Born on this day (27th - March)
1892 - 1919
1960 - 2003
Died on this day (27th - March)
1889 - 1953
1930 - 2007
On this day
Piers Courage drives a McLaren-Ford to victory in the Tasman Cup Race at Langford.
Piers Courage splashed to victory in the rainy final round of the Tasman Cup series, held on the public road Longford circuit. Jim Clark finished 5th, two spots ahead of title rival Chris Amon, and won the Tasman Cup championship, his 2nd straight and 3rd of his career.
Clark won the pole, turning a record lap of 122 mph over the fast, tricky 4.47 mile circuit. For winning the pole, Clark received 100 bottles of champagne from a local vineyard.
Rain delayed the start of the race almost two hours and the distance was shortened from 28 laps to 15. Denis Hulme missed the grid after having mechanical trouble with his 1.6 liter Formula Two Brabham-Ford, ending a disappointing Tasman series for the '67 World Champ.
The race started in pouring rain with Clark getting the jump over Amon, Graham Hill, Frank Gardner and Pedro Rodriguez. All were taking it easy on the narrow, wet course, but Amon went down the escape road rounding Newry Corner the first time and fell to 7th before he could return. Going into the Viaduct the second time, Clark led Rodriguez, Gardner and Courage. The saturated circuit made power of little use and Clark and Hill's Lotus-V8 Fords on Firestones were rapidly losing ground while Courage's 1.6 liter F2 McLaren-Ford was getting nearly as much bite as in the dry, where he was 7.2 seconds slower than Clark.
Courage made his way through to the front at a tremendous rate and by lap 4, was 2 seconds ahead of Clark with Gardner 3rd. Gardner moved 2.5 liter Brabham-Alfa past Clark on lap 5, but Courage was already 9.6 seconds ahead and turning in a great drive in the rain.
By lap 8, the rain began to ease, but Courage had stretched his lead to 32 seconds over Gardner with Rodriguez now 3rd in the BRM V12. Even though the rain had eased to a drizzle, Courage drew away even further while Rodriguez was rapidly running down Gardner. On lap 12, Rodriguez closed right up on Gardner but couldn't find an immediate way around in the spray. Courage was now 45.5 seconds ahead and many were likening his ability in the wet to no less than Stirling Moss.
Courage started the final lap 47 seconds in front of Gardner, but Gardner slid slightly sideways under braking for Mountford corner and Rodriguez dived past. Courage took the flag 55.9 seconds ahead of Rodriguez with Gardner another 1.2 seconds back. Both Courage and Rodriguez were on new Dunlop tires that were clearly far superior. Clark won the championship for the 2nd straight year and 3rd time in his career.
After the race, the 26 year old Londoner said "I am wet and cold. It seems like a miracle. I can't believe it". Considered something of a crasher entering the series, Courage's outstanding drive capped a great Tasman series and established his career. The race marked the last Tasman series event on the 4.47 mile circuit of public roadways that crossed over a wooden viaduct and a railroad. The wooden King's Bridge was set afire by vandals the day before. Fortunately, fire crews were able to extinguish the blaze before major damage was done.
© Jim Thurman