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Team owners driving their own cars


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#1 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 28 December 2002 - 19:41

When was the last time a Team Owner tested or demonstrated one of his cars at a race meeting?

In the Motoring News report on the 1978 Long Beach Grand Prix there is a picture of Walter Wolf driving Scheckter's Wolf WR1 back into the pits after doing a couple of laps following the untimed warm-up on race morning.

I recall Tony Vandervell getting behind the wheel of his cars but did it happen at a race meeting?

Did Colin Chapman ever try out any of his creations after he retired from competition?

Of course driver/constuctors like McLaren, Brabham and Gurney don't count except if it happened after they retired.

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#2 Alan Lewis

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Posted 28 December 2002 - 21:12

Paul Stoddart has on at least one occasion (and I'm fairly sure it's more) driven - and indeed "raced" - a Minardi two-seater at the annual Donington "bash".

#3 petefenelon

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Posted 28 December 2002 - 22:17

Originally posted by Milan Fistonic
When was the last time a Team Owner tested or demonstrated one of his cars at a race meeting?

In the Motoring News report on the 1978 Long Beach Grand Prix there is a picture of Walter Wolf driving Scheckter's Wolf WR1 back into the pits after doing a couple of laps following the untimed warm-up on race morning.

I recall Tony Vandervell getting behind the wheel of his cars but did it happen at a race meeting?

Did Colin Chapman ever try out any of his creations after he retired from competition?

Of course driver/constuctors like McLaren, Brabham and Gurney don't count except if it happened after they retired.



I think Ron Dennis has been up the hill at Goodwood in a McLaren - though it was one from before his time there!
There's a famous shot of a bareheaded Chunky in a '49 at Hethel - I think from the press launch of the car?

pete

#4 David McKinney

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Posted 28 December 2002 - 22:50

There are lots of instances of team owners driving their cars in demonstrations and at historic meetings, but I took the original post to refer to an F1 race meeting.
Last such occasion I can think of (without trying too hard) would probably be in the late days of Team Surtees, when Big John would frequently turf out the hired help and test cars himself. Whether that was actually at a meeting or not I don't know.

#5 fines

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 00:24

Didn't Chunky use one of his cars to visit Moss' accident venue in Spa 1960?

#6 David Hyland

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 00:56

I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that Tony Vandevell once drove one of his cars from the paddock to the pits (or vice versa), wrecking the gearbox in the process.

And this one is strictly-speaking OT, but I also seem to remember reading about Brabham team manager(?) "Herbie" Blash driving a car at a test session and writing it off.

Apologies for the sketchiness of the details, but I looked at my bookshelf and thought "Well, if I didn't have anything else to do for the rest of the day (week?), I could probably find the relevant passages" but then I thought "Nah, just post the half-recollections up to TNF and if they ever actually happened, someone there will know the details... :)

[Perhaps there is a justification for human cloning after all, i.e. I could have one copy of myself to do all the stuff I currently do (e.g. go to work, mow the lawn, etc) and I could have another copy of myself which does nothing else but look things up in my motor racing books. Oh, but I'd need yet another copy of myself to keep up with TNF, wouldn't I?]

#7 fines

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 01:28

I believe the Vandervell incident happened at Spa.


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[while Fines I is asleep and Fines II searching for "1151" in the numbers thread...]

#8 Bondy

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 02:11

Hector Rebaque in the Rebaque HR100 and Arturo Merzario in the Mezario A1 and A2
Wilson and Emerson Fittipaldi in the Copersucars come Fittipaldis
Bertrand Gatchot had a share in Pacific when he raced for them in 95 i think

#9 William Dale Jr

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 07:29

This question could be a bit pointless given that if it did happen, it almost certainly wouldn't have happened during a race weekend, but has Eddie Jordan ever driven one of his F1 cars? If so, when?

#10 Roger Clark

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Posted 29 December 2002 - 08:19

Originally posted by fines
Didn't Chunky use one of his cars to visit Moss' accident venue in Spa 1960?



Yes, it was Ireland's car. Michael Taylor crashed at almost the same time so there was a lot of Lotus debris about.

The Vandervell incident happened at the 1955 Belgian Grand Prix. He drove it from the garage in Spa to the circuit, ruining the clutch in the process. Hawthorn left the team in disgust, but this may have been about to happen anyway.

#11 Jimmy Piget

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 00:12

Guy Ligier used to test-drive his cars once a year in private testing.
I think Frank Williams did it once in the very early '1980s, Jackie Stewart too (along with son Paul), and also Niki Lauda with the Jaguar.

