Oulton Park, April 15th.
As an addition to the International calendar the Mid-Cheshire Motor Racing Club organised a special meeting at Oulton Park on behalf of various medical organisations that benefit motor racing. No prize money was awarded and no starting money given, all the finances normally dispensed to the racing teams being donated to the medical fund. The main event was for the Spring Cup and was a combined Formula One and Formula Two race, the small but interesting entry giving their services free of charge. A very good crowd attended the meeting, at the pleasant OuIton Park circuit, and all the gate money was put into the medical kitty.
Brabham and Huhne drove works Brabham-Repco V8 cars, Brabham having the latest 3-litre V8 engine, which is only an “interim” unit in fact, and while it has the new cylinder heads with the exhaust ports in the vee of the engine, it retained the 1966-type cylinder block; he was also using a new type of Goodyear rear tyre, with incredibly wide tread. Stewart and Spence were driving the latest versions of the works H16 B.R.M. cars, these having completely revised rear suspensions and improved brakes. Above the gearbox is a complicated structure fabricated from sheet steel and providing the supports for the top suspension members which are in effect wishbones, but in fact almost parallelograms. These tubular suspension members are self-supporting fore and aft, so need no radius rods. A single transverse tubular link is used below the drive shaft on each side with a radius rod, these links and the top members being adjustable so that the rear wheels can be set at any required angle. Very thick perforated discs are used on the brakes and the rear ones are “inboard” of the new rear hub carriers. Coolant is carried in external pipes on top of the body and the fuel system is now operated by a mechanical pump driven by a cog-belt, in place of electric pumps, though there is a small electric pump for use when starting. Stewart’s car had louvres cut in the top of the nose cowling. The McLaren team entered one car, for the owner, this being their Formula Two-based car with 2-litre B.R.M. V8 engine, and it had the latest Hewland gearbox with Powr-Lok limited-slip differential in place of the more usual ZF. Surtees was with a lone Honda V12 car, the one used at Brands Hatch in March, and it was running as a sort of endurance test, the engine having completed nearly 1,000 racing miles without being stripped down. It was getting a bit tired and smoky, but the object was to complete an endurance run at this minor meeting. Team Lotus had hoped that one of the new V8 Cosworth-Ford Grand Prix engines would be ready in time for this meeting, but they hoped in vain, so entered Graham Hill with a Formula Two car, with 16-valve Cosworth engine and ZF gearbox, this being a Lotus 48, and he was supported by Oliver with the white and green Lotus 41b space-frame car, also with 16-valve Cosworth engine, but with a Hewland gearbox. These were the only two Formula Two cars competing. Tim Parnell entered his Lotus 25 with 2-litre B.R.M. V8 engine for Courage to drive and Anderson entered his 4-cylinder Brabham-Climax 2.7-litre. These ten cars comprised the starters but there were five other cars entered, none of which started, and these were the Pearce Cooper-Ferrari, a Pearce-Martin V8, Pitt’s Brabham-Climax 4-cyl., an A.A.R. Eagle and Walker’s Cooper-Maserati V12, which Attwood should have driven. There were no works Coopers or works Ferraris entered, nor any of the “professional” Formula Two teams.
The race was run in two heats and a final, the heats being over 10 laps each and the final over 30 laps, all ten cars starting in each heat and the grid for the final being decided on the finishing order in Heat 2. In Heat 1 the grid was according to practice times and Stewart was on pole position with the very fast time of 1 min. 32.2 sec., which was 4.4 sec. below the existing lap record. The Heat 1 grid was as follows:
Hulme, Surtees, Brabham and Spence had all improved on the lap record of 1 min. 36.6 sec. set up last year by Brabham and Hulme, and it was clear that the 3-litre Grand Prix cars were really getting into their stride. In a very tight bunch the ten cars shot off into Old Hall Corner, with Hulme leading from Brabham, Surtees and Stewart, but on the second lap Stewart forced the B.R.M. through into third place. It did not last, however, for as they rounded Cascades on the third lap the H16 B.R.M. slowed and Stewart waved Surtees by, and the remainder also went by. The cog-belt to one of the injector units had broken and Stewart limped round to the pits, while Hulme went on out in front, lapping at 1 min. 33.0 sec., which Brabham in second place improved to 1 min. 32.8 sec. and then I min. 32.4 see, which brought him up close behind his number two car. Surtees was holding third place with the Honda but it was beginning to misfire a bit as the plugs were fouling up. Anderson had stopped with his exhaust pipe adrift and Spence was leading the rest, but not keeping up with the leaders. He had Hill right on his tail, the little Formula Two Lotus going splendidly, setting a Formula Two lap record of 1 min. 34.4 sec., and Hill was enjoying himself. On lap 8 Brabharn’s engine cut out and he coasted to a stop, an ignition pick-up wire having come off (again!), and this left Hulme to have a comfortable win at an average speed way above the old lap record. And there were people before the start suggesting that as it was a charity meeting the drivers would not try and would “put on a show” to please the organisers and the public. They put on a show all right, but it was very genuine. Hill just failed to pass Spence as they crossed the finishing line and they were so close they were given the same race time.
