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Seat belts chez Team Lotus


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#1 doc knutsen

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 09:23

I am trying to think when Team Lotus started fitting seat belts to their works cars. The reason for this is that model makers Tamiya recently brought out a Lotus 33 plastic kit, which was recently reviewed in one of the model hobby magazines. I have built Tamiya's earlier Type 25 model which captures the real thing very well, and the 33 model is to join it before too long. The fellow who built and described the latest kit in the magazine, had added some aftermarket details to the model, including a set of seat belts "for added realism". Qute aparts from the belts being clearly marked "Sabelt", the concept of seat belts in a period Lotus Type 33 seems incorrect. I recall JYS being among the pioneers, but when were belts fitted by Team Lotus?


Edited by doc knutsen, 28 August 2022 - 09:24.


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#2 MarkBisset

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 10:09

ADC6814-A-D356-44-A6-8076-FF71-CE81-C8-B

 

I suspect the first belts fitted to works cars were the Lotus 29 Fords at Indy in 1963 as they were mandated by the USAC.

 

Dan is shown above during the 29's first test at Indy in March 1963. Note the symmetrical suspension at this stage- and of course the four-point harness.

 

In GP cars, Rindt’s Tasman Cup 49s were so equipped in January/Feb 1969, but Mario Andretti’s 49 was fitted with belts at Monza in September 1968, ditto Watkins Glen. 
 

The first? maybe, let’s find an earlier case…

 

2-B9-F27-A1-1-A60-4-F8-D-A34-F-07451-EB6

 

Andretti. Chapman and 49 before Mario put it on pole at Watkins Glen in 1968


Edited by MarkBisset, 29 August 2022 - 05:35.


#3 Doug Nye

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 10:35

Lotus 33 - In period, I do not think so...  The model reviewer ought to review his own work.

 

DCN



#4 Tim Murray

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 11:24

My understanding is that Jackie Oliver was the first Lotus F1 driver to have belts fitted to his car, following his massive accident at Rouen in 1968.

#5 MarkBisset

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 12:36


77-EF84-A3-0-FBC-4-DE1-9-C00-559-CCEEB25

 

You may well be correct Tim - here he is at Brands, the following GP fitted with belts. Trumps Mario 

 

m



#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 12:41

Just one week before Niel Allen's big crash...

 

I keep mentioning this was the turning point for most people, and for officialdom.



#7 bradbury west

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 14:36

Ray, this is also  another chance to mention the critically valid work done by Dr Michael Henderson on the role of, and need for, seatbelts in racing cars.

Dr Henderson also did a well received paper on fire risks and their consequences in aeroplane accidents, which is also applicable in other arenas of action.

Roger Lund

 

edit. correction of predictive text…


Edited by bradbury west, 28 August 2022 - 14:37.


#8 Doug Nye

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 17:40

I was involved with proof reading etc during Patrick Stephens Ltd's production of Dr Mike's landmark book.  It made fascinating reading and concentrated (influenced) many minds, including those who were able to bring about change. 

 

Of course some of my closest friends - and mentors - rubbished the entire business as "a bunch of jessies" emasculating motor racing, pandering to the most craven of character traits.

 

But having seen the misery inflicted on some left behind I (eventually) would see the light.  Immediate postwar attitudes to life being fleeting and cheap - so both participants and spectators should just enjoy or marvel at what we could enact (or see enacted) before us - were changing very rapidly.  The march of civilisation had caught up with motor sport. It did not - in every way - improve it, but has caused less misery...

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 28 August 2022 - 20:44.


#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 22:09

Roger, you are so right...

 

Implicit in the Niel Allen comment is the fact that Dr Michael Henderson was the one who convinced Niel to use six-point belts. Very few others followed his advice prior to Niel's horrendous crash.



#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 23:21

In the same issue of Racing Car News as the report on the race meeting at which Niel crashed appeared, Dr Michael Henderson had this article about the results of it...
 

0822fr0968henderson1.jpg

 

0822fr0968henderson2.jpg



#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 August 2022 - 23:31

Of note in the pictures is, as I have described elsewhere, Niel in the remains of the tub lying on its side...

