ATLAS F1   Volume 7, Issue 13 Email to Friend   Printable Version

Atlas F1   Rear View Mirror

Backward glances at racing history


Three of Three: A Tale of the Life and
Times of the Grand Prix World, 1966 to 1968
by Don Capps, U.S.A.

Part 5: Wagging Tongues - All the Racing News That Fits...

At the end of a season, the attention of Racing Scribes - and the other members of the Motoring Yellow Press, the journalistsÖ. - is usually given over to wrapping up the business of the season just winding down and more and more at the season that is now approaching. Here, courtesy of several leading magazines of the day, is what set tongues to wagging on the current scene and speculation of what is to come as seen from the perspective of late 1965. Keep in mind this is a different time and that news often took time to reach the hinterlands...

The word now is that the collaboration between Harry Weslake and Dan Gurney for an engine for the new season will definitely be a vee-12, although there is thought to be a vee-8 still under consideration. The Len Terry design for the chassis is said to be still on the drawing table and will be produced in the United States. Both car and engine should be ready to go by the first race of the season at Monaco.

The new Cooper, which will be powered by a Maserati vee-12, is said to be a monocoque, not a space frame as earlier thought.

Bruce McLaren denies that the persistent rumor that Firestone has bought his team. Despite the heavy use by Firestone of the McLaren team for tire testing, McLaren states that the heavy tire testing schedule by the Akron firm is simply a business relationship.

Colin Chapman is stating that he will not return to Indy in the Spring unless it is an all-British effort. A variant of the Ford engine that Cosworth is working on is state to be the basis for an engine that should be ready for Indianapolis in 1968. Until then, Chapman is anticipating using the planned Indianapolis version of the new BRM engine.

Jack Brabham will use a vee-8 next season. It is a variant of the engine that Repco was is developing to replace the Coventry Climax FPF in the Tasman Series. The engine is called the Type 620. Word has it that it can be punched out to 4.2-litres which makes a return to Indianapolis a strong possibility for Brabham.

The Owen Organisation is said to have as many as 35 firm orders for its new BRM 16-cylinder engine for next season. Asking price is said to be $19,600.

The Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI) of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), is excluding sports racing cars that conform to Group 9 from the events counting for the Manufacturer's Championship. This means that the entries for Lola 70, Chaparral 2, Lotus 40 and similar cars will be denied for Daytona, Sebring and the other events on the calendar. This is said to have sent Jim Hall looking for a copy of the GT Prototype regulations.

Speaking of sports racers, talk is that there is going to be a series for the big banger sports cars next Fall. It is supposed to include both East and West Coast pro races.

Jim Hall is looking for a single-seater series to compete in either next season or no longer than 1967. Odds are that it will be powered by a Chevrolet. Hall is said to waiting for word on how the United States Auto Club (USAC) Board votes on its regulations for 1967 and beyond.

Both Honda and Ferrari are said to be very considering Indianapolis efforts by no later than 1968 and perhaps even 1967. The new USAC three-litre formula is said to be the reason for the interest.

The USAC Board decision on the three-litre formula is now said to be in danger. Between powerful lobbying, fear of cost escalations, and good old xenophobia, it seems that there might now be enough votes to overturn the previous decision to change the rules for the USAC Championship Cars. When Dale Drake sent word that he would not start work on a new three-litre car until he had a minimum of $250,000 up front, enthusiasm for the new rules cooled significantly. Some of the alternatives in the new three-litre rules are getting a second look by many car owners: two-litres supercharged or rotary (Wankel) engines -4.5-litres unsupercharged or 2.8-litres supercharged.

The Solid Money for next season is on:

  • Ferrari and John Surtees for the World Championship.
  • A.J. Foyt for the USAC National Championship.
  • Jim Hall and Chaparral to sweep the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC).
  • Ditto for the new Group 9 Fall Championship where the Chaparral team should dominate.
  • Ferrari for the win at Le Mans - the Blue Oval will fall short once again.
  • Richard Petty for sweeping the Grand National Championship - just go ahead and engrave the name on the trophy now.

Group 9 cars of Appendix J, Category C of the infamous FIA "Yellow Book" are gaining lots of attention lately.

  • The new Chaparral - the 2C - is a radical departure from anything else out there, especially the flipping spoiler on the engine deck. Clever those gentlemen out in Midland.
  • The new Mirage by Jack Nethercutt looks splendid. Pete Brock of the Cobra Daytona Coupes fame did the bodywork.
  • The Lola 70 is a big hit both on the track and in the looks category. Plus it can hold about any size Chevy or Ford or Oldsmobile you want to drop in the engine compartment.
  • McLaren is fielding a new car now that the McLaren-Elva is rolling off the line in big numbers. It continues the reliance on the Traco Oldsmobile and looks like it could give the Chaparral team a run for their money.
  • There is something called the Ford X-1 or the GTX or the GTX-1 - all seem to be used interchangeably when referring to the car. Apparently it is a project McLaren is doing for Ford that Roy Lunn is honchoing. It seem to be a GT-40 with the roof cut off and a 427 jammed in the rear.
  • The new Genie Mark 10 is said to be capable of handling a MOPAR 426 Hemi being squeezed into its engine compartment.
  • The best cars built in Palatine, Illinois are built by Mike McKee. Some of them are called the "Chevette" and others the "LMD Special." The latter holds a big block MOPAR hemi.

Speaking of races:

  • At Laguna Seca, Walt Hansgen beat the Chaparral team driving his Mecom Racing Team Lola 70 - Ford with the Hap Sharp Chaparral in second place.
  • At Bridgehampton for the Double 500, Hap Sharp wins by two laps over Pedro Rodriguez in a North American Racing Team (NART) Ferrari 365P2. Third was a Shelby Cobra 427 driven by Dick Thompson and Skip Scott.
  • The Southern 500 was a close thing for Ned Jarrett in his Ford - he was 14 laps ahead of the second placed Plymouth shared by Buck and Buddy Baker. A crash on the second lap resulted in fatal injuries to driver Buren Skeen. Sam McQuagg and Cale Yarborough touched while battling for position and Yarborough went sailing over the guardrail and into the parking lot. Cale was uninjured and tried to find a way back inside the track before parking the Ford Galaxy 500 in the rear of the stands.
  • Honda, Goodyear, and Richie Ginther teamed up to gain their first victory at the Mexican Grand Prix. In second place was fellow American Dan Gurney in a Brabham.

Scuderia Serenissima is speaking to Masten Gregory about leading its Grand Prix effort next year.

There is a strong possibility that Scuderia Centro Sud will not field a team next season. One hint is the offer spotted recently in a leading US magazine: "Graham Hill 1962 World Championship BRM V-8. Completely overhauled by BRM Bourne ready to race or show. Numerous spares. Centro Sud, Via Rovani 10, Monza, Italy." No price mentioned, but a generous cash donation should do the trick.

Lou Meyer and Dale Drake have dissolved their partnership, Drake buying out Meyer. No word on when the new three-litre engine will be available, but Drake is working on a supercharged Offy for next Spring at Indy.

Although Walt Hansgen and Hap Sharp were the guys up front collecting the silverware, the star of the show at Laguna Seca was Jerry Grant in the Allen Green-entered Lotus 19 - Chevrolet. Despite a litany of problems, Grant finished fourth and got a cool $2,300 for his efforts.

The Times Grand Prix at Riverside was a veritable Who's Who of Racing. On the scene were: Jim Clark, Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Graham Hill, Parnelli Jones, A.J. Foyt, Jackie Stewart, Charlie Hayes, Bob Bondurant, and the Usual Suspects. Hap Sharp collected the dinnerware and the big check for winning the race. There were almost 80 entries for the race. Nearly every one of them showed up for the race.

It was said to be the Gurney, but now the Dan Gurney Grand Prix car will apparently be called either the Eagle or the American Eagle. At this time it is unclear which it will be.

The McLaren prototype for his new Grand Prix car - not to be called the Kiwi as some wags have suggested - is already a money-maker for the team. Currently using a 4.5-litre Traco Oldsmobile engine, the car is used almost constantly in tire testing for Firestone. However, still no official word on the teamís plans for next season. However, McLaren is now free from his contract with Cooper.

