Runaway win for Clark (Lotus-Climax)
TARPORLEY, September 1st
The Gold Cup race at Oulton Park attracted a good field, in spite of no support from foreign works teams, and twenty-three cars lined up on the grid, headed by Ginther (B.R.M.) in pole position with a practice lap in 1 min. 38.6 sec. This had been equalled by Clark (Lotus 25) and also on the front row were G. Hill (B.R.M.) and McLaren (Cooper-Climax V8). All the important British teams were present, B.R.M. with a third entry driven by South African Bruce Johnstone, this being the Nurburgring crashed car straightened out, while Surtees and Salvadori had their original pair of Lolas, both with 5-speed gearboxes, and the U.D.T. cars were a Lotus-Climax V8 for Ireland and a new Lotus-B.R.M. V8 with 6-speed Colotti box for Gregory. Team Lotus had three cars at the meeting, the regular “monocoque” for Clark, the regular Lotus 24 for Taylor, and a brand new “monocoque ” Lotus 25 to try out in practice. Taylor’s car had engine trouble in practice so he had to race with the virtually untried brand new “monocoque,” once again through no fault of his own starting a race with an unknown car. Team Walker had Bonnier driving their dark blue Lotus-Climax V8 and Brabham was there in his turquoise Brabham-Climax V8. Very well placed on the grid with an excellent practice lap was motorcycle champion Gary Hocking driving Tim Parnell’s Lotus-Climax 4-cylinder with 5-speed Colotti box.
The Oulton Park starting area is first class, being wide enough for four cars abreast, even though it does lead into an exciting bottle-neck at the first corner, and the field made a fine sight as it sat ready to go in the splendid parkland setting. Both U.D.T. cars were having clutch trouble and Ireland’s car began to creep forward, while Gregory’s car suddenly gave a jump forward and the engine stalled. When the field had roared away Gregory was left on the line trying to restart and Bonnier was also left behind, but they both got away and set off after the pack. It was Jimmy Clark all the way, the sleek Lotus-Climax V8, running without a tail as usual to keep the ZF gearbox cool, just ran away from everyone, Graham Hill trying hard to keep the green Lotus in view, but the gap widened slowly but surely. With a field comprised of V8 engined cars and 4-cylinder cars it was not long before the whole thing would have settled down into two races, one for the big teams with their V8s and another for the private owners with their 4-cylinders. However, it was not as simple as that for Gregory and Bonnier were still making up ground after their delayed starts, Gregory slashing through the tail-enders in fine style, while Bonnier seemed to be taking his time and not trying too hard. There was a select bunch of V8-engined cars out in front, but on their tail and not losing any ground at all came a lone 4-cylinder Climax car driven by Gary Hocking. This showed that his practice times were not luck, and he was holding ninth place behind eight V8-engined cars and going extremely well, his speed out of corners being quite exceptional, not by reason of lots of power, but by reason of high cornering speeds, his Lotus continually showing three inches of daylight under the inside front wheel, a thing not seen on a modern G.P. car for some time. The situation was very reminiscent of a little while ago when Surtees used to keep the Yeoman Credit 4-cylinder Cooper up with the works cars. The race order was Clark, G. Hill, Ginther, McLaren, Surtees, Ireland, Brabham, Salvadori and Hocking, but this altered slightly for McLaren displaced Ginther on lap seven and Ireland was penalised a minute for apparently jumping the start, so in fact was not in the running at all. Of the remainder of the field Johnstone was leading in his works B.R.M. V8 with Gregory climbing steadily higher all the time, and Bonnier making little progress among the 4-cylinder cars. Trevor Taylor was in trouble with gear selection and was making pit stops, and later Bonnier gave up for the same reason; having a gearbox stuck out the back of the car is one thing, but controlling it from the cockpit is quite another matter.
The imperturbable Clark swept on, looking so relaxed, yet using every bit of the road and driving fast and smooth all the time. Whereas some drivers look as though they are racing and others look as though they are trying, Clark looks almost nonchalant, yet a stop-watch tells a different story, and even if he does tail-slide coming out of some of the corners and lets a wheel touch the grass verge he looks confident all the time. Surtees was not going as fast as expected, and on lap 24 one could see that the right-hand top rear radius tod was not in its front fixing, and on the next lap it dropped off at the front and trailed along the ground, quickly bringing Surtees into the pits where it was refixed and he set off again. Hocking’s fine drive had been interrupted when his radiator cap came off and he stopped and replaced it and then called at the pits for more water, this putting him well down among the private owners, but he was soon charging through them and heading his way back into the lead. Ireland was still keeping ahead of Ginther on the road, and forgetting about his minute penalty, until his clutch control stopped working and after stopping at the pits to see if it could be fixed he gave up. This left Ginther in fourth place behind Clark, Hill and McLaren, but not for long as the B.R.M. went by in a cloud of smoke and stopped when it got to the pits to retire with “engine trouble.” So now Brabham moved up into fourth place, but Clark had just lapped him at this point, even though the Australian was trying quite hard, the Brabham car’s front wheels leaning inwards violently as he braked for corners. Surtees did not keep going for long after repairing the radius rod fixing, for his engine went sick, and Salvadori had long since given up with a broken throttle cable, so the Bowmaker team could pack their bags and go home. The race was over 73 laps of the Oulton Park circuit and as half-distance approached with 36 laps covered Clark was nearly half a lap in front of Graham Hill, the B.R.M. not sounding as harsh as it should due to a slight oil leak letting oil get on the distributor, but, of course, this was not found out until after the race. On lap 40 McLaren came slowly into the pits with smoke coming from the cockpit of his works Cooper V8 as there was a minor conflagration going on where the battery had started a short-circuit. It was not serious, but it put him out of the race, and now only Clark and Hill were on the same lap, everyone else having been lapped once or more.
Masten Gregory was now in fourth place having driven a remarkable race after his poor start, especially as he had an inoperative clutch, his right foot was getting badly burnt from a radiator water pipe, and his brakes had given the impression of disappearing completely on two occasions. In spite of all this he was flogging on and was now well on the leader board. With so many stars falling by the wayside the private owners began to get a look in and Burgess led them for quite a while, until Hocking caught up after his pit stop. Also Shelly was getting into the picture, driving a good fast race, but others had run into trouble such as Lewis, whose Cooper lost its right-hand rear wheel along the straight from Esso hairpin and he skated onto the grass.
The last 20 laps were a mere formality for Clark, but he did not ease up and his driving was as fast and polished as ever, actually setting a new lap record for the circuit on his 65th lap, while the rest followed him, but not all as smoothly and confidently. Burgess disappeared in a cloud of smoke, indicating engine trouble, and then Hocking stopped just past the lake with smoke coming from his engine. An oil pipe had broken and though he tried to limp on to the finish it was impossible and he had to give up. Gregory ran out of fuel, stopped at the pits to take on more and ran short again, necessitating a second stop, so obviously there was a serious leak somewhere and this dropped him back behind Shelly. Tne new B.R.M. driver Johnstone was in fourth place, four laps behind the leader, after a very good consistent drive on his first time out in a works Formula One car and on the last lap he had a brake lock on as he approached Knicker Brook, which caused him to do a violent 100 m.p.h. spin which luckily finished up pointing in the right direction so off he went again to keep his fourth place. It had not been an exciting race, but it was pleasant, and Clark had given a perfect demonstration of his ability and the Lotus 25 had behaved itself impeccably. When Clark is right, and the Lotus is right, the result must be right. D. S. J.
The Oulton Park circuit really is a Parkland circuit, and a very pleasant place it is too. Nothing like a day in the country.
It was good to see Stirling Moss out in public again, and he drove Clark round on a lap of honour in a drophead Bentley.
Strange that B.R.M. should give their third car to a newcomer when they still have two dissatisfied clients in Jack Lewis and Tony Marsh, who are waiting for their V8 B.R.M.s to be made race-worthy.
Anyone want to bet that Hocking will be in the Bowmaker Lola team next year?
The U.D.T.-Laystall team have all the trouble, don’t they!