Surtees had been part of Lola’s initial Indycar effort for 1966, but his big crash with the T70 at Mosport in ’65 kept him from continuing with the program.
Photo: Ford Motor Company
I first drove what was to become Graham Hill’s 1966 American Red Ball Special Indy winner at the Brickyard, in a test organized by George Bignotti, during the latter months of 1965. George was the very distinguished chief mechanic who, I believe, holds the record of seven Indy 500 winners. He had a long association with Bowes and that is why he was with John Mecom in 1966. I was due to compete in the 1966 500-mile race, but in September 1965, Mosport intervened where I had my massive accident when a front wishbone broke while I was testing my Lola T70 Can-Am car. The accident put my whole immediate racing program in doubt. I had to focus on being fit for the main team I was contracted to, Ferrari and their racing campaigns. My fight to get fit to race for Ferrari had to exclude my appearance at the 1966 Indy 500. Once I regained sufficient consciousness to be aware of what was going on around me, we had discussions, while I was still in hospital in Canada. It was there and then that I said that Graham Hill should replace me in the car to contest the Indy 500. That’s how Graham came to drive the car—leading ultimately to his victory. All of this had grown out of my long association with Lola and with Eric Broadley.
Of course, a great deal happened in 1966 and Graham won the race; and Jackie Stewart had nearly won it until he had to quit. The two cars were going very well and it looked like there might be a Lola one-two.
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