On this day in history : 6th October 1968 – The first three places in the United States Grand Prix are taken by British drivers – Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill and John Surtees….

Jackie Stewart – Matra Ford : Jim Culp via Flickr

The 108 lap Formula One race was held at Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course, New York and was watched by a crowd of 93,000…. It was a dry and overcast day, Jackie Stewart started the race in his Matra MS10-Cosworth second on the grid…. He had been unable to defend his potential pole position as his car had suffered a broken sub-axle during the second practice day…. To the surprise of everybody pole position went to rising American Indy star Mario Andretti in his Lotus 49B-Ford – who pipped Jackie by seven one-hundredths of a second…. It was also his first ever Grand Prix start….

Mario Andretti, 1978 – Suyk, Koen/Anefo/neg. stroken CC BY-SA 3.0 nl

Jackie Stewart provided the fastest lap of the race, at 1 minute 5.22 seconds – and went on to win, with Graham Hill for Lotus second and John Surtees in his Honda third….

Jackie Stewart, 1969 -Anefo CCO
Graham Hill, 1971 – Anefo CCO
John Surtees, 1964 – Public domain

It must have been both a joyous yet bitter-sweet occasion for Jackie…. Earlier in the year he had lost his friend and role model – fellow Scot Jimmy Clark…. Jimmy had been racing in a Formula 2 race in wet conditions at Hockenheim, Germany in his Lotus 48 – when in the fifth lap of the first heat his car skidded off the track and hit trees…. Suffering a broken neck and skull fracture Jimmy died on the way to hospital…. The cause of the accident was never conclusively identified although it was likely due to a deflating rear tyre….

Jimmy Clark, 1965 – CCO

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