After a handicap race for lady drivers the ten single-seaters came out for Heat 2, with Hulme, Surtees and Spence on the front row and Hill nicely placed in the second row behind Hulme and Surtees. As the flag fell the Lotus 48 went off like a bullet and was in behind the Honda, which had made the best getaway, so that the first lap order was Surtees, Hill, Hulme, Spence, Oliver. In Heat 1 Stewart had rejoined the race from the pits, with a new pump belt, but was way behind so had to start from the back of the grid, as did Brabham. On the second lap I Hulme got his Brabham-Repco past the cheeky little Lotus 48 but could not get rid of it, and on lap 4 he challenged the Honda for the lead and Hill was still with them, having set another Formula Two lap record in 1 min. 33.8 sec., but then a stream of oil smoke poured from the back of the Lotus and when Hill found a moment to glance in his mirrors he also saw the smoke and stopped at the pits. The rubber sealing ring on the oil filter had split and the rear of the car, and much of the circuit, was sprayed in oil. Hulme went by the Honda, to command this second heat as he had the first one, and Brabham and Stewart had worked their way up into third and fourth places and were locked in combat, but on this short circuit there was little hope of the 16-cylinder B.R.M. getting past the wily Brabliam, who was determined to finish third and get a front row position on the grid for the final. In this heat Anderson had his right-rear tyre deflate and Courage had a water hose pipe split.
With not much of an interval the competitors had to appear again for the 30-lap final, this time With Hulme, Surtees and Brabham on the front row, Stewart and McLaren in the second row and Hill right at the back, his oil leak cured. There may have been only ten cars on the grid, but they made a very worthwhile sight and sound as they roared off for the third time, this time “for keeps,” and it says a lot for the controllability of Grand Prix cars and the skill of the drivers that such a tight bunch can get away amid furious wheelspin and power slides and nobody nudges anyone else, unlike saloon cars or Formula Three cars. Perhaps the stars have learnt to drive nicely!
This time there were no its or buts and Brabham took command from the first lap. with Hulme right behind him, and they dominated the opening laps with Surtees chasing them in the rather out-of-breath Honda, while Hill led the rest of the runners, with Stewart not seeming very happy with the H16 B.R.M. Brabham was lapping at 1 Min. 36 sec, and seemed to be holding up Hulme, who looked anxious to press-on as the Honda was close behind him and Hill still had the Formula Two Lotus in sight of the 3-litre cars. At ten laps the order was unchanged and the total field was reduced to nine cars for Courage came to rest with a broken B.R.M. engine in the Parnell Lotus, and the next lap Stewart went off the road at Cascades and damaged his front suspension. Although he got back to the pits he was forced to retire as a wishbone was bent. At 14 laps Surtees was right alongside the second Brabham and he took second place as they went into Old Hall Corner; Hulme was in trouble as his Brabham was slowing and on the next lap, which was half-distance, Hill got by and took third place. These four were way ahead of the rest, who were now being led by Oliver in the white Formula Two Lotus, with green stripe. On lap 19 the Honda engine began to cut-out completely, due to an electrical fault, and Hill went by into second place but he had only just done this when his own car had trouble. The throttle slide stuck in the fully open position, due to part of the linkage going “over-centre” and fortunately this had the effect of cutting off the fuel supply at the injector unit, so everything went dead and Hill was able to coast into the pits. With the Honda engine switching itself off intermittently Hulme was able to get back into second place behind Brabham, who was now lapping at 1 min. 35.0 sec, and there was no great hurry. The Lotus trouble was soon rectified and Hill rejoined the race in last place and set out to catch Anderson, which he did.
Brabham’s car was running faultlessly and he reeled off the remaining laps, to win the final, slowing down and waiting for Hulme at the end so that they could cross the line together, well ahead of the ailing Honda. Oliver had driven well to lead home McLaren and Spence, and on the last lap had a recurrence of his stuck throttle trouble and was lucky to coast over the finishing line. The day was concluded by a saloon car race, with the inevitable “dodgem car” act on the first corner. – D. S. J.
Oulton Park Paragraphs
The small Formula One entry did not detract front the race and it was a very pleasant event, at Britain’s “Friendly Circuit.” We could do with a lot more small Formula One races.
The Honda ran on Dunlop tyres for the first heat, Goodyear tyres for the second heat, and Goodyears again in the final. Its next appearance may be on Firestone tyres.
When is someone going to be courageous and organise a handicap event for Grand Prix cars and drivers. Hill with 1,600 c.c. is very nearly as quick as most people with 3,000 c.c.
While bits keep falling off the cars the arrangement of two heats and a final allows them to keep catching up, but if we had a really long motor race it would encourage teams to repair their cars at the pits and rejoin the race, making for interesting activity in the pits.
There is another Formula One race at OuIton Park on September 16th which should be well worth a visit for the noise alone as the cars rush down through the woods to Lodge Corner.