In the spring of 1983 I bought a 1978 Hawke DL20 Formula Ford rolling chassis from a race shop in North York in Toronto. I had spent the winter refurbishing my well worn ex-Jim Russell Van Diemen RF75 (a topic unto itself) but the new season was rapidly approaching and there was still a lot of work to be done. The Hawke was brand new by comparison and it seemed a simple task to drop in my engine and gearbox and go racing. In order to afford the purchase I sold my RF75 to a buddy who had been racing a Merlyn.
In hindsight I would have been far better off to have kept the Van Diemen. The first thing I discovered was that the motor mounts supplied were from a different car and wouldn't be usable. Then I found that the exhaust sytem was from a different car and was also not usable. Due to these challenges and other things going on in my life, I missed the 1983 and 1984 seasons entirely. I was quite discouraged by the whole project but in the spring of 1985 I did a couple of days of lapping at the Spenard school at Shannonville and the bug bit again. I got a local NHRA fab shop to make me some motor mounts and I tackled fabricating the headers and collector myself.
By late summer I was ready to roll the car onto the trailer and I headed off to Shannonville for the Ontario Regional race our club was organizing. Unfortunately a few laps into practice I started to shed wheel nuts (along with the studs) from the rear corners and I had to park it. Some bright light had decided somewhere along way to weld the studs to the mounting flanges (I can't imagine it was the original design). But as a result they weren't quite square to the flange and every time they were torqued up the were stressed unnecessarily. Once the cornering loads were added they cracked and pulled out.
To make matters worse, when I tried to get our tool room at work to effect repairs, they found the hubs had been heat treated to the point of being like glass and they couldn't drill out the remaining studs let alone make the modifications I had specified. So I was forced to get new stub axles made up.
From that point on the car was trouble free (apart from terrible bump-steer) and I had two really fun outings at Mosport and Nelson Ledges in Ohio. But then life intervened and I couldn't afford to keep racing. Ultimately I sold the car to a fellow in Welland and, as I understand, it was then returned to England from whence it came.
The purpose of telling this story, which I have tried to keep brief, is to see if I can find out anything about the car's lineage. I don't know how many DL20's were built. I do know that the chassis were used in both FF1600 and FF2000 and that Jonathan Palmer raced one as a FF1600 in 1978. Complicating the matter is that the car had no nameplate. It had supposedly been tied up in customs for a considerable time and was released shortly before I bought it. Its only distinguishing features were its brand new, never painted blue cockpit bodywork and slightly used black nose and sidepods (there was no engine cover). The radiators had been moved from their side mount a la Lotus 72 to a position just ahead of the rear wheels a la March 761. The Hawke Registry site states that this model was the last designed by Dave Lazenby himself and he left the company he had founded in mid 1978. I gather the marque slipped beneath the waves not long after. The Registry lists only one DL20, a MK20B in Australia.
I know Formula Fords were built by the hundreds and individual chassis are not all that interesting to historians but this one was fairly unique. Can anyone shed any light on it? There is a Hawke Racing Cars page on Facebook and I have placed an inquiry there. But the Nostalgia Forum has never failed to deliver so I have my fingers crossed.