1970 Lotus 69 Formula B
Ex-Jacques Couture, Players FB Championship Winner
OldRacingCars.com provides the history of this Jacques Couture Lotus 69, chassis FB-1 as follows:
“Lotus 69 [71/69.1.FB] (Jacques Couture): New to Jacques Couture in March 1971 with green/yellow bodywork according to the Lotus built record. Raced by Couture in the Players Formula B Championship and the Molson Formula Championship in Canada in 1971, winning rounds of both, and in the Seattle round of the SCCA Continental Championship. Unknown in 1972, but advertised by Fred Opert in February 1973. Thought to be the car driven by Opert customer Julio César Hidalgo in the FB race at Autodromo de San Carlo, Caracas in March 1973. Subsequent history unknown.”
Couture began the 1971 Player’s Championship season with a win at Edmonton, the first race of the season. At Mt. Tremblant Couture’s teammate, David McConnell in Lotus 69 FB-3, won while Couture suffered a gearbox problem. At the second Tremblant race in August, Couture finished 3rd behind McConnell and Brian Robertson in a Brabham BT35.
At Trois Rivieres, Couture was back on form winning the race from Robertson. The Mosport race showed Couture gaining points for his fourth place finish behind Americans Allen Lader, Freddy van Beuren, and Canadian FA Champion, Bill Brack.
The final round of the Player’s Championship was held at Westwood on October 3, 1971. The conditions were appalling, with rain flooding the track. The top three contenders for the title, Couture, McConnell, and Robertson refused to start because of the conditions. Couture was leading the Championship at the time, and thus became the Players Champion.
While the Players Championship was going on, another series, the Canadian National Formula B Championship, was also being contested. Couture won the first two events at Mt. Tremblant, but then it became a seesaw battle between the same three that were battling for the Players Championship, Couture, McConnell, and Robertson. This time McConnell won, with Couture finishing second and Robertson third in Molson Championship. A photo of Couture’s Lotus 69B is featured in OldRacingCars Molson Championship article.
It is understood that the Couture Lotus continued to race in SCCA races for the next several years, perhaps including invitational event in Caracas, Venezuela in 1973. Thereafter the history is currently unknown until the car was purchased by Mike Fitzgerald. The current owner purchased the Lotus from Fitzgerald. That was 30 years ago.
The current owner had the Lotus was fully restored, still retaining its original chassis. Since that time chassis #1 has been campaigned in select historic races in the U.S.
The Lotus currently has a 205 h.p. Bob Slade twin cam with only two races on it. The gearbox is a Hewland FT200, upgraded with CV joints and stronger rear axles to reliably handle the engine’s horsepower. To see a photo of the car in action please go to AutoWeek.com
The car has the patina of being raced, but is continually maintained by a spotless pro shop that restores and maintains everything from modern GT cars, to Can Am and historic Formula One cars. We can get you any information on the car’s specs, and current condition, that you may want.
The Lotus still has its original chassis tag. It was transferred to the car’s new frame when the car was restored by Kris Mellon in his shop at Sonoma Raceway. The new frame was used because the old frame was tired and flexed too much to get an accurate, reliable, setup on it, not because it was damaged.
The Lotus 69 marked the end of the Lotus customer racing cars, and the end of an era. Lotus went out on a high note with the 69 model. They were championship contenders, and winners, in Formula B. While Couture and McConnell were finishing at the top of the Canadian series, just south of the Canadian border Americans Fred Stevenson and Bob Hebert were finishing 1-2 in the highly competitive SCCA North East Division National Championship.
Today Couture’s car can be raced in Historic Formula B, or it can be raced with wings in Formula Atlantic. Your choice. Either way you can race worldwide with the last of the iconic Lotus formula cars built by Lotus Components and Lotus Racing Ltd., both of which ceased in 1971. These are real pieces of automotive history.
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