Monday, 06 June 2016 09:00

Al Pease – Eppie Wietzes: the “prides” of Canada

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translated by Giannis Binas

In 1978, the Canadians deliriously celebrated the triumph of their compatriot, Gilles Villeneuve, at the circuit of Montreal – he couldn’t have chosen a better place for his maiden win in Formula 1.

However, a few years earlier, they had already seen two of their own, “honoring” them with accomplishments, that weren’t exactly to be proud of.

Wietzes Canada 1967 1

Mosport Park, hosted the first Grand Prix to be held on Canadian soil, in 1967.

Two local heroes took the burden of defending the Canadian pride.

Supported by Castrol, Al Pease bought an Eagle-Climax T1f (the single-seater with which Dan Gurney raced the 1966 championship) and registered as a private entry, while Eppie Wietzes was registered as Lotus’ 3rd driver (with Jim Clark and Graham Hill as teammates).
The skill of the two drivers though, was poles apart the one of the protagonists and they were inevitably limited to the last row of the grid (with respective times 7.7 and 8.4 seconds short of pole position, which belonged to the “usual suspect”, Clark).
Problems weren’t absent during the race: Pease on the one hand, was forced into two battery changes (which, owing to his numerous mechanics, were performed by… himself) and completed only 47 out of 90 laps, resulting in him not being classified.

Wietzes on the other hand, was shown the black flag for accepting external assistance in starting his engine, which went out after a spin.
You’ll be wondering: “where are their ‘achievements’, these are not a big deal”.

Well, the achievements follow right away, as the “postman always rings twice”.

Pease Canada 1969 1

So, in 1969, Pease took care of writing his name in the history of Formula 1.

The previous year, Climax’s engine ‘betrayed’ him during qualifying depriving him of the opportunity to qualify into the race, but this time, the goal was achieved.

The ‘dream’ though, did not last long, as he proved a nightmare for the rest of the participants.
His dreadful pace combined with the fact that he was involved in various incidents-minor accidents left no choice to the stewards: with Ken Tyrrell furious, since Sir Jackie Stewart was a Canadian’s ‘victim’, Pease was shown the black flag.
The reasoning for his ban was the one that constituted him a record man: for the first and only time up to date, a driver was shown the black flag “because he was really slow” (the usual reason has to do with dangerous driving).

And in case you are wondering how slow was he, think about that when he was banned from the race, he hadn’t completed even half of the leader’s laps (Sir Jack Brabham had completed 46 laps, Pease had completed 22)!

Pease Canada 1969 2

In 1973, Wietzes returned to the “crime scene” too, this time however, as a stand-by driver; he would be the one to drive the safety car in case it needed to be deployed in the race.

Safety car was a measure that hadn’t yet debuted in a race and fate brought it so as its first appearance remained… unforgettable.
The collision between Francois Cevert and Jody Scheckter filled the circuit with debris that rendered necessary the SC’s entrance to the circuit.

But Wietzes, as his co-driver Peter McIntosh, made the mistake to focus on the leader (Stewart), who was entering into the pits as they were exiting.

They assumed they had to wait for him to reenter the track in order to be in front of him until he comes out and bring the rank back to normal.

Meanwhile, they nodded plenty of drivers to go ahead and continue racing.

Stewart delayed a lot though, resulting in Wietzes not knowing what to do until the wait came to an end: the yellow Porsche 914 was positioned in front of Howden Ganley’s Iso-Marlboro,

Wietzes Canada 1973 2

The word “mess” just isn’t enough to describe what followed.

McIntosh was trying to confirm through the stewards that they were in front of the leader; the stewards had no idea but they insisted they were correctly in front of Ganley; Ganley himself couldn’t believe he was leading but decided to grasp the opportunity that came out of nowhere.
-6:25 onwards, the first appearance of the “official race neutralizing car”:

In the end of the 80th lap, Colin Chapman, believing Emerson Fittipaldi was the winner, performed the characteristic gesture of throwing the hat.

The thing is though; Emmo crossed the finish line but never saw the checkered flag!

With teams keeping their own ‘notepads’, as the official timing system was still in infancy stage, the victory was disputed between - other than Fittipaldi - Jackie Oliver, Jean Pierre Beltoise and Howden Ganley.

Even McLaren themselves didn’t believe it when they were told that Peter Revson was the winner after all.

Revson Fittipaldi Canada 1973

The American was almost one lap behind Stewart right before the SC’s appearance, at the suggestion of which he passed as did the others until the Scot came out, as aforementioned.
Out of nowhere then, not only he covered a huge margin, but was also declared the winner, even though 5 hours had to pass for the results to be confirmed.

A confirmation with a protest, as Ganley’s partner in life that was also keeping the times for Iso-Marlboro, stopped yelling only after hours and Shadow’s people withdrew the objection they had filed checking again and again that Revson had completed 80 laps rather than 79.
Wietzes, in a harmonious cooperation with the marshals, achieved like Pease to go down in history – such race turmoil at fault of the SC occurred only once again, at the Australian GP of 1991.

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