The 1963 United States Grand Prix, officially known as the VI United States Grand Prix, was the eighth round of the 1963 FIA Formula One World Championship, and the first race that season outside of Europe. Held on the 6th of October at the popular Watkins Glen circuit in New York State, the US Grand Prix of 1963 would be remembered for a superb performance by winner Graham Hill.
With Jim Clark already declared as World Champion in Italy, few doubted that the Scot would win once again, but his weekend was made more difficult as now ex-Champion Hill claimed pole. The Scot's chances were further dampened when he suffered a battery failure on the grid, meaning he had to charge from the back of the field to catch early race leader Hill.
As Clark climbed, the American fans were being entertained by an epic battle at the front, with John Surtees dragging Dan Gurney past the two BRMs early on. The New Yorker would even lead the race at times while Hill's Californian team mate Richie Ginther also challenged for the lead at times, although mechanical issues would play their part. Hill himself would fall victim to a suspension issue and drop from the lead group, only to be promoted as the others retired.
Gurney was first to fall to the regret of the local fans, while Ginther fell away after getting caught behind Jack Brabham for a time. Surtees was left with an ever increasing lead at the front of the field, but with only a quarter of the race to go, the scarlet Ferrari ground to a halt with an engine failure. Hill was left to cruise round the circuit to take victory with Ginther thirty seconds pack. Third went to an exhausted Clark after his race long charge from the back, although he was unable to finish on the lead lap.
A surprisingly strong entry list was submitted to the FIA for the first race outside of Europe all season, with Scirocco-BRM the only absentees from the usual entry lists. In their place came an intriguing Canadian based outfit fielding two Formula Junior chassis manufactured by Stebro. Peter Broeker was set to make his Grand Prix debut in one of the two severely under powered cars, the other handed to Ernie de Vos.
Lotus-Climax had shipped their usual three cars to the US, and so opted to use the extra expense in shipping a third as a means of fielding a third driver. They signed up Pedro Rodríguez, the promising younger brother of the deceased Ricardo Rodríguez, to race in their older third car, while Trevor Taylor returned to race the second car. Jim Clark, however, would be the centre of attention for the press, the Scot cited in numerous broadcasts and reports before the race as being "red-headed" to fit the cliche description of a Scotsman.
Elsewhere, BRM brought Graham Hill's battle scarred P57 rather than the new car raced in Monza, that chassis taken away for analysis. Cooper-Climax were also in the US with their usual challengers, although Bruce McLaren would have an updated engine from Climax while Tony Maggs had minor engine modifications. Brabham-Climax were also in action, with Jack Brabham now back in a 1963 car to partner home hero Dan Gurney in the BT7 which was getting better and better as the season wore on.
The Italian contingent was headlined by Ferrari, who would finally make their debut at the Glen after missing every US Grand Prix since 1959. They also surprised the field by unveiling a "monocoque" chassis for John Surtees to race in the US, while Lorenzo Bandini raced the Brit's old car. ATS also arrived in the US with updates, but they were only minor changes for Phil Hill and Giancarlo Baghetti's contenders.
Into the privateer field and the RRC Walker Racing Team continued to field their factory-spec Cooper T66, with Jo Bonnier at the wheel. Reg Parnell Racing had only one Lola-Climax for Masten Gregory to use, Chris Amon recovering from his Monza crash, although they would run two Lotus 24s instead. Rodger Ward and Hap Sharp were drafted into the team to fill the seats, both familiar with the Glen having raced in the previous two races there.
In the buildup to the race, Innes Ireland suffered a huge accident in the BRP-BRM in Seattle during a demonstration run. With the Englishman spending most of the week in hospital, BRP were left with only one car to run, Jim Hall the sole representative for the team for his home race.
With both Championships over, the question of who would finish runner-up, and whether Clark could get to maximum points, became the focus of attention. The Scot arrived in the US three shy of the 54 point mark, and only a sixth victory of the season could earn him the honour and increase his tally. The battle for second, in contrast, could depend on far fewer points, with Richie Ginther in prime position for the runner-up spot, but only by two points. John Surtees was the American's closest challenger with Bruce McLaren eight points back in fourth, just ahead of now ex-Champion Graham Hill and New York's own Dan Gurney.
Like their driver, Lotus-Climax arrived at the Glen with their first triumph in the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers already secured. A win for either Clark, Taylor or debutante Rodriguez would take them to the 54 point maximum score in the US, with the battle for prize money now the focus for the rest. BRM currently held onto runner-up spot ahead of the US race, six clear of Ferrari who were enjoying a period of good form despite their Monza disappointment. Cooper-Climax were a point behind the Italian outfit in fourth, while Brabham-Climax completed the top five.
