The 1966 Season
Hailed as the "return to power" the 1966 season saw the start of the new
3 litre formula.
Some teams were more ready than others and as a consequence a wide
variety of engines and chassis were used ranging from Ferrari's new
purpose built 3 litre V12 ( 312 ) to modified 65 season engines which
were bored out to 2 litres.
There were also various 4 cylinder Climax engines plus a 2.4 litre V6 (
246 ) Ferrari based on the "Dino" engine.
Jack Brabham's "Brabham Racing Organisation" had commissioned "Repco" to
build a 3 litre V8 loosely based on an alloy Buick engine. Mounted in
the new light and nimble BT19 chassis the combination would go on to win
the 1966 World Championship.
Although not the most powerful in the field it proved to be a most
reliable contender. A later BT20 fitted with the same engine was
campaigned by Brabham's team mate Denny Hulme.
Team Brabham also ran a BT11 chassis fitted with a 2.5 lt 4 cylinder
Climax engine for Hulme in the first few races of the 1966 season.
"DW Racing Enterprises" ran a similar but privately entered BT11 powered
by a longer stroke 2.7 lt 4 cylinder Climax engine in the hands of
their driver Bob Anderson.
A third BT11 chassis was also campaigned by David Bridges Racing and Rob
Walker teams. This car was powered by a high revving BRM 2 litre V8.
The "Owen Racing Organisation" otherwise know as BRM was one of the
teams caught on the hop.Tony Rudd who was the chief designer at BRM made
the fateful decision to build the complex "H16" engine. Although the
promised an abundance of power the reality was that the engine's weight
negated any power advantage. Besides this it took longer than expected
to build and develop which meant the team starting the season with last
years V8 engines modified and bored out to just under 2 litres.
When the H16 finally did arrive it was mated to the new P83 chassis. In
the mean time the older P261 chassis was used in conjunction with the 2
The P261 in the hands of Jackie Stewart won the Monaco Grand Prix while
Graham Hill was placed 2nd at the Dutch Grand Prix and 3rd at the
British Grand Prix but from then on good results were thin on the
Another P261 also with the 2 litre V8 was privately entered by "Team
Chamaco Collect" and mostly driven by Bob Bondurant.
The "Cooper Car Company" had recently been taken over by the Chipstead
Group who were also the UK distributors for Maserati. Although the
Maserati engine had its origins in the 50's, politics dictated that the
team would use the Tipo 9 2.5 litre V12
which was bored out to 3 litres and fitted to the new T81 chassis.
As well as running the works cars driven by Rindt and Ginther ( the
later on loan from Honda ), Cooper also supplied cars to privateers Rob
Walker Racing, Guy Ligier and Jo Bonnier teams.
Later in the season John Surtees joined the team after leaving Ferrari.
There is no doubt that Surtees's influence in developing the car greatly
improved its capabilities and this culminated with Surtees winning the
last race of the year at Mexico City.
Anglo American Racers :
The Eagle T1G designed by Len Terry for Dan Gurney's "Anglo American
Racers" started the 1966 season powered by a 2.7 litre 4 cylinder Climax
engine with which Gurney had some success, being placed 5th at the
French and Mexican Grand Prix and a 7th at the German Grand Prix.
The Climax engine was always intended as a stop gap because Gurney has
commissioned Harry Weslake to build him a brand new 3 litre V12 engine.
The Weslake V12 eventually arrived late in the season to make an
appearance at Monza and Watkins Glen but reliability issues meant Gurney
running the last race of the season with the sturdy and reliable Climax
While other teams were arguing with the governing bodies and trying to
get the 3 litre formula changed to 2.5 litres, Ferrari just got on with
it and produced an all new 3 litre V12 to be known as the 312.
John Surtees was Ferrari's top driver and was given the car to start the
season. Lorenzo Bandini had to make do with a 2.4 litre V6 based on the
"Dino" mounted in last years chassis to start the season. But despite
this Bandini almost won the Monaco Grand Prix but had to retire with
throttle linkage problems.
In the next race at Spa-Francorchamps the 312 and John Surtees was
unbeatable. Mike Parkes driving the second 312 scored a creditable 2nd
at the French Grand Prix. Unfortunately Surtees and Ferrari parted
company before the French Grand Prix but the
312 went on to dominate the Grand Prix of Italy at Monza coming home 1st
and 2nd in the hands of Scarfiotti and Parkes.
Colin Chapman's "Team Lotus" was another team without a 3 litre engine
so they were forced to use last year's Climax V8 modified and bored out
to 2 litres. This was fitted into the Lotus 33 chassis also from the
Eventually a deal was done with BRM to use the H16 engine which was
fitted into the all new Lotus 43 chassis but unfortunately the Lotus
Team suffered the same fate as BRM with this complex and overweight
engine which rarely finished a race.
One exception to this was the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen
where Jim Clark who was Chapman's number one driver managed to hold the
car together long enough to cross the line in first place giving the H16
its only win in 1966.
Lotus also supplied cars to privateer "Reg Parnell Racing" who entered a
Lotus 33 chassis powered by a BRM 2 litre V8 and driven by Mike Spence.
The 3 litre V12 car known as the Honda RA273 arrived late in the season
to make its debut at Monza where it qualified well being just over a
second off pole. Unfortunately Richie Ginther crashed the car and did
not finish the race.
In the next race at Watkins Glen the car was once more on the pace, this
time less than one second off pole, but again it did not finish.
The last race of the season saw the RA273 less than half a second off
the pace and 4th on the grid. At the start it blasted into the lead with
phenomenal acceleration. But tyre troubles later in the race would see
it slip down the leader board eventually finishing one lap down.
Bruce Mclaren had served his apprenticeship with Brabham and Cooper. For
1966 he decided he wanted to build his own cars and thus was founded
one of the most well known names in racing to this day.
The Mclaren for 1966 was the M2B designed by Robin Herd and powered by
an Indy Car based Ford V8 of 3 litres. As the season progressed Mclaren
would try out the Serenissima V8 but returned to the Ford V8 which gave
him most success including a 6th place in the British Grand Prix and a
5th at Watkins Glen.