Grand Prix (film)

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German title Grand Prix
Original title Grand Prix
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1966
length 169 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director John Frankenheimer
script Robert Alan Aurthur
John Frankenheimer
William Hanley
production Edward Lewis for MGM
music Maurice Jarre
camera Lionel Lindon
cut Henry Berman
Stu Linder
Frank Santillo
Fredric Steinkamp

Grand Prix is a car racing film directed by John Frankenheimer . The film was made in 1966 and is about Formula 1 . The focus is on the drivers and their environment, the teams and the races.

During production, studio recordings were cut together with television footage from the racetracks. In most cases, only the period around the race weekends was available for this. The realistic depictions of the racing accidents, sometimes in a documentary style, are still terrifying today.

40 years after its cinema debut, the film was released on DVD in 2006 . Until then it was shown on television occasionally. The computer racing simulation Grand Prix Legends is based on the film.


There was a kind of race between Warner Brothers and MGM to bring a “big” Formula 1 film onto the market. The attempt to involve Steve McQueen , who, together with John Sturges , was planning a competing project called Day of the Champion , failed through clumsy negotiations . Sturges also had a contract with the Automobile Club of Germany , so that the film material exposed by Frankenheimer at the Nürburgring had to be handed over to Sturges by court order. Thus, the 1966 German Grand Prix is only mentioned in passing in the film. Due to the time lag in McQueen's filming in Asia, Day of the Champion fell behind. When it became clear that Frankenheimer's film would premiere first, the project was dropped.

Frankenheimer concluded exclusive contracts with many F-1 drivers in advance, preventing them from participating in the competition. In addition, McQueen's friend and neighbor James Garner of all people was hired. On the other hand, neither the Nürburgring nor Lotus , Jim Clark or Jackie Stewart played a role.

After filming in Monaco, MGM presented a cut of the material to Ferrari and won the company for the naming rights and a filming permit in the production facilities in Maranello .

A Ford GT40 served as the camera car . For the setting with views racing cars modified were Formula 3 - seaters used.

Framework story

The actions and dialogues are just accessories for the numerous scenes on the racetrack. The drivers are based on real models in order to be able to combine pictures of the real races with re-shot scenes. For example, Ferrari driver Sarti with his white and blue helmet is a reminiscence of John Surtees , who, however, left Ferrari in the middle of the 1966 season. Barlini corresponds to Lorenzo Bandini , Stoddard Jackie Stewart and Pete Aron Richie Ginther , who at the end of 1965 - like the protagonist - won the first Formula 1 Grand Prix for the Japanese team Honda ( Mexican Grand Prix ) as an American .

Level of partnerships in the film

Jean-Pierre Sarti is married to a wealthy industrialist only on paper. He meets the journalist Louise Frederickson; the relationship becomes more intense. At the last Grand Prix of the year there is a confrontation between wife and lover.

Nino Barlini uses the cliché of the "Sonny Boy", who approaches life and races from the light side and thus also has success. A characteristic dialogue occurs twice: At the beginning of the relationship between Nino Barlini and Lisa:

  • "How about a drink?"
  • "I don't like to drink."
  • (Held out cigarette): "I don't smoke at all."

The first is at the beginning of their relationship, the second (with another man) at the end of the film.

The marriage between Scott Stoddard and his wife, who leaves him at the bedside and turns to Pete Aron, takes up a broader space. He is plagued by remorse and thereby endangers his sporting success. When her husband is again enjoying success in racing, she considers returning to him.

Racing team and driver contract level

Pete Aron is not doing well on Jeff Jordan's BRM team. Since leaving Ferrari he has not been able to achieve a win. At the Monaco Grand Prix there is a scandal. After an internal team accident in which his teammate is seriously injured, he stands as the culprit and is dismissed without notice.

After a short interlude as a television and radio reporter, he receives an offer from the fictional, Honda-based, aspiring Japanese racing team Yamura. Because of his feelings of guilt he can no longer defeat Stoddard, who has recovered to some extent.

Sarti and Barlini drive for Ferrari as recognizable number one and two in the team.

They run

For dramaturgical reasons, the actual order of the Grand Prix and placements could not be adopted in the film. Filming was not possible on all courses, the material from the Nürburgring had to be assigned to John Sturges for contractual reasons.

  • Monaco : Even today (2012), the laps with the camera car in Panavision are still superior to the usual TV images from the F1 cockpit. The vibrations reinforce the impression of sitting in the racing car.
  • Clermont-Ferrand , France: This Grand Prix is ​​the antithesis of the hectic Monaco weekend. As if in slow motion, the monopostos “dance” to romantic music around the course, which leads along public roads in the volcanic Massif Central . In 1966, the real Formula 1 race did not take place there, but in Reims . The racing scenes were therefore re-enacted with around 3,000 extras from the region as “spectators”.
  • Spa-Francorchamps , Belgium: Another highly dramatic race on the fast racetrack over 14 km of country roads, with a rain shower causing negative surprises and spectacular accidents.
  • Zandvoort , Netherlands: Another highlight with round-length tracking shots with full grandstands between the sand dunes not far from the sea.
  • Watkins Glen , USA: Only the success and the modest prize money by today's standards are shown. Scott Stoddard suffers from unhealed injuries from his accident and needs more and stronger pain relievers to ride at all.
  • Mexico City : Team boss Yamura confronts Aron with a film clip that shows his mistake.
  • Brands Hatch , Great Britain: British pomp with slightly ironic staging opens the race, which ends with a fiery surprise. Scott Stoddard cannot finish the race despite taking strong painkillers.
  • Monza , Italy: Decisive race, the winner of which becomes world champion. Again it doesn't go without a bloody accident.

