Simon's snapshots #17

Racing History

British F3 Championship, Silverstone, June 8 1980

Check photographs of a modern mainstream Formula 3 grid and it will probably look a little busier than this, but such was the scene around the sixth-fastest car ahead of the 10th round of the British F3 Championship 35 years ago.


Kenny Acheson (March 793) was on pole position, which he’d later convert to victory, from Roberto Guerrero (Argo JM6), champion-to-be Stefan Johansson (March 803), David Sears and Thierry Tassin (both in Argo JM6s). Mike Blanchet (seventh, Lola T770) added further diversity, while Rob Wilson was ninth in the quickest of the Ralt RT3s that would soon come to monopolise the category. Here, though, we have Eddie Jordan, who would start and finish sixth in his Marlboro Team Ireland March 803. And sitting on his front-left wheel is mechanic Simon Hadfield, who would go on to become – and remains – one of the nation’s foremost historic racers. “I was actually working in F1 at the time, with ATS,” Simon says, “but would moonlight for Eddie whenever I had a spare weekend. People tend to forget that he was very capable behind the wheel.

“It wouldn’t be long before he set up Eddie Jordan Racing – and I was one of his first employees. He taught me an awful lot. We’d take the F3 cars testing pretty much every day, running all sorts of people with the simple aim of bringing in money so that he could put somebody decent in the car for race weekends. I seemed to spend most of my time adjusting belts to accommodate drivers of different shapes and sizes…” After scratching around for a year or two to become established, EJR would become part of the British F3 fabric, running Martin Brundle in his epic title campaign against Ayrton Senna in 1983 and guiding Johnny Herbert to the team’s only domestic title in 1987. By then EJR was also active in the FIA F3000 series, which it won with Jean Alesi in 1989. Two years later Jordan GP was born, the dawn of an adventure that netted four Grand Prix victories before its fortunes waned. Eddie eventually sold up, bought some loud shirts and became a TV analyst. “It’s important to remember,” Hadfield says, “that he used to work incredibly hard to give good guys a chance – and that’s something that tends to be missing from our sport nowadays.”

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