The full entry list for the 1963 United States Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice and qualifying were, as ever, combined into one, with the first session scheduled for Friday afternoon. The second practice session was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, with both session proceeded by a session run with camera cars. This was to prevent a re-occurrence of the huge accident at the Nürburgring in 1962 when a camera came off Carel Godin de Beaufort's car while the session was in full swing and was hit at high speed by Graham Hill.
A very cold Friday greeted the field for the first session of the weekend, with Lorenzo Bandini screaming out of the pitlane as early as possible. Also out early were Rodger Ward, Jack Brabham and Jim Clark, and some what unsurprisingly it was the new World Champion who set the early pace. Before the end of the first hour the Scot had equalled the lap record of 1:15.0, with the other Team Lotus cars of Trevor Taylor and Pedro Rodríguez slowly winding up to the mark.
Before too long, with the day warming, the qualifying record fell, with Clark, Hill and John Surtees well into the 1:13.0s before the halfway point. Their times were getting closer and closer as the session went on, although Hill's session was hampered by a gearbox issue. After a pause, all three emerged in the final moments to set one last time for the day, and an enthusiastic time keeper declared that Hill had set a 1:13.4, with Clark falling short by just a tenth of a second with Surtees only a small margin further back.
Saturday dawned warmer than Friday, but the times simply did not improve for the leading trio. A large part of this was due to Peter Broeker in the Canadian run Stebro-Ford, whose car was dumping oil all around the circuit. G.P.D.A. president Jo Bonnier asked the Canadian racer to stay in the pits until the issue was solved, with the organisers also informed that they should not allow the car back on circuit.
With the circuit closed for sometime as the oil was cleared, the final part of the session was set to be a fast and furious affair as drivers pushed to beat their earlier times. Surtees was among them, but his session was ended early when he felt a suspension failure and so slowed to a crawl just after the rise through the Esses. Seeing his team mate in trouble, Bandini slowed to ask what the issue was, although in his wake were Brabham and Richie Ginther, who now had to take avoiding action from the scarlet road block. Ginther managed to stay on the circuit but Brabham had to throw his car into the grass, although he was fortunate not to hit anything.
The full qualifying results for the 1963 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
|19||12||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||1:22.3||+8.9s|
|WD||19||Ernie de Vos||Stebro-Ford||Withdrawn|
|20||Carel Godin de Beaufort|
With a 2:00 pm start time for the race, and little pre-race action, the crowd slowly drifted to the picturesque Glen for the sixth United States Grand Prix. With temperatures well into the 80F mark ahead of the start, the cars were assembled on a dummy grid, intended to allow the cars to pull clear of any stallers before the start proper. A minute before the start time twenty of the twenty one cars roared into life and began to pull towards the lavender suited Tex Hopkins for the start, and there was a shock as to who was left behind.
The absentee was new World Champion Jim Clark, whose Climax engine failed to start, meaning he was stranded at the back of the field. That meant that it was advantage Graham Hill almost immediately, with the Englishman getting a good start and so was unchallenged into the first corner. As the dust settled on the start/finish straight the green-gold Lotus was wheeled into the new pit complex, as Richie Ginther battled into second, taking on John Surtees and Dan Gurney.
It was therefore a BRM at the end of the first lap, with a small gap behind to Surtees, whom was using the spare Ferrari without the "Aero" spec bodywork. That meant he was playing the part of a road block, with Gurney an Tony Maggs, whom had picked off a number of cars on the opening lap to climb to fifth, his nearest challenger. Almost the whole of the field was in the queue behind the Ferrari, and as Peter Broeker disappeared into turn one, Clark screamed out of the pits to fight his way back into the race a lap down on everyone.
By the end of the third lap there were three distinct groups in the field, with the BRMs drawn in by Surtees and the two Brabham-Climaxes, Jack Brabham having elbowed his way past Maggs. It was the South African who led the second group a small way back, battling debutante Pedro Rodríguez and Bruce McLaren, before a slight gap to Trevor Taylor, Lorenzo Bandini and Jo Bonnier. The rest of the order was spread out, the two ATSes out early with oil pump issues, with Clark weaving around the other cars as he fought his way back onto the lead lap.
The balance of power at the front of the field was shifting into scarlet hands, with Surtees taking the two BRMs in successive laps to lead the race. As Surtees claimed the lead, Gurney put a move on Ginther for third, before Brabham took all three to claim second on lap ten. Surtees had used the battles behind to build a small lead, but the Australian was attacking the Englishman before the end of the lap.
The top five continued to entertain, Hill and Gurney exchanging second and third several times over the following laps, with Brabham slipping back to fifth on lap eleven. Stalking them was Clark in the injured Lotus, which seemed to be suffering with an intermittent fuel flow issue, and as the leaders made their way through to lap the back of the field, the Scot was finally able to make physical progress up the order. Elsewhere Rodgriguez was giving McLaren a difficult time, the young Mexican keeping the New Zealander at bay after they had found their way past Maggs, while Taylor dropped out with an ignition failure.
