Grand Prix at Brands Hatch



(March 13th)

With the help of the Daily Mail the B.R.S.C.C. put on a Formula One race on the long circuit at Brands Hatch, which was the opening event of the International Calendar in Europe, and if it was a foretaste of what is to come then we are in for one of the best seasons of Grand Prix racing we are ever likely to see. All the British teams were out in force and Ferrari even sent a V8 car for Surtees to drive, so the race was significant and a pointer to the more important events later this season.

Weather conditions were superb on Friday morning for the first practice session and Clark stirred things up with a fastest lap of 1 min. 35.2 sec., running on 13-in. Goodyear racing tyres, this making the existing record of 1 min. 38.8 sec. look silly. His team-mate Mike Spence was backing him up well, being third fastest, just behind Graham Hill. Team Lotus had three Type 33 cars, one with an older Climax V8 engine with cross-over exhaust system and Goodyear tyres, and the other two on Dunlops with flat-crank engines and low-level exhaust pipes. B.R.M. also had three cars, all with the latest engines with the exhaust ports in the centre of the vee, but one car had a new 6-speed gearbox in which there was no step-down drive between the engine and gearbox. Unfortunately the engine went sick on this car, so Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart were using identical cars. The V8 Ferrari had arrived the day before for some unofficial practice and the engine had broken, so the first official session was spent with the Ferrari mechanics making an engine change. The Brabham team of Jack Brabham and Gurney were not much better off, for the American’s car developed injection pump trouble while being warmed-up in the paddock. It was a brand new unit and as the car had to be taken back to Byfleet for repairs, Gurney was without a car. Brabham had no tyre problems as his team are signed on with Goodyears. The two works Coopers were driven by McLaren and Jochen Rindt, and the Walker Team comprised Bonnier with last year’s Brabham-Climax V8 and Siffert with his own Brabham-B.R.M. V8, now running under the Walker colours of blue with a white band on the nose of the car. The Centro-Sud team of Signor Dei having acquired another ex-works space-frame B.R.M. V8 had three cars for drivers Masten Gregory and Scarfiotti to choose from. The Parnell team were running their two Lotus 25-B.R.M. V8 cars, as last year, but now Amon had been replaced by Richard Attwood as partner to Mike Hailwood. A new team in Formula One racing is the Willment team, taking the place of the B.R.P. team, which has retired from Grand Prix racing for the time being. The Willment team had Frank Gardner with their Brabham-B.R.M. V8 and Schlesser with a F.2 Brabham with Lotus-Ford 2-o.h.c. D.W. Racing Enterprises entered Anderson with his Brabham-Climax V8 now converted to short-stroke specification and with Lucas fuel-injection, and Paul Hawkins in Stoop’s Lotus 33-Climax V8, an ex-works car from last year. Raby was driving his own Brabham-B.R.M. V8 and Bob Gerard Racing entered John Taylor with an early Cooper-Climax V8 and Rhodes with an F.2 Cooper with Lotus-Ford 2-o.h.c. engine. To complete the very full entry list were Bloor and Rees with F.2 Brabhams with Lotus-Ford 2-o.h.c. engines.

With the perfect conditions and the continual improvements in tyres, engine power, chassis work and drivers, the three seconds that Clark knocked off the existing lap record was reflected right, down the field, the tail-enders putting in lap times that would have had them up with the works runners last July. Clark’s time in the morning had been impressive but in the afternoon he took the Lotus 33 with flat-crank engine round in 1 min. 34.9 sec. (just over 100 m.p.h.), and this time on Dunlop 13-in. tyres, so we were all back to “square one.” There was no one to challenge Clark, as the Ferrari was not going to the liking of Surtees, and he was not in the running, while Gurney could only practise with Brabham’s car and Graham Hill, although second fastest, was not fast enough. The works Coopers were not in the running but Bonnier in Walker’s car was in good form, leading all the non-works cars and only a fraction of a second slower than the Ferrari. It was very impressive that this was the opening meeting of our season and not only did the entire entry turn up but everyone was driving very fast and nobody did anything silly or had any accidents.

The race was run in two Heats, of 40 laps each, and the grid for Heat 1 was according to practice times. Then there was an interval during which saloon cars played at racing and had accidents all over the place, and then the finishers in Heat 1 lined up for Heat 2 in the order on the grid in which they had finished Heat 1. The overall result was found out by adding the times for the two Heats.

