SURTEES, STEWART & BRABHAM
I have hundreds of pieces of motor racing memorabilia, photos and….well….stuff, in my writing studio and I have decided to pick one each week to write about in a new feature called “The Friday Vault”. Here is your first article:
CANADIAN GRAND PRIX, 1968 – CIRCUIT MONT-TREMBLANT
The above photograph shows John Surtees in his Honda RA301 leading Jackie Stewart in the Matra and Jack Brabham in the background, just coming around the curve as they compete in the 1968 Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Mont-Tremblant. It is the first photo that sits on the wall in my writing studio.
It was Jochen Rindt who took pole position, demonstrating the power of the latest Repco engine of the Brabham but he would not go on to win the actual race, this honour fell to Denny Hulme in the McLaren who finished a lap in front of his team mate, Bruce McLaren.
The circuit is just over two and a half miles long and is sometimes referred to as St. Jovite, but this no longer is the case. The track surface is known to be very bumpy and due to the terrain was a very difficult circuit to negotiate and to get the car home safely.
During qualifying, Rindt, set a average speed of 101.711mph, he found himself on the front row with Ferrari’s Chris Amon and Jo Siffert who was driving a Lotus 49B. Dan Gurney sat on the second row in his McLaren with the Lotus of Graham Hill and then behind them were Hulme and Bruce McLaren who sandwiched the sole Honda entry of John Surtees. It was during qualifying that Jacky Ickx had a terrible accident after his throttle stuck open and the crash caused him to suffer a broken leg which meant he would take no part in the Grand Prix.
The race would be 90 laps and it was Chris Amon in the Ferrari who took the early lead and stayed in front until lap 72 when he suffered a transmission failure. Siffert, who had been challenging Amon also suffered problems when he had an oil leak. Graham Hill had overtaken Gurney who found the circuit causing him problems and he dropped away with a broken radiator. Surtees was forced to retire due to gearbox issues and this left Rindt in second place, but this was short lived as he too was forced to retire with an engine failure.
Cars were dropping out at a ferocious rate. Graham Hill moved up to second and again the circuit took another victim and his Lotus began to drop away with serious vibration problems, eventually seeing the British driver overtaken by Pedro Rodriguez and Johnny Servoz-Gavin, who himself a few laps later would spin out of the race.
The three drivers depicted in the photograph above had a very difficult Grand Prix with Stewart being the last of the six finishers, seven laps behind the winner Denny Hulme. Brabham retired on Lap 31 with a suspension problem and Surtees retired on lap 10.
This circuit was renowned for taking casualties and it was proven with six out of twenty starters actually finishing the race. Formula One only raced at this circuit twice, they returned two years later in 1970 when Jacky Ickx would win in his Ferrari.
1st – Denny Hulme – McLaren-Ford – 2:27:11.2
2nd – Bruce McLaren – McLaren-Ford – +1 lap
3rd – Pedro Rodriguez – BRM – +2 laps
4th – Graham Hill – Lotus-Ford – +4 laps
5th – Vic Elford – Cooper-BRM – + 4 laps
6th – Jackie Stewart – Matra-Ford – +7 laps
Jean-Pierre Beltoise – Matra – Lap 77 – Gearbox
Chris Amon – Ferrari – Lap 72 – Transmission
Johnny Servoz-Gavin – Matra-Ford – Lap 71 – Accident
Lucien Bianchi – Cooper-BRM – Lap 56 – Not Classified
Henri Pescarolo – Matra – Lap 54 – Oil Pressure
Jochen Rindt – Brabham-Repco – Lap 39 – Overheating
Jackie Oliver – Lotus-Ford – Lap 32 – Halfshaft
Jack Brabham – Brabham-Repco – Lap 31 – Suspension
Jo Siffert – Lotus-Ford – Lap 29 – Oil Leak
Dan Gurney – McLaren-Ford – Lap 29 – Radiator
Piers Courage – BRM – Lap 22 – Gearbox
Bill Brack – Lotus-Ford – Lap 18 – Halfshaft
John Surtees – Honda – Lap 10 – Gearbox
Jo Bonnier – McLaren-BRM – Lap 0 – Fuel System
Jacky Ickx – Ferrari – DNS
Al Pease – Eagle-Climax – DNS
See You At The Chequered Flag