Thanks to Tony ‘Giraffe’ Gallagher at The Nostalgia Forum I found myself going to Warrington with fellow TNFer and secretary of the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club Tim Murray. The purpose of the journey was to visit Colin Bennett and his sons who run CGA Engineering.
Colin who worked with Emerson Fittipaldi on a Brazilian excursion with the Lotus Formula 2 team in 1970 has run a huge variety of cars including March, Fittipaldi, Surtees, Williams and Ligier in a variety of British and European Series.
After a welcome which included tea and donuts Colin let half a dozen TNFers loose in his workshops to nose and poke around a mouth watering selection of vehicles, amongst the many demonstrations was how easy it would be to fire up an ex Schumacher 3 .5 litre / 213.5 cui Benetton 191 chassis #6 powered by a Ford HB engine, we were one click of a switch away from having our ears blown off !
At the opposite scale of the age range Colin was rebuilding a Lola T70 carrying the chassis plate SL76/143, there is something appealingly Romanesque about those knockoff wheel hubs.
Sitting outside the workshops was a Formula 2 spec March 71B chassis #71BM -08 painted at the behest of current owner Katsu Kubota in the colours carried by one of my hero’s Ronnie Peterson who won the 1971 European Formula 2 Championship for open wheel 2 litre / 122 cui vehicles.
Back in 1976 I was extremely privileged to see this March 761 in action on a wet day of practice at the Nurburgring. The sight of this car driven by Ronnie Peterson in a series of controlled slides through a series of off camber blind apex corners is something I shall never forget. Ronnie qualified 11th and unfortunately was involved in a first lap accident.
I was at Le Mans in 1990 when this Nissan R90CK qualified 5th for the 24 hour classic unfortunately the car retired on the opening lap, like the March 71B and 761/6 today this car belongs to Katsu Kubota and is scheduled to appear at the Silverstone Classic meeting I blogged about yesterday.
The design details of the Williams FW06 by Patrick Head won much praise in 1978, although the car did not win any Grand Prix it marked the emergence of Williams Grand Prix Engineering into what would become a dominant force in Formula One in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
I shall look forward to bringing you more detailed blogs of some of these cars after I have seen them running in the weeks and months ahead.
My thanks to Tony, Colin and his sons for a memorable day.
Thanks for joining me on this Warrington edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !