Author: Nigel Bennett, ISBN: 9781845845360, 175 pages, published in 2013, Hardbound
The true life story of one of Britain’s most successful racing car designers of the 80s and 90s.
Nigel Bennett’s unique autobiography describes his life and career, from growing-up influenced by car design, to his education and the building of his 750 specials. He describes his work as Firestone Development Manager, recounting many tales of the outstanding designers and drivers of the period. Detailing his work in Formula 1, as a Team Lotus engineer, and then as Team Ensign designer, he also covers his Indycar designs at Theodore, Lola Cars and Penske Cars. Life after his retirement, his involvement in boat design and with modern F1 teams, are also recounted.
The differences between running an Indy car on a road circuit and an oval are covered, as is the struggle to get the best from a car for the Indy 500 - a task which is described with unusual clarity. Nigel also describes the story of the ‘Big Beast’ – the Mercedes pushrod engine that won the 1994 Indy 500.
Sharing in detail his own view of the importance of suspension geometry, and how it deviates from present practices, this book also includes personal views on the Penske years from a number of motor sport figures, and those of a rival Indy car designer Bruce Ashmore. A fascinating first-hand behind-the-scenes insight.
Included in the story is considerable detail of Nigel’s eight years spent with the Firestone European Racing Division, covering an area vital to racing car performance, plus the relationship between a tyre company and its leading contracted team. The 60s and 70s were rife with tyre wars, and many interesting stories unfolded during those decades. With descriptions of the importance of the Race Engineer to the driver, and to a team’s competitiveness, Nigel offers detailed insight to how an engineer worked with a car and tuned its set-up in an era before computer readouts and telemetry came to dominate.
Covers the period 1940 to 2011, and includes the Lotus T76,T77, T72, T78, T79, and T80; Ensign N 180, 180B, and 183; Theodore T83, and T84; Lola T800, T900, T8600, and T8700; Penske PC17, PC18, PC19, PC20, PC21, PC22, PC23, PC24, PC25, and PC26; and the G Force GF05.
- Designing, building and racing my own 750F cars
- Working with Colin Chapman, the genius, charmer and risk taker, and stories of flying with him
- Includes stories about Mauro Forgheiri, Jim Clarke, Jackie Stewart, and Jo Siffert during eight years at Firestone
- The true story of how ground effect was ‘discovered’
- Explains the importance of racing tyre performance, interaction with suspension, and development problems
- Covers the lean years with Ensign, struggling on a minimal budget
- Lola cars, and working with Eric Broadley, Carl Haas and Mario Andretti
- The Penske era: wins, losses, and Roger Penske, the man
- The Indy Racing League, with G Force
- Boat design, gliders, and ‘overtaking solutions for the FIA’