Template:List of BRM ModelsBritish Racing Motors (generally known as BRM) was a British Formula 1 motor racing team. Founded in 1945, it raced from 1950 to 1977, competing in 197 Grand Prix and winning 17. In 1962, BRM won the Constructors' Title. At the same time, its driver, Graham Hill became World Champion. In 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1971, BRM came second in the Constructors' Competition.
BRM was founded just after the Second World War by Raymond Mays, who had built several hillclimb and road racing cars under the ERA brand before the war, and Peter Berthon, a long-time associate. Mays' pre-war successes (and access to pre-war Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union design documents) inspired him to build an all-British Grand Prix car for the post-war era, as a national prestige project (which, naturally, he would drive himself!) with the backing (both financially and in kind and labour) of the British motor industry and its suppliers channelled through a trust fund.
This proved to be an unwieldy way of organising and financing the project, and as some of the backers withdrew, disappointed with the team's slow progress and early results, it fell to one of the partners in the trust, Alfred Owen of the Rubery Owen group of companies, which primarily manufactured car parts, to take over the team in its entirety. Between 1954 and 1970 the team entered its works F1 cars under the official name of the Owen Racing Organisation. Berthon and Mays continued to run the team on his behalf into the 1960s, before it was handed over to Louis Stanley, the husband of Sir Alfred's sister Jean Owen.
A factory was set up in Spalding Road, Bourne, Lincolnshire, behind Eastgate House, Mays' family home. (At this stage it was in the former ERA works, vacated in 1939 and used in 1944 as a billet for the Parachute Regiment as it regrouped before going to Arnhem.) Several people involved with ERA returned to the firm to work for BRM, including Harry Mundy and Eric Richter. The first post-war set of rules for the top level of motor racing allowed 1.5 litre supercharged or 4.5 litre unsupercharged engines.
The team also had access to a test facility at Folkingham aerodrome.
BRM's first engine design was an extremely ambitious 1.5 litre supercharged V16. Rolls-Royce was contracted to produce centrifugal superchargers, rather than the more commonly used Roots type supercharger. Since his experience on the supercharging of the ERA engines, Berthon had been doing war-time work on aero-engines at Rolls Royce, Derby. The design concept of the V16 had not been used extensively on automobiles before so that design problems were many and the engine did not fire for the first time until June of 1949. It proved to be outstandingly powerful but this output was produced over a very limited range of engine speed.
The Type 15, which was the designation for the V16 car won the first two races it actually started, the Formula Libre and Formula One events at Goodwood in September, 1950, driven by Reg Parnell. However, it was never to be so successful again. The engine proved unreliable and difficult to develop, and the team's development efforts were not up to the task of improving the situation. A string of failures caused much embarrassment, and the problems were still unsolved when the CSI announced in 1952 that for 1954, a new engine formula of 2.5 litres unsupercharged or 750cc supercharged would take effect.
Meanwhile, the organisers of all the Grands Prix counting for the World Championship elected to run their races for Formula Two for the next two years, as Alfa Romeo had pulled out of racing and BRM were unable to present raceworthy cars - leaving no credible opposition to Ferrari other than ancient Lago-Talbots and the odd O.S.C.A.. The V16s continued to race in minor Formula One races and in British Formula Libre events until the mid fifties, battles with Tony Vandervell's Thin Wall Special Ferrari 375 being a particular highlight of the British scene.
The Type 25 was the next car. It used a 2.5L unsupercharged four-cylinder engine designed by Stuart Tresilian and (as became a typical theme with BRM) it arrived late and took a lot of developmen; it was in fact so late that the Owen Organisation started the 2.5l formula with a Maserati 250F. The P25 was initially unsuccessful, not winning a race until a long awaited victory at the Dutch gp in 1959. Colin Chapman helped to improve the car in 1956. Stirling Moss believed that the BRM engine was superior to the Cooper, and P25 was briefly run in 1959 by the British Racing Partnership, for Moss (and also Hans Herrmann), and Rob Walker also backed the construction of a Cooper-BRM to gain access to the engine.
The P25 was becoming highly competitive just as the rear engined Cooper started to become dominant; the P48 was a quick reaction to this, using major components from the P25 but in rear-engined format. The P48 was revised for the 1.5l rules in 1961, but once again BRM's own engine was not ready and the cars had to run with a Coventry-Climax four cylinder unit in adapted P48 chassis. Needless to say very little was achieved.
The firm moved to a purpose-built workshop on an adjoining site in spring 1960 but when the 1.5 litre unsupercharged Formula 1 regulation was introduced in 1961, Alfred Owen was threatening to pull the plug unless race victories were achieved very soon.
By the end of the 1961 season BRM had managed to build an engine designed by Peter Berthon and Aubrey Woods (BRM P56 V8) which was on a par with the Dino V6 used by Ferrari and the Coventry-Climax V8 used by other British teams. However, the real change was the promotion of an exceptional engineer who had been with the team since 1950 (originally on secondment from Rolls Royce to look after the supercharging on the V16); Tony Rudd was elevated by Owen to the position of chief development engineer. Rudd was the first professional engineer to exercise full technical control over the team, and problems which had plagued the team for years began to vanish. He was given greater responsibility in 1960 after two of the drivers, Graham Hill and Dan Gurney, went on strike and told Alfred Owen they would not drive again, and in early 1962 full executive authority was given to Tony Rudd. Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon were sidelined. The team had designed their first mid-engined car for 1960, matching the other teams, and won the World Drivers Championship with Graham Hill as a driver, in 1962.
For 1966, the engine regulations changed to 3.0 litre unsupercharged (or 1.5 litre supercharged) engines. BRM refused Peter Berthon/Aubrey Woods' proposal to build a V12, and instead built a strange engine, designed by Tony Rudd/Geoff Johnson H 16 (BRM P75), which essentially used two flattened-out V8 engines one above the other, with the crankshafts geared together. This engine was powerful but heavy. BRM found the H 16 attractive because it initially shared design elements with the successful 1.5 litre V8. Jackie Stewart (who drove for BRM in this period) is believed to have said "This piece of metal is better used as a ship's anchor than as a power plant". At that time BRM earned the nickname of "British Racing Misery". However, Lotus had been using enlarged versions of the BRM 1.5 V8 in 1966, as competitive 3.0 engines were in short supply in this first year of the new regulations. Lotus also took up the H16 as an interim measure, building the Lotus 43 to house it, and Jim Clark managed to win the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen with this combination. It was the only victory for this engine in a World Championship race. The engine was redesigned with a narrow angle 4 valve head and magnesium main castings to reduce weight, but never raced in a car as BRM decided to use the V12 unit which was being sold to other F1 teams with encouraging results.
The H 16 was replaced by a V 12 designed by Geoff Johnson. This engine had originally been intended for sports car use, but was first used in F1 by the McLaren M5. Back at the works, the early V12 years were lean ones. Geoff Johnson updated the design by adding a 4 valve head, based on the H16 4 valve layout, this converted the V12 from a sports car engine to a GP engine inncreasing power from 400 to 465bhp. After an unhappy spell with John Surtees as the team's lead driver, the use of the semi-works Parnell team for driver development, and the departure of Tony Rudd to Lotus,and Geoff Johnson to Austin Morris at the end of 1969, the team regrouped with new drivers and Tony Southgate as designer, and gained its first V12 victory for Pedro Rodriguez at the 1970 Belgian Grand Prix in a P153, with further victories for Jo Siffert and Peter Gethin in 1971 in the P160. Sadly both Siffert and Rodriguez were killed before the 1972 season and the team had to regroup completely. Their last victory was when Jean-Pierre Beltoise drove a stunning race to win the rain-affected 1972 Monaco Grand Prix with the P160. The 1972 campaign was generally chaotic; having acquired major sponsorship, the team originally planned to field up to six cars (of varying designs including P153s, P160s and P180s) and actually ran up to five for a mix of paying and paid drivers until it became obvious that it was completely overstretched -- the team's sponsors insisted that the team should cut back to a more reasonable level and only two cars were run in 1973 for Lauda and Regazzoni.
Decline and FallEdit
The last notable performance was a second position in the 1974 South African Grand Prix with the Mike Pilbeam-designed P201. The Owen Organisation divested itself of the team and it was run on a lower-key basis by Louis Stanley and some of the Bourne personnel until 1977. Old P201s were initially used, with the team hoping for revival with the bulky and vaguely Ferrari-like P207 - which failed entirely.
Cereal millionaire and amateur racer John Jordan purchased some of the team's assets when the team finally folded, and backed the building of a pair of P230 cars by CTG, with the aim of competing in the national-level Aurora AFX formula one championship. These modest ambitions were not seen through, although one chassis did apparently race in the revived CanAm series.
The team became involved with Rover's gas-turbine project, with a Rover-BRM gas turbine car running at Le Mans in 1963 and 1965 (it was damaged in testing and missed the 1964 race). BRM were also involved with Donald Campbell's gas-turbine Bluebird project. In later years they also built an unsuccessful CanAm car, and dabbled with larger versions of the H16 engine for the Indianapolis 500. As a part of the Owen Organisation, BRM also worked on tuned road-car engines for Ford, Chrysler and others.
