These days the idea of an F1 underdog upset is a junior driver from a massive multinational manufacturer-backed team winning for a slightly less good multinational manufacturer-backed team (see Esteban Ocon, Hungary, 2021). But in 1967, what would have arguably been the greatest grand prix turn-up of all nearly came to pass.
A 42-year-old with a paralysed left wrist entered an F1 World Championship event, getting within six laps of beating the best in a car that wasn’t even designed for F1 races. The man in question was John Love, a Rhodesian ace who had a tendency to enter South Africa events whenever the circus rolled into town, and he recalled his 1967 brush with glory to Adam Cooper in 2001, describing it as “tear-jerking” at 150mph.
The event – which technically stretched over two years since qualifying was on December 29-31, 1966 and the race January 2, 1967 – featured Love starting fifth in his ex-McLaren Tasman Cooper, but then falling back into the clutches of the midfield. However, Messrs Stewart, Clark, Rindt and Gurney retired, leaving the local hero in the lead.