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Ron Tauranac


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#1 Pat Clarke

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 05:00

I just heard that Ron slipped away peacefully in his sleep early this morning.

 

Inevitable, I guess at 95, but it still makes me very sad to lose such a friend

 

Thanks Ron for your wisdom and advice over the years, RIP mate.

 

The end of the Tauranac dynasty  :cry:  :cry:

 

Pat



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#2 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 05:30

Thanks for the sad news, Pat. 95 long, well lived years.

A true great of the sport.

Very nice tribute here
https://www.speedcaf...ac-passes-away/

#3 Doug Nye

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 05:39

What a wonderful innings. Ron was - in my view - absolutely one of the most accomplished and significant racing car engineers and designers of all time. He could be extremely abrasive - was not an easy man to work with or for - but his input into Cooper and his direction of Brabham and Ralt, plus the sage advice he contributed to other teams and manufacturers, place him very high indeed in motor sporting history.

My most sincere condolences to his family, friends and those to whom he was such a fine example and mentor... An achiever.

DCN

#4 john aston

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 05:58

A good life well lived  . I never spoke to the man as the circumstances of our  meeting made conversation impossible, and I'd have been tongue tied anyway .

 

1984 , the last Donington F 2 meeting. Arriving very early, I persuaded my chum David (whose first major race meeting this was) that if we walked around like we owned the place getting into the pits was not a problem . And it wasn't  - we walked into the Ralt pit garage and there was Ron getting his hands dirty round the back of the  RH6/84 . He looked up , nodded and went back to work - and then the thing started up... David had never been that close , let alone in a confined space, to an unsilenced race engine and I am not sure he's recovered yet .

 

A tiny vignette from an age when  nobodies like me could get access to racing cars which a young fan  wouldn't believe. It might have been a different story with other teams - good job Project Four had already left trivia like F 2 behind ....   



#5 Tim Murray

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 06:34

I’m so very sad to read this news. As Doug says, he was one of the finest racing car designer/engineers of all time. I wonder if any other designer’s cars have won as many races as Ron’s have.

Sincere condolences to all his family and friends.

#6 Gary C

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 07:11

Very sad news indeed. I only met him once, at Alan Morgan's (Cirrus) place when we filmed the following interview with him. He was polite, interested in us and gave us a great interview. Afterwards I sent him a copy and knowing that he wasn't very interested in conducting interviews, was surprised when Alan told me later that he had enjoyed the experience and wished he had said more!

Here he is in Alan's front room ; https://www.dailymot...playlist=x6m685



#7 SJ Lambert

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 08:17

Vale Ron, one of the absolute super stars of the sport.

5-C147-F50-F109-4-C1-A-8129-2-D8-B04-BB4

pictured here working on a BT33 steering rack at St Jovite, (page 33 of the 1970-71 Auotocourse)

#8 Mallory Dan

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 08:22

Not see that before Gary, isn't it great! Sad news, the man was a Giant of our Sport I always felt



#9 2F-001

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 09:15

Gosh, that is sad news. I've never known a motor sport world in which Ron was not already an established key figure.

I can't think of anyone in the sport/industry who stands comparison - he was surely unique.

At least Ron had - or so it would appear - a peaceful and relatively dignified 'final lap'.

 

Thanks for linking that lovely little film Gary (any chance of a copy without the intrusive - and loud - ads being available?).

My condolences, too, to Cirrus who I know had remained good friends with Ron.

 

 

(Among ground effect era non-F1 cars, has there been anything better looking than the RT3/4/5 et al ?)



#10 Gary C

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 09:20

Yes, go here for my DVD containing it www.motorracingdvds.com look for Yesterday's Racers Volume 3.

#11 john winfield

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 10:26

Very sad news. A couple of days ago I was browsing through Alan Henry's Brabham Grand Prix Cars book - a reminder of just how much Ron contributed to Brabham, let alone to his other ventures.

 

RIP Ron.



#12 absinthedude

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 10:40

Sad, if perhaps inevitable given his age. A great innings and a great career.

I have an anecdote...some time in the early 1990s my dad, who was one of the world's foremost experts in furniture structure and construction, told me that he'd been visited by a "lovely chap with a strange name" who used to work with Jack Brabham....regarding his daughter's intention to begin selling furniture. "Ron Tauranac?" I asked..."Yes, that was his name"....I was terribly disappointed dad didn't get RT's autograph and sadly dad never heard from him again.

#13 Gene

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 11:05

Morning, I have to admit over the last few years whenever I look into this forum, I've been expecting and dreading this post. Ron gave me my first job in the UK, working in his drawing office at Ralt.

 

I have a bunch of (what I think!) of interesting and amusing stories from working in his drawing office and latter as a friend.

If anybody’s interested I’ll write them up and post.

 

Ron, it was fun, frustrating, but always interesting!

I'll miss you.



#14 SJ Lambert

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 11:13

Yes please Gene

#15 Tim Murray

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 11:16

Seconded.

