F5000 success, F1 grid filler
- Mattijs Diepraam
- 8W August 1998 issue, offers are kindly accepted to extend the length of this article!
- Rikky von Opel - Automotive heir lays foundation to Ensign marque, by Mattijs Diepraam
Ensign-Cosworth N174 (MN02)
1974 United States GP
1974 is probably the year in which the greatest variety of F1 cars and drivers added to the spectacle. Mike Wilds was just another one of them.
Late arrival Wilds, fresh from F5000 success, finally entered the F1 frame in 1974. After a single non-qualifying appearance in a private March entered by his career-long sponsor Dempster, Wilds switched to Mo Nunn's team, which had seriously foundered during the 1974 season. With Liechtenstein resident and co-owner Rikky Von Opel leaving after just one race to form his own private Brabham team, his ride was taken over by Vern Schuppan, who didn't do any better with the N174. Mike Wilds' Ensign days started out at Monza, where he replaced Schuppan, but it took him three more GPs to qualify the back-of-the-grid car. His race debut came at an event which was clouded by the horrific accident which ended poor Helmuth Koinigg's life, Helmuth's head being severed from his body by the Armco. Wilds' race was a lot less eventful. He finished a full nine laps down and was not classified in the end result.
A avid historic racer these days, Wilds is best known for infamously crashing Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari 312T at the 1994 Goodwood Festival of Speed, sustaining a broken leg and serious body injuries...