Surtees Wins at Oulton Park
After the Gold Cup Race for Formula Two cars on September 18th there was hardly a spectator at crowded Oulton Park who did not vote the event one of the most exciting ever seen on a British circuit. Throughout the entire 40 laps of the 2.761-mile circuit the challenge for the lead did not ease for a moment, with several shuffles in position taking place among the closely grouped five leaders.
The squally showers on practice day put first session times at variance with those of the second session, but everyone got at least one dry run in the end. With a time of 1 min. 41.0 sec., Denis Hulme, driving a works Repco Brabham powered by Cosworth, appeared in pole position. Alongside him was Jochen Rindt in the Brabham-Cosworth of Roy Winkelman Racing. Making up the front row were Graham Hill in the John Coombes Lotus-B.R.M. and Jim Clark in the Team Lotus machine with a Cosworth power unit, which had to be blanket-shrouded on the grid to warm up quickly.
In the second row were Alan Rees in the other Winkelman Brabham-Cosworth, Mike Spence in a works Lotus-Cosworth, and Trevor Taylor, a former Team Lotus driver, now in the Repco Brabham-Cosworth of Aurora Gear Racing. Jack Brabham was on the left of the third row in one of his own cars fitted with a Honda engine. Next to him was Jackie Stewart in a Tyrrell Cooper-B.R.M. which was misbehaving electrically, upsetting the rev-counter. On his right was the M.R.P.-entered Lola-Cosworth driven by John Surtees. All four plugs on this car were changed on the grid. Fourth place in the third row was taken by Chris Irwin, having his first works drive in a Repco Brabham-Cosworth. The remainder of the field, 27 in all, included the privately-entered Lotus-Cosworth of Brian Hart, Richard Attwood in the M.R.P. Lola-Cosworth, Bob Anderson in a Brabham-Ford-Cosworth, and Ian Raby in a Merlyn Mk. 9 with S.C.A. Cosworth engine.
In a blustery wind, which had caused the parachute display to be cancelled and had quickly dried the track, the race got off to a good start, Rindt being first into Old Hall. After a couple of settling laps. Clark went into the lead, only to drop back to 16th place after spinning off at Cascades in the seventh. The pattern which was to stay for the whole race had now emerged. Five cars sere bunched in the lead—Rindt, Rees, Hulme, Surtees and Hill. in that order—with barely 2.5 sec. between first and fifth. In the laps that followed, Rindt dropped back to third place, then to fourth. Rees staying just ahead of the leaders. Meanwhile, Clark was fighting back and by the 19th lap had made ninth place, whilst Surtees had gone into the lead.
An added interest was the Autocar Championship of British F.2 Drivers, for which the Gold Cup was the final event. Clark, with 22 points, was leading, but Hill, with 18, stood an excellent chance of making that figure up to win. Two sets of laurels were therefore waiting at the finish.
By lap 35, Surtees, Hill and Hulme were the leaders. Rindt having suffered a broken drive-shaft, and Rees having lost time due to a spin at Druids on he 29th. By this time, Clark was in sixth place and had lowered by 0.4 sec. the former lap record of 1 min. 41.6 sec. set up by Rindt and Hill in April this year. This new record was equalled by Denis Hulme later in the race.
In lap 38 I lilt finally lost his second place to Hulme, also losing his chance for the Championship, since Clark was certain to collect one point for sixth place, making his score 23, one more than Hill’s total after getting 4 for third place.
Surtees emerged a very worthy winner, but shared his lap of honour with Clark who collected the Autocar Trophy. After the race a happily smiling John Surtees left the circuit with a police escort on the start of a journey to Canada, where, to round off a very satisfying week-end, he won at Mont Tremblant in his Lola-Chevrolet.
Supporting the Gold Cup event were two 19-lap races, one for Formula Three cars and the other for saloons.
The Formula Three event progressed in much the same pattern as the Gold Cup Race, but not nearly as dramatically exciting. The 30 cars included the pair from The Chequered Flag, Roy Pike (pole position) and Chris Irwin in Cosworth-Ford-engined Brabhams. The successful Charles Lucas team were represented by Peter Gethin and Piers Courage in Brabham-Fords. Ron Harris-Team Lotus had two Holbay-Ford-powered cars for Peter Revson and John Cardwell, whilst Goodwin Racing had entered a Repco Brabham-Ford 109E driven by Natalie Goodwin herself.
Within four laps of the start the Chequered Flag cars were out in front, with John Penning in Stockbridge Racing’s Cooper 76 with Ford-Cosworth engine very close behind. On the 12th lap, a very dejected-looking Chris Irwin pulled into the pits with a sick car, leaving Pike to slowly increase his lead over Fenning. Irwin came out again, but retired at lap 17.
Pike finally emerged the winner, crossing the line with a broken throttle spring, having reduced by 1 sec. his own lap record of 1 min. 46.2 sec.
The saloon car event, in four capacity classes; produced the usual gaggle of Minis, a number of Anglia and Cortina variants, and three Mustangs. A lone Chevrolet Impala was withdrawn before the race. On the first lap, an enormous “kerfuffle ” took place at Old Hall when Roy Pierpoint’s Mustang began to snake and finally spun, causing a traffic jam of about fifteen cars, all of which came to a dead stop before getting under way again, leaving marshals to clear up broken glass, bumpers and all manner of other debris. Only one car failed to restart—the 1298S of John Lewis, which collected a severely concave nearside. The damage caused to the cars involved in the concertina became apparent later in the race by the number of pit stops to check bodywork, and a few retirements with radiator leaks and suspension damage.
After holding the lead for one lap, Jim Clark in a works Lotus Cortina lost his position to Jack Brabham’s Mustang entered by Alan Brown Racing, which kept its lead to the end despite losing braking power about halfway through, allowing Clark to narrow the gap lap by lap. The eventual class winners had settled into their lead positions by lap 8. Warwick Banks in a 970-c.c. Mini-Cooper entered by Coopers emerged as winner of the small saloons, and we heard afterwards that he intends to retire from racing in order to devote more time to his business. John Rhodes, his team-mate in the 1275 Mini-Cooper, surprised no-one by winning his class, and came in sixth overall.
A very enjoyable day’s motor racing, unspoiled by the weather, resulted in a lot of satisfied customers leaving Oulton that evening. We were no exceptions.—G. P.