 

Also of note is the fact that the whole crew and a marshal have run to the scene. I described previously how the ambulance at the other end of the circuit was running around in circles looking for a way to get there while the one serving this section sat beside the control tower, its driver unconcerned, and when moved to action he drove quite slowly to the scene.

 

Wayne Eckersly, as I recall, was first to reach the scene. Peter Molloy is at the left in that pic, apparently supporting Niel's head.

 

Peter was to have nightmares for years that the crash was his fault, I have recently learned. He had lightened the steering arms on the front uprights and one of them was broken, though who's to say whether it broke and caused the crash or it was broken in the crash.

 

Niel later on consulted Jim Bertram, showing him an original steering arm and asking Jim if he thought it could be safely lightened... basically Jim said, "No, I don't think so."



#12 TerryS

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Posted 29 August 2022 - 04:34

Does anyone know if this Lotus 33 kit is available in Australia?



#13 Geoff E

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Posted 29 August 2022 - 10:43

In The Guinness Guide to Grand Prix Motor Racing (1980) in a section called "Formula 1 - the 1961 regulations", Eric Dimmock wrote-

 

"Seat belt attachments were demanded although there was as yet no obligation on drivers to wear them."



#14 moffspeed

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Posted 29 August 2022 - 11:05

I guess this prompts the question as to whether Jimmy Clark ever drove (excepting his Indy Car adventures) a Works Lotus or other competition car with belts/harnesses. I have seen various photos of Lotus 40 scale models with him apparently belted up - but we know model makers can get it wrong. In the States (Riverside) perhaps he did.

 

I think Jimmy was belt-less when 3 wheeling around Brands etc in his Lotus Cortina which seems ironic given the fact that contemporaneously my father would insist that I was  safely strapped in an Irvin belt whilst bumbling around the Cardiff suburbs at 20mph in our humble Ford Corsair. Maybe dad's wartime experiences studying aircraft accidents and advising on harness design coloured his judgement.

 

Any mention of Lotus F1 cars and seat belts jogs two sad memories for me. Rindt's fatal accident during which he "submarined" and received devastating neck injuries (he wasn't a fan of crotch straps) and Gunnar Nilsson's insistence on loose crotch straps to ease the burden of the tumour that was yet to be diagnosed/disclosed... 



#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 August 2022 - 11:24

I wouldn't have thought that the '61 regulations would have given any thought to belt mountings, much less belts...

 

I can't say I've ever seen a belt mounting in a race car which didn't have a belt attached.



#16 Emery0323

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Posted 29 August 2022 - 17:49

I guess this prompts the question as to whether Jimmy Clark ever drove (excepting his Indy Car adventures) a Works Lotus or other competition car with belts/harnesses. I have seen various photos of Lotus 40 scale models with him apparently belted up - but we know model makers can get it wrong. In the States (Riverside) perhaps he did.

This reminds me of an anecdote from Andy Granatelli's "They Call Me Mr 500" memoir, published in the early 1970's:

 

The first year that STP sponsored Lotus,  in 1966, Granatelli was talking to Jim Clark in the car right before Jim went out to qualify. 

Granatelli said that he had a nervous habit of wanting to fasten his drivers' belts for them while they were in the car - a protective / paternal instinct, perhaps?

He gripped Jimmy's belt so hard, he said he tore it (!?), and that Jimmy gripped Granatelli's hand to stop him.   "A grip like steel",  Granatelli remembered.

Jim Clark tucked the broken belt in a way that the stewards could not see the defective belt, and went out and qualified 2nd. 

Interesting story, but I'm puzzled how Granatelli was able to tear or damage a safety belt with his bare hands.



#17 doc knutsen

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Posted 29 August 2022 - 18:09

Does anyone know if this Lotus 33 kit is available in Australia?

Well Tamiya of Japan, model kit makers par excellence, are a lot closer to Australia than to the parts of Northern Europe where this is written. Suggest you check with your local hobby shops/Tamiya dealers. The kit is a Tamiya/Ebbro joint effort, scale 1:20, and the kit is number 20027. What you may not know, are the following gems from the kit building review: "In 1965,Team Lotus was the first team to introduce a monocoque chassis made of assembled aluminium sheets to the world of F1".

