Formula 1 “discovered” wings in 1968. This is the capable British driver Jackie Oliver with a works Lotus 49 in the non-Championship Oulton Park Gold Cup on August 17, 1968 where he would finish third behind Chris Amon’s Ferrari 312 and Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS10. Many of the early wings were rather spindly things, like on this Lotus 49, effective but capable of catching the air at the wrong angle, such as when cresting a rise, and breaking which could throw a car off the track with dire results. That lesson was learned at the next year’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Oulton Park remains a challenging and rather dangerous 2.7 mile circuit which goes up and down over blind crests as it meanders through parkland. It has been in existence in various formats since the 1950s. There have been a number of important races held at Oulton over the years of which the Gold Cup series, run for F1, F2, F5000 and GT cars is perhaps the most well known.
Jackie Oliver had a long racing career, all the more so because he survived it, unlike many others in those years. He first did well in F2 and was then given an F1 ride by Lotus after Jim Clark’s tragic accident at Hockenheim. His F1 days with Lotus were definitely second fiddle to Graham Hill who won the 1968 World Championship. Oliver had a number of mechanical failures and a couple of crashes in practice, so his third place at Oulton was about as good as it got, although he also had another third place in the Mexican Grand Prix at the end of the season. Oliver then went on to drive for both BRM and Shadow, the latter also in the CanAm races, before finishing in F1 in 1977.
Oliver then went on to own the Arrows F1 team which he actually owned twice, making a good sale of it at the end of many years as a team owner.
Photo by T. C. “Tom” March. ©The Klemantaski Collection