Up to then, the McLaren team seemed to have nothing but bad luck. But Longford was a good weekend for us. We finally got rid of this very uncomfortable gyroscopic aspect to our front tyres, which was making the thing very heavy to drive. We just took the corners off the inside and outside of both front tyres, and lost very little rubber on the road. It lightened up the steering, and there was much less tail wagging the dog. I remember that really making an improvement.
Then, at the last minute, Bruce made me swap engines right before the race. I would have liked to have kept my engine, but that’s what happens when you’re driving for somebody else – what can you do? I just remember that my car wasn’t nearly as good as it had been…
Unfortunately there was another terrible accident on the first lap, which killed Rocky Tresise and a photographer. It was so bizarre that something like that could happen, for Rocky was the protégé of Lex who had died just a week before. I just couldn’t believe that Lex’s widow could go through something like that. It was so awful.
“I soon got into a fantastic battle with Clark”
At the time we didn’t know how serious it was, and the race went on. I soon got into a fantastic battle with Clark. He was going well enough, and that Lotus was a wonderful car. We just went back and forth, back and forth, for ages. And I kept wishing that I had the engine that Bruce had taken.
I finally found out where Jimmy’s weak spots were. There was one place round the back, over a bridge I think, where my car seemed to be better than his. Or I was taking it better than he was. I slipped past and can remember him looking annoyed that he couldn’t do anything about me there. Then I had a tremendous battle with Jack Brabham. His car was very fast, and my feeling was that it was the best car on the day. Jack was sort of a nemesis in those days. It was almost impossible to get by him. He just pretended that you weren’t there or anywhere around.