Resting in the entrance to Colin Bennett’s CGA Engineering in Warrington a couple of Saturdays ago was this March 71B belonging to Katsu Kubota a ‘gentleman driver’ who admires one of my heroes Ronnie Peterson.
The car is painted in the colours used by Ronnie Peterson when he drove a similar car in 1971 to win the European Formula 2 Championship, a second tier open wheel series for cars powered by engines up to 1600 cc / 109.9 cui.
Ronnie from Almby in the vicinity of Örebro, Sweden, secured the championship with four wins at Rouen, Mantrop Park, Flugplatz Tulln-Langenlebarn, Vallelunga and took five pole positions. Ronnie also secured second place in the World Drivers Championship in 1971.
The ambitious March team took it’s name from founders Max Mosley, Alan Rees, Graham Coaker and Robin Herd, in 1969 they built a Formula 3 third tier open wheeler and the following year decided to take the racing world by storm by manufacturing vehicles to compete in Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula Ford and Can-Am for customers to race, while also running factory teams in the Formula 1, Formula 2 and Formula 3 open wheel series. Jochen Rindt originally agreed to race the works Formula 1 car but backed out when he realised the scale of the March undertaking outside Formula 1.
This 71B was originally built to take part in Formula Atlantic races in 1971, Formula Atlantic also known as Formula B in the USA was a halfway house between Formula 3 and Formula 2 powered by 1600 cc / 109.9 cui motors that were not in such a high state of tune as either Formula 3 or Formula 2 and therefore much cheaper to run. The 71B chassis has many components that are interchangeable with the March 713 and 712 chassis built for Formula 3 and Formula 2 respectively.
At present I know nothing about the history of chassis 71B – 08 prior to Mr Kubota’s ownership if you did please chime in below or send me an e-mail, my e-mail address can be found in my ‘Blogger’ profile.
I understand wooden gear stick knobs are popular in the racing community because they save weight, the Porsche 917 famously used a gear stick knob made of balsa wood.
The motor fitted to Mr Kubota’s March is an out of period 1,975 cubic centimetres /120.5 cui Ford Cosworth BDG 4 cylinder unit with an aluminium cylinder block of a type that was sanctioned in Formula 2 from 1972.
Last year Mr Kubota became the first driver from Japan to win an FIA sanctioned Formula One race in the Historic Formula One series, this year he will also race the genuine March 761/06 as raced by Ronnie Peterson to victory in the 1976 Italian GP, a car that will appear in a future blog once I have seen it run later in the summer.
My thanks to Colin Bennett for having me and several members of The Nostalgia Forum visit his fascinating workshop and to Tony Gallagher for organising the trip.
Hope you have enjoyed today’s Tribute to Ronnie Peterson edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !