Seconds out

British F3, Crystal Palace, 1970
It was the penultimate round of the Motor Sport/Shell F3 series and Dave Walker’s win should have been headline news. Should, but wasn’t…
Writer Simon Arron, illustrator Guy Allen

The end was nigh for Formula 3’s 1-litre era – and this was a fitting reminder of just how good the racing could be. Aussie Dave Walker (Lotus 59) was tussling with Tony Trimmer (Brabham BT28) for the Motor Sport/Shell championship title – and had a reasonably straightforward run to victory in the season’s penultimate race, through the Crystal Palace parkland.

His escape was abetted by a wonderfully vigorous, five-car scrap for second place, featuring Trimmer, Mike Beuttler (Brabham BT28), James Hunt (Lotus 59), Dave Morgan (March 703) and Gerry Birrell (Brabham BT28).

By reputation Crystal Palace was a difficult circuit at which to overtake, but that’s not how it looked on this occasion. As Walker edged away, the destiny of second place appeared ever more uncertain.

As the race entered its final phase, Beuttler moved to the head of the chasing pack, while Morgan tried to annex third by moving to Hunt’s outside at South Tower, the final corner.

After the ensuing collision, Hunt’s car bounced into the centre of the circuit, minus two wheels, while Morgan’s came to rest against the sleepers. Trimmer picked his way through the debris to take third – and would eventually lift the title.

In the November 1970 edition of Motor Sport, reporter Mike Doodson described the aftermath as follows: “A stewards’ enquiry was convened, but by then Hunt had regrettably resorted to fisticuffs to settle his differences. This is very much against the spirit of camaraderie that exists in motor racing and was greatly deplored.”

The authorities ultimately pointed the finger of blame at Morgan, but a debate about driving standards continued in the correspondence pages of specialist magazines, contributors including the understandably defensive mothers of Messrs Morgan and Beuttler…