Tag Archives: Granatelli

Stirling’s Favourite – Ferguson Climax P99

“Harry” Ferguson was born on Novmeber 4th 1884 in Growell, County Down, Nothern Ireland. He started work with his brother in a bicycle and car repair business in 1902, while there Harry started racing motorcycles in 1904 and on the 31st December 1909, having designed and built a monoplane, he became the first person to fly in Ireland.

Ferguson Climax P99, Goodwood Festival of Speed

In 1911 Harry went into business selling motor and agricultural vehicles. On seeing the short comings of some of the agricultural products he was selling he began devising his own, including a new hydraulic system and three point linkage for attaching ploughs.

Harry entered into a hand shake agreement with Henry Ford Snr for Ford to manufacture the Ferguson patents under license in 1939. In 1947 Henry Ford II, Seniors grandson, reneged on the deal and five years later settled with Harry out of court to the tune of $9 million, around half of which went to Harry’s legal representatives.

Ferguson Climax P99, Goodwood Festival of Speed

In 1950 Harry employed Aston Martin designer Claude Hill and along with two pre 1939/45 war friends Fred Dixon, who prewar had proposed building an all wheel drive Land Speed Record (LSR) car and former ERA racer Tony Rolt began working on an innovative all wheel drive road car featuring electric windows, disc brakes and access to the rear through a hatchback, all idea’s which were unknown in European passenger car production at the time.

Project 99 a research vehicle, that became the worlds first all wheel drive Formula One car, to promote the all wheel drive concept was given the green light in May 1960, just 6 months before Harry’s death at the age of 75.

Ferguson Climax P99, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The P99 made it’s public debut in an Intercontinental Formula race with a 2.5 litre / 152 cui Coventry Climax motor at Silverstone in 1961 where Tony Rolt’s former entrant Rob Walker entered the car for Jack Fairman alongside Stirling Moss in a similarly powered Cooper.

Fairman retired from the race with a broken gearbox that may have resulted from excessive engine braking in the absence of reliable brakes, while Moss went on to a comfortable victory in the Cooper. At the British Grand Prix, where the Fergusson appeared with a 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui Climax, Fairman qualified 20th but ran into electrical problems, after Stirling Moss had retired his Rob Walker entered Lotus 18 he took over from Fairman in the P99. The car was later disqualified for receiving a push start.

Ferguson Climax P99, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Stirling Moss was entered to drive the Ferguson in the Oulton Park Gold Cup, a non championship race for Formula One cars entered by most of the top teams except Ferrari and Porsche. Stirling won easily to record the first, and only, win of a (non championship) Formula One race with an all wheel drive car and coincidentally the last (non championship) win for a front engined Formula One car.

The Fergusons 1.5 litre / 91.5 cui Formula One motor was uprated to 2.5 litres / 152 cui and subsequently entered in a series of non championship Antipodean Formula Libre, unrestricted, races in early 1963 where Graham Hill drove the car to a second place finish in the Australian rain at Lakeside and a forth place in the sub tropical summer heat of New Zealand at Pukekoe where with a mile to go his gearbox packed up while again running in second place.

Innes Ireland drove the P99 in the next three events finishing third at Leven, but retired from both of the other races. Graham Hill raced the car one more time at Warwick Farm where he came home sixth.

Ferguson Climax P99, Goodwood Festival of Speed

After a conversation with Stirling Moss, who had praised the benefits of the P99’s all wheel drive,Indy 500 entrant Andy Granatelli instigated a test in which Jack Fairman and Bobby Marshman drove the P99 at Indianapolis with the 2.5 litre / 152 cui motor and recorded average speeds of over 140 mph, Marshman claimed he did not need to lift at all for any of the corners, the car was so underpowered. Andy was sufficiently impressed that he employed Ferguson Research to develop all wheel drive for his 1964 Indy 500 challenger the Studebaker STP Special.

Granatelli never won the Indy 500 with an all wheel drive car but kept backing the concept through various incarnations the last of which was the all wheel drive Lotus 64 built in 1969, after which all wheel drive was banned from the brick yard.

Rolt, Fergusson P99, Richmond Trophy, Goodwood Revival

Ferguson Research was also involved with five all wheel drive Formula One projects including the 1969 Lotus 63, Cosworth and McLaren M9A, the last two of which I’ll be looking at in the weeks to come.

Although not the easiest car to drive Stirling Moss once described the Ferguson P99, which fascinated him, as his favourite racing car. Stuart Rolt, of the same Tony Rolt family is seen driving the P99 in practice for the 2011 Richmond Trophy at Goodwood above.

My thanks to Alan Cox, E.B., Ray Bell, Roger Clark and Michael Ferner at The Nostalgia Forum for their patience answering my questions about the the Ferguson P99.

Thanks for joining me on this “Stirling’s Favourite” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at the first BRM to win a Grand Prix. Don’t forget to come back now !

