Motor racing ‘threads’ fascinate me. For instance, most research seems to lead to Len Terry at the moment. Over the past couple of years I’ve written articles about Dan Gurney’s F1 Eagle, the 1965 Indy 500-winning Lotus (for a Ford magazine) and the BRM P126 — all of which stemmed from Len’s red-hot drawing board. He tends to crop in unexpected places, too: Alpine’s first streamlined Le Mans racer, the Eifelland — and the original Surtees (p86). The man behind Terrier and Leda — to name but a few — is one of those names that pulls together many aspects of Britain’s rise to motorsporting prominence.
Of course, drivers do this, too. Recent track tests of BRM P126, Ford F3L and Porsche 908/3 all led back to Richard Attwood. And I’m not talking about the models involved, I am talking about the actual chassis. He raced them all.
Austria, in contrast, has not played such a key role as Britain — Attwood’s 908 was run by Porsche Salzburg! — but it, too, has its Len Terrys. For years now tin-top legend Dieter Quester has been hinting at retirement. He still is. He crops up four times in this issue: Surer (p54), Brno (p62), Parting Shot (p102) and My Only Grand Prix (p31). Yes, he made it as far as F1, finishing ninth in the 1974 Austrian GP in a… Surtees TS16.
Which brings us right back to the team that ‘Big John’ built — albeit via Chaparral (p37). His ill-starred 1969 Can-Am season with Jim Hall’s men was one of the things that tipped him finally into constructor-dom — that and a difficult and disappointing F1 season with BRM at the wheel of its P138 and P139, direct descendants of Terry’s P126.
Then there are the little connections you rarely hear about. For instance, when the UK arm of the Pedrazzani brothers’ Novamotor concern hit hard times, kindly ‘Doc’ Ehrlich — an engineer who matched Hall for innovation — found a rent-free corner of his workshop for it There have been plenty of spats in motor racing — that’s the nature of competitive sport — but there are lots of heart-warming tales, too. Sadly, ‘Doc’ and Gianni Pedrazzani are no longer with us (page 19), but theirs are threads that we must unravel soon.