The 1974 Canadian Grand Prix saw the debut not only of the Penske PC1 which I looked at last week but also of the also the Vels Miletich and Parnelli Jones team Parnelli VPJ4 a car that unlike the Penske PC1 was built in the United States.
The Cosworth DFV powered Parnelli was designed by Maurice Phillipe and on it’s debut in Canada Andretti qualified 16th and finished a respectable 7th just one spot short of a championship point.
At the following US Grand Prix an electrical issue intervened which saw the cars late arrival on grid and disqualification after 4 laps.
For 1975 the team lost one of it’s main backers Firestone who withdrew from Formula One at the end of the 1974 season. However the Goodyears on which the car was forced to run did not seem to hinder the Parnelli’s performance. At the non championship International Trophy run at Silverstone Mario brought the Parnelli home in third.
At the Spanish Grand Prix, where today’s photograph was taken by Carles Bosch, Mario qualified 4th. Mario was involved in an opening lap fracas inadvertently pushing pole starting Niki Lauda in to the path of his team mate Clay Regazzoni while John Watson crashed his Surtees into the back of Andretti.
Mario emerged in second place from the melee behind James Hunt, who was unscathed, with a crabbing car with a bent suspension. Hunt in the Hesketh led until spinning off on oil leaving Mario in the lead ahead of John Watson’s Surtees.
Mario led for ten laps before the suspension finally gave way leading to his retirement. The race, which only started after the teams mechanics had spent Saturday morning ensuring all the barriers around the Montjuich street cuircuit were properly secured, was stopped prematurely after Rolf Stommelen who inherited the lead from Andretti left the road when the rear wing collapsed on his Embassy Hill. Stommelen’s car ended up taking down a lamp post and some fencing which killed a marshal and four spectators and injured several more.
Mario managed two points finishes, fourth in Sweden and fifth in France during the remainder of the 1975 season. With the team running out of funds Mario finished sixth in the 1976 South African Grand Prix, at the inaugural US GP West held at Long Beach Mario retired before the team folded and concentrated on it’s US Formula 5000 and USAC programs. Mario eventually rejoined Lotus for the remainder of the 1976 season and won the season’s finale Japanese Grand Prix.
I have tried unsuccessfully to contact Carles Bosch who took today’s photograph if you know him please do not hesitate to get in touch below.
Thanks for joining me on this “Spanish Sadness” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !