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. Continue reading

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44 years ago today Jim Clark died at Hockenheim

I was sat quietly pondering about the lack of international motor sport over the Easter weekend; no F1, NASCAR or IndyCar, and reminiscing about the glory days of the sort of events we could enjoy when I was a teenager, those races where several of the F1 stars of the day would turn out to drive a GT or saloon in one or more events on non GP weekends and we had plenty of non championship F1 races too.

We also had F2, and of course it was in one of those races that we lost Jim Clark, 44 years ago today. I’ve written at length about that day here in another blog post so I won’t go all over it again, but it underlined those words that used to appear in motor sport programmes and on the back of tickets: Motor Racing is Dangerous.

It is of course a lot safer today and I would not want to go back to the days of such high risk, even for those with the highest skills, but I must say that those days of my youth were times when there was more opportunity to watch racing here in the UK and also to get close to the top drivers.

Anyway, with the recent loss of Alan Mann, we have lost another key player in that April day 44 years ago, for had the cards fallen slightly differently, Jim Clark and Graham Hill might have been at Brands Hatch driving for Mann instead. As it happened they loaded up the Lotus 48s and went to the European Championship F2 race deep in the woods of southern Germany and Jim’s number was up.

That’s how things were back in those days. Motor racing was dangerous.

 

where did all the Easter motor racing go?

When I was really getting into motorsport as a teenager the Easter break was a veritable treasure trove of racing here in the UK.

Take 1967 for example; Good Friday saw the F2 European championship circus at Snetterton and then they all trooped over to Silverstone and did it again on Easter Monday. Both events were also supported by the British Saloon Car and Sports Car Championships. In F2 Jochen Rindt beat Graham Hill in Norfolk and his own team mate Alan Rees at Silverstone, Jackie Oliver won both saloon car outings in Alan Brown’s Mustang and Paul Hawkins in his own GT40 beat Denny Hulme in Sid Taylor’s similar car on Friday with that result being reversed in Monday’s race.

All frantic activity, and there were club races up and down the country to choose from as well. We were spoiled for choice really, but now we don’t get any major racing over the holiday weekend at all. Shame really, but there you go. At least I have the memories of the Easter weekends that I was able to enjoy as a teenager.

If you’re interested to research some of the racing further, try these links:

British Sports Car Championship

1967 British Saloon Car Championship

motorsport rewind – 1971 Rome GP F2 from Vallelunga

F2 began to lose its way a bit towards the second half of the 1970s perhaps, but in 1971 it was still thriving, and you could still find a crop of Grand Prix drivers turning out and plenty of dicing all down the grid. It was still possible to turn up at Brabham, March, Lotus, Tecno or wherever with a bag of cash and buy a competitive car if you had the funds and you too could be part of the fun.

Thanks to Roy Pagliacci, here’s some home made cine film of the 1971 Rome GP, a qualifying round of the European championship, and marvel at how close the racing was. Here you have two future World Champions, 1 current GP winner, 6 future GP and 3 future Le Mans winners amongst the entry.

Look down the list of drivers below and see just how cosmopolitan it all was. There are drivers from many parts of Europe, plus North and South America and Australia taking part. This was still in the 1600cc powered era with the Cosworth FVA as the power unit of choice for most, although the BMW unit was still a competitive option as evidenced by Questor’s second place.

Note also the race time of 1 hour 26 minutes for winner Ronnie Peterson, just 10  minutes less that Lewis Hamilton took to win in China last week in F1. These people earned their money, even if they did do it over two heats sometimes.

Along the way in Roy’s film you’ll also see the F850 cars (Italy’s answer to Formula Ford) racing. The winner of that race? One Lella Lombardi, the only lady grand prix driver to finish in the points so far, and sadly no longer with us.

Lella’s half point for the shortened 1975 Spanish GP is sometimes regarded as a bit of a fluke, but the lady could drive; she was only tiny, but managed 7th in the German GP at the Nurburgring, no mean feat, handled F5000 with aplomb and later qualified 29th (of 43) for the NASCAR Firecracker 400 at Daytona in 1977, being classified 31st after retiring with transmission problems.

