Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Whole Truth

If an article in this month's Motor Sport is anything to go by then John Surtees wasn't Innes Ireland's biggest fan. Innes he says had "a big tantrum" when the new boy crashed the Lotus 18 testing at Silverstone. Later Chapman wanted John as his number one driver for the 1961 season and asked him who he wanted as his number two.....Surtees chose Jim Clark. "But Innes Ireland wasn't happy at all. He said I'd kicked him out of his seat at Lotus and there was a lot of ranting and raving. So I walked away, just couldn't stand the pressure."

Now of course this isn't the first time Surtees has spoken on this subject. Here's his description of the same incident from an article in C&SC a number of years ago:

"Colin said to me, "John - you're my Number One and you can have your choice of team-mate, Innes or Jim. I don't know," I said. "I've had so many mechanical failures that I'm getting a bit suspicious of your green cars."

"Then we'll paint 'em black!" said Colin, and he prepared a contract giving me choice of second driver and saying that the cars would be painted black. I told him that I would like Jim Clark as my number two, as I got on well with him, but then a few days later Innes Ireland called me from Paris. He told me that he had a contract for 1960 and '61 which stated that he was Number One at Lotus and that he had choice of team-mate! "What the hell is going on?" he wanted to know.

I went to see Colin."It's not true." he said, "I've got no arrangement at all with Innes. We're fixing him up with the British Racing Partnership." Innes still insisted that he had everything in writing, so I fixed another meeting with Chapman, taking Innes with me. He brought his contract, which said exactly what he claimed, but Colin just shrugged the whole thing off, so I said "I'm sorry, but that's it" and I walked out."

So there you have it and no doubt Ireland's "ranting and raving" are a bit more understandable when you have the full story rather than the truncated version in the Motor Sport article.

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