We have the pleasure of being able to offer Graham Hill’s 1968 Indy 500 front row starting Lotus 56, chassis 03.
This was the most technologically advanced, controversial race car of the 1960’s. Its creation would influence the Lotus 56B and Lotus 72 Formula 1 cars.
Andy Granatelli, the former racing driver turned businessman first started with the idea of using a turbine engine in 1967. He built and entered his own car under the Paxton Products name. It was sponsored by STP (who Andy was Chairman) and driven by Parnelli Jones. Much to the seasoned Indy 500 entrants annoyance the car leading for 171 laps before a gearbox failure ended the race for Parnelli with the win in sight.
Granatelli was undeterred and joined forces with Team Lotus to produce this unique piece of automotive history. Designed by Maurice Phillipe using the Pratt & Whitney ST6N-74 turbine engine and the Ferguson 4WD drivetrain. This Lotus was in a class all of its own at Indy in 1968. In the number 60 car, Joe Leonard won the pole with a new four-lap speed record of 171.599. In the above number 70 car, Graham Hill set the single lap record of 171.208. But success would elude them both with Hill retiring on lap 110 and Leonard retiring on lap 191 while fighting for the lead. Immediately after the “500”, the rule makers came for them. Some of this car’s technology continued on for a brief period. The Ferguson 4WD system would be used again on the Lotus 63 Formula 1 car and the Lotus 64 Indycar.
Chassis 56/03 was never raced again. STP displayed the car at their Headquarters for a number of years until it was given to NASCAR legend Richard Petty. Petty kept it in his personal collection for fifteen years before selling it to the current owner.
Chassis 56/03 received a meticulous restoration under the direction of two of the men who were there at its inception. Clive Chapman, son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman and Vince Granatelli son of STP’s famous Andy Granatelli supervised this magnificent job.
In 2014 this car and two of the other Lotus 56 chassis’ were reunited and driven once again around the famous Brickyard. This time by Parnelli Jones with Mario Andretti and Vince Granatelli joining him on track in the sister chassis. The car was then put on display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.
This is without doubt one the most historically significant Indycars of all time. Having been raced only once by the only Triple Crown racing driver Graham Hill (Triple crown – winner of the Indianapolis 500, the Le Mans 24 hours, and the Monaco Grand Prix). This car would be on the invitation list to the motorsport events all over the world.
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