#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 11:29

Pat would know more exactly, but it must be about two years since Ron went into seclusion...

 

From memory he'd had a fall in his unit in Bondi Junction and his daughter took him to the Sunshine Coast to live.

 

He will certainly be remembered for a very long time, having touched so many people over the years. So many customers who had Brabhams in the sixties and even into the seventies, so many who had Ralts going forward into the eighties.

 

Another thing that he made a point of was having the machinery to volume-produce his cars. I remember him telling me about a Promecom machine ("The French make the best sheet metal working machines!") which could stamp out all the rivet holes in a piece of sheet aluminium which would become a tub for one of the fastest racing cars of its day.

 

A couple of members here have worked for him, Peter Finlay is one and Doug Grant, who got the 'eldougo' nickname from Bruce Cary when Bruce was one of the leading men in the Ralt factory.

 

The best story I have from him is about when he and Jack went to Sweden and saw Ronnie Peterson's copy of a Brabham, built by Ronnie's father. "A perfect copy!" Ron said, and congratulated them on doing such a good job.

 

Sad, but not unexpected, as others have said. A man to always be appreciated for what he achieved.



#17 LittleChris

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 11:45

Sad news.

 

I re-read Mike Lawrence's Brabham+Ralt+Honda biography of Ron a couple of months ago which reminded me of just how much Ron had achieved up to the point at which it was published ( 1999 ).

 

RIP Ron 



#18 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 12:10

The interview Alan Morgan has done is very good...

 

Ron was just himself during that and didn't run others down as often happens in such things. Thanks for that.



#19 Gene

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 12:31

Pat would know more exactly, but it must be about two years since Ron went into seclusion...

 

From memory he'd had a fall in his unit in Bondi Junction and his daughter took him to the Sunshine Coast to live.

 

He will certainly be remembered for a very long time, having touched so many people over the years. So many customers who had Brabhams in the sixties and even into the seventies, so many who had Ralts going forward into the eighties.

 

Another thing that he made a point of was having the machinery to volume-produce his cars. I remember him telling me about a Promecom machine ("The French make the best sheet metal working machines!") which could stamp out all the rivet holes in a piece of sheet aluminium which would become a tub for one of the fastest racing cars of its day.

 

A couple of members here have worked for him, Peter Finlay is one and Doug Grant, who got the 'eldougo' nickname from Bruce Cary when Bruce was one of the leading men in the Ralt factory.

 

The best story I have from him is about when he and Jack went to Sweden and saw Ronnie Peterson's copy of a Brabham, built by Ronnie's father. "A perfect copy!" Ron said, and congratulated them on doing such a good job.

 

Sad, but not unexpected, as others have said. A man to always be appreciated for what he achieved.

 

I can second this!

 

My primary job in the drawing office was getting Ron off the drawing board and into a CAD system. Ron was definitely a technology cynic, but when he realized it would improve his cars or the process of designing them, it was totally embraced. I got him into ANVIL, the same system we used at Electramotive, (the Nissan GTP project). At first he wasn't sure about it, but he not only taught himself the system, but once he mastered it he would call ANVIL and tell them of new things you could do with the software. One time in his home office he was showing me the drawings of the Honda "Flat pack" car telling me how the CAD system coupled with the Sheet Metal Folding software made it much easier making the design work.



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#20 Henri Greuter

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 13:26

Many a driver owes a part of his career to cars built/designed by Ron,

think about the numerous F3 cars by Ralt

 

RT1 was/is a classic.

 

Rest in peace



#21 Gene

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 13:31

This is the Ron story that to this day always makes me laugh.

 

I was doing the drawings for the RT23, F3000 car. It was going to be the first Ralt designed on CAD. I was on the forth or fifth redraw of a drawing because Ron kept changing what he wanted. I was frustrated and very annoyed with Ron when he said to me,”I don’t understand why I can’t get across to you what I want!.” That’s it, I’ve had it! I want to have a knockdown fight, get fired and walk out! I replied,”Frankly Ron you have a problem communicating with people!” Let the fight begin! He answered,”Yes, I know” turned back to his desk and went back to work. I was just standing there like a fish gasping out of water, ahhh, ahhhh ahhhh. Where was my argument, shouting and firing? I just walked back to my desk and got on with it.

 

But I did have my subtle revenge! LOL

 

A few weeks latter Ron walked up to my desk and asked if he could borrow my calculator. I replied,”Sure, but do you know how to operate it?” He gave me a look and said,”Of course I can operate a calculator” picked it up and walked back to his desk. Anybody here familiar with a HP, 15C calculator? At that time all HP calculators were RPN (Reverse Polish Notation). I looked over my tube to see Ron punching buttons with a totally befuddled look on his face. And the more buttons he punched, the more befuddled he looked. I knew he would never admit he really didn’t know how to operate my calculator. So, after about five very entertaining minutes, I figured he’d been tortured enough and announced to the rest of the office I was going to get a coffee, did anybody else want one? Knowing what I’d find when I returned. Sure enough I returned with the tray of coffees and there back on my desk was my calculator!