The gossip at Riverside has Phil Hill joining Richie Ginther at Honda next season. With the departure of Bruce McLaren, Jochen Rindt moves up at Cooper. The lineup at Ferrari is said to be John Surtees, Lorenzo Bandini, and Ludovico Scarfiotti joining the two as the occasional third driver.

Send Edward L. Gaus of 250-B Eaton Crest Drive, Eatontown, New Jersey 07724 a check or money order for $2,750 and then drop by to pick up your very own Ferrari 212 Inter - complete with Michelin X tires and only 1,400 miles on the block after an overhaul.

For a mere pittance of $4,700, you can get D.W. Culver of 2616 Davis Street, Rancho Cordova, California out of "financial situation" and drive home in a Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing - no. 391 in fact.

In husband Craig's Spirit of America Land Speed Record (LSR) vehicle, Lee Breedlove sets a new LSR for women. She blasts down and back on the Bonneville Salt Flats for an average speed of 308.56mph. This bests the mark just set by Betty Skelton in the Art Arfons-owned Cyclops of 277.62mph.

The Honda that Richie Ginther used to win the Mexican Grand Prix used the following bits - Goodyear tires, Halibrand wheels, Girling brakes, Smiths instruments, and Koni shock absorbers.

After the result in this year's USRRC where George Follmer bested Jim Hall for the Championship, the SCCA is changing the rules. From now on there will be a separate championship for the Under-two litre cars.

At the Northwest GP at Kent, the crowd favorite of the new spoilers being used was not the neat flipper on the new Chaparral, but the Bardahl sign pressed into service by Terry Kriss and Larry Webb for the Allen Green Lotus 19 driven by Jerry Grant. It was needed when the bodywork flew off during practice. Then the Lotus fell off the truck.

Chris Amon drove the new McLaren Ford GTX at Riverside.

Jim Clark managed to bring his Lotus 40 (the 30 with 10 more mistakes) - Ford home in second place at Riverside - beat up nose and all. Many think it one of the best examples of his uncanny ability to nurse a car home.

The widow of Bobby Marshman is suing Ford Motor Company for $5,000,000. She is claiming that Ford is responsible for the mechanical failure that resulted in the death of Marshman when his Lotus - Ford crashed at Phoenix while testing last year. Marshman suffered fatal burns when a component failure sent him into the wall which ruptured the fuel tanks of the Lotus.

From a total purse of $49,000, Hap Sharp pocketed $14,640 for his winning effort at Riverside.

Until six laps from the end, the National 400 at Charlotte was a ding-dong battle between A.J. Foyt and Freddie Lorenzen. That was when Foyt spun, tapped the guardrail, spun again, and had two tires burst, putting him out of the hunt. Lorenzen went on to win with rookie sensation Dick Hutcherson in second, but a fourth place finish was all Ned Jarrett needed to clinch the Grand National Championship. Sadly, a crash at the end of the first lap ended in the death of occasional driver Harold Kite.

Despite a Traco Oldsmobile being in the rear of the GP prototype, the engine the McLaren will use next season will not be an Oldsmobile vee-8 or based on an Oldsmobile block. It will be a Ford Indy vee-8 that will be engineered at Traco. It is going to be de-stroked to meet the three-litre displacement limit. McLaren is quick to point out that this is an independent effort with no help at all from Ford - although he would happily accept any help offered. At Traco working on the project are team mechanics Gary Knutson and Tyler Alexander. The modifications to the Indy vee-8 are the work of Bill Lacey and Nick von Rucker. Currently two engines are being readied with more to follow. Designer Robin Herd is using computers to help in the design of the McLaren cars. A computer system owned by Elliott Automation is being used to run engineering calculations in minutes versus the usual hours needed to do such work.

The new Lotus 41 uses a spaceframe chassis rather than the usual monocoque designs that Lotus seems to prefer. Asking price for a 41 is about $6,930.

Porsche is ready to take orders for its new customer racer, the Carerra 6, The factory is asking for Deutsche Mark 45,000 for one ready to go - that's about $11,000 for US racers.

