A runaway victory for Clark
Oulton Park, September 21st
On Britain’s best road circuit, at Oulton Park, a field of 22 Grand Prix cars including most of the major teams, contested a 73-lap race for the Gold Cup. Jim Clark in a works Lotus 25 with Coventry-Climax V8 engine and 5-speed ZF gearbox took the lead between the starting grid and the first corner and from then on only looked back to see how the opposition were getting on. He covered the 323.5 kilometres driving with a precision that was so immaculate that many people found it boring to watch, but for those appreciative of first class driving it was a joy to behold. Whereas other drivers were having occasional moments, with opposite lock slides, or excursions onto the grass, in their endeavours to catch the leading Lotus, Clark never seemed to be other than on a perfect line through all the corners and looked completely relaxed the whole time. The reasons for the B.R.M. team of Graham Hill and Ginther, driving the 1962/3 B.R.M. V8 cars, the Brabham team of Brabham and Gurney, the B.R.P. team leader Innes Ireland, and the Cooper works team of McLaren and Maggs, not catching Clark and his Lotus were the usual “Grand Prix Maladies!” Cars were either down on power, did not handle right, had unpredictable brakes, had things go wrong, blew up, or drivers just were not good enough to match the perfect combination of Clark and the Lotus-Climax.
During practice four drivers got below the existing circuit record, which stood at 1 min. 40.0 sec. to Jim Clark, and these four formed the front row of the starting grid, Graham Hill tieing with Clark for pole position with 1 min. 39.0 sec. Trevor Taylor was making a welcome return to racing at this meeting, and was equal with Ginther, with 1 min. 39.6 sec., the number two Team Lotus car being the new one that was tried out at Zeltweg, using a Hewland 5-speed gearbox. A third Team Lotus entry should have been for Arundell, but the car was not ready and he became the only non-starter in the entry list. In the race Jim Clark lapped consistently below the 1 min. 41.0 sec. mark, including lapping slower cars, and on his 61st lap he set a new record for the circuit with 1 min. 39.1 sec. He was not being pushed by the opposition, for the two B.R.M.s were nearly half a minute behind, and they changed places occasionally between themselves, but Clark was really in a fast, smooth mood and lap records came as a matter of course.
The Brabham team suffered mixed fortunes, for Gurney was left at the start with a dud transistor box, and though it was changed and he got going he was never in the hunt. Brabham had a much better race, driving his later Brabham car, fitted with a flat-crank Climax engine, and raced very vigorously against Innes Ireland in the B.R.P. team’s Lotus-B.R.M. V8 until the Bourne power unit succumbed to Ireland’s driving, leaving Brabham in a safe fourth place. The two works Coopers were very unimpressive, McLaren having a new flat-crank Climax engine in his car, and they ran in close company for much of the race, but were eventually lapped by Clark. Two new drivers appeared in this race, making their debut in Formula One racing, these being Peter Revson, driving Reg Parnell’s Lotus-B.R.M. V8 and Mike Beckwith driving the B.R.P. Lotus-B.R.M. V8 normally driven by Jim Hall. The Formula Junior driver Revson was a bit untidy and tended to do Junior tricks, such as going into corners too fast on the wrong line when in company with other more experienced drivers, but Beckwith made a good impression not particularly fast, but neat and consistent and raced in company with Raby (Gilby-B.R.M. V8) and Burgess (Scirocco-B.R.M. V8), until his gearbox became muddled going into Old Hall Corner and he spun into the bank and wrecked the Lotus.
Reg Parnell’s regular number one driver Chris Amon was a spectator, still feeling a bit sore after his Monza crash, and Hailwood drove one of the Lola-Climax V8 cars much quicker than he has done in the past and was the first non-factory finisher, holding this position throughout the race. Having won the Motor Cycle Championships for MV-Agusta with his win at Monza the week after the car Grand Prix, he no doubt felt relieved of his responsibilities and justified in having a bit of a go in the Lola.
There were the usual crop of retirements, such as Bonnier with sagging oil-pressure on Rob Walker’s 1963 Cooper-Climax V8, Taylor with a broken crownwheel and pinion in the Hewland gearbox of his Lotus 25, Settember with engine trouble in his Scirocco-B.R.M. V8, Raby with ignition trouble on the Gilby, and so on. Throughout the race the track was in good condition and dry, with complete cloud cover overhead and the whole meeting and organisation was very enjoyable. The pleasant Cheshire Parkland, the interesting circuit and vantage points from which to observe, added to friendly officials and an entire lack of police force made for motor racing as it really should be. Immediately after the race Clark and Gurney flew to America to take part in the Trenton 100 Mile race, driving the Lotus 29 Indianapolis cars, but they both retired with engine trouble while lying 1st and 2nd, leaving A. J. Foyt to win with his Offenhauser-powered Indianapolis “roadster.”
Before the Gold Cup were two short races, one for Sports/Racing cars, which was won by Salvadori driving Tommy Atkins’ Cooper-Monaco, with a row of Lotus 23’s following, and the other for Saloon cars, which was dominated by Gurney driving Alan Brown’s Ford V8 Galaxie, with Graham Hill in the Willment Galaxie in second place. This race was a fine demonstration of just how good these Galaxies are, for Gurney was in fine form and drove in a most spirited manner, using all the road, some of the grass, and cornering in great power slides, and the Galaxie has quite a lot of power in its 7-litre engine. Following the Ford Galaxies came two Ford Lotus-Cortinas, driven by Sears and Trevor Taylor, giving “World Ford” a 1-2-3-4 victory. The only serious Jaguar opposition would have come from Salvadori, but he was forced to start on the back of the grid due to shearing a drive shaft in practice, but even so he was lapped by Gurney before the end of the race.—D. S. J.