Much advertised racing car hoax

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Jackie Stewart and Ken Tyrrell used March chassis in 1970
Jackie Stewart and Ken Tyrrell used March chassis in 1970

March is the latest outfit to reveal it has lodged a bid to compete in F1 in 2010.

The team has not been seen in Formula 1 since it optimistically sent two chassis to Kyalami for the 1993 South African Grand Prix, despite not being able to pay for a supply of engines.

That brought to an end the F1 involvement of a team whose origins lie with the man who is agitating for a surge of new entries to Formula 1 – Max Mosley.

In 1970 Mosley joined Graham Coaker, Robin Herd and Alan Rees in contributing ??2,500 each to get the team started.

At the season opener at Kyalami – scene of the final act in the team’s F1 history 33 years later – no fewer than five March chassis were present. One-fifth of the 25-strong entry.

The Tyrrell-entered March of world champion Jackie Stewart started from pole position and finished third. Chris Amon, in a March entered by the team that built it, started alongside Stewart on the front row having set an identical lap time in qualifying (to within one tenth of a second).

Stewart won the second race of the year at Jarama – underlining the promise of the new constructor. This is all somewhat ironic given the bitter enmity between Stewart and Mosley today.

However the team was also noteworthy for its chronic lack of funds, from which it acquired the sobriquet ‘Much Advertised Racing Car Hoax’. (March actually stood for Mosley, Alan Rees, Coaker and Herd.)

Then as now

The parallels between the state of Formula 1 in 1970 and the changes Mosley is advocating for 2010 are startling.

An abundance of relatively cheap Ford-Cosworth DFV engines made possible the existence of new teams like March and Surtees and, one year earlier, Frank Williams Racing Cars. Today it is Cosworth who, at the FIA’s behest, are standing by to provide cheap engines for any teams that need them in 2010.

Just as today, the new teams were derided by Ferrari, who railed against the ‘garagiste’ entries with their off-the-shelf engines, gearboxes and chassis.

Mosley sold his stake in March in 1977. Today it seems his sights are fixed on re-creating in 2010 the conditions that allowed March to enter five cars with comparatively little funds four decades earlier.

Will Mosley’s budget cap allow the like of March, Prodrive, Lola, Superfund, USF1, Litespeed, Epsilon Euskadi and Campos Meta1 to enter F1 in 2010?

Or will we find ourselves talking about another Much Advertised Racing Car Hoax?

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Image (C) Ford

66 comments on “Much advertised racing car hoax”

  1. No, just no.

    1. Erm, no to what?

  2. if they allow customer cars then the presence of March or a similar outfit (perhaps Lola) could very well be possible.

  3. Now, why does that not surprise me?

  4. Aaron Shearer
    3rd June 2009, 0:26

    The thing that has been bugging me is who will be running this ‘new’ March F1 team? It’s nice to see that some old constructors are considering re-entering the sport.

    The only thing that I can see a problem with is what happens if they run out of money halfway through the season; it’ll just look plain stupid. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen!

    1. after super aguri, i think teams should be required to have, or have access to, the money needed prior to the start of the season. this may be in place already, in the form of a retainer held by either fia or fom.

      1. There was a multi-million bond for just that. F1Yankee. (48 million dollars, I think)
        It was the main reason that smaller teams couldn`t get into the sport (more so than amounts teams were spending) but then it was designed to be just that.
        Max & Bernie were going through their We Want Manufacturers & Money phase which Max seems to have subsequently decided (since FOTA was formed & the teams have got together to turn on the powers that be) is a big no-no because he can’t control them as easily as the little guys.

  5. Svlad Cjelli
    3rd June 2009, 0:27

    I’d rather see an influx of privateers entering F1 than ferrari staying.

    1. Instead of disregarding F1’s history, why not have both?

      1. Svlad Cjelli
        3rd June 2009, 9:29

        What’s history got to do with anything? Live in the present, not the past.