Never heard of Eddie Jordan, but I'm 100% sure that Alain Prost never tested his own cars.

Up to the '1960s, engineers and mechanics used frequently to test-drive : Rudolf Uhlenhaut, Battista Guidotti, Gerino Bertocchi, Alf Francis, but also Wifredo Ricart , Vittorio Jano, Amédée Gordini (in the '50s), Pierre Marco (1956 Bugatti), etc, etc

#12 David Hyland

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 11:46

I've seen Frank Williams driving one of his recent cars in a Compaq TV commercial.

Maybe there was some trick photography involved... :)

David.

#13 Doug Nye

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 13:04

I believe Eddie Jordan drove one of his F1 cars in public at an early(ish) Goodwod Festival of Speed - unlike poor Mike Gascoyne when the engineer drove a Jordan there, he didn't crash it...I've also got a feeling hairless Eddie demonstrated one of his cars at Donington Park on a similar occasion????

DCN

#14 petefenelon

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 13:31

Originally posted by Doug Nye
I believe Eddie Jordan drove one of his F1 cars in public at an early(ish) Goodwod Festival of Speed - unlike poor Mike Gascoyne when the engineer drove a Jordan there, he didn't crash it...I've also got a feeling hairless Eddie demonstrated one of his cars at Donington Park on a similar occasion????

DCN


Mike G. has raced at least one of the Tyrrells he designed (I think in BOSS, thought it might've been a one-off race for Paul Stoddart's collection of cars) - although I think it was after his departure.

pete

#15 HistoryFan

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 20:28

Paul Stoddart tested a Minardi F1 in 2005 and drove some Tyrrell Judd in the EuroBoss series.

And he drove some GT cars in Australia, which he own designed. Are there any detailled infos about that?

#16 grocons

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 10:08

As Doug said Eddie Jordan drove the Jordon 191 (7-up livery) at the 1997 Goodwood Festival of speed. I was standing next to the car when he was pulling out of its space in the paddock, there was a tight turn that he needed to get around to get onto the main road out of the paddock so he "put his foot down" to spin the rear wheels sliding the back end around wiping out numerous mechanics tool boxes, spanners went everywhere! It was quite amusing. :rotfl:

Going slightly of thread but is there some sort of get together for TNF members at this years Festival of Speed? I shall be wearig my badge and will keep an eye out for other TNF badge wearers.

#17 Mark A

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 12:31

Nick Wirth drove one of his Simtek's, not sure if it was just at a private test or not?

#18 wildman

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 14:10

Surely in all the years that P.L. Newman has co-owned a team with Carl Haas, he must have succumbed to temptation....

#19 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 14:16

Prost tested some Ligiers I think, but not when he was owning the team. I think during the Ferrari-Williams gap.

There was a team owner/manager/engineer of a Formula Atlantic team in the US in this decade that used to do a fair bit of the testing work for his team to get baseline setups and help teach his new drivers.

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#20 Andretti Fan

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 17:39

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
Prost tested some Ligiers I think, but not when he was owning the team. I think during the Ferrari-Williams gap.

There was a team owner/manager/engineer of a Formula Atlantic team in the US in this decade that used to do a fair bit of the testing work for his team to get baseline setups and help teach his new drivers.



Steve Cameron? ( I know I probably misspelled his last name)

#21 Rosemayer

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 17:46

Originally posted by fines
Didn't Chunky use one of his cars to visit Moss' accident venue in Spa 1960?


Yes when Ireland drove back to the pits and told Chapman what the cause of the Moss accident was Chapman put on Irelands helmet and drove Ireland's Lotus 18 back to the scene.When he came back to the pits and told Ireland we won't take the cars out anymore.After the hubs were crack tested Ireland's would not have made another 2 laps,Stacy's were cracked 1/2 way around and Jimmys weren't cracked at all.

#22 bradbury west

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 18:34

[i]Originally posted by petefenelon I think Ron Dennis has been up the hill at Goodwood in a McLaren -

Posted Image
Ron at the '93 FoS in the crowded top paddock...with the entire McLaren support team plus van and trailer.
Copyright Roger Lund

#23 bigears

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 19:53

Not exactly a team owner but I remember Niki Lauda drove a Jaguar at Barcelona and came back saying that a monkey can drove one of those cars.

#24 962C

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 20:04

Yves Courage drove the first Cougar around the Le Mans track last year to celebrate his team's 25th anniversary.

#25 HistoryFan

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 20:39

Christian Horner, now Formula One team principal at Red Bull, drove for Arden in Formula 3000 in the mid 90s. He is owner of Arden.

