Colin Chapman started out by building light, small racing cars for himself in the 1950s and by the time the team folded in 1994, Lotus had won 79 Grands Prix, six Drivers’ Championships, seven Constructors’ Championships and the 1965 Indianapolis 500.
Along the way, Chapman’s designs and ideas revolutionised motor racing in Europe and the USA. He introduced the monocoque chassis to Formula 1, pioneered rear-engined Indycars and later gas turbine engines, developed the Cosworth DFV as a stressed member of the chassis in F1 and brought the first rudimentary wings into the top level of motor sport. That was just the 1960s.
In the ‘70s he made aerodynamics the most important part of F1 design with wings and the ground effect concept, changing the sport forever. If Colin Chapman had an idea, the rest were usually left in his wake, attempting to copy his designs. Even his failures – the 4WD 63 and twin-chassis 88 – could have been game changers under the right circumstances.
Colin Chapman’s legacy is one of excellence and innovation and, just over 30 years since his death, his ideas still resonate in the world of racing today.