 The team also "improved the engine exhaust pipe to be more effective in exhausting air, and placed it between the suspension arms on the underside of the car body in the middle of the season." The author concludes the build by saying that he wholeheartedly recommends this kit to anyone looking to add a Lotus sports car to their collection....


Edited by doc knutsen, 29 August 2022 - 18:10.


#18 bradbury west

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Posted 29 August 2022 - 19:52

I suspect that period Team Lotus  in house photographer Peter Darley, of this parish, may have some useful information about  JC and seat belts.

Roger Lund



#19 MarkBisset

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Posted 29 August 2022 - 22:45

2-E7019-E4-8-F3-C-4050-AA34-F22-A6267381

 

No sign of belts in the Lotus 30 Ford during the 1964 LA Times GP/Riverside 200 above, or with the ‘ten more mistakes’ Lotus 40 12 months hence below

 

[url=https://postimg.cc/c6BVxYSh]01-C6-F910-3-E5-A-4-B77-A5-B4-74346985-E[/

url]

 

Parnelli Jones won in a Cooper King Cobra in 1964, Penske was second in a Chaparral 2A Chev, Clark was third, Mike Spence didn't start.

 

Hap Sharp's Chaparral 2A Chev won in 1965 from Clark, and Bruce McLaren's McLaren Elva Mk2 Olds


Edited by MarkBisset, 29 August 2022 - 23:38.


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#20 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 30 August 2022 - 09:04

Coming from a speedway background  harness seatbelts were used from the early 60s. 3 or 4 point.

I had 3 point harness's im my roadcar in 1970. And in our 'bush' speedway everyone used a 3 point lap sash belt. I used two. going both left and right. Held me in the seat a bit better too. This probably 68. Though the seat was a very basic bucket seat from a roadcar. Even in 1980 I was using a roadcar seat that had to be replaced after the dog ate it!!  Though I was using a 4 point harness

It amazes me that F1 was so backward, most cars without belts even in 1970. Though the lay down seating position left a lot to be desired.



#21 Glengavel

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Posted 30 August 2022 - 09:45

Well Tamiya of Japan, model kit makers par excellence, are a lot closer to Australia than to the parts of Northern Europe where this is written. Suggest you check with your local hobby shops/Tamiya dealers. The kit is a Tamiya/Ebbro joint effort, scale 1:20, and the kit is number 20027. What you may not know, are the following gems from the kit building review: "In 1965,Team Lotus was the first team to introduce a monocoque chassis made of assembled aluminium sheets to the world of F1".

 The team also "improved the engine exhaust pipe to be more effective in exhausting air, and placed it between the suspension arms on the underside of the car body in the middle of the season." The author concludes the build by saying that he wholeheartedly recommends this kit to anyone looking to add a Lotus sports car to their collection....

 

But is it a 33 with a 25 tub or the later 33 with a new tub?

 

https://www.britmode...o-lotus-33-120/

 

There was considerable discussion on this topic in here some time ago.



#22 Charlieman

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Posted 30 August 2022 - 09:50

I recently re-read "Racing and Sports Car Chassis Design", Costin and Phipps, 2nd edition 1965. The book describes many Lotus designs including the 25 and Elite.

 

I don't recall any mention of seat belts, for which the shoulder height mounting points would require unusual load paths to be considered at the design stage. Does anyone have photos of contemporary mounting points for racing Elites or single seaters?



#23 D-Type

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Posted 30 August 2022 - 10:30

This reminds me of an anecdote from Andy Granatelli's "They Call Me Mr 500" memoir, published in the early 1970's:

 

The first year that STP sponsored Lotus,  in 1966, Granatelli was talking to Jim Clark in the car right before Jim went out to qualify. 

Granatelli said that he had a nervous habit of wanting to fasten his drivers' belts for them while they were in the car - a protective / paternal instinct, perhaps?

He gripped Jimmy's belt so hard, he said he tore it (!?), and that Jimmy gripped Granatelli's hand to stop him.   "A grip like steel",  Granatelli remembered.

Jim Clark tucked the broken belt in a way that the stewards could not see the defective belt, and went out and qualified 2nd. 

Interesting story, but I'm puzzled how Granatelli was able to tear or damage a safety belt with his bare hands.

Perhaps it snagged on a protruding sharp edge or point that started a tear.



#24 Charlieman

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Posted 30 August 2022 - 11:08

Perhaps it snagged on a protruding sharp edge or point that started a tear.

Come on, Duncan, use your engineering head! Car and aircraft seat belts of the 1960s were woven from very small diameter fibres. When the belts wore a bit over pivot points, the fluffy broken fibre resembled very fine wool and only a few fibres broke.

 

Does anyone remember the paper-like covers used for 5.25" computer disks. At the cheap end of the market, the covers were just paper. At the expensive end, the covers were made from a chopped strand material. It was as thin as paper, but impossible to tear by hand. Maybe competitors in The World's Strongest Man show might have caused some damage.

 

Aircraft and racing car seatbelts are "lifed" and road car seat belts are often replaced after a serious accident. I assume this is about plastic deformation and/or cyclical load -- direct loads causing direct stress.



#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 30 August 2022 - 12:34

Originally posted by Lee Nicolle
.....I had 3 point harnesses im my roadcar in 1970.....


You would have been booked if you didn't. It was in 1970 that the use of belts became mandatory in every state in Australia, even in cars not originally fitted with them.

.....It amazes me that F1 was so backward, most cars without belts even in 1970. Though the lay down seating position left a lot to be desired.


They were there. They were mandated in either late '68 or early '69.

#26 doc knutsen

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Posted 30 August 2022 - 20:36

But is it a 33 with a 25 tub or the later 33 with a new tub?

 

https://www.britmode...o-lotus-33-120/

 

There was considerable discussion on this topic in here some time ago.

I do not know, as I have the kit on order from the UK but it has not arrived yet.


Edited by doc knutsen, 30 August 2022 - 20:39.


#27 Michael Oliver

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Posted 09 September 2022 - 21:33

It is definitely a Lotus 25 tub with the 'cranked' inner tub skins. Although the designation may have changed from 25 to 33, the cars continued to use these tubs. It wasn't until R10 came along that the first 33 tub with straight-sided inner skins was seen.

#28 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 10 September 2022 - 02:26

You would have been booked if you didn't. It was in 1970 that the use of belts became mandatory in every state in Australia, even in cars not originally fitted with them.


They were there. They were mandated in either late '68 or early '69.

A 3 point racing harness. And no belts were not required in cars made without them. Many had no anchor points. 1966 had cars required to be fitted with anchor points in the front.

There is still alot of collector cars about without belts. I feel so vulnerable riding in them!!



#29 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 September 2022 - 07:07

Actually, it was 1971...
 
In Australia, front-seat seat belts became compulsory in 1969, and belts were required on all seats by 1971. It's also been compulsory to wear a seat belt since 1971, no belt, no passenger.

#30 MarkBisset

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Posted 08 October 2022 - 03:36

645-CA3-AB-C165-4-D92-9655-AF6-B47-F19-E

 

Back to six-point harnesses...

 

Having not read Brit/Aussie Michael Henderson's Motor Racing in Safety : The Human Factors - and communicating with Raymond Bell Esq about same - I found this excerpt of Henderson's life on his webpage which is well worth a read generally, and specifically in relation to his race safety involvement and achievements; Michael Henderson | Michael & Norma (michaelandnorma.com)

 

I see from an earlier TNF thread that the first to wear a six-point belt - of Michael's design (made by Willans) was JYS in a BRM P83 at the Nurburgring in 1967 (shot above at Watkins Glen that year).

 

DD65-B7-F0-4-AF1-4991-A610-65-E008-AEB8-

 

Henderson's piece says that he used a Britax made belt, to his design, in his Mallock U2 throughout 1966, with none other than Max Mosley the second customer. I bet Maxxie's crew could never do his crutch straps up tight enuff...cheap shot, but an easy one... 

 

7-B5-F63-B9-AC6-D-4-B0-F-9430-E57-EC0675

 

This helps me at least, with the sequencing of seat belt usage, while acknowledging how 'belt practices in the US really led on this from the late pre-War era.

 

Photos : Michael Henderson

 

A7417497-059-D-4910-9-F2-C-28-ED9-DA42-E


Edited by MarkBisset, 08 October 2022 - 03:57.


#31 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 October 2022 - 14:20

Combining the importance of Michael Henderson's work with the first appearance of a harness on a (serious) Lotus open-wheeler outside of Indycars:
 
Racing Car News,1968 – A Matter of Survival

The article properly introduced Australians to Michael Henderson, explaining that he’d come to Australia in February to join the Editorial team of the Medical Journal of Australia. His history included being the parachutist doctor for the RAF team in Cyprus. The article was published shortly before the release of Motor Racing in Safety – the Human Factors.

Giving the background to his research into the subject, Michael explained that he investigated ‘every single damaging accident in British motor racing in 1967, whether or not the driver was injured.’

His findings, as he searched to prove or disprove his theories (and the widely-held belief that to be ‘thrown clear’) were correct. He found that every driver who was ejected from a single-seater was injured to some extent, many severely. And that no driver who stayed inside the car as it overturned was badly hurt. Just one driver out of 78 could say he was lucky to be thrown out.

And so he came to Australia and just a month or two later two serious crashes occurred at Bathurst. His story about those:
 

Elsewhere you will read how Johnny Harvey narrowly escaped with his life, and how Leo Geoghegan was lucky to get away with severe bruising in crashes during practice at Bathurst.

Harvey was half-ejected, slammed his head on something hard, and fractured his skull. (Crash helmets only add a few mph to the survivable impact speed). What is extraordinary is that Harvey, a safety-minded driver, usually wears restraint harness – but not on this occasion!*

Geoghegan spun at high speed, clipped a tree, mowed down a row of fence posts – then, at not more than 20 – 30 mph, the Lotus gently tipped him out. At this speed he was still bruised enough to keep him quietly at home for a good few days. If he had been thrown out earlier in the shunt, he could be in hospital now. Neither his car nor Harvey’s suffered any cockpit distortion to speak of – though both were extensively bent otherwise.

Leo is now fitting a restraint harness. Johnny Harvey won’t race again without one, I’m sure. Kevin Bartlett had one fitted straight away, before the race. Fred Gibson was sitting pretty, already well-secured into Niel Allen’s Brabham. A minor revolution in racing safety thinking is quietly taking place.

If it is indeed so that Geoghegan was to have a harness fitted for his next outing, this Lotus was raced with a harness on May 19. If he missed that meeting, the next was June 9.

It seems that all of Niel’s cars had harnesses fitted during 1967, the Brabham Gibson (mostly) drove was refitted in March, 1968, with a Willans 6-point harness (RCN April, 1968) and it’s easy to assume that the McLaren M4a and the (Elfin) Traco Olds had them fitted at the same time.



* I feel sure that I read in The Rise and Fall of Peter Brock that Harvey's Brabham, newly purchased by the Bob Jane team, hadn't had the harness fitted due to a shortage of time. Rather than have it poorly fitted, Harvey elected to go without. Does anyone have access to the book to check this?

#32 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 October 2022 - 16:07

Further to the John Harvey use of a harness...

 

0922-RCN867harveybelts.jpg

Public Notice. The tone of this Bits & Pieces article in the August, 1967, Racing Car News makes it clear there was a movement afoot in Australia to have drivers of open cars belted in.

 

The Surfers Paradise meeting at which he first raced with them was on August 27 that year, this being in the R C Phillips Brabham BT14 fitted with a Repco V8. He then had them fitted to the BT11a into which the Repco V8 was transferred when he went to drive for Bob Jane. Harvey recorded in the above-mentioned book that he had been through all the 'better to be thrown out' arguments years before in midget racing at the speedways.

 

As an aside, Kevin Bartlett recalls fitting a harness to his Morris Minor convertible he raced in the late fifties. "I remember where I got it, too," he told me, "at a disposals store in Botany. It was a harness from a DC3."

 

Of interest is the fact that Jackie Stewart's first use in the BRM was on August 6 at the Nurburgring, just three weeks prior to Harvey's first run with belts on.



#33 MarkBisset

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Posted 11 October 2022 - 02:25

ACCA2764-B1-D7-450-D-87-EB-C6-C4-BA82-CF

 

A couple of photos of Fred Gibson in the NE Allen ex-Gardner-Mildren Brabham BT16 Climax in 1967.

 

I've no idea of dates Ray. The first appears to be from an AMC article on Fred, PR shot after fitment of the belt by Henderson. The autopics Lakeside shot is dated 1967 but isn't (ORC) the June Gold Star round. Dunno which meeting.

 

D45-DDEFF-D43-F-4-BE0-BB7-F-D11-EE671526

 

The final one is a 'give the credit where it's due shot', the 'belted Lance Reventlow aboard a Scarab during the Dutch GP weekend in 1960. He didn't race after a barny over start money from memory. Googling Moss at Monaco shows Stirling didn't use the belts in his fast laps in the car.

 

5-AE6867-B-D1-B8-4493-BFEB-762-C62-F0-D4


Edited by MarkBisset, 11 October 2022 - 07:13.


#34 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 October 2022 - 02:28

Originally posted by Ray Bell
.....It seems that all of Niel’s cars had harnesses fitted during 1967, the Brabham Gibson (mostly) drove was refitted in March, 1968, with a Willans 6-point harness (RCN April, 1968) and it’s easy to assume that the McLaren M4a and the (Elfin) Traco Olds had them fitted at the same time.


No, they didn't...

I spoke to Michael Henderson today and he explained that the BT16 didn't have belts until he arrived...

A friend (or relative?) of Fred's had contacted Michael in England knowing he was heading for Australia, he arranged for Michael to meet Fred and that led to the first 6-point harness being fitted to the Brabham.

Niel, it seems, resisted getting them in the McLaren for a while, fortunately they were fitted in time for his big shunt at Lakeside.

This means that Harvey's BT14 was the first one with a harness, albeit not a 6-pointer, the Bob Jane BT11a the second when Harvey took over that car, then Gibson's was the third. Or were there others?

Matich was another early-adopter once Michael arrived in Australia.

#35 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 October 2022 - 02:33

Originally posted b y MarkBisset
ACCA2764-B1-D7-450-D-87-EB-C6-C4-BA82-CF
 
A couple of photos of Fred Gibson in the NE Allen ex-Gardner-Mildren Brabham BT16 Climax in 1967.
 
I've no idea of dates Ray. The first appears to be from an AMC article on Fred, PR shot after fitment of the belt by Henderson. The autopics Lakeside shot is dated 1967 but isn't (ORC) the June Gold Star round. Dunno which meeting.
 
D45-DDEFF-D43-F-4-BE0-BB7-F-D11-EE671526
 
The final one is a 'give the credit where it's due shot', the 'belted Chuck Daigh aboard a Scarab during the Dutch GP weekend in 1960. He didn't race after a barny over start money from memory. Googling Moss at Monaco shows Stirling didn't use the belts in his fast laps in the car.
 
5-AE6867-B-D1-B8-4493-BFEB-762-C62-F0-D4


Both pics are from 1968, Mark, as can be gleaned from the previous post, which has crossed over yours...

Fred being fitted out in February or March in the Brabham, the Lakeside one is from the May 12, 1968 meeting.

#36 MarkBisset

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Posted 11 October 2022 - 06:57

Cheers Ray,

 

Great get from Michael.

 

I thought Chuck Daigh may have won the Porphry Pearl for the first road-racing belts in Oz road racing award (with all due-deference to Frantic Francis Kleinig) at the Sandown International in March 1962 but that particular Scarab RE Buick V8 clearly didn't have belts fitted...

 

m



#37 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 October 2022 - 07:06

I think there will be others from the mid-sixties, Mark...

 

It's just that they were bit players and aren't remembered.