 

Gotta love it!



#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 14:06

At Mt Druitt, early fifties. Very early fifties:

 

mtdruittpitskleinigtauranacraltlo.jpg

 

I'm not sure of the story, but Ron has denied it's him in that car the other side of the Hudson Special. But I believe Clive Gibson, who gave me the photo. Clive is the one crouching down next to the wheel, so he was there and knew who and what was around him.

 

Something which was also not mentioned in the interview with Alan, Ron's part in the 500 movement here in Australia. A lot of people were involved in the club in Sydney and Ron was always at their regular meetings offering assistance and so on. Bob Britton, for one, developed a close relationship with him and I know that he'll be thinking of Ron tomorrow when, I guess, Pat visits him.

 

eldougo, of course, owns or owned one of the cars Ron built in this period. It was originally powered by a Vincent engine. These cars ran alongside cars built by the recently-departed John Bruderlin (Lynx) and Bob Joass (Jolus).



#23 Cirrus

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 15:48

Morning, I have to admit over the last few years whenever I look into this forum, I've been expecting and dreading this post. Ron gave me my first job in the UK, working in his drawing office at Ralt.

I have a bunch of (what I think!) of interesting and amusing stories from working in his drawing office and latter as a friend.
If anybody’s interested I’ll write them up and post.

Ron, it was fun, frustrating, but always interesting!
I'll miss you.

Hi Gene. I know what you mean. I had the same experience as you in my relationship with him. I remember him being incredibly rude to you when I came to install his first CAD system. However, he was also very kind and in later years, when he'd mellowed, was good company with an unexpectedly self-deprecating sense of humour.

#24 Cirrus

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 16:17

More anecdotes... My dad sold machine tools and sold Ron one of the aforementioned Promecam sheet metal machines. Ron handed my dad the cheque before the machine had even been craned off the lorrry.

 

Regarding the purchase of his first CAD system, my business partner and I had started our business 2 weeks before Easter 1990. I knew Ron was about to buy a CAD system and rang him (I had briefly worked for him 10 years previously) to offer any help I could regarding training etc. I was genuinely just offering help but Ron said "Are you selling ANVIL?" I said "Yes" and he said "Well, I'll buy it from you then". We went to see him on Good Friday to close the deal - £22000 at 35% profit margin from memory. Ron said "I'll pay the full price but I want you to give me £1000 credit for a year for training etc." We gave him the credit but he never used it.

 

If he'd have beeen as sharp as March or Reynard he might have made more money but I think he was pretty happy with his lot.

 

...and Gene - RPS notation! I had a TI 58 on which I wrote a suspension geometry program. TI calculators were quirky but very advanced for their time.


Edited by Cirrus, 17 July 2020 - 16:25.


#25 Cirrus

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 16:55

And there's more... In 1971 Ron T let Ron Dennis and Neil Trundle have some F2 cars to start Rondel Racing. They didn't have to pay for them until the end of the season. Just before Ron T went back to Oz Ron Dennis invited him to a tour of the McLaren facility. He showed Ron around for a while until he was told "Get back to work - I'm sure you've got much more important things to do". Ron Dennis said "No - If it wasn't for you I wouldn't have any of this".



#26 Gene

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 17:09

Hi Alan, I had almost forgotten that one til reading your post. But as they say "Time does heal all wounds."

I have to agree with you on how much he mellowed in his latter years. I think he felt a bit marginalized after all the years of being in the middle of the racing business. Here at Virginia Tech I was a faculty advisor (and ringer!) to the Formula SAE team. Both Ron and Carroll Smith were heavily involved with the program towards the end of their careers. I think their involvement served the dual purposes of passing on the acquired knowledge to the next generation of engineers and allowing us oldsters (historic?) to feel like we still have a place in the business.

 

Oh and two more stories!

Anybody here familiar with Ron’s driving? It was legendary around the Ralt factory and the crown courts! Seems he not only ignored speed limits, but tended to do things like driving straight through mini roundabouts. One time he explained to me he had to have an automatic transmission in his Honda because a manual made him drive past the speed limit. Adding he had been before the court seven times for speeding and the judge informed him if he was in court one more time, he was going to be banned from driving for life. I became aware of his driving when we were going to run up to Hewland to discus gearboxes for the latest F3 cars. Ron couldn’t understand why all of us begged off riding with him, preferring to drive in one of our cars!

 

One of the most interesting experiences was between Ron and Steve Nichols. Steve and I were working on a project and I mentioned I had to stop over at Ron’s to fix something on his computer. Steve replied,”You know Ron Tauranac?” I said, yes he lives not far from here.” So I called Ron and asked if he minded if I brought Steve along. He said sure, we can have dinner. I got to spend a fascinating three hours having dinner and listen to F1 stories covering the last forty years. One was Ron mentioning back in 1970, Rindt didn’t like the Lotus and offered to drive for Brabham for half the fee Lotus was offering him. Unfortunately Brabham didn’t have the funding to meet even that fee and Rindt drove for Lotus. There were also several Senna stories, since Ron knew him through his F3 days at West Surry and Steve was his engineer at McLaren.



