13 February 2020

Fascinating F1 Facts: 72 - Another age

Life in Formula 1 was different back in 1969. Drivers did more than just Formula 1 races and their schedules were busy. On Saturday, September 20, for example, the F1 crowd raced at Mosport Park, where 24-year-old Jacky Ickx scored his second win in three races, beating his team boss Jack Brabham (43) with Jochen Rindt (27) third for Team Lotus. The circus then went off in different directions. Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Jack Brabham and Jo Siffert headed for Michigan International Speedway, 370 miles to the west, by way of Toronto and Detroit. They were there to compete in the eighth round of the CanAm Challenge Cup, with Siffert driving a factory Porsche 917, McLaren and Hulme the McLaren M8, while Brabham had a Ford G7, entered by Agapiou Brothers Racing. McLaren won from Hulme, with Gurney in a third M8. Siffert was fourth a lap behind.

Others took off from Mosport going in the opposite direction, flying to Paris in order to take part in the Paris 1000 sports car race at Montlhéry. Matra had two factory cars on hand: a 650 for Jean-Pierre Beltoise (who had flown in from Canada) and a 630/650 for Pedro Rodriguez, who had raced one of Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (NART) Ferraris at Mosport. They were paired with Henri Pescarolo and Brian Redman respectively.They were up against a field of Lola T70s, Ford GT40s and Porsche 908s but they finished 1-2 and then Beltoise and Rodriguez flew back across to New York and set off for Watkins Glen for the United States GP on October 5.

John Miles, Jochen Rindt, Piers Courage and Johnny Servoz-Gavin went even further, flying from Canada to Rome to take part in the XXI Gran Premio di Roma at the Autodromo Vallelunga, the seventh and final round of the European Trophy for F2 Drivers. Servoz-Gavin was there to wrap up the championship for Ken Tyrrell’s Matra International. He had 31 points, while BMW’s Hubert Hahne had 28 but things were complicated because only five scores counted and the Frenchman has scored five times to Hahne’s four. It meant that Servoz-Gavin was out for a victory. The Lotus team, run by Roy Winkelmann Racing had Rindt and Miles while Courage was at the wheel of a factory de Tomaso.

Servoz-Gavin won by a lap from Peter Westbury, driving a Brabham BT30, while Miles was third. Rindt and Courage retired. They were all soon on their way to Leonardo da Vinci International airport at Fiumicino to fly off to the United States.

The field was much the same as it had been in Canada with one or two changes among the privateers. BRM had run its third car for Bill Brack in Mosport but handed it over to George Eaton for Mosport. Miles had not gone back to the States as the four-wheel-drive Lotus 63 was going to be driven by Mario Andretti. He had been unable to race in Mosport because he was busy racing (and winning ) with an STP Granatelli Hawk at Trenton in New Jersey. He had then flown out to California to race the same car on the dirt at the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento, before flying back to join Team Lotus. Rodriguez was back in the NART Ferrari. The race was won by Rindt, chased home by Courage, with Surtees third for BRM.

And then they all went their separate ways again, the CanAm contingent heading to Laguna Seca for the Monterey Castrol GP at Laguna Seca where McLaren and Hulme scored another 1-2, Chuck Parsons for third in a Lola and Mario Andretti was fourth in an older Holman & Moody McLaren… And then it was on to Mexico City. Miles was back in action for Lotus as Andretti was away racing Indycars at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington…

It was another world.


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