The 1962 United States Grand Prix was the penultimate race of the 1962 FIA Formula One World Championship, held at Watkins Glen on the 7th of October. Officially known as the V United States Grand Prix, the 1962 race was the first time that a venue in the US had hosted the US Grand Prix for a second time, and would be remembered for dominant displays by title contenders Jim Clark and Graham Hill.
It had been the Scottish Clark whom had taken pole in qualifying, and proceeded to lead away from the grid, only to have Englishman Hill take the lead after a few laps. Their physical battle ended on the twentieth lap with Clark in the lead, before both exchanged record setting laps to pull further and further ahead. They lapped the entire field before the ninetieth lap, with the two only easing off once Bruce McLaren, running in third, had also been put a lap behind.
McLaren's race did end with the New Zealander in third, but only after he had dispatched of Richie Ginther and Dan Gurney, with the two Americans hitting mechanical issues before the end. Jack Brabham claimed an incredible fourth place in the closing stages in his own car, the new Brabham BT3, with Gurney claiming fifth. Masten Gregory claimed the final point in sixth, his last point finish of his career, as Clark and Hill headed to South Africa with the winner set to be declared World Champion.
The big news emerging ahead of the United States Grand Prix was concerning the scarlet section of the grid, and a remarkable decision regarding their drivers. Having been denied the chance to race at home as World Champion in 1961, Phil Hill arrived in the US hoping to display his skills once again. Yet, Ferrari failed to appear ahead of practice, with official word blaming the earlier strikes causing delays in getting the cars ready, meaning the Scuderia could not attend. That same source also revealed that the venerable Hill had been sacked by Enzo Ferrari, although Hill would get some driving done around the Glen during the weekend regardless.
There was a rosier picture for the British constructors as they arrived in the picturesque setting of Watkins Glen, as BRM and Lotus-Climax looked set to do battle once again. BRM arrived with their ever reliable trio of P57s, Graham Hill still using the original car nicknamed "old faithful". Team Lotus, meanwhile, had brought their familiar 25s, with a fresh set of gearboxes for both cars that had been completely rebuilt by Z.F. since their disastrous Italian Grand Prix.
Cooper-Climax brought their two T60s to the Glen, and were reunited with a T53 from the previous season's race, providing factory support for local driver Tim Mayer. Lola-Climax would also be battling in the woods, with John Surtees and Roy Salvadori both opting to use the original spec-Mk4 in America. German outfit Porsche brought two 804s with them, Jo Bonnier still running with their Monza modifications after his car was almost given to Phil Hill for the weekend.
Privateers would also be out in force in the Glen, headlined by the UDT Laystall Racing Team once again. They had brought three Lotus 24s with them, and added American driver Roger Penske to their ranks with the third car running under the Dupont Team Zerex banner. Rob Walker Racing Team would run Maurice Trintignant in the US with a new 24, and entered an older car for Ricardo Rodríguez, another casualty from Ferrari after his frequent complaints. Jack Brabham, meanwhile, was set to run his own car once again, the Brabham BT3 having had a successful testing run, with his Lotus 24 loaned out for the weekend to another American privateer.
The US Grand Prix presented the first opportunity for Graham Hill to win his first World Championship, with the Englishman arriving with a fourteen point lead. There were just eighteen points left to fight for in 1962, and so Hill would win if he finished ahead of nearest challengers Bruce McLaren, Jim Clark and (admittedly a long way back) John Surtees. It was therefore important for McLaren and Clark to beat Hill to deny the Englishman the title, with dropped scores an issue for Hill if his rivals had strong weekends at the final two rounds.
Italy had also seen BRM presented with a chance to claim the honours in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers in the US, with victory for either car enough for them to take the trophy. Lotus-Climax and Cooper-Climax could still deny them the title, and, once again, it would go to dropped scores if they denied BRM points finishes in the final two races. Ferrari would not attend the American race, having had a poor season to leave them in sixth place overall.
The full entry list for the 1962 United States Grand Prix is outlined below:
- * Car #11 was also entered for Phil Hill, with the American racer completing practice.
As usual practice and qualifying would be one and the same in the US, with a four hour session on Friday followed by a second session of the same length on Saturday. Both sessions were held in the afternoon, with the qualifying times largely set on Friday, with the Saturday session a washout after heavy rain at the start.
The first cars on circuit were the two Team Lotus entries of Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor, those two looking to get a large amount of running in to test their reconditioned gearboxes. They were out with Bruce McLaren to start with, with Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Roger Penske and Tim Mayer all out shortly after to entertain the ever increasing home crowds. The top drivers were aiming for the outright circuit record of 1:16.0 in qualifying, set by Stirling Moss in a Formula Libre machine, although with a damp track to begin Friday practice, the times took a while to come.
