Hooniverse Bookshelf: Heavily Censored Hesketh

Heseketh Racing is famously known as the grand prix team that brought the FUN back to F1 between 1973 and 1978.  Formula One has not had a constructor quite like Hesketh, either before or since, and this short book gives you an idea of exactly why that is.

Hesketh Racing was the brainchild of wealthy ne’er-do-well, Lord Hesketh AKA “Le Patron.  The story begins in Formula 3 circa 1972, when the good Lord conspired with a young chap by the name of Anthony Horsley AKA “Bubbles” to enter a number of races.  Later, the pair joined forces with an unemployed James Simon Wallis Hunt, otherwise known as “Hunt the Shunt” for his win it or bin it attitude toward driving.

“Bubbles” moved from the cockpit to team management after writing off his chassis, and when James wrecked the second F3 chassis, the team decided the time was right to move into F2.   When James wrecked the F2 chassis, the team decided the time was right to move into Formula 1.

While this book pamphlet was written before Hesketh and Hunt took their first victory, the team did manage a pair of podiums and 14 championship points in their first year, including a famous 2nd place at the US Grand Prix.  These results supposedly cost the team a grand total of 68,000 pounds for the season, and earned them 38,000 sterling in prize money.  Lord Hesketh claimed the 14,000 nicker cost for two Ford engines took the lions share of the budget.  With his Ford engines, Hesketh also rented a single March 731 chassis for 3000 quid, and cobbled together a decent season for a privateer.

The second season for the team on the grand prix circuit netted them a trio of third placed finishes, coupled with 9 retirements on the year.  Hunt scored 15 points for the team, and likely a good share of prize money.  The team ended the season sixth in points, not inconsequential, considering they only ran one driver, following only McLaren, Ferrari, Tyrrell, Lotus, and Brabham home.  While the engines remained Fords, the chassis this year was of Hesketh’s own design, the 308.

Overall, this is a very humorous look at Grand Prix racing in the early 1970s, and there was no more humorous a fellow at the time than James Hunt.  A spectacular way to spend an afternoon, this book exemplifies what is missing among Grand Prix teams in the modern day.  Showing up at the track in the absolute lap of luxury, Le Patron was hardly ever seen driving anything, and always had a flute of champagne, regardless of the outcome of the race.  Hell, the team’s “hospitality unit chauffeur” was a vintage racing enthusiast with a penchant for victory in a birdcage Maserati.  Ron Dennis, Sir Frank, Helmut Marko, Christian Horner, and any number of other current F1 magnates could take a page or two out of this book (but please don’t, as it’s in tremendous condition).

I found this particular copy among the stacks of a book dealer in vendor row at the Daytona 24.  At $20, it was about on par with other internet dealers, only this way I didn’t have to pay for the shipping!

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