On July 21, 1962 the British Grand Prix was held on Mrs. Topham’s Aintree circuit which ran next to sections of the famous steeplechase course, home of the Grand National race. Here is American Dan Gurney sitting in the pits in his Porsche 804 during practice. The steering wheel on these Porsches was removable so as to allow the driver easy access and exit, especially important for a tall man like Gurney. Of course, this feature was also an opportunity for a joke. Jim Clark had snuck over and “stolen” Gurney’s steering wheel. It looked for a moment that Gurney might not be able to go out for practice, but Clark returned the wheel, eventually, having had a good laugh.
The Porsche 804 was Porsche’s first attempt at a modern F1 car with a flat air cooled 1.5 liter 8 cylinder motor and all independent suspension. Although the 804 was low and quite light, its motor did not produce the power that was realized by the Climax and BRM V8s.
Jim Clark had the new monocoque Lotus 25 and was simply untouchable at Aintree. The Lotus 25 was always the quickest car in 1962, when it lasted. Gurney had celebrated Porsche’s first Grand Prix win at Rouen two weeks before and had followed it up with a one-two victory with his teammate Jo Bonnier at the non-championship race at Solitude. Both wins it must be said were somewhat gifted when his main competitor, wheel-thief Jim Clark, retired. At Aintree, Gurney ran third in the opening laps behind Clark and the Lola of John Surtees but a slipping clutch caused him to fall back, finally finishing ninth.
Photo by Robert Daley ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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