Jump to content


Photo

Roger Williamson testing for BRM


  • Please log in to reply
27 replies to this topic

#1 Twin Window

Twin Window
  • Nostalgia Host

  • 6,611 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 04 January 2005 - 14:24

In February 1973, Louis Stanley asked Roger Williamson to help BRM with their test programme under the premise that team leader Clay Regazzoni couldn't make it. This was no more than a smokescreen in order to evalute Roger at close quarters...

Roger was firstly sent out in a P180 and, in spite of the cold weather, equalled the lap record before an upright broke. Not bad for his first run in an F1 car, and the BRM management were understandably excited so they then strapped him in a P160. He lapped consistantly below the lap record in that chassis, on various sets of tyres.

Williamson was duly offered a contract (to take what became Lauda's drive) which was vetoed by his mentor Tom Wheatcroft, who wanted him in a Cosworth-powered team. As we all know, a deal with March was done mid-season which saw Britain's hottest up-and-comer in as stand-in for when Jarier was busy winning the F2 title. However, a Tyrrell contract was also being discussed for 1974, which would also have seen Roger in the third car for Canada and Watkins Glen at the end of 1973. Ultimately that contract was never signed, as Williamson and Wheatcrof had decided to run their own McLaren M23 for 1974, such was the loyalty between the pair. Remembering these things amplifies the tragedy of what happened in Holland all the more...

Way back in the mists of time I saw a photo of Williamson testing the BRMs, but never since. Has anyone out there got some they could post here?

Advertisement

#2 SEdward

SEdward
  • Member

  • 837 posts
  • Joined: January 04

Posted 04 January 2005 - 15:00

Twinny.

Fascinating stuff and news to me. You don't mention where the tests where held.

Edward

#3 Twin Window

Twin Window
  • Nostalgia Host

  • 6,611 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 04 January 2005 - 15:01

Whoops! Silverstone... :blush:

#4 Mallory Dan

Mallory Dan
  • Member

  • 2,694 posts
  • Joined: September 03

Posted 04 January 2005 - 15:04

I recall reading about this test in the Tremayne (excellent book). Without casting any aspersions at all, are we sure its really true???

Its almost 'boys own' stuff isn't it. A young lad, just out of F3 gets into a pretty mediocre, at best, and fairly old car for his first ever F1 drive and breaks the lap record. Call me cynical but .....

#5 Twin Window

Twin Window
  • Nostalgia Host

  • 6,611 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 04 January 2005 - 15:13

Yes Dan, it's covered in Racers Apart with quotes from Parnell and Wheatcroft, who himself quotes Derek Bell from the day. I know what you're saying about the lap times, but the test neverthless took place - and he was offered a BRM contract.

I'm certain I've seen a pic waaaay back, and I'd just like to see one/some again!

#6 Doug Nye

Doug Nye
  • Member

  • 8,484 posts
  • Joined: February 02

Posted 04 January 2005 - 15:53

Not sure about the specific lap time but in essence and effect the story is absolutely true - Wheatie had been a BRM customer from way back acquiring obsolescent cars, components, drawings and ultimately permission/blessing from Rubery Owen to construct his Donington Type 25 'replicars'. The relationship was old established and quite close so to that extent Roger was almost an 'in-house' new driving talent.

Wheatie had had many dealings with Big Lou - knew how to get his way - and had what was at least short-term a very good working relationship with the old monster. In period Roger's promise as a racing driver was absolutely unmistakable - and while Tom's good standing with BL and BRM brought the test drive in the first place Tom can tell a very funny story about the outcome when a contract was offered, and he led the way in advising Roger and his father 'Dodger' to refuse it. A DFV-engined drive seemed a better proposition... At the time it seemed the right thing to do.

DCN

#7 Jerry Entin

Jerry Entin
  • Member

  • 4,718 posts
  • Joined: December 02

Posted 15 December 2005 - 02:05

I will tell of another unknown test Roger did. In 1973 He tested the Trojan T101 that Jody Scheckter was to drive in the coming L&M Series in the States. Tom Wheatcroft had brought him to Silverstone to try the car. Tom treated Roger like a son. To say Roger drove the car beautifully would be an under statement. Sid Taylor told Tom we could run a second car for Roger if they wished. I wish they would have come to the states with us. Instead they decided to go to Formula One. Much to the loss of the racing world.