Here are the results of the 70 lap 1971 F2 Rome GP race:

Pos No Driver Entrant Car – Engine Race Time
1 1 Ronnie Peterson Smog – March Engineering March 712M – Cosworth FVA 1:25’57.2″
2 5 Dieter Quester Eifelland Caravans March 712M – BMW M11 1:26’07.8″
3 2 Carlos Reutemann AC Argentina – YPF Brabham BT36 – Cosworth FVA 1:26’38.9″
4 33 Mike Beuttler Clarke Mordaunt March 712M – Cosworth FVA 1:26’51.2″
5 10 Gerry Birrell J. & J. Stanton Lotus 69 – Cosworth FVA 1:27’07.7″
6 13 John Watson John Watson Brabham BT30 – Cosworth FVA 1:27’10.0″
7 8 Niki Lauda Bosch Racing Team March 712M – Cosworth FVA 1:27’15.3″
8 12 John Cannon John Cannon March 712M – Cosworth FVA 1:27’40.5″
9 25 Carlos Ruesch AC Argentina – YPF Brabham BT36 – Cosworth FVA 1:27’44.9″
10 29 Claudio Francisci Racing Team IRIS Ceramiche Tecno TF71 – Cosworth FVA 69 laps
11 28 Giovanni Salvati Scuderia Ala d’Oro March 712M – Cosworth FVA 69
12 22 Freddy Link Jolly Club Switzerland March 712M – Cosworth FVA 68
13 26 Carlos Pace Frank Williams Motul March 712M – Cosworth FVA 68
14 14 Silvio Moser Silvio Moser Brabham BT30/36 – Cosworth FVA 67
15 11 Peter Westbury F.I.R.S.T. Brabham BT36 – Cosworth FVA 66
NC 7 Jean-Pierre Jaussaud Shell – Meubles Arnold Team March 712M – Cosworth FVA 63
NC 38 Henri Pescarolo Frank Williams Motul March 712M – Cosworth FVA 61
NC 36 Emerson Fittipaldi Team Bardahl Lotus 69 – Cosworth FVA 37
NC 6 Wilson Fittipaldi Team Bardahl March 712M – Cosworth FVA 11
NC 4 Francois Cevert Equipe Tecno Elf Tecno TF71 – Ford BDA 6
NC 3 Tim Schenken Rondel Racing Brabham BT36 – Cosworth FVA 6
NC 39 Derek Bell Frank Williams Motul March 712M – Cosworth FVA 3

NASCAR got something right

I was very critical here the other week about NASCAR’s changes to the points system, but I didn’t mention the rule about only running in one championship. That has led to the situation where none of the three race winners at Daytona is leading the title race, becuase they are all nominated on a different division.

That is fine by me. I believe that it is right that the guys running in the Nationwide and Camping World series can race for the title without interference from more experienced guys. They still get to race against them, but having them out of the title race makes sense to me. It’s what we had here in Europe in the great days of F2 where the grand prix stars would turn out against the up and coming drivers, but only the latter could run for the title.

So praise where it is due. NASCAR generally do a great job, and this rule change is another example of that. I’ll still complain about some things, but I’m happy to acknowledge that they got this one right.

RIP Jaques Swaters & Tom Walkinshaw

Sad news that both Jacques Swaters and Tom Walkinshaw have passed away.

Amongst their other achievements they both ran successful sports car teams, but both did so much more in their lives.

Jaques Swaters managed a few F1 drives in the early 1950s and later founded the legendary Ecurie Francorchamps team that campaigned Ferraris, and other cars, at Le Mans and other major events, famously coming close to winning the 1965 Le Mans.

Tom Walkinshaw was a winner in Formula Ford in the late 60s before moving through to F2. He later made a name in tin tops winning the European title and founding the TWR team that came to success pretty much in every class they entered, including the Group C Le Mans Jaguars of the late 1980s.

Two more giants of the sport lost, but memories of what they achieved live on.

RIP both

7th April 1968 – Jim Clark and that F2 Race

Almost every account you read of Jim Clark’s death at Hockenheim describes the event as “an unimportant F2 race” or “minor F2 race” or similar dismissal.

Regular readers of my blogs will know of my campaign against sloppy use of language, and this is another example of it. I can maybe understand a hack from a mainstream rag getting the wrong idea about one of the world’s leading drivers, and the outstanding talent of that time, running in a Formula 2 event, but motoring journalists should know better. So here’s my effort to set the record straight as I see it. Continue reading

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