On Saturday morning, with the weather still fine and dry, Gurney was allowed some unofficial practice in his own car, which had been repaired and showed every promise of challenging Clark. The “dummy-grid” system of starting was employed very effectively, and Clark streaked into the lead with Spence hard on his heels, the two immaculate Lotus 33 cars looking most impressive as they set the pace of the race. The driving of Clark and Spence was as impressive as the turn-out of the Team Lotus cars. Gurney had to start in the fifth row, his time on Brabham’s car counting for the grid, and Surtees was in row three due to lack of practice and a car that did not please him. Graham Hill tried desperately to hold on to the works Lotus cars, but gradually lost ground, and Clark was drawing away from Spence. In fourth place was Bonnier, going remarkably well, and it was not until the third lap that Stewart in the second works B.R.M. managed to get past the Swede. Surtees did not seem to be trying too hard and let Brabham go past, they being sixth and seventh.

However, highlight of the race was the progress of Gurney, who had been boxed-in at the start, but soon got free and began a terrific drive, passing car after car, taking them on right or left just as they came. This was Gurney at his best and by lap five he was in eighth place, behind the lone Ferrari. He disposed of Surtees with no trouble at all, and then Bonnier, and began to close on Jack Brabham. Meanwhile Clark was well out in front, pulling away from everyone except Gurney, and the order was the interesting one of Clark, with team-mate Spence in second place, followed by Hill in third place, with team-mate Stewart behind him, and then Brabham with team-mate Gurney behind him. On lap 13 Gurney sailed past his “governor,” to the Australian’s great satisfaction, and took Stewart on the same lap, the young Scottish apprentice moving smartly out of the way when he saw the charging Gurney coming up in his mirrors. This was just as well for Gurney was obviously not easing up for anyone, and on the next lap he was past Graham Hill and after Spence. On lap 22 he was looking into Spence’s mirrors but the Lotus new-boy was not easily intimidated and he kept going, making Gurney work to get by. It took the Californian two laps before he could find a way past the number two Lotus, and on lap 25 the order was Clark, Gurney, Spence, Brabham, Hill, Stewart, Bonnier, Surtees. The Team Lotus pit were keeping Clark well informed and he kept a 20-second lead over Gurney throughout the American’s meteoric progress through the field. Brabham had profited by his team-mate’s progress by tagging on and passing both works B.R.M. cars, in spite of an out-of-balance rear wheel causing great vibration. There was now a deadlock between the two fastest drivers and they continued to circulate with the same gap between them until the end of the race.

Gurney and Clark set up a new lap record, both recording 1 min. 35.6 sec., and the pace had been so hot that some splendid racing by other drivers was almost overlooked. Outstanding was Bonnier who kept the Team Walker Brabham-Climax up amongst the works cars, and he would have finished on the same lap as the leaders had his brakes not failed three laps before the end.

One lap behind the works boys came the rest of the runners, led by Frank Gardner, doing a splendid job with the Willment car, and behind him Siffert and Attwood had an excellent race, the Parnell Team car just getting in front as they crossed the line. Anderson would have been with them had his injection pump control rod not broken earlier on, causing him to spin off at Clearways Corner. The unit went on to full-rich just as he put the power on, the sudden lack of forward thrust when on the limit of adhesion, causing him to spin off, luckily without damage.

A full field of twenty cars had started in Heat 1, so that BIoor, Hawkins, Rhodes and Rees had been forced to stand by as reserves, but the first three were allowed to start in the second Heat. With Gurney now alongside Clark for the second part of the event the situation was most interesting, and with them on the front row was Spence, doing a line job as a number two driver. Having finished 21 sec, ahead of Gurney in the first Heat, all Clark had to do was to let Gurney set the pace and follow him closely and even being second in Heat 2 would still give him overall victory. Anyone who thought Clark would do this obviously knew little about motor racing or racing drivers, and particularly a Scottish racing driver. The moment the flag dropped Clark and Gurney were wheel-to-wheel in an acceleration race tor Paddock Bend, and it was Clark who took the lead as they plunged down the hill. Clark was out to win the second Heat as well as the first, but Gurney was equally determined that he should not, and the order was Clark, Gurney, Spence, Hill, Stewart, Brahham, Surtees, Bonnier in the first group, and Attwood leading the rest.