        1. The present requires people to spend money. Ferrari has the largest chunk of fans & they tend to spend the most money. Whether you like them or hate them, take their money out of the sport & you lose sponsors, circuits, TV broadcasters & potential future customers.
          Most people around the world have heard of the name Ferrari. Bernie may have trouble selling F1 to countries if the big teams leave & all that`s left are the smaller teams which many countires won’t know from Adam.

        2. F1 simply can’t afford to and shouldn’t lose its most famous team. But it is also clear that it would be good to have new teams.

        3. What’s history got to do with anything?

          That’s probably the single most ignorant thing I’ve seen anyone post on this site.

          1. Svlad Cjelli
            3rd June 2009, 15:26


        4. What’s history got to do with anything? Live in the present, not the past.

          Speaking as someone with a history degree…

          As the cliche goes “those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it”. The problems F1 faces now has its roots in how the sport has been governed in the past. And it has parallels with the history of other racing championships – for example, I don’t see how anyone with an understanding of the CART/IRL split in the mid-90s could think such a thing would be positive for F1.

          Ignore history at your peril. It’s the first mistake of the unwise.

          1. Well said Keith!
            I too have a history degree and often find it frustrating when people ignore the fact that there are practical lessons to be learned everywhere, from business, politics, to auto racing, by examining the past.

            I think one of the main attractions of this site involves your’s and the fan’s understanding of the sport’s history which helps us contextualize it, apprieciate it, and clearly see the direction it is going.

            As for Ferrari, its rich history is to valuable to be pushed away, both in terms of F1 marketing and for the sentimental F1 fanatic!

          2. And the beauty of the CART/IRL split is that 15 years later, we have the exact same series that CART was with a smaller fan base, lower TV ratings, a split record book, and Tony George spend millions of his family’s money to make it all happen. I wonder why he might get the boot? F1 better beware.

  6. michael counsell
    3rd June 2009, 0:42

    I’d love to see all of them enter even if it mean having split practice sessions (odd numbered cars run in one seesion, even numbers in the next) and qualifying to actually get into the race.

    With 18 teams entering 36 cars. The bottom 26 drivers in the chmapionship have a qualifying session to decide which 10 don’t make the main race and instead compete in a sprint race before the main event.

    The 26 qualifiers then go on to qualifying as we knwo it today…

    1. I’m not so sure. 26 is enough.
      How many garage slots does Monaco have?

      In the past there was pre-qualifying just to get into qualifying. I don’t think F1 should go back to this. If a team is spending £40m a year they should be allowed to qualify for a grid slot. Unless we have a major issue with slow cars, then you have to bring back the 107% rule (or does that still stand?).

      1. Unless we have a major issue with slow cars, then you have to bring back the 107% rule (or does that still stand?).

        It was indeed scrapped in 2003, and hasn’t been back since.

  7. I really like the idea of more teams in F1. We should go back to the old days where the drivers have to qualify for the limited number of spots on the grid, it will make things a lot more interesting.

    These new outfits are a more likely to run at the lower end of the grid, which would make the scuffle in the back a lot more interesting. If the number of teams increase significantly, the points system should be altered as well. Doesn’t make sense to have 26 cars fighting for points only up 8th. Following the current 40% rule, cars up to 10th or 11th should be given points.

  8. I love the idea of more team in F1, especially privateer teams. I even like the idea of cheap Cosworth engines; That is, as long as everyone is racing under the same set of rules and not this “Two-Tier” nonsense.

  9. Look to NASCAR to see what happens to teams that don’t make races. . .they fold quickly because sponsors will not pony up the money to have their car not enter the race and be seen. awarding points to the entire (finishing?) field would also be a good idea so the teams at the back have a way to measure success to their sponsors. . .if that is something F1 cares about.

