On Sunday, May 31, 1964, in Germany is held – in front of 400.000 spectators – the 1000 Kilometers of Nurburgring, race valuable for the Manifacturers’ World Championship and reserved for Gran Turismo and prototypes cars. It is a triumph for the Italian drivers Scarfiotti and Vaccarella, who, with a Ferrari prototype, win at the average speed of 140.500 km/h. The two men took turns at the wheel, completing the 44 laps of the track (22.810 kilometers long) in 7 hours 8”27. It is the third consecutive victory for Ferrari at the 1000 Kilometers of Nurburgring, completed by the second place of the Anglo-French couple Parks-Guichet, to a lap of detachment from the winners. Third place for the Dutch Ben Pon and the German Gerard Koch (Porsche GT), while the 8-cylinder Porsche prototype of Bonnier and Ginther – on which the Company of Stoccarda placed many hopes – is ranked fifth, behind the Ferrari of the Belgian Lucien Bianchi And Gerald Van Ophen.
At 9 o’clock is given the green to the 84 cars that are participating to the race. John Surtees, the favourite, is immediately positioned at the command, and at the end of the first lap has 800 meters of advantage on Phil Hill (Ford), Scarfiotti (Ferrari), Graham Hill and Bonnier (Porsche). At a quarter of race, around the 12th lap, there are many changes of crew. Take turns Phil Hill and Bruce McLaren, Surtees and Bandini and Scarfiotti with Vaccarella. Then, Surtees is forced to pit to refuel his car: this is the occasion for Graham Hill to take the lead of the race, even if Bandini immediately passes him. McLaren and Phil Hill retire at the 15th lap, because of some suspension problems. Five Ferraris remain in the head: the prototypes of Bandini, Scarfiotti and Graham Hill, the 3-litres GT of Guichet and the 3.3-litres prototype of Magnoli. At this point the race is shaken by some twists. Innes Ireland remains stranded in the track because of fuel lack. Hill procures a can of gas and runs to the track to bring the car back to the race. In spite of everything, the two drivers are disqualified, because the regulation establishes that refueling can be only done at the boxes.
The protagonist of the second twist is Surtees, who, at the command of the race, swerves in a corner and goes out of track. The accident has not caused damages at the English man, but now there is only a Ferrari prototype competing for the victory, the one of the couple Scarfiotti-Vaccarella. They are in first position, with a lap of advantage on the Ferrari GT of Parkes and the Porsche of Ben Pon. From this moment on, the three cars mantain their positions until the end. All the Porsche’s new models fail to reach the finish line: Joakim Bonnier needs to pit after just two laps. Bad also for the Ford of Phil Hill and Bruce McLaren, firstly in a good position but then forced to retire because of some problems to the gearbox and the suspension. Hill, however, says that during the tests the car enthoused him:
"The car can only be improved, but is basically already at the point".
A lot of cars have suspension problems, surely because of the high stress caused by the road surface. There is satisfaction at Ferrari for the results achieved. The first place of Scarfiotti and Vaccarella does not represent only the victory of an Italian crew and car, but also the reaching of the record average of 140.5 km/h. Brilliant Scarfiotti, who, even if the car at a certain point swerved because of the wet asphalt, has shown readiness to straighten it and continue the race. During the last laps, certain to win, the italian driver has also slowed the march to avoid accidents. The race, seen by 250.000 spectators, has been charcterized by a lot of technical and driving accidents, but fortunately no driver got injured.
The good test of the Company Maranello-based is completed with the second place of the Anlgo-Frech couple Mike Parkes-Jean Guichet, who arrived on their GT to a lap of detachment from the winners. The team made up by Ben Pon and Gerald Koch, on Porsche GT, gets the third position. The 8-cylinder Porsche prototype of Bonnier-Ginther – on which the Company Stoccarda-based had placed many hopes – is ranked fifth, after the Ferrari of the Belgian Lucien Bianchi and Gerald Van Ophem.
There is now anxious wait for the third race of the Formula 1 World Championship, that will be held on Sunday, June 14, 1964, in Blegium. The circuit of Spa Francorchamps, area of race bery different from the previous, is one of the faster in the entire world, with averages between 210 and 215 km/h, against the 115/120 km/h of Montecarlo and 160 km/h of Zandvoort: so, it will be important to look at the cars’ behaviour furing the race, most of all of the Italian and English ones, to make judgements.
Everybody knows that the strenght of the English cars is their stability and practicality and that, for what concerns the power of the engine, they are not so different from the Ferraris; it is also possible that the new Italian 8-cylinder has a greater possibility of exploitation of the Coventry-Climax than the English cars. Besides, the setup of the Ferrari engine is already finished.
The technical theme of the Belgian Gran Prix is the possible rescue of the Company Maranello-based, which will run with the two single-seaters given to Surtees and Bandini, on the English teams, first af all the Lotus and the B.R.M. The job of Spa is to turn the existing relation, till now favorable to overseas cars. We have already seen an initial improvement in the Netherlands: in the first race of the season the two Ferraris of Surtees and Bandini have quicly succumbed, while in Zandvoort the English driver has been able to keep up with the world champion Jim Clark. This demonstrates the improvement of the new Italian 8-cylinder and its adaptability on fast tracks.
In the sporting line, it is impossible to obtain in Spa an adjustement of the list for the mundial ranking, probably reachable in July. Actually the ranking is headed by Graham Hill and Jim Clark (with the same points: 12), followed by Arundell with 8 points, and Surtees and Ginther with 6 points. The international press defines Clark the best of the group, even if it is already known that a driver’s success, as far as he can be competent, is always conditioned by mechanical factors.
On June 14, 1964, is held the 24° Belgian Gran Prix, that will be played on 32 laps of the Spa Francorchamps track (14.100 metres long), for a total of 451 kilometres. The record on lap is actually held by Clark, who in 1962 on Lotus realized the time of 3’55”6 at the average of 215.265 km/h. The Scottishman, during the same event, recorded the higher general average, with 212.265 km/h. From a technical point of view, the race does not present relevant news, except for the presence of the new Lotus 33, similar to the previous model 25, but with a change in the rear suspension’s attack and the use of smaller rims to lower the barycentre. For what concerns the teams, there are no changes.
When the practice starts, in the late afternoon of Friday, June 12, 1964, the sun burns on the wooded slopes of Francorchamps and, except for the two B.R.M.s of Hill and Ginther, it seems that nobody wants to start. Ginther has its traditional car but with a new gearbox, with a smaller and firmer carcass, while Hill can choose between two cars: the one that he already used in Zandvoort, that has now the new gearbox, and a new car with the old six-speed gearbox but new knuckles with H section. The BRP’s drivers start the tests with full tank, to try the maneuverability, but then they pit to remove some fuel.
The Lotus team arrives late, so Arundell uses his 25C but with 15 inch wheels, while Clark is late because of the choice between two cars, even if he do not seems satisfied. One is the car used in Zandvoort, converted to the 15 inch wheels and 25-type rear suspension, while the secondi s the 1964 Type 33 that crashed in Aintree. The Type 33 has the same structure of the Type 25 but a lot of changes in the details, some of them have already appeared on the modified Type 25 cars. After a lap on the Type 33, Clark stops and passes to the modified Type 25, while Arundell has no choice and continues to learn how to move around the very-fast track of Spa-Francorchamps.
The Brabham does not manage to stay in the track for a lot of time, because the Hewland gearbox fitted on the car has some problems. Both the cars are the same utilized in Zanvoort, but the one of Gurney is not only competitive, but also seems to be very handy. Surtees and Bandini are slowed down by some technical problems: the first is not happy of the injection system of the fuel, while the engine of the second produces a very rough sound and the gear lever does not work properly.
It seems that the high temperature in the afternoon could be the cause of the problems of vaporization in the Ferrari’s injection system, an issue also found in some Climax engines. But certainly not in Gurney’s engine, since he marks a time of 3'56"6 before anyone else has left the boxes, and after a pause he returns on track and records a time of 3'51"9, followed by another of 3'50"9. Meanwhile, the Cooper’s box is not the realm of happiness: mechanics are trying to fix the mechanic parts of the cars and for a while Phil Hill cannot race. Phil Hill and McLaren are driving the 1964 Coopers, now equipped with new pillars merged for the front suspension, with reinforced extensions for the steering arms.
Among the non-official racers, the Parnell team has available only a Lotus 25 for Amon, because Hailwood is in bed with a throat infection; actually, he raced and won the motorcycle race Senior TT, but after that he returned to bed, instead of flying to Belgium for the race. So a good B.R.M. engine is provided to Revson for his Lotus 24. Siffert and Anderson take on track their personal Brabhams, the first with BRM V8 engine and the second with Coventry-Climax V8. Bonnier can choose between the old Rob Walker’s Cooper-Climax or his new Brabham-B.R.M. V8.
Baghetti and Maggs should participate at the Gran Prix with the B.R.M. Centro-Sud cars, but they remain without cars because the camion that carries the vehicles stopped along the way. Pilette completes the active entry list with his Scirocco-Climax V8. The long-awaited Honda is subscribed at the Gran Prix, driven by Bucknum, but everything is failing to materialise, while Trintignant, originally subscribed with his blue BRM V8, retires because he prefers to race the Mont Ventoux time trial.
At the end of the first training session, Gurney seems to be satisfied and a little confused: he is wondering why everyone else was so slow. On the other hand, the colleagues seem to be depressed, because a difference of five or more seconds is unreasonable. During the session, the B.R.M. team introduces many changes in the suspension and in the shock absorbers, while the Lotus team is trying to find more lpas from the Climax engines.
On Saturday, June 13, 1964, the tests are anticipated from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m, and the temperature is higher: this does not help to resolve the problems of mixing. The Ferraris race without the lower side panels in the engine compartment, trying to cool some things, and the BRP mounts on them the high pressure fuel pumps Lucas on the external brackets on the left side of the car.
Meanwhile, the B.R.M.s of the Scuderia Centro-Sud arrive on track, giving Baghetti and Maggs the opportunity to train regularly. During the two hours of tests, Arundell constantly reduces his times, while Clark is not satisfied of the Type 33 and the Type 25. The Scottishman takes the timekeepers to confusion when he passes in front of the boxes on board of the Type 33 and reappears the next time on board of Type 25. This happens because the Lotus team is parked near the curve of Stavelot, at the extremity of the circuit, and the 25 was not ready when Clark started the test, but when the mechanics managed to take it on track he stopped and changed car, making sure that his mechanics could take the Type 33 to the boxes through the circuit while the tests take place.
Also the BRM make a fast change when Graham Hill stops on track with problems of ignitions. The British driver steps on the second car and goes on with his mechanic in tow, leaving him to his repair jobs. Meanwhile, the Brabham practices a little, lowering his lap times, and McLaren’s Cooper is performing better, with the new oscillating rear arms that give a completely different geometry from the one previously used. The Brabham’s mechanics are not worried for the heat and their feeding system, because the cars have a little tanker of head in front of the engine and behind the driver’s seat, from which the feeding system takes its fuel, and in the tanker there is a thermometer with the indicator on the instrument panel: it gives the drivers the opportunity to know which is the fuel’s temperature before it enters into the injection pump. Everybody is working on the car of Phil Hill to make the Climax engine work better, but the American driver is then forced to retire because a fire grows between the injection tubes while he is exiting from the boxes: even if there are not serious injuries to the driver or to the car, the team is forced to leave the tests.
Also Bonnier suddenly stops the tests with the Walker Cooper, because he encounters problems to the brake at the curve of La Source and turns back against a stone wall, fortunately without getting hurt. This forces the driver to decide to use the Brabham-B.R.M. for the race, wheter he liked it or not. Not long after, Taylor arrivers to the hairpin and experiences the same lack of brake, by turning violently. But fortunately the driver hits nothing, otherwise he had to use the old Lotus 24 of the BRP team, which is in the camion as a spare. At 4:00 o’ clock p.m. Gurney shortly appears, completes some fast laps, included one in 3’51”7, and retires again, happy to ask himself what the other competitors were doing.
In Ferrari everyone is far from happy: Surtees does all his laps starting from the boxes or stopping there. He never manages to do a complete lap, so he seems slower than he was during the first tests. Also Anderson finishes the first practice with a very rough engine and, thinking that the flywheel was loose or that there was something broken in the wheel of the valve, he dismounted the engine, just to discover that there was a problem of ignition that caused the roughness. Maggs finishes the texts because the drain plugg of the grearbox’s oil falls along the track and, because the gearbox has lost all theoil, a gear popped out from the graft and the engine went out of speed and was damaged.
So, under the torrid sun that characterized the two days of tests, the faster driver is the American Dan Gurney, who, with Brabham, realized a wonderful time, outnumbered of more than five second than his tracker John Surtees. During the second day of tests, Graham Hill realizes the second absolute time, even if his opponents have often tried to close the gap. Brabham obtains the front row of the starting grid together with Gurney. In the second row there are Arundell, Lotus number two, and Surtees. Third row for Clark, McLaren and Ginther. It is an unusual position for Clark, favoured driver at the race’s eve, who seems not to be at ease on the new Lotus 33.
The heavy rain of Saturday night considerably cools the climate, and the day of Sunday, June 14, 1964, is beautiful but cloudy, with low temperatures; in fact, the ideal condition of racing, which inluded one or two threatening clouds do not let their loads fall. Among the twenty cars that practiced during the previous days, only eighteen were supposed to participate to the race, but Maggs and Anderson were deleted because of some practice’s problems, so the the matter about the qualifics is resolved and Pilette is authorized to start even if he did the slowest testing time. Before the departure both Coopers are turned on without their classic covers on the engines, hoping to mantain the injection nozzles cool, and Phil Hill removes the windshield’s sides on his car, hoping to mantain it cool too.
Ginther mounts an extension on the upper part of his car to deviate the air further up, and the Brabhams use shorter covers of the engine, already used during the tests. Graham Hill decides to use the last B.R.M., on which he displaced the new gearbox, while Clark chooses the old Lotus 25 with the rear suspension brought back to the 1963’s scheme.
After the drivers are invited to go on track to participate to a parade of sports cars and discovered roadster, the cars of the Gran Prix are alligned on a fake grid behind the starting line; while the drivers are informed by the Race Director, it starts to rain on the circuit. The Lotus Team’s mechanics change rapidly the front wheels of Clark’s car, while the BRP’s mechanics find a spike in the front left gum of Taylor’s car. They do not have a 5½-inches spare wheel available, so they change both the front gums with 6-inches tyre, leaving to Taylor the task to discover probable changes in the manovrablity in the first lap.
The B.R.M. mechanics drain all the fuel in the tanker, while the Lotus and the Brabham mechanics are so confident with the fuel consumption that they remove a little quantity of it before taking the cars on the grid. With so high speed, the race has to last more than 32 laps to take the two necessary hours, 451 kilometers, a longer distance than the majority of the Gran Prixes.
All the eighteen engines of the competitors are turned on at the 2 minutes and 30 seconds signal, and at the start - in front of 150.000 spectators - Arundell is immediately placed to the head, but in half first lap, he is passed by Gurney and Surtees and, after a little, also by Clark. Behind them, Graham Hill, McLaren and Brabham. At lap 2, Gurney, Surtees, Clark and Graham Hill cover the first four places, followed by Arundell, Brabham and McLaren, with the Cooper’s driver surprisingly trying to precede the Brabham.
After a little, Surtees easily passes Gurney before the curve of Malmedy, and at the start of the third lap is still in the head. The Ferrari seems to be able to stay at the command of the race, but when the drivers reach Stavelot, Gurney is again in the head, because the engine of Surtees has a problem. Now Gurney leads alone the race, with a relative advantage to Jim Clark. In fact, Clark’s Lotus-Climax cannot match the Brabham’s performance in speed and manovrability on this super-fast track.
Meanwhile, Graham Hill manages to pass Arundell and reach Clark, while McLaren rises to the fourth place and his team mate Phil Hill retrieves and conquers the seventh place, in front of Ginther and Bandini. The Italian driver is hindered by a gunshot wound in the left leg, because of a shot accidentally exploded while he was in vacancy. At the end of the fourth lap, Surtees pits because of a melted piston due to a very weak mixture.
Clark is reached by Graham Hill and McLaren. Gurney, on a Brabham-Climax manages to stand up to all until few laps from the end, driving on the circuit with a more sustained pace than the previous years. The Australian man beats the absolute lap record at the wonderful average of 221.465 km/h. That of Gurney seems to be a granted victory, as soon as all the opponents are very far. Behind him, there is an open battle.
