Ron Tauranac's other marque
- Mattijs Diepraam
- 8W October 2000 issue
- Eifelland - Periscope up!, by Mattijs Diepraam/Leo Breevoort
- Lyncar & Token - Seventies kit-car misery, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Carlos Reutemann - The team mate that everybody hated, by Mattijs Diepraam/Felix Muelas/Nicolas Korzan/Hans Swart
- Token - Introducing Mr Tom Pryce, by Mattijs Diepraam
Tim Schenken, Patrick Depailler
Trojan-Cosworth T103, Tyrrell-Cosworth 006
1974 Spanish GP (28 April 1974)
Viva DFV! While Italian newcomers Tecno still followed the Ferrari/BRM route of taking responsibility for both chassis and engine design, former McLaren subcontractors Trojan were one of the first small-budgeted Grand Prix teams to go the Cosworth/Hewland kit-car route which became so ubiquitous during the later seventies, with Ensign being the most enduring, Kauhsen the most short-lived and Merzario the silliest.
While the Trojan name goes back to the dawn of motor racing, Croydon-based Trojan, founded by Peter Agg, started off in the early seventies, after having taken over Elva. At first Trojan built CanAm (M8C, M8E, M8FP, M12) and F5000 (M18, M22) customer cars for McLaren but when the idea came up to assemble runs of the Ralph Bellamy-designed M21 F2 car and even create a F5000/FA derivative of the successful M19 F1 car relations turned sour. In the end, the project fell through, as did the association with McLaren, so Trojan, now with ex-Brabham and future Ralt design wizard Ron Tauranac very much involved, embarked on its plans to construct its own cars. Into the T101 - which helped Jody Scheckter win the 1973 North American F5000 championship - went much of the design work already put into the M21 project, while T102 was Tauranac's own F5000 design (and his first non-Brabham one).
Tauranac's separation with Brabham had gone in steps. In 1970, Jack and Ron were still a winning combination with the BT33, the triple World Champion within reach of a fourth title, if not for a couple of silly mistakes of which main rival Jochen Rindt gained most each and every occasion. After getting off to a flying start in South Africa (where Brabham took his last GP win) he looked to have a thrilling Monaco race signed, sealed and delivered before famously thumping his mount into the guardrails on the final lap, handing victory to Rindt on a silver plate. At Brands, Jack should have won as well, and coupled with some more errors, he took just 25 points out of a season that had started with so much promise. Mind you, Brabham were running a shoestring operation that year, at least compared to its former stature, with the second car run for well-funded Stommelen, who showed well in his first full season of F1.
Having taken fourth in both the drivers' and constructors table Jack Brabham retired from the sport and returned to his native Australia, selling his share of MRD to Tauranac. For 1971, another veteran joined in the shape of Graham Hill while the F2, F Atlantic and F3 departments were also kept on. For Hill, Tauranac designed the striking one-off BT34 "lobster claw", which in 1972 was put to effective use by full-season debutant Carlos Reutemann. The BT35 was an F3 design, while the BT36 was a somewhat fatter BT35 for F2 use. With it, Reutemann came in second in the 1971 European F2 Championship, with Aussie Tim Schenken fourth.
At the end of 1971, it was all change again. In F1, it had been been a bad year with just seven points from a two-car championship campaign while Tauranac found it increasingly hard having sole responsibility for the Grand Prix team and the factory. He decided to sell off to Bernie Ecclestone, with Ralph Bellamy taking over the design department, and temporarily fed up with it all, Ron joined Jack Brabham in retirement Down Under. But it wasn't for long before Tauranac returned to Britain to take over the Trojan design department, first penning the F5000 T102 car before this was economically rebuilt to F1 regulations and rechristened T103. Entered by Trojan-Tauranac Racing in eight World Championship races in Europe, starting in Spain (our picture and the site of Niki Lauda's first win), while surprisingly giving the British non-championship events a bye, Trojan's Tim Schenken became a proverbial kit-car tailender before the team's small funds ran dry. In Belgium and Austria Tim managed to finish the race tenth, which was the best result of the team.
Tim Schenken had been pals with Tauranac since his days at Brabham in 1971, running alongside Graham Hill for MRD, and pulling off some surprise results in the workmanlike BT33, third in Austria by far the most remarkable, in the process outscoring his team leader in the drivers' table. At the same time, Tim was busy in F2 for Brabham's semi-works outfit Rondel Racing, an enterprise shared between Neil Trundle and a still boyish Ron Dennis. Tim's fourth place in the F2 championship got him a works Ferrari sportscar drive, while embarking on an unhappy association with John Surtees in F1. It was a good thing Schenken did not stay with the overambitious Motul-backed Rondel team which ran Reutemann and later sportscar star Bob Wollek in 1972. Those two finished fourth and seventh respectively in the championship but with 40 BT38s delivered in F2, F3 and FB/F Atlantic versions, the factory was stretched in its resources and success wasn't as big as in 1971 with the BT36. In sportscars, however, paired with Ronnie Peterson, Tim took the Buenos Aires and Nürburgring 1000kms races in a season dominated at will by the Prancing Horse.
Still, Schenken's F1 prospects looked bleak. His GP career on the rocks after a Surtees season struck by unreliability, Tim gambled on the incumbent F1 project of his friends Dennis and Trundle but the Rondel F1 car never materialised in 1973. Under new ownership it eventually did in 1974, as the Token, but by then Tim had switched allegiance to his other ex-Brabham acquaintance, who now was at Trojan. Incidentally, through Tauranac's work as a design consultant at Williams Tim had also got a one-off for Frank in the rain-struck 1973 Canadian GP.
The only positive thing of the Trojan experience was that the car allowed for a reasonable finishing record, Schenken finishing three of his six races (he failed to qualify in Holland and Germany) and leaving another through no fault of his own, getting mixed up in a multiple accident at Monaco. Also, in its last two outings, Schenken managed a fine 19th and 20th on the grid, out of a total of 31 cars entered. But after Monza, which saw a retirement through gearbox trouble, the budget ran out and the programme was closed down. All that was left for Schenken was a one-off for Lotus at the Glen. In a sequence of events strikingly similar to those of Hans Heyer illegally starting the 1977 German GP, Tim qualified down in 27th place but managed to get his way into the race all the same. He was duly disqualified 7 laps into the event.
The Trojan F1 programme was never reopened. During the project, Tauranac had already formed Ralt, working from a modest plant in Woking. Early 1975, the RT1 F3 car was launched. It was the start of a hugely successful customer operation, Ralt chassis taking many titles in F3 and F Atlantic before embarking on a commanding F2 campaign during the early eighties. Then Ron sold out again in 1988, staying on as a consultant. This time, F3000 rival March was the buyer, the Bicester company moving the operation to its Colnbrook factory, keeping the Ralt name for its cars for the lower formulae. The March name would be used exclusively for the top single-seater and sportscar categories such as F1, Indycars, F3000 and IMSA.
After many years of absence because of Ralt and Reynard being comprehensively beaten by Dallara in F3, the Ralt name is now back in the category, having made a return in the modest inaugural US F3 Championship. The return itself wasn't modest at all, though. At the hands of veteran Stuart Crow, the VW-engined F3/2000 obliterated the standard Dallara opposition in the opening rounds of the championship. It's a surprise no orders have been forthcoming for 2001. It would be great for F3 (now effectively a one-make series) if the famous Ralt vs. Dallara battle of the late eighties could be recreated.
As for Tim Schenken, he became the head of Tiga Cars together with his F1 contemporary Howden Ganley, the little sportscar marque having its heyday in the sportscar "interbellum" between Group 6 and Group C, before concentrating on C2 designs that sadly could not live with the all-conquering Spice cars in the junior sportscar category of the eighties. Today, Tim is Clerk of the Course at the Australian GP, a job he has held since the nation made a successful bid for Championship status back in 1985.
The Agg name is also very much alive in racing today, since Peter Agg's son Charles is an avid racer of F5000 and Can-Am machinery, and drives his father''s cars during a host of historic events. An enormous crowd pleaser, Charlie has been a part of both Goodwood spectacles since their inception and usually isn't hanging about in the big-banger sportscars available to him. In Charlie's hands, even the widest Can-Am car looks at home on the Goodwood hill...