#26 Haddock

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 20:42

Originally posted by bigears
Not exactly a team owner but I remember Niki Lauda drove a Jaguar at Barcelona and came back saying that a monkey can drove one of those cars.


Indeed he did. But he was 15 seconds off the pace, which leaves open the question of whether he was really going quickly enough to know.

#27 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 21:04

Originally posted by bigears
Not exactly a team owner but I remember Niki Lauda drove a Jaguar at Barcelona and came back saying that a monkey can drove one of those cars.


No he said a monkey could drive the cars. Then he drove one. Then he spun out several times, including his out lap, and looked like well...a monkey.

#28 bigears

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 21:22

My mistake, thank you for correcting me. :)

#29 Formula Once

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 15:05

Patrick Head drove both FW06 (as did Frank Williams) and the 1993 Williams at Paul Ricard.

#30 HistoryFan

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 15:19

Frank Williams? Not in 1993 after his crash 1986...

#31 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 15:49

I have read, a few years ago, that Paul Newman drove one of their Champ Cars in private practice at Sebring. When he fianlly came in he didn't want to stop. I have also recently read that Paul is seriously ill, possibly with a cancer, but the family isn't confirming this.

#32 Twin Window

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 16:06

Originally posted by David McKinney

... Big John would frequently turf out the hired help and test cars himself. Whether that was actually at a meeting or not I don't know.

Surtees regularly tested his own cars at Goodwood, and often without their rear wings & noses (or minus front wings, depending upon the year). I remember reading somewhere that this was to get a feel for the balance of the chassis without downforce clouding the issue.

Originally posted by bradbury west

Ron at the '93 FoS in the crowded top paddock...with the entire McLaren support team plus van and trailer.

One year Ron also drove the restored ex-Revson M23 I believe.

#33 Garagiste

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 16:25

Not at a meeting but JYS certainly tested the SF-01 - reportedly to show Magnussen how it was done...

#34 Formula Once

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 16:38

History fan: as said FW only tested the 1978-FW06.

#35 HistoryFan

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 18:44

Yes but how could he get into the car? And also drove with this?
I've read some years ago, that Williams and Head were entered in a testing session in the 80s, perhaps it was 1983... But they didn't drove.

#36 HistoryFan

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 18:57

Aguri Suzuki tested the Aguri Honda SA07 in summer 2007 (I think) in Silverstone.

#37 Edington Mains

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 19:23

Originally posted by HistoryFan
Aguri Suzuki tested the Aguri Honda SA07 in summer 2007 (I think) in Silverstone.


I have it on very good authority he did...

#38 rl1856

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 12:46

This happens quite frequently in the US- both NASCAR and Indycar/Cart has owner/drivers.

Didn't the Vandervell / Vanwall incident happen in 1956 with the Chapman designed car ?

Also, Chapman was promised a drive in the car as part of his compensation for designing it. He was given his drive, but I think he crashed in practice, effectively takeing the car out of action and ending his opportunity.

Best,

Ross

#39 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 12:52

Originally posted by Edington Mains


I have it on very good authority he did...


I can do one better.

http://www.autosport...o.php/id/63891/


He drove the car along with Martin Brundle and Christian Danner. I'm not sure how serious the test was or if it was like when Paul and Jackie Stewart tested their cars as a pr/sponsor exercise.

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#40 D-Type

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 13:04

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Bernie Ecclestone trying one of his Connaughts during practice for the 1958 Monaco GP.

Unfortunately he was officially timed giving rise to countless "Most hopeless GP driver" type jibes

#41 drivers71

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 13:26

If this isn't restricted to F1..............
Colin Chapman travelled to Sebring in 1955 along with his new Lotus 11 sports car (no.155), to drive it in the 12 hour race on 13 March. Co-driver Len Bastrup embedded it into the wall during the opening stint, where it burst into flames and burned to cinders (or did this happen in practise?) Don't expect CC was too chuffed, whichever it was, although Bastrup was seriously injured and missed the rest of the season. Car was entered by the Cunningham team.
Cunningham himself raced many of his own team cars through the years, including all the Cunninghams (excepting the C-4RK), and with much distinction.
As did Jim Hall, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Lance Reventlow et al.

#42 HistoryFan

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 14:58

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld


I can do one better.

http://www.autosport...o.php/id/63891/


He drove the car along with Martin Brundle and Christian Danner. I'm not sure how serious the test was or if it was like when Paul and Jackie Stewart tested their cars as a pr/sponsor exercise.


