Tag Archives: Donington

Test Day – Donington Park

With a sunny midweek day off last Thursday I popped along to a Test Day run at Donington Park.

Dallara F308 VW, Robbie Watts, Donington Park

Among the large variety of machines being given a workout was the #7 Volkswagen powered 2008 Dallara F308 which is being prepared by Team Fox Racing for three time Monoposto 2000 champion Robbie Watts’s challenge for the F3 Cup.

Ralt RT1 BMW,  Rob Hall, Donington Park

In 1977 Eddie Cheever was midway through a three year spell with the Project Four Formula 2 team run by Ron Dennis, that year he drove the BMW powered Ralt RT1 seen above to two top point’s scoring finishes at the Nurburgring and Rouen to finish second in the F2 Championship to Rene Arnoux, 39 years later I believe Rob Hall is seen testing the car above which I believe belongs to Peter Wunsch.

Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Darren Nelson, Adam Carroll, Donington Park

I believe Darren Nelson and Adam Carroll shared the driving of the #18 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with which they are competing in the 2016 GT Cup, they finished second in Sunday’s opening race of the series.

Tyrrell Ford 001, TBC, Donington Park

So far as I know the Tyrrell family are owners of the original Tyrrell Ford 001 seen above and loaned it to John Delane in exchange for it’s restoration and maintenance. John’s helmet is predominantly white, if you know who is seen at the wheel in this photograph’s please do not hesitate to chime in below.

Aston Martin DB4GT, Simon Hadfield, Donington Park

Simon Hadfield was a busy man driving both Wolfgang Friedrich’s Aston Martin DBR1 and his #10 1961 DB4 GT seen above.

McLaren Ford M23, Scott Walker, Donington Park

Looking for details on who might be driving the 1974 built but now 1976 spec McLaren M23/6 looked after by Hall and Hall I came across someone by the name of Scott Walker who had a similar helmet on what appears to have been his only previous appearance in the car at Jarama way back in 2011, if you know anything else about Scott please do not hesitate to chime in below.

Mini Gen3 F56, James Turkington, Donington Park

All of the above were regularly swamped by many Mini’s in Gen3 F56 spec and earlier JCW R56 spec, James, younger brother of double British Touring Car Champion Colin, Turkington will be completing his first full season of racing in the MINI Challenge with the ExcelR8 Motorsport #61 Gen3 F56 MINI seen three wheeling into Coppice Corner above.

Thanks for joining me on this “Test Day” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Concours winning Packard. Don’t forget to come back now !


Old Nail – Vauxhall Firenza

In May 1971 Vauxhall launched a two door coupé version of it’s Viva sedan known as the Firenza and the shell of today’s car started life as one of the prototype Firenza’s on which Vauxhall put through it’s paces to ensure the model met it’s performance and quality criteria.

Vauxhall Firenza, Donington Grand Prix Collection

After Vauxhall had finished with the car they rewarded Bill Blydenstein of Blydenstein Developments who with driver Gerry Marshall had campaigned a success Vauxhall Viva GT with the car and a funding deal which became known as Dealer Team Vauxhall.

01 Vauxhall Firenza_6158sc

Bill Blydenstein and Gerry Johnston prepared the car, which included lowering the front suspension and widening the wheel arches to incorporate wide slick racing tyres, for Gerry Marshall to drive in the 1972 BARC Forward Trust Championship which he promptly won outright.

Vauxhall Firenza, Race Retro,

In 1973 Vauxhall introduced the Firenza HP with its distinctive “droopsnoot” for which Bill Blydenstein claimed some of the credit.

Vauxhall Firenza, Gregor Marshall, Goodwood, Festival of Speed

“Old Nail” as Gerry Marshall dubbed her, was similarly modified and raced to two further Class Championship wins in the BARC Forward Trust Championships in 1973 and 1974 by which time Gerry had clocked up 62 race victories in the car.

Vauxhall Firenza, , Goodwood, Festival of Speed

Bill Dryden acquired Old Nail in 1975 and he drove the car to a further three race victories and a Championship Class win in the 1975 Scottish Saloon Car Championship.

