The 1966 triple Oscar winning film ‘Grand Prix’ follows the lives of four drivers through a fictional version of the 1966 Formula 1 World Championship. Jean-Pierre Sarti (Ferrari) is a double World Champion in what is probably the last season of his career. Pete Aron (Yamura) is a driver on the come-back road. Scott Stoddard (BRM) is desperately trying to follow in his late brother’s footsteps after suffering a near fatal crash in Monaco. Nino Barlini (Ferrari) is the season’s hot shot rookie, and a three times Motorbike World Champion. The sub plot of the film follows the lives of the drivers ‘WAGs’, who have to live with the men who do one of the most dangerous sports on Earth. All four of the main drivers in the film win each of the nine races of the season.
- Monaco Grand Prix: Sarti wins. Aron blocks his BRM team-mate Stoddard from lapping him, and the pair crash. Aron is sent into the harbour and Stoddard is almost killed. Aron is fired from the team.
- French Grand Prix: Sarti wins again, inspired by his mistress. Stoddard misses the race through injury and Aron is now a TV pundit and starts a fling with his ex-team-mates wife.
- Belgium Grand Prix: Aron wins his first race back driving for the Yamura team in a rain affected race. Sarti was leading with a few laps to go, but crashes and kills to young boys who were watching. Stoddard is still out injured.
- German Grand Prix: Aron wins again.
- Dutch Grand Prix: Stoddard makes a surprise winning return to racing.
- United States Grand Prix: Stoddard wins again.
- Mexican Grand Prix: Stoddard wins his third race in a row.
- British Grand Prix: Barlini wins. Stoddard leads but is forced to retire after he falls unwell as a result of taking too may pain killers. Aron crosses the line in flames as he risks his life to beat Sarti into third.
- Italian Grand Prix: Sarti is killed whilst hunting down his Championship rivals. Barlini is called in by Ferrari whilst leading as a mark of respect. Aron and Stoddard battle it out for the lead. Aron wins by just a few inches to become World Champion.
As you all know, I am a lifelong follower of Formula 1. My first race was the 1996 Australian Grand Prix when I was not even 3 and a half. I have waited to see this film for a very long time, and I am glad that I finally have. Despite it being set in the mid 1960s and incredibly cheesy in places, it is a brilliant film. The parts that stand out the most in the film are obviously the then ground breaking in car and on board camera shots, which are still a draw after well over 40 years. I do have to see the film again however, because most of the time I was looking out for cameos played by the name drivers of that era. These being: Phil Hill, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham, Richie Ginther, Bruce McLaren and Juan Manuel-Fangio. At first the drivers and teams, particularly Ferrari didn’t want anything to do with the film, but after Enzo Ferrari saw what the film might be, he and the rest of the F1 world were keen to help.
How some of the shots were filmed is fantastic as you will see in the video below. No need to use painful to look at moving screens whilst the driver ‘drives’ when you have the 1961 World Champion in your crew. Phil Hill drove a camera car during the 1966 Belgian and Monaco Grand Prixs to get as much action as he could. But in Belgium it rained hard, but he didn’t stop filming. The four actors playing each of the drivers had varying driving skills and talents which also lead to filming issues. One couldn’t drive at all, one was slow and nervous, one was scared of driving at high speeds and had to be towed, and one was so competitive that he took up racing as a hobby after the film was finished.
An excellent film and a must for all F1 fans.