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Monza




All below from"Motor Sport" Vol XLIII No.10 - October 1967

The Italian Grand Prix 1967 - The Race

Sunday was warm and dry, with a haze keeping the full power of the sun away, and there was little space to spare in any of the grandstands and everyone prepared for a fast and furious race, but no-one even contemplated that it would turn out the way it did. The race length was 68 laps of the Monza road-circuit, and as the eighteen cars lined up on the "dummy grid" some hundred yards before the starting line there was a tension in the air that said "this is going to be a fantastic start", with Amon, Gurney, Hulme, Stewart, Hill and Surtees all feeling they should have been on the front row alongside Clark, while Brabham and McLaren were smiling quietly to themselves, at having out-smarted the others. With three minutes to go there was a panic in the Cooper team when Rindt's battery failed to start the engine and mechanics flashed about the place and installed a new one with 30 seconds to spare. The starter prepared to climb on to his rostrum with the Italian flag and back on the "dummy grid" the drivers were given a 30 seconds sign. The normal procedure is that with 10 or 15 seconds to go an official gives a signal to the driver on pole position to lead the field slowly forward to the proper grid, the cars in the front row keeping station and controlling things. The whole field pauses on the grid proper, the flag is raised for five seconds and the start is given. Something went wrong somewhere. At 25 seconds no signal had been given, there had been no drivers' briefing to say that anything out of the ordinary would happen, and many of the drivers began to wonder if the "dummy grid" start was being used. As the 30 seconds were finished an official raised and lowered, very gently, a green flag, meaning "move forward for the start", the starter unfurled the Italian flag and Clark began to let in his clutch, but he was conscious that all around him engine revs were up at peak, ready for a racing start. As the green flag came down Brabham left the "dummy grid " with smoking rear tyres, hotly pursued by McLaren and Gurney and the rest, depending on their reflexes and where they had been looking. Clark was still watching the starter and was half-way to the starting line before he joined the uncontrollable rush, by which time Brabham was well beyond the starting line, still with spinning tyres and looking to right and left to see where everyone else was. Gurney swerved round the outside of McLaren and Amon nearly hit the back of Clark's Lotus, and in the confusion put the clutch out and the Ferrari engine revs went sky high and there must have been a bending of valves. The starter clearly did not believe all this and feebly raised and lowered the Italian flag as the cars on the middle of the grid went by. Whether the organisers wanted it or not the race was on, and Brabham was off like a jack-rabbit. He was leading at Lesmo, but round the back of the circuit Gurney went by into the lead, and Hill and Clark were hard behind them, while poor Amon found his engine would not go above 9,400 r.p.m., whereas it should have gone to 10,800 r.p.m. As the "naughty boys " screamed past at 150 m.p.h. at the end of the opening lap, in the order Gurney (Eagle), Brabham (Brabham), Hill (Lotus), Clark (Lotus), McLaren (McLaren), Stewart (B.R.M.), Hulme (Brabham) and Amon (Ferrari), the officials of the meeting still had their mouths open in startled surprise. On the next lap Clark went by Brabham and Hill into second place, and Hill followed him through and took third place. On lap 3 Clark shot by Gurney, and as he came up the straight from the Curva Parabolica he swerved the Lotus from right to left to stop Gurney getting in his slip-stream. However the Weslake engine seemed capable of holding the Cosworth engine, the gap being the same on lap 4, but Hulme was now right behind Brabham, in fifth place, and had dropped Stewart and the others behind, At the end of lap 5 Clark's Lotus appeared on its own, then came Hill, Hulme, Brabham, Stewart, McLaren, Amon, Surtees, Scarfiotti, Rindt, Baghetti and the others, Bonnier and Ligier bringing up the rear, but then Gurney's Eagle was seen coasting into the pits leaving a trail of oil from under the engine. It had broken a connecting rod bolt and the car was wheeled away. While the oil was being mopped up the Eagle team suffered another blow for Scarfiotti came coasting in with a dead engine, the scavenge pump housing having broken and damaged the timing gear badly.


At six laps Clark had a full second lead over Hill, but Hulme was gaining on the second Lotus, getting a little way away from Brabham in the process. Then came Stewart, but one lap later he drew into the pits, so that now there were two distinct groups Clark, Hill, Hulme and Brabham out ahead, and then McLaren, Amon, Surtees and Rindt. Although things looked straight forward enough all was not well, for Clark's car was handling in an odd fashion and he was easing his pace very slightly to that of the other three, and in the second group Amon's engine was still "off colour", and was obviously going to stay that way; the new Honda was going well down the straights and could get away from the Ferrari, but in the corners the fuel- injection was getting in a muddle and the acceleration was being affected, and Rindt had crumpled the nose "spoiler" under braking and was now plagued by "under-steer" at the wrong moments. Stewart lost a whole lap at the pits, having stopped to see if he had damaged his left rear Goodyear after sliding the tail too far at Lesmo and hitting the guard-rail. It was marked but undamaged so he rushed back into the race.


With one thing and another the pace was not as fast as it might have been, but it was fast all the same, the race average being just over 140 m.p.h. Hulme had really got the bit between his teeth and passed Hill on lap 9, and the troubled Clark on lap 10, but on the next lap Clark was back in front again, but something was obviously wrong somewhere. On lap 12 he had a shrewd idea what it was, and was hanging out of the cockpit looking at his right rear tyre, and sure enough it was going flat, so it was no Surprise when Hulme, Brabham and Hill appeared on their own on lap 13, and Clark was seen going into the pits. Some twelve seconds behind this group Surtees was keeping the Honda ahead of Amon's new Ferrari, the McLaren- B.R.M. V12, and Rindt's latest Cooper-Maserati, but he was not having an easy time, and frequently the Ferrari was alongside the Japanese machine, much to the delight of the crowd, and occasionally in front, which sent them into near pandemonium, even though the two cars were only battling for fourth place. Clark was in the pits for a very short time, while the rear wheel and tyre were changed, and he accelerated up the pit road really hard, as the leading trio went by at full speed, now one whole lap and a few hundred yards ahead of him, the two Brabhams leading Hill's Lotus. The battling foursome for fourth place were barely in sight as Clark rejoined the race, So for anyone who had not been paying attention the race pattern would have looked unchanged, but in actual fact Clark was now in 15th position, a lap and a bit behind the leaders, nearly a lap behind the second group, half a lap behind Baghetti, Siffert, Irwin and Spence, and almost in sight of Ickx, Bonnier and Ligier, the last two about to be lapped by the leaders. As the leading trio went by the tail-enders on lap 16, Brabham nipped into the lead, but on the next lap Hulme was back in front again and the lap after that as Ickx was lapped Hill took the lead. With only 20 laps gone there had been five different leaders, and even now nothing was settled. Irwin retired the Parnell-entered B.R.M. 8301, when the drive to a metering unit broke, and it was reported to the B.K.M. pit that Stewart had thrown a piece of tread off a rear tyre, so he was flagged in. It turned out to be a false report and he was quickly away, still in last place due to his earlier stop.

The leaders were lapping at around 1 min. 30 sec., but Clark was going much quicker and gaining on them rapidly, already being up to 11th place, after passing Bonnier, Ligier and Ickx and having Irwin retire. At 21 laps he was right behind the leading trio, at 22 laps he was between Hulme and Brabham, and at 24 laps he was past Hulme and Hill, but unfortunately this let Hulme get into his slip-stream and the crafty New Zealander also went past Hill and back into the lead of the race. Brabham was having difficulty staying with them now, for his throttles had stuck wide open momentarily and the engine over-revved and lost its fine edge. On lap 26 Clark set a new lap record, having a clear track ahead of him, going round in 1 min. 28.5 sec., whereas up to this point Hulme had held the fastest lap with 1 min. 28.9 sec., which he had done on lap 5, just as Gurney spread oil everywhere, which had slowed the pace. Clark began to pull away rapidly from Hulme and Hill, and caught Spence and Siffert, moving up two more places as he went past them. On lap 28 Hill retook the lead from Hulme, as something was going wrong with the Repco engine, and on lap 30 Hulme was slowing visibly and drew into the pits on the next lap with an overheated engine and most of the water gone, a head gasket having broken. This left Hill on his own, almost in the tail of Clark's slip-stream, and more than 10 Seconds in front of Brabbam, who was now noticing a drop in power due to the inadvertent over revving. Clark was about to overtake Baghetti in the third Lotus, and when he did, on lap 33, he was in seventh place, with Hulme retiring. At half-distance, or 34 laps, the three Lotus 49s were in correct number order as they passed the pits, Clark 20, Hill 22, and Baghetti 24, the only thing wrong being that they were not 1-2-3 in the race. Hill was leading Brabham by 17 seconds, and nearly a minute behind came the foursome still in a tight bunch, with Surtees leading by inches. Clark was encouraging Hill to great things, and "towing" him along two seconds a lap faster than Brabham was going, while Baghetti was also being inspired and he kept the two Lotus champions in sight for quite a time. The battle for third place was as fierce as ever, with the Honda and the Ferrari side-by-side, and the McLaren and Cooper-Maserati side-by-side right behind them.

