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End of the 'British invasion' of Indianapolis


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#1 bartez1000

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 22:37

Hello there, I was recently wondering about one topic.

Starting from the 1961 start of Jack Brabham in Cooper, and continuing in whole decade, there was a growing intrest in this great american race from european drivers and constructors. Several fantastic F1 drivers took part in race, and two of them managed to win. European car builders like Lotus, Brabham or Lola also achieved considerable degree of success. But then, with the end of the decade it pretty much ended. Lotus stopped their indycar effort with an unraced 64, Hulme last started in 1971. 1972 race was All-American again (taking drivers into consideration)

And my question is: Why this happened? :confused:

I think that Indy 500 was still a very important race, with an enormous purse. Why there was no Top Formula One pilots and small amount of european constructors racing there? Mclaren and Lola achieved victories in 1970s so it was certainly possible with some effort. 

 

 



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#2 Bloggsworth

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 23:08

Are you forgetting Reynard and Lola? What about Franchitti, Wheldon, Zanardi and others? If you only consider F1 teams, then the reason is obvious, the expansion of F1 worldwide since Ecclestone became the driving force meant that resources were not available to do the two competitions simultaneously. The F1 season is moving towards 20+ races, how would they fit Indianapolis into their schedule, and anyway, there is no constructor's competition any more, why would McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull want to race cars made by Dallara?



#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 23:13

The main reason is that the World Championship was becoming bigger and more important to sponsors - and thus to the teams. While Indy offered the big bucks, teams could not really justify the expense and effort of preparing cars for just one race, which was always run on a date which pretty much clashed with Monaco. Clark even missed Monaco in 1965 to run at Indy.

 

Also, in 1973-74, the Belgian GP was scheduled for mid-May - which would have further stretched resources for any team wanting to run at the Brickyard. Doing the whole of 'the month of May' was far more important then. From 1975 on, the May/June F1 calendar got even more crowded! F1 drivers were also increasingly being tied into exclusive contracts, so they weren't able to 'guest' at Indy either.

 

As for McLaren and Lola - they were building customer cars, for what was becoming a bigger series.



#4 bartez1000

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 23:28

@Bloggsworth 

Nononono, I'm thinking about the 70's when there was still no Bernie leading F1, smaller teams, cheaper to build cars, not so much diffrences between F1 and USAC regulations etc. I was simply intrested why in 60s there was considerable intrest in Indy by Grand prix drivers, & teams and in 70s not. I am fully aware of modern difficulties, with IndyCar being spec series, much more money involved in Formula One, sponsorship issues, and decline of Indy 500 glory.

 

@Vitesse2 Thanks for info


Edited by bartez1000, 03 January 2014 - 23:30.


#5 Catalina Park

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 01:28

Late 60's early 70's marked the arrival of money. Teams and drivers no longer needed to earn a living. They could earn enough just by staying at home.



#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 14:16

'twas the same with the Tasman Cup...

 

1969 was the last time F1 teams entered, it went to F5000 in 1970 because time had become so important to the F1 teams.



#7 RCH

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 08:20

Did the "British", or perhaps better "foreign" invasion of Indy ever go away? As has been said much more emphasis on F1 kept teams and top F1 drivers away but Indy had been changed fundamentally and continued to be much more cosmopolitan than the purely American enclave it had seemed to be from Europe.

#8 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:01

In 1977 Clay Regazzoni participated in the Indy 500 and did quite well in the race before being sidelined with fuel feed issues. His participation got quite some respect as he performed well in the race and wasn't scared off after a hefty shunted in qualifying. 

That year he raced for Teddy Yip who needed a replacement driver. Still he wasn't the only one from F1 at the Brickyard. He was accompanied by Giulio Borsari, the chief mechanic of Ferrari who passed away in 2013 (and Rega's capo mecano in 1976). Also James Hunt and John Watson were interested visitors and looking at a possible future participation (like what Mario Andretti did). 



#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:14

In 1977 Clay Regazzoni participated in the Indy 500 and did quite well in the race before being sidelined with fuel feed issues. His participation got quite some respect as he performed well in the race and wasn't scared off after a hefty shunted in qualifying. 

That year he raced for Teddy Yip who needed a replacement driver. Still he wasn't the only one from F1 at the Brickyard. He was accompanied by Giulio Borsari, the chief mechanic of Ferrari who passed away in 2013 (and Rega's capo mecano in 1976).

Through his support of Patrick Tambay, Teddy Yip was of course at the time deeply involved with Ensign - for whom Clay drove in F1 in 1977.



#10 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 15:47

Through his support of Patrick Tambay, Teddy Yip was of course at the time deeply involved with Ensign - for whom Clay drove in F1 in 1977.

Indeed! Thank you Vitesse, I forgot to mention the cross link. As well that Borsari's presence was a sign that Ferrari was also having an eye on the Indy. 



#11 B Squared

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 16:23

Also James Hunt and John Watson were interested visitors and looking at a possible future participation (like what Mario Andretti did).


Possibly I'm not properly understanding your meaning here, but Mario first ran the 500 in 1965 finishing third as a rookie. His Formula One debut was over three years later at Watkins Glen in 1968. He didn't observe as an "interested visitor" from Formula One looking at "possible future participation" at any point of his career. Except for not entering the 1979 Indy 500, Mario ran in every Indy Car race at the Speedway from 1965-1994.

#12 rl1856

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 19:50

Probably a convergance of several factors.   Factory involvement by Ford meant that after '64 a ready made engine was available to all.  Ford pulled out after 1970.  By '66 a team could make 1 chassis design (or very similar designs) for both F1 and Indycar.  Migration of Indycar to turbo engines and the resulting jump in speed by 1971 was a fork in the road, with chassis becoming increasingly specialized for the individual series.  Though, the McLaren M23 F1 chassis was derrived from the very successful M16 Indycar.  Expansion of both the GP and Indycar calendars meant it became more difficult for drivers (and teams) to participate in both.



#13 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 20:41

Borsari went to Indy on Clay's expenses, he was sent his air travel ticket directly from Regazzoni as a sign of the deep friendship they shared. [Ref. "E' questione di cuore" and "La Ferrari in tuta"].

I don't think by 1977 Ferrari had any residual interest in Indy. Andretti's "Uncle Franco" Rocchi went undercover in 1971 - until he was uncovered! - and that was it.

Well Ferrari has stated up to 1988 that he always had remained interested to go to Indy. It was one of his ultimate dreams. I am quite sure he at least debriefed Borsari afterwards.



#14 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 20:47

Possibly I'm not properly understanding your meaning here, but Mario first ran the 500 in 1965 finishing third as a rookie. His Formula One debut was over three years later at Watkins Glen in 1968. He didn't observe as an "interested visitor" from Formula One looking at "possible future participation" at any point of his career. Except for not entering the 1979 Indy 500, Mario ran in every Indy Car race at the Speedway from 1965-1994.

I meant to say that Hunt and Watson were there to look at a possible participation and may wanted to look the trade at what Mario did (on several occasions) and go up and down to Indy and race F1 at the same time.



#15 B Squared

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 21:47

I meant to say that Hunt and Watson were there to look at a possible participation and may wanted to look the trade at what Mario did (on several occasions) and go up and down to Indy and race F1 at the same time.

:up:



#16 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 21:56

[We are completely OT, of course, but me too I was surprised to see Regazzoni mentioned in a thread about "British Invasion"]

 

Borsari left Ferrari in November 1977 - he was 52 at the time, way off his retirement - just because he went to Indy without Ferrari's authorization, that's how twisted the Old Man's logic was. Borsari wasn't supposed to accept Clay's generosity and dispose of his own leave as he saw fit. Coming back from the US, he wasn't anymore in the graces, was diverted to the (short-lived) F2 programme and then to the clients' cars assistance, move that Borsari declined and with coherence decided to leave altogether Ferrari. That's how much he was debriefed afterwards, if I may add. Perhaps we should give Borsari credit that it must have been a difficult but brave decision to take. With respect, some of you guys do really believe all your fantasies about Ferrari.

Caro "Regazzoni",

 

Bartez does mention European thrice in his opening post and British between brackets in the title, so....?

Yes, Borsari left Ferrari. 

What fantasy? Ferrari (Enzo) stated Indy so often as an ultimate race to participate and win. OK, maybe we should not take all he said for 100%. But thats another story.

Grazie!



#17 Eaglenindy

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 12:34

Probably a convergance of several factors.   Factory involvement by Ford meant that after '64 a ready made engine was available to all.  Ford pulled out after 1970.  By '66 a team could make 1 chassis design (or very similar designs) for both F1 and Indycar.  Migration of Indycar to turbo engines and the resulting jump in speed by 1971 was a fork in the road, with chassis becoming increasingly specialized for the individual series.  Though, the McLaren M23 F1 chassis was derrived from the very successful M16 Indycar.  Expansion of both the GP and Indycar calendars meant it became more difficult for drivers (and te

 

ams) to participate in both.

 

Spot on rl1856, add into the mix the big money from the tire war between Firestone and Goodyear ended about the end of the 60's also!

 

Firestone was heavily involved in financing the Lotus and Mecom (Lola)  Indy efforts. Goodyear financially supported  McLaren, Eagle (AAR), Brabham and Shelby.  So that would account for most of the drivers, ie: Clark, Hill, Spence, Stewart, Gurney, Hulme, Brabham, Rindt, and Bruce McLaren.  Others such as Masten Gregory, Pedro Rodriquez, Surtees, Amon came over for the bigger prize monies.



#18 Eaglenindy

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 12:41

Probably a convergance of several factors.   Factory involvement by Ford meant that after '64 a ready made engine was available to all.  Ford pulled out after 1970.  By '66 a team could make 1 chassis design (or very similar designs) for both F1 and Indycar.  Migration of Indycar to turbo engines and the resulting jump in speed by 1971 was a fork in the road, with chassis becoming increasingly specialized for the individual series.  Though, the McLaren M23 F1 chassis was derrived from the very successful M16 Indycar.  Expansion of both the GP and Indycar calendars meant it became more difficult for drivers (and teams) to participate in both.