No that wasn't a serious test. Brundle and Danner drover for their TV stations (Danner: RTL) and Suzuki wanted to have fun I think.

I've seen some pictures...

#43 HistoryFan

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 19:44

Enzo Coloni did the shake down of the first Coloni F1 car. Is there a picture?

#44 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 22:17

Not F1 but Frank Gardener did a lot of testing after he retired with Touring Cars and theCorvair and BMW Sports Sedans. Evidently Gricey thought he had it all wrong, too soft and too much roll. But Frank owned the team.

Paul Morris has supposedly retired from Supercars to drive Sprintcars! but has driven one racemeet this year because Greg Murphy was not advailable.

I have heard that Sir black Jack did testing after he retired in the 60s. And he has driven Brabhams, Mclarens in historic races regularly even in the last few years. Though wont happen now unfortunatley as age has caught up with him.

#45 RogerFrench

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 02:55

If we're not confined to F1, then I'd suggest any one of a number of Mallock combinations, cars and drivers!

#46 HistoryFan

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 12:12

Today, "Motorsport aktuell" writes about John Howett driven the Toyota TF110 for 2010 season in front of the factory in Cologne. He crashed into a wall...

#47 Nick Wa

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 16:58

In the beginning of the motoring era many combinations of owner / manufacturer / designer drove their own cars. In the Paris - Bordeaux - Paris trial (1895) Émile Levassor won in a Panhard & Levassor. Marcel Renault lost his life competing in the Paris - Madrid race (1904). Henry Ford held the land speed record (January 12, 1904 91.37m.p.h.).
Move on three decades and Humphrey Cook and Raymond Mays are regularly driving E.R.A.s. Into the post war era the company having been sold to Leslie Johnson, the "E" type E.R.A. is driven by Johnson in the 1948 and 1960 British Grand Prix. Raymond Mays tests and demonstrates the V 16 B.R.M.
In the U.K. there are plenty of owner / builder entrants in all forms of motor sport and formulae, John Cooper in the early 500s and the likes of Bill Aston in his Aston-Butterworth. And I nearly forgot George Abecassis and John Heath with their HWMs. Colin Chapman competed in or raced all his cars up to the Mk IX.

#48 HistoryFan

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 09:30

A nice idea would be a special race with all F1 team owners driving their own cars...
Perhaps former F3000 driver Christian Horner would be the best...

#49 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 11:15

The Bob Jane Racing Team was basically just Bob Jane and his own cars in 1965...

But during 1966 a blowup between Spencer Martin and the principals of Scuderia Veloce left the Shell company with a big investment in a driver who no longer had a team. Shell had been trying to wrest the coveted Australian Gold Star from BP for several years and put a lot of money into Scuderia Veloce to bring Spencer to a level of proficiency that would get that title.

A deal was struck between Shell and Bob Jane to expand his team to include Spencer and a 2.5-litre Brabham Climax. It was to be a worthwhile arrangement in that they won the title that year.

But the makeup of the team was essentially that Bob had a couple of touring cars, a sports car or two and a small-bore openwheeler to race, Spencer was there to drive the 2.5-litre car and on occasion got to dabble in some of the others.

In time Spencer retired and his place in the team was taken by John Harvey. Harvey rarely drove anything but the 2.5, now with Repco V8 power, and essentially got on with the job of chasing major openwheeler honours. But this was interrupted by his crash at Bathurst at the Easter meeting in 1968. This put him out of action for the balance of the year, leading to Bob trying other drivers in the 2.5 car during that time.

It also led to, or coincided with, Bob having other drivers try out in other cars in his stable. Allan Moffat, for instance, drove the Elfin 400 at Warwick Farm (until he hit a fence) and the Brabham at Sandown (until he hit another fence), Ian Cook drove the Brabham at Lakeside and Bevan Gibson got his first drives in the team.

But as the year drew to a close, Calder... now also under the Jane umbrella... staged a big meeting with Repco's motor racing involvement as an excuse to bring together all the cars in the country powered by Repco engines. Of which one was his Brabham 2.5-litre car.

So Harvey was still out of action, Cook hadn't mastered the car, Moffat had been mastered by the car and so on. Bob decided to drive the car himself.

This was a one-off, the only time Bob drove a front-line openwheeler in our premier category... so how did he do?

Set a new ANF1 lap record and was far from disgraced in the race, beating Leo Geoghegan for second place behind Matich in the 5-litre SR3!

Edited by Ray Bell, 28 July 2010 - 11:18.