Formula One Tractors….Not As Uncomman As It Would At First Appear.

With RACING POINT due to rebrand itself ASTON MARTIN in 2021 it marks the latest in a short but select line of F1 teams that (in name at least) trace their origins to a maker of fram tractors.

Aston Martin DBR5, 1960 British GP (Maurice Tritignant)

ASTON MARTIN last raced in F1 back in 1960 when owned and avidly promoted by the tractor manufacturer DAVID BROWN . Already a success in sports car racing and committed to winning at Le Mans, the team delayed it’s F1 entry a season or two longer than history would allow and it gained precious few good results in the process.

1953 DAVID BROWN

1960 LAMBORGHINI (Image: bringatrailer.com)

That may seem incongruous – the fastest of racing vehicles produced by maker of among the slowest things you encounter on the roads , but it’s not unique. Lamborghini famously made his fortune with farm tractors before falling out with Ferrari and, in a fit of pique, setting up his own sports car company in direct competition.

Lamborghini itself shied away from any factory motor sport effort untill well after it had passed out of it’s founders control.

Lamborghini 291 1991 British GP (Eric Van der Peole)

But in 1991, almost by accident there was a Formula 1 team of that name , and of course Lamborghini’s musical V12 F1 engines powered several other cars, most notably Lotus, around the same time. Even McLaren tested  a Lambo’ in the back of Senna’s car on one ocassion.

Porsche Diesel Super 1960 (Image Wikipedia)

Curiously these tractor-maker-F1 teams all seem to have a short shelf life. Lamborghini, as a stand alone team lasted one season and didn’t make much impact (except to the hearing of those in the stands) , Aston Martin only appeared in F1 during 1959 and 1960 , by which point it’s classically proportioned front engined design had been rendered obsolete by the compact Cooper and Lotus mid engined cars.

A third maker of tractors(among other things,) PORSCHE,  likewise ran just two seasons as a factory team, winning several races in 1961 and most notably the French GP in 1962 with Dam Gurney at the wheel of their individual air coooled design.

PORSCHE 1961. German GP (Dan Gurney)

But they are not the most famous tractor maker to win in F1, that honour goes to the ubiquitous FERGUSON brand who’s innovative little grey tractors quite literally ploughed the fields of the world for a generation and remain in use on small-holdings to this day.

The Innovative “Fergie”

Founder Harry Ferguson was a life long motor sport enthusiast and an early exponant of four-wheel-drive systems . In 1961 his “P99” F1 car took vistory in the Oulton Park Gold Cup with the great Stirling Moss at the wheel , beating the likes of Bruce McLaren, Innes Ireland and Jack Brabham on a rain soaked track. This remains the only win for a four-wheel-drive Formula One car.  And in fact the last front engined F1 car to win a race….so I feel it deserves two photos.

Simon

Ferguson P99 4WD. Oulton Park 1961 (Stirling Moss)

Ferguson P99. 1961 British GP, Aintree (Jack Fairman)

 

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