Paul Lawrence in­ves­ti­gates the his­tory be­hind one of F1’s most cu­ri­ous cars

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - Pho­tos: Paul Lawrence, LAT


he BRM H16en­gined Lo­tus 43 For­mula 1 car only fin­ished one race, and it was 50 years ago this week that Jim Clark took an un­ex­pected win in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

The heavy, over-com­pli­cated and un­re­li­able BRM H16 en­gine was the stop-gap for Lo­tus in the 1966 sea­son as For­mula 1 moved to a 3-litre en­gine for­mula. On pa­per, the unit looked promis­ing with the prospect of 400bhp from an en­gine that revved to 10,500rpm. It was mated to a BRM gear­box and used as a stressed­mem­ber in Chap­man’s ef­fec­tive 43 de­sign, but was only run­ning 400 miles be­tween re­builds; as­sum­ing the unit ac­tu­ally lasted 400 miles with­out self-de­struc­t­ing.

Now, af­ter a 10-year quest, the car and en­gine are back to­gether and run­ning again thanks to the dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion of racer and Jim Clark fan Andy Mid­dle­hurst.

The marriage be­tween Colin Chap­man’s Lo­tus 43 de­sign and BRM’S am­bi­tious H16 en­gine project was one of con­ve­nience. Cli­max with­drew from rac­ing at the con­clu­sion of the 1965 sea­son and there were few options for the new 3-litre reg­u­la­tions. Chap­man opted for the BRM unit, but it was not a suc­cess and the car only fin­ished once, at Watkins Glen in early Oc­to­ber. Even that race week­end proved to be a chal­lenge as Clark’s en­gine blew up in prac­tice and the Lo­tus team had to bor­row a spare from BRM and in­stall it overnight.

To the credit of Clark’s me­chan­i­cal sym­pa­thy, he nursed it home to win the race. How­ever, by the fol­low­ing spring Chap­man had mated the all­new Cos­worth DFV en­gine to the Lo­tus 49 chas­sis and the sin­gle BRM year was con­signed to the file of bad mem­o­ries.

Now, half a cen­tury later, chas­sis num­ber 1 is run­ning again with BRM H16 power and Mid­dle­hurst re­cently demon­strated the car at the Oul­ton Park Gold Cup. In Septem­ber 1966, Clark only did prac­tice for the non­cham­pi­onship F1 race at Oul­ton Park be­fore the en­gine failed. Re­port­edly, work had been done on the gear link­age that week­end and as Clark went over Hill Top it jumped out of gear, blow­ing the en­gine.

Clark re­verted to a Coven­try Cli­max-pow­ered Lo­tus 33 for the race and fin­ished third, but could not live with the Repco-en­gined Brab­hams of Jack Brab­ham and Denny Hulme.

The jour­ney un­der­taken by for­mer saloon car racer Mid­dle­hurst to bring the project back to life is re­mark­able and the car has been painstak­ingly re­stored over 10 years. Sourc­ing one of only six H16s ever built was the big­gest chal­lenge in restor­ing a car that had been hid­den for 40 years.

“My ear­li­est mem­o­ries are of my dad Phil rac­ing against Jim Clark at Oul­ton in Lo­tus Corti­nas,” says Mid­dle­hurst. “I’ve had a thing about Jim Clark all my life and I re­mem­ber his death when I was about five years old. But I never thought I’d end up own­ing a For­mula 1 car.”

Bit by bit, Mid­dle­hurst has traced the his­tory of the car. When the pair of 43s left Lo­tus they were lit­tle more than tubs and were sold to Robert ‘Robs’ Lamplough in about 1968. The only use he could find for them was to make two For­mula 5000s, a cat­e­gory that was just start­ing in Europe.

Lamplough kept one and sold one to quirky Scots­man Jock Rus­sell. “He crashed it at Brands,” says Mid­dle­hurst. “The tub was re­paired in pe­riod by Mau­rice Gomm, but Jock moved on to other cars and left it in the back of a fur­ni­ture lorry near Ed­in­burgh. Forty years later we found out about it and per­suaded my fa­ther it was a good idea for him to buy it. That was in 2004.”