The early pace setter was Gurney, the Californian flashing around the circuit as he inched closer to the 1:20.0 mark as his team mate Jo Bonnier struggled with a back problem. By the two hour mark on Friday the silver Porsches were among the leaders, but the 1:20.0 barrier had long since been beaten, Graham Hill leading the times with a 1:17.8 with the circuit beginning to warm up with autumn sunlight. His team mate Ginther was right with him, while Clark and Jack Brabham, having an enjoyable day in his own machine, running around the circuit just fractions of a second slower.
It was in the final hour of the session where the times were really put to the sword, Ginther getting out to set the first time of the day under 1:17.0, only to see it beaten by team mate Hill by a tenth a few moments later. Brabham was the next to get under the mark, with Gurney flashing through just after to claim the lead, before both he and the Australian were beaten by the two BRMs once again, this time Ginther prevailing over Hill. Yet, as the session came to a close a dancing Lotus 25 came hurtling past the start/finish line to complete a 1:15.8 lap, Clark having thrown his car around the circuit to break the circuit record and claim provisional pole.
The result was largely declared that night, for the Saturday session started amid heavy rain, and the circuit would remain damp throughout. The only action on circuit was provided by testing runs in the final couple of hours, John Surtees among them in team mate Roy Salvadori's car, the Brit having had a steering failure late on Friday which had thrown his trusty Lola-Climax into a tree. There was also a surprise addition to the entry list, with Phil Hill suddenly appearing in Bonnier's #11 Porsche, the Swede handing the car over to the American in case his back problems prevented him from racing on Sunday. In the difficult conditions Hill predictably qualified last, and only a decision by Bonnier and his back would decide whether the American would race in front of his home fans as a current World Champion.
The full qualifying results for the 1962 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
|14||12||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||1:21.8||+6.0s|
- * Salvadori, Hall and Phil Hill would not start the race.
|14||Carel Godin de Beaufort|
Sunday proved to be warm, cloudy and, more importantly, dry, although there was a threat of rain throughout the day. There were no surprises ahead of the race as the grid formed, with John Surtees set to race in Roy Salvadori's car after an agreement between the two. Jim Hall would miss the race with an engine issue, while Jo Bonnier lined his Porsche up on the grid meaning Phil Hill would have to sit and watch.
With 40,000 people in the crowds from Canada and New York State, eighteen roaring Formula One engines and three drivers set to do battle for the title for the penultimate time, the Lavender suited "Tex" Hopkins leapt into the air as he waved the flag, signaling the start of the race. The cars vanished over the hill and into the first corner with Jim Clark leading after a strong start, with Graham Hill right behind. They ran ahead of Bruce McLaren, the New Zealander pushing his engine too the limit to leap up from sixth, but the the strain on his engine meant he would have to nurse the car to the end.
By the end of the first lap Clark and Hill were nose to tail, ahead of a small pack led by Richie Ginther. The American racer had caught McLaren shortly after the first corner, with a series of moves on the Cooper-Climax pushing it down to sixth, Jack Brabham and Dan Gurney having elbowed their way past. There was a slightly larger gap behind, with Bonnier having defend from the second Team Lotus car of Trevor Taylor as well as UDT Laystall Racing Team regulars Innes Ireland and Masten Gregory.
By lap three the lead battle had entered lap record territory, with Clark and Hill both orbiting the circuit under Stirling Moss' previous lap record. They were pulling a couple of seconds a lap clear at the front, with Ginther and co. still scrapping for third, with a similar situation for Bonnier's group. Surtees, meanwhile, was providing a lot of excitement in his borrowed Lola-Climax, with the Brit picking off car after car in the opening stages to get to the back of the top ten before the end of lap six.
Gurney was the next man to excite the fans, with the Californian taking Ginther and Brabham in successive laps to run in third, although he could not get away from the group. His compatriot Ginther remained a threat, and by lap ten the BRM was ahead once again. The battle for third, however, was costing the whole group time, with Clark and Hill rocketing away still exchanging fastest laps.
As Clark and Hill roared away, the first casualties of the race were reported as Carel Godin de Beaufort limped into the pits to retire. The privateer Porsche racer had hit a guard rail on lap ten and broken his rear suspension, with Bonnier spinning into the exact same piece of barrier a few moments later. His car did not suffer the same extent, although the Swede would carry a gear selection issue for the rest of the race.
The amazing pace at the front of the field meant that Clark and Hill were already having to cope with back markers, and on lap twelve it caused a problem for one of the leaders. Clark, naturally, was the first to come across the back markers, and as he came up to the back of one of the four cylinder runners had trouble getting through Big Bend, allowing Hill to close up the few yards he had dropped behind. The Scot's second attempt to get by came at the final corner, although his move was blocked, allowing Hill to sweep past the pair of them to take the lead, with Clark finally clearing the back marker at the next corner.
As Ginther led his group into the back markers to confuse their situation even further, Clark got back to business, now setting consecutive laps under his qualifying record from Friday. By lap eighteen the green and gold Lotus was right behind the BRM, and by the end of lap nineteen the Scot had darted past Hill into the final corner. Clark immediately set about building another lead, although Hill remained stubbornly in the wake of the Lotus for the time being.
The race now settled down, although the action was maintained as the constant stream of back markers kept the leaders together. Ginther, meanwhile, looked to have established himself in third, but his BRM was developing a gearbox issue, and just after quarter distance it finally bit, the American dropping to fifth as a result. Gregory was into seventh and battling with Tony Maggs at this point, just ahead of another American racer in the form of Roger Penske, whose loaned Lotus from UDT Laystall was just ahead of Ireland.
There was a rush of retirements just after the third race distance mark, started by an engine failure for Tim Mayer in his factory supported Cooper. Next out was Maurice Trintignant, a brake failure having caused him to try his had at rally cross for a time as he ran into the woods after finding his brake peddle hit to floor. Then it was Ginther's turn to limp into the pits a handful of laps later, the BRM officially having dumped all of its oil on the circuit, although the actual cause was the gearbox tearing itself apart internally.
With Surtees also out of the race, and Clark now pulling clear in front of Hill, the race looked settled at the half way mark, although there was a battle forming of third. Since Ginther's retirement, Gurney had pulled a gap to McLaren in fourth, how had also gained a fair advantage over Brabham as Ginther slowly fell away. Their battle came to the fore on lap 57, with Gurney having to surrender the podium spot at the end of the lap after defending from the charging Cooper for the entire lap.
1961 race winner Ireland, meanwhile, was up into eighth, the Englishman farting down the inside of de facto team mate Penske, before allowing Clark and Hill to dart past. With two thirds of the race gone, the leading pair had now lapped everyone up to Maggs in seventh, and by lap 70, with Clark setting a new lap record at 1:15.0, everyone bar Hill was a lap behind. Neither could afford to ease off, however, with the two orbiting the circuit just a handful of seconds apart as the race began to wind to a close.
McLaren was now well clear of Gurney for third, it becoming increasingly clear that the American had a problem. By lap 60 Brabham had begun to close, and as Clark set his outright record, the Australian moved past Gurney with ease, quickly establishing himself in fourth. Gregory was now the only threat to Gurney, put his compatriot had opted to nurse his car to the flag to gain a rare points finish at his home race.
The final laps drew the race to an end, with Clark and Hill separated by around ten seconds. Then, it was all over, and after two hours of racing Clark came steaming across the line to claim his first triumph in the States, and keep Team Lotus unbeaten at the Glen. Hill was a composed second after his race long workout to keep with the stunning Scot, while McLaren completed the podium in a lonely third. Brabham was a happy fourth place to claim his first points as a constructor, while Gurney and Gregory kept going to claim the final points.
The full results for the 1962 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
- Tenth pole position for a car built by Team Lotus.
- First points for Brabham-Climax.
- Masten Gregory scored a point for the first time since the 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix.
- Also the last points finish for Gregory.
A victory for Jim Clark denied Graham Hill the title and kept his title chances alive, although he would need to beat the BRM in South Africa and win the race to snatch the World Championship. Bruce McLaren in third was now out of the title hunt, but could end the season in second if Clark had a poor weekend in late December, with John Surtees holding onto fourth despite failing to score. The top five was now completed by Dan Gurney, who displaced the now jobless Phil Hill after another weekend of disappointment for the soon-to-be ex-World Champion.
The Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers would also have to go down to the wire in East London, with BRM holding a three point lead over Lotus-Climax. Victory for either would earn them the title, while Cooper-Climax would have to settle for third with Lola-Climax their only, distant, challengers. Porsche were ahead of Ferrari with the two level on eighteen points, Porsche ahead because of a Gurney win in France, while Brabham-Climax claimed their first points. UDT Laystall Racing Team completed the scorers list, with Masten Gregory earning them a point in the guise of Lotus-BRM.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: UNITED STATES GP, 1962', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr110.html, (Accessed 30/05/2016)
- '4th United States Grand Prix', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/11/1962), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/november-1962/22/4th-united-states-grand-prix, (Accessed 30/05/2016)
- 'USA 1962: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1962/etats-unis/engages.aspx, (Accessed 30/05/2016)
- 'USA 1962: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1962/etats-unis/classement.aspx, (Accessed 31/05/2016)
- 'USA 1962: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1962/etats-unis/classement.aspx, (Accessed 31/05/2016)
|V T E||United States Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Sebring (1959), Riverside (1960), Watkins Glen (1961–1980), Phoenix (1989–1991), Indianapolis (2000–2007), Austin (2012–present)|
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|Non-F1 races||1908 • 1909 • 1910 • 1911 • 1912 • 1913 • 1914 • 1915 • 1916 • 1917–1957 • 1958|
|See also||United States Grand Prix West • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Dallas Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix • Miami Grand Prix|
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