THE WORST GRAND PRIX
The popularity of sports car racing in the 1960s meant that the first five years of the Singapore Grand Prix were dominated by these cars. The exception was in 1964, where the race was aborted due to atrocious weather while a young local driver Rodney Seow was demonstrating how it would have been done in his ex-Works Merlyn Mk5/7 single-seater. It turned out to be a Grand Prix to forget.
That weekend, the popular 1961-winning Aston Martin DB3S eliminated itself in practice; a Jaguar E-Type hit a course marshal, killing him; and before the starter could unfurl his flag an hour and a half after the scheduled start, Singaporean Lee Han Seng, the favorite in a Lotus 22, had an off into the monsoon drain in his enthusiasm. Frantic jumping on bent trailing arms made little difference to the suspension on the starting grid, and the car was out cold, leaving Rodney Seow (in his Merlyn Mk5/7) to battle it out with Hong Kong Police Inspector Albert Poon’s Lotus 23 and former British Hill Climb champion Arthur Owen’s Brabham BT8 Climax.
By the fifth lap, three fast cars – John Wright’s E-Type, Bill Wyllie’s Lotus 23 and Alan Bond’s Lotus 23B – had been wrecked, all along “Murder Mile”, the infamous stretch leading to the Circus Hairpin that caused many a humbling exit from the race. The death toll amounted to two that weekend.
As horsepower to weight ratios rose, it seemed that the single-seater would rule the roost. When Albert Poon won in a Lotus 23B in 1965, it was by sheer mastery of the car and circuit. It was the last time a sports car won the Grand Prix in Singapore.