Impressive Win by Chaparral, Nurburgring, Germany, June 5th.
The German club that organises the annual long-distance race over 44 laps of the Nurburgring has long held the opinion that quantity of entry is more important than quality, feeling that they cannot have too many cars spread around the 22.810-kilometre circuit. It is also part of their policy to accept entries from clubmen from any country, maintaining that the 1,000 kilometres is a good event for newcomers to make their debut in International racing. After practice on Friday and Saturday had eliminated the ill-prepared or the over-enthusiastic, 77 cars lined up for the Le Mans-type start, ranging in order of practice lap times from the lone works Ferrari 330P/3 of Surtees/Parkes with a time of 8 min. 31.9 sec. down to the Lancia Fulvia coupe of two Italian clubmen with 12 min. 32.5 sec.
As the entry is divided up into numerous classes, in the categories Prototype, Sports and GT, everyone has an objective to win, but only a handful can consider winning outright, and most of these were in the Prototype classes. During practice Surtees and Parkes used two 4-litre, 4-cam P3 Ferraris, one an open cockpit car and the other a closed one, and they settled on the open one for the race. Another lone entry, making its first appearance in Europe, was the coupe 5.3-litre Chaparral 2D in the hands of Phil Hill and Bonnier. Reason suggested that a single car that had never been tested on the Nurburgring could not be much of a threat to the established makes, but the Texan .built car showed no signs of fuss and when Phil Hill did a comfortable 8 min. 35.4 sec., barely 3.4 sec. slower than Surtees, a lot of people sat up and took notice. The Porsche team were out in force, with their 2.2-litre, 8-cylinder car that ran in the Targa Florio, three Carrera 6 coupes with fuel-injection engines, and a standard Carrera 6. Team chief von Hanstein had assembled a miscellaneous collection of drivers and spent a worrying time during practice sorting the sheep from the goats and pairing them off in suitable cars. After juggling with lap times, mechanical sympathy, personalities, reliability factors and so on, he settled for Rindt/Vaccarella in the 8-cylinder, Herrmann/Glemser, Schutz/Klass, Bondurant/Hawkins in the fuel-injection sixes, and Beltoise/Nocker in the standard Carrera 6. Apart from the possibility of an outright victory with the 8-cylinder car, which Rindt took round in 8 min. 44.4 sec. to claim third fastest time overall. Porsche were intent on a class win for there were three Dino Ferraris against them. These were a works one driven by Scarfiotti/Bandini, a N.A.R.T.-owned one operated by the works team and driven by Rodriguez/Ginther, and the English Maranello Concessionaires car driven by Piper/Attwood. All three were open cars, more or less identical, except that the works car was using Lucas fuel-injection. Hard behind this lot were privately owned Porsche Carrera sixes, Ford GT40s and LM Ferraris, any of whom could step up into leading positions if the factory cars ran into trouble.
Cars in the Group 4 Sports Cars (50 off ) had to be strictly as homologated and one or two were put into the Prototype classes because of minor bodywork alterations, among these being the Scuderia Filipinetti Ferrari 275LM of Mairesse/Muller and the Carrera 6 of Vogele/Siffert, both cars having modified noses. Among the clubmen racers there were some obsolete specials that were also grouped as Prototypes, although no one was sure what they were Prototypes of. In amongst the vast entry was a works 904 Porsche on loan to a German TV company, and it had a camera mounted in the passenger seat which relayed direct to a helicopter, which then passed on the transmission. Paul Frere was driving this 4-cylinder Porsche and far from being in the way of competitors he lapped in 9 min. 36 sec., which put him 26th on the starting grid, out of the total of 77, and ahead of quite a lot of people who were supposed to he racing!
Being held later in the season than usual, race day was blessed with superb weather and the traffic and crowds turned out in proportions that would make British organisers weep with envy. The official figure was estimated as 110,000 vehicles in the car parks and over 350,000 spectators. The start was at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning under a blazing sun, and at the last moment there was a panic on the works Dino Ferrari as a fuel pump seemed to be defective, and with only minutes to go the Ferrari mechanics fitted a new one. As to who should do the Le Mans type start for each car, it was a question of team-manager decision, mutual agreement between drivers, or the toss of coin. The last was resorted to by the Chaparral team, Phil Hll telling Bonnier “heads you win, tails I lose,” so Bonnier made the start, wondering whether he had been forced into the responsibility against his will! Surtees naturally took first stint on the 4-litre Ferrari and the Dinos were driven by Scarffiotti, Rodriguez and Attwood. The 8-cylinder Porsche by Rindt and the sixes by Herrmann, Bondurant and Klass. The big Sports Car class was an all-private-owner affair of Ford GT40 coupes and a lone 7-litre Cobra, the Fords being the two Slough-supported Essex Wire Team cars of Scott/Revson and Whitmore/Neerpasch, the F. English Ltd. car of Ireland/Salmon, the Ford France car of Schlesser/Ligier, the privately-owned car of Peter Sutcliffe, with John Taylor as co-driver, and Nick Cusson’s dark green car driven by Bond/Spence. In the 2-litre Sports class were six Carrera sixes, any of whom could be up amongst the Fords, and both groups could be certain of taking over the race if all the works Prototypes fell out, as in the Targa Florio.
