An era of front-engined roadsters in Indy 500 actually ended in 1964, when A.J. Foyt took the last victory for old classic monsters. Even in 1964 the majority of the field (21 of 33 starters) were new rear-engined cars. In 1965 they earn 27 out of 33 starting spots, and in 1966 only one front-engined roadster were present in the starting grid. The rear-engined revolution was inspirited by European racing car constructors, who introduced this type of the racing car design in Formula 1 in 1959. In mid-60s European car manufacturers and drivers were frequent entrants in Indianapolis. In the 1966 edition of Indy 500 two F1 World Champions (Jim Clark and Graham Hill), one future champion (Jackie Stewart) and ten European cars (Lola, Lotus, Brabham, and BRP) raced at the Brickyard.
Lola’s first appearance at the Indianapolis 500 in 1965 wasn’t a very successful one, when Al Unser and Bud Tingelstad raced a pair of T80s. The reason Lola hadn’t been as successful as hoped is that a number of problems stemming from late completion prevented sufficient testing. Both drivers complained of a handling problem that caused the car to “heave” as it entered a corner, this was later discovered to be caused by a flaw in the suspension geometry. The following year, Lola built the T90 in an attempt to win the Indy 500 with their new found knowledge from the year before. The T90 consisted of an aluminium monocoque constructed from the 16-gauge aluminium that the Indy regulations stipulated. Three Lolas were entered by owner John Mecom Jr: Graham Hill’s American Red Ball Special and Jackie Stewart’s Bowes Seal Fast were Ford-powered versions, and American teammate Roger Ward used a supercharged Offy. Stewart qualified in 11th position, Ward was 13th, and Hill started from 15th place. After huge accident in the first lap where 10 cars were eliminated, the race was dominated by another European champion and 1965 Indy winner Jim Clark in Lotus 38. When Clark spun off and visited pits for car inspection, Lola came to the fore. Stewart led for 40 laps (laps 151-190), but was out because of low fuel pressure (he was classified 6th). Then Hill went to the lead for last 10 laps and took the checkered flag. There was some controversy after the end of the race between Clark and Hill. Clark’s team contended that he did not lose a significant amount of track position, and estimated that they were still one lap ahead of Graham Hill at the finish. Colin Chapman and Andy Granatelli, the entrants of Clark’s Lotus team, declined to file an official protest, and the apparent controversy died out quickly. The victory of Graham Hill paved his way to becoming the only driver to have won the treble, 1962 and 1968 World Drivers Champion, 1966 Indianapolis 500 and 1972 Le Mans winner.
|1966||USAC National Championship||Indianapolis 500|
|Graham Hill||24||American Red Ball|
|Lola T90||Ford||John Mecom, Jr.|