After mulling things over, Chaparral is going to run the GT Prototype series next season according to Jim Hall. The Challenge Mondial as it is known, consists of the Daytona race, the Sebring 12 Hours, the Targa Florio, the Nurburgring 1000K, and - of course - Le Mans. Plans are to convert two of the cars used last season. No decision as yet as to whether or not they will race in "roadster" or coupe form. The latter option is thought to be pretty remote. The lead team will be Phil Hill and Joakim Bonnier.

The USAC Board just announced that it is not going to support the earlier decision to switch to three-litre engines for the Champ Cars. With the current Ford vee-8 price jumping from $15,000 to $20,000 for the coming season, enthusiasm waned significantly. Even at $20,000 a copy, Ford is said to be losing $10,000 per engine it produces.

For those curious about such things, here are the assignments of the Chaparral cars last season and the team mechanics: no. 1, Troy Rogers; no. 2, Wesley Sweet; no. 3, Franz Weis; the 2C, Carl Schmid; the 2B development car - which is not raced, Randy Gilbert. The new GT prototype car will be called the 2D.

Notes on faces on the grid: David Hobbs was sixth at Kent in a Lola 70 - Chevrolet; Augie Pabst was 10th at Riverside and fifth at Las Vegas in his Scarab; Tony Settember was 12th at Riverside in a Lotus 30 - Ford; Lothar Motschenbacher was ninth at Las Vegas in a Cooper - Ford.

The Canadian Driver's Championship paralleled the situation in the United States when the Champion used a Lotus 23B to win the title, this time with a Ford twincam in the back rather than a Porsche. Former Aussie Bob McLean of Vancouver, British Columbia won the crown from former Champ Ludwig Heimrath in his McLaren-Elva.

The Cooper spaceframe chassis seen circulating is thought to be the same chassis built for the Coventry Climax flat-16 which never materialized this season. Roy Salvadori was recently seen at the wheel.

Big news is that the United States Grand Prix will not employ the traditional starting money system for the race next October. The plan announced by race organizer Cam Argetsinger is that the race will have a purse in excess of $100,000. This is the biggest purse ever for a road racing event. The win will fetch $20,000, second place $10,000, third place $7,000, and so on down to 20th place which is worth $2,800. This announcement has attracted the attention of drivers with names like Foyt, Jones, Andretti, and even Hall. Even Lorenzen has been mentioned as being interested at a shot at the big money.

Firestone has now signed Lotus for next season. Chapman loins McLaren, Chaparral, and Mecom. Goodyear has lined up Gurney, Shelby, Brabham, and Honda. Dunlop seems to have BRM, Cooper, and perhaps Ferrari.

More is being revealed about the new Brabham engine: the Repco Brabham Type 620, or RB620. From the decision to build the engine to its first run on the dynamometer on 21 March at Richmond in Victoria was only 51 weeks. The RB620 is the work of Frank Hallan and Phil Irving. It uses the block from the 1961 to 1963 Oldsmobile F85 cars, not the Buick as many have speculated. One reason is that the Buick has a five stud pattern around each cylinder and the Oldsmobile has six studs. It is hoped that the engine will reach 320bhp and be reliable.

The Lamborghini 350GT is now available in the United States. List price is $13,900 on the East Coast and higher out West.

Du Pont is introducing a new material for use in uniforms for firefighters and others that need protection from fire such as racing drivers. Developed for use by the military for use in aviation (the Navy was the first to use it), Nomex will be available early next year. It is a double layer system, a uniform of the material worn over another layer of what is essentially long john underwear. The cost of the uniform is thought to run in the $75 range and the Nomex underwear is already available from Sears for $19.54.

At the season-ending Nassau Speed Weeks, Hap Sharp in his Chaparral once again collected the silverware by winning the Nassau Trophy. The trophy case at Midland is probably full by now and they will have to find more space. Jim Hall had the front suspension of his Chaparral collapse and crashed while pursuing Sharp. Hall crashed into a Fiat Abarth 850 parked at the side of the track - where its driver had left it after it retired from the race. Hall was okay, but not much could be said for the car.

A.J. Foyt parked his Lotus 40 after about 15 laps. He quit in disgust when the Kalifornia Kustom Blue Lotus staggered around the track and could barely get out of its own way.