It took sev­eral at­tempts to per­suade Rus­sell to part with the car but fi­nally a deal was struck and Mid­dle­hurst col­lected chas­sis num­ber 1. “Then the chal­lenge was to get an H16 en­gine,” he says. “I never thought I was go­ing to get an en­gine. They only made six and we worked out where they had all gone to. We traced one to a BRM dis­play car that ended up in a mu­seum in Aus­tralia. Even­tu­ally the mu­seum cu­ra­tor parted with the car. Once we got the en­gine, it was just a case of time and money to get the car com­pleted and run­ning.

“In­for­ma­tion was very sparse and we con­tacted lots of the old Lo­tus and BRM me­chan­ics and they all helped by re­mem­ber­ing things.”

Mid­dle­hurst even sought help from Bob Dance, the pe­riod Team Lo­tus me­chanic, who still works with Clas­sic Team Lo­tus 50 years on.

“Bob built the gear­box for me as he did in pe­riod,” says Mid­dle­hurst. “The en­gine was re­built over many years and took a lot of work­ing out. It was not re­ally com­plete and we had to find many bits.”

From start to fin­ish, the re­build took nearly 10 years with a lot of time spent on re­search. “LAT, the photo agency, came up with some old pho­tos that helped us find out where things went,” says Mid­dle­hurst.

Now it is com­plete, Mid­dle­hurst is run­ning the Lo­tus in rel­e­vant demon­stra­tions but has no plans to race this amaz­ing 50-year-old piece of grand prix his­tory. “I just like to take it any­where peo­ple want to see it,” he says. “You’d spoil it if you ever tried to race it. There are still a few lit­tle nig­gles, but it starts eas­ily and makes a nice noise.”

The other Lo­tus 43, chas­sis 2, re­mains as a bare tub in a pri­vate col­lec­tion in Lon­don and is un­likely to run. Get­ting an­other H16 en­gine seems a near-im­pos­si­ble task.

How­ever, thanks to the ex­tra­or­di­nary de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Mid­dle­hurst team, fans can still get to see and hear this amaz­ing project in ac­tion, half a cen­tury on from a time when it sorely tested the pa­tience of Chap­man and Clark.

“It is very spe­cial and I’m al­ways very care­ful with it,” adds Mid­dle­hurst. “Start­ing it has a fire risk as it drib­bles fuel out of the trum­pets and the ex­haust is be­low. But it is a fam­ily heir­loom now and it is one of the most beau­ti­ful cars of the era.” ■

fourth at the Hair­pin, quickly fol­lowed by Cole­man at the Esses.

Styrin was vir­tu­ally home and dry, but hav­ing suc­ceeded in his quest to oust Lawrence from sec­ond, down came the rain and Avery lost his sec­ond place ten­ure with a lap to go. Cole­man and Molyneaux held sta­tion for fourth and fifth, with Nick Hull com­plet­ing the top six.

With a re­versed grid for the third race, ac­tion was guar­an­teed and early leader Hull was soon un­der pres­sure. He sur­vived un­til run­ning wide at the Hair­pin on lap four, from where Styrin eased clear for win num­ber three.

Lawrence was sec­ond again but had Avery, Molyneaux and Cole­man line astern. Into the Hair­pin for the 10th time Cole­man dived for the in­side, which put Molyneaux onto the grass.

“It was a lot wet­ter on the in­side still than I had ex­pected and I slid straight into Avery,” Cole­man ex­plained. The safety car was in ac­tion to re­move Avery’s stricken car and Cole­man was later ex­cluded from third place.

Lawrence and Molyneaux also clashed over sec­ond, “we were side by side on the Stebbe Straight, touched and I went pirou­et­ting,” said Molyneaux, which left Lawrence in the clear and Hull com­plet­ing the podium.

There was a dou­ble win in the MR2 Se­ries too with Ar­ron Pul­lan show­ing a clean pair of heels twice over. Adam Lock­wood had been fairly se­cure in sec­ond in the open­ing race, but as a three-way fight for third be­tween Peter Hig­ton, Nathan Har­ri­son and Daniel Bryant closed in, the pres­sure be­gan to build on Lock­wood.

Har­ri­son scythed ahead of Hig­ton into Ger­ards and took Lock­wood for sec­ond at the Esses on the same lap, as Bryant left the equa­tion with a spin.

De­spite re­tain­ing sec­ond, a jump­start penalty put Har­ri­son down to fifth place, with Hig­ton clas­si­fied in sec­ond af­ter pass­ing Lock­wood three laps from the flag.

Lock­wood stuck with Pul­lan for the whole of race two, as Har­ri­son and Neil Strat­ton dis­puted third early on. Strat­ton had been along­side and fi­nally made it through into the Esses on lap six. Although Har­ri­son ini­tially fell back, a storm­ing fin­ish helped him re­claim third at Ger­ards with three laps to go, while Bryant dropped back to a dis­tant fifth.

Richard Hock­ley’s Honda Civic was in the clear from the start of the first Nip­pon Chal­lenge/deutsche Mar­ques Cup con­test, with pole­man Craig Tomkin­son in a soli­tary sec­ond in his Opel Corsa.

An­drew Roberts’ Civic was an early third, but had Kevin Mid­dle­ton’s wild Subaru Im­preza chal­leng­ing. He was on the grass at the Esses on the sec­ond lap and fi­nally dived in­side Roberts at Devil’s El­bow, be­fore a lurid tank slap­per sent him right and left be­fore mak­ing con­tact with Roberts and even­tu­ally spin­ning. “I tried to go ei­ther way and he still speared me,” said the Civic driver.

Roberts still re­claimed third, aided by Paul Buckmaster’s Mazda RX-7 blow­ing its turbo, while Tony Markham’s Civic was a close fourth.

In the first of the Mono­posto Tiede­man Tro­phy races Neil Har­ri­son’s Dal­lara ousted Terry Clark’s Van Diemen into the Esses on the first lap. Chris Kite’s Dal­lara briefly threat­ened Clark, who then eased away to con­sol­i­date sec­ond. Bryn Tootell’s Van Diemen was pro­moted to third af­ter Kite re­ceived a jump-start penalty.

On a damp track there was no stop­ping Shane Kelly’s For­mula Re­nault Van Diemen in the sec­ond race. He led from Ger­ards on the sec­ond lap, head­ing a cau­tious Har­ri­son by nearly 25 sec­onds at the flag, with Ewen Ser­gi­son’s Swift a dis­tant third, af­ter Ian Hughes’ Van Diemen went off the road at Shaws.

An­drew Mitchell’s Peu­geot 205 GTI held off David Clark’s de­ter­mined Re­nault 5 GT Turbo win the Tri­col­ore Tro­phy in­vi­ta­tion, but when the Nip­pon and Deutsche Mar­ques Cup joined in for race two, Richard Hock­ley’s Honda Civic just edged out Mitchell for the win.

1 Styrin; 2 Lawrence +8.419s; 3 Hull; 4 Archer; 5 Wa­ters; 6 Jamie Cal­len­der (924). CW Wa­ters; Baker. FL Styrin 52.722s (92.18mph). P Archer. S 14.

1 Pul­lan; 2 Lock­wood +0.639s; 3 Har­ri­son; 4 Strat­ton; 5 Daniel Bryant; 6 Gareth Bax­ter. FL Pul­lan 57.770s (84.12mph). P Pul­lan. S 17.

1 Kelly; 2 Har­ri­son +24.970s; 3 Ser­gi­son; 4 Tootell; 5 Clark; 6 Fern. CW Har­ri­son; Ser­gi­son; Fern; Mitchell. FL Kelly 51.627s (94.13mph). P Har­ri­son. S 14.

1 An­drew Mitchell (Peu­geot 205 GTI); 2 David Clark (Re­nault 5 GT Turbo) +1.204s; 3 Tony Hunter (Re­nault Clio); 4 Russ Thom­son (Re­nault Clio); 5 Robert Buck­land (Re­nault Clio); 6 Ian Collins (Re­nault Clio). CW Clark; Hunter; Thom­son; Ge­orge Goucher (Re­nault Clio); Steve Cutts (Citroen Saxo VTS). FL Mitchell 1m01.487s (79.04mph). P Mitchell. S 13.

Jbk jkkb kjkb bkbkjk­bkjkb Mid­dle­hurst ran Lo­tus at Gold Cup

US GP was sole fin­ish, and win

Lo­tus-brm: at last run­ning again

Lo­tus racer Arun­dell had no luck

Close bat­tle in Tri­col­ore Tro­phy

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