In the end, a thoughtful world champion stands on the empty home straight and “hears” an imaginary field of starters (there are no racing cars to be seen).


The synchronization for the German-speaking area was created in 1967.

role actor German voice
Agostini Manetta Adolfo Celi Martin Hirthe
Hugo Simon Claude Dauphin Klaus Miedel
Izo Yamura Toshirô Mifune Gerd Duwner
Jean-Pierre Sarti Yves Montand Max Eckard
Jeff Jordan Jack Watson Heinz Petruo
Pete Aron James Garner Rolf Schult
Scott Stoddard Brian Bedford Christian Rode
Bob Turner Graham Hill Jochen Schröder
Tim Randolph Phil Hill Peter Schiff
Sports reporter Anthony Marsh Hans Nitschke
Nino Barlini Antonio Sabato Claus Jurichs
Monique Delvaux-Sarti Genevieve Page Anneliese Prichert
Pat Stoddard Jessica Walter Renate Kuester


The music comes from the French composer Maurice Jarre .

As is usual in monumental films, the film has an overture of almost five minutes in length. After the break, which requires a disc change in the DVD version, there is an interlude of 1:45 minutes. Only a still image is shown on the screen.

Special recordings


"The fascinating, admittedly tiring racing shots of the film, which was elaborately produced using the cinerama process, are poorly held together by the richly constructed stories of the heroes' suffering and happiness in love."

“American monumental film that follows the fate of some racing drivers over a season. Excellent racing shots contrast with a poor script, so the film is only worth seeing for fans of this sport. From 16. "


John Frankenheimer's film won three awards in the technical categories at the 1967 Academy Awards : Best Editing , Sound, and Sound Editing . Frankenheimer received a nomination for the Directors Guild of America Award . Antonio Sabàto and Jessica Walter each received nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Young Actor :

Formula 1 driver in the film

Of the actors, only James Garner was qualified for the stunts through his own racing experience . The other driving actors completed racing courses, but all with moderate to little success. Brian Bedford turned out to be completely unsuitable and was consistently doubled during the driving shots. Only Garner was clearly shown in all settings without a Nomex cloth in front of his face. Phil Hill drove a Ford GT40 converted into a camera car , with which he could drive faster than the monopostos piloted by the actors.

Other people related to motorsport

The commentator on the line is Rainer Günzler in the German film dubbing .

Formula 1 in the mid-1960s

Technical uniformity

From 1966, the permitted displacement was doubled from 1.5 liters to three for a short time, which meant that the teams were faced with the problem of hardly having suitable engines. Various V8 and V12 mid-engined engines were used, as well as an H16 for BRM and Lotus . The tires were still treaded.

As was customary at the time, the safety devices in the cars consisted of a small roll bar that did not necessarily protrude above the driver's head. There were no front and rear wings yet. These were only introduced in mid-1968. Overtaking maneuvers were possible on almost all sections of the route.

Externally, the cars appeared in their international racing colors , with small sponsor stickers at best . The advertising signs that were inevitably filmed along the route corresponded to reality.

The champagne shower at the award ceremony, which is mandatory today, was only practiced by Dan Gurney at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1967 . The winners drank Coke and gave the champagne to the boxing team.

Safety measures

The safety measures along the route consisted at best of more or less well-planned bales of straw. The spectator area was often only separated from the race track by a kind of electric fence, which in the event of an accident could lead to serious injuries and deaths among drivers and spectators.

Starters and helpers stood right next to the road during the start. The pit area was structurally not separated from the start and finish straight.

The bonus material on the DVD also documents the high risk of the racing drivers at the time. Many of the drivers shown in the film died within a few years of shooting.

Film bug


The engine sound could not be recorded synchronously to the extent required and was subsequently added with a great deal of tact. In a few places (05:56 on DVD 1) you can hear a large-volume V8 engine instead of an F1 engine.

Tire dimension

The monopostos used in “real” racing had significantly wider tires at the rear than at the front. In some photos, however, the rear wheels are not as wide as they are because modified Formula 3 cars were used.


During the race recordings in Monza, the 10-kilometer-long route variant including the two steep curves was used. However, this version was no longer used as a Grand Prix circuit after 1961, instead there was a circuit shortened to 5.75 kilometers without banked turns and chicanes until 1971. The racetrack at the beginning of the film is the one in Monaco "Cote d` Azur".

Web links

See also

Formula 1 season 1966

Individual evidence

  1. ^ My Husband, My Friend , Neile McQueen Toffel, A Signet Book, 1986
  4. ^ Grand Prix. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed July 30, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  5. Evangelical Press Association Munich, Review No. 439/1967