Ford wants you to know that the GT-40 is indeed a production car and you can purchase one for a price starting at about $15,000.

Its H-16 is really two flat-8's stacked together says BRM. Working is progressing on the five engines the team plans to use with an additional seven planned for the customers. More will be produced once the engine gets more development. No word on the Indy version - yet.

Latest word is that the Grifo Grand Prix project is looking for a sponsor. Giotto Bizzarini hopes that he can cut a deal and place a Maserati vee-12 in the Grifo. No driver has been named, but there have been inquiries.

Scuderia Centro Sud is planning to campaign the new Lamborghini 350 GTV transverse/rear-engined car in next year's GT Prototype events. On the GP front, Centro Sud just might fielding a team after all. Bizzarini is offering to rebuild one of the teamís BRM cars to accept either a Maserati four-cylinder engine for use on slow circuits like Monte Carlo, or a Maserati vee-12 for the fast circuits such as Reims.

Goodwood was the scene of tests for both the new Brabham and the new Cooper recently. Black Jack had a best lap of 1min 18.7sec. Jochen Rindt had a best time of 1min 18.5sec.

With the recent decision by the USAC Board not to go to three-litres, more attention is now shifting to the announcement made earlier this year by USAC concerning its decision to allow "American stock production block design, single non-overhead camshaft, removable head engines" to compete at Indy and elsewhere on the Championship Trail. The Chaparral name keeps popping up as a distinct possibility. The rules will allow the engines to be 5.0 litres (305.1 cubic inches) normally aspirated or 3.3-litres (203.4 cubic inches) if supercharged.

Here are some names of Americans (of the US type) competing in Europe this season: Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Masten Gregory, Bob Bondurant, Ronnie Bucknum, Peter Revson, Roy Pike, Ralph Peterson, Cliff Haworth, Tommy Hitchcock, Harry Stiller, and Steve Matchett.

On 9 November, New York City and parts of eight states and two provinces in the Northeast suffer a massive blackout that lasts up to 12 hours in places.

The new Ferrari GP car was unveiled recently. One item noticed by all was the presence of slick tires on the car. The tires were threadless and any identifying marks removed since Ferrari has not announced a decision as to which tire company he will use during the coming season. Most think he will stay with Dunlop.

More on the McLaren GP car: the chassis is made of a material called "Mallite." It is two sheets of aluminum bonded to a filler of balsa wood. It is said to be both strong and light. The engine bay can be modified to accept the new BRM H-16 should the Ford program run into any problems. Chris Amon has signed on as the second driver with McLaren.

On 18 November, it is announced that there have been the deaths of 1,095 American GI's in Viet-Nam.

The Cooper mule has been very busy lately. The engine tests have seen the following sharing the driving chores: Roy Salvadori, Innes Ireland, Jochen Rindt, and Denis Hulme. Word is that Richie Ginther has signed for Cooper to partner Rindt for the season.

No word on who will replace Ginther at Honda, but apparently Ronnie Bucknum and Phil Hill will be the team drivers for the season. The new car is expected to run at Spa, skipping Monte Carlo.

The new South African Champion is John Love. Love dominated the series in his Cooper - Climax FPF. This season the series was run to the new Grand Prix formula.

On 10 December, Mary Quant introduces the "Mini-skirt" at her King's Road boutique.

The New Year opens with the South African Grand Prix at East London. Jack Brabham is rumored to be entering the race with a new car using the new Repco engine. There is also word that Cooper will race the Cooper - Maserati mule. McLaren is supposedly entering the GP prototype powered with either a Ford Indy vee-8 or a Climax FPF. There is hope that the new Gurney will make the race as well, powered by a Climax FPF since the American Eagle engine isn't ready yet.

The Number One Song on Billboard Hot 100 in the United States is "Over and Over" by the Dave Clark Five. It replaces the previous Number One Song - now in second place, "Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds. This will be the only DC5 tune to top the US charts. Down in the fifth position is "Sounds of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkle.

Until next time, Mister Peabody, Sherman, Karl Oakie, and I will be frantically scrambling to write an episode on...

Next: "Is it 1966 Already?!"

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Don Capps© 2007 autosport.com
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