THE Mid-Cheshire Motor Racing Club Ltd. were very courageous in organising a Formula One race for their Gold Cup meeting, in this first season of the new Grand Prix Formula, especially in view of the ups and downs of various factory teams. The outcome was a small field of cars but they gave a real taste of Grand Prix racing at its best and it must have whetted the appetites of the very large crowd of spectators. Anyone who expects the new 3-litre cars in their first year of racing to be as reliable and evenly matched as the old 1 1/2-litres of 1965 needs to get his feet on the ground and face up to reality. The works Brabham-Repco V8s and the works 16-cylinder B.R.M.s gave an inspiring, if short-lived, impression of what is to come when we get all the other works teams at Oulton Park next year.
Team Lotus entered Clark with a Lotus 43 with 16-cylinder B.R.M. engine, and Arundell with R14, the car with the 2-litre V8 Climax engine, but trouble with the 16-cylinder engine in practice meant that Clark had to take R14 and Arundell was a non-starter. Brabham and Hulme had the cars they used at Monza. B.R.M. entered Hill and Stewart with H16-cylinder cars, both with the earlier versions of engine firing as double-eights, and the rest of the entry was made up of private-owners. Anderson was there with his Brabham-Climax 4-cylinder, Ireland had the ex-works Tasman 2-litre B.R.M. V8 of Bernard White Racing, which Bondurant has been driving, Spence was in Parnell’s Lotus 25-B.R.M. V8, Lawrence had the John Pearce Cooper-Ferrari V12 and Campbell-Jones had a 1964 B.R.P. chassis into which Willment’s had fitted a Paul Emery-built 3-litre Godiva Coventry-Climax V8. Brabham Racing had entered the Formula 3 driver Irwin on one of their V8 cars, but he was a non-starter, as was Jonathan Williams who was to have driven for Parnell.
The three-litre Grand Prix cars put Ouhon Park into a new phase in its history, for in practice Brabham knocked over 3 sec. off the existing lap record, held by Hulme with a Group 7 Lola-Chevrolet. The existing record stood at 1 min. 37.4 sec. and seven of the drivers who practised were below this figure, with Brabham best at 1 min. 34.2 sec., an average speed of 105.52 m.p.h., while speeds as high as 154 m.p.h. were being recorded along the short straight from Esso hairpin.
It was the Brabhams that shot off into the lead on the first lap, clocking 147 m.p.h. down the back-straight, with the two H16 B.R.M.s in hot pursuit, followed by Clark, Spence, Anderson and Ireland. On the second lap Hulme took the lead, clocking 150 m.p.h. through the time traps, but then Brabham reasserted himself in front. Stewart then got between the Brabhams and took the lead on lap 5, when only 3.2 sec. covered the first seven cars, with Ireland being unable to keep up the pace. The two works Brabhams and the two works B.R.M.s were in a bunch like a Formula 3 race and out-and-out lap record-breaking began, in spite of the track being a bit slippery and rubbery. Stewart clocked 1.37.6 and then Clark and Hill recorded 1.37.2, the B.R.M. number-one driver having snatched third place from Hulme. This was Grand Prix racing with a vengeance, the two B.R.M. 16-cylinder engines sounding wonderful and the noise of the seven tightly-packed cars sounded thrilling as they raced down the short straif ht through the trees approaching Lodge Corner. Round the corner and down the dip before Deer Leap there was some spirited opposite-lock sliding with the power full on, and they burst over the brow and along the pit straight with a shattering noise, jockeying for position to brake for Old Hall Corner. The only regret was that one could not he everywhere round the circuit to watch, for they must have been impressive over Clay Hill.
