F1’S FORGOTTEN WINNER
Paul Lawrence investigates the history behind one of F1’s most curious cars
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.