With the championship nearing its apotheosis, the entire Formula 1-circus moved to North-America for the final leg of the 1971-season. Two races. One at Canada’s Mosport. And one at our home-track: Watkins Glen, upstate New York.
With only two points separating the two main contenders, the season finale seemed set on providing the North-American public with fireworks. The advantage was for Tyrrell-man Coxon, but with only two points to spare, his margin for error was as non-existent as that of Riddall, his challenger. In essence, neither of them had the luxury of letting the other finish in front. The fight thus seemed on.
Riddall did not waste time and promptly put his car on pole, with a lap that was close to 4 tenths of second faster than Coxon’s best. That lap only yielded the Steelmekker third on the grid. Jaques, who seemed to be the man in form of lately, grabbing second for BRM.
Canola, Wilks and Johnson rounded out the top 6.
Voigt had spoiled us at Monza with a half-decent performance. My expectation thus was that the moron would utterly mess up at Mosport to set the balance straight. And messing it up, he did. But only after he had convincingly raised our hopes to levels unchartered before. Only truly wicked bastards serve it that cruel.
The nitwit only qualified 20th. But was merely 2 hundreds of a second slower than teammate Ryon, a multiple race-winner for Ken Tyrrell, who shared the 10th starting row with Voigt. Patsy’s qualifying effort was therefore far from entirely meritless.
Some local drivers showed up for the Mosport race and one of them even qualified for the race, be it 28th and last on the grid in an old Ecurie Hahne March 701. John Cook was his name, which was pronounced by some of the Quebecois reporters as John Cock. Which left me pondering on the reasons why average French-speakers seem unable to adopt to the tongue of any other language.
After a perfect qualifying effort, Riddall started his bid for the championship on a false note. He was slow at the getaway, leaving Jaques into the lead and, more importantly, Coxon into second.
Johnson shot passed both Wilks and Canola and claimed 4th before they even reached turn 1. Canola also proved slower than Wilks and saw his Surtees relegated to 6th.
Brain fade Voigt got boxed in behind Mark Craggs, who was slow off the line in his McLaren. Then, as everyone started flying by, the cocksucker missed nearly every upshift. From the pit-wall, we could hear the Ferrari screaming in agony as it failed to find any kind of transmission to swallow its massive power. Almost the entire field disappeared in the distance. My mood was hitting an all-time low. Not even one turn into the race, and we were dead last.
And things were only about to get worse.
Into Clayton Corner, rookie Lukas Vydra spun his Penske entered McLaren. There was nowhere to go for Voigt but into the side of the bright blue painted McLaren. To top it all off John Cook, the only car still behind ours, had nowhere to go and hit our car from behind. Luckily, both contacts happened at low speed and were more of the soft bump kin than of the hard hit breed.
But still, with barely two turns negotiated, bloody Voigt had managed to swindle away a good starting position and end up in a damaged car, with an entire race still to tackle. At least, he succeeded in winning back some places.
Frank Williams was facing dour prospects. His first driver, Jason Fitch, had also been caught in the Vydra-melee and was now skittering over the grass with one front wheel missing. The American crumbled back to the pits where there was only conclusion for the Williams crew: car damaged beyond immediate repair.
Steve Parker went off in Quebec crashing his car into oblivion. Both Wilks and Craggs spun in the Esses. All this in just lap one.
And Voigt was steadily rising back through the ranks.
The damage to the car did not seem to affect its handling much, and Voigt set out to reel in Dave Miller in the Williams entered March 701 and Jan Kowalski in a BRM.
Up at the front, Jaques was already building up a small gap over Richard Coxon. The Tyrrell in turn had a reasonable advantage over an incredible Austin Johnson who was already up to 3rd. Canola, Plaçais and Bos followed behind the old March. Only then appeared the Surtees of Grant Riddall.
The Surtees champ had encountered a problem somewhere on lap 1 and was down to 7th. Just as in Monza, he was condemned to a catch-up race, hoping to limit the setback in his championship bid.
Bos was meanwhile seriously challenging Plaçais for 5th; a situation that had everything to develop into fierce action. Bos has, at times, a tendency for rather forceful driving. While as Plaçais is known to be somewhat allergic to such antics; generally fighting back with all he has.
On lap 2, Bos had a solid tow out of Moss and pulled up on the inside. The Lotus and Matra flew over the crest, towards the Esses, side-by-side. Bos had the better inside line for the first right-hander. But old fox Plaçais made it stick on the outside and kept on par with the Lotus. The Matra was now on the better inside line for the following left-hander and the French driver was determined to keep 5th. Bos slightly bumped his front wheel against the Matra’s side, but they kept it together.
Plaçais held on to 5th but had been warned about Bos’ intentions.
The Belgian driver seemed to have gotten under Plaçais’ skin somehow. Yves started giving it all he had, trying to pull away from the Lotus. But barely two turns later, into the abyss of treacherous turn two, he slightly overcooked it. The rear stepped out, pushing the car onto the grass. Yves masterfully kept the car from spinning and swiftly rejoined the track.
Bos was through though and the order was reversed: Bos in 5th and Plaçais in 6th. Bos’ turn to be under pressure.
Things went from bad to worse for Grant Riddall meanwhile. The first lap incident had damaged the car and the Brit had no other option but to pit for repairs, falling way back. Often though, as one thinks he has hit rock bottom, life just makes it a tad worse. And so it happened that Riddall was forced to retire and, with Coxon undisturbed in second, saw the championship float out of his grasp.
What had promised to become a knuckle crunching race, now threatened to become a bore. Coxon was safe in second and felt no urge whatever to challenge Jaques for the lead. And Austin Johnson, as brilliant as he is, would just lack the power to mix in with Coxon and Jaques.
Coxon only wanted one thing: finish in second without much drama, take the six points and extend his lead to a near unassailable advance. Johnson, again doing amazing things with his soapbox March, was not intend on making it that easy for the Brit however. Notwithstanding an acute lack of power, he somehow managed to make it back into Richard’s immediate wake. And was waiting for an opportunity to strike.
Voigt had soon caught Miller. And proceeded with a text book maneuver, using better acceleration out of Moss to pull ahead along the back straight.
He was now chasing a small group comprising Kowalski and Montenegro in BRM’s, Chapman in a Surtees and Ryon. On some laps, Voigt looked like closing in fast. On others, it seemed he was losing ground. Which made for somewhat of a lonely race.
But then, Chapman’s Surtees suddenly was not that far ahead and would remain an achievable objective for many laps.
Johnson was now turning up the pressure on Coxon jot by jot, throwing his car into the turns as if it were an indestructible marble. It was slowing the both of them down. Allowing Jaques to build up a solid lead and Canola to close in. Thiago even rightfully sheltered some hopes of joining the battle for third.
With ten of the eighty laps covered, Jaques firmly held the reigns over the proceedings. Coxon in 2nd, Johnson in 3rd and Canola in 4th were already over 7 seconds behind. Bos and Plaçais were still 5th and 6th. The second Matra, driven by David Sabre, was running 7th.
Janik, Ray Riddall and Janak rounded out the top 10.
Johnson had soon seen enough of the Tyrrell behinds and went for a move around the outside of Coxon in the right hand section of the Esses. Then used his inside position for the ensuing left turn to consolidate second. The Tyrrell was down to third, but managed to keep up with the CMG March.
I overheard some principals in the Tyrrell box claiming that Coxon had not really put up a fight, because he might be hoping that Austin would pull him closer to David Jaques. Ken Tyrrell is a man of principle however, and his enthusiasm for such theories seemed very tepid at best.
“If we are going to abide by such reasoning, we might as well hire that young lad from Saint Chaumond, who just got hailed in by the French national karting team,” one could see old Ken think. While the Surrey timber merchant would probably prefer to just hire a nutter with Johnson’s verve into his team.
Behind, everything from 7th up to 13th was now one hectic madhouse craze. Janik was charging on Sabre, hungry for 7th. While doing that, the Detroiter needed entire focus on his mirrors, where Ray Riddall and Michal Janak had naughty plans. And while all that was going on, a train of Acerclinth, Jundt and Thim was closing in on the madhouse.
Janik shoved his Brabham’s nose under the Matra-wing all the way from Clayton Corner down to Moss. And had a halfhearted look entering the double hairpin. On the following straight, Sabre simply used the power of his Matra to pull away.
Ray Riddall had caught the Brabham now, and used all the power of his V12 BRM to rush ahead of the Brabham along the back straight.
Coxon clocked fastest lap and made the most of his stay behind Johnson’s March. The both of them were indeed putting some distance in between them and Thiago Canola.
Thim got carried away by his thirst for Jundt’s 12th spot and spun his Tyrrell wildly around its axis in Quebec corner. The Swede controlled the spin with ability though and avoided losing any places in the ordeal. He now had Kowalski on his heels however.
“I like you, Kowalski… I like you…,” some groupie was shouting in the grandstands. “I’ve been waiting for you for a long time… Oh, how I’ve waited…”
“Yeah? Since when? Where?” One heard Kowalski think aboard his staggering speed-machine.
“Oh, everywhere… Everywhere, and since forever… Patiently… Patiently… that’s the only way to wait for somebody…”
Janik spun off in the Esses and fell back to 12th but soldiered on.
Kowalski’s patience showed to be rather short lived. On lap 16, he spun in Moss and rejoined the track just as Voigt pulled up the back straight and unleashed his Italian stallion. Voigt had the advantage of momentum and pulled up to the BRM’s bumper. Then, over the crest just before the Esses, came abreast with the BRM; on the outside line. Maybe he was in 17th for a split second. But rather then turning in and risking it all, he wisely backed off, and let Kowalski go.
Patsy boy however ensured to keep a full framed close up view of the BRM’s behind.
David Sabre on Matra, Ray Riddall on BRM and Michal Janak on Ferrari were trying to find out who was the fastest of the V12’s. Sabre seemed to have a hard time keeping the BRM and Ferrari behind in the twisty section from turn one up to Moss. Then the Matra seemed able to pull out a little gap, which had Marcelo wonder whether the Matra was running lower wings.
Further to the front, Johnson and Coxon seemed to slowly close on Jaques.
Kowalski was now running together with teammate Montenegro. On lap 19, they decided to engage in some strange yet synchronized acrobatics over the crest at Clayton corner. Both ended up spinning of the track. The Brazilian’s pirouette came to a stop against the fencing, wrecking the BRM into retirement. Kowalski could pursue his race, but only after Voigt had flashed by. The Pole would retire soon after.
Crazy Pat was now running 16th, with a very safe cushion over Lukas Vydra and with Chapman within reach. The smell of this race was evolving into something increasingly pleasant.
Vydra went wide onto the grass and knocked his rear wing of. The Czech continued but would soon realize that the somewhat altered rear aerodynamics made the car near impossible to drive. Another retirement was a fact.
Coxon had been slightly distracted by Vydra’s excursion and went slightly wide into Moss. It was all Canola needed to grab third from Richard. This race was definitely developing into one that did not allow the smallest lapse of concentration.
Lap 23. Ryon looses the rear of the Ferrari entering the Esses. The car flips around its center and careens off the track backwards. Where it hits the Armco hard. Entire rear suspension torn of the car. Race over.
Voigt moved up to 15th. And declared the hunting season open for anything called Chapman and driving a Surtees. The thrill of racing gradually started engulfing our pit.
Ray Riddall finally managed to get passed Sabre and was now in seventh with the track wide open in front of him. He could start chasing the other Matra of Plaçais.
Not even one third of the race-distance had been covered and the first leaders already came up to lap Voigt.
It prompted Voigt to a closer look at the information board Marcelo was waving at him every time he passed the pits. And suddenly, it hit him. This race already felt like the entire charge at the Cumnur and at Dunbrec and in the High Places all rolled in to one. With Whirrun, and Brack, and Wonderful and all the others standing by him. Fighting with him. Defying the odds with him. And still, this race was not even passed the halfway mark. Any vigor Voigt still had in him, waned rapidly.
The antics of the midfield madhouse had gotten to Sabre. He completely missed his braking for the Esses and slammed his car into retirement.
Craggs slipstreamed himself passed Whited, showing a flash of great potential for future races.
Coxon, now in 4th, was still looking good to move one or two places up and bag a shitload of points in the championship. Till his engine blew on the back straight and the Tyrrell rolled to a standstill. Coxon’s day was done and his points-score would stay at zero. It was up to Watkins Glen to set the scene for the great championship showdown between Riddall and Coxon.
All those retirements now had Voigt up to 13th with still more than half of the race to go. And he was closing in on Chapman every lap.
The battle that had been going on for 7th to 11th position for almost the entire race, caught up with the back-marker’s train of Miller, Craggs and Whited. It was lapping, being lapped, racing, trying to overtake, defending,… all at the same time. And when things get that complicated, one man always seems to surface on top of his game: David Jundt. Once more, before one could even wonder how he did it, there was Jundt, out of nowhere, into 7th.
David Jaques had put in some fastest lap in the meantime and had by now pulled a gap of about 10 seconds on Johnson. Things started looking really rosy for the Canadian ace.
Lap 36: Chapman spins his Surtees entering the Esses. He avoids hitting anything. He avoids damaging the car. He limits the loss of time to a strict minimum. He stays ahead of Voigt. But Voigt now has the Surtees within eyesight.
All that talk about the Cumnur and Dunbrec is forgotten at once as Voigt finds a second breath.
Two laps later, Chapman has a second moment in Moss. Voigt is now on his tail. On the long back straight, Patsy boy pulls up to Chapman’s side. Then opts for the wise move and backs of for the Esses.
Still, the Ferrari now seemed glued to the Surtees’ rear-end. Next time over the back straight, Voigt pulled up on the inside. And this time made the move stick, taking the better of the Surtees into the Esses.
The roles were reversed now. And the Surtees buried its nose into the Ferrari gear-box. Chapman pulled alongside on the back straight a first time. But Voigt smartly used the outside line advantage to enter the Esses faster and stay ahead.
Chapman was discovering that there really is only one place to pass a car around Mosport: the back straight under braking for the Esses. But there, the Ferrari held the advantage due to better traction out of Moss and an abundance of power.
Next time around, Chapman tried again on the run down to the Esses. But again, Voigt fended off the attack. We truly started believing that there was a real racer somewhere within Voigt. And verily enough, the nitwit started to slowly edge away from Chapman.
With 40 laps and half the race distance covered, the running order was now: Jaques in a solid lead. Johnson incredibly second in a shitty old March. Thiago Canola in third in a Surtees. Juha Bos fourth in the sole remaining Lotus, with 5th placed Yves Plaçais still hot on his heels. Ray Riddall was running sixth and earning the last point for BRM.
Rounding out the top ten was a small train of madmen with Jundt, Thim, Janik and Janak.
The odds were turning on Ray Riddall. First, he had a spin in Moss. Ray managed to stay ahead of the train headed by Jundt and hold on to 6th. Then, not even an entire lap later, he went off at Clayton and lost a lot of time on the grass. Jundt went by. Thim went by. So did Janik and Janak. Ray was down to tenth.
But more importantly, Mr Swiss Precision Timing was in the points.
After about 30 laps of trying, Plaçais finally found a way passed Bos, braking later for the Esses. The Matra was back in 4th.
John Thim, obsessed by Jundt’s 6th place, spun a second time. Janak and Janik both miraculously managed to avoid the sliding Tyrrell. As did Ray Riddall and Jonatan Acerclinth. One Swede thus moved up to 10th, relegating another Swede to 11th.
Pretty soon, a war of Swedes was raging around Mosport.
Ray Riddall blew the Bourne engine up into the air soon after and Thim reset the running order of Swedes by getting the better of Acerclinth. For now at least.
Somewhere, Juha Bos had managed to get in front of Plaçais again, putting the Lotus back in 4th.
Janak had now stepped in to perform the “harassing Jundt”-part. On several occasions, he came very close under braking for turn 1. But always seemed to be just short of resources to get the job done.
All the work and effort to catch, stay with and eventually maybe repass Bos would in the end procure Yves Plaçais no joy at all. His engine exploded, pouring a great ball of fire. “You shook my nerves and you rattled my brain, too much racing drives a man insane… You broke my will, oh what a thrill, rocketing greatness, great Matra on fire,” a disillusion stricken Plaçais exclaimed as he clambered out of the blue car.
Voigt was now into the top 10, and any chance of Chapman striking back looked weaker with the moment.
People started getting the impression that the woods surrounding Mosport poured as much humidity as those surrounding the Nordschleife had done. And that its impact on the cars’ electrical systems was as destructive. Jaques electrics anyway went dead and his BRM was left stranded on the side of Moss. An almost certain victory had slipped through his fingers.
Then some Ontarian voodoo seemed to meddle in as Thiago Canola’s Surtees also lost all electricity at exactly the same spot.
Johnson, doing amazing things with his CMG March, now found himself leading the race. And Bos and Jundt were suddenly on the podium. Be it without having much of a shot at Johnson’s lead. Then again, the way this race was now developing, no one really knew what would be up next.
Voigt was now running 8th and soon it was up to Chapman’s electronics to go AWOL. Which left Miller as closest contender about 3 quarters of a lap behind. This was going to be our best result ever.
Thim was engaged in another catch-up race, the one zillionth this weekend, and now had his eye out for Janik’s 5th. The pressure got to the Detroiter and he spun his Brabham into retirement in the Esses.
That moved Voigt up to 7th and we now had a very realistic outlook at scoring our first formula 1-points… ever.
But by now, some of the familiar Voigt blur was setting into idiotic Patrich’s brain. A brain that is very tiny for starters. The thing was, there were too many March 711’s on track for Patsy to comprehend. Some of those were running in front of Voigt. Others were behind him. Some had lapped Patsy. Others were a lap down on our car.
One such was Whited. One lap down, he was running just behind our Fezza. But Voigt, for some reason was convinced that he was fighting Whited for position.
All went well as long as Voigt was ahead and the power of the Ferrari made it rather easy to contain the March.
But then Voigt went wide and off the track entering Moss. Whited unlapped himself. No big deal really. Except that Voigt was convinced that he just lost a position. And so Voigt started hunting the ghost of Whited. While, in truth, there was absolutely nothing to be gained from pulling ahead of the Alfa Romeo powered March.
As always, when chasing ghosts, shit was doomed to hit the fan. In Voigt’s case, that fan was the barrier on the outside of the Esses; and the shit those barriers ripping of our front wheel.
The idiot crippled his mingled car back to the nearby pits, but there was nothing the Ferrari-mechanics could do. Our race was over. Our best result ever… vanished.
John Thim had made it passed Janak and was again on Jundt’s case. But the Swiss is a notoriously coolheaded frog when it comes to cold cases like these. Not even Vera and Jeffries being on Thim’s side would change that.
Thim again succumbed to the nerve-racking steadiness of a Jundt once more maintaining a very even strain. The Swede entered the second part of the Esses too hot and hit the barrier hard. The Tyrrell still seemed roadworthy though, and Thim soldiered on. Be it back in 5th, behind Janak.
Back to Janak to find out how unshakeable Jundt truly was.
With only 8 out of 28 cars left running, action on the track was receding. And, at the exception of the Janak-Jundt thing, cars were largely running in a procession, eager to reach the end of this madness.
Janak was like a sitting duck, waiting to become the next victim of Jundt’s total absence of receptiveness for pressure. He blocked his wheels braking for turn 1 and went straight ahead into the Armco, where he lost his left front wheel. Then bounced back on and across the track into the Armco on the opposite side, where he lost his second front wheel. The last of the Ferrari’s retired from the race.
Only 7 cars were left running now.
The sole remaining question was now whether the flabbergasting Johnson, who had already put a lap on everyone save Juha Bos, would also lap the Lotus?
The race turned out to be one lap short for Sonic Californio to lap the entire field. Still, even if several cars retired, Johnson’s achievement at Mosport was monumental. At least on par with his victory in the German Grand Prix.
Bos was elated to bring second home for Lotus, the best result of the season for the Hethel-team.
Jundt put down another great drive, finishing third.
Acerclinth, Craggs and Whited were the last point scoring finishers. Dave Miller came home 7th, the only finisher not earning points.
But what mainly governed the Mosport paddock after this Grand Prix, was disappointment. Disappointment over cars braking down, disappointment over accidents and incidents. Disappointment over proper mistakes ending in catastrophy.
The fans however, were all but disappointed, because with only the U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen remaining, the battle for the championship promises to be hotter than ever.
Full broadcast of the race is HERE.