The starting signal was not given very well, so that some drivers started running too soon and others were too late, but almost by mutual consent everyone rushed across the track to the waiting cars, and it was Scarfiotti in the fuel-injection Dino who was first away. A depressing number of cars were left behind, to join in later, while some never did get going. The weather conditions, the circuit conditions-and practice times all indicated that the pace was going to be very fast and when Surtees appeared at the end of the standing-start lap in 8 min. 48 sec., two and a half seconds quicker than the existing Prototype lap record, it was clear that this was not going to be a race for the slow or enfeebled. The 330P/3 Ferrari was already 17 sec. ahead of the works Dino Ferrari, and 25 sec. ahead of the Chaparral, with Dinos, Carrera sixes, Ford GT40s and the rest in hot pursuit. On his second lap Surtees set a new record with 8 min. 37 sec. Whitmore had barely got out of sight after the start when a wheel came off his Essex Wire Team Ford and he skidded out of the race. The other Essex Wire Ford, driven by Scott, was blowing out oil smoke as well as oil and Bondurant (Porsche 6) and Schlesser (Ford GT40) were collecting most of it on their windscreens, so that both had to stop at the end of lap two to have them wiped clean. Bonnier got the Chaparral by Scarfiotti’s Dino on lap three, but by this time Surtees had a 50-sec. lead and the race as such appeared to he over, rather like last year. However, Scarfiotti was keeping up with the Chaparral, driving in a very determined fashion and outstripping all the Porsches, including the 2.2-litre, 8–cylinder, which had made a poor start and did not seem to be running at all well. Even after only three laps, Surtees had lapped a vast number of tail-enders, and from then on the fast cars had to contend with traffic all round the circuit, some of it being pathetically slow and badly driven.
At the end of the third lap the order was Surtees (Ferrari P3), Bonnier (Chaparral), Scarfiotti (Dino), Herrmann (Porsche), Klass (Porsche), Rindt (Porsche), Attwood (Dino), Rodriguez (Dino), Ireland (Ford), Scott (Ford), Siffert (Porsche), Muller (Ferrari LM), the Lamar brothers’ Dutch Racing Team Porsche, the Sutcliffe/Taylor Ford, the British green Porsche of de Udy/de Klerk, the Ford-France Ford, and Bondurant (Porsche) making up time after their stops, and the rest of the runners in groups or singly, racing for class positions. The Essex Wire Ford could not go on blowing out oil for ever and on lap four Scott came into the pits and the car was wheeled away to the dead car park, the leaking joint being irreparable. In just under an hour Surtees was due to complete his sixth lap, so far ahead of any opposition that it was a Ferrari demonstration rather than a race, but then everything went wrong. Instead of storming past the pits flat out, at 10.55 a.m., he headed slowly for the pits with a great patch of paint burnt off the right rear wheel arch. The eye-bolt fixing of the right-rear Koni damper: coil spring unit had pulled off and the suspension had collapsed with the tyre rubbing on the wheel arch. There was a momentary pause of disbelief, then a pandemonium and mechanics leapt at the car, while Engineer Forghieri shouted for a replacement damper/spring unit. All the Ferrari’s lead had gone and car after car was roaring past, with the Chaparral now in front, but with Scarfiotti hanging on grimly, a length or two behind and doing a marvellous drive to stay with the 5.3-litre car. Some seven minutes went by before the 4-litre Ferrari was roadworthy once more, and Parkes took over, having filled up the fuel tanks while the new shock-absorber unit was being fitted. In a few moments what had seemed to be a foregone conclusion was now a great big question mark, for when Parkes went by at the end of lap seven he was in 21st position, with a lot of fast cars in front of him.
