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Trying Times

Miles flogs the four-wheel-drive Lotus 63 around Silverstone during the 1969 British Grand Prix meeting. The car was both complex and overweight. Photo: Maureen Magee

Monza 1970  was where I realized that Grand Prix racing, certainly with Team Lotus, wasn’t for me. I believe too that, in the eyes of Colin Chapman, the writing may have been already on the wall. We were testing the Lotus 72 without wings, I had a major disagreement with him and we fell out. The weekend went from bad to worse with Jochen Rindt’s fatal accident, following that it was easy to simply walk away. I think in the shadow of the events at Monza I was at an all time low, and there was no effort on my part to take the action I did.

The Lotus 72 was a radically designed racing car that was very fragile and broke on many occasions. These constant breakages conspired to affect my confidence with the car, especially as I was from an engineering background. Looking back at the Grand Prix racing era of the 1969 and 1970 seasons, it was a period of flux, especially at Team Lotus. These included the aerodynamic developments from high wings to low wings on the Lotus 49, the experimental four-wheel-drive Lotus 63, then the Pratt & Whitney turbine Lotus 56, and sandwiched in between was the Lotus 72. Many would consider my role almost as a test and development driver rather than a racer, however, I didn’t mind. Jochen Rindt didn’t particularly like the testing, on the other hand it was something I really enjoyed. Again, with my roots being in engineering, when one is testing one is usually learning.

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