Notes on the cars at Long Beach

The two Brabham team cars were BT46/3 (Watson) and BT46/4 (Lauda) and since the S. African GP they had undergone numerous modifications and had new nose arrange ments and larger radiators. The whole assembly, including the radiators, the aero dynamic fins and the adjustable fins behind the two radiators, is on a frame-work which hinges about the lower front edge of the monocoque, retained by screw adjusters at the top, so that the whole assembly can be raised or lowered to alter the angle of incidence of the aerodynamic nose. The body panels are now much cleaner and better made, as the original ones were done in a bit of a hurry for S. Africa. As the team spare they had BT46/2, originally built as a surface radiator car, but now modified to front radiators, with external water piping, whereas the later cars have the water pipes passing through the monocoque.

From the Ripley woodyard of the Tyrrell team came a brand new car, number 008/4, to replace 008/2 which Pironi has been using. This second car was a bit bent in South America and was patched up for him to use in Brazil and S. Africa, until the team had time to build another new one. Depailler had 008/3 as he did in S. Africa, and 008/1 Which he crashed mildly at the wet Silverstme meeting, was the team spare. In place of the words ELF ELF ELF along the sidesed the monocoque it now said ELF OIL, ELF this subtle change being for the benefit of countries like the United States, who might not realise that ELF stand for Essence Lubrifiant Francais, in other words French Petrol and Oil. Depailler’s car had a new shape of rear aerofoil, and a new single-strut mounting, in place of the previous twin-blade mounting, and all three cars had a new large-diameter tubular anti-roll bar on the front suspension.

The main thing about the three Team Lotus cars, 78/2 (Peterson), 78/3 (Andretti) and 78/4 (spare) was that none of them was fitted with the Lotus/Getrag gearbox, all using the normal He*land box. They had three types of Cosworth engine, the normal Cosworth-built DFV, the “super screamer” Cosworth development engine, and Nicholson-McLaren-built Cosworth engine. There seemed little to choose between them as regards power or reliability.

The only change in the McLaren team was a slightly different nose cowling and aerodynamic shape on the front of Tambay’s car, M26/5. Hunt was in his usual M26/4 and M26/3 was the team spare. The two yellow ATS cars, which are Penske PC4 cars modified by Robin Herd of March Engineering, seemed to be in a doldrum as Herd was not with the team and they did not seem to have any purposeful direction.

The Ferrari team produced their third T3 car, number 034, whichwas given to Villeneuve, while Reutemann had 033, which he had crashed mildly in S. Africa. These two cars had adjustable rear anti-roll bars with a double cable arrangement running to a lever on the left-side of the cockpit. The anti-roll bar was in two pieces, joined by a splined sliding muff joint which was slid to-and-fro along the splines by cables and pulleys rather like a wire-and-bobbin steering arrangement. This sliding muff joint lengthened or shortened the effective length of the torsion bar, thus altering the stiffness. The spare car, 032, did not have this arrangement, and Reutemann volunteered the information that the device was not really worthwhile on a slow twisty circuit like Long Beach.

The Fittipaldi brothers produced a brand new car, F5/3A in the Ralph Bellamy-inspired 1978 series, unchanged as regards specification. Emerson Fittipaldi would like to give the cars personal names, rather than the computerised F5/3A, but at the moment he hasn’t thought up any suitable ones. He’d probably welcome suggestions, but only serious ones. The idea of giving a racing car a personal name is a good one, and is to be encouraged. In the world of historic racing everyone knows the ERA “Romulus”, Fittipaldi ought to find a nice Brazilian name for his newest car.

The two Renault cars were 02 and 03, both carrying the new style bodywork, but the sunken NACA duct feeding air to the inlet side of the turbo-charger did not seem to be working at the low speeds on the Long Beach circuit, so it was replaced by a large air-horn sticking up into the air-stream. For the sake of accuracy the Renault Type number for the F1 car is RS 01 (for Renault Sport) and the car numbers are 02 and 03.

An embarrassment for the new Arrows team of Jack Oliver and Alan Rees was the appearance of the new Shadow DN9, for the DN9 and the Arrows FA1 are two peas out of the same pod, as shelled by Tony Southgate and Dave Wass. The Shadow DN9 should have appeared last season; but the strife within the Don Nichols team delayed its completion. DN9/1A and DN9/2A appeared at Silverstone, but there was no Arrows FA1 to compare with. Regazzoni drove 2A, which was due to be delivered to the American Interscope Racing Team for Ongais to drive, and the plan was that Regga would have 3A for Long Beach. Unfortunately he spun off at Silverstone and left the car in the middle of the field by Abbey Curve and a short while later Andretti hit it fair and square in the side with the Lotus 79. This meant that the third car had to be painted black and given to Interscope, while Regazzoni had to make-do with DN8/4A, the car that Stuck used in S. Africa, as Hans-Joachim had DN9/1A. The Black Shadow looked much nicer than the Golden Arrows of Patrese and Stommelen. though underneath the cars are virtually identical.

For the rest of the entry there were no important changes, Surtees having TS19/07 (Keegan) and TS19/06 1 (Brambilla) with the monocoque of TS19/02 in a box. Wolf Racing had WR1 and WR3, Hesketh had 308E/5 and 308E/4 for Daly, though neither was needed for the serious business as he didn’t qualify for practice. Ensign had only one car, MN06, Ligier and Williams had the cars seen in S. Africa, as slid the Arrows team, though they had the monocoque of a new car, FA1/3 in a box, and Lunger had his McLaren M23/11, having sold M23/14 to Tony Trimmer, and is awaiting a new McLaren M26.—D.S.J