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1966 Belgian Grand Prix

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Date  12 June 1966
Course length  14.120 km (8.770 mi)
1966 Belgian Grand Prix
Official name  XII Grote Prijs Van Belgie
Location  Spa-Francorchamps, Francorchamps, Belgium
Course  Permanent racing circuit
Distance  28 laps, 395.36 km (245.56 mi)

The 1966 Belgian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Spa-Francorchamps on 12 June 1966. It was the second round of the 1966 Formula One season. The race was the 26th Belgian Grand Prix which to this point had only been held at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The race was held over 28 laps of the fourteen kilometre circuit for a race distance of 395 kilometres.


The race was won by British driver, 1964 world champion John Surtees driving a Ferrari 312 in a race that saw the field decimated by weather in the early laps. It was Surtees's fourth Grand Prix victory and his first since the 1964 Italian Grand Prix. Surtees took a 42-second victory over Austrian driver Jochen Rindt driving a Cooper T81. It was future world champion Rindt's first podium finish and the first for the new Cooper-Maserati combination as the works Cooper Car Company team looked to the three litre Maserati V12 sports car engine for the new regulations. Surtees's Italian team mate Lorenzo Bandini finished third in his Ferrari 246.

With a pair of podiums, Bandini took the lead in the championship by a point over the two race winners, Surtees and Jackie Stewart.

Race summary

The race distance was shortened from the previous year, from 32 to 28 laps. More than half the field crashed out on the first lap due to a heavy rainstorm and there were only seven runners left by the start of the second lap. Four drivers went off and crashed at the sweeping Burnenville corner, where the heavy wall of rain was. Jo Bonnier's Cooper T81 went through an upstairs window of a house on the edge of the track and Jackie Stewart's BRM P261 crashed into a telephone pole and then landed in a ditch at Masta Kink, leading to him being stuck upside down in his BRM, halfway up to his waist in fuel, for 25 minutes. Graham Hill and Bob Bondurant, both of whom had gone off near Stewart, managed to rescue him with a spectator's toolkit. Jack Brabham slid his Brabham BT19 coming out of the Masta Kink at 135 mph, but regained control of the car and rejoined the race. There was so much water on the track that it got into and flooded Jim Clark's Climax engine in his Lotus 33 and he was out of the race on the first lap too. The entire first lap was run under green flags. And by the start of the second lap, 8 of the 15 drivers who started were out of the race.

The race was filmed for the motion picture Grand Prix. The eight-minute segment of the 1966 film uses a combination of live footage and mocked up racing scenes. The live footage shows Surtees, Bonnier, Bandini, Ligier, Clark and Gurney in action. Surtees doubles in the scene for the fictional Jean-Pierre Sarti while Bandini doubles for the fictional Nino Barlini. The film is careful not to pick up Jackie Stewart in action as he doubles for the fictional character Scott Stoddard, who at this point in the film is recovering from a near fatal crash earlier in the season, although this was fairly easy since Stewart crashed on the first lap. James Garner's white Yamura (based on Honda, actual car is McLaren) number 24 did not appear in the actual race and scenes showing it are part of the staged race filming.

Because of McLaren's withdrawal, Bob Bondurant's car had to be painted white overnight in order to have an actual footage featuring the Yamura/McLaren car. In addition, Phil Hill was allowed to do one lap of the track with his car having a camera mounted on its nose. He managed to avoid the entire first-lap carnage and was able to get pictures of the scene.

After his accident in this race, Jackie Stewart began his efforts for safer racing which continued for decades; particularly after his influence as a Formula One racing driver grew through the next seven seasons he competed in Formula One.

Championship standings after the race

  • Notes: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
  • References

    1966 Belgian Grand Prix Wikipedia

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