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#130 1964 United States Grand Prix

2021-08-11 00:00

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#130 1964 United States Grand Prix

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Ferrari must not breaks ties with Italian sport. The new models that the Modenese constructor will exhibit at the Paris Motor Show are an expression of the Italian industry. Will we arrive to the absurd point that the Sefac sportscars will have foreign nationality? It is necessary to retake the dispute within more subdued limits. Sefac-Ferrari annunciates its participation to the next Paris Motor Show with a very interesting news: a car with 12-cylinders engine of about 3300 rpm, in two versions, berlinetta and spyder, bodied by Pininfarina. The engine, as specified into Ferrari’s statement, is the same 275 type which, mounted on the Modenese Company’s prototypes, won all the big races of this year’s World Championship for Makes. This is a pleasing announcement, more than the other one, made on the Italian Grand Prix’ eve, in which the Ferrari told its intention to not run in an official way in the Italian races, and to transfer abroad its headquarter. Enzo Ferrari dimonstrated that this was not a simply verbal controversy, as it was in other previous occasions, by giving back to the Commissione Sportiva Automobilistica Italiana the licensing of competitor for 1964; during the next Formula 1 races, the cars made in Maranello will run under the blue and white colours of the North American Racing Team, organization made in USA connected to Ferrari.

 

A lot has been said on the prior events, and often with a lot of passion, sometimes excessive. Ferrari’s decision has matured after the International Sport Commission refused the homologation of the 250 Le Mans model in the Gran Turismo category, necessary to participate at that category’s races, and that, as the regulation states, may be given to the cars of which during the previous 12 months would have been built 100 same exemplaries. Premised that this is a rule that has little relation with the sport tecnique’s reality, always in evolution, and that can be valid for the big factories, the trouble is that it has been rarely applied by the C.s.i. in fact, there are Gran Turismo car of which 100 exemplaries does not exist, but despite this they obtained the regulation. Ferrari says that he does not agree with the principles of double standards, even if on a moral and juridical level, one could argue that a rule’s violation by someone does not justify the same behavior by who thinks to be damaged by the violation itself. However, the evil is at the root, in the old regulations and, in a subordinate way, in the inability to enforce it by who has the power. Ferrari then says that the Italian delegates in the C.s.i, despite specific credit lines, did not manage to invoke the opportunity to homologate the 250 Le Mans, similarly to what has been done for other constructors. It is a delicate case. The bad trouble is that this is the reason why Ferrari gave back the card of Italian competitor.

 

Meanwhile, the victory of Scuderia Ferrari at the 1964 Italian Grand Prix rekindles a strong interest in the motorsport world, made stronger by some polemicies about matters of regulations and position of people who are part of this world. Also returns in the spotlight a topic that sometimes emerges in the motosport world and that divides people into two sections which support different thesis: the utility or not of the car races regarding the technical development and in favour f the industry. On one hand there are people who support motorsport, who believe that without the races the car development would be ten or twenty years behind and that a victory’s propagandistic value is worth more than any advertising campaign. On the other hand, there are people who denies this and thinks that today the tecnique relies more on the scientific research than on the sperimental method; so the big Car Companies develop their production expansion with the means of quality, prices and commercial organisation. It is true that a lot of industries, most of all the English ones, are side by side with the little car constructors not only for advertising reasons, but also for technical ones and often to search a proof or a useful indication to the conclusions reached in the laboratory: for example, the behavior of some lubricants, friction lining for brakes, tyres or starting systems.

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But it is also true that when the factories still had not reached an industrial dimension, especially in Europe, tried to reach popularity through the victories. It is to say that the sector interested in this activity is less bigger now, or to say it better, that the stimulator role of the sporty technique is not so important or decisive as it was in the first thirty years of the century, when the car was searching its constructive approach. But it is impossible to deny that racing helps the car’s progress. The disc brakes, for example, first studied for the planes’ trolleys, have been perfected thanks to the sporty use, and the thin shell bearings, to replace the precarious bushings, benefitted pf their use in the racing engines with high speed of rotation. Also the electronic ignition is now tested on track with good results, to the point that it may soon be transferred on the very fast Gran Turismo engines. Taking into consideration the other aspects of the dispute, it can be said that victories are a powerful mean of commercial propaganda both for the Companies and the Country to which they belong. In this moment, are involved in racing an Italian team and some British ones, while France, Germany and USA 8even if the Ford has started a limited activity with Gran Turismo cars) are out of this, even if they are involved in the world car production.

 

There is still the fact that the main problems of the car industry are based that have nothing in common with sport, among which the study of models convenient under the productive and economical aspect, the improvement of the production techniques, and the capillarity of the commercial and post-sale organization. Talking about the main topic, Watkins Glen is again the home of the USA Grand Prix, nine stop of the 1964 Formula 1 World Championship. Here, in one of the most beautiful landscapes for every Grand Prix, thew USA Grand Prix is scheduled for Sunday, October 4, 1964. The two victories of Surtees with the 8-cylinder Ferrari, on the Nurburgring circuit and in Monza, modified a little the drivers’ World Championship ranking. To the brilliant successes of the British driver there is to add the one obtained by Bandini in the Austrian Grand Prix, which confirms the Maranello-based team’s recovery also with Formula 1 cars. Ferrari’s big power in the last three races did not decide the World Championship’s fate because everything will be decided in the last two races, he USA Grand Prix, on the track of Watkins Glen, and the Mexican Grand Prix, which will be held on Sunday, October 25, 1964. In this moment, in the world ranking’s lead there is the Englishman Graham Hill with 32 points, followed by Clark with 30 and John Surtees with 28.

 

The disputed is not resolved yet and it is to be afraid of English cars, most of all Jim Clark’s Lotus and Graham Hill’s B.R.M. Lotus will get on track with a new 8 V Coventry-Climax engine with a new distribution system, while B.R.M.’s news are about the changes in the direct injection feeding system, in the distribution one and in the body. As it can be seen, the British drivers will have cars prepared to answer to the Italian single-seaters’ attacks. Hill, Clark and Surtees seem to be the only ones who can reach the world title. In the race in the USA will have an important role the participation of the Italian Lorenzo Bandini, who will run for the first time in the Ferrari V12 if the tests will be satisfying; otherwise, he will run with the 6-cylinder car with which he won in Zeltweg. In this occasion, Bandini, who is not fighting for the title, will try to favour the race of team mate John Surtees. After the good results obtained in the last world races, Bandini is now considered one of the best drivers in Formula 1. On the track of Watkins Glen he can confirm its champion abilities because, both with the 12 or 6-cylinders engine, he will always be a dangerous competitor for the international drivers.

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So the discourse interrupted in Monza is now opened again, after John Surtees and Ferrari’s triumph, for which the English driver is now behind Jim Clark and Graham Hill in the world ranking. After three following victories, the cars from Maranello seem now ready for the conquest of the title. Last year, the Drivers and Constructors’ World Championship was established in the USA; but this year things are different and some drivers are more worried to lose points than to try to do everything like the last year. In the circuit some changes have been made. The bottom has been totally changed and is now smoother and faster: for this, it may be an average superior to last season’s one. The third B.R.M. of Aj Foyt will not partecipate, while the other cars together with the drivers are already there on Friday, October 2, 1964, for the first free practice session. Jack Brabham participates with two cars, one for him and the other for Dan Gurney, while the B.R.M. team has three cars, among which one for Graham Hill, the car broken in Monza, and one for Richie Ginther, with a new engine, because the mechanics - who did not have much time - adapted an old monocoque. The third B.R.M. is an old car with an old engine, which Graham Hill will use for trainings. The Lotus team arrives in the States with three cars, one for Jim Clark, one for Mike Spence and one for the American driver Walt Hansgen. Clark has the old car which he first drove in South Africa in 1962 when a small bolt lost him the Championship, while the other two cars are the 33s used at Monza. Jim Clark feels that the older car can be more suitable on this 3.7-kilometer circuit than the newer cars.

 

The Cooper team are here with two cars and, once again, McLaren has Phil Hill as team mate. Since the Italian Grand Prix adjustable shock-absorbers has been fitted and slight alterations has been made to the rear suspension geometry. The Ferrari team, participating with American license with the name of North American Racing Team, has two V8 cars for Surtees and the new for Bandini with a V6 as a spare. The great surprise for the team form Maranello is that all the cars are painted blue and white, the colours of the USA, instead of the traditional red. Rob Walker has three cars: the Brabham-B.R.M. for Hap Sharp, the American driver who normally drives Chaparall sports cars, the ex-Brabham car with Climax engine for Bonnier and painted Walker blue, and Siffert’s Brabham-B.R.M. to be driven by Jo Siffert. The Parnell team brings two Lotus-BRMs for Amon and Hailwood. Amon has the car Hailwood drove at Monza and Hailwood is to drive the car he put into the lake at Enna, in Italy, and which has now been rebuilt.  Innes Ireland and Trevor Taylor will drive two BRPs. Ireland has his Monza car with new strengthened mounting points on the monocoque for the lower rear radius arms, while Taylor’s car is the one he crashed at Brands Hatch before the British GT. This is rebuilt with stronger radius arm mounting points. Last, but by no means least, comes the Honda V12. This is virtually the same as the one which raced at Monza but with a new nose to keep temperatures down by 10 °C, and the brakes has been improved. In this case, it will also be the American driver Ronnies Bucknum to drive the car and go on in this phase of development.

