Forgotten Motor Races – the 1967 Oulton Park Spring Cup #F1

The Oulton Park Spring Cup held on the 15th of April 1967 was an unusual event in that it was run to help raise money for the grand prix medical unit. It was the second of five formula one races held in England that year, one of which was the British GP.

The F1 season had started with the South African GP in January during the summer months for the southern hemisphere. As was often the case there was little new on offer at the first race of the year and in a race of attrition it was the solid and fairly reliable Cooper Maserati of Pedro Rodriguez that outlasted everyone else to win.

March saw the circus back in Europe and Dan Gurney had won the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch with his Eagle, a generally popular result. Then a couple of weeks later many of the teams headed up to Oulton Park for the Spring Cup.

Oulton Spring Cup a

Louis Stanley of BRM had been appalled by what had happened to Jackie Stewart at Spa the previous year and was determined to do something. The result of his consultations was the Grand Prix Medical Unit, a well-equipped hospital trailer that could be towed to events to provide primary care at the track for an injured driver whilst arrangements could be made to move them to an appropriate hospital.

Such things are not cheap though with the cost rumoured to be around £50,000 and whilst Big Lou dug into his own pocket and others such as Ford helped out, raising funds was necessary, hence slipping the Spring Cup in between the Race of Champions and the International Trophy.

There was a modest field assembled for the two ten lap heats and thirty lap final. Sadly Brands winner Dan did not come and nor did Ferrari or any of the Coopers, but Surtees had his Honda, Jack and Denny had their Brabhams, BRM bought H16s for JYS and Mike Spence, Bruce came along with the BRM powered M4B and Lotus, with the 49 still under test, came with a pair of FVA powered F2 cars; a new 48 for Graham and a 41B for Jackie Oliver (Jim had started his tax exile in Paris and his only UK appearance would be the British GP that year). Amongst the privateers Bob Anderson had his four pot 2.5 litre Climax powered Brabham BT11 whilst the Parnell team had their 2 litre V8 BRM powered Lotus 33 for Piers Courage.

Oulton Spring Cup d

Practice determined the grid for heat one and then the grids for heat two and the final would be decided on the results of the previous races. Jack was running the latest 740 version of the Repco engine in his BT20 and used it to good effect in the early stages, but is was Jackie Stewart who was to take pole position from Denny and Surtees with Mike Spence also getting his P83 going well to claim fifth behind Brabham. McLarenl, Anderson, Hill, Oliver and Courage made up the rest of the grid for the first ten lap thrash.

Denny got the best start while Jack got a flyer off row two to be third into the first corner then to pick off Surtees half way around the circuit for a Brabham one-two at the end of the first lap. Stewart briefly took third before stopping with a fuel pump drive problem and the heat finished after Denny and Jack had traded lap records until the latter pulled up with ignition woes. Denny won easily from the Honda with Mike Spence third from the closely pursuing Hill.

The heat one retirements were back in action for the second ten lapper . Denny was on pole by virtue of having won heat one, but this time it was Surtees and Hill getting the best starts with Hill almost getting the F2 Lotus into the lead from row two. Surtees used the Honda’s F1 grunt to pull away from Hill and Denny slipped by the Lotus to chase down Big John, taking the lead on lap five and leading to the finish from Surtees with Brabham and Stewart having worked their way from the back to finish third and fourth ahead of Spence. Hill’s heroics ended just before the end with a loose oil filter cover on the FVA.

In the final, run over 30 laps, Brabham and Hulme got away first from either side of the front row and ran nose to tail ahead of the Honda. Graham Hill was at it again coming from the back of the grid through to sixth at the end of the first lap, then fifth and up to fourth. Hulme had some car problems and dropped back being passed by Surtees and Hill and then Hill got by the Honda into second on lap nineteen. Whatever was troubling Hulme resolved itself and he quickly got back past Surtees. Hill had a problem near the end and made a quick pit stop re-joining a lap down and the race ended with Jack and Denny one-two ahead of Surtees. Jackie Oliver claimed a fine fourth in his F2 Lotus  the last unlapped car with McLaren fifth, Spence sixth, Anderson seventh and Hill eighth. Courage had retired on the tenth lap with an oil leak and Stewart two laps later having spun off and damaged his suspension. Fastest lap was shared at 1m33.4 by Brabham, Hulme and Hill.

It may not have been a full grid, but those on track put on a bit of a show for the north western crowd with Hill’s giant killing antics being much appreciated in the new F2 Lotus. The Spring Cup was not run again as an F1 race and often photos from the event are confused with the more familiar Gold Cup held later in the year.

 

 

 

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