#8 MCS

MCS
  • Member

  • 3,572 posts
  • Joined: June 03

Posted 15 December 2005 - 20:10

Originally posted by Jerry Entin
I will tell of another unknown test Roger did. In 1973 He tested the Trojan T101 that Jody Scheckter was to drive in the coming L&M Series in the States...


Interesting. I didn't know he'd tested a Trojan - although not his first taste of F5000 power of course, because he raced the Kitchmac at the end of the '72 European F5000 chmapionship in an attempt to accumulate more Tarmac points.

But I wonder what other cars he tested.

For example, did he actually try the March-BMW 732 before replacing the GRD 273 ???

Similarly, the previous season, did he test the Formula Three GRD 372 before replacing his March 723?

Did he test any other F5000 cars?

Did he test any other F1 cars?

I'm sure I'm not alone in my curiousity. :(

#9 Gary C

Gary C
  • Member

  • 4,571 posts
  • Joined: January 01

Posted 15 December 2005 - 20:15

..... and what happened to the M23 too??

#10 David M. Kane

David M. Kane
  • Member

  • 5,400 posts
  • Joined: December 00

Posted 15 December 2005 - 20:27

Gary:

In another tread or a magazine I read, I believe, it was mention that the M23 still with Tom. In fact, I "think" they said it was still unassembled with some of the bits still in the boxes it arrived in from McLaren.

#11 Gary C

Gary C
  • Member

  • 4,571 posts
  • Joined: January 01

Posted 15 December 2005 - 20:29

if it is, that's bluddy amazing!

#12 MCS

MCS
  • Member

  • 3,572 posts
  • Joined: June 03

Posted 15 December 2005 - 20:33

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Gary:

In another tread or a magazine I read, I believe, it was mention that the M23 still with Tom. In fact, I "think" they said it was still unassembled with some of the bits still in the boxes it arrived in from McLaren.


Yes, you're right, David. The Lost Generation of Ex-Drivers thread http://forums.autosp...59&pagenumber=2

See Pete Fenelon's post (number 49)...

#13 Jerry Entin

Jerry Entin
  • Member

  • 4,718 posts
  • Joined: December 02

Posted 15 December 2005 - 20:38

I can only say that after watching Roger test the Trojan that I believe 100% what Stuart had said earlier that he was on the lap record when he tested the BRM. I also agree with Mr. Nye that Roger was truly and absolutely an unmistakably world class driver.

#14 Twin Window

Twin Window
  • Nostalgia Host

  • 6,611 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 15 December 2005 - 21:50

Originally posted by MCS

Did he test any other F5000 cars?

He raced the Kitchmac in the 1972 Victory Race at Brands.

Originally posted by David M. Kane

In another tread or a magazine I read, I believe, it was mention that the M23 still with Tom. In fact, I "think" they said it was still unassembled with some of the bits still in the boxes it arrived in from McLaren.

Like the BRM test and the Tyrrell contract offer, the McLaren-still-in-boxes story is documented in Racers Apart by David Tremayne (published 1991, IIRC).

DJT's next book The Lost Generation, which focuses exclusively on the short lives of Williamson, Pryce and Brise, will be published early next summer. Personally, I can't wait!

#15 MCS

MCS
  • Member

  • 3,572 posts
  • Joined: June 03

Posted 16 December 2005 - 09:27

Originally posted by Twin Window
He raced the Kitchmac in the 1972 Victory Race at Brands.


Also raced at Oulton Park - penultimate round - where he had a coming together with John Cannon's March on the last lap at Lodge Corner and then in the final round (I think) at Brands Hatch, but not sure how he fared there...

#16 Peter Morley

Peter Morley
  • Member

  • 1,927 posts
  • Joined: October 02

Posted 16 December 2005 - 09:33

Originally posted by Gary C
..... and what happened to the M23 too??


Just read his new book "Thunder in the Park", Wheatie says that he had agreed to buy two M23s at 40,000 pounds a piece but cancelled them when Roger was killed.

He also talks about the BRM offer from Louis Stanley, and plenty of other stories any one of which makes the book worth buying (which you can only apparently do direct from Donington).