The 250hp 2.3 litre motor fitted with Lotus twin cam heads seen in these photographs, has been in the car since 1973, Gerry’s son Gregor is seen driving the car at Goodwood Festival of Speed a couple of years ago.

Thanks for joining me on this “Old Nail” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


RIP – Hill Cosworth GH2

After serving an apprenticeship with Smiths Instruments and rising to the rank of Petty Officer in the Royal Navy Norman Graham Hill passed his driving test aged 24 in 1953.

The following year he got the motor racing bug driving a 500 Formula 3 Cooper and joined Team Lotus as a mechanic where he eventually talked his way into the cockpit, in 1956 Graham, as he is better known, made his Grand Prix debut at the wheel of a Lotus 12.

Hill Cosworth GH2, The Donington Grand Prix Collection

By 1962 Graham Hill was leading BRM to their one and only Formula One World Constructors Championship and became World Drivers Champion for the first time.

Hill Cosworth GH2, The Donington Grand Prix Collection

After winning the Indy 500 driving a Lola in 1966 Graham Hill rejoined Lotus in 1967 to partner Jim Clark and the following year he won his second world championship in the Lotus 49B.

Hill Cosworth GH2, The Donington Grand Prix Collection

A year after winning the Le Mans 24 Hours sharing a Matra MS670 with Henri Pescarolo, Graham decided to go it alone and set up his own team in 1973 running a Shadow in 1973 and Lola’s and a derivation thereof in 1974 and 1975.

Hill Cosworth GH2, The Donington Grand Prix Collection

Having retired from driving in 1975 Graham put all of his efforts into supporting a rising British star Tony Brise who scored the teams first constructors championship point at the 1975 Swedish Grand Prix at the wheel of the Lola derivative Hill GH1.

Hill Cosworth GH2, The Donington Grand Prix Collection

For 1976 Graham was to run fellow Londoner Tony in a one car team for which Andy Smallman designed the all new Hill GH2 powered by a Cosworth DFV, the development of which Graham had been an instrumental part of in 1967 while at Lotus.

Hill Cosworth GH2, The Donington Grand Prix Collection

On the 29th of November 1975 the team tested the new car, seen in these photographs at The Donington Grand Prix Collection, at Paul Ricard in Southern France and at the end of the test the core members of the team; manager Ray Brimble , mechanics Tony Alcock and Terry Richards, designer Andy Smallman and Tony Brise boarded the Graham’s Piper PA 23-250 Turbo-Aztec which he then piloted back to England.

Hill Cosworth GH2, The Donington Grand Prix Collection

At 10pm in heavy fog while attempting to land at Elstree Airfield the plane crashed with the loss of all on board.

Thanks for joining me on this “RIP” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t for get to come back now !


Emergent Red Five – Williams Honda FW10

1984 saw Williams struggle with the new Honda V6 turbo engine that had plenty of power but a very short power band meaning that it delivered all of it’s power in a sudden burst at the top end of the revolutions per minute (rpm) range rather than a preferable smooth increase in power delivery from the top half of the rpm range, all the same Keke Rosberg managed to win the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix.

Allied to this the old fashioned aluminium honeycomb construction method was no longer the stiffest solution to chassis construction, which McLaren had advanced with it’s Hercules built carbon fiber chassis in 1981.

Williams Honda FW10, Donington Park Museum

For 1985 the Didcot based Williams team built the Patrick Head and Enrique Scalabroni designed FW10 with a Carbon Fiber monocoque, Nigel Mansell was signed up to drive the “Red 5” and join 1983 champion Keke Rosberg and seven years of Saudi Airlines and TAG sponsorship came to an end with Mobil and Cannon joining Denim and ICI as the teams primary sponsors.

For the first third of the 1985 season the team had to make do with the same Honda RA163E engines as in 1984 and their best result was a 4th place for Keke Rosberg in the Canadian Grand Prix.