Back with the leaders and on lap 30 Hill finally managed to break free of Gurney's attacks and launched his own campaign against Surtees. The two Englishman engaged themselves in an intense battle over the following laps, the lead swapping between them numerous times before Hill opted to run in the wake of the Ferrari and gain a gap behind. Behind the lead group came McLaren and Maggs, for Rodriguez had suffered a camshaft failure and was out, while Clark began to engage Lorenzo Bandini and Jo Bonnier at the lower end of the top ten.
It proved to be a short battle for eighth, with Clark completing an excellent double move on Bandini and Bonnier on lap 43 through Big Bend. That became soon seventh once Gurney dropped out with a cracked chassis and a fuel issue, just before Rodger Ward was forced into retirement with a gearbox failure. Maggs and McLaren, meanwhile, were battling for fifth until the South African dropped out with an engine failure, while McLaren lost time with a fuel issue.
At half distance Hill suffered a suspension problem when an anti-roll bar came off his car, meaning that the BRM would refuse to turn in. It took the Englishman some time to get used to the issue, using the throttle to turn the increased understeer into graceful slides in order to regain his pace, but Surtees was now clear at the front. That left Hill to worry about the threat from behind rather than attack, with Brabham and Ginther slowly coming back towards him having lost time behind Gurney and his troubles.
Clark was now in the points once McLaren began to flirt with the pits, while Bonnier lost time with a shock absorber change. Jim Hall dropped out with a gearbox issue, with Brabham falling away from the leaders dramatically, slowly appearing in the sights of Clark who remained a lap down. Otherwise, the order looked settled, although the mechanical threat still hung over the drivers with thirty laps to go.
And so it proved, for Surtees' engine gave up in the closing stages of the race, the Englishman just managing to drag the car into the pits to see if the issue could be cured. Yet, the problem was fatal, and as the scarlet Ferrari was pushed away Clark pounced on Brabham for third, while Hill eased his pace in the lead of the race. It was a tame end to a great race, with Hill lapping Brabham for a second time before crossing the line to win, with Ginther in second as the only man still on the lead lap. Clark completed a memorable drive to climb to bottom step of the podium from the back, while Brabham, Bandini, and the ever steady Carel Godin de Beaufort rounded out the scorers.
The full results for the 1963 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||8||Jim Clark||Lotus-Climax||109||+1 lap||2||4|
|4||5||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Climax||108||+2 laps||5||3|
|5||24||Lorenzo Bandini||Ferrari||106||+4 laps||9||2|
|6||12||Carel Godin de Beaufort||Porsche||99||+11 laps||19||1|
|7||21||Peter Broeker||Stebro-Ford||88||+22 laps||21|
|8||11||Jo Bonnier||Cooper-Climax||85||+25 laps||12|
|11*||3||Bruce McLaren||Cooper-Climax||74||Fuel injector||11|
|Ret||17||Masten Gregory||Lola-Climax||14||Oil pressure||8|
|Ret||25||Phil Hill||ATS||4||Oil pump||15|
|Ret||26||Giancarlo Baghetti||ATS||0||Oil pump||20|
|WD||19||Ernie de Vos||Stebro-Ford|
- * Surtees, Hall and McLaren were all still classified because the timekeepers deemed that they had completed enough of the race distance.
- Debut for Pedro Rodríguez.
- 50th World Championship start for Team Lotus.
- Record number of American drivers in the field: Seven.
- Graham Hill's second win of the season.
- Tenth career podium for Ginther.
Victory for Graham Hill meant he went up to fourth in the Championship, level on points with John Surtees but declared to be behind his countryman due to the latter's second place finish earlier in the year. Jim Clark remained three short of the maximum score, while Richie Ginther stayed in second place overall after his home race. New Zealander Bruce McLaren completed the top five, with Dan Gurney staying in sixth, as the Championship headed to Mexico for the first time.
Lotus-Climax had already been declared Champions and so the focus of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers was on the prize money paying positions from second to fifth. BRM left the US with an eleven point advantage over Ferrari after the former's one-two, while Cooper-Climax found themselves a further three points back. Fifth place was being held by Brabham-Climax and they looked set to take fifth as a minimum, with BRP-BRM now twelve points back.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: UNITED STATES GP, 1963', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr119.html, (Accessed 10/06/2016)
- M.J.T., 'Grand Prix of United States: B.R.M. first and second with the old cars.', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/11/1963), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/november-1963/29/grand-prix-united-states, (Accessed 10/06/2016)
- 'United States 1963: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/etats-unis/engages.aspx, (Accessed 10/06/2016)
- 'United States 1963: Qualification', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/etats-unis/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 11/06/2016)
- 'Unites States 1963: Results', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1963/etats-unis/classement.aspx, (Accessed 12/06/2016)
|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)|
|Formula One Races||1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981–1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992–1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008–2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020|
|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|
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