My only Grand Prix

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1975 British at Silverstone by John Nicholson

How did you end up graduating from Formula Atlantic straight to Formula One?

I’d done Atlantic for three years and won the championship, so what was I supposed to do next? It was a joint decision with my sponsor, Bruno Drury at Pinch Plant. He wanted to see the company name on an F1 car and I simply wanted to enjoy myself.

Why stay with Lyncar rather than buy a proven F1 car like, say, a March?

It was cheaper and we didn’t have a pot to piss in back then. Martin Slater at Lyncar had done a good job with the Atlantic cars, so it seemed a natural choice.

You took the car to the British GPs in 1974 and ’75, but why did you never venture abroad?

In those days, you could do the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch and the Silverstone International Trophy and GP, which was enough for us. The sponsor didn’t want to travel out of the UK and, besides, I never had aspirations to become a professional racing driver. I was committed to my engine business [Nicholson-McLaren].

How good was the Lyncar-Cosworth 006?

It wasn’t a bad car and probably would have been better if we’d tested more. It used to wobble around at the back, but it handled well when we got good tyres. At Brands for the ’74 grand prix I got a set of Goodyears that transformed the car. I’m sure I would have qualified that time too, but I crashed around the back.

What do you remember about your one GP start?

It was the most boring race I’ve ever done. I just ran around at the back and then it started raining. We didn’t have any means of changing tyres quickly, so we had to trundle around in the wet on slicks.

The record books suggest you were involved in the famous Club Corner accident…

I didn’t crash. I was stopped by a marshal just after the corner when the red flags came out. He wouldn’t let me go any further, which is where the confusion comes in. I’d already driven past the accident a couple of times as it was unfolding. The results show me finishing 17th, but we worked out that I was really something like 11th. I remember being really annoyed as I had to walk back to the pits.

Why did the project end after your GP start?

We’d always planned to do those six British races. I was pretty happy with what I had achieved and it would have been nice to have raced the car more often, but at least I can say I’m a grand prix driver on my CV.

What happened to the car?

We sold it to Emilio de Villota, who actually won a race with it [in the ShellSport Group 8 Championship]. I don’t know what became of it after that. I’d be extremely interested to know where it is now.