Toronto, Saturday, June 4th
The line-up of big sports cars at the Canadian classic was not like the poor entries we have seen in England in the beginning of the year. Over 20 of the 36 starters were big-engined fast sports cars. Though some were rough and old, they still made a very impressive noise and had an exceptional turn of speed.
The two Team McLarens were favourites and well they should be, for both drivers know the winding hilly circuit very well and their cars are well sorted. Also McLaren had a good win with little opposition the week before at St. Jovite and Amon was all lined up for second when his engine broke. The main opposition on driver ability and car should have come from J. Stewart in one of the Mecom’s Lola T.70s. The Mecom Team, still very happy from its Indianapolis victory, was out of phase from the start, although they had Eric Broadley giving advice all the time. When the cars arrived on Thursday, practice was nearly finished and qualification was starting. Stewart was only able to get in two 3-lap qualifiers before the track was closed. There were two Lolas, one with what looked like an ordinary 289 cu. in. engine while rumour had it this was doctored up to 327 cu. in., which was neither denied nor confirmed. The other was a 289 cu. in. Ford with a Paxton supercharger fitted which, of the two, went best of all.
During the next day’s practice Stewart was having trouble with brakes, handling, and engine misfiring. The handling wasn’t sorted out but the brakes were by replacing the Airharts with Girlings on the night before the race. The engine trouble was caused by particles of the surge balls in the fuel tanks peeling off and getting into the fuel lines.
J. Grant and M. Donohue were both in Lola T.70s, the former with a 289 cu. in. Ford unit, while Donohue’s car was fitted with 427 cu. in. Chevrolet. A further five McLarens were entered, the most formidable of these being Motschenbacher’s privately entered car, which was rebuilt after a starting-line shunt at St. Jovite last week at the expense of the club. Many specialised sports cars fitted with big American V8s added to the interest. A GT class was included and in this the main opposition was from the GT40 entered by Comstock and the two Porsche Carrera 6s for Patrick (who was so fast at Sebring) and Buzzetta, a works driver. The race was run in two 40-lap heats, the overall time being taken for the overall results. The heats were both rolling start, after completing one pace lap. This rolling start was supposedly for safety but after the Indianapolis fiasco the drivers were asked to vote for or against the idea. They voted “for” and after lunch and the crowd, which swarmed onto the track after every race, were back behind the barriers, they were off.
McLaren went into an immediate lead getting well away from the field even by the end of lap one. Hayes, in a Nicky Chev Special was second with Amon third. The fight for second place went on for a long time. Amon was cornering faster but Hayes had more speed in the straight and, being a big car, he was taking up a good deal of the corners so, trying as hard as he could Amon could not get past. Stewart’s run of luck continued and after four laps, when he had climbed from 10th to 6th in the blown car, it stuck in gear. After a pit stop to clear it he completed two more laps then retired with it still stuck in gear and he rushed out to catch a plane home.
Heimrath, in one of the McLarens, stopped on the first lap with battery trouble and had to walk back to the pits to get another battery and then walk back to his car on the far side of the circuit. The race for second place lasted until the 26th lap when Hayes retired with engine trouble while two laps later Amon was side-swiped while passing a tail-ender, which other than causing him to spin, also damaged the valve to his low profile Tubeless Firestones. In one lap the tyre was almost flat and when he came into the pit he dropped a lot of places. Motschenbacher came in a comfortable second in the first heat as he did in an uneventful second heat again behind McLaren, who was in top form, and when he had built up a lead, he cruised home just maintaining the gap. Amon came third in the second heat and his aggregate time made him third overall. In the GT class the Comstock GT40 beat the two Porsche Carrera 6s. The faster of the two Porsches driven by Patrick had a 6-minute pit stop with a broken throttle pedal.
Had Stewart kept going this could have been a very exciting race. As it was, it held the crowd’s interest but was really too much of a McLaren demonstration.
Players’ 200, —Overall Results-80 laps
1st : B. McLaren (McLaren Elva Oldsmobile) … 1 hr. 59min. 16.9 sec.
2nd : L. Motschenbacher (McLaren Oldsmobile) … 1 hr. 59 min. 43.9 sec.
3rd : C.Amon (Mclaren Elva Oldsmobile) … … 78-laps.
4th : M. Kronn (McKee Chevrolet) … … 76-laps.
5th : J. Cordts (McLaren Elva Mk 1) … … 76-laps
6th : E. Wietzes (Ford GT40) … … 76-laps.
Fastest lap, C.Amon, 1 min. 25.0 sec. 104.15 m.p.h.