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The Ferguson P99


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#1 Roger Clark

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Posted 17 July 2000 - 23:21

There have been a number of comments recently in this and other forums about the Ferguson P99, the 4WD car raced in the early 1960s. Most of these comments have been fairly dismissive if not disparaging. While recognising that the Ferguson could never be described as one of history's great racing cars, it has always been one of my favourites and I would like to try nd explain why.

The roots of the car go back to before the second world war, to Freddie Dixon, who was one of the great British special builders, concentrating mainly on modified sports Rileys. The original ERA was based on one of his cars. He conceived the idea of 4WD, initially for a land speed record contender he had designed. He never had enough money to build the LSR car but through his research and other racing projects he met Harry Ferguson and Tony Rolt. Ferguson was a manufacturer of agricultural tractors and rolt was a young racing driver, mainly in ERAs. Together they developed their ideas for 4WD, but the war intervened before they mterialised. Rolt spent most of the war as a PoW in Colditz, while Dixon was engaged in military developments.

After the war the three got together again. Ferguson had just sued the Ford motor Company for infringement of one of his tractor patents, and received a very large sum of money in damages. He used this to set up Harry Ferguson Research, for the development of 4Wd passenger cars. At this time, there was no thought of racing. It is important to realise that there was no technological connection between Feguson Research and the tractors.

Through their racing connections, they met Claude Hill, who was chief designer for Aston Martin. They were very impressed by his work and persuaded him to join Ferguson REsearch in a similar role.

Rolt resumed his racing career, winning Le Mans in 1953 for Jaguar. He was also one of the first drivers for the RRC Walker racing team, mainly in Connaughts.

Throughout the fifties, they built a number of prototype 4WD passenger cars, some with four wheel steering. Their aim was to persuade a major manufacturer to take up the idea, but the British car industry was too conservative at that time.

In May 1960, Herry Ferguson decided to build a racing car "a lightweight high performance vehicle" to demonstrate the advantages of 4WD. work started in August that year, and by May the following year the car was ready for testing. Furguson recognised that his company had no recent experience of racing, so he called on his old friend Rob Walker. The fact that the Walker team included the best driver in the world must have helped in that choice.

THe first race for the car was the British Empire Trophy at silverstone. THis was run to the Intercontinental Formula and the driver was Jack Fairman. Fairman was a good journeyman driver, but a very good tester. Moss also tried the car during practice, but decided it wasn't ready for him to race. The car sufferred brake problems throughout practice. In the race, the gearbox broke, probably as a result of being abused to provide emergency engine braking.

A week later, the car was entered in 1.5litre form for the British GP. Again Fairman was the driver. This time, he sufferred electrical problems, caused by a short circuit. After one stop he was push started, which led to his disqualification. Meanwhile, Moss was engaged on one of his heroic underdog drives against the dominant Ferraris. When the lotus retired, Fairman was called in and Moss took over the Ferguson. On a, by now almost dry track, he lapped at the same speed as the Ferraris, although I have to admit that they had a comfortable lead, and were not pressing.

A few weeks later the Ferguson was entered in the gold Cup at Oulton Park, this time with Moss driving. Against a full field of British F1 cars, lacking only Ferrari and Porsche, he won easily demonstrating the superiority of the Ferguson in both wet and dry conditions.

It is a commonly held belief that a 4WD car must be heavier than 2WD equivalents. In fact, the Ferguson was competitive with all its contemporaries, with the exception of Lotus. The drive shafts, for example, could be made much lighter than the equivalent for a 2WD car because thay only had to transmit half the power. THe wheels and tyres were of smaller section for the same reason. The suspension arms were much lighter than usual, as they didn't have to transmit braking force; all four brakes were inboard.

Stirling Moss was very impressed with the car while admitting that it demanded a different driving technique. It was designed to be a neutral steerer, not a vicious understeerer as is sometimes suggeted. Moss was one of a very small number of drivers who had sufficient in reserve, even while driving at racing speeds, to think about the handling of the car and to adapt his driving style. Others who tried the car, and many who tried 4Wd cars eight years later were not able to adapt.

Today the P99 is in the Donnington museum. As far as I know,it has not run for many years. It pays close examination for the detail design and execution are excellent and well up to the standards of its contemporaries.



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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 July 2000 - 23:34

With the starry eyes of a sixteen-year-old, I looked forward with keen anticipation to the arrival of the Fergusson at Warwick Farm in 1963. Only later did I learn that it had won at Lakeside in the rain the previous week, and to this day I don't know what it was doing racing here in this bunch of races that became the Tasman Series the following year.
It ran the 2.5 engine, so it was down on power to the 2.7s of most of the field, and Graham Hill drove it. I don't even have race reports to establish where it finished in the other races, including the one I saw, where I think it was about fourth or fifth.
These were its only outings after the Gold Cup, were they not?
Anyway, as mentioned in another thread, it was the last front-engined car to win a Formula 1 race anywhere in the world. And one of very few to win in both 1.5 and 2.5-litre form.
A side-on photo of the car would be real nice. Almost like a slightly larger Lotus 12 with a few more lumps... is that fair?

#3 Marcor

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 00:19

A single question about the Ferguson P99: do you know how many chassis were buit ?
Was it possible to adapt in a week two different engines (a 2.5 L for the Intercontinental Formula and a 1.5 L for the F1)?

#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 00:39

There was only ever one car built, and the same engine was used for both capacities, very little external difference, major changes inside.

#5 Jonathan

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 01:18

Harry Fergurson also worked with Jensen to build the Jensen FF in the mid 1960ies as well, I think.

Does anyone have an info on this car ?

#6 desmo

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 01:47

P99 Images:

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Jack Fairman, Aintree 1961

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Graham Hill, NZGP 1963[p][Edited by desmo on 07-18-2000]

#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 04:41

Note the bewilderingly strong rollover protection...
Yes, Jensen did do an FF model with the Chrysler V8, the 348 engine, I think.. it looked the same as the Interceptor. Introduced 1966, sold until 1972, price about 5000 pounds stg.
Ferguson had some input into some of the 4wd GP cars of the late sixties, but I don't know which ones. His central diff was the trick thing in those days, but today electronics have superceded that.

#8 Roger Clark

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 06:30

Ferguson technology was used by all the 1969 4Wd cars. In the case of the Matra MS84, Ferguson research seconded an engineer to work with the Tyrrell team. He impressed Ken and Stewart so much that they later offerred him a job. His name was Derek Gardner.

#9 Huw Jenjin

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 12:41

The Jensen FF was more than just four wheel drive, it was the first car to be sold with ABS braking, using a system developed by Dunlop, called Maxaret.
Way ahead of its time, and virtually ignored in the "Great Cars" discussions.
Those four wheel drive GP Cars in the late 60s were a bit of a wild goose chase. Whilst the weight distribution of the Ferguson leant itself very well to 4WD, 4WD's inherent advantages are masked heavily with the rearward weight distribution of a mid engined race car.
Only on fulltanks or in wet weather can the mechanical grip be translated into lap speed advantage over weight.
The Lotus 56B did very welll atthe race of champions , 71 I think, due more to its 4WD than it's turbine engine.
We lost one of those cars at Goodwood, sadly. i think there was only one Lotus 69 built. is that right?

#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 13:55

That was a 63, Huge. The 69 was a smaller car, I think, F2 or F3, like the 59. I just found this pic in a book... the Novi, that fabulously powerful Indy car, took on FF 4WD when the rear-engine revolution was happening at the Brickyard.

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#11 Roger Clark

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 20:50

I think that that Novi chassis was built for them by Ferguson.

#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 22:49

A bit more Granatelli money to the Old Dart, eh? Doesn't say so in this book, just says they used the suspension. If Ferguson did build the chassis, it shows that they learned as they went, the suspension's much tidier.

#13 Marcor

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 22:56

The P99 was also tested at Indianapolis driven by Jack Fairman.
In the book A-Z of Formula Racing Cars by David Hodges, we see a picture of the Ferguson Project 99 posed during its August 1963 trials at Indianapolis, Gratanelli on the left, Fairman in the offset driving seat.

I'm sorry but I've no scan !!

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 July 2000 - 23:49

Now I find that the P99 went on competing in 1964 in the hands of Peter Westbury, who won the British Hillclimb title with a 2.5 engine installed.
He later had McLarens, I feel sure, F1 cars with 4-litre Olds alloy V8s, pre-dated F5000 (might be where they got the idea from?)

#15 Huw Jenjin

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Posted 21 July 2000 - 14:06

Wasn't Westbury's later car a Felday-Daimler, rather than an Olds? i have a feeling it owed something to a BRM as well, but i would be interested to hear from people who remember those days on the hills. Cirtainly Repco engines were used on the hills, by Mike McDowell in a Brabham I think.

#16 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 July 2000 - 17:47

i think Huw is right about the Felday-Daimler. He also built a Felday-BRM, a 2litre 4WD sports-racer. Jim Clark raced it once, a very rare non-Lotus drive. Was he finding out about 4WD for Chapman?

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 July 2000 - 21:20

It's coming back to me! Yes, Daimler SP250 engine... sort of like two Renault Gordinis joined at the hip, and there was a Felday BRM... and perhaps two or three Repcos on the hills. Am I wrong about the McLaren-Olds... perhaps it was that film car?

#18 Roger Clark

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Posted 21 July 2000 - 23:12

I think you're right about aMcLaren-olds, but it wasn't the film car. The early McLaren (and McLaren-Elva) sports cars were Olds pwered. In 1966 they built their first single seaters.

The M2 was the mallite chassised F1 car which originally used a reduced size Ford Indy engine. It later used a Serenissima V8. I believe they also built a version with a V8 (possibly an Olds) for tyre testing before the F1 engines were ready.

THe M3 was a space-frame car, known by the factory as the "Whizz-bang special". This was after Bruce: "take the sports car, build a narrow chassis and Whizz-bang, you've got a single seater. The M3 was sold to various private owners for hill climbing and Formula Libre racing, and the MGM for filming. I can't remember whether Peter Westbury had one, but I will look it up if noone else can.

#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 July 2000 - 01:47

Thanks for that Roger... I'm sure Eric would be able to, but he's not around all the time (which is a great pity), and I'd like to just clarify the situation.

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#20 Huw Jenjin

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Posted 22 July 2000 - 12:54

a little off topic i am afraid to say, but i have a question for Ray.
About ten years ago i was near perth Australia, and ended up in a car Museum in the middle of nowhere.
i couldn't believe my eyes as there was, i think, the P99, a 1970 Cosworth 4wd formula 1 car, Stewart's March. A BRM Hi6 and an original 4 cylinder XK Motor, and other exotica. Now i have been told these cars were in Europe, but i'm sure I hadn't been on the magic mushrooms that day.
Are they genuine cars, replicas, or do they really belong there. I am assuming you must know the place.hese cars

#21 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 July 2000 - 13:04

Maybe they were on loan? Was it York, the museum owned by Peter Briggs? York is about 100km east of Perth.

#22 Roger Clark

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Posted 22 July 2000 - 19:14

i'm sure there was only one P99, and that is usually in the donnington Museum so I'd guess it was on loan. THere's a Cosworth in Donnington too but I have heard of a second car in Australia, so that's possible. I don't know about any of the others.

#23 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 July 2000 - 22:00

Tom Wheatcroft has done some funny deals with people over the years. Jumbo Goddard, for instance, owned a mass of good gear and was getting old. Tom paid him at the then-current price to buy the lot... Jumbo retained possession until his death (so what? he had so many some of them were at Donington anyway!) and Tom got them afterwards.
Jumbo had his cake and ate it, Tom got them at a lowere price... everybody won a prize!

#24 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 14:15

Anyone got any idea what engine was installed in the P99 for August 1963 Indy trials?

