Vern Schuppan

Full Name:
Vernon Schuppan
Born:
19th March 1943 (Age 76)
Whyalla, South Australia
Nationality:
Australian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Although Vern Schuppan’s sporadic Formula 1 experiences hardly set the pulses racing, he enjoyed a long and successful career with victory in the 1983 Le Mans 24 Hours the highlight.

Early racing career

He raced in British Formula Ford from 1969 before winning the 1971 Formula Atlantic Championship with a Palliser WDB4-Ford. That established the tall Australian’s reputation and he tested for Tyrrell before joining BRM as reserve driver for 1972. A couple of non-championship races with the team included a fifth place finish at Oulton Park and fourth at Brands Hatch. He also practised a BRM P153B at that year’s Belgian GP only for Helmut Marko to commandeer the car for the race.

Frustrated in single-seaters, Schuppan accepted the opportunity of limited outings with John Wyer’s Gulf Mirage sports car team in 1973. Fifth at Dijon-Prenois, he was second in the Spa 1000Kms when sharing with Mike Hailwood and Howden Ganley. He also made his debut in a race that would provide much frustration but ultimate success – the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Formula 1 with Ensign and Hill

He began 1974 driving Sid Taylor’s Theodore Racing Trojan T101-Chevrolet in Formula 5000 before another F1 opportunity arose. He replaced a disgruntled Ricky von Opel in Mo Nunn’s Ensign N174-Ford from the Belgian to German Grands Prix but showed little – failing to qualify twice with 15th on debut at Nivelles his only finish. His season ended in Macau and Schuppan’s elderly Theodore March 72B-Ford won by four full laps – the first of two victories in the then Portuguese colony.

As well as returning to F5000 in 1975, Schuppan raced a Hill GH1-Ford in the Swedish GP but retired. That year also included his best showing at Le Mans so far when third with a Mirage GR8-Ford and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud.

Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and final F1 opportunity

Schuppan made his Indycar debut in the 1976 Indianapolis 500 and his works Jorgensen Eagle-Offenhauser was 18th when rain stopped the race. That was enough for Schuppan to be named as Rookie of the Year.

He started the 1977 Indycar season driving a works Wildcat-Offenhauser but was perhaps distracted by a final F1 opportunity. Four GPs with a works Surtees TS19-Ford included a seventh place finish in Germany – his best result from nine starts in total. Again Le Mans proved a welcome aside with Schuppan sharing the second placed Mirage GR8-Renault with Jean-Pierre Jarier.

Schuppan continued as an occasional driver in Indycars and the subsequent CART-sanctioned Champ Car World Series for the next few years. He finished the 1981 Indianapolis 500 in third position with a Red Roof Inns McLaren M24B-Cosworth.

Sports car racing successes

However, Schuppan’s future lay in endurance racing. He was a works Rothmans Porsche driver in 1982 and further second place finishes at Le Mans (again) and Kyalami were achieved with Jochen Mass.

But 1983 proved to be his year. He won the Japanese sports car title with Naohiro Fujita and Trust Racing’s Porsche 956 but his most indelible mark came at Le Mans. Schuppan shared a Rothmans Porsche 956 with Al Holbert and Hurley Haywood and they outran team-mates Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell to win by less than a lap.

He continued as a sports car owner/driver until 1986 and won the following year’s IMSA race at Watkins Glen for Dyson Racing. He later built and marketed road going versions of the classic Porsche 962.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1990 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Team Schuppan
1 0 0 0 0
1989 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Team Schuppan
Team Lee-Davey
2 0 0 0 0
1988 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Porsche
Trust Racing Team
2 0 0 0 88th 2
1987 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Rothmans Porsche
2 1 0 0 67th 1
1987 IMSA Camel GT Championship
Dyson Racing
1 0 1 1 0
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Rothmans Porsche
Trust Engineering
3 1 0 0 46th 9
1985 World Endurance Championship
Rothmans Porsche
Trust Engineering
5 0 1 0 19th 23
1984 World Endurance Championship
Trust Engineering
Porsche Kremer Racing
Rothmans Porsche
6 (1) 0 1 0 22nd 27
1983 All-Japan Sports-Prototype Championship 1st -
1983 World Endurance Championship
Trust Engineering
Rothmans Porsche
Porsche Kremer Racing
4 0 2 1 10th 40
1982 World Endurance Championship
Rothmans Porsche
3 0 2 0 9th 30
1982 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Kraco Racing
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
30th 18
1981 World Endurance Championship
Porsche System Engineering
2 0 0 0 262nd 9
1981 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Theodore Racing Team
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
36th 4
1980 CART/PPG Indycar World Series
Wysard Motor Co
4 0 0 0
0% win rate
10th 806
1979 USAC National Championship
Wysard Motor Co
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
15
1979 SCCA/CART Indycar Championship
Wysard Motor Co
7 (3) 0 0 0
0% win rate
14th 449
1978 USAC Citicorp Cup National Championship
Fletcher Racing Team
Pat Santello
3 0 0 0
0% win rate
38th 26
1977 F1 World Championship
Team Surtees
3 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1977 USAC Citicorp Cup National Championship
Wildcat Racing
Alex Foods Racing
Sugaripe Prune Racing Team
7 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 575
1976 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship
All-American Racers
7 0 2 0
0% win rate
6th 45
1976 World Championship of Sportscars
Grand Touring Cars
1 0 0 0 12
1976 USAC Citicorp Cup National Championship
All-American Racers
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1976 World Championship of Makes
Porsche Kremer Racing
1 0 0 0 10
1975 F1 World Championship
Embassy Racing with Graham Hill
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1975 World Championship of Makes 2 0 0 0 4
1975 ShellSport 5000 European Championship
Theodore Racing
Theodore Pilette
7 (1) 0 2 0
0% win rate
10th 30
1975 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship
All-American Racers
Francisco Mir Racing
5 (2) 0 1 0
0% win rate
8th 38
1974 SCCA/USAC F5000 Championship
Theodore Racing Hong Kong
1 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1974 Rothmans European F5000 Championship
Sid Taylor Racing
Chevron Racing Team VDS
12 (2) 1 2 1
9% win rate
7th 77
1974 World Championship of Makes
John Wyer Automotive Engineering
2 0 0 0 10
1974 F1 World Championship
Team Ensign
5 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1973 European F2 Championship
Singapore Airlines
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1973 World Championship of Makes
John Wyer Automotive Engineering
3 0 1 0 23
1973 SCCA L&M F5000 Championship
M Earley
Josiah Scott Enterprises
1 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1972 F1 World Championship
Marlboro Team BRM
0 (1) 0 0 0 0
1972 European F2 Trophy
Malaya Singapore Airlines
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1972 John Player British F2 Championship
Malaya Singapore Airlines
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1971 Yellow Pages British FAtlantic Championship 1st -