08 07 13 Errata, I originally stated that Moss was entered in a Lotus 18 for a non championship race at Silverstone when the Ferguson made it’s debut, when in fact Stirling drove a Cooper Climax to victory in the race run to the Intercontinental Formula as now stated in the amended text. Thanks to Roger Clark for pointing out the error.


Cut and Bury – Lotus Ford 64

After coming close to winning the 1968 Indianapolis 500 with the Pratt & Whitney gas turbine powered Lotus 56 driven by Joe Leonard the powers at Indianapolis decided to ban gas turbine power and all wheel drive for the 1969 season, but eventually relented and allowed all wheel drive vehicles that had wheels no more than 9″ wide all round. Rear wheel drive vehicles were allowed to go to 14″ wide wheels at the rear.

Lotus Ford 64, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Colin Chapman rose to the challenge of building a car to the new regulations with the financial encouragement from Andy Granatelli’s STP Oil Treatment. The Lotus 64 was a new chassis which was powered by a 700hp turbocharged double overhead cam Ford V8 motor driving an all wheel drive system that was lifted from the Lotus 56 as indeed was much of the rest of the chassis.

In order to connect the motor to the mid mounted gearbox the motor had to be mounted backwards so the drive came from the front, as on the ill feted Lotus Ford 63 all wheel drive Grand Prix car.

Mario Andretti, Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt were lined up to drive the three team cars and a spare was built just in case of unforeseeable eventualities. Straight out of the box the cars were on the pace of the gas turbine Lotus 56 from the year before setting record speeds. However Mario Andretti’s car had a rear hub failure which sent him into the wall. Mario was lucky to get away with superficial burns to his face and after it was determined the failure was due to a design fault that could not be rectified in the available time frame the three Lotus 64’s were withdrawn from the race.

Mario jumped into the #2 Hawk Ford belonging to Granatelli and promptly qualified 2nd to AJ Foyt and then won the race after Lloyd Ruby was knocked out of contention by leaving the pits with his refueling hose still attached.

Andy Granatelli wanted to buy one of the remaining 64’s but when negotiations broke down Colin Chapman is alleged to have ordered the now engineless cars be returned to Hethel, Lotus home base, where he promised to take a hack saw to them personally cut them up and dig a whole and personally bury them. As it turned out all three cars were put in a shed.

Jochen Rindt’s #80 is seen above sans motor, this is the second of the three remaining 64’s to have emerged in recent years the other one has a correct Ford motor installed.

Thanks for joining me on this “Cut and Bury” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at the first car to record a 200 mph average closed circuit lap during a race. Don’t forget to come back now !


Son of Silent Sam – Lotus 56

The 1968 Lotus 56 picked up on the technology used by the STP-Paxton Turbocar “Silent Sam designed by Ken Wallis for the 1967 Indy 500 with which Parnelli Jones came within 8 miles of winning before a transmission bearing failure intervened.

Lotus 56, Goodwood, FoS

Like the STP Paxton Turbocar the Lotus 56, was also bankrolled by STP’s Andy Granatelli, used four wheel drive transmission.

The Lotus 56Lotus 56, Goodwood, FoS

However the Lotus 56 rather than mounting the engine alongside the driver on a backbone chassis as had been the case with the STP Paxton Turbocar, Maurice Phillipe’s design had the motor conventionally mounted behind the driver in what was to become an influential wedge shaped vehicle.

Lotus 56, Goodwood, FoS

Jim Clark was originally penciled in to drive the Lotus 56 but his death during a race in Germany in April ’68 meant British driver Mike Spence was called in to do the early testing of the Lotus 56, unfortunately Mike was killed during practice three weeks before the start of the Indy 500 after hitting the wall in turn one.

Lotus 56, Goodwood, FoS

After an accident with in older STP Paxton Turbo car Joe Leonard joined Graham Hill and Art Pollard in the remaining Lotus 56’s.

Lotus 56, Goodwood, FoS

Despite running with an air restrictor plate mandated for 1968 Joe managed to qualify on pole for the ‘500’ thanks in part to the efficient aerodynamics and superior 4wd handling.

Lotus 56, Goodwood, FoS

The big advantage of using a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turbo shaft motor, more familiarly seen in a variety of fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft, was reliability these motors are known to have a mean time between outages (MTBO) of 9000 hours !

Lotus 56, Goodwood, FoS

The disadvantage of turbo shaft motor was eye watering fuel consumption which means turbine powered cars carry more weight and have to re fuel more often than cars powered by conventional piston motor’s.

Lotus 56, Goodwood, FoS

In the 1968 500 Graham Hill had an accident Art Pollard broke down while Joe Leonard was leading with a few laps to go when a fuel pump shaft failed meaning Granatelli came close but failed to win a cigar for the second year running.

Turbo shaft motors and four wheel drive were outlawed from the Champ Car circuit from 1969. The Lotus 56 design, in 56B specification, was subsequently sporadically used in Grand Prix races during 1971, but apart from phenomenal performance in the wet no overall advantage was found by using the combination of four wheel drive and turbine shaft propelled vehicles.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Son of Silent Sam’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !