The 1967 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on October 1, 1967 at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York.
Jim Clark nursed his limping car through the final two laps and came home six seconds ahead of Lotus teammate Graham Hill to win his third and final American Grand Prix. It was the Scot’s third win of the season, and the twenty-third of his career. The following April, Clark was killed in a Formula Two race in Germany, but two more wins (in Mexico and South Africa) had already made him the winningest driver in Grand Prix history with 25, one more than Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio.
Since they had appeared at the third race of the year in Holland, Colin Chapman’s Lotus 49s had been the fastest cars on the track, taking the pole in all seven races they entered. The reliability of the Lotus cars had been another issue entirely, however, and, when the series returned to North America for the final two races, the only remaining contenders for the Driver’s Championship were Brabham teammates Sir Jack (the defending Champion) and Denny Hulme.
Friday practice began under a dark, misty cloud and, as the weather slowly improved, the Lotus cars again posted the fastest times with Clark ahead of Hill. Saturday was much clearer, and nearly everyone improved their time from the previous day. Late in the session, Clark posted a 1:06.07, breaking the 125 mph average speed barrier, and seemingly securing the pole. Hill, however, was still set on winning the $1,000 prize for the pole, and, with Clark testing his car’s handling on full tanks, he snatched the prize from his teammate with a time of 1:05.48. Dan Gurney, who had become the first American to win a Grand Prix in a car of his own design at Belgium, was third in the Eagle-Weslake, and Chris Amon was fourth in the only Ferrari present.
A crowd of 80,000 was greeted with beautiful bright sun on race day. The previous evening, Walter Hayes, public affairs director of Ford of Dagenham, who had contributed £75,000 toward the development of the Cosworth-Ford V8, demonstrated his confidence in a good showing by the two Lotus-Ford drivers when he proposed that they should flip a coin to choose the winner, in case both cars were in contention at the end of the race! The drivers agreed when they decided that the arrangement could be reversed in Mexico, and Hill won the toss.
At the start, the Lotus teammates jumped into the lead, and at the end of the first lap, Hill led Clark, Gurney, Brabham, Amon, Hulme and Bruce McLaren. On lap two, Gurney moved past Clark for second place, and soon after, Hulme moved ahead of Amon and then his team leader, Brabham. On lap 10, Clark replaced Gurney in second, while Amon began to move forward in the Ferrari. He first got around Brabham, then on lap 21 passed Hulme and Gurney to take third, as the American slowed with a broken suspension.
To everyone’s surprise, Amon closed the gap to the Lotus pair, but lost four seconds trying to lap Jo Bonnier’s Cooper. He closed up again, gaining ground in the twisty sections, but losing as they exited the fast corners. The three leaders lapped Jo Siffert and John Surtees, but apparently Surtees objected to Amon’s hand signals as he did, and the Honda squeezed back ahead of the Ferrari under braking, despite being three laps behind! On lap 61, Surtees developed a misfire, and Amon shot by to take off after the leaders again.
Hill surrendered the lead to Clark when his clutch froze and he was briefly unable to change gear. As Clark pulled ahead, Amon caught Hill on lap 65. While the Englishman struggled to find a gear, the Ferrari went through for second place. Amon, however, suddenly saw his oil pressure drop on lap 76, and Hill regained second place. After eight laps, when Hill’s Lotus again was unable to select a gear, Amon moved back into second until lap 96, when, after a scintillating drive, his engine finally ran out of oil entirely.
With Hill too far behind to take up the claim on first he had ‘won’ the night before, Clark seemed home free. Then, halfway through lap 106, a support broke on the top of his right rear suspension, causing the wheel to sag inward. The Scot craned his neck around to assess the damage, and began nursing the car toward the finish, taking particular care on left-handers! Hill was 45 seconds back with two laps to run, 23 seconds as the entered the final lap. With both green and yellow Lotus cars ailing, they limped around the last lap. Finally, Clark crossed the line, six seconds ahead of Hill.
Hulme might have been able to do something about them at the end, but his Brabham’s engine was sputtering for lack of fuel, and he coasted across in third.