It was nothing less than a revolution. Team Lotus arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1963 intent on winning the race and overthrowing the established order. The car was the rear-engine Lotus 29, with fully independent suspension, powered by a modified Ford V8 passenger car engine. The Indy regulars scoffed at what they laughingly referred to as “a funny car” until Dan Gurney lapped the Speedway in one at near-record speed. Then they panicked. Overnight, their investment in front-engine roadsters with beam axles that had dominated the Speedway for a generation was threatened by new technology they didn’t understand nor welcome. Had it not been for (1) a Herculean effort by Parnelli Jones, who drove flat-out for 500 miles, and (2) race officials’ failure to black-flag Jones’ car for a profuse oil leak, Jim Clark’s Lotus-Ford would have won the race easily. He finished second. Victory for the Lotus-Fords would have to wait another two years. By then, the revolution was complete. All but one of the 33 cars starting the 1965 500 race were rear-engined. Jim Clark led 190 of 200 laps to win—two laps ahead of Jones’ nearly-identical Lotus-Ford.
This wonderful book, written by Andrew Ferguson, who managed the Lotus Indy team, and who is a very good writer, recounts the Team Lotus years at the Speedway (1963-69) with considerable insight. Included are many photos, both famous and obscure, in color and in black & white. For those of us who followed the sport in the 1960s, Ferguson’s book is a treasure-trove of new information about the people involved, plus technical details about the cars, and a register that details what became of them. Indeed, Ferguson's book is the definitive account of Team Lotus's Indy years.
It was Dan Gurney who brokered the Lotus-Ford collaboration, that lasted from 1963-65. From 1966 to ’69, Team Lotus was no longer sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, but by Andy Granatelli and the STP Corporation, and no longer sporting British Racing Green livery, but Dayglow Red of STP. From a technical standpoint these were more interesting years, with the introduction of four-wheel-drive and turbine engines. In 1984-85, Lotus designed and built a new car for Indy competition that for a variety of reasons never competed.
Bottom line: Lotus was the most innovative Indycar of the 1960s. It inaugurated a revolution that swept away a generation of highly-specialized front-engine tube-frame roadsters for a new generation of versatile rear-engine machines with monocoque chassis. Lotus cars won the Indy 500 once (in 1965), came close to winning twice more (in 1963 and 1968), and finished second three times (1963, 1965 and 1966). If you include the Lotus-clones of A.J. Foyt and Andy Granatelli, Lotus-designed cars won two 500s, one National Championship, and 16 races overall. For more, read this book. Highly-recommended. Five stars.