LOTUS SEVEN REGISTER
the web site for the
Seven made by Lotus between 1957 and 1973
1962 Springbok Series
[picture] Brausch Neimann leading John Love's T55 Cooper Climax at the 1962 Natal GP. [Credit: Malcolm Kinsey.]
Formula One motor racing was very strong in South Africa in the early 1960's. There was a colossal entry for the two races prior to the South African Grand Prix of 1962. The races were the Rand Grand Prix at Kyalami Circuit on December 15th. and the Natal Grand Prix at Westmead on December 22nd. So popular were they that there was not enough room for everyone who entered and so the organisers ruled that there would be a qualifying time. At Kyalami it was 1min 45secs.
THE RAND GRAND PRIX: (15th. December, 1962)
The entrants for the Rand Grand Prix included the usual Lotus and BRM teams as well as others from England. There were also Coopers and other older Lotuses, a Lola and specials of South African build like the LDS, the Assegai and the Netuar. However by far the most unusual entrant was the much modified 1958 Lotus Seven Series One of Cape Towner, Brausch Niemann. Brausch as well as being a very useful driver, worked as a mechanic for Willie Meissner, a well known South African engine tuner.
Niemann's car had a Ford 109E all steel engine bored out to 1475cc with four Amal carburettors, special camshaft and head. The chassis was halved lengthwise and reduced by two inches to comply with Formula One regulations. The front brakes were 1958 Mercedes 180 with finned drums. The rear axle was changed to Austin due to the wide choice of ratios and free-floating hubs were incorporated as a safety feature. There was no limited-slip differential so a fiddle handbrake was used on the driver's side to stop wheel in the corners. The car was painted red, had steel wheels and the cycle wings were removed.
To everyones astonishment the Seven easily qualified for a place on the start line. Non-starters included eight Coopers, a BRM, the Assegai, the Netuar, one LDS, four Lotus 18's and two Lotus 20's.
Clark led all the way and won the race itself, followed closely by Taylor, Surtees and Hocking with the Seven finishing in a respectable 10th. place having beaten three of the Climax powered Lotuses. Through the speed trap Niemann was timed at an astonishing 127mph. Infact so fast was the car that Chapman was heard to remark that it must be the quickest Lotus Seven in the world when he saw it howling down the Kyalami straight 'stuck' to the rear of Jim Clark's Lotus 25!
Clark - Lotus-Climax - 1 min 35.3 secs - 96.90mph.
THE NATAL GRAND PRIX: (22nd December, 1962)
The following week-end saw Brausch qualify at Westmead in 21st. position for the Natal Grand Prix. The entrants were virtually identical to those in the previous race, however because of numbers there were two 22 lap heats and a 33 lap final. This meant that the Seven started 12th. on the grid in Heat One. Non-starters included three Coopers, two Lotuses, the Assegai and a Heron. Tragically Gary Hocking was killed in the last practice session when the Lotus 24 he was driving went straight on at a fast bend and somersaulted into a ditch. He died of head injuries on his way to hospital.
Niemann retired in Heat 1 which was won by Ginther in a BRM. Clark also retired with a misfire, having had a good dice with Ginther for much of the race. Heat 2 was closely contested between Taylor and Hill with Taylor pulling away towards the end of the race.
The 33 lap final was very exciting. Clark, because of his retirement in Heat 1, had to start at the back of the grid. Taylor, on pole, went off like a scolded cat closely followed by Johnstone but Hill and Ginther were second and third respectively by the end of the first lap. Clark, meanwhile, was already placed 7th. and was 4th. by the end of lap 2. Lap 4 had him overtake Johnstone, who was later to retire with an oil leak. By lap 12 it was Lotuses one and two and Taylor then slowed to allow Clark to catch up, but by the end the latters car was smoking badly and there was still quite a gap between the two of them.
Taylor - Lotus-Climax - 01-24.2 - 96.79mph
This article would not have been possible without the generous help of Jannie van Aswegen and Howard Robinson, both of South Africa. Another invaluable source of reference was Bernard Cowdrey's book, "The Half Ton Formula - Grand Prix & Formula One Motor Racing 1961 to 1965" which details the specifications of all the cars concerned.