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YESTERDAY, WE SET the stage for the 1961 U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Team Lotus’s first Formula One victory, and Innes Ireland’s sole Grand Epreuve win. Today, R&T’s Jim Crow continues his race report from the January 1962 issue.
The Race. Jack Brabham and his Cooper-Climax V-8 started from pole position and, on lap 28 of 100, recorded the fastest race lap at 109.2 mph. Brabham diced with Stirling Moss and his Rob Walker-sponsored Lotus. Ireland gridded eighth, but stormed to third by end of the first lap.
“On lap 3,” Jim Crow wrote, “sideways through oil on the South Loop, he [Ireland] lost half a dozen places before regaining his footing.” Innes later recounted, “I went into a whirl, a 360-degree spin, cars were whipping past.”
“By the time 10 laps were gone,” Crow said, “Ireland had worked up to 4th behind Brabham, Moss and McLaren, and only inches ahead of Graham Hill’s BRM and Masten Gregory’s UDT Lotus.”
An American Contingent. A goodly number of Americans contested the race: Masten Gregory, Dan Gurney, Jim Hall, Walt Hansgen, Roger Penske, Lloyd Ruby, and Hap Sharp. Gurney and his Porsche were to finish 2nd, only 4.3 seconds behind Innes. Penske and Sharp, like much of the field both in Cooper-Climaxes, finished 8th and 10th; Gregory shared a ride with Belgian Olivier Gendebien to 11th and last of the 20 drivers who started.
Not forgetting Ferrari’s Richie Ginther, Phil Hill, and Pedro Rodriguez, whose rides evaporated when Enzo Ferrari choose to ignore this last GP of the year. Crow reported, “World Champion Phil Hill was there, but driving a Ford Thunderbird as Honorary Race Steward and seemingly content with the arrangement.”
A Race of Attrition. Crow wrote that on lap 34 Brabham’s Cooper-Climax “began to regurgitate its coolant through the overflow pipe, a recurrence of the Monza trouble.” The car dropped out from overheating on lap 57.
One lap later, “Moss coasted down the pit lane with his goggles up. The bearings were gone in the 4-cyl Climax engine and the balding idol was out of the race…. All eyes went to the Ireland-Hill-McLaren trio, then to the Salvadori-Gurney duo inching up from behind.”
Attrition continued in the final 20 laps. Crow reported, “Salvadori was making the show now, his Cooper sounding very sharp as he closed by fractions on Ireland’s not-quite-so-crisp Lotus.”
Lotus Teamwork?? Then, Crow observed, “Teamwork played its part at this time as Salvadori brought his Cooper up to pass Jim Clark’s laps-behind Lotus. Clark politely waved for Salvadori to go on past but, then, wherever Roy pointed the Cooper, it was confronted by the tail of Clark’s Lotus. With the assist from Clark, Gurney closed on Salvadori, and that made two of them looking for a way around.”
On lap 97 of the 100, “Roy finally found a path, snorting around angrily, but the teamwork had been successful in relieving the pressure on Ireland’s weakening Lotus.” Alas, Salvadori’s engine failed before completing that lap.
The Checker. Innes finished the 100-lap 235-mile race in 2 hours 13 minutes 45.8 seconds at an average 103.22 mph. Crow concluded, “As popular a win as it was for Innes Ireland and Team Lotus, perhaps the best part of all is the clear indication that the Grand Prix of the United States, almost an orphan for so long, has finally found a home.” ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021