35èmes Grand Prix d´Endurance les 24 Heures du Mans 1967
Circuit Permanenthe de la Sarthe
Date: June 10th and 11th, 1967
Conditions: Warm, cloudy
Track Length: 13,469 metres
Distance: 5232.900 km
Fastest Lap: Denis "Denny" Hulme, NZ, Ford GT Mk IV, (on lap 41) and Mario Andretti, USA, Ford GT Mk IV, 3:23.6 = 237.971 km/h
Pole Position: Bruce McLaren, NZ, Ford GT Mk IV, 3:24.4 = 236.082 km/h
Average Speed: 218.038 km/h
Race Notes: International Manufacturerd Championship, Round 7
At Le Mans there are various traditions that have been seen over the years. One of the longest lasting is the waving of the French tricolor to start the race. This is usually followed by a fly-over featuring jets trailing blue, white, and red smoke. A similar flag tradition is the waving of safety flags during the final lap of the race by track marshals, congratulating the winners and other finishers.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans also saw the first known instance at a major race of a winning driver celebrating by spraying champagne instead of drinking it. When Dan Gurney won the 1967 race with co-driver A.J. Foyt, the two drivers mounted the victory stand and Gurney was handed a magnum of champagne. Looking down, he saw Ford CEO Henry Ford II, team owner Carroll
Shelby and their wives, as well as several journalists who had predicted disaster for the high-profile duo.
Gurney shook the bottle and sprayed everyone nearby, establishing a tradition reenacted in victory celebrations the world over for the past 40 years. Gurney, incidentally, autographed and gave the bottle of champagne to a LIFE magazine photographer, Flip Schulke, who used it as a lamp for many years. He recently returned the bottle to Gurney, who keeps it at his home in California.
A.J. Foyt was all wiped up before Indianapolis according to a couple of motoring observers, but he smacked them all in the face by making Le Mans his number two big deal win within weeks when he partnered fellow American Dan Gurney in the lead car - a Mk 4 series, derived from the ill-famed J-type or breadvan Ford. The Mk 4 wasn't any prettier than the ugly J-van but by 1967 it was well sorted. Ford concentrated its efforts around a bevy of these cars, four for regular drivers McLaren/Donohue (Shelby-entered , Andretti/ Bianchi, Ruby/Hulme and Foyt Gurney. To back up there were three Mk 2s - for Hawkins/Bucknam (Shelby), Gardner/McCluskey, and Schlesser/Ligier (Ford France).
The Mk 4 Fords had been tried previously in only one race, Sebring. Again Ford was dogged by bad luck all through the race and won virtually by sheer weight of numbers. The fourth-placed Donohue car lost its tail section at speed and had to have it taped back again. Three Fords went out with a bang early on when Mario Andretti locked a brake in the Esses, hit the bank and stalled in the road. Schlesser and McCluskey spun their Fords to avoid him, both climbed the bank. All three cars were retired. England's bold new attempt at Le Mans prestige fell badly by the trackside. Both the Lola Aston-Martins went out early with engine failures, and the two Mirages, the Lotus 47, the Mini Marcos and the Nathan Imp were all out within a few hours of the start. Only the Clive Baker/ Andrew Hedges Sprite represented Britain at the end - a long way back in 15th after a bad crash and extensive repairs.
The Index of Performance
Ferrari really played a waiting game to the end with two cars in the first four - Parkes Scarfiotti 30 miles behind in second and Mairesse Beurlys , third, both in P4s. Porsche dominated the back-up positions to tradition and again carried off the Index of Performance. They were a motley variety of cars, though — Siffert/Herrmann (9071, fifth, and the Index winners, Stommelen Neerpaseh (910) sixth, Eldford/Pon (Carrera) seventh. Koch/Poirot (Carrera) eighth. Renault must also have been pleased with its four placings after failing to lodge a car in the fastest 30 in practice. Reliability and regularity provod the point and Alpines came in 9, 10. 12, 13. The Chaparrals, GMs undercover answer to Ford, actually forced their way into a brief lead at one stage and the Spence/Phil Hill car was rarely lower than third until it withdrew with transmission troubles half way through the race.
There was only one race casualty - when Mike Salmon's GT40 caught fire. He suffered only minor burns after leaping from the car. Anion's car also caught fire as he tried to drive back to the pits with a burst tyre. The Fords gave early indication of their superiority in practice. After the Chaparral's early first-day record three seconds under the old mark, the Fords went out en masse and blasted the old record to shreds. The McLaren Donohue car eventually came back with a 3:24.4 — more than six seconds under the 1966 record. This shocked some people as the Fords didn't start in the early April, test weekend and most considered Bandini's 3:25,5 to be around the limit.