Williams Honda FW10, Donington Park Museum

For the following Detroit Grand Prix Honda supplied Williams with a completely new RA165E V6 that was not only more powerful, 900hp in race trim, but more importantly delivered it’s power in a more tractable way.

After Nigel used the engine to qualify second to Ayrton Senna, Keke celebrated the new power unit’s arrival with a debut win at Detroit from 5th on the grid and finished second in France where Nigel did not start after a 200 mph crash.

Williams Honda FW10, Donington Park Museum

Reliability was not great over the next few races, but then Honda hit the sweet spot with it’s tuning and Nigel finished 2nd from 7th on the grid in Belgium where Keke finished 4th from 10th.

At Brands Hatch for the European Grand Prix Nigel and Keke were 3rd and 4th on the grid before Nigel, driving a “Red 5” FW10 like the one seen above at Donington Park Museum, went on to score a popular maiden win two spots ahead of Keke, at the next race Keke finished second to Nigel in the South African Grand Prix where the cars started line astern from pole and third place respectively. Nigel and Keke started 2nd and 3rd at the season ending Australian Grand Prix, but only Keke crossed the finish line albeit in first place, on his final start for the Williams team.

Thanks for joining me on this “Emergent Red Five” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyrs” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Increased Unsprung Weight – Tyrrell Cosworth 007

With the retirement of Jackie Stewart and the untimely death of his team mate Francois Cevert the Tyrrell Racing Organisation started the 1974 with two new drivers Patrick Depailler who had made two starts for the team as a third driver in 1972 and Jody Scheckter, who took the seat originally destined for Gerry Birrell and then Roger Williamson both of whom were killed after Jackie Stewart had told Ken Tyrrell of his decision to retire early in 1973.

With two relatively inexperienced drivers coming into the team Derek Gardner opted to design a much simpler car with a longer wheel base, all round inboard brakes and a chisel nose than the Tyrrell 006 with which Jackie and Francoise had so much success in 1973.

Tyrrell Cosworth 007, Donington Park Museum

Jody drove the #007/1 to two victories in Sweden, where Patrick was a season high second and at Brands Hatch in 1974.

Jody had an outside shot at the title at the beginning of the season finale 1974 US Grand Prix where he retired with a fuel system issue having secured third place in the championship.

Tyrrell Cosworth 007, Donington Park Museum

For 1975 the design of the 007 was revised with the radiators being angled back on the vertical plane dispensing with the need for side pods to house them and with outboard front brakes being adopted which adversely affected the unsprung weight of the car.

By now Ferrari were really hitting their stride and Jody managed just the one win at his home South African grand prix which when backed up with a second place finish in Belgium, third in Britain and 6th at Watkins Glen added up to a disappointing distant 7th in the championship.

Tyrrell Cosworth 007, Donington Park Museum

On the plus side while the performance and reliability of the 007’s was tanking Derek Gardener was working on one of Formula Ones more spectacular curiosities for the 1976 season.

At the time of writing I am not sure which of two possible 007’s today’s featured car seen at the Donington Park Museum, is. I believe it is, or was, owned by American Jeffrey Lewis, it is possible that it is either #007/7 which was unraced in period or #007/4, which was built in 1974 for Patrick and converted to the 1975 spec by TRO for Patrick to race in 1975, both of which appear to presently belong to Americans.

Having seen a 007 a few years ago in the Scuderia Gulf Rondini colours for whom Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi drove #007/4 in 1976 I suspect today’s featured car is most likely #007/7, if you know different please do not hesitate to chime in below.

Thanks for joining me on this “Increased Unsprung Weight” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Maserati Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Large & Small – Cooper Mk V (T15)

For 1951 Cooper built the Mark V to compete in “500” Formula 3 events, the Mark 5 has also been given the retrospective Cooper T15 moniker.

Cooper Mk V, Race Retro, Stoneleigh,

Improvements over previous “500” Coopers listed in their contemporary advertisements included a completely redesigned chassis, lighter body with hinged top panels for easy access fore & aft, reduced weight, smaller frontal area and rubber suspended alloy side tanks.

