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Surtees Mosport crash


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#1 dbltop

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 17:10

I was wondering if anyone had some information on the 1965 Can-Am crash. Where on the circuit was it, what caused it, was it during testing or was it a race weekend? Thanks in advance.



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#2 Tim Murray

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 17:31

It happened at a race weekend, during Friday practice for the Canadian GP. Surtees was accelerating past the pits towards the downhill right hand corner when the Lola lost a front wheel after a front upright failed. It was later established that the upright failed because of a fault introduced when it was cast.



#3 dbltop

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 18:20

Thank you for the quick reply. Turn one is fast and there is not much of a run off area now, I imagine it was much worse in 1965.



#4 kayemod

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 18:44

It happened at a race weekend, during Friday practice for the Canadian GP. Surtees was accelerating past the pits towards the downhill right hand corner when the Lola lost a front wheel after a front upright failed. It was later established that the upright failed because of a fault introduced when it was cast.

 

This has always puzzled me slightly, not the fact that something broke on a Lola, but the injuries John suffered, did his seat belts fail, he was half thrown out of the car wasn't he? Surely that shouldn't have happened. Although the likes of Wikipedia tell us that he made "a full recovery", you never really do from something like that, yet another sufferer from "the Lola limp", and lucky to be alive at all.



#5 Tim Murray

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 18:46

It's interesting that the car Surtees crashed was that of his team-mate Jackie Stewart. Stewart had been unhappy with his car and asked Surtees to try a few laps in it. It could so easily have happened to Jackie ...

#6 D-Type

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Posted 06 September 2013 - 21:05

"a front upright failed", "Stewart had been unhappy with his car".  Had Jackie detected it?



#7 Catalina Park

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 01:23

Would it have even had seat belts?



#8 sprite

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 01:40

Stewart's car definitely had seat belts. I have a photograph clearly showing them.



#9 Catalina Park

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 01:56

I just went digging and it looks like Stewart's car had belts and Surtees' car didn't. 
So would he have buckled up just because the car had belts?



#10 Tim Murray

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 06:24

In the book John Surtees - World Champion Surtees says:

 

The car was fitted with a harness but whether the mountings pulled out of the chassis or not I just don't know.

 

This implies that he was using them.



#11 Catalina Park

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 10:42

In the book John Surtees - World Champion Surtees says:

 

 

This implies that he was using them.

It would imply he doesn't know or he won't say. You can usually tell if the mounts have been pulled out! 

The other thing I have just realised is this means that Jackie Stewart was using a harness before his Spa crash.



#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 11:07

I would think that the very fact that Surtees' car didn't have belts means that he didn't want them...

 

If he didn't want them, is it likely that he'd put them on because they were there?

 

It was still a good three years before they became more universally accepted.



#13 Tim Murray

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 11:44

I think he just doesn't know. He says in the book that he remembers climbing into the car but then nothing more until he woke up four days later in hospital, where he remained for more than three months. From the sound of it he never saw the crash remains. He was very keen to learn the cause of the accident, and was very relieved when the upright failure was pinpointed as then he knew it wasn't driver error, but doesn't seem to have been too concerned about any other aspects of the post-crash investigation.

 

The two Team Surtees T70s were an older car (SL70/1) and a newer model (SL71/16) which Surtees had used for the first time to win the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch at the end of August, with Stewart third in the older car. In the book Surtees says that following ''comments' from Stewart they agreed to swap cars for the North American races. It would be interesting to know whether the newer car came with belts but the older car didn't, or whether Stewart made sure that whichever car he drove was fitted with the belts.

 

 

 



#14 bartez1000

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 11:47

Photos from crash:

http://www.documenti...1965mosport.jpg

http://www.documenti...osport1965b.jpg



#15 pete53

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 12:11

That first picture of JS under the car is interesting in the sense that more often than not a driver is thrown clear of the car in accident when a seat harness is not in use, particularly if the car rolls. I know that is not always the case, for example, in a single seater when a tight fitting cockpit can inhibit full ejection. However, I would have thought that with the slightly more spacious seating area of a sports car a driver would have been likely to be fully ejected in a big accident, especially if the car was travelling at a considerable speed.

 

As a footnote I have just come across a picture of John in his Lola in Autosport a couple of weeks before the accident, with the caption "John Surtees tries out a special Britax safety belt recently fitted to his T70. In private motoring too, Surtees is a firm believer in safety belts."


Edited by pete53, 07 September 2013 - 12:47.


#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 14:11

While this is being discussed, I'd like to add here that this crash was one of the most disappointing events in motor racing to me in this period...

 

I was so keenly looking forward to the potential visit to our shores of Surtees in a Ferrari for the Tasman Cup races! It apparently seemed that Surtees was coming our way in '66 but that it was prevented by this crash.



#17 RVM

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 14:20

The SCCA and USAC both required the mountings for seat belts and the belts installed, even if the latter were not used by the driver.

 

The Surtees crash, as seen in the photographs, was a very serious situation given that the car overturned.

 

I recall seeing a photograph somewhere taken in 1965 of Stewart sitting in a Lola T70 wearing what appears to be a harness -- there being what looks like the straps very visible in the photo.

 

As an aside, it was not a Can-Am race, the series not kicking off until the following year, but rather part of what was generally thought of as the North American Fall Pro Season.



#18 JB Miltonian

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 18:13

The report in Competition Press says:

 

"Observers at the track said Surtees entered the corner normally but at the apex sheered outward, striking a soft earth bank and shooting skyward to crash downhill upside down in soft sand.  Track marshals immediately dove under the overturned car to pull Surtees face from the sand and turn off the ignition, as the wreck was flooded with gas from still operative fuel pumps.  Surtees was extracted and rushed to the hospital.  The car was totally wrecked and collapsed in pieces under attempts to right it."



#19 kayemod

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 19:00

The car was totally wrecked and collapsed in pieces under attempts to right it."

 

That's a Lola...



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#20 RJE

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 09:47

I actually saw the accident happen. 

 

A friend and I were standing on the inside of turn one watching the closing stages of the practice/qualifying.  The Lola came into view going pretty quickly and for some reason that we could not see, suddenly appeared to have a total loss of grip and went off sideways, at an angle before vaulting the bank and guardrail, rolling and vanishing from our view.  The guardrail formed the protection over a culvert tunnel through which cars and pedestrians could gain access to the circuits infield.  The track which went into the culvert was some eight or ten feet below the level of the circuit.  The track had a sort of grass triangle in the centre which I suppose allowed vehicles to pass each other before entering the culvert, it was on this triange that the Lola landed.

 

The two of us raced through the tunnel and along with a couple of other people who had seen what happened came upon the scene as shown in the previous  photographs.  In fact I must be standing within a few feet of where the pictures were taken.  We saw JS under the car with the tub laying across his back and feared the worst.  However medical help soon arrived and along with the now growing crowd helped to try and pick the car up while it's driver was released.

 

Later that evening we went back to look at the road and found something which has always puzzled me.  There were four distinct tyre marks on the road going off in the direction that the car took.  Bearing in mind the analogy that suggested that something broke on the car I could never understand this.  In fact I still hold a recollection of the car simply understeering off the road.  The road at that point falls away quite steeply from the pit straight and with the aerodynamics of the day the likelyhood is not too far fetched.  Some years later when I worked for JS I asked him about it but he told me that unfortunatly he has little or no memory of the whole incident.  He did however say that he still suffered some pain in his lower back as a result of the crash.



#21 dbltop

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 04:30

The tunnel is still there, although it is now a double culvert pipe, one each to enter and exit. 



#22 D-Type

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 12:33

~

Later that evening we went back to look at the road and found something which has always puzzled me.  There were four distinct tyre marks on the road going off in the direction that the car took.  Bearing in mind the analogy that suggested that something broke on the car I could never understand this.  In fact I still hold a recollection of the car simply understeering off the road.  The road at that point falls away quite steeply from the pit straight and with the aerodynamics of the day the likelyhood is not too far fetched.  Some years later when I worked for JS I asked him about it but he told me that unfortunatly he has little or no memory of the whole incident.  He did however say that he still suffered some pain in his lower back as a result of the crash.

Depending on how the front upright failed, it is feasible that all four wheels stayed on the road. The steering force would be reduced which would lead to the car understeering off similar to the efffect of letting go of the wheel or slackening your grip.  The presence of visible tyre marks suggests braking or significant sideways skidding movement from a fruitless attempt to fight the skid.



#23 RJE

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 16:52

I could not agree more with you, however I think there are two points worthy of note. 

 

The photographs show that the left hand side of the tub and suspension has taken a substantial impact and this is the area that would have hit first causing the car to turn over.  The impact could well have caused the upright to break, possibly across a casting fault as previously mentioned.  The report that quotes that it was the right hand upright that broke I find odd.  That wheel would have been the lightest loaded in Turn One at Mosport, which is a predominatly right hand track.  Likewise the pictures would suggest that the right hand front wheel is still in somewhere near the right place.

 

The second point worth mentioning is that T70s seemed to have a habit of going 'aero-dynamically light' at high speed at this time which could have caused the lack of grip that I thought I saw.  This last point is exeplified in an accident that I also saw and that too was at Mosport.  Walt Hansgen driving John Mecom's car litterally took off at the point where the back straight hill flattens out making it impossible to take the right hand bend that followed.  He left the road at very high speed and only stopped a long distance off the circuit when the car hit an electricity pole.  With a group of people I walked back to the pits with a very shaken Hansgen who swore



#24 RJE

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 17:16

Sorry about that I was called out mid post! Please bear with me and I will continue.

 

Hansgen swore never to get in one of thoughs cars again.  The second incident that makes the point is Hugh Dibley's enormous accident at St Jovite when his car again launched itself and left the road and if I recall landed in the woods on a tree stump.  I remember seeing the car in the paddock later with a hole in the floor. 

 

One final point before I shut up.  I would take exception to the press report that the car fell to bits when it attemps were made to move it.  True the bodywork was trash and the a couple of the corners were in a bad way but the tub was still more or less in one piece and the roll over bar, which by todays standards was pretty rudementary, probably saved JS considerabley more harm.



#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 21:00

Thanks for adding that 'on-the-spot' information...

 

I never knew anything about the crash, just that it had stopped my hero from coming here to race. In fact, we'd heard of the airborne Lolas at Mosport before and simply assumed that had been the case again.



#26 RA Historian

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 13:27


Hansgen swore never to get in one of thoughs cars again. 

But he did drive Lola T-70s for the rest of the season, winning at Galveston and Laguna Seca.



#27 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 05:15

But he did drive Lola T-70s for the rest of the season, winning at Galveston and Laguna Seca.

 

Indeed...my brother and I watched Hansgen hold off Hap Sharp's Chaparral at Laguna Seca...great race, great memories !

 

Vince H.



#28 Manfred Cubenoggin

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 10:47

The monster shunt of Big John plus the pulling of the entry for JYS were, indeed, lamentable but those facts did go far in setting up one of the most exciting races ever staged at Mosport with Jim Hall's race-long pursuit of Bruce McLaren.  Hall did not log a qualifying time and started P18.  Bruce lead away from pole position.  This set the stage for a magnificent charge that took 98 of the 100 laps before Hall nabbed the lead for a popular win.