Simon's snapshots #10by Simon Arron on 17th October 2014
Formula Atlantic, Mallory Park, July 12 1981
In contemporary single-seater racing, you can drive almost any chassis you like… so long as it’s a Dallara, or perhaps a Tatuus. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. It’s a world apart from the motor racing landscape of 30 or 40 years ago, when typical grids featured a dozen or more manufacturers. Formula Atlantic was a case in point. The cars looked good, sounded right and it attracted packed, high-quality fields during its competitive zenith, in 1974-75. Its star then faded, but it was reintroduced in 1979 – after a two-year absence – before petering out again at the end of 1983. This Mallory Park race was ninth of the season’s 15 championship races and the 17-car field featured cars from nine different constructors. The entry included obvious stuff from Ralt, March and Lola, plus a Tiga for Ian Taylor, an Argo for Desiré Wilson, a couple of older Chevrons, the Ehrlichs of Ian Flux and Mark Thatcher (who didn’t turn up, although history doesn’t record whether he was busy or else got lost en route) and David Muter’s Barton JTB3 (which was, of course, a reworked version of the Sana RD11). Last but not least was the car in the illustration above, heading the Ralt RT4 of David Duffield towards Shaws Hairpin.
#1 1977 British Grand Prix, Silverstone #2 1978 Le Mans 24 Hours #3 1980 Renault 5 Challenge, Oulton Park #4 1979 Race of Champions, Brands Hatch #5 1980 Marlboro Trophy, Silverstone #6 1981 British Formula Ford, Oulton Park #7 1979 BMW County Champ., Oulton Park #8 2009 Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay #9 1981 BSCC, Oulton Park #10 1981 Formula Atlantic, Mallory Park #11 2010 European Grand Prix, Valencia #12 1976 BOSS Championship, Oulton Park #13 2012 Boxing Day Meeting, Mallory Park #14 1978 BSCC, Brands Hatch This is Belgian engineer Daniel Lebacq’s eponymous FA4, which began life as an Elf 2J-BMW F2 chassis before morphing into an Elf-Renault and finally, in 1977, a Kauhsen-Renault. Michel Leclerc qualified a Kauhsen on pole for that year’s Silverstone F2 opener, but the car spent most of the campaign falling apart (although the team did manage to lure Alain Prost on board at Nogaro, where he finished 10th). And now, four years on, here it was again, propping up the field with a fresh name and a Ford BDA. Ray Mallock and Alo Lawler finished first and second in their RT4s, ahead of Flux and Wilson, while Lebacq qualified last and retired from the race before half-distance. A footnote, perhaps, but the paddock was richer for such a car’s presence.