For three laps it looked as though Clark was going to run away from Gurney but then the Brabham began to gain ground, and on lap five Gurney was right behind the Lotus. There was no-one else in the race to all intents, and for the next six laps we saw Grand Prix racing at its exciting best as Gurney pressed Ckark remorselessly and the Scotsman did all he knew to get away. The Brabham was practically touching the Lotus all the way round the twisty Brands Hatch circuit, and Gurney tried to get by on the inside at South Bank Bend, up under the bridge, a tight line on the inside all the way being a favourite of Gurney. He didn’t quite make it and next lap Clark made sure there was no “inside” line available. The pressure was so great that the rest of the entry were left far behind and cars were retiring unnoticed, for this was a duel with no holds barred. As they finished lap 11 Gurney was alongside Clark and into Paddock he got the nose of the Brabham in front.

Clark could have now settled for second place, knowing he would still win outright, but Clark is a racing driver and into Druids he got the advantage by being on the “Brands Hatch line” on the inside. Down the hill they came together, Clark determined to get the lead back, but now Gurney was on the better line and through Bottom Bend there just isn’t room for two cars abreast and Clark understeered himself off the road onto the grass. All along the bottom straight he worked to get the Lotus back on the road, but he failed and struck an earth bank behind the pits. The car leapt the bank in a shower of dirt and crashed on its wheels and Clark stepped out with a minor bruise, while Gurney went on his way now unchallenged. It was not the outcome anyone expected, for Clark does not usually make mistakes, but it was pretty obvious that Gurney’s Goodyear tyres were developing more cornering force than Clark’s Dunlops.

Gurney now eased back and no sooner had he done this than his engine went sick and he drew into the pits. The damage was inside, so his lead was short-lived, and Jack Brabham took over the lead, or he had passed Stewart, Hill and Spence while the Gurney/Clark dice had been going on, though Hill’s B.R.M. was sick and he soon retired. A water pipe inside the monoeoque chassis had split just before the start and the engine had probably overheated.

Bonnier was still going splendidly, leading Stewart in the works B.R.M. and lying third behind Spence, while Surtees had given up long since, a broken petrol pipe completing his unhappy day. Of the other runners Gardner had once more asserted himself and was leading McLaren, Attwood, Siffert, Hawkins, Rindt and Taylor, and as the big-boys dropped out Gardner was moving up, at the same time closing on Stewart. With the second Heat only half run the field was sadly depleted and looked like getting worse, for Brabham’s car was losing oil from a split pipe: and he could only keep going and hope there would be enough to finish the race. By rights he should have been black-flagged for he was laying drips all round the circuit, but nothing was done and he kept going. However, on lap 29 his race was run, and before the engine blew up he stopped, leaving the lead to Spence, who now led overall as well as in the second Heat. Driving faultlessly, Spence completed the 40 laps to win the overall event and £1,000 for himself and Colin Chapman, and in true number-two driver spirit he upheld Team Lotus honours after the leader had gone out. In the closing stages Gardner tried his hardest to catch Bonnier, having caught and passed Stewart just after half-distance. He got the blue Brabham in sight but the Walker pit crew were wide awake and kept Bonnier informed of the situation, and the Swede pulled out just sufficient to keep in front.

The experiment of running two fairly long Heats was quite a good one for the start of the season, but many organisers have tried it before and inevitably the second Heat starts off well and then fizzles out due to mechanical troubles. It seems that Grand Prix cars do not like to be given a rest, for it is usually after stopping and restarting that unforeseen troubles appear.

The supporting race for saloon cars was a bit of a fiasco, with Clark in a works Lotus-Cortina breaking a wheel off the studs, and Jack Sears in the sister car wearing a tyre through to the air. In typical saloon-car racing fashion the results were amended after the race as the Ford Anglias of Craft and Young were disqualified for cheating technically. It almost goes without saying that B.M.C. Mini cars looped the loop, and there was all the fun of the fair.—D. S. J.


Heat 1 – 40 laps – 170.5 kilometres – warm and dry

1st: J. Clark (Lotus 33-Climax V8) – 1hr. 04 min. 14.0 sec. – 159.357 k.p.h. 

2nd: D. Gurney (Brabham-Climax V8) – 1 hr. 04 min. 34.8 sec.

3rd: M. Spence (Lotus 33-Climax V8) – 1 hr. 05 min. 3.8 sec.

4th: J. Brabham (Brabham-Climax V8) – 1 hr. 05 min. 24.0 sec.

5th: G. Hill (B.R.M. V8) – 1hr. 05min. 25.6 sec.

6th: J. Surtees (Ferrari V8) – 1hr. 05min. 29.2 sec.

7th: J. Stewart (B.R.M. V8) – 1 hr. 05min. 35.6 sec.

