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John Macdonald


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#1 Formula Once

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 08:06

What can you tell me about John Macdonald? There is little to be found about him, apart from some stories about the Brabhams and the Marches he ran in the seventies. I know of course about the Aurora and RAM teams he then ran until early 1986, before competing in F3000 with Superpower, a company which I believe he sold some ten years ago.

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#2 WGD706

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 12:35

John Macdonald and Mick Ralph were partners in a car business in Willesden, north London in the late 1960s and Macdonald raced Ford Anglias and took part in occasional Formula 3 events with March machinery. These became more regular in 1972 and 1973 but he was never a front-runner and in 1974 he decided to stop racing and run a March Formula 5000 team for Alan Jones. Ralph Macdonald Racing enjoyed considerable success and the following year RAM entered Formula 1 with a pair of Ford-engined Brabham BT44Bs. The team used a variety of pay-drivers beginning with Loris Kessel and Emilio de Villota. Patrick Neve, Jac Nelleman, Damien Magee, Bob Evans and Lella Lombardi all followed.

There was legal trouble between the team and Kessel at the 1976 German GP and the season ended in farce.

In the British F1 series RAM was more successful, with Guy Edwards winning the Oulton Park Gold Cup in one of the cars. After several abortive projects RAM returned to F1 in 1980 entering ex-works Williams FW07s in the Aurora British F1 series for Rupert Keegan and de Villota. The Spaniard won the title.

In 1981 RAM did a deal with March and found backing from Guinness and Rizla to run Derek Daly and Eliseo Salazar in the World Championship. The team was based in the old March Engines factory but the relationship with March soon broke down and after running Jochen Mass and Raul Boesel in Rothmans-sponsored Marches in 1982, the team decided to build its own cars. It was not a great success but in 1984 the team found major sponsorship from American Tobacco's Skoal Bandit brand and ran Jonathan Palmer and Philippe Alliot. The team had to pay for Hart turbo engines and at the end of 1985 it was forced into liquidation with debts of over �1m after IMG insisted on full payment for Manfred Winkelhock's salary. He had been killed in a sportscar race in the mid-season.

Macdonald tried to make an F1 comeback in 1987 with plans to run an old Benetton for the Middlebridge company with sponsorship from Trussardi and driver Emanuele Pirro. The team was banned as old chassis were declared illegal. Macdonald began doing sub-contract work with a new company called Superpower - which also ran teams in Formula 3 and Formula 3000.

He was briefly appointed coordinator of the Formula 3000 series in 1989 but popped up again in F1 in 1991 as team manager of the Middlebridge-owned Brabham team in 1991. Thereafter he concentrated on developing Superpower's engineering business, doing sub-contract fabrication work for F1 teams. In the Spring of 1999 he sold the company to Austria's Pankl.

http://www.grandprix...ref-macjoh.html
http://www.absolutea...pics/RAM_Racing

#3 Formula Once

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 13:19

Thanks, I had seen the grandprix.com info, but not the other link.

How come they got Piquet to test the RAM March in 1983 (I have seen a thread here about that)? Was John or Mick friends with Ecclestone/Brabham? And what about the 1985 RAM F1 car that did a few F3000 races in 1986, was RAM involved in that too?

#4 Gert

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 13:38

In 1990 both Middlebridge and Superpower entered F3000 (Hill/Brabham & Andrews/Belmondo).
Anyone knows if MacDonald (or Ralph) was involved with the running of either of them, or both?

#5 f1steveuk

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 13:54

I know I'm wrong, but.

Mick Ralph, or Mick Ralphs (I cannot believe it is the latter!!)?

#6 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 14:15

Originally posted by f1steveuk
I know I'm wrong, but.

Mick Ralph, or Mick Ralphs (I cannot believe it is the latter!!)?


Ralph.

John MacDonald is still alive, 62 this year, & lives in Hertfordshire. As per the above, he hasn't had any direct motorsport links since he sold Superpower 10 years ago.

#7 bill patterson

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 15:00

Didn't he race with some success in the Macau GP??

#8 fines

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 15:10

I believe that was a different guy!;)

#9 f1steveuk

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 15:20

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins


Ralph.

John MacDonald is still alive, 62 this year, & lives in Hertfordshire. As per the above, he hasn't had any direct motorsport links since he sold Superpower 10 years ago.


Thought it would have to be, couldn't see the guitarist with Bad Company spelling his own name wrong!

#10 Allen Brown

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 17:05

I heard that he now had a job with Bernie, having been unavailable for employment for some years.

#11 EDWARD FITZGERALD

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 20:30

Alan do you work in the diplomatic service?

#12 Formula Once

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 21:31

Well, this is, if anything, not making things clearer.

#13 Gregor Marshall

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 23:34

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins


Ralph.

John MacDonald is still alive, 62 this year, & lives in Hertfordshire. As per the above, he hasn't had any direct motorsport links since he sold Superpower 10 years ago.


Do you have a contact for him Richie?

#14 Tony Matthews

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 00:05

I got involved in the Ram-Hart business in that I was commissione to do a cutaway. It ended very unsatisfactorily, the illustration wasn't finished, I wasn't paid and I had to attend a mind-boggling creditors meeting in Coventry. The goings-on there made me realise that I would never fully understand motor sport, and F1 in particular, as I am naturally straight and honest. Naive, too! Ho hum.

#15 PeterElleray

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 10:47

Originally posted by Tony Matthews
I got involved in the Ram-Hart business in that I was commissione to do a cutaway. It ended very unsatisfactorily, the illustration wasn't finished, I wasn't paid and I had to attend a mind-boggling creditors meeting in Coventry. The goings-on there made me realise that I would never fully understand motor sport, and F1 in particular, as I am naturally straight and honest. Naive, too! Ho hum.


tony - you want to try getting in as deep as designing a car for some of the characters involved in racing under similar contractural conditions.....

peter

#16 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 15:42

Originally posted by Gregor Marshall


Do you have a contact for him Richie?


Unless someone beats me to it, I'll have a look & see what I can find - I haven't got my info in front of me until early tomorrow morning.

#17 Tony Matthews

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 17:08

Originally posted by PeterElleray


tony - you want to try getting in as deep as designing a car for some of the characters involved in racing under similar contractural conditions.....

peter


I don't doubt it, Peter, and I realise I sounded like a whinger, far from it, and it's not something I dwell on, it was just a knee-jerk reaction to seeing the name! I know many people have had far worse things happen to them than me.

#18 PeterElleray

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 17:23

Originally posted by Tony Matthews


I don't doubt it, Peter, and I realise I sounded like a whinger, far from it, and it's not something I dwell on, it was just a knee-jerk reaction to seeing the name! I know many people have had far worse things happen to them than me.


tony - actually, i was sympathising - or should that be empathising... !

peter

#19 jatwarks

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 13:23

I seem to remember that the Skoal Bandit RAMs were, much later, found to have a chassis manufacturing fault that explained their distinct lack of performance.

Chassis about as stiff as jelly, I believe. Was Bob Berridge part of this ?

Jim.

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#20 ghinzani

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 14:05

Originally posted by jatwarks
I seem to remember that the Skoal Bandit RAMs were, much later, found to have a chassis manufacturing fault that explained their distinct lack of performance.

Chassis about as stiff as jelly, I believe. Was Bob Berridge part of this ?

Jim.


Yeah that was the 83 car though, which Piquet tested for Salazar one day I believe and said it was ok. Payback for Hockenheim the year before? Anyway that does'nt explain the 84 cars lack of pace or the 85 cars lack of reliability.

#21 Twin Window

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 18:45

Originally posted by ghinzani

Yeah that was the 83 car though, which Piquet tested for Salazar one day I believe and said it was ok. Payback for Hockenheim the year before?

Yep; he said it was the 'best F1 car I've ever driven'. Tosser.

#22 ensign14

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 19:11

Didn't volunteer to swap teams, though, did he?

The RAM had a resemblance to the Brabham that year.

Seems to me that John Macdonald was always getting into legal scrapes - cars impounded by Loris Kessel, barred from using proper tyres at the British GP 1980, were there some other problems with the Marches in 1981? Certainly they probably had the only legal car in the field at the start of the season yet THEY were the ones disqualified for ride height infringements.

#23 ghinzani

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Posted 26 March 2009 - 20:22

His biggest problem in 81 was that the second and third chassis produced didnt have the same spec construction as the prototype and thus flexed too much (due apparently to a communication breakdown between designers and draughtsmen and fabricators). A real shame because Patrese, Fabi , Keegan and Johannson had all praised the prototype, although it was somewhat overweight. Adrian Reynard really turned the team around when he came on board, but in many ways 82 was a real dissapointment given his reputation as an up coming designer established in the 2nd half of 81. I wonder how much it wrankles with Reynard he never got a crack at a succesful F1 car? He was so succesful in so many other fields. The 82sf, 853 & 88B certainly rank as all time classic race cars for me.

#24 Formula Once

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 09:51

As for Piquet testing the RAM in 1983 I ask again: Why?

#25 ghinzani

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 10:15

Originally posted by Formula Once
As for Piquet testing the RAM in 1983 I ask again: Why?


He was supposedly mates with Salazar wasnt he? Probably political though, Nelson the great South American champion graciously giving the benefit of his testing ability to poor old Eliseo, however by saying it was 'great' its a double edged sword because if Piquet rates it but Eliseo cant qualify it then just how good is Eliseo? I would'nt put that past a pair of vipers like Piquet and BCE.

#26 Mallory Dan

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 10:24

Is it fair to say Mr MacDonald always had a bit of a reputation. I recall in his G8/Aurora days there were murmurings about him...