Cooper Mk V, Race Retro, Stoneleigh,

A Mark 5 chassis could be supplied for £500 without an engine or £582 with a JAP excluding taxes, customers for the Mark 5 included a Mr Bernhard “No Angel” Ecclestone and a semi works team run by Ecurie Richmond with drivers Eric Brandon, who became the inaugural 1951 National Formula 3 Champion and Alan Brown was run alongside the team of works drivers Ken Carter and Bill Whitehouse.

Cooper Mk V, Race Retro, Stoneleigh,

Today’s featured Mark 5 was modified to accommodate the larger frame of works driver “Big” Bill Whitehouse who raced the car in the UK, Italy and Germany during the 1951 season scoring a win at Silverstone and many podium finishes.

Cooper Mk V, Race Retro, Stoneleigh,

The following season it was bought by Lewis “Pop” Lewis-Evans who shared the driving duties, with an emerging talent, his son Stuart who scored wins at Silverstone, Brands Hatch and finally at Chimay in Belgium during the 1952 season.

Cooper Mk V, Race Retro, Stoneleigh,

Over the winter of 1952 ’53 a lowline body work was fitted to the car to capitalise on Stuarts 5′ 4″ frame, this kept the car competitive for 1953 before it found it’s way to Tom Wheatcroft’s hands in 1954.

The car remained in Tom’s Donington Collection until 2014 when the current owner acquired it and restored for racing this season.

Thanks for joining me on this Large & Small edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at Jim Clarks 1965 World Championship winning Lotus 33. Don’t forget to come back now !

03/05/15 PS Yesterday I learned from Doug Nye that Stuart Lewis-Evans was one of the earliest racers to use seat belts, this link shows Stuart wearing what appears to be seat belts of a type designed for use in aircraft at the Crystal Palace meeting in July 1953.

The Lewis-Evans family also had a novel way of carrying their Cooper atop their Land Rover as seen in this link.


Magnesium DFV – Cosworth

Looking like a cross between a 1923 Grand Prix Voisin Labatoire and a 1954 Lancia D50 the Cosworth Formula Car designed by Robin Herd.

Cosworth, Donington, Park Museum

Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, the geniuses behind the Ford Cosworth DFV Formula One engine that dominated Formula One from 1968 to 1982, decided to engage former McLaren designer Robin Herd build a car which would maximise the advantages of their powerful DFV V8 in 1968.

Cosworth, Donington, Park Museum

Herd took a more radical approach to the application of all wheel drive to Formula One than either Colin Chapman’s Lotus 63 or Jo Marquart’s McLaren M9A, although no where near as radical as the V12 powered MATRA MS 11 all wheel drive with hydraulic drive to all four wheels.

Cosworth, Donington, Park Museum

In order to keep the driver’s seat low and accommodate the drive shaft running from the motor and gearbox in the rear to the wheels at the front the driver was slightly offset from a central seating position.

Cosworth, Donington, Park Museum

The Cosworth was tested by Mike Costin, the ‘Cos’ in ‘Cosworth’, Brian Redman, Trevor Taylor and Jackie Stewart.

Cosworth, Donington, Park Museum

Trevor Taylor was penciled in to debut the Cosworth at the 1969 British Grand Prix, however as the testing had shown the car worked best with little or no drive to the front wheels the entry was withdrawn.

Cosworth, Donington, Park Museum

While the Cosworth shared the same 3 lite / 183 cui DFV motor design there was one essential difference between the Cosworth works unit and those supplied to Lotus and McLaren, the block was cast in magnesium to save weight over the aluminium cast DFVs supplied to Cosworth’s customers.

Cosworth, Donington, Park Museum

The Cosworth never did race, as BRM’s Tony Rudd had predicted after BRM’s experience with the all wheel drive BRM P67 all wheel drive would never work in Formula One, and after being demonstrated at the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in 1970 it found it’s way to the Donington Park Museum where it is seen in these photographs.

Thanks for joining me on this “Magnesium DFV” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !