Posted 05 February 2001 - 18:21
Maybe Fines can crosscheck the information with his article in "Motorsport Aktuell" .
Swiss-domenciled Swedish woman Cecilia Ekstr├Âm had been active since the early 1970s in chasing sponsors for other teams. She had co-operated with Brabham, Lotus and March.
This way she learned the commercial part of Grand Prix racing. The other side of the sport she got from managing her husband George Poulin┬┤s F3-exploits.
Late in 1984 the pair decided to enter in the newly created F3000 series. They expected to use an 1983 vintage Tyrrell for their effort but the early tests showed that the purpose built March 85B was a much quicker proposition. They duly ordered a car for belgian Thierry Tassin to drive. After some difficulties it was decided that the better-financed
American driver Eric Lang should be hired instead but no results were gained.
Ekstr├Âm decided to take another step and graduate into Formula 1. During the autumn of 1985 the Ekstr├Âm Grand Prix team began to adhere into a firm shape.
Cecilia Ekstr├Âm planned to enter the 1986 season with a two-car team starting from the San Marino GP at Imola.
Wiet Huidekoper and Tim Feast was hired for the proposed design-team. They were to design the carbonfibre-chassis Ekstr├Âm GP86-01.
Former AGS designer Christian Vanderpleyn was hired at a later stage when the original designers had left.
The team aimed at a budget of 3.5 million dollar. This budget however meant that the Renault and BMW customer engines were beyond reach. They selected the new Carlo Chiti designed Motori Moderni turbo-V6 that had debuted during the 1985 season. Their tyre choice was Pirelli.
Of the preferred drivers one should come from Sweden to attract major corporate sponsorship from Sweden.
Ekstr├Âm offered the ride to Eje Elgh who at the time was racing sportscars and F2 in Japan.
They however wanted him to contribute to the race-budget with 500.000 USD. Eje declined the offer and the team now focused on finding some well-financed drivers with decent speed and some testing abilities . Discussed names were Roberto Moreno, Kenny Acheson and Mauro Baldi.
Italian Mauro Baldi was selected for the lead-car.
Baldi┬┤s financier would bring about 300000 USD to the team but he wanted to see a complete car before he would hand over any funds.
Now the Ilanz,Switzerland based team were in full swing. Englishman Paul Cherry was hired as team-manager.
Late in 1985 they had 14 people on their pay-roll.
They targeted successful swedish export companies for their sponsorship. Talks were held with cosmetics-firm Fleur de Sant├ę and fashion house Hennes&Mauritz. They also suited well for a team managed by a woman.
Ekstr├Âm also contacted the Swiss-bank Schweizerischer Bankverein for possible co-operation / sponsorship. They were given documents about Ekstr├Âm┬┤s plans . However the bank did not consider the plans too serious and on April 9th 1986 they turned down the offer.
They also had serious talks with a swedish marketing-director at British American Tobacco. He was marketing several brands at BAT.
However BAT was cautious at engaging another little unknown team as they expected them to struggle.
BAT had sponsored the RAM GP-team via the Skoal brand during the 1984-85 seasons but little success were achieved for both RAM and BAT.
Nothing came out of the sponsorship hunt and in February 1986 the team decided to postpone the plans another year. The 14 employees were sacked and effectively meant that a start with their own car was no longer feasible.
No money were forthcoming and the bills began to pile up. The designers had left before the lay-off.
The mechanics had not seen any salaries for months and were told to wait until "next week" for a long time. Some mechanics had only received 300 USD for five months of work.
Even the phone-lines to the work-shop were disconnected due to non-paymentsÔÇŽ.
So how far did the project actually proceed?
When the project was postponed (i.e. cancelled) , they had one full-scale wooden model and a wooden Motori-Moderni dummy. One carbon-fibre tub was ordered from an italian company but it is unclear if they ever actually began to build any.
Cecilia Ekstr├Âm was seen in paddocks during the whole 1986 season trying to save her GP-aspirations.
When the American food-giant Beatrice announced changed business strategies and their withdrawal from the sponsorship scene during the 1986 season it meant that the FORCE Lola team was out of action for the 1987 season.
Already before that decision Ekstr├Âm negociated with Carl Haas about taking over the Hart powered Lola THL1 cars that FORCE had used late in 1985 and in early 1986. Some spares were also included.
400000 USD was needed for the Lola THL1 with a further 125000 USD needed for the Hart engines.
They were however unable to agree on the price and and as usual they did not actually have any funds to purchase the cars with anyway. So in the end their dream of the Ekstr├Âm GP-team was over almost before it had began.
Ekstr├Âm still claimed they would have a car for the pre-season testing at Rio at early 1987 now with Dave Kelly finishing the design-work. And with Mauro Baldi as a nominated driverÔÇŽ Nothing of this of course came thru.
Branded as dreamers and with promises that never were fulfilled they became a little footnote in the GP-history together with fellow recent no-shows like Trebron, BRAVO and Stefan GPÔÇŽ.
Anyone remember them?
Five years later in 1992 Ekstr├Âm and husband George Paulin re-surfaced and with an Argo JM20 and they entered in the World Sportscar Championship now under the name of GeePee Sport. This time bad timing killed their effort.
The sportcar racing was in turmoil and after 1992 FIA back-stabbed Group C racing.
Cecilia Ekstr├Âm and George Paulin quietly disappeared from the scene and they have not been seen since.
This is the windtunnel-model of their intended 1986 car.
Posted 05 February 2001 - 19:01
Posted 05 February 2001 - 19:49
The team's original driver was Eric Lang, who had a small amount of personal sponsorship. Lang's first race with the team (the team's first appearance) was at the 2nd round of the championship at Thruxton. He qualified in midfield and came home 11th.
Meanwhile Thierry Tassin, who had sponsorship from Debic whipped cream(!), had started the season racing an ex-F1 Williams FW08C for the PMC team. After two races he decided that the car was uncompetitive and looked for a March 85B to drive. He found this in the Ekstrom team, and used his Debic sponsorship to buy Lang's place, ousting the American.
Tassin duly drove the Ekstrom March at the next F3000 round at Estoril, but qualified poorly and retired when the rear wing broke away from his car.
This was his only appearance for Ekstrom, as the understandably unhappy Lang took the team to court, claiming that his sponsorship had effectively bought the car, and therefore he should have the drive. The courts agreed, and Lang was duly awarded the car as restitution. Unfortunately the car was not handed over to Lang until September, which meant that he could only compete in the final round at Donington Park. The car was officially entered by Cecilia Ekstrom, but was actually run by Lang with mechanics borrowed from other teams, and Ekstrom was not involved in any way.
By the way, Cecilia Ekstrom entered a car for the first round of the 1986 F3000 championship, to be driven by her husband George Paulin, but the car didn't arrive. It was reported that she was concentrating on putting her F1 team together:lol: