Tag Archives: Henton

Super Saturday Part 1/2 – Silverstone Classic

Artist Gerhard Richter once observed something akin to ‘that so long as one still has an object from the past it remains contemporary’, at Silverstone Classic on Super Saturday, the world’s biggest classic car show, there were many objects from man’s not so long past and many came to life in a vibrant crescendo of the twelve races which I was privileged to witness.

de Tomaso ISIS, Gregory, Silverstone Classic

For some time I have been on the look out for a Formula Junior de Tomaso. The 1959 FIAT powered ISIS example driven by Mike Gregory was one of two different de Tomaso models in the opening Peter Arundell Trophy Formula Junior race of the day which was won by Sam Wilson driving a Lotus after his main challenger David Methley spun out in his evil handling Brabham.

March 783, Padmore, Silverstone Classic

Silverstone Classic are great at introducing new events to their crowded schedule and one of the debutant events on this years schedule was the Brian Henton Trophy for classic Formula 3 cars of the type that helped launch the careers of Tony Brise, Tom Pryce, Gunnar Nilsson and Stephen South not to mention Nelson Piquet, Derek Warwick, and a chap called Ayrton da Silva who changed his name to something more snappy. Above Nick Pardmore guides his 1978 March 783, with ’79 side pods, through Stowe Corner on his way to victory.

Ford Cortinas, Shedden, Meaden, Silverstone Classic

For the best part of half an hour British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) regular Gordon Shedden and Richard Meaden kept us entertained with door handle to door handle racing at the front of the Sir John Whitmore Trophy race for under 2 litre / 122 cui saloon cars. Unfortunately when Gordon, seen leading above, came in for his mandatory pit stop his Lotus Cortina expired with an over heating issue before BTCC veteran Matt Neale could take over leaving Richard and Grant Tromans to take a well earned win.

Lister Costin Jaguar, Ward, Silverstone Classic

Chris Ward driving the Costin bodied Lister Jaguar above twice held the lead in the Stirling Moss Trophy for pre ’61 Sports Cars but he could not hold off the winning Knobbly bodied Lister Jaguar driven by Jon Minshaw/Phil Keen.

Hesketh 308C, Jones, Silverstone Classic

In 1975 it was announced that the hitherto enormous air boxes that had become an aesthetic blight on Formula One were to be banned along with various other changes. The first car to be built to the new regulations was the Hesketh 308C which was designed by Harvey Postlethwaite for James Hunt to drive. Above Derek Jones is seen driving a 308C in the FIA Masters Formula One race which was won by Ollie Hancock in a ’78 Fittipaldi F5A, after the race was stopped to allow the extraction of Sidney Hoole from what remained of the fabulous Ensign N173. Sidney was taken to hospital with a leg injury described as not ‘thought to be serious’.

Opel Belmont (sic), Wolfe, Silverstone Classic

The sixth event of the Silverstone Classic ‘Super Saturday’ was the Jet Super Touring Car Trophy for a variety of Touring cars from the Early 70’s to the turn of the Millennium. The close fought race was won by James Dodd from Stewart Whyte both driving Honda Accords. Andy Wolfe is seen driving a 1993 Jet sponsored Opel Astra, listed incorrectly in the programme as an Opel Belmont, which won it’s class in the 1993 Nurburgring 24 hours.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Super Saturday Part 1/2′ edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll continue with the second half of the Super Saturday race programme. Don’t forget to come back now !


Ronnie’s Rocket – Lotus Ford 72 E

Lotus went into the 1973 Formula One Championship season as World Champion Constructors with reigning World Drivers Champion Emerson Fittipaldi being joined by a new team mate 1971 Championship runner up Ronnie Peterson.

Lotus 72 E, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The team started the season with the same Lotus 72 D model as they had used through out 1972 albeit now running on Goodyear tyres in place of the previous seasons Firestones. Emerson started the season well with 2 wins and a 3rd place from his first 3 starts while Ronnie had only two retirements and an 11th place finish to show from the same three races.

Lotus 72 E, Goodwood Festival of Speed

At the non championship Race of Championship the Lotus 72 D were brought up to E specification which included mounting the rear wing above the oil tank further back from the rear wheels and a wider track for the wheels front and rear. I well remember seeing both of the new cars spectacularly bottoming out on their debut at Brands Hatch as they approached the fearsome off camber and steep drop to Paddock Bend sending a shower of sparks from under the cars.

Lotus 72 E, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Both cars retired from the Race of Champions but Emerson won the 1973 Spanish Grand Prix, his last in a Lotus, before scoring three further second place finishes and a third on his way to a distant 2nd place championship finish behind Jackie Stewart and his Tyrrell Ford 006 who had clocked up five wins and two seconds on his way to his third and final title.

Lotus 72 E, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Ronnie meanwhile scored his first four Grand Prix wins and two second place finishes on his way to third in the championship title, helping Lotus win their second consecutive constructors championship. For 1974 Jackie Stewart retired, Emerson moved to McLaren to drive the M23, based very much on the principles of the Lotus 72, and Ronnie was joined at Lotus by Belgian Jacky Ickx.

Lotus 72 E, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Lotus started the 1974 season with the 72 E for the first two championship races and then Ickx used a 72E at the non championship Race of Champions and won after pulling off a brilliant overtaking move on Niki Lauda in his Ferrari 312 B3 going into Paddock Bend right in front of my nose. If all had gone to plan this would have been the last ever race for the Lotus 72 which had been introduced in 1970.

Lotus 72 E, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Lotus 76 was first raced in the 1976 South African Grand Prix where neither car finished, Ronnie qualified his 76 at the non championship International Trophy at Silverstone and again at the Spanish Grand Prix but getting the car to finish proved impossible and so the Lotus 72 E’s were wheeled out again for the 1974 Monaco Grand Prix where Ronnie won from third on the grid, Ronnie added to more victories to the Lotus 72 E’s tally during the season to finish a distant fifth in the Championship which was won by his former team mate Emerson Fittipaldi in his Lotus 72 copy the McLaren M23.

For 1975 the Lotus 72 E’s were wheeled out again as the Lotus 76 had been abandoned as a failure, it would take a full twelve months for Lotus to build a new challenger such was the lack of financial resources and Lotus commitment to road car and sundry other projects. Ronnie gamely struggled on scoring just three points paying finishes while Jacky Ickx quit the team before the seasons end having scored a single second place finish.

I believe the two cars seen here both belong to Classic Team Lotus with the #2 most likely being a replacement chassis for the wrecked Lotus 72/R5 driven by Emerson Fittipaldi in C spec to victory in the 1970 US Grand Prix and last used in E spec by Brian Henton in the 1975 US Grand Prix.

The #5 appears to be #72/R9 built new for the 1975 season and used exclusively by Ronnie Peterson who scored a best third place finish in the non championship 1975 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, and three further points paying finishes including a 5th place finish in the 1975 United States Grand Prix which would be the cars final appearance.

Fans of the Lotus 72 in the UK will be interested to know that there will be a 24 min documentary on the story behind the Lotus 72 on Motors TV in December, keep your eye out for it in the schedule. The films director Gary Crichter will also be releasing a full 90 min version with 60 mons of extra’s of the film on dvd in the near future. Keep your eye out on the www.lotus72dvd.com website for further announcements.

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


General Belgrano – Toleman Hart TG 181C #06

Nearly thirty years ago, July 18th 1982, I had the privilege of taking a couple of day’s off from my summer job, at Golden Arch Foods where I was employed on the production line making 24,000 buns an hour for Ronald McDonald, to visit Brands Hatch for the British Grand Prix.

Toleman Hart TG 181C, British Grand Prix, Brands Hatch

Niki Lauda driving a McLaren starting from 5th on the grid easily won the race from the Ferrari 126 C2’s of Didier Pironi and Patrick Tambay who had both fought hard from their respective 4th and 13th place starts.

One of the best stories of the race however came from the fledgling Toleman Team which was founded in 1981. Their car was designed by a Formula One novice Rory Byrne who had designed many successful open wheel vehicles first with Royale who manufactured many Ford Kent and Pinto powered racers and then with Toleman in the the second tier Formula 2 who’s Hart powered cars dominated the European Formula 2 championship in 1980 with drivers Brian Henton, who was crowned champion, and Derek Warwick came second.

For 1981 Toleman and Brian Hart made the brave move to step up to Formula one with a car designed by Byrne and a turbocharged 1.5 litre / 90.5 cui 415T four cylinder motor which was a development of the Hart 420R 2 litre / 122 cui motor successfully used in Formula 2. The team ran with unfancied Pirelli tyres who were returning to the top tier of the sport after a prolonged absence of 32 years.

During the 1981 season Henton and Warwick each made 12 attempts at pre qualifying for Grand Prix races each missing the cut for qualifying just once at Monaco. However both drivers only qualified once Henton at Monza where he finished 10th and Warwick in the parking lot at Ceasers Palace where he retired.

For the 1982 season Henton opted out and moved to the Tyrrell team while Warwick, who used to be a regular competitor at Aldershot Raceway had won the World Super Stox Championship aged 16 in 1973, was joined by Formula One novice Teo Fabi who had finished third in the 1980 Formula 2 championship.

From 28 attempts to pre qualify in 1982 Warwick and Fabi both failed make the cut once with Warwick qualifying for 11 races and Fabi 7. Warwick managed to finish just two of his 11 starts with a best of tenth place in Germany equalling Henton’s best result at Monza the year before, while Fabi did not finish any of the races he started.

The hight light of the Toleman Teams 1982 season was however the British Grand Prix, having set fastest lap during the previous Dutch Grand Prix, Warwick qualified
16th and proceeded to march through the field with some breath taking maneuver’s during the race. Having worked his way passed Elio de Angelis in a Lotus, Derek Daly in a Williams he next set about attempting to get past the Ferrari of Pironi which proved a little more troublesome as both cars had similar performance thanks to their turbocharged motors however he eventually went past Pironi on the start finish ‘straight’, it’s actually a curve, out braking the Frenchman into the heart stopping paddock bend.

Now in second place Warwick set about catching Niki Lauda who was well ahead however after 40 glorious laps Warwick retired thanks to a broken CV joint in the back of his car, chassis #06, which had acquired the ‘General Belgrano’ nick name from the ancient Argentinian battleship that had been sunk in the 1982 Falklands Conflict. The next week the hitherto back marker and underdog was on the cover of all the magazines and Toleman, Byrne and Warwick began to enjoy some hard earned respectability.

Toleman started scoring points finishes in 1983 and were taken over by Benetton in 1986. Rory Byrne penned many winning cars for them including those driven to championship victories by Micheal Schumacher in 1994 and 1995. Byrne followed Schumacher to Ferrari after a retirement that became a sabbatical for the 1997 season.
Byrnes cars driven by Schumacher dominated the sport from 1999 to 2004 securing 71 victories and six constructors championships and five drivers championships before he retired for good in 2006.

Brian Henton driving his Tyrell got fastest lap at the 1982 British GP and retired from Formula One at the end of the season. Derek Warwick gained a reputation for never being in the right place at the right time in Formula One his best championship finish being 7th in 1984 when he drove for Renault. Derek was crowned World Sports Car Champion in 1992 when he also won the Le Mans 24 hours driving for Peugeot. His 1982 Toleman Team mate Teo Fabi was crowned 1991 World Sports Car Champion in 1991 driving a Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) Jaguar.

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