But the Chaparral of Hill Spence still stayed up near the top with second fastest lap only .3 sec away from the leading Ford. Then followed four Fords, all within two seconds of the new unofficial record, and a mixed gaggle of Fords and Ferraris below that but still within the record. The best Lola-Aston was three seconds outside the record and the fastest 2-litre Porsches were commendably close at 11 seconds outside the record. After race day the record was Hulme's with a 3:23.6 or 147.90 mph, as against Gurney's standing record of 3:30,6 and 142.98 mph. Exactly seven seconds faster than 12 months ago, this time was almost exactly 14 seconds faster than the record of two years back. Just 16 of the 54 starters finished. These are the race highlights:
Rodriguez in a private Ferrari was first off the line but the Bucknum/Hawkins Ford Mk2 led around for the first few laps. Mike Salmon made first pit stop - on lap one to close a door. The Nathan Imp followed him in closely with a sick engine — the first hint of a problem that soon forced the cars retirement. Denny Hulme was in within the first few laps for an extended checkout of the front end which apparently produced results as he then went out and claimed the lap record. John Surtees retired the Aston Martin on lap three with a broken piston. Marcos, Healy and Lotus 47 all made pit stops with mechanical problems before the first ten laps. Lap eight saw the second Aston Martin - with Chris Irwin pit for problems. It retired shortly afterwards.
Ford gave an idea of precision pitwork to come with a routine pitstop just after one hour in 1.5 minutes - for the Bucknum/Hawkins car. But this car returned soon afterwards with a broken radiator hose and lost a lot of time, Gurney/ Foyt moved into the lead soon after hour one when when all cars had pit-stopped. Two hours after the start, a Ferrari was immovably bogged in the sand pits on Mulsanne and a Mirage had also retired. Both the Nathan Imp the Lotus 47 went out in the third hour and a Matra with a broken door was pulled out in the fourth hour for safety reasons.
The P3/4 Guichet/Muller Ferrari went out in the sixth hour (engine) and the first Porsche 910 out in the same hour. It was into the seventh hour and nightfall when Ferrari lost the Amon car and bad reports of the Ford drivers filtered through. Ruby/McCluskey had apparently never driven at night and went up the sandbanks several times. By the eighth hour Ferrari had a car in second behind the Gurney Ford and the Chaparral had begun its downward plunge. A Porsche went out in the ninth hour after disqualification for using too much oil and in the tenth the first big car brake pad changes were made. The last Matra retired at the same time.
The Big Ford disaster came at the halfway point when Andretti's spin took the McCluskey and Schlesser cars out of the race and ended the Ford 1, 2, 3, domination that had developed. The early dawn hours were bad ones for Ferrari – the Courage/Attwood car went out with a burnt piston. Simultaneously one of the Chaparrals retired, an Alpine pulled out after a crash, and two others retired with mechanical troubles. The Buck-Hawkins car finally went out at 17 hours after an impressive drive. The trouble – engine failure.
Dan Gurney took the No 7 Ford from A. J. Foyt in the 23rd hour for the short run home to the flag, after leading the race for 23 of the 24 hours, pit changes apart. It was an all-American victory - the first victory by an American car with American drivers. Foyt had become a total convert and was talking of teaming up with Gurney for an Eagle round of the World Championship Series.
1, D. Gurney/A. J. Foyt (Ford Mk If), 3251.7.!/If miles (135.If83 mph), record; 2, L. Scarfiotti/M. Parkes (Ferrari Plf); 3, W. Mairesse/J. Beurlys (Ferrari Plf); Jf} B. McLaren M. Donohue (Ford Mk If); 5, J. Siffert/H. Herrmann (Porsche 910); 6, R. Stommellen/J. Neerpasch (Porsche 910); 7, V. Elford/B. Pon (Porsche Carrera 6); 8, G. Koch/C. Poirot (Porsche Carrera 6); 9, H. Grandsire/J. Rosinski (Alpine-Renault); 10, A. de Cortanze/A. LeGuellec (Alpine-Renault); 11, R. Steinemann/D. Spoerry (Ferrari GTB); 12, R. de Lagenste/J. Clieinisse (Alpine-Renault); J. Vinatier/M. Bianchi (Alpine-Renault); lh., C. Buchet/H. Linger (Porsche 911S); 15, C. Baker/ A. Hedges (Austin Healey Sprite); 16, M. Martin/ J. Mesange (Fiat Abarth 1300 OT). INDEX OF PERFORMANCE; 1, J. Siffert/H. Herrmann (Porsche); 2, M. Parkes/L. Scarfiotti (Ferrari); 3, R. Stommelen/J. Neerpasch (Porsche).
INDEX OF THERMAL EFFICIENCY:
1, D. Gurney /A.J. Foyt (Ford). Fastest lap: D. Hulme (Ford Mk If), 3:23.6 (lift.90 mph).