The usual 2495 cc Coventry Climax?

#25 bobbo

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 14:46

I always thought the P99 had quite a bit of potential. Does anyone (DCN in particular!) know if it ever got a chance to try on the Climax 1.5L V8 for size? Wonder how it would have performed with that engine?? Interesting "What If" subject?

Bobbo

#26 Henri Greuter

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 15:41

Anyone got any idea what engine was installed in the P99 for August 1963 Indy trials?

The usual 2495 cc Coventry Climax?


====

I was told a 2.5 liter but a tired, far from fresh example. But since it was to be tested at Indy and had to perform at the maximum speed possible. And even that old 2.5 posessed more hp than the 1.5 liter ever could.
At Indy, Fairman and Marshman drove the car flatout for the entire lap, no need to lift in the turns. As far as I know and what I have heard (don't know if it is true), that was the second time ever that a driver claimed that he didn't need to lift for a turn at Indy, Clark being the first when he tested a 1.5 l Lotus 25 at Indy in late '62.

P99 definitely is a historic machine for sure, used in and at a bewildering variety of tracks and purposes all over.
Seeing P99 and the Novi powered P104 at Goodwood together at the Festival of Speed, that would be something to see!
For the record, P104 is at display in the Novi Motorsports Hall of Fame but in drivable condition and occasionally demonstrated.

I wonder if P99 with V8 power would not have been fast enough to make a chance against the lighter weight mid engined opposition. I think that the car was too heavy and too underpowered with a 1.5 liter for its driveline. Only in rainraces of course...
Nevertheless, a significant machine in F1 and racing history in general, no doubt about it.


Henri Greuter

#27 Rainer Nyberg

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 18:08

Thanks Henri. So Bobby Marshman also tested the car in '63?

#28 Roger Clark

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 22:28

Originally posted by bobbo
I always thought the P99 had quite a bit of potential. Does anyone (DCN in particular!) know if it ever got a chance to try on the Climax 1.5L V8 for size? Wonder how it would have performed with that engine?? Interesting "What If" subject?

Bobbo


I'm fairly sure it didn't. The exhaust would have been a bit of a problem, but the flat-crank Climax was allegedly built with the Ferguson in mind.

#29 Doug Nye

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Posted 18 February 2003 - 23:31

Roger is quite right. How would the P99 have performed with the FWMV V8 installed? Rather less effectively than the Lotus 24-25, Brabham BT3-7, Lola Mark 4 ... You only have X amount of horsepower and X-amount of rubber on the road and with Y amount of weight and its not inconsiderable frontal area P99 would have been swallowed whole except in the most favourable of circs - like loose gravel or snow perhaps? It was originally conceived, after all, to demonstrate an advantage against the status quo of 1959-60 - and the Climax V8 did not run until mid-'61 and then was not in general use until '62. The Fergie did reasonably well in the 1963 Tasman races, best of all at Lakeside I seem to recall - in the p------- rain - and although Graham Hill returned from that experience (still having been beaten) and urged Sir Alfred Owen to authorise a 4WD research project with Ferguson at BRM that proved the point. It was merely because it had been BRM who did the research and concluded it was a waste of time in contemporary F1 with contemporary technology that Chapman and McLaren and Cosbodge and Matra thought they knew better, and wasted a lot of effort and money and time in 1969...

Playing around with a Climax V8 would have been a total no-hoper - playing around with a Novi V8, now you're talkin'.... amidst a 1.5-litre F1 field that might have dominated :cool:

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#30 David Hyland

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 00:33

Originally posted by Doug Nye
The Fergie did reasonably well in the 1963 Tasman races, best of all at Lakeside I seem to recall - in the p------- rain

It's OK, Doug - you're allowed to say "pouring" on TNF :)

#31 Wolf

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 00:56

I have aught clever to say, as is my wont, save there was one guy around who...

Posted Image

Yeah, you guessed- drove it in colour instead of B/W. :lol:

#32 Henri Greuter

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 07:49

Rainer Nyberg wrote:

Thanks Henri. So Bobby Marshman also tested the car in '63?