Apparently he wasn't just on the record with the BRM he was going quicker than the normal driver (not sure if they mean on the record for a BRM or the circuit though?).

#17 Twin Window

Twin Window
  • Nostalgia Host

  • 6,611 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 16 December 2005 - 09:49

Originally posted by Twin Window

He raced the Kitchmac in the 1972 Victory Race at Brands.

Sorry, Mark - I meant to say 'too'.

I like the sound of that book, Peter! :up: Must remember to investigate...

#18 petefenelon

petefenelon
  • Member

  • 4,815 posts
  • Joined: August 02

Posted 16 December 2005 - 10:23

Originally posted by Twin Window

DJT's next book The Lost Generation, which focuses exclusively on the short lives of Williamson, Pryce and Brise, will be published early next summer. Personally, I can't wait!


Agreed. Racers Apart was one of the most pleasantly surprising racing books I've read - the cover made it look like a potboiler, the RRP was ridiculously high, so I avoided it when it first came out. I weakened later when it was a tenner -- the Williamson and Pryce chapters were almost unbearably moving, the material about record breakers excellent, and the selection of photos excellent. To read DJT at greater length about a generation of drivers he clearly cares a lot about should be a real treat.

#19 Michael Oliver

Michael Oliver
  • Member

  • 888 posts
  • Joined: January 03

Posted 29 December 2005 - 23:29

Originally posted by MCS


Yes, you're right, David. The Lost Generation of Ex-Drivers thread http://forums.autosp...59&pagenumber=2

See Pete Fenelon's post (number 49)...


I don't think that is quite what is meant, if you read it through. It surely means that they bought bits and pieces required to make their own car, not that they bought the M23s in bits? He seems to be saying that they would have bought the M23s, if Williamson hadn't been killed. As far as I am aware (and I don't claim to be a leading authority on these cars by any stretch of the imagination) the histories of the M23s are well documented and there aren't two missing cars. I believe Tom has a Yardley-liveried M23 in his collection but it is a while since I've been there so I don't know if it is still there... It is M23/2, the ex-Revson, ex-Charlton, ex-McCormack car.

Advertisement

#20 MCS

MCS
  • Member

  • 3,572 posts
  • Joined: June 03

Posted 30 December 2005 - 17:05

No, I didn't mean that the M23s were there (I'm sure they're not), but that Pete Fenelon's post referenced the piece that David Kane was alluding to - if you're still with me! :drunk:

#21 Mallory Dan

Mallory Dan
  • Member

  • 2,694 posts
  • Joined: September 03

Posted 03 January 2006 - 16:41

I had a quick glance at the Wheaty book over the hols, my brother who used to work at the track had a signed copy. It appears to be all his own work rather than ghosted, and looks like a damn good read. One item I note is that the old fella has recently got married (his first wife died some years ago I believe) to the ex-wife of David Andrews, ie the mother of Phil Andrews.

My brother worked for 2-4 Sports who ran the circuit for Tom, and promoted the meetings, as well as the Monsters Of Rock dates. He, my brother, said Wheaty could be a difficult chap to deal with on occasion...

Quite separately, and amazingly, I met another bloke over the New Year who set up his steel/fabrications business on the back of an existing deal his father had with Tom. This chap had nothing but praise for Tom W.

#22 subh

subh
  • Member

  • 1,025 posts
  • Joined: July 04

Posted 08 January 2006 - 21:28

This is the book in question, due in June.

Posted Image

#23 MCS

MCS
  • Member

  • 3,572 posts
  • Joined: June 03

Posted 08 January 2006 - 21:40

Thanks subh.

Just looking at the cover picture, I'm not sure I can handle it.

As a lad I watched them all win races and still have their autographs.

Maybe I'm just too soft.

#24 Twin Window

Twin Window
  • Nostalgia Host

  • 6,611 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 09 January 2006 - 00:20

Originally posted by MCS

Just looking at the cover picture, I'm not sure I can handle it.

Oh, you'll shed tears.

The relevant chapters of Racers Apart had (and still have) that effect on me; but that's why I love it so much.

It's a very special place to visit every once in a while...

#25 Huw Jadvantich

Huw Jadvantich
  • Member

  • 602 posts
  • Joined: July 04

Posted 09 January 2006 - 13:17

That cover brings a lump to the throat doesn't it?

#26 Twin Window

Twin Window
  • Nostalgia Host

  • 6,611 posts
  • Joined: May 04

Posted 12 March 2006 - 02:04

When I heard the news about Roger's fate via the radio on that bleak July day in 1973, I was naturally very upset (it was the first time I'd cried as a [16 year-old] young adult) and I also vividly remember being concerned by what would happen to his E-Type Jaguar. This felt a little strange until some years later Keke Rosberg remarked that Gilles Villeneuve's death only really hit him when he saw his helicopter in a solitary state within the confines of Zolder, surrounded by nothing more than grass and wafting waste paper...

Strangely, I sometimes still wonder about Roger's white Jag; normally prompted when I spot it in the background of a photo I took back then, like this one at Mallory in March 1973...

Posted Image

Around that time - three weeks later, in fact - I attended the F5000 race there with Steve Thompson's father and future father-in-law. As we waited to drive over the track and into the paddock, Roger and his father 'Dodge' wandered over to the NSU Ro80 we were in and chatted through the front passenger window. The previous January at the Racing Car Show (at Ally Pally?), I'd spent something like fifteen minutes talking to Roger (remember, he was pretty much the coming-man for British motorsport at the time) who was just brilliant with myself and my pal by signing our autograph books and the like...

Posted Image

...and so for me it was almost like seeing a 'friend', despite my anonymity in the back seat! His E-Type was a few cars ahead of the NSU in the line, so I can only assume that this is the root of my juvenile concern.

A real mixture of emotions.

#27 zakeriath

zakeriath
  • Member

  • 699 posts
  • Joined: October 05

Posted 12 March 2006 - 09:10

Originally posted by Mallory Dan
I had a quick glance at the Wheaty book over the hols, my brother who used to work at the track had a signed copy. It appears to be all his own work rather than ghosted, and looks like a damn good read. One item I note is that the old fella has recently got married (his first wife died some years ago I believe) to the ex-wife of David Andrews, ie the mother of Phil Andrews.

My brother worked for 2-4 Sports who ran the circuit for Tom, and promoted the meetings, as well as the Monsters Of Rock dates. He, my brother, said Wheaty could be a difficult chap to deal with on occasion...

Quite separately, and amazingly, I met another bloke over the New Year who set up his steel/fabrications business on the back of an existing deal his father had with Tom. This chap had nothing but praise for Tom W.


It is well worth reading Tom Wheatcrofts autobiography, "Thunder in the park" its gives a really good insight into the relationship between Roger and Tom. It covers a lot of the questions asked in this thread and gives a really good perspective (from Toms view) of the kind of person Roger really was, I think this has come out in this thread of being a remarkable and loyal person Roger really was.

WRT Tom being a difficult chap, Wheatcroft gives a good account of why the terms difficult b******d or awkward applied to him. Even the name Tom or Tommy comes from his childhood name "little Tommy opposite" given by his mother, his real name is Frederick Bernard.

It also goes on to discribe how the official at Zandvoort how was responsible for not stopping the race attended the 30 year memorial but only stood in the backgroung, someting about trying to lay a ghost to rest and although Tom and this person never met at the memorial Tom still to this day would not be able to forgive him. In the book it mentions that a fire truck was a few yards up the road, but because they did not stop the race it couldnt get there.

#28 f1steveuk

f1steveuk
  • Member

  • 3,209 posts
  • Joined: June 04

Posted 12 March 2006 - 14:13

While working at a motor museum, I had the pleasure of meeting Tom. He had come to see a pile of bits, that was supposed to make up a tank Bugatti. The owner, whose reputation was for being, how shall I put this, er, not 100%, was giving Tom his patter, but got called away, so I was suddenly joined by Tom who said, "right, now the bugger has gone, what's it really like, is it worth a deal?" I suspect he knew, but asked anyway! I later met Tom a few more times, and he always commented on my diplomacy, but I never got the courage to ask him about Roger Williamson. Purley's despair hit me very hard as a 13 year old, but even I could see what a waste of a supreme talent that was. I would love to see a picture of Roger in a P160, probably all tweaked up around Woodcote, but..............