#27 Doug Nye

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 18:07

After the Jack Brabham book was published I had the pleasure of a really long phone call from Ron in Oz?  We talked at length about old times before I realised he was obviously dancing all around the real question he wanted to ask...

 

Of course it was all really interesting stuff, but he did finally subside into a long pause...  I told him I really appreciated the call but was there a particular reason for him to take the time to make it? "Errrr, yes..." he said, "Those things you quoted Jack as saying about me..." pause...

 

"...Did he really say them?"

 

"Do me a favour, Ron, of course he did!"..pause....

 

"Hmmm - pity he didn't say some of 'em to me at the time!".

 

Jack had, of course, beebrimming with praise.  Two great characters.

 

DCN



#28 JacnGille

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 18:31

Sad news



#29 MarkBisset

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Posted 18 July 2020 - 00:39

https://www.speedcaf...h-ron-tauranac/

 

Lovely and interesting tribute by Larry Perkins



#30 jj2728

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Posted 18 July 2020 - 02:04

R.I.P.



#31 cooper997

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Posted 18 July 2020 - 05:12

At the 2012 Motorclassica here in Melbourne there was a celebration of Jack Brabham with various cars associated to his career. Of course Jack was there as guest with Ron Tauranac and Tim Schenken joining him for an autograph session. Pitstop bookshop (then Perth-based) was there trying to move a few dozen copies of the DCN 'The Jack Brabham Story' and Mike Lawrence's 'Brabham Ralt Honda' being of course Ron's story. Well Ron had come armed with his own copies to sell. Making it very clear that if you wanted his autograph you purchased 'his' book!

 

Here's some Tauranac / Ralt history from the air-cooled days.

 

 

Winser/Motor Manual yearbook #3

Ralt-MM-annual-TNF.jpg

 

Merv Ward's Ralt at Easter 56 Bathurst meeting made the cover of Modern Motor

Ralt-MM-cover-TNF.jpg

 

My condolences to Ron's family and friends.

 

 

Stephen

 



#32 ellrosso

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Posted 18 July 2020 - 20:05

RIP Ron Tauranac. A long life well lived and a great career. A true legend of motorsport. 



#33 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 18 July 2020 - 21:51

I am yet another who owes Ron a massive debt of gratitude.

 

When I graduated in '84 I was sent to the National Engineering Laboratory by the Dept of Industry (who had paid my way through Brunel), where I worked in the composites research dept. on things like plastic cylinder blocks. By the end of '85 I felt like I had paid my moral debt and I wrote to every team I could think of, to try to get a start as a designer. The only two which replied positively were Lotus and Ralt. I had an interview with Martin Ogilvie at Lotus, but it was pretty clear I didn't have the experience they needed, so it all came down to a Saturday morning interview at the Weylock works next to the canal in New Haw with Ron. He was very nice and charming and somehow I convinced him I was worth a punt. I started on 200 pounds a week at the beginning of 1986, sharing a DO with Andy Thorby, Ian Bayley (sp.), "Moose" (not-very-imaginatively nicknamed as such because he was Canadian) and a Northern Irish lad called Davy. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity Ron gave me, and I hold him in the utmost respect and affection, but it was the most hellish six months of my career because Ron was so difficult to be around at that time. He was never nasty or insulting, he was just so frustrated at his own inability to convey what he wanted, and he would start to yell at people as his frustration grew. This created an incredibly tense atmosphere. I kept my head down and fortunately I don't recall being the object of his ire, but he would frequently be upset by whatever it was poor Ian was doing and wind himself up more and more. At one point in the past ian had had a heart attack, and I would be sure it was due to the stress he felt at work.

 

As I mentioned here before, we had a revolving door of young wannabe designers who couldn't hack it. Most left after 6 weeks, though one guy came all the way from Australia and left after half a day. I was determined to last six months. This was still in the days of working on a board, rather than using CAD, and the things he gave me to do were pretty hard to mess up because they involved simple stuff like drawing wing mounts for the F3000 car, a new rear suspension for the Super Vee car, and various little updates on existing bits. Ron attended to every detail. He didn't want you to waste time drawing a full arrowhead on dimensions - a single short line at 45 degrees at each end of the line was sufficient, above the line at one end and below the line at the other. You really felt like every person at Ralt was there as a direct extension of Ron. There was no parallel working or development - every single thing flowed through Ron. He did everything and knew where every single thing was. He didn't employ an office cleaner - he hoovered the DO himself at the weekend. We respected him immensely but he could be a figure of fun too - someone told a story that he was once given a bag of pistachios, which he proceeded to munch through without taking them out of their shells first.

 

Somehow he found out I was very interested in Indycars and he spent a long time showing me photos of the IndyCar he designed in the mid 80s, and he often took the time to explain why certain things were the way they needed to be. He would often come into the DO with some folded up bit of cardboard he wanted drawn up as a doubler for some place on the chassis he had decided wasn't stiff enough. His design process seemed to be quite old fashioned and ad hoc. Andy drew up the front end of the '86 3000 car but Ron seemed to make a lot of the rest up as he went along. Once my six months self-imposed target was up I managed to land a job at Tyrrell, and he seemed unfazed when I told him I was leaving, probably because he was used to people coming and going so regularly, and I was an easily replaced DO grunt. 

 

He contacted me via a mutual acquaintance a couple of years ago to ask if I remembered the development of third spring systems at Ralt, but in reality that happened a long time after I had left. Having read Gene's story I will think of Ron whenever I use my RPN calculator (why would you use anything else?) and every sketch I do even now features Ron's minimalist style of dimension arrow.

 

Thanks Ron, you helped me more than I helped you.



#34 Doug Nye

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Posted 18 July 2020 - 22:06

Wonderful...

 

DCN



#35 Nigel Beresford

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Posted 18 July 2020 - 22:23

 

If he'd have beeen as sharp as March or Reynard he might have made more money but I think he was pretty happy with his lot.

 

...and Gene - RPS notation! I had a TI 58 on which I wrote a suspension geometry program. TI calculators were quirky but very advanced for their time.

 

Ron wasn't motivated at all by money was he? I heard him say once that some guy showed up at the factory with a briefcase full of cash to buy a car without putting it through the books. Ron told the guy to go away. "I don't need that, what would I do with it?".


Edited by Nigel Beresford, 18 July 2020 - 22:38.


#36 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 01:08

Ron Tauranac, down to earth engineered race cars. RIP Ron.



#37 Fred.R

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 05:50

I too owe my first proper job in Motorsport to Ron , i was in the build shop and some what insulated from Ron by Denis Reid and Stan Collier, but i have to say i was petrified of him by reputation , when ever he swooped into the build shop or the machine shop i kept head down bum up working, and always remembering  to turn the nut and not the bolt. When i started i was told the story the Ron had watched some one assemble the rear legs on to a RT4 tub winding the bolt into the nut, Ron watched all this and when they had finished he told them to take it all apart throw the nuts and bolts away use new nuts and bolts, and to turn the nut and not the bolt when reassembling it, 

 

Another story i was told by  Roger (i think)  he  had been there in the Brabham era, was that Ron had chucked up a damaged coil over unit in the lathe and was using a hand held thread chaser to repair the thread, Ron  stoped mid way and said that Roger should do it because if it went wrong he (Ron) could loose his fingers and that he need them to draw and that Roger could complete the job because it would be less important if Roger lost his fingers

 

I assisted in doing a torsion test on a F3 car, i set it up in the Race shop , solid struts replaced  the coil over units, the rear uprights were shimmed to Zero camber and attached some angle brackets that then dyna bolted to the floor, at the from a steel block was placed on the centreline of the car, the edge been on the direction the car was twisted in ( so in effect the chassis was rolling off the edge of the block) a frame was dragged out from behind the "Grey Shed" that went across the front of the car and extending out to one side with a perch to sit on, once set up Ron appeared  looked at those in the workshop then picked one guy who was "the same size as Denzil" i have no idea who Denzil was but i assume he was ballast last time a torsion test was done, Ron set up a "clinometer", it looked to be of WW2 vintage and read in deg ,min. and sec. across the rear axle line on a convenient flat on the gearbox, the guy nominated as ballast sat on the "perch" and Ron proceeded to  measure the resultant twist in the car working his way to the front bulkhead, after taking his measurements he asked the bloke who was ballast to bounce up and down on the bar and inspected the car as it twisted, i was stunned as to how much it moved and how the sides of the tub "panted", as a result of this testing the was a bit of an upgrade and the next years car was slightly different

 

I always think when hear people say Jack Brabham was under appreciated in Australia ,i think Ron's contribution is even less understood,  his cars were robust and fast and were the benchmark for others for so many years

 

Its funny how every one i have spoken to said how Ron had mellowed, i think he may have been quite intense in his Brabham days

 

Ray, the Promecam was a press brake, the machine that made the rivet holes in tub skins and cut out sheet metal parts was a German Trumpf CNC punch, Ron had really invested in the best machines available at the time

 

Even now when i have to make some thing i always think "what is the Ralt way" of doing it and yes i always turn the nut and not the bolt, just incase Ron is looking over my shoulder

 

RIP Ron


Edited by Fred.R, 19 July 2020 - 06:41.


#38 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 08:24

Fred, what I posted earlier I did from memory...

 

I had transcribed an interview Max Stahl did with Ron when Max went to England for the start of the London-Sydney Marathon of 1977. Here's what he said:

 

RT.No, it's not that elaborate, it's just that it's modern. We've put in modern sheetmetal equipment to punch holes and guillotine it and press it. Instead of doing it with older machinery we'll have new stuff that will do an accurate job fairly quickly.

