The 1966 United States Grand Prix, officially known as the 9th Grand Prix of the United States, was the eighth and penultimate round of the 1966 FIA Formula One World Championship. staged on the October 2, 1966. Using the familiar, and increasingly popular, Watkins Glen circuit, the race would be remembered as the day that Brabham-Repco won their first Constructors' Championship.
Qualifying/practice saw Brabham's owner/driver Jack Brabham snatch pole position from Jim Clark in the dying moments as circuit records tumbled. Row two would feature Lorenzo Bandini, who just fell shy of the front row by a couple of hundredths, meaning he started alongside former team mate John Surtees.
When Tex Hopkins leapt into the air to signal the start, it was Californian Richie Ginther who got the best start, leaping up from eighth to third to slot behind Bandini and Clark on the opening lap. By the second lap Ginther had slipped back behind Brabham and Surtees, with those two also able to get by Clark when his H16 engine hit its usual wave of minor problems.
Brabham soon swept into the lead past Bandini on lap 10, before Surtees tangled with back marker Peter Arundell and spun, cutting the quartet down to a trio. Bandini then hit problems and retired to leave Brabham in control, and, with Clark opting to nurse his car to the flag, the Australian slowly pulled out a fifteen second lead.
Yet, there was to be one final twist, and as Surtees began to climb back through the order, Brabham's engine expired putting an end to the newly recrowned Champion's race. Clark was left with a 30 second advantage over Jochen Rindt which would end up as a lap in arrears come race end, while Surtees diced his way back up to third a few laps from the end.
A month after the Italian Grand Prix and the sad news of the death of John Taylor, a rather mixed mood took hold over the field as the F1 circus headed to the Glen. The organisers in New York State had decided to break with the tradition of starting money, not the first time it had been tried, and instead offered a substantial total prize fund of $102,000. The winner was set to new $20,000 themselves with the prize then scaled across the top twenty finishers, with the twentieth placed car awarded $2,800.
Leading the charge into North America were Team Lotus, who once again opted to bring in Formula Two racer Pedro Rodríguez as their third factory driver. The Mexican was handed a Lotus 33 powered by a BRM engine, while Peter Arundell was penciled in as driving their 33 with a Climax. As for team leader Jim Clark, the Scot was entered with a BRM H16 unit once again, aided by the fact that BRM themselves had two of their own cars set to run the engine once again, with a third unit held in reserve.
Brabham-Repco arrived in relatively jubilent mood after owner/driver Jack Brabham secured the World Championship in Italy, and they now had a shot at taking the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers. In all likelihood the Anglo-Aussie effort was going to win the honours for 1966, Denny Hulme and Brabham having done excellent work for them throughout the season, and the Glen was their first chance to do so. As for their equipment, Brabham's regular car was off duty having won the title, with the Aussie now getting an identical car to Hulme.
Elsewhere, Cooper-Maserati were back with their two regular runners, Jochen Rindt and John Surtees, although they decided to bring in a third driver to the factory team. Moisés Solana was the addition to their efforts, given an identical car to the regular pair, which would go into the final part of the season unchanged. The privateer field was also largely supported by the Cooper-Maserati combo, the only two of the five single car efforts not running a T81 being Reg Parnell Racing and Bernard White Racing.
There had been some interesting developments at Ferrari as rumours of more fallout between the sportscar and Formula One programmes meaning that the Italians only had one driver in North America. That man was Lorenzo Bandini, running in the scarlet colours on his own as Ferrari tried half-heartedly to deny Brabham-Repco a maiden title. The other manufacturer with only one car would be McLaren-Ford, with Bruce McLaren entering himself with a Ford engine after Serenissima withdrew their support.
The final two manufacturer efforts were of interest to the American realm of Formula One, with the Anglo American Racers effort on home soil for the first time. Dan Gurney brought both the Weslake and the Climax powered Eagles to the track, and signed up Bob Bondurant up to fly the American flag in New York. The other effort was the Honda project, with Richie Ginther and Ronnie Bucknum running the new 66 car, although Ginther's was both lower and wider by a couple of inches as the Japanese firm set themselves up for 1967.
With victory in Italy going to Ludovico Scarfiotti, and no points going to the title pretenders Surtees and Jackie Stewart, the Championship was settled in favour of Brabham. The Australian became the first triple Champion since Juan Manuel Fangio earned his third title in 1955, and left Italy with a 21 point lead. Rindt was now second overall, leading the race to finish as runner up, with Graham Hill, Surtees, Stewart, Hulme, Bandini, Mike Parkes and Scarfiotti all within nine points on one another.
The Australian's team, Brabham-Repco, in contrast, were not yet able to claim the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, as victory for Ferrari kept them just in the hunt. A nine point gap was separating the two with two rounds to go, and the Italian firm still needed to win the last two races without the Anglo-Aussie effort scoring better than third. BRM and Cooper-Maserati were circling closer together as they entered a private duel for third.
The full entry list for the 1966 United States Grand Prix is outlined below:
A bumper weekend of Grand Prix action was scheduled for the practice/qualifying sessions, with four hours each for Friday and Saturday afternoons. Strong winds made progress slow on Friday, although cool temperatures meant that engines were running at their best, while heavy rain just before the Saturday session also reduced the amount of running. Target times were once again set to tumble with the 3.0 litre cars making their debut at the circuit, with Jim Clark's circuit record of 1:11.16 looking vulnerable.
The first cars out for a run were Jo Bonnier, Bruce McLaren and Jochen Rindt, with all of the field bar Moisés Solana (who was withdrawn) getting out in the first hour. The biggest problems were to be found with the Eagle-Weslake entry of Dan Gurney, which had an early oil pressure issue that kept it in the pits. Jack Brabham was a late starter after ignition changes, while Innes Ireland's return with Bernard White Racing was delayed as the car was still being built.
The first hour saw Clark break his circuit record with the Lotus 43, powered by the BRM H16 engine, which ran without issue but was being hampered by the wind. He was one of the few to run without issues throughout the session, as Honda proved with Richie Ginther slowly getting up the order, while Ronnie Bucknum had a gear seize on an early run so would get to sit in the pits. Indeed, Ginther, would get the honour of setting the first sub-1:10.0 lap of the weekend before the half session point, just as Bruce McLaren missed a gear change and caused his engine to jump 1,000 rpm over the recommended limit.
When the wind dropped a few minutes before the end of the session there was a rush of activity, with two drivers getting laps at over 120mph average speed. Lorenzo Bandini was the first, setting a 1:08.67 which would go unbeaten, although only just, by John Surtees a few seconds later, just as the session was ended. The organisers had thought that the 120mph mark would fall the previous season after the circuit was re-tarmaced, offering 120 bottles of champagne as a prize for the first man to do so, although this prize was no longer on offer.
Saturday saw the early running mainly hampered by the wet surface, with everyone bar the Brabhams and Bonnier, whom had to have a borrowed engine fitted overnight, try a few exploratory runs in the first hour. Conditions slowly improved throughout the day, with Clark getting a quick lap in in the Climax powered Lotus before reporting a gearbox problem, only to go out and run increasingly quickly with the H16 car. McLaren, meanwhile, was having handling issues with his self designed car, while the Ford engine in the back was often refusing to start.
When the track was fully dry the cars went charging out of the pits to try and improve on their Friday times, although when Surtees just fell shy it looked as if Bandini would have pole. Rindt then improved on his personal best but was out of the fight, while the two BRMs managed to get some proper running together and break into the top five. Suddenly, all eyes were on Brabham, the Australian cruising out of the final corner to take pole from Bandini by 0.15s with a 1:08.42, with Clark slithering through a few moments later to fall shy by just 0.11s.
The full qualifying results for the 1966 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
|19||2||Peter Arundell||Lotus-Climax||No Time|
A beautiful day over the Glen dawned for race day, with the spirits of most of the field high with only minor work completed by the teams overnight, with one exception. Team Lotus were not sure that the H16 engine would last the race distance, with an oil leak remaining undetected until the start of the warm up lap. They gambled and slotted Jim Clark in the drivers seat, and during a delay due to crowd herding by the local sheriffs, the leak was cured by a tightened nut, meaning all nineteen cars were set to start.
As the dainty feet of Tex Hopkins landed back on the ground with the start flag fluttering, the race roared into life with a distinct tinge on scarlet at the front. Lorenzo Bandini had lit up the rear of his car the moment that Tex had left the group, and so sent his car slithering between Clark and pole sitter Jack Brabham off the line. It was the Aussie who slotted in behind the Italian up the hill through turns one and two, although an elbow by Clark at the long turn three sweeper sent the Brabham-Repco down to fourth.
At the end of the opening lap Bandini was leading with a few yards of clear track back to Clark, with Richie Ginther the man to get in between the original front starters. Brabham remained in fourth, battling with John Surtees, with the top five decidedly dropping the rest of the field already as Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill battled with their engines. Their trials with the H16s were causing a bottle neck, as Denny Hulme, Jochen Rindtm Jo Siffert, Mike Spence, Pedro Rodríguez, Bob Bondurant, Dan Gurney and the rest all in the group.
