Notes on the cars at Watkins Glen

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The 31 cars in the superb Kendall Tech Centre at Watkins Glen included all 30 that had been resident at Mosport Park plus the Surtees TS14. Since Monza some work had been done to improve the fuel system and the brakes, and although Surtees did most of practice in it and Hailwoed tried it briefly, it was finally raced by Schenken who was making his last appearance for the team. All the T cars, at Mosport Park now had full time drivers. The 22 year old South African Jody Scheckter, who has raced the single McLaren F2 this year, was given his Formula One chance and joined the M19Cs of Hulme and Revson in the older but still competitive M19A a car he had briefly tested at Silverstone a couple of months earlier.

Tyrrell 004 was handed over to the French F2 driver Patrick Depailler whose previous Formula One experience was restricted to his home town Grand Prix at Clermont Ferrand. Mario Andretti took up the vacant seat in the spare Ferrari 312B2 No. 6 while Ickx and Regazzoni stayed with their Canadian cars. Hailwood was driving his usual TS9B which he had forsaken in Canada in an attempt to clinch the Formula Two Championship at Albi. In fact he wasn’t successful but the following week at Hockenheim he made it certain. Meanwhile Schenken’s TS9B was passed over to the American Formula 5000 driver Sam Posey who soon had his name and that of his sponsors Norris Industries, painted on the car although it was actually entered by Champcarr Inc. It ran on its regular Firestone tyres on Friday but switched to Goodyears for Saturday and the race.

Although BRM turned up with the same two P160s and P180s they had fielded in Canada, Brian Redman took over Bill Brack’s paid place in the older P180 with a view to joining the team next season. The others remained as they were. Tony Southgate’s successor Mike Pilbeam was in attendance for the first time.

The John Player-Team Lotus camp had drivers for all three of their Lotus 72s for the first time since they were painted black with gold. Emerson Fittipaldi had the choice of his two regular cars with Dave Walker, racing for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix, and the last time for Lotus, had the cast-off while Wisell continued with the car he drove last year and which Walker drove this year up to and including Austria. Ron Tauranac was back with Frank Williams so presumably the “trial marriage” (see Canadian GP report) didn’t work. Everyone else remained put in their regular cars and the only mechanical innovation could be found on Ronnie Peterson’s car. A quick glance in the cockpit revealed two gear levers—one either side! The right hand one, with a knob on it with the word March set in, worked the gearbox. The intriguing lever on the left with a four speed gate embossed on it was for working the hydraulic rear roll bar adjuster. This device was first promised by March when Peterson’s 721G first appeared at Clermont-Ferrand. It failed to appear at Brands Hatch because a mechanic had managed to break it in the workshop and hasn’t been seen since until Watkins Glen. The idea is that by pumping the lever backwards and forwards Peterson operated a ram which altered the roll bar setting to accommodate for changing fuel load or other factors which might occur. This was the same sort of principle as the dirt Sprint cars we reviewed a few months ago when they altered their torsion bar settings, while USAC Eagles have also tried the device. Robin Herd was going to show us how it all worked and our photographer was going to be at the ready but then Peterson managed to damage it in his Saturday accident. It was not fitted for race day.

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