 

I suppose one of the more elaborate pieces is a Strippit, into which you can put a 6ft x 3ft sheet of aluminium and just press some buttons and punch manner of holes - including all the rivet holes - to a pattern for the skins of the tub.

 

CMS. That'll certainly save time.

 

RT. And guarantee accuracy. And then, instead of a folder, we've put in a Promicam, which is a hydraulic brake press made in France - and they're the best in the world - so on can fold up sheets, again accurately, or form them around radii, which you need on our skins. And then we've got a copy co-ordinate nibbler in which you can load a sheet and cut all manner of contours and put louvres and beads and stiffening ribs in sheets.

 

Later I'll post some of his 'opinion' comments.



#39 Cirrus

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 09:05

He was never nasty or insulting, he was just so frustrated at his own inability to convey what he wanted, and he would start to yell at people as his frustration grew.


...and as he became more agitated he would start fidgeting which frequently ended up with him doing a little dance of frustration as he hopped from one foot to another.

He was, however, extrmely generous in sharing the knowledge he had built up over the years and I learned a huge amount from him. One of the last full cars he designed was the Ronta Formula Renault - the first spaceframe chassis he had designed for many years. I've got all the drawings somewhere - each chassis tube was individually drawn with milling instructions so they fitted together perfectly. It was that kind of attention to detail and basic good engineering which meant that there were very few "bad" Ralts or Brabhams.

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#40 Fred.R

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 10:31

Ray the "Strippit" was still there when i was it a manual machine that the operator used a template to reproduce a sequence of holes or other features , it was sort of relegated secondary jobs , the "Trump" been able to operate unattended ,as i said Ron invested and re invested in good equipment to build good cars

When Ron would come to an early season F3 test day , he would wear an unsponsored anorak and a warm peak cap that covered his ears , a lunch box with sandwiches, he was so unassuming

"attention to detail and basic good engineering" yes that hits the nail on the head and he provided the same competitive car to every one that came to the door to buy one, to my knowledge he played no favourites , every one got the same equipment.

#41 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 12:16

Interesting about the anorak, when eldougo posted on the 'Mentioned in Passing' thread he referred to Ron as 'Anorak'...

 

0n Formula 1 constructors:

 

I would like to see some changes, but it would take a long while to elaborate on all of them in a short interview. They now call themselves the Formula One Constructors Association, but they're not really car constructors. Some of them are, like Lotus, March and Renault, now they're in, but the rest are just Special builders. They don't make racing cars for sale, they don't make any variety of cars, they just make a Formula One car to go racign themselves.

 

There's very little difference in that, since they buy, by value, probably 70% of the product, and in a lot of cases they even buy a designer for a short period of time. He comes in and designs their car and watches it get built and then moves on somewhere else, so there's very little difference between doing that and... how much of it have you got to buy or make to call yourself a constructor?

 

What it is, really, is a group of people who are protecting their own interests and making the rules tougher for other people to join in on a competitive basis. In fact, they make it more difficult for people to be competitive because the 'haves' get better service and equipment in many of the specialist areas than an individual just coming in can get.

 

On circuit safety:

 

Well, what's happened is that cars are now taking corners at the same speed they used to achieve on the straights ten years or even six years ago. And with wings and modern tyres, lap speeds have just risen tremendously, so many circuits have cornering speeds up around 160mph, and if you have an incident there is so much energy to be lost somewhere. You can't afford it to be lost on a spectator, so you've got to dissipate it in other ways.

 

Now, if you hit the Armco, it's not too bad if the Armco's right up against the side of the track so that instead of hitting it head-on you get a glancing blow that will deflect you. But if  you're going to move the Armco back from the track and have a head-on prang, then you have a real disaster.



#42 Michael Ferner

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 12:40

"We used to call him 'Anorak', because he was always on your back", wasn't it?

 

Now, his observations re circuit safety are spot on, aren't they? That's why US oval racing has a (relatively) good safety record, despite the higher speeds!


Edited by Michael Ferner, 19 July 2020 - 12:41.


#43 Charlieman

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Posted 19 July 2020 - 12:54

As a teenager in the 1970s reading Autosport, I admired the fact that Ralt sold cars across the world and one of them was winning somewhere every week. Building a car run by amateurs that works for a minor SCCA event on a circuit nobody has ever seen is a different proposition than operating a European F2 or F3 car run by experienced technicians.

 

Well done, Ron, and well done to his co-workers at Brabham and Ralt.



#44 cooper997

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 00:40

This isn't the first time the Tauranac name was mentioned in AMS, but it is meant to be the first event Ron competed in. As often happens to the new kid on the block, his name, or in this case first initial is incorrectly recorded and hence his machine is titled the BST 500 in the bottom part of column 1 and in the results.

 

If you happen to note the date in your files, DO NOT record November 20 (as it states in the heading) go with the Sunday, 26th in the opening sentence. Unfortunately 'Brabham Ralt Honda' has the 20th on page 17 though.

 

Ralt-AMS-Hawkesbury-01-TNF.jpg

 

Ralt-AMS-Hawkesbury-02-TNF.jpg

 

 

Stephen



#45 Doug Nye

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 11:09

Tribute from the BRDC:

 

As many Members may have already heard, Ron Tauranac passed away peacefully in his sleep on 17 July. He was 95 years of age and had been an Honorary Member of the BRDC since 1971. 


Born in Gillingham, Kent Ron moved with his family to Australia when he was three years old. During World War 2 he trained as a fighter pilot with the Royal Australian Air Force, rose to the rank of Flight Sergeant but never saw action before the end of the conflict. He obtained employment as a draughtsman while studying business management and psychology in the evening, all of which were to stand him in good stead when he returned to England in 1960 to join Jack Brabham’s new business. In fact Ron’s first involvement in motor sport, both as a driver and constructor, was in Australia in 1950 with his younger brother Austin. Ron having absorbed all the technical literature then available about the theory of design the brothers’ first car, powered by a 500 cc Norton engine, enjoyed not a little success with Ron behind the wheel, on one notable occasion defeating Australia’s leading driver of the time, a certain Jack Brabham. The car was called the Ralt by deploying the brothers’ initials (Ron and Austin Lewis Tauranac). 

In 1953 Ron and Jack shared a Holden in the first Redex Round Australia Trial. Two years later Jack headed for England but did not forget Ron’s talents and kept in touch by letter seeking his friend’s thoughts on ways of improving the Coopers which he was then driving. In 1959 Jack won his first World Championship and set his sights on establishing his own racing team. He encouraged Ron to ‘come over and join him’ and so it was that in 1960 Ron returned to the country of his birth with his wife Norma and daughter Jann. A second daughter, Julie, would be born in 1962.

At first Ron worked for Jack Brabham Conversions improving the performance of road cars such as the Sunbeam Rapier and Triumph Herald but by 1961 Motor Racing Developments had produced its first Formula Junior designed by Ron. Initially called the MRD until it was pointed out that this had unfortunate connotations when pronounced in French, the prototype became the Brabham BT1. The ‘BT’ designation was to be the closest acknowledgement there ever would be of the Tauranac name in the cars which he was responsible for. The promise shown by the MRD in the latter part of the 1961 season in the hands of Gavin Youl attracted orders for a production run of 11 BT2s for the 1962 season. Driven by the likes of Frank Gardner and Jo Schlesser, the BT2 was an immediate success and the Brabham/Tauranac partnership was on its way as a manufacturer of racing cars.

While masterminding the production of the BT2, Ron was also designing his first Formula 1 car, the BT3, which made its debut in the 1962 German Grand Prix from which it retired with throttle linkage problems. The BT3’s second outing was in an almost full strength Oulton Park Gold Cup in which Jack finished third behind Jimmy Clark’s Lotus Type 25 and Graham Hill’s BRM P57, that season’s two principal World Championship contenders. Dan Gurney joined for the 1963 season and stayed for the next three years, to the end of the 1500 cc Formula 1, giving the Brabham marque its first World Championship race win in the 1964 French Grand Prix at Rouen with the BT7. Jack had already won non-championship F1 races at Solitude and Zeltweg in 1963 with the BT3.

With the advent of the 3-litre Formula 1 in 1966, Ron produced the relatively simple Repco V8-powered BT19, BT20 and BT24  designs to give Jack his third world title in 1966 which Denny Hulme followed in ‘67. In 1968 an unreliable new Repco engine meant that the hoped for success with Jochen Rindt did not materialise. Jacky Ickx replaced Jochen for 1969, winning the German and Canadian Grands Prix. Until now, all Brabhams from Formula 1 through to Formula 3 had been designed with spaceframe chassis but for 1970, Jack’s last season, Ron came up with his first monocoque design, the BT33. A winner first time out in the South African Grand Prix, the BT33 also came close to winning at Monaco, Brands Hatch and Jarama and give Jack a fourth World title but it wasn’t to be. 

At the end of 1969 Jack sold his shareholding in MRD to Ron who took on full responsibility not only for the Formula 1 effort but also the flourishing customer car side of the business where Brabham had become the car of choice in Formula 2 and formula 3 for a galaxy of future Formula 1 stars.  Given that Brabham was operating in a competitive market, unlike today where there are very few manufacturers of single-seater racing cars, it was an extraordinary achievement that 79 F3 cars were made in 1965 in addition to a further 12 F2 cars. Similar production figures were achieved in the next few years, speaking volumes both for the race-winning performance of Ron’s designs but also their dependability. When Bernie Ecclestone offered to buy the company from Ron in 1971, he agreed a deal on terms which he soon came to regret and within a year he had left the company of which he had been such an integral part.

For the next few years, Ron undertook various freelance projects with other F1 teams including Ligier, Williams, Trojan and Theodore Racing, the last of which resulted in the Theodore TR1 which famously won the 1978 Daily Express BRDC International Trophy in the hands of Keke Rosberg. However, the urge to produce customer cars had not gone away.  Having come to know fellow Australian Larry Perkins in 1974, and working with him to sort out his F3 GRD 374, Ron was convinced that he could do better and drew up what became the Ralt RT1 with which Larry won the first European F3 Championship in 1975. Between 1975 and 1979, 165 RT1s were manufactured to be followed by 160 of its successor, the RT3, from 1980 to 1984 and over 130 of the Formula Atlantic version and 115 of the Formula Super Vee variant. A relationship with Honda had begun in the mid ‘60s with the 1-litre Formula 2 BT16 and BT18 with which Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme totally dominated in 1966 and it was revived for the 2-litre Formula 2 of the 1980s. In 1981 Geoff Lees won the FIA European Formula 2 Championship with a Ralt-Honda RH6, a feat emulated by Jonathan Palmer in 1983 and by Mike Thackwell in 1984. 

Ralt continued to produce championship-winning cars in Formula 3 in particular throughout the 1980s so sales remained strong. However, competition from relative newcomers Reynard and Dallara in F3 and from Swift in Formula Atlantic and Super Vee, coupled with the cost of Formula 3000, led to Ron’s company being swallowed up by the March Group from which Ron disengaged himself in 1994. This was not the end of his involvement in motor racing. By now in his 70s, he was contracted by Honda to design and develop a school car along F3 lines. He also designed a Formula Renault car, the Ronta, and in 1996 was a consultant to Honda for its touring cars in the Japanese and British Touring Car Championships. 

In 2002, following the death of his wife Norma after 49 years of marriage, Ron returned to Australia. In the words of his family: ‘Active, healthy and independent until the end, he constantly felt the need to achieve something and always had the next goal in mind.’ To his daughters Jann and Julie and their families the BRDC offers its deepest sympathies.     

 

GPL-200-Chapman-Brabham-Tauranac.jpg

 

Colin - Jack - Ron - very different people, very different approaches, but what a treasury of sheer world-class talent....

 

Photo strictly Copyright: The GP Library

 

DCN 

 



#46 cpbell

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 11:35

Very sad news.  I think that, as most of his designs were more practical than obviously beautiful, his talents and achivements are underappreciated.



#47 DogEarred

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 11:45

I spoke to him once in the paddock at Zolder, when I found him bent over, studying the front suspension of my Formula Ford.

 

He pointed out that the front upright castings were in fact identical to Ralt. He reckoned that they were from the same moulds but with the Ralt indent removed.

 

We had a chat & I told him where the car was manufactured. "Ah. That's the same place as my casting company. They keep the moulds there anyway."

 

I would have expected him to go apesh*t but he just seemed to talk about it with a wry smile.



#48 Gene

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 13:38

While we all remember Ron’s quirkiness, I’d like to add one of my best experiences. Ron is the only person in racing, or anywhere else for that matter, who scolded me for NOT billing him! I was considered an outside contractor and supposed to bill Ron each week for the hours I worked. But having little to no personal bills and being more interested in racing, I just let the billing go for several weeks. One day Ron walks up to my desk and asks me,”Why aren’t you billing me for your hours?” I replied that I’d been busy the last several weeks and would get to ASAP. He replied,”You work for me, you deserve to get paid! Do it now!” And I did.

 

 

In all the posts I’ve not seen much mention of his late wife Norma. I always got the impression the two of them were a team who shared a marriage, but still had separate parts of their lives. One day in the kitchen of the flat they briefly lived, she recounted and confirmed the story I’d heard on how Ralt was restarted. While I’ve found several other accounts, this is what Norma told me. After selling Brabham, Ron decided it was time to retire. For Norma this meant having him underfoot, interfering with the her life (golf, flying, etc) and generally driving her crazy. One day she spotted an ad in a local newspaper for an industrial building for sale in Weybridge. She went out on her own and bought the building. Then informed Ron he was driving her crazy and (her words) despite thirty years of marriage and two daughters she was,”This far from divorcing him!” “There’s a building, get out of the house and go build your racing cars.” I think the Trojan was the first car Ron produced there and latter the Ralts.

Please feel free to add or contradict me, I’m just recounting a conversation!



#49 Doug Nye

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Posted 20 July 2020 - 21:01

Absolutely believable...    :up:

 

 

DCN



#50 DCapps

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Posted 21 July 2020 - 20:51

It was an honor to be asked to deliver the Ron Tauranac Lecture at last year's Automotive Historians Australia conference in Melbourne at RMIT. As Ron Tauranac was the patron of the AHA, that really meant something to me.

 

I saw Ron Tauranac in action a number of times, but decided that discretion was certainly the better of valor in his case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You mean that there are calculators that DON'T use RPN? I still use my HP11C from the dawn of time....