Although the Chaparral was leading, it was being hounded by the little works Dino Ferrari, and not far behind were two more Dinos with two fuel-injection Porsche sixes between them. Then came Siffert (Porsche 6), Muller (Ferrari LM), Ireland (Ford GT40) and Bondurant (Porsche 6). Further back the British-owned Porsche was leading the 2-litre Sports class, and the various small cars were busy with their class racing, though a great many had already fallen by the wayside. At the end of 11 laps, or quarter-distance, the Chaparral came in for fuel and oil and Phil Hill took over, the Scarfiotti Dino going into the lead. The Porsches were already stopping for fuel and driver changes so that the Chaparral was in third position when it restarted and on the next lap the leading Dino stopped for fuel and for Bandini to take over, which he did after Rodriguez and Phil Hill had gone by. Just on midday, with the sun really blazing from a blue sky, Rodriguez stopped for Ginther to take over, and as all the refuelling had gone according to plan the order was now back to where it had been, Phil Hill (Chaparral), Bandini (Dino Ferrari) and Ginther (Dino Ferrari). Whereas Scarfiotti had been able to keep up with Bonnier, the story was now very different and Phil Hill began to pull out a very big lead, Over a minute by lap 15 and a minute and a half by lap 16. Parkes was still charging through the field in the P3, and was up to 7th position, behind the Piper/Attwood Dino Ferrari. Ireland had slid off the road into a ditch with the light blue Ford GT40, when a tyre deflated, unfortunately breaking his thumb in the process, and Muller had lost time inspecting the front suspension of the Swiss LM Ferrari as it felt very odd on corners. As the major pit stops for fuel were taking place a German-built version of a B.M.C. Mini-Marcos had an accident and was rammed by a works Fiat-Abarth, the Abarth driver Juttner, being injured. This took place on the approach to the starting plateau and the wreckage all over the road caused competitors to slow to a crawl, and it was some time before everything was cleared away.
Phil Hill was going splendidly in the white Chaparral coupe, having no trouble from smaller engined cars, but always conscious of the big Ferrari that was going very well and closing the gap. Parkes had climbed to seventh place, but catching the Dinos and the Works Porsches was not so easy. At 17 laps he stopped for fuel and Surtees took over, to continue the pursuit, but he had not completed a lap when the eye-bolt of the replacement shock-absorber unit broke like the first one and once more he had to crawl to the pits. Clearly there was some misalignment somewhere, and the telescopic unit was being compressed or stretched out of line. Another unit was fitted and the car was now over a lap behind the Chaparral, but nonetheless Surtees set off at undiminished pace. There were now only nine cars on the same lap, these being the Chaparral, the works Dino, the N A,R.T. Dino, the works Porsches of Herrmann/Glemser and Schutz/ Klass. the Piper/Attwood Dino, the Bondorant/Hawkins works Porsche, the 8-cylinder Porsche and the Ligier/Schlesser Ford GT40. Although everyone else had been lapped by the Texan “running-bird” there was still plenty of racing going on and in particular the Group 4 Sports Cars of 2-litres were in close contest, the issue being open between the Porsches of de Udy/de Klerk, Koch/Linge, Beltoise/Nocker and van Lennap/van Lennap while the private Ford GT40s of Sutcliffe/Taylor and Bond/Spence were still well in the running.
At half-distance Phil Hill brought the Chaparral into the pits as arranged, for fuel and oil, and though the stop seemed to take a long while and Bonnier started off very slowly in “high” gear on the 2-speed torque-converter transmission, he was still away before Bandini appeared. Phil Hill had realy consolidated the Chaparral’s lead, but he was well aware of the fact that the race was only half over, and that the car was by no means attuned 100% to the circuit, and that the shock-absorbers left a lot to he desired, but for a first attempt at Nurburgring racing the Chaparral team were very happy. The second-place Dino stopped on lap 23 for fuel and for Scarfiotti to take over, and it also had its front Dunlops changed, the wear being excessive due to too much under-steer. There was, a slight panic when Scarfiotti stalled on take-off, for he had not switched all the fuel pumps on, and though the N.A.R.T. Dino went by, he got away before the Porsches appeared. Two laps later Ginther brought the N.A.R.T. Dino in for fuel and Rodriguez took over without the front Goodyear tyres being changed, so that the car retained its second place, but Scarfiotti was still on great form and overhauling the Mexican driver rapidly.
