In long-distance sports car racing you don’t really have great rivals, because it’s teamwork, so I’m going back to 1963 and my Formula Junior days with the Midland Racing Partnership Lola-Ford Mk5A. In those days there was only really one step up to Formula 1 so we were reckoned to be the next generation. The frontrunners included Denny Hulme, Jochen Rindt, Frank Gardner, Peter Revson – and Peter Arundell who was winning everything.
He was my greatest rival because he had the best car, Colin Chapman’s Lotus 27, and the best Ford-Cosworth engines in what was effectively a works Lotus run by Ron Harris. This is absolutely not sour grapes, this is simply a fact.
It’s been said that winning consistently is 70% the car and 30% the driver but on a real driver’s track, like Monaco, Pau or Clermont-Ferrand, I could get on terms with Arundell. On the fast, open tracks like Reims or Goodwood, I knew I couldn’t stay with him and that was fairly depressing. I had a few dominant cars in my career and it’s a damn sight easier to win. That’s what we were up against with Arundell.
When we got to Monaco in May I knew I had a chance to beat him on a circuit that favoured me. He knew I’d be a problem for him. In our heat he beat me by less than a second so we were on the front row of the grid for the final. He came to see me and my team-mate David Hobbs before the race. In that cockney accent he said, ‘Now, look, we gotta keep this sociable at the start,’ and I knew he was already feeling the pressure.
I made a perfect start. We were alongside each other, and when I changed from first to second he went on for another 30yds flat out, and I thought, ‘What has he got in there?’ He got to the Gasometer hairpin first but he’d taken too much out of the car and was out on the first lap. On tricky or technical circuits he was desperate to get away first as he knew he could be beaten. After a great battle with Frank Gardner I won by five seconds, Frank setting a new lap record chasing me.
When Arundell moved up to Formula 1 he was up against Jim Clark so, like all Clark’s team-mates at that time, he wasn’t going to keep winning. There’s an Arundell Cup race for Formula Juniors at Goodwood these days, and that’s right and proper, because Peter Arundell won a lot of races there in period.”
Richard Attwood and Peter Arundell head-to-head
Driver stats for 1963 Formula Junior British Championship only; does not include European races in which both drivers competed