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 Hesketh 308C photo

1975 Hesketh 308C

British based Hesketh Racing competed in Formula 2, Formula 3, and Formula 1 events. In the early 1970s, Lord Hesketh, along with Anthony Horsley, entered various Formula 3 events around Europe. James Hunt was later signed as a driver and soon the reputation of the Hesketh team evolved. With what appeared to be an endless supply of financial resources, it was not uncommon to see the team driving around in Rolls-Royces, enjoying the finest wines and champagne, and enjoying the idea of racing rather than seriously competing.

The team briefly competed in Formula 2 in a Surtees F2 car before moving up to Formula 1. Their first entry was a rented Surtees TS9 for a non-championship Race of Champions at Brand Hatch. James Hunt drove the car to a very impressive 3rd place finish. Hot on the heals of this success, the team purchased a March 731. March designer Harvey Postlethwaite was hired to modify the chassis. The cars racing debut was at the 1973 Monaco Grand Prix; the car, driven by Hunt, was in the 6th position when the engine failed, causing them to retire prematurely. The next outing was at the French Grand Prix, where Hunt scored a point. A 4th place finish was earned at the British Grand Prix, then 3rd for the Dutch Grand Prix. At the season-closing United States Grand Prix, Hunt managed an extremely impressive 2nd place finish.

For 1974, Postlethwaite designed an all-new car which would carry the teams name, dubbed the Hesketh 308. The car would be used during the 1974 and 1975 F1 season. Power was from the popular Ford-Cosworth DFV engine that most teams were using at the time. The suspension was rather creative, using rubber springs as opposed to the conventional coil springs and wishbones. This setup proved to be impractical and was later switched back to the traditional setup. Over the next three seasons, there were a total of four chassis built, with two for James Hunt.

The Hesketh 308 would prove to be a competitive car, especially in the hands of Hunt, who scored several podium finishes throughout the season, including a victory at the International Trophy race at Silverstone.

For the following season, the 308 was updated, making the 308B. It featured revised bodywork and repositioned oil radiators. Hunt would have a fairly solid season finishing fourth in the constructors championship.

At the close of the season, the team ended competition as Lord Hesketh was unable to continue his sponsorship of the team. Hunt moved to McLaren in 1976, and soon replaced Emerson Fittipaldi as the lead driver.

The Hesketh cars were sold to privateers who continued to compete in F1 competition for years to come.


By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2009

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