Spot on rl1856!  Add into the mix the huge amount of money spent in the Firestone - Goodyear tire war that ending about 1970.

 

Firestone gave lots of money to Lotus and Mecom (US Lola distributor at the time) while Goodyear helped fund Team McLaren, AAR (Eagle) and Brabham.

 

So that would account for:  Clark, Hill, Spence, Stewart, Hulme, Gurney, Rindt and Brabham.  Others such as Masten Gregory, Rodriquez, Amon and Surtees were either paid for "one offs" or came for the larger prize monies.



#19 D-Type

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 13:10

On the driver front, the number of British drivers at top level dropped after the Clark/Hill/Stewart era.  Only James Hunt and John Watson come to mind.  So  maybe theresimply wasn't any British driver considered good enough to offer a drive to. 

Also, the American teams had [nearly] all moved over to rear-engined cars whether imported, such as Lola, Lotus or March, or home-grown, such as Hawk and Eagle, so the distinction of "US drivers know how to drive roadsters" while "European (or British) drivers know how to drive rear-engined cars"  no longer existed.



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#20 BRG

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 13:25

Was there any adverse reaction in the US racing establishment to Hill and Clark turning up and making it all look a bit easy?  I recall that when the IRL split from CART, they said that it would be for American drivers rather than all those foreigners in CART.  If they had that attitude then, perhaps it was stronger, if unspoken, back in the 1970s?



#21 E.B.

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Posted 07 January 2014 - 14:42

I wouldn't have said Hill made it look easy, he was barely noticed on his first visit, and many (wrongly) dispute his lucky win to this day. His joke about sponsoring a new trophy for the highest placed American driver was priceless - but it somewhat backfired on him.

The invasion did of course mean the death knell for the beloved roadsters, which was probably as much a reason as any for the adverse reaction in some quarters.
 



#22 Jim Thurman

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 17:00

Was there any adverse reaction in the US racing establishment to Hill and Clark turning up and making it all look a bit easy?  I recall that when the IRL split from CART, they said that it would be for American drivers rather than all those foreigners in CART.  If they had that attitude then, perhaps it was stronger, if unspoken, back in the 1970s?

 

Don't judge based on the IRL, there was other motivation behind that.  There was an exceptionally loud xenophobic streak from some media quarters, and sadly, it seems their agenda influenced the whole situation/creation.  Only Mr. George can answer how much of an earworm (and impetus) they truly provided.

 

More of it in the 60s was like what E.B. wrote above.  I think most of the anti crowd in the 60s were some media and old line fans and even all but the worst of them had nothing but respect for Hill, Clark, Stewart, et al.  Mauri Rose raved about Jim Clark, saying he thought Clark was the best driver he'd ever seen.



#23 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 17:58

Wasn't Mauri Rose a good judge.

 

Early on some of the Brits at Indy were split between loving the place, really appreciating how welcome they were made by some people, and absolutely detesting the place, being regarded as know-nothing foreigners intent upon somehow subverting the venue, and its style and traditions, by virtual Goddam-pinko/commie un-American activities - like growing their hair longer than an inch, painting a car green and putting its engine in the wrong end...  Colin Chapman was entranced upon his first visit, in 1962, telling me how he'd seen all these old front-engined four-bangers pitching and slewing their way round, like something straight out of the Tripoli Grand Prix or somesuch, pre-war.  What he'd also seen, of course, was exactly what Dan Gurney had flown him there to see...the opportunity for a contemporary F1-derived car to win easy money, and lots of it.  Oh how Chunky's eyes must have lit up.

 

DCN



#24 Bob Riebe

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 21:02

I wouldn't have said Hill made it look easy, he was barely noticed on his first visit, and many (wrongly) dispute his lucky win to this day. His joke about sponsoring a new trophy for the highest placed American driver was priceless - but it somewhat backfired on him.

The invasion did of course mean the death knell for the beloved roadsters, which was probably as much a reason as any for the adverse reaction in some quarters.
 

It hastened the end of front engine cars.

As can be seen by a few FE cars that were created around that time, the "roadster" as we know it, was actually dead whether removed by rear-engined cars or more sophisticated front engined cars.

 

What are to day called super-modifieds is what would probably be running there had Brahbam and Cooper not showed up,although who knows what Yunick and Thomspson might have spawned without Chapman.



#25 szautke

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 19:46

What are to day called super-modifieds is what would probably be running there had Brahbam and Cooper not showed up,although who knows what Yunick and Thomspson might have spawned without Chapman.

 

Have to agree a bit with Bob...some railbirds like to think that "traditional roadsters" would had gone on indefinitely.  However, as technology evolves, things change, if USAC would had banned rear-engine configurations, they most likely would’ve looked like the supermodifieds seen at tracks such as Oswego.

 

I certainly agree with Mr. Nye, Dan and Colin did see “easy money.”  If it wasn’t for USAC favoritism, poor tire selection and a pair of loose race cars, Lotus could’ve won four straight at the Brickyard.