===

Yes. Granatelli wanted a driver with some Indy experience who "knew" the track but not the car to drive it as well so he could feel the difference of driving the unfmiliar car at a track he knew and compare it with the experiences he had at the track with cars he had driven there. Fairman's Indy experiences wasn't too overwhelming. Out of the top of my head: DNQ in 1962 with one of the Mickey Thompson cars of that year and I also vaguely remember he was at Indy in '58. (A result of the '57 Monzanapolis when Americans were impressed with him that he had dared to face them with one of those Ecosse Jaguars if my memory is correct. Sorry but my data base is at home, not here.)
With input of both men, Granatelli then realised that 4WD could indeed be the answer he needed to get all that Novi V8 power at the track and not going up in the air in the shape of rear tire smoke.


Doug Nye wrote:

Playing around with a Climax V8 would have been a total no-hoper - playing around with a Novi V8, now you're talkin'.... amidst a 1.5-litre F1 field that might have dominated

DCN


===

Doug,

I genuinely believe that even if the P104 was permitted to compete against the 1.5 l F1 cars of the day by rules (and remember, the Novi was a supercharged 2.8 that had been driven with some 740 hp already in '63) it would have had no chance against the F1 cars at a GP track.
Powerful, yes. But it was such a behemoth of a car and so heavy (up to 1000 kg!) and such a slow responding (and erratic responding too!!!) engine that it would be hopelessly outclassed everywere other then at Monza. And by then the engine would probably have blown under stress.
And if that isn't enough, apart from the BRM V16's you have documentated so well, I wonder if there is any other car with such al ill fated, jinxed career as the Novis.
Even at Indy, P104 was already outdated when it appeared, victim of the Rear engine revolution as well as the tire war between Goodyear and Firestone: The 1964 and later tires were much better that what hat been used up till 1963, those tall, small donuts that were not capable enough to transmit all the Novi's power. Besides that, the Novi's never had decent chassis or at least their available chassis being sorted out properly.
But I agree: P99 with Climax V8 would have been a no hoper.

Henri Greuter

#33 Roger Clark

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 13:13

I'm sure Doug is right about the competitiveness of a V8 P99 in 1962. However, you do have to remember that it was a 1960 design. How well would a Lotus 18 or a Cooper T53 have done in 1962? More relevantly, what would have happened if Moss had a 2.5-litre Ferguson in 1960 (apart from the suspension not breaking at Spa)?

#34 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 February 2003 - 20:33

A very interesting question, Roger!

It's not hard... barring breakages, which I don't think it ever suffered in a race... to see him winning Monaco, Portugal, perhaps Zandvoort.

#35 Doug Nye

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Posted 20 February 2003 - 16:02

I thought you might appreciate this rather historic document - timing profile of the only international Formula 1 race ever to be won by a 4-wheel drive car...

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DCN

#36 Henri Greuter

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Posted 20 February 2003 - 16:36

Thanks a lot Doug! Thanks!!!!


Henri Greuter

#37 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 February 2003 - 21:48

So Brabham got fastest lap?

I guess it dried out at the end of the race... did Jack then spin or something?

#38 arttidesco

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 16:42

With the starry eyes of a sixteen-year-old, I looked forward with keen anticipation to the arrival of the Fergusson at Warwick Farm in 1963. Only later did I learn that it had won at Lakeside in the rain the previous week, and to this day I don't know what it was doing racing here in this bunch of races that became the Tasman Series the following year.
It ran the 2.5 engine, so it was down on power to the 2.7s of most of the field, and Graham Hill drove it. I don't even have race reports to establish where it finished in the other races, including the one I saw, where I think it was about fourth or fifth.
These were its only outings after the Gold Cup, were they not?
Anyway, as mentioned in another thread, it was the last front-engined car to win a Formula 1 race anywhere in the world. And one of very few to win in both 1.5 and 2.5-litre form.
A side-on photo of the car would be real nice. Almost like a slightly larger Lotus 12 with a few more lumps... is that fair?