The second lap would still see Bandini stretching out a lead over Clark, although this was thought to be short lived as Brabham and Surtees moved past Ginther. The Californian was soon swarmed by the BRM group behind over the following laps, as Bruce McLaren did the reverse by picking off cars in pairs at the back of the field. Jo Bonnier, meanwhile, was having to make constant stops for water after an ill-fitted piston caused the water system to be pressurised and pump the water out.
Brabham soon replied to Clark's earlier elbow at turn three on the opening lap and moved the Scot down, although the wily Scot was able to keep Surtees at bay. The Australian was soon harassing Bandini, and in successive laps Surtees got Clark before Brabham forced his Brabham up the inside of Bandini for the lead. The top four were left covered by a couple of seconds, before a huge gap back to Stewart and Hill, who were beginning to get to grips with their H16s.
McLaren's charge, meanwhile, had taken him onto the fringes of the top ten, where the New Zealander decided to dive down the inside of Pedro Rodríguez at turn one. Unfortunately, the Mexican had already started turning in, meaning the nose of the Lotus was hit by the back left wheel sustaining a fair whack. A lap later the nose failed completely and fell off, straight into the path of Bob Bondurant, who went into the grass in avoidance and stalled, meaning he needed a push. That, however, was an automatic disqualification for the Eagle-Climax meaning he had to stop and retire, moments after Rodriguez was forced to stop.
As all this was going on, Hulme and Rindt were scrapping for seventh, although when the Austrian finally dragged past down the back straight the New Zealander noticed his oil temperature rising. A quick stop relieved his fears and the car was sent back out, just as Rodriguez stopped with the opposite problem, as the nose-less Lotus was running so cold that the engine was misfiring. It was a process of trial and error at Team Lotus as they blanked off parts of the radiator, sent the car back out for a lap and then it came back in for more, until the car refused to start leaving the Mexican on the sidelines.
As Gurney fell out of the race with a clutch issue after Rodriguez was being wheeled away, Brabham and co. were lapping the back markers, their first victim being Peter Arundell. This, however, would only go well for the first three, before Surtees tried to force the issue at turn one, only to get cut off by Clark's team mate. The next attempt did not go much better on the run up the hill, as Surtees went to one side, just as Arundell slid in the same direction after hitting oil to cause the two the clatter into each other they spun.
Surtees and Arundell limped to the pits to have checks, a visit which saw Surtees pull alongside his countryman and tell him, in unrepeatable words, exactly what he thought of backmarkers and non-mirror use. As Surtees streaked out of the pits near the back of the field, two other cars were retired, the first being Ginther when the Honda refused to go into gear in fewer than three attempts. Also out was Hulme when he lost his oil pressure, although his retirement was overshadowed as Bandini re-passed Brabham for the lead.
The leading pair were now dropping Clark very slightly each lap, who was in charge of a healthy lead back to Stewart, who was decidedly ahead of his team mate Hill. Indeed, Hill was struggling with, unsurprisingly, a gearbox issue, caused by damaged teeth, that ultimately forced the Englishman into the pits for diagnosis. Nothing could be done so he was soon back in action, Rindt already having gone down the road, and it was not much longer before Ronnie Bucknum swept past in an odd sounding Honda.
Suddenly, another twist at the front of the field saw Bandini chucked out of the race after an engine failure, caused by a spark plug getting detonated by one of the cylinders. Brabham was left with a healthy advantage over Clark with Stewart now up to third, but under threat from Rindt behind. Spence was enjoying his race in fourth, the M.G.M. film crews no longer interfering with the Reg Parnell Racing effort, with Siffert just behind as both were being drawn in by McLaren.
Surtees, meanwhile, was drawing through the order at a rate of knots, taking as many places through passes as he was through retirements up the road. As he began to bear down on Bucknum, smashing in fastest lap after fastest lap as he went, Spence's race was cut short by engine failure. The Cooper-Maserati charge was then up to eighth, and as he barrelled past Bucknum, the Honda lost power and was forced into the pits, where it was revealed that the V12 had burned through three exhaust pipes.
More casualties came up as the race ploughed through half distance, as the two BRMs retired within a lap of each other, both with entirely unique problems on their engines. That left twelve cars in the running, with Bucknum limping round with three cylinders effectively under powered as the exhausts were short, while Bonnier was still taking water in on a regular basis. There was, however, to be one final twist at the front of the field as the half way marked ticked by, and it was not the car in the top two that had proved temperamental at best.