Clark drove on and on as hard as the Lotus would go, with Hill following and benefiting from the slip- stream of the team-leader's Lotus, and the gap between them and Brabham continued to open out at two seconds per lap. At the back of the field Stewart had not been making much progress, though he was lapping as fast as Brabham, and had caught and passed Ickx, in the older of the Cooper-Maseratis, but on his 46th lap Stewart's car gave a great "poof" of oil and smoke on out of the back of the engine, and that was that. As if in sympathy the next lap, McLaren's V12 B.R.M. engine broke two connecting rods and he stopped at the Lesmo end of the circuit, and on the following lap Amon drew into the Ferrari pit with a defective nearside rear suspension, but nothing could be seen wrong so he rejoined the race, having lost exactly a lap. The battling foursome for third place had suddenly all fallen apart, and Surtees was left on his own, for though Rindt was keeping up with the Honda he could not challenge it. At 50 laps Clark was still "towing" Hill and the gap between them and Brabham was now 55 seconds, with Surtees in third place, some 15 seconds behind Brabham, and being no longer troubled by Amon's Ferrari he set about closing the gap. On the 51st lap Siffert was accelerating through the second bend of the Lesmo when the left rear tyre of his Cooper-Maserati suddenly went flat and this spun him into the guard-rail and broke the wheel and crumpled all the exhaust pipes. He had just lapped Ickx in the second works Cooper-Maserati and the two cars missed each other by inches. Baghetti's Cosworth V8 went "pop" and stopped, with a broken camshaft, and he coasted into the pits to retire at 51 laps, and this gave Team Lotus and Keith Duckworth their first fears as to whether the other two engines would keep going. Clark was showing no signs of easing up and on lap 53 he had Rindt's Cooper-Maserati in his sights, going past it on lap 54 and into fourth place, with the Honda and the Brabbam coming into view. All that Graham Hill had to do was to follow in Clark's wake, having nearly a lap lead over Brabham and Surtees, for after Clark had overtaken Rindt, Hill lapped the Cooper-Maserati. He had a comfortable and unassailable lead, though it was rather over-shadowed by the second, third and fourth cars, which were just in front of him on the road. Slowly but surtely the Honda was catching the Brabham, and very rapidly Clark's Lotus was catching both of them. Amon had another stop to see if the left rear shock-absorber could be made to work, and this dropped him to the end of the depleted field behind Ickx.


On lap 59 everything seemed to happen, for Clark had his sights on the Honda, but behind him poor Graham Hill's engine had gone bang in a big way, and it was Brabham who led, though he had to complete one more lap before he actually passed the stricken Lotus which bad coasted into the pits. The Cosworth V8 was well and truly wrecked and it was hardly worth trying to see what had broken, but Clark kept the Team Lotus flag flying by going past the Honda into second place as if the Japanese car was stopping, but Surtees used the Lotus slipstream to pull him along even closer to Brabham, whom Clark was about to devour. All this had been very confusing for the positions on the road were Brabham, Surtees, Clark, Hill at the time Lotus 49/3 blew up, with Hill leading the race by nearly a complete lap over the other three, so that they had to run the whole of their 59th lap before they took the lead, during which time Hill was in the pits, having not quite completed his 59th lap. Brabham was just leading at the end of lap 60, but Clark was closing on him rapidly, and as they disappeared towards the Curva Grande the Clark/Lotus fans (and there were a lot of us) stood up and cheered when the Lotus went by into the lead, having made up a whole lap on the Brabham. To lose the lead through a puncture, stop and change the wheel, and then to fight back into the lead, admittedly with the help of the misfortune of his team-mate, was the sort of thing that puts Clark into the Nuvolari, Fangio, Moss category of really great drivers. But it was not yet over, and with two broken Cosworth V8 engines in the pits Team Lotus had their fingers crossed. With Brabham in sight Surtees was doing all he knew with the Honda, and it was good to see him really working again and fighting every inch of the way; for so many races now he has had to drag along disconsolately with a bad chassis that did not do justice to his ability. After 60 laps the three leading cars were nose-to-tail for though the Lotus had rushed by into the lead, Brabham had put his car smartly into the slip-stream and been sucked along.

By lap 65 Clark had managed to shake off Brabham and this gave Surtees his chance and he forced his way by into second place, and as the three ears ended their 65th lap th electric scoreboard indicated that 3.2 sec. covered the distance between the first and third cars. At the end of the next lap it was 3.3 sec., and it looked as though stale-mate had been reached, with the advantage to Clark, but as they started the last lap the overall gap was only 1.8 sec. and Clark's Lotus was in obvious trouble. The three cars went into the 165 m.p.h. Curva Grande one behind the other and suddenly Clark's engine cut out, which caused the car to twitch sideways. This made Surtees and Brabham do a quick dodge round the Lotus, demonstrating why Grand Prix stars are supermen, for most drivers would have had an accident at that speed, and the commentator at Lesmo nearly hid an apoplectic fit a-s Suttees went by in the lead, with half a lap to go. The Lotus fuel supply had dried up and poor Clark's Lotus was hiccoughing along now in third place, while the two most rugged and unforgiving drivers in Grand Prix racing were one behind the other-down the back straight at over 180 m.p.h., heading for the last corner of this momentous race.

Surtees was leading but knew -that Brabham might be able to out brake him into the right-hand corner and his first instinct was to keep to the right and hug the inside of the bend so that Brabham would have to go round the outside, and he would not have sufficient surplus of power to do that. But even better was the fact that across the corner was a trail of cement dust put down to soak up the oil that Hill had dropped. Any line through the corner had to cross this dust, and if you crossed it with the brakes still on, or with too much speed you would be certain to slide out wide. Surtees kept well over to the left as he came down the straight, so that Brabham had only two choices, either to follow the Honda through the corner with little hope of out accelerating it to the finish,- or to go by on the right under braking and hope to take the lead and hold it as they went into the corner. Luck was on the side of Suttees, for Brabham took the second choice and went by on the right as they both stood on their brake pedals, and sure enough he hit the cement dust going a little too fast and the carslid to the -outside of the bend, by which time Surtees had pulled the Honda across behind the Brabham, dived to the inside and was leading as they entered the final straight, but Brabham was right behind him and as they raced for the finish the Australian pulled out of the Honda slip stream and got almost alongside as Surtees got the chequered flag of victory. Phew!

The crowd went wild and swarmed on to the track as Clark coasted over the line in third place, his fuel tanks appearing to be empty. Rindt was fourth, Spence fifth, Ickx sixth and Amon seventh, While one section of the milling throng overwhelmed Clark another section nearly tore Surtees to pieces in their enthusiasm, for he is still the idol of the Italian sporting world, even if he does drive a Japanese car.

When the tumult and the shouting died down, which was nearly two hours later, the Lotus mechanics filled the tanks on Clark’s car and found that there still had been 3 gallons left in them, so he had not run out of petrol due to a miscalculation as was supposed, but the pumps had failed to pick up the last 3 gallons, even though they were working all right. On Baghetti’s car in practice the fuel system had worked down to the last pint of petrol, on Clark’s car with an identical fuel system the pumps had dried up with 3 gallons still in the tanks. The perversity of things mechanical.