At seven laps the order was B.R.M., Brabham-Repco, B.R.M., Brabham-Repco, with the 2-litre Lotus just keeping up, but Spence and Anderson were losing touch. Stewart’s water temperature was rising and on lap 8 Brabham got by him and on the next lap Hill passed his young team-mate. At 10 laps Graham Hill was out in front, clocking 150.7 m.p.h. on the straight from Esso hairpin, but Brabham replied with 151 m.p.h. and a new lap record of 1.37.0, but Hill promptly clocked 1.36.7 and then Brabham and Hulme did 1.36.6, this effort getting Hulme into third place ahead of Stewart who was now definitely in trouble. At the end of lap 13 Stewart pulled into the pits and the overheating caused his retirement, but Hill was still holding off the two Brabhams and the sight of the 16-cylinder B.R.M. out in front and apparently getting over its teething troubles must have given heart to all Grand Prix enthusiasts. Brabham was trying hard, sliding his corners and hanging on to the B.R.M., and the two of them were pulling away from Hulme, but Clark had spun at Knickerbrook and had been passed by Spence and Anderson; he got going again and drove in typically inspired fashion to regain his lost position.
Hill led from lap 10 to lap 18, when Brabham got by going into Old Hall Corner, having clocked 154 m.p.h. on the straight, but Hill had done 156 1/2 m.p.h., which was very impressive considering it was from the slow hairpin bend. At 20 laps, which was half distance, Brabham still led Hill, though they were nose-to-tail, and had pulled out a 2-sec. lead on Hulme. Things looked good for B.R.M. for it seemed as if Hill was going to let Brabham set the pace, and take the lead back from him when he wanted it, for Hulme no longer seemed able to get between them. On lap 25 all hopes of a B.R.M. victory went, for the 16-cylinder engine broke and Hill coasted to rest, leaving the two Brabham-Repco V8s in complete charge of the race. While being terribly disappointing for B.R.M. at least they knew that the 3-litre H16 was beginning to show its true form, and Oulton Park is a Brabham circuit more than a B.R.M. circuit. At Monza Clark showed convincingly that the H16 B.R.M.-engined Lotus can deal with the Ferraris on maximum speed, so it can only be a matter of time before the Bourne team are back on top their impressive and advanced Grand Prix car.
The efficient, reliable and praiseworthy Brabham-Repco V8 cars merely had to tour round for the remaining laps, to finish first and second, but it was a pity that the track marshals waved Denis Hulme back into the paddock after the race, instead of letting him join Jack Brabham on the finishing line to help receive the Gold Cup and the champagne, for these two must surely be the best matched and most balanced team of drivers since Ascari/Villoresi or Hawthorn/Collins. It would have been a fine tribute to the Brabham Team if the two drivers and cars could have done a lap of honour together.
Almost as Hill had broken down, Spence and Anderson had retired, and only Clark and Ireland were left running on the same lap as the Brabhams. The Pearce Engineering Cooper-Ferrari V12 ran consistently but needs to find more speed, recording only 137 m.p.h. along the straight; as a one-off special it is well turned out and is an honest attempt, unlike some cars that could be mentioned. The 40-lap Gold Cup Race had taken place in mid-afternoon, the programme being started with a 15-lap race for “Special GT cars” at 12 noon. This was a very odd category thought up by the organisers and not a recognised F.I.A. Group. In effect it was made up of International Group 4 sports cars, British Prototype GT cars, and obsolete cars, and the two classes of over and under 2 litres were combined. David Piper ran away with the event in his Ferrari 275LM coupe, but the race was made by de Udy in the green Porsche Carrera Six belonging to Porsche Cars (G.B.) Ltd. of Isleworth. Due to minor troubles in practice he was nearly on the back of the grid, but from the start he shot through the large field, being eighth on lap 3, only to spin at Cascades. He recovered and pressed on to such good effect that he made a faster lap than Piper and worked his way up to second place by lap 7 and after that made no more mistakes. This race was a complete vindication for Group 4 Sports cars, and showed the standards to which British builders must aim if they hope for International success. The neat Chevron GT prototype of Derek Bennett, with 2-litre B.M.W. engine, was quite impressive, but no match for de Udy and the Porsche.
The saloon car racing was divided into two parts, the little ones before the Gold Cup and the big ones after it. Having Minis and Anglias with 1,000-c.c. engines and other’s with 1,300-c.c. engines seems a bit pointless, but it meant that Ford could claim two more victories instead of one. The Superspeed 1,293-c.c. Anglias of Craft and Young were severely harassed by Rhodes in the works 1,275-c.c. Mini and his spirited driving kept the crowd entertained. In the 1,000-c.c. class there was no opposition to Fitzpatrick in the Broadspeed Anglia.
In the big saloon car race, Jack Oliver drove the blue Mustang of D.R. Racing with great skill, leading Muir in the Willment 7-litre Galaxie and Clark in a works Lotus-Cortina, until the nearside front stub-axle broke coming out of Esso bend and he skated on to the grass, losing the wheel and hub. This let Muir lead, but he overdid things at Old Hall Corner and there was a great crashing of ironmongery, which Clark managed to avoid by inches and the works Lotus-Cortina went on to win comfortably. Arundell in the second Team Lotus car had a big moment at Lodge Corner, up-ending himself but finishing on his wheels so that he wit, able to continue racing with slightly bent bodywork.
A very successful meeting and I look forward to the next Formula 1 event at Oulton Park.
GOLD CUP RACE – Formula One – 40 laps – 178 kilometres – Dry
1st: J. Brabham (Brabham-Repco V8) (Entrant: Brabham Racing Org.) 1 hr. 06 min. 14.2 sec – 160.93 k.p.h.
2nd: D. Hulme (Brabham-Repco V8) (Entrant: Brabham Racing Org.) 1 hr. 06 min. 14.3 sec
3rd: J. Clark (Lotus 33-Climax V8 – 2-litre) (Entrant: Team Lotus) 1 hr. 06 min. 39.4 sec
4th: I. Ireland (B.R.M. V8 – 2-litre) (Entrant: Bernard White Racing) 1 hr. 07 min 58.8. sec
5th: C. Lawrence (Cooper-Ferrari V12) (Entrant: J. A. Pearce Eng. Ltd.) 38 laps
SPECIAL GT CARS – 15 laps – 67 kilmotres – Dry
1st: D. Piper (Ferrari 275LM) 26 min. 31.6 sec – 150.747 k.p.h. (93.67 m.p.h.)
2nd: M. G. de Udy (Porsche Carrer Six) 26 min. 44.6 sec
3rd: J. Edmonds (Ferrari 275LM) 27 min. 23.8 sec
4th: D. Bennerr (Chevron-B.M.W. 2-litre) 27 min. 30.4 sec.
5th: B. Muir (Cobra Daytona Coupe) 27 min 37.0 sec
6th: D. Martland (Chevron-Ford 2-o.h.c.) 27 min. 38.0 sec
SALOON CARS – Up to 1,300 c.c. – 19 laps – 84 kilometres – Dry
1st: C. Craft (Ford Anglia – Superspeed) 37 min. 24.9 sec – 135.121 k.p.h. (83.96 m.p.h.)
2nd: J. Rhodes (B.M.C. Mini – Cooper Cars) 37 min. 30.8 sec
3rd: M. Young (Ford Anglia – Superspeed) 37 min. 31.0 sec
4th: J. Handley (B.M.C. Mini – Cooper Cars) 37 min. 51.6 sec
5th: G. Spice (B.M.C. Mini – Downton) 38 min. 31.2 sec
6th: J. Fitzpatrick (Ford Anglia – Broadspeed) 38 min. 31.6 sec
SALOON CARS – Over 1,300 c.c. – 19 laps – 84 kilometres – Dry
1st: J. Clark (Lotus-Cortina) 36 min. 12.0 sec – 139.917 k.p.h. (86.94 m.p.h.)
2nd: Sir G. Baille (Ford Falcon) 36 min. 53.2 sec
3rd: R. Bond (Ford Mustang) 38 min. 02.6 sec
4th: B. Redman (Alfa Romeo GTA) 18 laps
5th: R. Newton (Lotus-Cortina) 18 laps
6th: P. Arundell (Lotus-Cortina) 18 laps