Driver Comments – Frank Gardner

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Frank Gardner in the ‘Race-Proved by Willment’ Lotus 30, possibly at Zeltweg, Austria, 22 Aug. 1965. Photo courtesy of Jeff Uren.

Frank Gardner OAM, twice winner of the British Saloon Car Championship, European Formula 5000 Champion, and one of the Willment Team Lotus 30 drivers. Frank discusses Lotus 30s and 40s in his book, Castol Racing Dirvers Manual.

“After the Cobras and maybe stuff like the big Galaxie saloons had introduced the British racers to these big American engines, they began dropping them into more sophisticated chassis, and the Group 7 sports-racers from Lotus, Lola, and McLaren began to appear.

“But they still had their problems, like the Lotus 30 for instance which was really a bit of a disaster, Jimmy Clark was the only bloke who really excelled in the things, but then he could make a leaky sack of coal perform just by picking it up and carrying the whole lot on his shoulders.

“I was driving a Brabham sports car at Brands one day, when I came down into Dingle Dell to find myself confronted with a steaming radiator lying there in the middle of the road. There were some mis-shapen bits of glass fibre and an occasional wheel spread along the next hundred yards of road, and it was all that remained of Ian Walker’s first Lotus 30. Tony Hegbourne had the thing get all out of shape and he’d had this enourmous accident. It really was terribly easy to have an accident in one of those cars…

“Willment had one which I drove, and it was quite a good one which had all kinds of good money spent on it. I was racing the thing at Zeltweg when the bloody chassis broke clean in two in the closing stages, and I brought it home second [1]Frank was running in second when the chassis broke and finished the race in third place. with the thing darting and weaving in all directions, hingeing in the middle!

“They also had their aerodynamic problems, and after poor old Jack Sears really crooked himself testing a Lotus 40 at Silverstone, Lotus asked me to get some miles on the thing to shake it down for the American winter races.

“I came into the pits a bit white-faced and pink-eyed and they asked me what was it like. What was it like! It wasn’t too bad at all really, there was nothing seriously wrong, it just adopted a slightly nose up attitude — like about 15 degrees to the road surface — at any kind of speed and with a foot between the front tyres and the tarmac the steering did feel just a leetle bit light…”

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Sources:

Gardner, Frank, with Doug Nye, Castrol Racing Drivers Manual, New York: Area Publishing Co., 1973, pp. 131-2.

References   [ + ]

1. Frank was running in second when the chassis broke and finished the race in third place.

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