by Richard Keyes
The First Year – 1965: Team Willment and International FIA Racing
First race outing by this Lotus 30 was when driven by Brian “Yogi” Muir [ref] Autosport, Sept. 15, 1983, p. 9. [/ref] another Australian. May 1, 1965, at Goodwood, this was the Tourist Trophy FIA International Race for prototypes and GTs. Being driven by Bob Bondurant [ref] Road & Track, Oct. 1965. [/ref] of USA during practice he said it was “too spooky” so the reserve took over to “get a time.” [ref] Uren, Jeff, Personal Interview at his house in Ashburton, Devon, Aug. 4, 1986. [/ref] This was Brian, later twice European Saloon Champion driver.
It won, the BRSCC Mallory Park Race, June 6th race on its second outing when Frank Gardner,[ref] Thoroughbred & Classic Cars, p. 60, Aug. 1986. [/ref] yet another Australian was driving.
At the Silverstone RAC race on July 10th, Bob Bondurant drove to a second place overall behind John Coundley in Bruce McLaren’s Olds-powered McLaren-Elva. Bob was third fastest qualifier but with a minute to go till race start, he raised his hand – the Willment Lotus 30 would not fire. After the field left, he reentered with a push start and worked his way up to second only to be disqualified after the race for being assisted at the start.
On July 24th, Frank Gardner again drove at the Silverstone Martini 150 mile Trophy Race. Frank qualified in second position alongside pole-sitter, Chris Amon, once again in Bruce McLaren Olds powered McLaren-Elva. Frank contested second and third places for most of the race but retired with clutch failure in the 39th of 52 laps.
For the next major international race, the Austrian GP at Zeltweg, Austria, Bob Waterman (head mechanic for Jim Clark and Team Lotus) brought along uprated vented 11.9″ disc brakes and the 180 degree tuned spaghetti exhaust system for the 4.7 litre Ford engine. These mods brought the engine up to 385-390 BHP, at 7,000 RPM.[ref] Allen, John, Ford GT 40 Super Profiles, Somerset, England, Haynes Publishing Group, 1983 p. 16. [/ref] This was the latest equipment that also appeared on the Lotus 40 unveiled at the race meet. This equipment, including a new highly vented Lotus 40 engine cover, appeared at the next race, Brands Hatch. At Austria first Frank Gardner qualified the ‘Race Proved by Willment’ (now Lotus 30/40) with a 1 min. 9.76 sec lap. This beat the lap record of 1 min. 10.56 sec. lap set by Dan Gurney in a Brabham Coventry Climax Formula 1 Championship race the previous year. Mike Spence, driving the new Lotus 40 set pole position with 1 min. 8.46 sec. , so Frank was second on the grid. Frank finished in third position after maintaining second position most of the race and set fastest lap of race record. It was in this race when the frame broke in half three laps from the finish. The nickname “Pink Eye” was affectionately given to the car because of the vibration. Frank found it difficult to look anyone straight in the eye for a week. [ref] Uren, Jeff, Personal Interview at his house in Ashburton, Devon, Aug. 4, 1986. [/ref] Jochen Rindt’s Ferrari 250 LM and Mike Parkes Ferrari 365 P2 finished 1st and 2nd respectively.
Brands Hatch International Guards Trophy Race, August 30 was the next race appearance where better than 60,000 people jammed the stands. Frank Gardner again drove starting from 4th place. Early in the race the Willment Lotus 30/40 began to smoke, due, it was found later, to a cracked gear box casing, the gears finally seizing up when all the oil fell out.
Next appearance was at the ‘Norisring’ at Nurnburg, Germany for the 500 km GT-1 race. Brian Muir drove again but I don’t yet know the results. I believe the ZF 5DS 20 transaxle had been replaced with a Hewland LG500 after the Brands Hatch seizing.
Willment brought the car to the US for the Times GP at Riverside California (Oct. 31st). It appears that this car was driven by Rick Muther and was involved in a first lap bash, it retired shortly thereafter, sans bodywork. Rick was starting 10th out of a field of 40 qualified racers and from the total of 68 entries. Two previous days of qualifying races selected the final 40.
In a letter from Doug Nye [ref] Nye, Doug, Personal Letter, Sept. 2, 1983. [/ref], dated Sept. 2, 1983, he informed me “I found an ad for the Willment car in ‘Autoweek’ Nov. 13, 1965 with a photo of Bondurant driving the car at Silverstone. The ad reads:
“Lotus 30 – 1965 -Arriving for Riverside GP. Latest modifications. Vented discs (Girlings), Hewland gearbox LG500, Ford 289. Price $10,000 complete. Fastest in England. Representing John Willment Racing, London, England, J.C. Ohlsen, 12760 Pacific Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90066; 397-2321.
The Second Year – 1966: As A Ford Show Car
Jeff Uren [ref] Uren, Jeff, Personal Interview at his house in Ashburton, Devon, Aug. 4, 1986. [/ref] showed me a booklet which Ford released featuring the Willment Lotus 30/40 on the cover. The car spent the first part of 1966 touring the United States and Canada as a show car in Ford Motor Company exhibits advertising “Powered by Ford”. The rear body panel had been replaced following the Riverside GP and now had a chopped tail with large venting areas across the back. The car was shipped back to England after the American tour and raced in international club racing during 1966 by Willment. Brian Muir did most of the driving in 1966. According to Bob Bondurant, he drove to the second overall finishing position at Silverstone behind Denny Hulme in his McLaren. [ref] Bob Bondurant, High Performance Driving, p. 8. [/ref] Willment also entered this car in the Easter Goodwood, England races, for the Lavant Cup where it was fourth on the grid. I don’t have the complete race results yet for all of ’66. It was raced in the Willment colours and identified as CarCraft Racing Organization (KarKraft, in Detroit, Ford Advanced Vehicles counterpart in the US) with sponsor by NIPEE Racing and Developments.
The period of ’67 through ’68
During the 1966 season, interest for Group 7 was virtually nil in Europe, and only England and America had races for these “two-seater racers.” There was no interest in building such cars in Germany, France or Italy. The cost of buying these cars and operating them had been nearly as much as Formula I Grand Prix. (After all they were faster, Ed.) In addition a lot of this money was being spent on the development of American engines and it was felt that it would be preferable for it to be spent on British engines in other branches of racing. [ref] Motor Sport, p. 899, Oct. 1966. [/ref]