Antiques roadshow

Meet the men with an addiction to F3000

From left: Nick Edginton, Reynard and Colin Sowter – the owner of Alesi’s car

From left: Nick Edginton, Reynard and Colin Sowter – the owner of Alesi’s car

Jayson Fong

Colin Sowter just loves Formula 3000 cars. That’s why he owns five of them: two Marco Apicella chassis, a March and a Reynard; Roberto Moreno’s 88D title winner; an ex-Ross Cheever Japanese F3000 Reynard; and this, the best of the lot – Jean Alesi’s title winner.

Why the fascination? “As a youngster I always thought if I had the money F3000 was attainable,” says Sowter, who owns Ferrari parts specialist Superformance UK. “One of the people who made me feel that way was Mark Blundell, who raced in motocross at the same time I did. He then went into Formula Ford and like we did in motocross raced every weekend, then ended up in F3000. I felt that could have been me. I’d go to any F3000 event held and fell in love with the cars.”

Success in business means Sowter can indulge his passion, and he’s found a like-minded enthusiast in Nick Edginton to restore and run his cars. Edginton worked in period for Roger Orgee’s Omegaland team and Durango, before setting up on his own to specialise in the single-seater cars he loves.

It was Edginton who approached Adrian Reynard about Sowter buying the Alesi car in 2019. Reynard had recalled the loaned car from EJR after its title season, so it was a one-owner, historically significant racing car. “It was complete with only a few minor bits missing,” says Edginton. “It had its Mugen MF308 which turned out to be a fresh engine built 30 years ago that probably only had dyno time on it. But it had sat for 30 years.”

Two engine rebuilds were required after the discovery the crankshaft was bent, the second by period F3000 tuner Judd.

Sowter has no intention of racing his F3000s, only to demo them – and perhaps reunite Alesi with the car that helped launch his top-line career. The category name, which never meant much to anyone, and the fact they are not F1 cars resigns F3000 to cult status. “The reason why is the cost of restoring them,” says Sowter. “The cost of engines is pretty much the same as running a historic DFV-powered F1 car. So people are more likely to choose one of them instead.”

But as he says, ask a child to draw a racing car and something akin to an F3000 is what they’ll come up with. “A bit like art deco architecture, so much time has passed they’ve taken on a look of their own that is so appealing,” he says. “And it isn’t just old farts like me who are into them. Youngsters like this period too.”