Ducts used to cool the engine on the South African grand prix, 1968
Ducts used to cool the engine on the South African grand prix, 1968.

We arrived on the Wednesday and had to locate our car; filthy and broken in the railway yard.

1968 South African Grand Prix

Denny Hulme joins McLaren in the first Grand Prix in South Africa. Phil Kerr becomes Team Manager.

In 1968, the team hired a driver called Denny Hulme who was the world champion for Brabham. The very first race in ’68 was the South African Grand Prix. A guy called Wally Willmott and I were the race team. Phil Kerr was the so-called Team Manager, he’d been brought in as a part of the package with Hulme. Kerr sent the car by sea and then by train to Johannesburg. The car had been on the flat deck of a train and was black with soot. When it got to Johannesburg the train workers had pushed it off the back of the raised wagon and smashed the nose and the water pipes underneath. It was Wednesday and the first practice was on the Thursday. We arrived on the Wednesday and had to locate our car; filthy and broken in the railway yard. The car was a mess. We cleaned it, found a trailer, found a truck, fixed the water pipes, repaired the nose, and transported it to the race track for practice.

The biggest hurdle was air ducting because it was so hot. I ripped the ducting out of my hire car and stole some more out of the other team’s hire cars. It did the job, we finished fifth giving us two valuable championship points.

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