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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1969
Numbers built:4
Designed by:Maurice Philippe
Predecessor:Lotus 56 Pratt & Whitney
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 20, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAlthough he only built cars to race in the Indy 500 for half a dozen years, Colin Chapman had a profound effect on the Brickyard. When he arrived in 1963 he was an absolute outsider in the close-knit world that had been dominated by the very traditional Indy Roadsters for so long. Chapman's mid-engined Lotus 29 caused quite a sensation and was certainly not welcomed with open arms by everyone. The Lotus founder had probably underestimated the unique challenges that the high-speed oval provided and it took him three attempts to win with his clearly faster mid-engined machinery. Jim Clark piloted the Ford engined Lotus 38 to victory in 1965.

With new Formula 1 regulations to deal with Lotus did not build a new Indy racer until 1968. Clark nevertheless came very close to winning again in 1966, finishing second behind Graham Hill's Lola. Once Chapman did set his sights on Indy again, he came up with something far more revolutionary than his earlier mid-engined racers. The STP liveried Lotus 56 combined a Pratt & Whitney turbine engine with a Ferguson derived four-wheel drive system. Chapman would have been excused to struggle the first time out with his ground breaking machine, but defying logic it worked straight out of the box. Two of them clinched the first two places in qualifying and pole-man Joe Leonard was robbed from victory when his turbine died with less than nine laps to go. Subsequently both turbine power and four-wheel drive were banned for 1969.

Eventually the ban on four-wheel drive was partially revoked for cars equipped with very narrow wheels (nine inch instead of fourteen for rear wheel drive cars). This was enough to convince Chapman to give it another go. Making this was made easier by the strong support from the Ford Motor Company and oil treatment supplier STP, who had a great motor racing enthusiast in their CEO Andy Granatelli. With the STP backing also came the driving talent of one Mario Andretti, who was personally sponsored by the oil treatment company. With the second and third car to be driven by Lotus Works drivers Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt, the STP-Lotus-Ford team had an abundance of talent in the driver seats.

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  Article Image gallery (13) 64/1 Specifications User Comments (2)