Brabham had just pulled out a fifteen second lead ahead of Clark when he felt something fail in the engine, forcing him into the pits for an examination. Clark was well up the road before the issue was found, a sheered cam-follower which had jammed the camshaft, leaving the Aussie out of the action. The Scot therefore inherited a huge lead over Rindt, as the focus of the race now swivelled back to McLaren, who was dancing around behind Siffert in his attempts to get past.
Back with the Surtees charge and the Englishman was really motoring on, the recent retirements meaning that Siffert and McLaren were fighting over third, putting Surtess in the hunt too. The Englishman had to unlap himself (but was a few laps in arrears still) before he got onto the back of the third placed battle, and with two identical moves into turn one on two laps saw him get onto the final step. His charge was now over barring retirements for Clark and Rindt, although the BRM powered Lotus was sounding sweet, and the Austrian was simply too far ahead.
Tex was back in action as Clark rounded the final corner for the 108th time, the lavender suited starter jumping in the air to declare the Scot was the winner, the first time he had done so all season. Rindt, however, failed to appear on time having run out of fuel at the back of the circuit, taking two and a half minutes to get back. The timekeepers decided that he had finished a lap down rather than retired, as may have been the case, to allow the Austrian to keep second, while Surtees was flagged home in third.
Siffert and McLaren were still locked together for fourth across the line, the Swiss racer flashing through with a few inches to the good, while Arundell survived to the end to claim sixth. The Lotus racer had been lucky to get his first point of the season after a heart breaking moment for Innes Ireland, who was in that position until an alternator failed in the closing stages, at a circuit where he had collected his only win. Ginther and Bonnier, meanwhile, took the flag but after numerous visits to the pits they were too far back to be classified.
The full results for the 1966 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||8||Jochen Rindt||Cooper-Maserati||107||+1 lap||9||6|
|3||7||John Surtees||Cooper-Maserati||107||+1 lap||4||4|
|4||19||Jo Siffert||Cooper-Maserati||105||+3 laps||13||3|
|5||17||Bruce McLaren||McLaren-Ford||105||+3 laps||11||2|
|6||2||Peter Arundell||Lotus-Climax||101||+7 laps||19||1|
|NC*||12||Richie Ginther||Honda||81||+27 laps||8|
|NC*||22||Jo Bonnier||Cooper-Maserati||57||+51 laps||15|
|Ret||6||Denny Hulme||Brabham-Repco||18||Oil pressure||7|
|Ret||11||Pedro Rodríguez||Lotus-BRM||13||Starter ring||10|
- * Ginther and Bonnier could not be classified as they had not completed 90% of the race distance.
- † Bondurant disqualifed during the race for a push start.
- Twentieth career win for Jim Clark.
- 25th win for Team Lotus as a constructor.
- Fourteenth win for BRM as an engine manufacturer.
- Their first triumph in a non-BRM chassis.
- Fourteenth and final fastest lap recorded by a Cooper chassis.
- Maserati awarded their seventeenth and final fastest lap.
- Brabham-Repco declared as Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers Champions for the first time.
A first win of the season for the outgoing Champion Jim Clark propelled the Scot up into the top five of the Championship, which was already settled in favour of Jack Brabham. Clark was therefore joining into the scrap for second, with Jochen Rindt up to second with 22 points, with eight points covering everyone down to Denny Hulme in seventh. Anyone from Rindt, John Surtees, Graham Hill, Clark, Jackie Stewart and Hulme could earn the prize money for being runner-up, meaning the season finale would have a fight to be fought.
Despite failing to score, Brabham-Repco were declared as Champions of the Intercontinental Cup for Manufacturers, as Ferrari could not better their tally of 40 points and four wins. The Italian firm were, however, under pressure from third placed Cooper-Maserati, who needed a seven point swing in their favour to overhaul the Italian outfit for second. BRM also went into Mexico entertaining hopes of finishing runner-up, but they would need the other two to fail to score with themselves winning.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: UNITED STATES GP, 1966', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr149.html, (Accessed 06/08/2016)
- M.J.T., '8th UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX: A win for Clark Lotus and B.R.M. H16', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/11/1966), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/november-1966/40/8th-united-states-grand-prix, (Accessed 07/08/2016)
- 'USA 1966: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1966/etats-unis/engages.aspx, (Accessed 05/08/2016)
- 'USA 1966: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1966/etats-unis/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 06/08/2016)
- 'USA 1966: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1966/etats-unis/classement.aspx, (Accessed 06/08/2016)
|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 • |
|Non-F1 races||1908 • 1909 • 1910 • 1911 • 1912 • 1913 • 1914 • 1915 • 1916 • 1917–1957 • 1958|
|See also||Miami Grand Prix • United States Grand Prix West • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Dallas Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix|
|v·d·e||Nominate this page for Featured Article|