Looking back, I’m tempted to regard the Mo Nunn-designed Theodore N183, as my greatest racecar. It was one of the first carbon fiber cars; I drove it at the Race of Champions in 1984 at Brands Hatch. I just managed to scrape enough money together to hire the car for the race. I qualified the car in 6th place, one spot ahead of my teammate and two in front of Nigel Mansell in the Lotus JPS93T. In the race, almost everything that could fall off the car, or break, did; yet I still finished 4th. However, that was just a one-off race and another story in itself.
Believe it or not the greatest racing car for me is something that anyone could drive, the Formula Two March 782. For 1978, Renault opted out of the F2 Championship, opening up an opportunity for March to step in as a major force. Most drivers had a March that year; the only other serious challenge came from Chevron. The 782 was not only a works car, but also an excellent customer car anyone could win with straight off the shelf. Not just any races mind you, I’m talking about international Formula Two races. Today, that may be very difficult to believe, and certainly now, I would think, impossible to do. The car was supremely and very finely balanced, very simple to operate. Changing the roll bars to tune it to the track and my driving style allowed me to challenge well in races. This car will never go down in the annals of history as the world’s greatest racing car, but I don’t think it could be beaten. Robin Herd and Max Mosley and the guys at March were extremely good at this sort of thing, I’m sure they too would agree that the 782 was far and away their best customer car. Ron Dennis ran 782s for his Project Four team that year for Eddie Cheever and Ingo Hoffman.
My car was powered by one of Brian Harts’ engines, which gave about 300 bhp; and on a very low budget, we managed some excellent results. BMW engines powered the works cars and most of the others on the grid, indeed Bruno Giacomelli won the 1978 championship, winning 8 of the 12 races. Significantly, he won the F2 race at Hockenheim for March’s 50th victory. The cars in 2nd to 5th places were also March 782s. One of my best races, in the now Toleman Group-backed car, was the 1979 Eifelrennen, at Nürburgring, where I finished 2nd behind Marc Surer who was in the latest March 792-BMW. The race was all about tires. Nürburgring, the full old circuit I mean, is 14 miles long; making a wrong choice is not just a couple of miles and back to the pits, you have to think 14 miles. Marc chose to race in damp conditions on slicks. I had a couple of pit stops to change tires and was, at one time, as low as 12th, but I fought back to 2nd, a well-earned podium place.