Reader's Why by Alessandro Silva
A bubble-car maker in F1 and the first GP victory for Lauda. Trojan Ltd's story is one of the liveliest in motoring history. It touches racing history only in the late sixties, but way before that (the first prototype dating from 1910) it became legendary for the excentricity of its products. Since its beginnings it experimented with two-stroke engines powering a light inexpensive car. The layout of the engine of the first Trojan car in production, in 1922, was unique: it was designed in such a way to reduce to the minimum moving parts, with no respect to traditional mechanical engineering. The four cylinders were arranged in a square, each pair being united by a common combustion chamber with a single sparking plug. The upper cylinders were the inlet and the lower the exhaust, where the pistons were connected by a long V-shaped connecting rod. For the rod to travel its path it had to bend so it was thin enough to flex slightly! The petroil mixture followed a tortuous path one metre long through the engine that was started by a long lever sticking out from the car floor. In order to reduce engine vibrations, the flywheel was coupled with the two-speed epicyclic transmission through elicoidal springs. The chassis was a metal tray with the engine beneath its center, leaving the interior of the bonnet almost empty, save for the petrol tank, the steering column and the carburettor which sat in isolation one metre away from the power unit. There was only one brake drum on the rear axle. The maximum power output was only 11bhp and the maximum speed 50km/h. The great feature of this engine was an almost flat power curve, so the car could climb almost anything, albeit at walking speed, and unwholesome loads might be carried in it. Leyland bought the rights to build the car leaving Trojan to its usual business of precision engineering. The car could easily travel 50 miles to the gallon and had huge success in delivery van form, to be later substituted by another model where the engine was mounted vertically and to the rear. Pneumatic tyres were an optional as late as 1928 when Trojan took back manufacture. By 1935 the car was too crude and Trojan, after offering an unsuccessful "new" car, concentrated on commercial vehicles until 1962 when they begun building an already obsolete Heinkel bubble-car under licence.
Trojan was already building Elva's sportscars when it absorbed the company in 1964. Later it built McLarens with Oldsmobile or Ford engines sold in the US under the McLaren-Elva denomination to cash on the reasonably good reputation that Elva had on that market. In 1974 Ron Tauranac, former partner and chief designer for Brabham Cars who had sold his assets in the Brabham to Bernie Ecclestone, went to Trojan to design a new F1 car powered by the ubiquitous Cosworth engine. Unfortunately lack of finance meant insufficient development and the team never enjoyed much success.
Ron Tauranac took with him Australian driver Tim Schenken. Born in 1943, Tim Schenken had great success in Formula Ford and F3 winning the much coveted for Grovewood Award in 1968 before making his F1 debut in the second half of the 1970 season driving Frank Willliams' unreliable de Tomaso. Signed by Brabham, he had a full 1971 season with a third at the Austrian GP showing very good potential. He made the wrong move going to Surtees the year after because he thought that Brabham's new owner Bernie Ecclestone was not trustworthy enough as a team manager! With Surtees only two points were scored in Argentina and Schenken sat out of F1 for the 1973 season with only a drive for Iso-Williams.
The Trojan venture was to be his last in F1. Schenken was a driver giving the best of himself outside the F1 Championship: in 1971 he was 3rd at the International Trophy and 4th in the Race of Champions. He was signed by Ferrari to race in the all conquering 1972 312P team in the Marque Championship, where teamed with Ronnie Peterson Schenken won the Buenos Aires and Nürburgring 1000km and they were second at Daytona, Sebring, Brands Hatch, Watkins Glen and 3rd at Monza and Zeltweg. He stayed with Ferrari for 1973 with seconds at Monza and Vallelunga teamed with Carlos Reutemann. After leaving F1, Schenken raced sportscars in 1975 with Gulf-Cosworth and in 1976/77 with Porsche with a last win at Nürburgring co-driving with Toine Hezemans and Rolf Stommelen. He left racing after the 1977 season to follow his business interests in partnership with Howden Ganley and he was also Clerk of the Course at the Australian GP.
In this shortened race contested under a heavy rainfall, the young Austrian led his team-mate Regazzoni home in a stunning one-two for the Maranello team and the B3 car. Best of the rest was Fittipaldi who finished third - a full lap down on the Ferrari boys. Peterson had started the race alongside Lauda who had taken the first pole position of his career. The Swede made one of his customary fast starts and soon found himself leading the pack. Engine problems stopped his race on lap 23 and Lauda moved up to the front. He stayed there for the rest of the race except during his pitstop lap when Ickx moved ahead. It was also the first race for the Tyrrell 007.