Oulton Park, England, August 22nd
The annual Gold Cup race at Oulton Park is the only opportunity for enthusiasts in the North of England to see Grand Prix cars and Grand Prix drivers in action, so that even if the entry of star turns is small it is always appreciated by a large proportion of spectators. To those lucky enough to witness all the Formula One races, and to the blasé, the appearance of five Grand Prix cars at the pleasant Oulton Park circuit may have seemed inadequate, but it is worth remembering that at every race meeting there must be some spectators seeing the cars for the first time. The entry may have been small but it was very select, consisting of Rindt with the works Lotus 72C/R2, Surtees with his own TS7/001, Oliver with the works BRM 153/04, and two brand new cars, the Rob Walker Lotus 72C/R4 for Hill and the newly-announced Tyrrell-Cosworth V8 for Stewart, with his March 701/4 as a stand-by. The rest of the field was made up with Formula 5000 cars and drivers, the quantity and quality of which can only be described as miscellaneous.
The event was run in two heats of 20 laps each, the winner of the Gold Cup being decided on aggregate times, a strange and rather unsatisfactory way of running what was once a small classic motor race. Rain in practice made a complete nonsense of lap times and the grid for the first heat, as some drivers managed a lap in the dry and others did not. The new Tyrrell car was plagued with engine bothers and right up to the time of the warm-up lap Stewart was undecided whether to start in the second row with the March, or from the back of the grid with the Tyrrell with which he had not recorded a time. The weather was warm and dry for the race so he chose to drive the Tyrrell from the back of the grid, and though there was little hope of winning he could at least learn something useful about the new car under racing conditions.
From pole position on the grid Surtees dominated the first heat, Oliver being unable to challenge him, while Rindt was handicapped by having a top-gear ratio that was too low so that he could not match the speed of the others on the straight down to Knickerbrook. On the opening lap Stewart had his accelerator stick open as he was passing some of the slow F5000 cars going into Knickerbrook, which kept him very busy indeed, and again approaching Lodge Corner, so he switched off and went into the pits. The trouble was cured and he rejoined the race a lap behind the leader and proceeded to give an inspired display of Grand Prix driving, during the course of which he lowered the lap record from I min. 28.6 sec, which he set up last year with the MS80 Matra, to 1 min. 26.6 sec. Getting away from the start Hill found he could not open the throttles on his new Lotus 72, in contrast to Stewart, and when he did get going it was only for three laps as the oil pressure in his Cosworth V8 engine began to sag and he gave up; an altogether miserable and pathetic debut. Although the debut of the new Tyrrell car was also fraught with troubles, the result was impressive for Stewart flung it round the Oulton Park circuit with great confidence, displaying the artistry of driving that has been lacking with the March car recently.
For what they were worth the Formula 5000 cars pounded round in the wake of Surtees, Oliver and Rindt, and those that did not fall apart finished and qualified for the second heat. Gardner, Ganley, Hailwood and Wissell being to the forefront. Stewart coasted in at the end of the first heat, his Cosworth engine having blown up, so that the Tyrrell Team and the Rob Walker Team were on their way home when Surtees, Oliver and Rindt lined up for Heat 2 with what were left of the Formula 5000 cars. The top-gear ratio had been raised in the Lotus 72 and Rindt was able to demonstrate the car to its full worth while winning this 20-Iap race from Surtees and Oliver, but he could not get enough lead to compensate for his time deficit in Heat 1, nor could he approach Stewart’s new lap record. Oliver made a super start and had four laps of glory in the lead with the Yardley BRM, but first Rindt forced his way by and then Surtees, and though it was not an exciting race it was an admirable demonstration of Grand Prix drivers in action, especially as they lapped the slow Formula 5000 cars, the skill and judgement of the three works drivers being there for all to see.
The overall victory by Surtees was exceedingly popular and as he did his “slowing-down” lap to a great ovation from the crowds, Rindt was getting out of the Lotus 72 just past Old Hall Corner and getting into an aeroplane to fly off to a hill-climb in Austria, leaving his mechanic to drive the Lotus round for the remainder of the “slowing down” lap, which was exceedingly unpopular with the racing enthusiasts.–D. S. J.
Oulton Park Gold Cup – Two 20-lap Heats – 177.7 kilometres total – Warm
1stJ. Surtees (Surtees TS7/001) . . .. . . 59 min. 48.2 sec.–177.02 k.p.h.
2nd:J. Rindt (Lotus 72C/R2) .. .. . ……. 59 min. 51.6 sec.
3rd:J. Oliver (BRM 153/04) .. ……….. . 60 min. 08.4 sec.
4th:H. Ganley (McLaren M10B/F5000) . 62 min. 30.2 sec.
5th:T. Taylor (Lola T190/F5000)………… 2 laps behind
6th:F. Saunders (Crossle 15F/F5000) .. 4 laps behind
Fastest lap:J. Stewart (Tyrrell-Cosworth V8) in Heat 1 in 1 min. 26.6 sec.– 184.72 k.p.h.