8th: J. Bonnier (Brabham-Climax V8) – 39 laps

9th: F. Gardner (Brabham-B.R.M. V8) – 39 laps

10th: R. Attwood (Lotus 25-B.R.M. V8) – 39 laps

11th: J. Siffert (Brabham-B.R.M. V8) – 39 laps

12th: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax V8) – 39 laps

13th: J. Rindt (Cooper-Climax V8) – 39 laps

14th: J. Taylor (Cooper-Climax V8) – 38 laps

15th: I. Raby (Brabham-B.R.M. V8) – 37 laps

16th: L. Scarfiotti (B.R.M. V8) – 28 laps

Fastest lap: J. Clark (Lotus) and D. Gurney (Brabham), in 1min 35.6 sec. – 160.596 k.p.h. (99.79 m.p.h.) (new record)

Retired: M. Gregory (B.R.M. V8), R. Anderson (Brabham-Climax V8), M. Hailwood (Lotus 25-B.R.M. V8), J. Schlesser (Brabham-Ford 4-cyl.)

Non-starters: R. Bloor (Brabham-Ford 4-cyl.), A Rees (Brabham-Ford 4-cyl.), P. Hawkins (Lotus 33-Climax V8), J. Rhodes (Cooper-Ford 4-cyl.).

Heat 2 – 40 laps – 170.5 kilometres – warm and dry

1st: M. Spence (Lotus 33-Climax V8) – 1hr. 06min. 38.2sec – 153.596 k.p.h.

2nd: J. Bonnier (Brabham-Climax V8) – 1hr. 06min. 45.0sec.

3rd: F. Gardner (Brabham-B.R.M. V8) – 1hr. 06min. 55.0sec.

4th: J. Stewart (B.R.M. V8) – 1hr. 07min. 06sec.

5th: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax V8) – 1hr. 07min. 31.2 sec.

6th: J. Siffert (Brabham-B.R.M. V8) – 1hr. 07min. 33.6sec.

7th: J. Rindt (Cooper-Climax V8) – 39 laps 

8th: J. Taylor (Cooper-Climax V8) – 39 laps

9th: I. Raby (Brabham-B.R.M. V8) – 38 laps

Fastest lap: J. Clark (Lotus-Clmax V8), 1min. 35.4sec. – 160.930 k.p.h. (100.00 m.p.h.) (new record)

Retired: R. Anderson (Brabham-Climax V8), J. Surtees (Ferrari V8), M. Hailwood (Lotus 25-B.R.M. V8), J. Clark (Lotus 33-Climax V8), G. Hill (B.R.M. V8), D. Gurney (Brabham-Climax V8), R. Bloor (Brabham-Ford 4-cyl.), R. Attwood (Lotus 25-B.R.M. V8), J. Brabham (Brabham-Climax V8), J. Rhodes (Cooper-Ford 4-cyl.), P. Hawkins (Lotus 33-Climax V8).

Non-starters: A. Rees (Brabham-Ford 4-cyl.), J. Schlesser (Brabham-Ford 4-cyl.), L. Scarfiotti (B.R.M. V8), M. Gregory (B.R.M. V8).

Overall result – Addition of times for two 40-lap heats

1st: M. Spence (Lotus 33-Climax V8) – 2hr. 11min. 42.0sec.

2nd: J. Stewart (B.R.M. V8) – 2hr. 12min. 41.6 sec.

3rd: J. Bonnier (Brabham-Climax V8) – 79 laps

4th: F. Gardner (Brabham-B.R.M. V8) – 79 laps

5th: J. Siffert (Brabham-B.R.M. V8) – 79 laps

6th: B. McLaren (Cooper-Climax V8) – 79 laps

7th: J. Rindt (Cooper-Climax V8) – 78 laps

8th: J. Taylor (Cooper-Climax V8) – 77 laps

9th: I. Raby (Brabham-B.R.M. V8) – 75 laps

Ilford Films Trophy – Group 2 saloons – 20 laps – 85.25 kilomteres

1st: R. F. Pierpoint (Ford Mustang) – 39min. 01.0sec. – 131.162 k.p.h.

2nd: M. Salmon (Ford Mustang) – 39min. 01.8sec.

3rd: A. Baldet (Ford Lotus-Cortina) – 40min. 04.4sec.

4th: J. Rhodes (B.M.C. Mini-Cooper “S”) – 40min. 08.0sec.

5th: Sir G. Ballie (Ford Mustang) – 40min. 24.0sec.

6th: H. Ratcliffe (B.M.C. Mini-Cooper “S) – 40min. 42.8sec.

Fastest lap: J. Clark (Lotus-Cortina) – 1min. 54.8sec. – 133.737 k.p.h.