Milwaukee Magic

 

Milwaukee Magic

With that excellent Milwaukee July test behind him (see “Jim Clark, Delicately Poised”), Jim flew with Dan Gurney and Colin Chapman to Chicago on Wednesday, August 14, 1963, for the 200-mile Tony Bettenhausen National Championship Classic – Jim’s second race in America. The Milwaukee Mile was already a part of American racing folklore and this race, the biggest of the year on that track, was named after the superquick Indy driver who had died in a testing accident at Indy (caused by a suspension failure) in 1961.  By now, the Lotus 29-Fords had become the major talking-point in American racing circles.  Jim hadn’t won Indy; and many, amazingly, remained front-engined proponents, AJ Foyt and Parnelli Jones firmly amongst them.  On the other hand, the might of the Ford Motor Company was now pouring money into its race programmes, and it was no secret that several customer teams would be chosen for 1964.  The American view at the time was that Ford were allowing Lotus – “those British guys” – to build a car around the brilliantly-developed 4.2 litre V8 pushrod engine.  Key American journalists even referred to Jim’s car as a “Ford-Lotus”.  For his part, Jim was happy to go along with it all.  Although he could live without the attention and the fanfare, he was captivated not only by the challenges of racing in America but also by the prize-money.  He expected nothing on a plate – but he liked the idea of being rewarded for a job well done.  This was in stark contrast to Europe’s start-money system, which engendered reasonable retainers for the drivers but relatively small prize funds.

The 29s for this race were housed at the nearby Bill Trainor’s Zecol “Lubaid” (as in “lubrication aid”) garage favoured by NASCAR teams. Both cars raced with the softer-compound Dunlops (as distinct from Firestones or Goodyears) but ran with different carburettor layouts:  Jim ran the only set of 48mm Webers (mounted longitudinally), Dan the older 58mm Milwaukee Magic 2Webers (mounted laterally).  Bottom line:  Jim dominated practice, qualifying and the race but Dan could only finish third, hampered hugely by fuel-feed problems caused by surge on the lightly-banked turns.  AJ Foyt finished second in his venerable roadster, with Jim resisting the temptation to lap the American star in the closing stages.“I had a field day,” recalled Jim in his autobiography.  “I found I could run tight, round the inside of the circuit, and I used this to get inside the big Indy cars and beat them along the straights to the next corner.  In this way I lapped everyone except AJ Foyt in second place with his Meyer-Drake special.  Towards the end of the race I came up behind him but decided not to lap him because that would have been rubbing it in too hard.  Already the Indianapolis designers were off to build new cars for 1964 due to our efforts!”

All this is relatively well-known.  Much more difficult to find are photos from that Milwaukee race.  I wrote, therefore, to David Hobbs, the very quick and successful British driver who today lives in Milwaukee.  David recommended that I contact his dear friend, Bill Lake.  Although not a professional in the sense of relying solely on motor sport for his livelihood, Bill is by any standards a “true pro”.  He has eaten, slept and captured American motor sports for going on 60 years.  And, yes, he had some pictures from Milwaukee, 1963.

You can see them here – Jim accepting his pole award, in the car, side-by-side with Dan.  Study them closely.  Remember that the Clark you see here is the driver who has just won the Dutch, French and British Grands Prix, has finished a fighting second at the Nurburgring, and who has flown to the States directly from his win in Sweden.  Look at his Westover driving shoes – slightly tatty and worn from driving the Lotus 25s, the Galaxy, the Lotus 23Bs, the Indy Lotus 29s.  He wore his Hinchman overalls in Milwaukee – minus Firestone logos – and raced with his now-customary peakless Bell (unlike Indy, where he wore the white peak).  Note, too, the “Pure Firebird Gasoline” stickers on the sides of the cars (instead of the Pure roundels), the gauze filters over the carburettor inlets, the pad taped to Jim’s headrest to support his neck and the Dunlop wheels on the front (and Halibrands on the back).  All this was different from the Indy spec.

Milwaukee Magic 3

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Jim’s winnings totalled $44,225, boosted massively by the lap prizes on offer from such companies as Augie Pabst Motors, Flambeau Motor Repairs, Hoosier Beer Cats, Datsun, Golden Slipper Lounge, Dunkels White Oakes Inn, Zecol Inc, Banner Welder Inc, Baumgartner Imported Cars and Ben Shumow Used Truck Sales.  In addition, Jim received winner’s bonuses from Autolite, Champion, Monroe and Willard Battery.

Jim loved his motor racing – loved driving and also loved learning about it in all its forms.  When AJ Foyt and Rodger Ward invited him to the Springfield sprint car meeting on the Saturday night of Milwaukee, therefore, he instantly accepted.  Dan and Colin also came along.  Remembers Jim: “AJ, whom I knew quite well by then, shouted, ‘Hi Jimbo!  How’s about bringing the Lotus out for this type of race?’  The race was hair-raising and looked dangerous as the drivers power-slid their cars round in great style.  When I was asked if I wanted to have a go, I, for once, declined, but this was racing was really a spectacle.”

Below, I’m delighted to be able to embed some video footage of the 1963 Springfield race, complete with glimpses of Jim, Dan and Colin.  You’ll see them at the start and then there’s another shot of Jim near the end, stop watches in hand, absorbed by the proceedings.  He was close to AJ Foyt and to Rodger Ward, so he would have enjoyed this immensely.  Note his official pass, dutifully worn, and Lotus green polo shirt.  (Only the first half of the video is from Springfield but I recommend you watch it in its entirety.) Watch, too, for the brilliant Bobby Marshman.  He’s at the start of the video, showing Jim and Dan his sprinter, and he’s out there, leading the race, when his engine fails.  He impressed Jim and Colin that day in Springfield, and the following year he would race Jim’s 1963 Lotus 29 at Indy (repainted in red-and-white, sponsored again by Pure and entered by Lindsay Hopkins).  Bobby led Jim in the 500 before running a little too low and damaging the sump plug.  Chapman thereafter resolved to include Marshman in upcoming Team Lotus US race programmes and perhaps even to give him an opportunity in Europe.  Very sadly, though, Bobby was killed in a Firestone testing accident at Phoenix late in 1964.

Postscript: Immediately after Milwaukee Jim flew to Newark to test the 29 on the Trenton 1.5-mile oval in the New Jersey State Fairgrounds.  Trenton was more banked than Milwaukee and very quickly, on an empty circuit, with only the Team Lotus boys on hand, the 29 ran into handling problems.  Jim then crashed heavily when a steering arm broke.  He was unharmed and resolved immediately not to fall into the Lotus “fragile” syndrome.  “I didn’t put this down to Colin Chapman,” he would say later, “because at that Trenton test we were running tyres unsuitable for the banking.  To his credit, though, Colin not only changed the steering layout on that car but he also came straight back and changed all the F1 cars, even though we had been running for five years and had never had one break before.”

Captions, from top: Jim accepts the clock trophy for pole position from USAC’s Ray Pohn.  Note the roadster atop the timepiece; the Zecol Lubaid garage where the 29s were based in Milwaukee; Jim in pit lane; Jim in action; Jim and Dan lead the field towards the green flag; and a nice one-three for Team Lotus PhotosRuss Lake

 

 

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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Agradecemos a Peter Windsor por su colaboración en HolaQueretaro.com