BRM engine salesEdit
The Owen Organisation expected BRM to turn a profit through sales of racing engines; the four-cylinder appeared briefly in a Cooper-BRM special for Stirling Moss but found no other customers. The V8 powered many 1.5 litre cars, including various private Lotuses and Brabhams as well as the BRP works team. Enlarged Tasman Series V8s of between 1.9 and 2.1 L were popular in 1966 as a stopgap before full three litre engines were widely available.
Sponsorship and coloursEdit
The first BRMs were a pale duck-egg green (any shade of green represented Britain's racing colours), but this was later replaced for aesthetic reasons by a very dark metallic shade of grey-green. During the team's Owen-owned years the cars bore simple "Owen Racing Organisation" signage. The BRP-entered BRM for Moss and Herrmann was a non-metallic duck-egg green. Centro-Sud ran their cars in Italian red; Trintignant's car was in French blue.
At one point in the 60s Alfred OWen's brother Ernest wanted the team to paint their cars orange with black trim, orange being the Owen Organisation's corporate colour, used for a band around the nose of the cars and for the mechanics' overalls; Rudd (who didn't like the idea of orange BRMs) pointed out that orange was the Dutch racing colour, when such things were still honoured; through most of the 1960s the cars ran with Owen orange bands round the nose.
The team acquired significant commercial sponsorship from Yardley for the 1970 season, running in white with black, gold and ochre stripes in a stylised "Y" wrapping around the car's bodywork, losing this deal to McLaren for 1972 and replacing it by Marlboro's familiar white and red (a flat shade, not dayglo) colours. Ironically this deal was also lost to McLaren for 1974, to be replaced briefly by Motul in a pale green and silver colour scheme. As Stanley-BRM the cars initially ran in red, white and blue with no major sponsorship; for the team's swansong it was sponsored by Rotary Watches and ran in pale blue and white.
The BRM name was revived in 1992 by John Mangoletsi for a Group C sports car project which was unsuccessful. Keith Wiggins tried another project with an open-top version of the car, fitted with a Nissan V6 engine, for Le Mans in 1997, with similar results.
A special edition Rover 200 was produced to commemorate the Rover-BRM gas-turbine car; this was finished in green (alas not the very dark metallic gunmetal BRM shade) with orange details.
Grand Prix winnersEdit
The BRM team won seventeen Formula One Grands Prix as follows:
|31 May 1959||Dutch Grand Prix||Zandvoort||Jo Bonnier|
|20 May 1962||Dutch Grand Prix||Zandvoort||Graham Hill|
|5 August 1962||German Grand Prix||Nürburgring||Graham Hill|
|20 May 1962||Italian Grand Prix||Monza||Graham Hill|
|29 December 1962||South African Grand Prix||Prince George||Graham Hill|
|26 May 1963||Monaco Grand Prix||Monaco||Graham Hill|
|6 October 1963||United States Grand Prix||Watkins Glen||Graham Hill|
|10 May 1964||Monaco Grand Prix||Monaco||Graham Hill|
|4 October 1964||United States Grand Prix||Watkins Glen||Graham Hill|
|30 May 1965||Monaco Grand Prix||Monaco||Graham Hill|
|12 September 1965||Italian Grand Prix||Monza||Jackie Stewart|
|3 October 1965||United States Grand Prix||Watkins Glen||Graham Hill|
|22 May 1966||Monaco Grand Prix||Monaco||Jackie Stewart|
|7 June 1970||Belgian Grand Prix||Spa||Pedro Rodriguez|
|15 August 1971||Austrian Grand Prix||Österreichring||Jo Siffert|
|5 September 1971||Italian Grand Prix||Monza||Peter Gethin|
|14 May 1972||Monaco Grand Prix||Monaco||Jean-Pierre Beltoise|
There is a small exhibition about Raymond Mays, including his interest in BRM, together with the trophies won by BRM while it was owned by the Owen Organisation, at Bourne Civic Society's Heritage Centre. It is open on weekend and bank holiday afternoons, Christmas excepted.
You can drive a detailed virtual recreation of the BRM H16-powered P115 and the BRM P261 in the pc-based F1-simulation Grand Prix Legends.
- A BRM P25 (1958)
- A BRM 261 (1963)
- A Sirocco/BRM No. 2-63 (1963-64)
- Another BRM P261 (1964)
- A BRM P126 (1968)
- About a BRM P201 (1974)
- Rover 200 BRM The last BRM(1999)
Where it happenedEdit
- BRM, Raymond Mays and Peter Roberts
- BRM: The Saga of British Racing Motors, Doug Nye, MRP - Vols 1 & 2 have appeared, covering the front-engined and spaceframe rear engined cars; Vol. 3 will cover the monocoque V8s and Vol. 4 will cover the H16, V12 and Can-Ams.
- It Was Fun, Tony Rudd, MRP.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: British Racing Motors|
|Formula One Constructors' Champion|