  10. Yes, yes please! For all those who wish to see say Hammy and Kimi racing in the same car to see who is best, this way of having smaller teams using the same cars could allow for Hammy in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Kimi in a Prodrive/AM McLaren Mercedes.
    I still don’t understand why the Manufacturers have not seen the obvious way to keep in the sport (either by building cars or just supplying engines), but not actually running the teams.
    Even the great Ferrari have sold cars to other teams in the past (Ferrari US), but I’m not sure if that was for F1…..
    And as long as there is still a mix of chassis and engines across the grid (even different engines in the same chassis), it cannot be called a ‘Spec’ series.

    1. I think this is the strategy behind Max’s budget cap idea… I think it’s brilliant & will result in some really great racing once all the kinks have been worked out.

  11. As long as they paint their cars bright turqoise, I’d love to see them back.

  12. Jonesracing82
    3rd June 2009, 9:04

    i’d personally love to see a return to the days of 40 cars entering race weekends! witht eh budget caps the cars/teams that dont qualify go home and dont go broke! they also wont be seen after lunch on a friday to “disgrace” bernie and max’s sport.
    better yet, thursdays could be pre-qualifying day! with all cars on track for the day with the fastest 30 going through to friday, from then they all compete and after quali only 26 race!
    remember the old “one man teams” with just 1 car?

  13. they should introduce two further points.

    one for the fastest lap and a second point for the biggest gainer of the day. That would help the privateer teams out a bit more in measuring their success.

  14. The established teams have nothing against new teams entering. It`s the quality of the sport itself they don`t want to see downgraded.
    Sure, it would be great to see large entry fields & a return to proper qualifying but that wouldn`t work under the current way that the teams are paid. How much should a team be willing to spend to fly around the world & never get to race?
    Of the teams entered for 2010 some will probably never make it to the grid (& even under the cap would most likely not have run or, if they did, only for a limited period).
    Has anyone else wondered how the undisclosed Late Payment Fee will work? It seems that some of the new teams missed the deadline. Is it undisclosed so the FIA can charge individual teams what they decide with no fixed rate? That will be just another way of setting up a divide & conquer base & ‘buying’ off loyalties.

  15. GooddayBruce
    3rd June 2009, 12:56

    If he is, it will be yet another spectacular u-turn from the man who watched as Bernie encouraged car manufacturers to subsidise racing teams, driving up costs and driving out of the sport teams like Tyrell, Jordan, Minardi, Sauber; and Great teams like Williams to the back of the grid.

    Now Max wants to reset F1 back to 1970? If he does it is not for any particular reason other than just because he can. As usual it will be for his own selfish needs. His apparent need for constant conflict, to wield his power.

    I guess now that his secret recreational past times are common knowledge he probably isn’t getting his regular fix, so he feels the need to lord over F1.

    This man needs an hour in the dungeon quick smart!

    1. As usual it will be for his own selfish needs. His apparent need for constant conflict, to wield his power.

      If we do end up with an F1 that has Litespeed and Epsilon Euskadi, but doesn’t have Ferrari or McLaren, it will be final proof of that suspicion, which many have held for a long time.

  16. I am all for new teams, but does the potential new outfit called March actually have any connection to the old F1 team?

    The Autosport article says

    March Racing Organisation still exists as a non-trading registered company, despite not having any involvement in motorsport since the F1 team collapsed in the build-up to the 1993 season.
    The company is owned by British businessman and chairman of English football club Swindon Town, Andrew Fitton, who acquired March in 1993.

    It sounds to me as if he bought the name when the team collapsed, hasn’t done anything with it since then and just thought he would have a go at F1 when he heard about the budget cap.

    These are the sort of teams that Ferrari criticised in their recent statement about the potential new teams, and in cases like this I agree with them.

    I think only teams who are currently racing in other series or can who prove they have all the detailed plans in place such as USF1 should be allowed into F1.

    Also I am against teams using the name of former F1 teams unless there is a real connection to the old team. I would love Lotus to still be in F1 but not if it meant it was just some new team who had bought the name for promo reasons.

    1. March was actually a group of companies associated with Robin Herd, which started off being a racing car constructor in 1970 before branching into other things. Fitton owns one of the March companies, not just naming rights.

      The works F1 team initially ran cars until the late 1970s before pulling out to focus on production racing cars for F2 and other series. March-built F1 cars returned in the early 1980s, run by RAM with little success. A proper works effort returned in the late 1980s but was sold to Japanese sponsor Leyton House, after which the team was renamed. Leyton House went bust in the early 1990s and the team became March again before closing down in early 1993.

      The part of the group that produced customer racing cars was successful in F2, F3000 and Indycars but was in decline by the late 1980s. It acquired Ralt but ran into financial problems and was eventually sold to Fitton, a “company doctor” who had grand plans for the marque. A radical looking Ralt F3 car was produced for late 1993 but it didn’t work very well. A works F3 car was run in 1994 (called a March I think) but also failed.

      The company then split in two with Fitton keeping the non-trading, inactive part of the company. Although Fitton’s March may have every right to use the name in racing (although Herd might dispute that), it certainly isn’t the same company as Herd’s March or indeed the March that was started by Herd and Mosley in 1970. As you say, it’s a famous name with little behind it.

      Incidentally, the Lotus name was revived in 1995 through the Pacific F1 team whose cars were to be known as Pacific Team Lotus. It never really went any further than the launch.

      1. Thanks for the extra info, Tim.

  17. Svlad Cjelli
    3rd June 2009, 15:31

    Who cares about Ferrari anyway???? Call their bluff and let’s move on. Roll on 2010 without the prima donas.

    1. The millions of fans around the world ”cares about Ferrari anyway????”

      1. Svlad Cjelli
        3rd June 2009, 20:34

        really? name them

        1. How long have you got? :)

          1. Svlad Cjelli
            3rd June 2009, 23:49

            as long as you’ve got…..

    2. Who cares about Ferrari anyway????

      I’ve been to Grands Prix at Silverstone, Monza, Istanbul and Spa, and at each of those venues if you subtracted the fans in red caps you’d halve the crowd in size. At best.

      At Monza there’d probably only be a few hundred left.

      1. I can remember Ferrari in the pre-Schuey days when the Tifosi would only stay as long as the cars were running.
        Once the cars crashed/stopped, the Tifosi left the circuit. There might still be video of a Monza(?) race where the helicopter camera watches a couple of stands empty in minutes……

        1. LOL – Yes, the tifosi could be rather unforgiving but then they don`t like queueing so it paid to make an early getaway ;)

  18. I wouldn’t have anything against there being even 20 or more teams. I want F1 to feel like it’s a World championship, not a championship of a closed circle elite.

    1. And another stumbling block to a true world championship? No events in Africa or even North America, with only one in South America.

      1. Svlad Cjelli
        3rd June 2009, 20:36

        You’re being silly, you’ll be wanting a race in every country next to qualify a true world championship

        1. You’re being silly, you’ll be wanting a race in every country next to qualify a true world championship

          I think he’s pointing out how many racing destinations have been lost to Formula 1. All the venues he mentioned used to hold one or more races. The United States alone once held three in a single season (1982).

    2. I totally agree!

  19. Now there are also rumours a team using the name ‘Brabham’ could return to F1 – meaning, along with March, the two team names Mosley and Ecclestone were formerly involved with could potentially return.

    What next? Life? Andrea Moda? EuroBrun?

    1. Ohh ohh… Life… with a W12 Cosworth engine that doesn’t fit under the engine cover!

    2. Autosport say a German businessman has used the Brabham name to lodge an entry for 2010.

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        4th June 2009, 17:54

        Good grief!
        It’ll be Lotus next.

  20. Has anyone looked in to whether the Cosworth will run effectively at the 18000rpm limit?

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