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.
The 1965 Lotus 38 finally won the Indy 500 for Colin Chapman and Jim Clark after Clark had finished second in 1963 in the Lotus 29 and had retired after leading from pole in 1964 in the Lotus 34. The Lotus 38 was designed by Colin Chapman and Len Terry. It was an evolution of the previous Lotus 29 and Lotus 34 Indy designs, but this time with a full monocoque tub chassis; it was powered by the same four-cam Ford V8 fuel injected engine as used in the 34, giving out around 500 bhp. In all of them, the engine was mid-mounted, improving the weight distribution and giving it good handling. The 38 was significantly larger than Formula One cars of the time, but was dwarfed by the massive American roadsters.
Clark started the race from 2nd position. After huge accident in the first lap where 10 cars were eliminated, Clark and Lloyd Ruby in Eagle Mk2 dueled for the lead. When Ruby was out, and 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. Clark completed 200 laps 41 seconds behind Hill, being classified 2nd. 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.
|1966||USAC National Championship||Indianapolis 500|
|Jim Clark||19||STP Division Stubebaker|
|Lotus 38||Ford||STP Gas Treatment Spl.|