Amon is stationary since the third lap because of engine problems, while Pilette is so far behind and seems to have a different rhythm. While Gurney runs alone, with about 12 seconds of advantage on Clark and Graham Hill, the Lotus and the B.R.M. finish the sixth lap side by side, with Clark managing to stay forward before swooping down on the Eau Rouge corner to the next Raidillon. McLaren, Arundell, Brabham and Phil Hill follow each other, preceding Gither and Bandini, Ireland, Baghetti, Siffert and Taylor. On the next lap, Ireland passes the finish line detached from the group and inside the ranking: from the boxes it is clear that the driver leans over from the vehicle to look at his right front wheel that oscillates, because it is unbalanced. In fact, at lap 8, he pits to change it.
For three consecutive laps, Clark passes Graham Hill downhill over the boxes, before being passed a little further and returning to the hairpin in the wake of the B.R.M. While Hill seems cold and unflappable, Clark works in a beautiful way to mantain his Lotus near to the B.R.M., which is faster. But the big surprise is Bruce McClaren, who manages to mantain his Cooper behind Hill and Clark. This battle overshadows the fantastic guide of Gurney, who becomes more and more faster and manages to take his advantage to twenty seconds. During the 12th lap, Bandini pits with the engine that does not work, and after two laps Phil Hill does the same after the curve of Stavelot: his engine exploded.
Meanwhile, Clark is carried back behind Hill’s B.R.M., and for four laps he manages to arrive to the hairpin with the Lotus’ front that is almost touching the BRM’s rear area. Carl manages, lap by lap, to pass externally to the main straight-line and to carry himself ahead of Hill, before climbing up the hill. At lap 16, Gurney continues his race alone with an advantage of about 28 seconds, while Clark does not manage, for the first time - after a lot of attempts - to pass Hill. Then Brabham suddenly slows down at the hairpin and throws the fire extinguisher out from the car, while Arundell’s car starts to emit smoke from the engine compartment; during the 19th lap, the British driver is forced to pit to take water on the cooling plant of the engine.
During the 19th lap, because of the almost braking of Hill’s B.R.M. at the hairpin, Clark is able to drive-by to his compatriot. But the B.R.M. driver is able to pass the Scottishman again at maximum speed. At the same time, McLaren continues to look closely at the two drivers who are fighting for the second place. At lap 20, this trio has to double Taylor and Baghetti, but, during the overtaking, Clark and McLaren lose ground on Graham Hill and they cannot use the B.R.M.’s wake to increase their speed.
At lap 21, after losing totally the contact with B.R.M., Clark let McLaren pass to see if Cooper can give to him the necessary wake to move closer to Hill. After knowing that McLaren cannot move closer to Hill, Clark resumes the third place and works hard to recover the lost ground. Either Hill cannot relax, even if Gurney has now a 40-seconds advantage. During the 27th lap, Revson stops at the curve of Club Hous, then he comes off his single-seater and pushes his car until the hairpin, helped by the officers of the track. Revson returns to the boxes and then in race again, but the disqualify is clear even if not immediate.
Four laps to the end, Clark passes in front of the boxes indicating the rear part of his car and, on the next lap, he stops, giving to the mechanics the opportunity to make an operation in a short time. Basically, when Clark ends his 29th lap, he returns to the boxes at high speed with no intention to stay long, while McLaren passes to the third place because, due to the excessive effort, the Lotus’ engine is hot and the water’s temperature has reached the danger point. In a few seconds, the water is spilled in the tanker and Clark returns to race before Brabham may overtake him.
This is when the twists begin. At lap 30, Graham Hill takes the lead, while Gurney is forced to stop along the track to try to unlock the tap of the fuel reserve; the American driver finally manages to reach the boxes - screaming at his mechanics "fuel, fuel" - but, with no fuel available, he is immediately forced to restart. It is only at the end of the race that will arrive the news that Gurney still had twelve litres of fuel and the problem was in the feeding pump. While they pass to the boxes to start the last lap, Gurney sees McLaren in front of him, while Clark is still behind, but the problems are not finished. Before he manages to reach McLaren’s Cooper, the tankers are emptied and Gurney stops by inertia before the curve of Stavelot. At the same time, Graham Hill suddenly stops after Stavelot, because something did not work correctly in the feeding system and the few gallons of fuel in the tanker in the front part of the seater are not pumped in the main supply system.
