Jackie Stewart is to drive the Ford Museum’s ex-Jim Clark 1965 Indy-winning Lotus 38 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Even with long weeks to go he was thoroughly pumped up and looking forward to the opportunity, regarding Jimmy’s win as one of his late friend and mentor’s greatest, while also having fond memories of the 500 since he almost won it the following year in a similarly Ford V8-engined Lola.
Colin Chapman was first invited to Indy in 1962 by Dan Gurney. He told me: “I could not believe my eyes. There were all these antiquated great front-engined roadsters heaving and wallowing around the place. It was like watching the Tripoli Grand Prix or something, pre-war…”
The Indy railbirds would have been outraged to hear their hallowed roadsters so derided by a David Niven-lookalike Limey. But not all of what went on at Indy was so behind the times. Indy and National Championship speedway racing had fostered the use and development of disc brakes, fuel-injected engines, seat belts, rollover and nerf protection and even – already by 1962 – gas turbine and diesel racing car propulsion. One cutting-edge technician with strong Indy links was Ted Halibrand, who used his wartime aeronautical engineering experience of magnesium alloy to cast strong, lightweight racing wheels, cutting unsprung weight and adding strength and durability compared to wire-spoked tradition. Introduced in 1946, sand-cast Halibrand wheels won that year’s 500 on George Robson’s Thorne Engineering Special, and many more wins followed.
Halibrand also made quick-change final-drives for oval racers, and dabbled with full rear-engined cars in the mid-60s. Six new Halibrands were entered at Indy in ’65, built by specialist Wally Meskowski, whose name would surely not have been out of place as a character in The Dirty Dozen. The cars had Halibrand ‘Lobster Back’ alloy brake calipers on their Raybestos discs. Five made the race, Lloyd Ruby’s the highest finisher in 11th. Manufacturing components proved more successful than building complete cars.