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The first free practice session is held on Friday, October 2, 1964. The nineteen cars are ready to start practice as soon as the track is opened. Since last year the whole track has been completely re-laid with a smooth but good-grip surface, which the organizers are optimistically hoping can considerably speed up the lap times. When the track is opened, Clark is off like a shot. The Lotus driver is the holder of the lap record of 1'14"5, while Graham Hill did the fastest practice lap last year at 1'13"4. Spence, Bandini in the flat-twelve and Sharp in the Walker car go out in a bunch with Surtees a few seconds behind. Surtees comes in after one lap to do some regulations. In the first half of practice everyone laps to start with at around 1'20"0, while they try the new surface. Gurney starts to bring the times down when he gets down to 1'16"4, but after the first hour it is Surtees setting the pace with 1'14’’6, with Graham Hill and Bandini one second behind. Taylor’s BRP loses power due to faulty battery connections. Phil Hill has trouble from the first lap with his Climax engine. There is obviously a fuel blockage somewhere as he gets no power from the Climax engine at all, and though the mechanics and the Lucas expert changes all sorts of things he is unable to better 1'20"0.

 

However, his team-mate, McLaren, is suffering from none of these difficulties and is soon down to 1'14"0. Ferrari still goes on setting the pace, Surtees doing 1'13"8 in one V8 and 1'13"9 in the other, while Bandini has some troubles with fuel pressure at speed and to check the pressure in the fuel line a length of tube with a gauge is attached to the left-hand mirror, so the Italian can report to the Lucas boffins what is happening at the point of lost power. Lotus begins to sort things out, so Clark is soon under 1'14"0 with a best time of 1'13"23. B.R.M. put in a lot of laps but are unable to break 1'14"0, Hill saying he is slower than last year, while Ginther has his ratio changed during practice. Both Brabhams are in difficulty as far as speed is concerned. There seems to be nothing particularly wrong except their times are down, Gurney being unable to get below 1’14"4, a whole second slower than the Lotus. BRP are having a quiet time, but are not getting below 1'15"0. Both drivers seem happy but say the cars are losing at least a second somewhere. Ireland has been told practice started early in the morning, so without checking, got up and went to the circuit, to find it inhabited at that time by the army of campers. The Walker Team are fairly happy, Siffert and Bonnier having almost equal times of 1'14"65 and 1'14"6 respectively.

 

The Parnell team are not quite so happy as Amon is having fuel troubles and they are not getting the best from their BRM engine, while Hailwood has a right-hand drive shaft break on the wheel side of rubber flexible drive. All through practice Bucknum is consistently bettering his times and an army of Japanese mechanics is sorting out the problems as he finds them, and by the end of the day he has the very creditable time of 1'14"9 about half-way through the field. Practice finishes at 5 p.m. and the cars are wheeled back to the technical building for preparation for the next day. The Club puts up a prize of 120 bottles of champagne for the first driver to lap at 120mph, a time of 1'08"9, an improvement similar to those made in other types of racing which have taken place here since the track was re-surfaced. The reason for the seeming lack of improvement in the F1 field is that the new 13-inches tyres being used here for the first time slow the cars on the straights due to the increased section in contact with the road, and with an improved surface adhesion this held maximum speeds down even more. The first practice had been cool, cloudy and windy, but Saturday is brilliant, warm without being too hot, with a light breeze.

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Graham Hill and Ginther are out as soon as practice starts to try certain minor modifications which, in fact, improve their times by half a second. Parnell’s trouble on Amon’s car turns out to be a fuel pipe in the trap tank which had broken, so restricting the flow of fuel. Phil Hill’s Cooper is still in trouble with a very dead engine, and although Lucas engineers and Climax and Cooper engineers worked all day on the fuel system the engine does not improve and sounds horrible. The excitement on this second day is the four-cornered fight to get pole position. Clark, Graham Hill, Gurney and Surtees are doing everything they can to improve their times. Clark is now able to lap consistently at under 1’13’’, but he tries Spence’s Lotus 33 and also does a very fast time, so much so that Chapman has the numbers changed on the two cars and sets the car up for Clark. However, before he can get going properly practice finishes, so he decides to keep the old car which he has used for most of practice. Surtees uses both V8 cars and the V6.

 

To his surprise, the V6 is faster down the straights than the V8. Still his time of 1'12"78 is only 0.12sec slower than Clark. Graham Hill manages to get under 13sec with a 1'12"92. The only other car in the 12-second bracket is that of Gurney, who is third fastest with 1'12"50. The Honda suddenly spins off on the hairpin, damaging the right front suspension. Bucknum drives back to the pits and mechanics do a lot to get the parts required flown in from California. Taylor and Ireland are going smoothly with no great troubles, although a bearing in Ireland’s gearbox does go before practice finishes. Bonnier has a balance weight come off a wheel which shears the brake pipe; this means re-balancing and bleeding, which holds his practice up for some time, but when he gets going he gets ninth fastest with a time of 1'14"07. So as practice ends the front row of the grid is Clark and Surtees, with Gurney and Graham Hill immediately behind.

 

On Sunday, October 4, 1964, is held the USA Grand Prix. The overnight camping crowd is tremendous and on race morning the weather is warm and sunny with some high haze. Two hours before the start, Honda and Cooper have a short practice to ascertain whether the overnight work has been any good. The Honda has the old nose oil again, so can expect high temperatures, while Coopers have stripped the fuel supply and the electric’s, replaced the battery, and hope to have got the bug out of Phil Hill’s engine. The cars line up on the dummy grid after a warming-up lap. Surtees is driving the training cat he used in practice. At 2:00 p.m. the cars roll forward to the proper grid and the flag drops. Clark goes first but is passed by Surtees, who now leads Spence, Clark, Hill and Brabham. The rest of the field sweeps through in the following order: Ireland, Gurney, McLaren, Bonnier, Bandini, Amon, Siffert, Bucknum, Hailwood, Phil Hill, Ginther, Taylor, Hansgen and Sharp.

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The pace is terrific and the next two laps remains the same as far as the first four cars are concerned. Behind, however, Gurney, lying seventh on the first lap, moves past Ireland and Brabham into fifth place as. Ireland goes to change gear and the lever comes off in his hand, having broken just below the gate, which puts him out of the race after only three laps. Hansgen passes Ginther and Taylor, otherwise positions are unaltered. On the fourth lap Hansgen has just passed Phil Hill when the Cooper dies very suddenly and for no apparent reason. It is an electrical fault, either affecting the fuel injection or the ignition. Hill tries the starter several times and then gives up in disgust. The lead remains unchanged for the next few laps but Hill presses his B.R.M. past Spence’s Lotus, and he takes second place. Clark, who is now getting into his stride, goes past both Hill and Spence. The Lotus driver has now set his sights on the leading Ferrari and in six laps reduces the short gap and gets past Surtees with a piece of brilliant driving. Gurney moves ahead of Spence on the seventh lap and closes up to Hill’s B.R.M. For the next eighteen laps the order of the first four remains the same, the gap between Clark and Surtees opening up considerably. Behind the leaders Spence is on his own, while behind him comes McLaren, who moved up one when Brabham retired on lap us with a broken piston.

 

Bandini leads Bonnier, Amon and Siffert, while Hailwood keeps ahead of the Honda, which is already boiling well. Other than the old nose, a part of the fibreglass is closing up on the air intake, which is making the car run hotter than ever. For this reason Hansgen closes on Bucknum and passes him on lap 17, and on lap 30 he also catches and passes Hailwood’s Lotus-B.R.M. Ginther passes the Honda on the 27th lap, putting himself into 12th place. The last car, Walker’s Brabham-BRM driven by Hap Sharp, has selector trouble and he comes into the pits on lap 17 and stays for a long time, while the leaders complete another forty laps. On the next lap McLaren comes into the pits firing on seven cylinders; the plugs are changed and it is noticed that two are very wet. However, the new plugs put it back on to eight cylinders and out he goes again, only to retire on lap 27 when the engine goes back on to six cylinders. Bonnier begins to find his car handling slightly oddly and then it loses its brakes. When it is examined in the pits the stub axle is found to be cracked, and the car is retired. For a time it begins to look as if Clark is running away from the rest of the field, and then on the 40th lap the increase in the gap is smaller instead of larger, and on lap 44 he comes round in fourth place.

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Hansgen is a bad baulker and as he is passed by Clark, Surtees, Hill and Gurney he is soundly cursed and fists are shaken. Surtees finds it so difficult getting past that Hill’s B.R.M. slips past both of them before Surtees can stop him. With Clark out because of fuel pump’s problems, Surtees leads for one lap and then Hill wrests the lead from him. Clark comes in again after only six laps, while the leaders run other two laps. In the car is found an injection problem so the engine is less powerful. While this is going on Amon has a bolt from the starter come out, which causes his engine to seize up at the top of the straight, and although he manages to stop all right he is somewhat shaken. Also at this stage, Bucknum comes into the pits when his high water temperature suddenly starts to drop and the engine tightens. At this stage he feels sure some plugs are out as the power is well down. After examining the Clark Lotus closely, Chapman calls in Spence, now lying fourth, and hands the car to Clark while Spence goes out in Clark’s car, only to retire five laps later. This change of driver does not help Clark in his bid for Championship points, but by his superior driving it is hoped to get a good place, so pushing other contenders some points down. Bandini, who is going quite well in the flat-12, comes into the pits on lap 54 and after a short while he continued for a further four laps before retiring with a flat battery.

 

With Bandini’s retirement on lap 59 the lead is firmly in Hill’s hands, while Surtees and Gurney are scrapping behind. On lap 61 Hill laps his team-mate for the second time, and one lap later Gurney and Surtees are still trying to get past Ginther, while Hill, using his tactics, pulls out 50 yards. Whether Surtees is cross or not will never be known, but two laps later, when passing someone else, he spins, trying to avoid the slower car when it pulls into his path. Gurney’s race is soon to finish and on lap 70 he comes into the pits when he notices his oil pressure go down suddenly, and finds the back of the engine covered with oil. Clark, in Spence’s car, lays third when a ball valve stuck and does not allow the fuel to pump from one tank to the other. He makes a quick pit stop but nothing can be done and after a few laps he retires. Drama is not all over yet. Hailwood, who is lying fourth, pulls up suddenly before the chequered flag, with oil pouring from the bottom. A pipe has broken, pumping most of the engine oil over the circuit. On the sharp corner before the pits where the oil is very bad, the normally very efficient Communications Marshals does nothing, and Bandini and Ireland run up to put dirt into the oil. Tex Hopkins, the lavender-suited starter, prepares himself to an interesting race to an end.

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Hill and Surtees are on the same lap but that was all. Siffert, one lap behind, is third, having driven a very good race to take up positions as they fell vacant. He finishes with only one gear. There are eight cars running at the end and one of them, Hap Sharp’s, has not completed two-thirds of the race. Fastest lap goes to Clark in Spence’s Lotus 33 at 1'12"7. It is Graham Hill the winner of the USA Grand Prix, thirty seconds before John Surtees and his white and blue Ferrari, making himself stronger in the world ranking. Jo Siffert is third, while Ginther fourth, followed by Hansgen and Taylor. The British driver’s victory is a shock for the team from Maranello, because after the triumph in Monza it seemed that the couple Surtees-Ferrari was about to conquer the wordl title. In the command there is instead Graham Hill, who during the Italian Gran Prix remained blocked at the start: it is clear that the new B.R.M. is efficient, and this demonstrated that the English technicians do not agree to give the victory to the Scuderia Ferrari’s men.

 

Clark’s Lotus collpased once more, after a good start, and the reigning world champion is now out of the fight for this season’s title. The world ranking, after the nine race, sees now Graham Hill in the lead with 42 points, followed by John Surtees with 34, Jim Clark with 30, Ginther with 23 and Bandini with 19 points. So it is still open the fight for the World Championship. The title will be given during the last stop, the Mexican Grand Prix, which will be held on Sunday, October 25, 1964. John Surtees can still gain the title: if he could win the last race, he would have 44 points, while its enemy, Graham Hill, even if arrives second, would still have 34 points. Rarely a Formula 1 season has been so fought and uncertain; it is because of the great balance among the technical means, even if the selection took on the top of the scale of values the Scuderia Ferrari and the B.R.M.

 
Nicoletta Zuppardo

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