#27 ensign14

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 10:34

Originally posted by ghinzani


He was supposedly mates with Salazar wasnt he? Probably political though, Nelson the great South American champion graciously giving the benefit of his testing ability to poor old Eliseo, however by saying it was 'great' its a double edged sword because if Piquet rates it but Eliseo cant qualify it then just how good is Eliseo? I would'nt put that past a pair of vipers like Piquet and BCE.

Sounds more Piquet than Ecclestone to me to make such comments, if Macdonald is working for BCE and of course lent him Stommelen at Germany 1976 plus bought his cars, maybe the two were mates and Bernie offered a favour?

#28 Maldwyn

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 10:52

Originally posted by ghinzani
His biggest problem in 81 was that the second and third chassis produced didnt have the same spec construction as the prototype and thus flexed too much (due apparently to a communication breakdown between designers and draughtsmen and fabricators). A real shame because Patrese, Fabi , Keegan and Johannson had all praised the prototype...

Praised it having driven it, or just seen it do you mean? I was aware Riccardo had been mentioned in connection with a March drive before re-signing with Arrows, but wasn't aware of him testing the March :

#29 ghinzani

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 11:51

Originally posted by Maldwyn

Praised it having driven it, or just seen it do you mean? I was aware Riccardo had been mentioned in connection with a March drive before re-signing with Arrows, but wasn't aware of him testing the March :



Hmmm, Autosport had all those names down as due to test the car at Goodwood and/or Silverstone but Im not so sure I ever saw a pic of RP in it.

#30 Sticky

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 14:09


I stumbled across this thread while searching for something else on the interweb... Thought I may able to help as I worked for them after the F1 era.

You might find that Nelson Piquet tested the RAM01 due to John's relationship with Bernie who he knew from the second-hand car trading days. Over the years John ran looked after various things on Bernie's behalf running the Alfa Romeo 164 Celebrity Challenge, was the series co-ordinator for European 3000 and World Sports Car Championships in the late 80's early 90's, as well as various other projects.

Before I go on the RAM01 that Bob Berridge used to race and heavily criticised in the press as the time about flexing. Was actually a dummy car/first build and was never intended to race. The cars that were produced to run had a completely different construction in the chassis.

Obviously the F1 side of their lives is fairly well documented but after that goes a bit vague so basically this is the story after.

After the final collapse of RAM mid way through 1986 the remainder of the company was purchased by Middlebridge Group, which at the time was restoring historic cars for the Japanese market, to fulfil the owners dream to become the first Japanese to enter a car into F1. Therefore Middlebridge Engineering and Racing being born.

In 1987 they entered both European and British FF2000 with Paul Warwick and prepared the Benetton BMW for Pirro which never turned a wheel in anger due to be entered as a 3rd car with Benetton Ford (can you see what happened there?)

All the time the Fabrication and Machine Shop was growing and started to produce components for customers and not just the group.

1988 they ran a 3 car team running Phil Andrews, John Alcorn and Arnoit Guiot

1989 F3000 with Mark Blundell and Phil Andrews

At the end of 89 there was a bit of a fall out between Middlebridge and RAM so Middlebridge went there own way setting up the race team near their HQ in Milton Keynes. While the Bicester company became John and Mick's again and was renamed Superpower.

In 1990 two teams were run side by side European F3000 with Phil Andrews and Paul Belmondo and British F3 with Paul Warwick.

1991 saw another two pronged attack this time in European F3000 under the Vortex banner running Heinz Harald Frentzen and British F3000 with Phil Andrews and Richard Dean

1992 they ran a single car for Steve Robinson in European F3000

At the end of 92 financial problems halted the motorsport side and they concentrated on the engineering side of the company. Until 96 where John was persuaded to run the ADA De tomaso Pantera which contested at Le Mans Pre qualifying and a couple of SRO events. Then in 1997 completed the full British GT Championship.

At the end of 1997 the company was sold to Pankl Group which ended motorsport activity which both John and Mick headed until 2000.

They popped up again together during 2001 running the European Le Mans Series.

Since then who knows.









#31 Red Socks

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 16:30

Isn't John MacDonald now the grounds supervisor/manager at QPR

Edited by Red Socks, 14 August 2009 - 17:42.


#32 ensign14

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 16:36

Think that's Ronald.

#33 cedricselzer

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 20:50

Didn't John McDonald drive his Anglia into a television camera at Crystal Palace?

#34 Giraffe

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 21:01

Think that's Ronald.


..... Duncan, Aimi or Trevor................ :lol:


#35 Project Indy

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 00:23

John McDonald team RAM 04 run in F-3000 in 1986 with James Weaver and Eliseo Salazar.

Posted Image

#36 ghinzani

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 08:46

Top notch pit furniture there, I like it!

#37 Tony Matthews

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 10:18

Top notch pit furniture there, I like it!

Trouble is, once you've hit the big time there's no going back. Your standards change forever, and only the best will suffice...