Sears in Jack’s farmhouse near the circuit – and he would refrain, of course, from making any long-distance calls to the US.  (On Saturday, March 30, 1963, it became possible for the first time to make direct calls between the UK and the US.)

This would be the second Snetterton race meeting promoted by the circuit’s new owners – Motor Circuit Developments (the first was a club meeting held on March 17) – and therefore by John Webb, whose airline, Webbair, had become a regular part of motor racing logistics since the late 1950s.  As a journalist, manager and, as I say, race promoter, Webb would in the 1960s and 1970s become one of the most influential figures in British motor sport.  With support from Grovewood Securities, the Grovewood Awards, to name but one of Webb’s creative ideas, would eventually pave the way for today’s Autosport Awards.

The Lombank Trophy was the first F1 race of the year – a non-championship race, to be sure, but a significant one nonetheless.   Lombank was one of several London-based financial “institutions” (as investment banks were known then!) to see the benefits of motor racing sponsorship, although by a certain irony this Snetterton race would be the first since one of Lombank’s major competitors – UDT Laystall – announced their withdrawal from F1.

Today we go into internet-fed panic mode whenever teams or sponsors pull out of the sport, or change hands, but 50 years ago the usual ruptures of the winter were accepted with good grace in the belief that something – or someone – better would come along.  One thing was clear, however:  Stirling Moss’s retirement now seemed permanent (following a test at Goodwood in early May, Stirling would make the decision final) and he was busy now re-inventing himself as a team owner/team manager/Ogle Associate Director; and gone, too, were the factory Porsche and Lola F1 teams.  Although General Motors also announced a unilateral withdrawal from motor sport in early March, 1963, one of the private entrants at Snetterton (Jim Hall) no doubt read this notice with a smile.   (Even as Jim drove his BRP Lotus 24-Climax with not a little natural speed, the idea of a secret GM-supported Chaparral was formulating in his fertile mind.  Jim had raced his be-finned and be-spoilered front-engined Chaparral at Sebring the weekend before;  and many, he knew, were the ideas he could take to GM. Looking back now, and remembering for how long Jim was a fixture at F1 races, it is staggering that no-one in F1 took serious note of the winged Chaparrals of 1966-67.  Even Jim Clark’s attempt to mount a rear spoiler on his Lotus 49 at Levin, in 1968, was immediately quashed by Colin Chapman.)

Porsche’s loss was Jack Brabham’s gain:  Dan Gurney signed over the winter to drive a second factory Brabham in 1963, and John Surtees stepped from Lola to Ferrari.  (I can’t help reflecting here that Jack Brabham “lent” Big John his personal Lotus 24 to race in the end-of-season, 1962, Mexican GP, for Bowmaker Lola were by then concentrating on the upcoming Australasian Series and entered only one Lola in Mexico for Roy Salvadori.  John promptly qualified the 24 on the second row, only fractionally slower than Trevor’s Lotus 25.  Brilliant. Surtees drove most of the New Zealand-Australia series for Bowmaker Lola but his place at Sandown Park, Melbourne, interestingly enough, was taken by Masten Gregory.  Tony Maggs finished third at Sandown in the last appearance of a Bowmaker Lola entry.)  ATS, led by former Ferrari engineer, Carlo Chiti, would also be entering F1 in 1963 with drivers Phil Hill, Giancarlo Baghetti and (for testing) Jack Fairman;  and this would also be the first race for Coventry Climax since being bought by Jaguar Cars Ltd.

The Lombank Trophy race (won in 1962 by Jim Clark) was held on Saturday, March 30, at 3:00pm, with practice taking place on Friday.  Public address commentary was in the care of the excellent Anthony Marsh, the recently-appointed Publicity Officer for Brands Hatch, Mallory Park and Snetterton and the lynchpin, of course, of the Springfield Charity that still exists today.

Jim and Team Lotus had only recently lost the 1962 World Championship to Graham Hill and BRM.  No-one doubted that the monocoque Lotus 25 had been the quicker car in 1962 – but, since August, BRM’s Tony Rudd had been hard at work on his version of the Lotus “bathtub”.  Quickly, though, work at Bourne fell behind schedule.  The demands of the ’62 season in part accounted for the delay but in addition England was plagued by a ‘flu epidemic over the arctic-spec winter:  factory staff were thin on the ground and there was little or no back-up to replace them.  On top of that, BRM also began work on the radical Rover-BRM turbine programme for Le Mans.  As a result, BRM began the year with lighter versions of their reliable and very driveable P578 space-frame cars, albeit with slightly more powerful V8 engines.  They brought two to Snetterton, for Graham and for Richie Ginther, both of whom had been racing in the Sebring 12 Hours the weekend before.  Hill finished third there, sharing a Ferrari 330LM with Pedro Rodriguez, and Ginther sixth (Ferrari GTO, shared with Innes Ireland).   (These were the days of Boeing 707 intercontinental air travel, although turbo-props, such as the Lockheed Electra and Vickers Viscount, were still very much in use.)

Team Lotus entered two Lotus 25-Climaxes for Jim and his regular team-mate, Trevor Taylor but a shortage of engines (ie, one Climax V8 only!) rendered Trevor a non-starter.  Jim’s race engine, indeed, was way down on power.  Climax had planned to bring the new, 200bhp fuel-injected V8s to Snetterton for use by Lotus and Cooper but, like BRM, ran out of time.  Speaking of the Cooper Car Company of Surbiton, Surrey, Bruce McLaren flew from Sydney to the US after winning his fourth Australasian series race at Sandown Park, Melbourne with his Intercontinental Cooper-Climax – (this is a sad story, but I’ll tell it less we forget:  Bruce sold that car to Lex Davison, who raced it successfully in 1963-64 and who in turn then used it to enable the young and talented Rocky Tresise to make his career breakthrough in 1965.  Tresise died in a start-line accident at Longford with the Cooper, as did the talented Australian photographer, Robin d’Abrera;  it was Robin’s pin-sharp images that captured Bruce’s Sandown win in the Cooper for Autosport back in March, 1963) – and at Sebring raced the Briggs Cunningham Jaguar E-Type.  He finishing eighth there, partnered with Walt Hansgen.   Cooper entered only Bruce at Snetterton – again in a 1962 T60 car.   The interesting Cooper entry from Morris Nunn failed to appear;  and Jo Siffert pulled out after hitting a bank on the very wet practice day in his Filipinetti Lotus 24.

Jim, in  battle-scarred, dark blue, peakless Everoak helmet, 1965 Formula One World Championship.
was easily fastest on Saturday, lapping in 1min 44.4 in the torrential rain despite trouble starting the car (due to a lack of warm-up spark plugs).  Eventually the 25 was tow-started  into life. With Graham Hill’s BRM suffering from chronic fuel injection problems, Richie Ginther was next quickest (1min 46.8sec), followed by Bruce (1min 48.8sec), Innes Ireland in the BRP Lotus 24 and Innes’s team-mate, Jim Hall.

On Saturday the weather continued.  Snetterton became a quagmire of mud, rain, wind and spinning wheels.  There were no branded jackets back then, there was no North Face, no Timberland.  Instead, long raincoats, cloth caps and Wellington boots ruled the day. Les Leston’s racing umbrellas – each segment representing a marshal’s flag – were also at a premium.

Richie led from the line, using the superior torque of the BRM engine to full advantage, with Bruce second and Jim an initial third.  Jim quickly took second place at the hairpin – the left-hander at the end of the long back straight that runs parallel to the A11 – and passed Richie at the same place a few laps later.  Significantly, though, Richie was able to out-accelerate the Lotus.  All were running on the new Dunlop R6 but the traction advantage was with the BRMs.  Graham Hill had meanwhile flown through from the back of the grid.  He quickly passed Bruce and, now on a spray-free road, quickly caught Jim and Richie.  Jim took the lead and began to pull away – but then ran wide onto the grass while lapping a back-marker;  Richie again ran at the front.

There was no stopping Graham Hill.  Driving superbly in the rain, he passed both Richie and then Jim to win decisively.   Unhappy with his engine, and finding the 25 surprisingly skittish in the wet, Jim backed away and settled for second place.   Innes Ireland eventually finished third, although not without incident.  During his battle with Bruce, the pair of them had lapped Innes’ team-mate, Jim Hall.  Innes slipped past without problem but then, with hand signals to Hall, made it clear that he wanted his team-mate to hold up Bruce for a corner or three.  You can imagine if Fernando Alonso today suggested to Felipe Massa (running a lap behind) that he hold up Seb Vettel for 20 seconds or so.  As it was, Bruce afterwards dismissed the episode as “a legitimate team tactic”.  Such was Gentlemen Bruce.

The Lombank meeting boasted a superb support-race programme.  The World Champion was also victorious in the 25-lap sports car race with John Coombs’ lightweight Jaguar E-Type (ahead of the Cooper Monaco of Roy Salvadori, now retired from F1); Roy made up for that by winning the Jaguar 3.8 battle in the 25-lap Touring Car race, gaining revenge on Graham Hill (who fought his way back from sixth place).  Mike Salmon, also in a 3.8, finished third.  Both Normand Racing Lotus 23s (driven by Mike Beckwith and Tony Hegbourne) had looked quick in the sports car event but eventually, in the wet, had to cede position to Alan Foster’s amazing MG Midget.  It should be noted that Frank Gardner also raced the new Brabham BT8 sports car at Snetterton, winning the 1151cc-2000cc class.

I mention the Normand Lotus 23s because Jim signed over the winter to race for Normand whenever his schedule allowed.  Just such an opening would appear at the BARC’s Oulton Park Spring Meeting on Saturday, April 6.

Full report next week.

Pictures: LAT Photographic and writer’s archiveS2390001

It’s 1963 and the season’s under way…


Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the countdown widget on the right, entitled “Fifty Years Ago”, is actually keyed to an upcoming race that happened in 1963 – in this case the Lombank Trophy race at Snetterton on March 30.

The reason for this is twofold:  one, it’s 50 years since that amazing year when Jim Clark won 70 per cent of the F1 championship rounds to secure his first World Championship.  Along the way, he also finished second in the Indy 500, won numerous non-championship F1, sports, GT and touring car events and, together with Colin Chapman’s low-line, monocoque Lotus 25, changed the face of motor racing in general.

The second reason is because 1963 and 2013 share the same days – ie, February 15 was a Friday in both years.  Because of that, and because I’ve always been fascinated by how a driver like Clark managed to cram so much racing into such a tight schedule, I’m going to try to take us through Clark’s 1963 season as 2013 unfolds.  Thus the reference to Snetterton on March 30: it was Clark’s first race of the season.  We can think of it as we think of it now – as a Saturday in (hopefully!) the early British spring.

Let me begin, then, by bringing you up to speed:  the 1962 season ended with a classic showdown in East London, South Africa.  Jim and Graham Hill went into the December 29 finale knowing that only one could win – and the title went to Hill.  Jim was leading when a bolt worked loose.  The engine slowly lost its oil.  Jim, Colin and Hazel Chapman and the Team Lotus mechanics could only sit and watch from the pits as Graham cruised to victory.

There was little time, though, for post-mortems – not that they happened much in 1962.  For most drivers, a mechanical retirement was more likely than a reliable finish;  and, after a while, as Dan Gurney once said, you got used to the disappointments.  “It was just one of those things that happen in motor racing and it couldn’t be helped,” said Jim at the time.  “Graham had become World Champion deservedly.”

Jim returned immediately to the UK while many of his peers travelled on to New Zealand and Australia for the international series.  (Graham, as newly-crowned World Champion, was obliged to spend 12 hours in quarantine in Karachi due to a flight delay – he had no yellow fever inoculation – and then contracted tonsillitis in New Zealand.  He returned to England for an operation, leaving his Ferguson in the hands of Innes Ireland, and then flew back to Australia for the Feb 10 AGP at Warwick Farm.)  I’m not exactly clear why Jim didn’t compete in the Antipodies that January/February.  Team Lotus had given him a one-off drive in a Lotus 21 at Sandown Park, Victoria, in March, 1962, but didn’t enter the 1963 series in either New Zealand or Australia.  I suspect this was because Colin Chapman had decided to put a massive effort into the new Indianapolis 500 programme and had scheduled early-year tests for the new Lotus 29 in both in the UK and the USA.   The Ford-powered Indy car ran first at Snetterton in February, where it was set up with normal, symmetric suspension.  “To my mind, the engine we had in for that first test didn’t go too well, because the timing was a little out,” Jim told Alan Brinton.  “But though we were a trifle disappointed with the power, the car was certainly quicker on the straights than anything I’d driven before.  Even in this state the prototype comfortably broke my existing 2.5 litre lap record by a couple of seconds.”

Almost immediately afterwards, Jim flew to Ford’s high-speed proving ground in Kingman, Arizona, a circuit Jim described as “a beautiful track, about five miles around, with two banked curves each of about 1.25 miles.”  Dan Gurney, who had instigated the Lotus Indy programme, and who was to race a second Lotus 29 at Indy, was also present at the Kingman tests.  “We lapped at about 165 mph without using much of the banking,” recalled Jim.  “It was quite a change after the F1 Lotus and made for exciting driving.”

Those runs complete, Jim then returned to the UK – to Edington Mains, his farm on the Scottish Borders. 08-26-2010_53 He would move to a London base in 1964 but in 1963 his home was still in Scotland – and frequent were his road trips to and from the Lotus factory in Cheshunt.  The Lotus Elan had yet to be released so, for now, Jim was driving a prototype Lotus-Cortina.  “A number of development Lotus-Cortinas were built but when the model was announced in January, 1963, there was just the one vehicle built to the proper specification,” he wrote in Jim Clark at the Wheel.  “As it turned out, the Lotus-Cortinas were not raced until late in the season – but they proved to be worth waiting for.   I had already tried the Harry Mundy-inspired twin-cam engine in an Anglia in 1962 and I first drove a Cortina with a 140bhp version of the same engine in October, 1962.   It really surprised me and gave me just about as much of a thrill as the F1 car.  On the way to Snetterton for trials I thought the acceleration was out of this world for a family saloon but on the circuit for the first time I found the handling a bit odd.  That afternoon we had a good chuckle at Colin.  He decided to take the car round just after a short rain shower.  He left the pits and then suddenly there was silence.  We climbed into our cars and tore around the circuit to find Colin standing there, peering under the bonnet of the Cortina, muttering something about the engine cutting out.  I happened to notice some criss-cross tyre marks on the road behind him, so I sidled up to him, suggesting that perhaps an ignition lead had probably come loose when he had spun the car.  He turned bright red and admitted that he hadn’t been sure which had happened first!”

We’ll report next from the 50-lap, 133-mile non-championship F1 Lombank Trophy at Snetterton, where the entry includes two works BRMs for Graham Hill and Richie Ginther, a single Team Lotus entry for Jim Clark, Bruce McLaren in the works Cooper and two BRP Lotus 24s for Innes Ireland and Jim Hall (of future Chaparral fame).    I see also that Morris Nunn is entered in a Cooper;  it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on.  Graham Hill and Roy Salvadori head the Saloon Car field with their 3.8 Jaguars (although Sir John Whitmore should be spectacular in the works Mini-Cooper) and the new World Champion will be out again in the 25-lap Sports Car race, this time in the John Coombs Jaguar E-Type.  Can’t wait.

S2290002

Louis T Stanley – son of the PM

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about the enormity of the contribution made to Formula One by Louis T Stanley.  Married to Jean, the sister of Sir Alfred Owen, the co-owner of BRM, Louis T effectively was BRM in their glory years – and through to the end.  Along the way, he published his own F1 annuals, featuring his own photographs, and wrote numerous books, the most memorable of which were undoubtedly Golf With Your Hands and Lawn Tennis. Stanley was fond of candid portrait shots and would typically like to picture Tony Brooks drinking a cup of water and write as a caption: “Tony Brooks – speaks directly, but in no way loquacious”, or write this about the legendary Mercedes team manager, Alfred Neubauer: “He combines the manner of Friar Tuck with the authority of a dictator.  Vaguely reminscent of the ‘man of very stout countenance’ in Bunyan, who bellowed at the keeper of the Book of Life: ‘Set down my name, Sir!’ and hacked his way thereafter through an army into Heaven….”  Not your average SkyTV soundbite presenter, in other words.

A pioneer of safety in F1, Louis T was responsible for the arrival of the mobile Grand Prix Medical Unit in 1967 and was a great supporter of Sir Jackie Stewart and all that patently needed to be done to make racing safer in the 1960s.  He is pictured below, indeed, at a Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) meeting in South Africa, 1969.  Sir Jackie is in the centre, speaking to Graham Hill, Chris Amon, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Jacky Ickx, Jochen Rindt, Denny Hulme and Mario Andretti among others – and there, on the side, immaculately dressed, as ever, is Louis T Stanley.

I mention all this because a lurid book has just been written by Bobbie Neate in which the author claims that Louis T Stanley protected a secret for most of  his natural life – to wit, that he was actually the illegitimate son of the British Prime Minister, HH Asquith.  Neate was Stanley’s stepdaughter but never knew of this background until she began to research the family history.  In F1 Louis T was always known for the affectation of his – how shall I put it – upper-class ways, so now I guess we can all appreciate why he was the way he was.  So Lordly did he appear to foreign drivers that most of them called him “Sir Louis” even without thinking about it.  “Yes, Sir Louis.  Tea at the Dorchester.  I’ll be there”: they all said it – from Pedro Rodriguez to Jo Siffert to Jackie Oliver to Larry Perkins – and yes, to that real knight of the realm, Jackie Stewart.  Stanley-bashers loved to call him a fraud.  Now – assuming we are all over the the business of being “illegitimate” – we can all look back at Louis T and raise our hats.  He indeed had the pedigree.

Bearing in mind that Louis T obviously didn’t want this information to be made public, I suspect Neate’s book is on the scandal/resentment side, and therefore probably very negative (sadly);  I have to confess, though, that I’ve only read its “Product Description”.  If you’d like to buy it, go to Amazon.com and search for Conspiracy of Secrets.  Me?  I think I’ll re-read The Beauty of Women and Journey Through Cornwall by Louis T Stanley.

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