The charismatic Vanwall marque, which won the World Constructors Championship in 1958, could be back in Formula One Grand Prix racing as early as 1999 if VF One, the company which owns the rights to the trademark, can put the finance in place to launch a new team.
Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks, who shared one of bearings king Tony Vandervell’s green teardrop-shaped cars to score the first all-British Grand Prix victory at Aintree 40 years ago this week, and won another eight races by the end of 1958, have been approached to help market it.
John Minet and David Laird, the men behind VF One, recognise the enormity of the task. “Our aim is to re-establish Vanwall with an infrastructure comparable with the best in the sport,” said Minet,” but our philosophy has been that it will be done properly, or not at all.”
VF One is in “very advanced discussions with serious financial players,” Minet told MOTOR SPORT. According to the Mail on Sunday newspaper, which revealed the story on June 29, it is negotiating with companies in the USA and the Middle East, although Laird maintained that “Vanwall Racing will be British through and through.”
Preliminary discussions are said to be under way with British chassis designers and engine suppliers. The key to this situation is the address of “a facility in Littlehampton (West Sussex)” talked of by Minet VF One’s address is, intriguingly, also that of Grand Prix Design, the multi-faceted company run by Mike Earle, whose Onyx team graduated to F1 in 1989.
Earle, who managed the late David Purley’s racing programmes, including the private F1 Lee project in 1977 using a car designed by Mike Pilbeam was out of the country on business when we closed for press.
Vanderwell Products entered Grand Prix racing in 1954, and withdrew from serious competition early in 1959. Nevertheless, the Frank Costin design, refined by Colin Chapman, still appeared occasionally.
The only rear-engined Vanwall was the InterContinental Formula car, raced but once by John Surtees in the 1961 International Trophy.
VF One’s initial push to relaunch the name will centre on marketing a range of quality branded clothing and merchandise, to be sold through Grand Prix Legends outlets.