OCT 14th 2015

Doug Nye ‑ The Story Behind Goodwood's Extraordinary Joint Lap Record

F1 Goodwood Lap record

The ‘Jim Clark/Jackie Stewart’ Goodwood lap-record commemoration at the Revival Meeting was incredibly evocative – especially so for those of us who were present 50 years before to see it happen ‘for real’. Thankfully Jackie is still with us even though poor Jimmy is so long gone, but Dario Franchitti – just about the greatest and most genuine Jimmy Clark fan I have ever encountered – played his substitute role wonderfully well.

Mini Alfa Nick Swift Revival St Mary's Promo

While he drove John Bowers’ Lotus-Climax 25 in our tribute, Jackie drove his former team-mate Richard Attwood’s BRM P261 – and what a sight they provided.

I vividly recall Goodwood’s final race for current Formula 1 cars that extraordinary Easter Monday. That morning a fantastically violent hailstorm left the Motor Circuit almost ankle deep in fast-melting hail stones. The north wind was bitterly cold and we visualized another abandoned meeting. But the Goodwood weather magic prevailed, the clouds abruptly cleared, the sun blazed down and under crystal-clear, hail-washed skies the meeting proceeded in bright sunshine, although the freezing knife-like wind persisted.

Jackie was making only his third appearance for BRM, and only the fourth race of his budding Formula 1 career – having made his debut deputising for Jim Clark in a works Lotus the previous year. BRM’s chief engineer/team manager Tony Rudd was unusually literate for a real racer, and his internal team report penned for his boss – Sir Alfred Owen – gives an interesting insight on the way serious concerns went Formula 1 racing, half-a-century ago.

Stewart Hill F1 Goodwood

Stewart catching Hill in the Goodwood chicane

Easter Saturday practice had been run in cold weather with a strong westerly wind and threat of rain. Jackie’s first ten-lap run (huh – remember them?) returned a best lap time of 1 min 21.4secs. Tony’s report reads: ‘He reported that it [his car] appeared to have considerable understeer and slid across the road badly. The front roll bar was moved to the soft position. He then ran for 8 laps, the best of which was 1min 21.0secs. He reported that this was a big improvement, although the car still tended to understeer slightly. The rear roll bar was, therefore, increased in stiffness 10% and he ran for a further 6 laps, the best of which we made 1min 20.6seconds, and the time-keepers made it 1min 19.8seconds, which was the fastest of the session.’

He continued: ‘Clark was driving a new Lotus, fitted with a 4-valve head Climax [engine]. We made his best lap 1 min 20.8secs, and the time-keepers 1 min 20.6secs. They [Team Lotus] appeared to be having trouble in not having the correct gear ratio for the higher-revving 4-valve engine.’

During a post-practice natter – described today as ‘the debrief’ – it became evident that the BRMs were pulling only 10,500rpm on the Lavant Straight, and 10,200rpm into the wind at Fordwater. At 144mph this was slower than in private testing, so all three works P261 cars had lower gearing fitted. Afternoon rain part-flooded the track, but Graham still ran a total 18 laps, with a best time of 1:36.1. Jackie, meanwhile, ran for 10 laps, clocking a best ’37.5. ‘He came in and reported that he felt there was too much braking on the rear wheels (as this could not be corrected in the very short practice sessions) he went out again, but spun without leaving the road on the approach to Woodcote…’

‘Young JYS might have been bursting with apparently cocky self-confidence, but in truth he was also totally objective and candid with his team.’

An early-morning run was then arranged for Easter Monday morning, ‘…cold and dry, with the wind if anything stronger, having moved round more to the north’. Team leader Graham Hill lapped in 1:20.8 on the latest Dunlop R7 tyres, and saw 11,100rpm on the Lavant Straight. Meanwhile, ‘Jackie Stewart ran for 6 laps on R7s, the best of which was 1:21.6. He then ran for 5 laps on new R6s, the best of which was 1:21.8. He reported that he was getting 11,100rpm on the straight and that the R7s gave more oversteer than the R6s. He preferred R7s, although the car was not quite so precise. It was agreed, therefore, to run on R7s, with the higher tyre pressures tried by Graham Hill…’

Just before the race, BRM then had great difficulty starting their cars in the exceptionally cold conditions, but as Tony reported: ‘Graham Hill made one of his better starts and led on the first lap, whereas Jackie Stewart… was well back. After about 5 laps, it was apparent that Clark was faster on the straight and was challenging Graham Hill for the lead [there]. He eventually passed and began to draw away slightly, particularly when Graham Hill was very badly baulked… so that by the 20th lap he had a 7-second lead.

‘Stewart meanwhile had settled down in 4th place – shaken off Brabham and was gaining slightly on Gurney, who was 3rd. It was noted in turn that Gurney was closing on Graham Hill, who made signs that his engine was not right. Gurney passed Hill, and Stewart closed right up on him. A pit signal was prepared instructing them to change places; but Stewart had passed Hill on the same lap so that the signal was not required.

Jackie Stewart Goodwood F1

A young master in a hurry

‘Stewart then began to gain half a second a lap on Gurney, when they both disappeared on the 37th lap – Gurney with loss of oil pressure and Stewart with either a broken camshaft or tappet.

‘Graham Hill came round in 2nd place, obviously on 7 cylinders but 40-seconds in front of Brabham. The race finished in this order’ – but Goodwood’s final frontline Formula 1 race then had a remarkable sting in its tail’. ‘…with J. Clark sustaining a burst front tyre due to a damaged wheel following a collapsed hub bearing, on his slowing down lap, less than ½-mile from the line. A new tyre was fitted by the Lotus mechanic, who endeavoured to drive the car back to the pits, but the engine burst and was completely wrecked due to timing gear failure.’

Just one more lap, then, and Graham Hill and BRM might have won.

Graham Hill BRM P261 leading Jim Clark Lotus-Climax 25 in Goodwood's final frontline Formula 1 race, 1965

Graham Hill BRM P261 leading Jim Clark Lotus-Climax 25 in Goodwood’s final frontline Formula 1 race, 1965

Tony’s report concludes: ‘Jackie Stewart was credited with joint fastest lap of 1 min 20.4 with J. Clark [and]… afterwards reported that he was very enthusiastic about the car – it was almost perfect and handled like the Lotus he drove in South Africa. It had slightly too much understeer at Madgwick, it might have been the wind but he was doubtful… He thought 2 or 3lbs more front tyre pressure would put the car in balance, and that he could just about keep up with Clark after his bad start and he got used to the car. He could catch Graham Hill and Gurney anywhere he liked, but particularly through the right and left-hand section at St Mary’s, particularly Lavant, and he felt he might be a little quicker through Woodcote. Due to his inexperience he sometimes approached Woodcote in an untidy fashion but was able to get round by putting the inner front wheel up the kerb without disturbing the car at all.’

Young JYS might have been bursting with apparently cocky self-confidence, but in truth he was also totally objective and candid with his team. Studying his friend, mentor (and hero) Jim Clark had brought him a very long way, in a remarkably short time… and at that year’s May Silverstone meeting he would achieve the first great leap of his budding career – winning his first Formula 1 race, the BRDC International Trophy.

Easter Monday Goodwood ’65, and that shared lap record with Jim Clark, had been a valuable stepping stone.

Photography courtesy of The GP Library

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