Shelby McLaren Lotus 72

Colin Chapman, F1, Fittipaldi, Jochen Rindt, Lotus, Lotus 72D -

Shelby McLaren Lotus 72

Shelby McLaren had just finished a sneaky glass of Port on a very chilly morning in January 1970 and was leaving the Royal Automobile Club just as Colin Chapman walked in. Colin was very excited about a new project and assured Shelby that it would be something, ‘revolutionary’. His projection was correct and Colin Chapman would be largely responsible for producing the most successful F1 car ever, the Lotus 72.

Shelby had seen the car briefly (10 laps) at Spa-Francorchamps but it would be the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix that would prove to be the catalyst for his emotional attachment to the Lotus 72. 

Jochen Rindt dominated in practice and took Pole position. Shelby was enamoured with the new Lotus, the radiators being moved to the side of the car, the overhead air-intake and the sleek wedge aero-dynamics became the basis on which all future F1 cars would be designed. Shelby was ecstatic for Colin and the team but was it was to be short lived. 

Shelby had taken the opportunity over the weekend to catch up with an old rival from his Schoolboy days, having played against Eton College on numerous occasions he had come to know Piers Courage quite well. The plumes of black smoke billowing from the back of the track on lap 22 however, were to herald the end of Piers life, a man who had been the true epitome of the Gentleman Racer. 

The dominant win by Jochen Rindt in the new Lotus should have been a celebration for a new benchmark in F1 motoring but it was to be a dark and painful day in Zandvoort. When Shelby saw Jochen Rindt die in his Lotus 72 only 3 months later at Monza he was deeply disturbed and it would leave him with an enduring condition that proved to be life-changing. His connection to the Lotus 72 would remain forever and it was an emotional reconnection with so many of the Lotus 72’s at a Goodwood Members Day that is our recreation today.

The Lotus 72 would become one of the most iconic slot cars of all time and more significantly it would be the black and gold JPS livery that would make the car so much more memorable. Scalextric introduced the car to their range as C.050 JPS Lotus 72D as driven by the legendary Emerson Fittipaldi in 1973. The Lotus 72 would remain in the Scalextric range for six years with a number of variations and along with the JPS Liveried Lotus 77 would combine to become possibly the most recognisable Scalextric car ever. In 2014 Scalextric also released updated versions of the Lotus 72 as can be seen in the photos (C3542A, C3479A, C3657A, C3833A). Do you have a memory of the Lotus 72?

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published