For the first time, Gordon Murray tells the story of his mercurial career in his own words.
Seldom in motor sport history is one man responsible for so many legendary designs. But Murray is not like most men. The McLaren MP4/4 (One of the most dominant F1 cars in history, winning 15 out of 16 races in the 1988 season, in the legendary hands of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost); The McLaren F1 (for over 13 years the fastest road car in the world); Countless Brabham F1 cars including the iconic BT46B (otherwise known as “The Fan Car”), are just some of the cars Murray has worked on.
One Formula- 50 years of car design is a collaboration two years in the making between Murray and award winning author Phillip Porter, this first edition features over 1,200 illustrations, detailing the entirety of Murray’s design career, including hidden and secret designs that never made it from the drawing board on to the track, as well as stunning racing photographs of Murray’s work in action.
Below is a short excerpt which features Murray’s thoughts on the controversy surrounding the Brabham Fan Car:
“The biggest problem by a mile was sealing the skirts. We could tune how hard it pushed into the ground because if you had too much spring on the skirts the sacrificial wearing strip would wear out before the end of the race, and you’d had it, basically. If you had it too loose, the suction from the fan working on the inside of the skirt would lift them up and you would lose the seal. So, we just tuned and practised with these at Brands Hatch and Balocco in Italy.
“The only problem was that [the drivers] wouldn’t know if they had damaged the skirt. They could go into a corner 30mph too fast and then have no suction and go flying straight on. So, David went down to a scrapyard and got an altimeter out of an old aeroplane. We had a pitot tube on the front, which you can see in all the photographs, which measured the static pressure. All an altimeter does to read the altitude is measure static pressure and local pressure, and it uses the pressure differential to calculate the height. So that’s what we did. We had this altimeter tie-wrapped in the cockpit, right in front of the driver, with a green zone and a red zone. We said, “Forget the numbers; that’s nothing to do with it. If you’re coming into a corner, the needle has to be in the green zone. If it’s in the red zone, you’ve lost suction. Slow down.
People were photographing the fan blades, so the mechanics found a dustbin lid, which fitted perfectly! We were so fast, Bernie didn’t want to piss everybody off completely so he made the drivers qualify on full tanks.”
In spite of this, Watson shared the front row with pole man Andretti in a Lotus 79. Lauda was third fastest, with the other 79 of Peterson for company. ”Of course, the rest is history. We won the race.”
For more on the Brabham Fan Car, as well as Murray’s thoughts on designing the McLaren F1 and the later McLaren Mercedes SLR, this book has all you need. Featuring two volumes inside a beautiful slip case and a cloth binding, this is not one to miss.