McLaren takes the opportunity and places himself second, at about ten seconds of detachment by Graham Hill, who is now apparently the winner. Here arrives another twist: when all the spectators are waiting for Graham Hill to pass the finish line and the race director has pulled the flag down for Ginther, the car of the british driver has a problem in the fuel pumps and he is forced to stop at the curve of Stavelot. Remains McLaren, third before, who tries to conquer the victory with his Cooper, even if the car proceeds too slowly because of the low battery and some problems to the alternator belt. But a few metres from the finish line, a very fast Clark passes McLaren, who is going on with his car by inertia, and crosses the line victorious. Immediately after, the tanker of Clark’s Lotus remains without fuel and makes impossible for him to do the victory lap, because he is still at the curve of Stavelot; on the other hand, there is the desperate reaction of McLaren, who beats his fists on the vehicle and gives a head to the steering wheel causing himself a fracture.
The organizing and welcoming committee not only has lost two possible winners at the last lap, but also the real winner; so Arundell sets off in search of Clark and at the end he brings him back seated in the door of the engine. The waiting crowd can now applaude his winner. The man who - however - the audience really wants to applaud, the moral winner of the race, is Dan Gurney, but the American driver does not show up at the boxes. And who can blame him? Gurney conducted a superb race only to having the victory ripped from his arms, not for bad luck but for mismanagement.
It is the third victory in Spa for Jim Clark, favoruite driver already from the eve, who has confirmed every prediction. This result is absolutely surprising and welcomed with great astonishment by the audience, that was taking for granted Gurney’s victory, defined by experts and critics as the better driver of the moment. Even if he did not excelled as he did in the previous races, the Scottishman has now placed a serious motgage to the title of 1964 World Champion and has also knocked out his previous record on track, running to the average speed of 213.790 km/h.
Journalists question Clark and his Lotus’ superiority, that according to them are not the same of last year. There is also disappointment for the Italian Ferrari, even if Surtees gave the best of himself during the first laps, contending with Gurney the lead of the race. The car did not, however, endure so much effort and the driver has been forced to pit. Same thing for the Ferrari of Bandini, that can be defined by the word colourless. Bad test also for another italian, Giancarlo Baghetti, who with his B.R.M. was placed eight. So there is discouragement for the Italian drivers, who do not manage to prevail in Belgium since 1953, year of Ascari’s victory.
It is also important to underline another event: the last minute retire of the Hondas, which sould have participated to the Gran Prix with the American driver Ronnie Bucknum and a team made up by 75 people. The day before the race, the Japanese team forfeited because of logistic delays, so everyone has to wait until the French Gran Prix of the Automobile Club for their debut. Clark dominates the world ranking and he seems difficult to overthrow, even if at the close of the Formula 1 Championship are still missing seven Gran Prixes.
The Belgian Gran Prix is also important from a technical point of view, because of the great performance of the single-seater realized by the constructor-driver Jack Brabham, which had already revealed its promising possibilities, but it still could not demonstrate a sufficient held at the distance. It was in fact Gurney’s Brabham that dominated in Spa, stopped after a while by the lack of fuel, a problem lamented by many drivers, because of the higher than expected consumption. There is always the extraordinary lap record of Gurney, who at more than 221 km/h of average beated the previous primacy of Brabham on Cooper 2500 (218,287 km/h). Jack Brabham himself obtained the third place.
Excellent result also for the B.R.M. team, which has proven not to be inferior to the Lotus, despite Jim Clark’s superiority in agonistic terms. It is also good the test of McLaren and his Cooper, in second place at three seconds from Clark. For what concerns the Ferrari, whose rescue was attended on the track of Spa, there is disappointment. In fact, John Surtees had just one moment of joy, when at lap 3 for a little he managed to pass in the head of the race. The action has been stopped by a little failure of his car, probably in the injection system, that can be justified only if the development of the new V8 engine was not complete. Problems also for Lorenzo Bandini’s single-seater, which did not withstand the mechanical stress. It seems impossible, now, to make a complete judgement on the new Ferrari 158, while concerns are rising about the recuperation on time of the disadvantage against the British driver. All that remains is to wait for the French Gran Prix, that will be held on Sunday, June 28, 1964 on the Rouen circuit.