Four cams…and telemetry

 

telemetry

It was the 1960s…but the schedules – and the demands – were no less than today’s.

Immediately after winning the Mexican Grand Prix, Jim Clark, Dan Gurney and Colin Chapman flew to Indianapolis via Chicago. From the warmth of the Gulf to the chill of the mid-west. From a 1.5 litre Coventry Climax-engined Lotus 25 (or, in Dan’s case, Brabham BT7) to the new four-cam Indy Lotus 29-Ford.  To an empty, echo-ey Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the bitter winter winds were already whistling around corners in Gasoline Alley.  To a full-on engine and tyre test in company with the Ford top brass and engineers from Goodyear, Firestone and Dunlop.

It was a frustrating couple of days from Jim’s perspective.  The new engine never ran well.  And, despite Jim’s belief (based on tyre pressure back-to-backs with the Arciero 19 at Laguna Seca) that Goodyear were running their new tyres too low, Jim set out for yet another quick run. Suddenly, the tread let go. On the main straightaway, Jim’s mechanics, led by Jim Endruweit, could hear the vibration even above the wail of the engine. Jim kept the 29 on the island…but it was a nasty moment…a portent of what was to come at Indy in the next month of May.  (Jim would end up racing Dunlops in 1964; a lack of decent testing, however, itself the result of delays around the car and engine programme, plus indecision over tyre choice, resulted in another major tyre failure in the race and a sudden retirement due to broken rear suspension.)

Impressive, though, was the huge “black box” the Ford engineers fitted to the back of the car for this November test.  This was amongst the first attempts, if not the first attempt (I think Jim Hall and GM were also onto this with the Chaparral programme, as were Ford with the GT development) to monitor engine and suspension sensors in real time.  It was by no means an elegant appendage – but it was a start – a glimpse of the sort of technology that was not only appearing in Detroit but also at NASA in the early 1960s.

The contrasts are vast:  Jim at this point was enjoying solid reliability with the nimble Lotus 25 F1 car.  He had just won his sixth F1 Championship race of the season, with one round still to go (South Africa).  He was due back in the UK immediately after this test to receive a number of accolades, including the Ferodo Trophy, the BRDC Gold Star and the Ecurie Ecosse Driver of the Year Award.  Yet here he was at Indy in what can only be described as dangerous surroundings:  tyre testing always carried its own risks, particularly in those days, particularly on high-speed ovals.  And this was a loaded-up development 29, with lots of new brackets and bolts.

Unsurprisingly, I think, Jim in the weeks that followed this test would decide to hand much of the four-cam Lotus 29 development work over to Bobby Marshman. He’d got to know Bobby at that Springfield Sprint Car race before Milwaukee. He liked him;  and Bobby was quick.  There was no doubt about that.  Jim also decided not to compete in the new Tasman Series over the European winter.  It had been a long and hard year. It had produced brilliant results.  And, following the South African GP, he already had some new Ford commitments in the pipeline.  A Tasman programme, on the back of the Indy developments, would have put too much strain on the team at Cheshunt.

I would again like to thank The Henry Ford (www.thehenryford.org) for these hithertoo unseen photographs from that Indy four-cam test.  There aren’t many images out there of Jim in the blue-and-white Lotus 29;  and there haven’t been many photographs, to date, of the Ford telemetry box. Here they are:

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Captions, from top: coated-up against the cold, Jim Clark, left, with hands in pockets, watches Dan Gurney prepare for his first run with the four-cam Ford Indy engine; Jim and Dan, in the Team Lotus garage in Gasoline Alley, examine the new Ford telemetry “black box”; the new four-cam Ford engine is lowered in the development Lotus 29; the finished ensemble in the pit lane; David Lazenby (with squirter) and Colin Riley (right) minutes before Dan’s first test with the new engine; Colin, well-hooded against the cold, and Dan look down on the new baby; Jim in the blue-and-white 29 before his frustrating runs; no finger-pointing really required:  Jim’s chunked right-rear Goodyear Imageshttp://www.thehenryford.org

 

 
Perfil de Peter Windsor:

Peter WindsorBorn in the UK (1952) but raised in Sydney, Australia, Peter became Press Officer of the Australian Automobile Racing Club (AARC) at the age of 17 and played an active role in the organization of the famous Warwick Farm circuit near Liverpool, Sydney.

Peter joined Williams full-time in 1985 as Manager of Sponsorship and Public Affairs but switched to Ferrari in 1989 to manage their UK F1 facility. He then returned to Williams as Team Manager in 1991, winning both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ World Championships.After moving to the UK in 1972, Peter wrote for Competition Car magazine and was appointed Sports Editor of Autocar magazine in 1975. He went on to win five international awards for his writing, including Sports Reporter of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year. In 2013 he has also been awarded the Gold Medal of Imola by the Lorenzo Bandini Trophy Committee for his services to motor sport. Peter quickly diversified into F1 driver and team management, working with Frank Williams from 1978 onwards (developing Williams’ new Saudi sponsorship) and with drivers Carlos Reutemann and Nigel Mansell. Reutemann went on to finish runner-up in the 1981 World Championship and Mansell to win the title in 1992. Today he works closely with the world’s pre-eminent driver coach, Rob Wilson.

Peter was Grand Prix Editor of F1 Racing magazine from 1997-2009 and today is that magazine’s Senior Feature Writer and Columnist. He also writes for the BRDC Bulletin, AutoSport (Japan), the Goodwood magazine and presents his own, weekly, on-line chat show, The Racer’s Edge in association with F1 Racing magazine.

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