I know this was posted along time ago Ray, but for posterity are you sure Graham 'won' at Lakeside in the Ferguson , all the reports I have seen on the web including the well respected 8Wforix say he came second :confused:

Relevant answers maybe credited and used in a forthcoming blog.

Thanking you in anticipation of your response.


#39 Alan Cox

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 19:00

I know this was posted along time ago Ray, but for posterity are you sure Graham 'won' at Lakeside in the Ferguson , all the reports I have seen on the web including the well respected 8Wforix say he came second :confused:

Indeed, Graham did finish second at Lakeside. He also ran second at Pukekohe before the gearbox gave up within a mile of the finish, while Innes Ireland finished third at Levin, retired from the Lady Wigram Trophy and also at Teretonga, with Hill back in the car for the Australian GP at Warwick Farm where he finished sixth, after which the car returned home. The only race win for the Ferguson was the 1961 Gold Cup.
All details gleaned from Autosport.

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#40 arttidesco

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 19:54

Thanks Alan :up:

Also seen contradictory reports on why the P99 was disqualified from the '61 British GP, some say push start while others say because Moss had not practiced in the car he took over from Fairman, can any one help on that ?

#41 E.B.

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 20:01

Mike Lang and Stirling Moss both say it was due to the push start.


#42 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 21:31

Thanks Alan :up:

Also seen contradictory reports on why the P99 was disqualified from the '61 British GP, some say push start while others say because Moss had not practiced in the car he took over from Fairman, can any one help on that ?

Moss did drive the Ferguson in practice.

#43 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 22:42

Didn't the Formula One regulations of 1961 preclude driver changes?

I can only think of one other such change, Clark taking over his team mates' (Mike Spence?) car at Watkins Glen, my memory (proving to be very fallible in the posts above!) is telling me this.

Over to the experts...

#44 arttidesco

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 00:09

Thanks EB and Roger :up:

Ray I'm not sure when mid race driver changes were outlawed.

#45 Roger Clark

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 05:52

Didn't the Formula One regulations of 1961 preclude driver changes?

I can only think of one other such change, Clark taking over his team mates' (Mike Spence?) car at Watkins Glen, my memory (proving to be very fallible in the posts above!) is telling me this.

Over to the experts...

The race that Ray is thinking of is probably the 1964 US Grand Prix. I don't think there was any regulation that prevented changes but championship points were not awarded.

#46 Michael Ferner

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 08:34

When I stopped following Effwun about ten years ago, there was still nothing in the rules forbidding relief drivers.

#47 arttidesco

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Posted 07 July 2013 - 18:11

My thanks to Alan Cox, E.B., Ray Bell, Roger Clark and Michael Ferner for their help with today's post.

#48 Roger Clark

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 07:43

My thanks to Alan Cox, E.B., Ray Bell, Roger Clark and Michael Ferner for their help with today's post.

A nice story but you say that the P99 made its debut at Silverstone in a non-championship race. Some may infer that it was a Formula 1 race but it was an Intercontinental Formula race (and part of the championship for that formula). You also say that Moss drove a Lotus 18 in that race but it was a Cooper.

#49 arttidesco

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Posted 08 July 2013 - 11:12

A nice story but you say that the P99 made its debut at Silverstone in a non-championship race. Some may infer that it was a Formula 1 race but it was an Intercontinental Formula race (and part of the championship for that formula). You also say that Moss drove a Lotus 18 in that race but it was a Cooper.


Thanks for pointing out the error and ambiguity, which has been now been amended, Roger :blush:

#50 Ray Bell

Ray Bell
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Posted 10 July 2013 - 03:16

I'm having trouble finding reference to the Ferguson in a Formula Intercontinental race at Silverstone...

The only race I can locate was on May 6, but the results I find on this page don't mention the Ferguson at all.

Surely this is the correct race? Does anyone have any better information?

Also, I'd like to know how many laps Ireland completed at Wigram.