Cars were continually falling out of the race, the Siffert/Vogele Porsche retiring with a broken chassis, de Klerk put the green Porsche in a ditch, one of the Auto Delta works Alfa Romeos had gone, and most of the ill-prepared slower cars had long since disappeared. The 8-cylinder works Porsche was in continual trouble with a slipping clutch and the Maranello Concessionaires’ Dino Ferrari was rubbing its right-rear Dunlop through the bodywork. On lap 27 the Chaparral had a 4-minute lead and seemed very confident, its V8 Chevrolet engine sounding healthy, but the P3 Ferrari was quite the reverse, and Surtees arrived at the pits with a strong smell of slipping clutch. Mechanics screwed it up solid and Parkes took over„ starting the engine in gear and hiccoughing his way back into the race. Attwood pulled into the pits with Ronnie Hoare’s Dino making a grinding noise in the transmission and rather than go on until it broke and do irreparable damage the car was withdrawn. The Beltoise/Nocker Porsche had a slight excursion off the road and lost most of its right front wheel arch, but continued, and the Schutze/Klass Porsche retired out on the circuit with a broken drive-shaft. At 3 p.m. the Chaparral completed 33 laps and it came in for its final stop for fuel and oil; everything went according to plan and Phil Hill set off to do the closing phase of the race. In the distance, beyond the South Curve, the sky was ominously grey, and a sudden drop in temperature indicated approaching rain, so Hill was instructed to stop at the pits at the first drop of rain, for the Firestone tyres he was running on were essentially dry weather tyres. A lap later and Scarfiotti stopped for fuel and tyres and Bandini took over the works Dino and by now the rain was fast approaching so the Chaparral team prepared a set of wheels with some special hand-cut tyres on them. These were block tread Firestones from which alternate rows of bloats had been removed, leaving three high circumferential ribs, rather like the front tyres on a tractor. The rather sad and sick P3 Ferrari now crawled into the pits very much overdue and Parkes went on again, only to stop on the return road behind the pits. He got going again and set off to limp round to the end of another lap, but the clutch and transmission had nearly had enough. After the first four cars had completed their 35th lap a strong wind got up and it was only a matter of time before the approaching rainstorm hit the circuit and travelled right across it from one side to the other. Just after Phil Hill set off on his 37th lap the rain started and Rodriguez stopped for fuel and tyres and Ginther went off into the fast-moving rainstorm. At the same time Bandini stopped very briefly to have a large sheet of paper removed from the radiator, the storm having blown it right into his path. He was away before Ginther, so the order now was Phil Hill (Chaparral) slipping and sliding about on the wet track and down to a crawl in places, trying to keep the big car on the road and make it back to the pits, then Bandini (Ferrari), followed by Ginther (Dino Ferrari). In the rain Glemser had put his works Porsche into a ditch, and this let the Bondurant/Hawkins car up into fourth place, there being no one else on the same lap as the leader. The Ligier/Schlesser Ford was next, leading its class from the Sutcliffe/Taylor Ford, then came four Porsche Carrera sixes still battling for is class win, and changing positions continuously, and they were followed by the Mairesse/Muller Ferrari LM that was making up time after being handicapped by a broken seat mounting. Behind them came the Bond/Spence GT40 and after that the first of the small cars, which was the Alfa Romeo TZ2 of Bianchi/Schultze.
At the end of the 37th lap the Chaparral stopped at the pits, by which time the rain had almost stopped and blue sky was appearing; but Hill knew that the storm was still drifting across the 14-mile circuit and that he was going to have to drive into it again. The special Chaparral-Firestones were fitted, the change of wheels taking a long time as they use a six-bolt hub fixing and there was further delay when the rear ones would not go under the wheel arches until the car was jacked up higher than the quick-lift jack would raise it. As Phil Hill accelerated back into the race, the torque-converter and 2-speed transmission working as well as ever, the Chaparral had a bare 60 sec. over the works Dino Ferrari, Bandini being urged to press on as hard as he could. No one was quite sure how Hill would get on with the ribbed tyres, nor how they would handle if the track dried completely, but all doubts were dispelled when he pulled out 24 sec. more lead over the Dino in one lap. The next lap the lead was 96 sec. so all was well and obviously Phil Hill had everything well under control. He was not having an easy time for the windscreen wiper had gone berserk, first only wiping half of the screen and then disappearing down under the scuttle, even though the arm was still flailing about. As he went through the slow bends at Adenau-Forst, he took the opportunity to open the gull-wing door, lean out and wipe some of the muck off the screen, but even so he was not having a pleasant drive. As he started the 44th and last lap the Chaparral pit put their signals away and began to pack up, saying that all they could do now was to wait. Nobody was more aware of the tenseness of that last lap than Phil Hill and he put all his concentration into the last 14 miles to bring the mud-spattered but very healthy Chaparral over the line to win the 1966 A.D.A.C. 1,000 kilometre race. Hap Sharp, who was in charge of the team, his wife, who kept the watches going, and the three mechanics, were justifiably overcome with joy and they just hugged each other like a happy family, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Among the first to congratulate them were Mike Parkes, John Surtees and Forghieri.
One by one the remaining runners received the chequered flag, the private Porsche Carreras racing to the very end, with victory going to the Racing Team Holland’s orange car. In all 33 cars out of 77 starters were classified.-D.S.J.
Before the race Hap Sharp looked at the 4-litre Ferrari and told his team “It could break just as easily as our car could.” Their car did not break.
If Americans will accept Texas as part of the U.S.A. then we can say that the Chaparral victory was a true American effort.
There were eight privately-owned Lotus Elans taking part but none finished; some did not look prepared to do a 5-lap Club race.
The 2-litre Dino Ferraris thoroughly trounced the 2-litre Porsche Carrera -sixes, and more than made up for the failure of their big brother.
The Chaparral team could easily have been mistaken for a bunch of amateurs at first glance, but what a mistake that would have been.