Failures of Motorsports - Car Designs, Team Mistakes and More

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Let's also not forget that the Casino Parking Lot GP was also being held during the middle of the day in the hottest part of the year, so not only did they have few people willing to charbroil in the Nevada heat to watch it, a few drivers nearly passed out from dehydration and heat exhaustion. Pretty much just a total failure in planning at every level on that one.
Finding a more appropriate time of year to host a race in the US was a lesson that wasn't exactly learned in a hurry....
The 1984 Dallas GP springs to mind....
 
The longest tenured employee at Toleman/Enstone was Pat Symonds; he joined Toleman in 1983 and remained there until 2009 when crashgate was uncovered.
After listening to Symonds' interview for Beyond The Grid, this is now incorrect; Symonds left Benetton for a 12 month period in 1990 to work on the abortive Reynard F1 project then went back in 1991.
 
After listening to Symonds' interview for Beyond The Grid, this is now incorrect; Symonds left Benetton for a 12 month period in 1990 to work on the abortive Reynard F1 project then went back in 1991.
Funny you should mention Reynard, their stillborn F1 design of the early-1990s begat both a success (the Benetton B194, correct me if I'm wrong) and a failure (the Pacific PR01), the latter racked up only 7 starts out of a possible 32 (none in the last 10 races) and no finishes in 1994. Bertrand Gachot actually declared he was glad to never have to drive the PR01 again after the inevitable double-DNQ in Adelaide.

Only at the season-opener in Brazil did a Pacific qualify on merit in 1994, inevitably in Gachot's hands.

Gachot was guaranteed to qualify in Imola thanks to Rubens Barrichello's accident. Paul Belmondo respectfully didn't take the late Roland Ratzenberger's place on the grid.

Both drivers were guaranteed to qualify in Monaco after Williams only ran Damon Hill and Simtek ran only David Brabham and Sauber withdrew after Karl Wendlinger's accident.

Both drivers were guaranteed to qualify in Spain after Sauber ran only Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Andrea Montermini crashed his Simtek and broke his ankles.

Gachot was guaranteed to qualify in Canada after Simtek again only ran one car for Brabham. To show just how little actual racing Gachot and Belmondo got to do that year, Belmondo covered the most distance in a race either driver would manage all season at Monaco, lasting 53 laps before retiring due to being physically fatigued!

Truth be told, the car was originally designed for 1993 with Michael Bartels (and Gachot? Or possibly David Coulthard since he drove for Pacific in F3000 that year?) driving but a lack of finance meant their entry was delayed until 1994 so the car was already a year out of date before it had even raced (and possibly even older as the Reynard F1 car was intended for 1992).

Reynard was also involved in the construction of the unraced DAMS F1 car.
 
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In memory of Ted Toleman.

His F1 team started off with 22 failures to qualify, a 10th and a DNF in 1981 (they missed the first 3 races), then taking until the last four rounds of 1983 to score points.

But then they came close to winning the Monaco GP with Ayrton Senna in 1984 then claiming their first pole with Teo Fabi in 1985 and their first win in 1986 as Benetton with Gerhard Berger, a decade later, they were world champions with Michael Schumacher.

The General Belgrano

The TG181 or the "General Belgrano" as it was infamously dubbed, only scored 3 finishes and 32 DNQs/DNPQs in 26 races. It would have scored the team's first point though if Teo Fabi had completed enough laps to be classified as Imola in 1982. He came 7th and last on the road but then 6th placed Manfred Winkelhock was disqualified because his ATS was found to be underweight. Unfortunately Fabi was 8 laps down at the finish after a long pitstop for repairs due to boost problems. The car got crushed into a cube at the end of 1981 and remained in the possession of one of the drivers (Can't remember if it was Derek Warwick or Brian Henton).
 
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The Ligier Indycar from 1984.

Bizarre, maybe, yet it featured something that made this car still a kind of pioneer within CART.

The sloping upwards flaps on the side of the sidepods that you see, those are about the very first ones ever used in CART of this size.

It went even that far that once other cars began to adopt them as well, they were referred to as the "Ligier-Whoops", though that name eventually was lost again once the principle was more and more standard on the later Indycars.

Failure? Definitely.
Complete failure? Definitely not.

Though it was based on the 1983 JS21 F1 car....

 
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Suzuka 1000km oragnisers dumping Super GT for a GT3 10 hour

This always baffled me. That be like Bathurst dumping the Bathurst 1000 and Supercars for the Bathurst 12 Hour instead of including it separate. One of premier Japanese motorsports loses the premier race, initially trying to run a Fuji 500 miles to replace it.

So what happened this random GT3 10 hour event for the IGTC? It ran for 2 years with worse attendence, COVID hit and after COVID there is a lack of interest in continuing the yearly Suzuka endurance making 2019 the last event, killing off the main Japan endurance event.
 
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The North American Touring Car Championship

Yes, even America embraced the Supertouring regs that were all the rage in the 1990s, albeit briefly. Funded by Jerry Forsythe and run from Tampa by Roger Elliott (BTCC boss Alan Gow also providing input), the series kicked off in 1996 as a support series to the road and street course rounds of the CART Series.


Right away, interest from teams and manufacturers was lacking, only 10 cars turned up for the first meeting of the season at Lime Rock Park and only Chrysler was really properly committed via their Dodge brand. Although 8 different manufacturers took part in at least one meeting in that first season, only 4 were works entries and the number of entries all season peaked at 12. Not surprisingly, the series was dominated by American drivers with only Britain's Peter Hardman denying them a clean sweep of wins in Race 2 at Toronto. The most notable entries that year were CART stalwarts PacWest Racing running the late Mark Donohue's son David and ex-Indycar driver Dominic Dobson in Dodge Stratus' and Mario Andretti's other son Jeff in a Ford Mondeo but the title went to Randy Pobst in a Honda Accord.

The series survived into 1997 but, once again, never attracted more than 12 cars. There was even less interest from teams and manufacturers this time around, only 3 works teams and 7 different makes took part. At least there were more meetings (9 as opposed to 8) and more drivers took part (21 as opposed to 20 the previous year) and 6 of them did the full season (as opposed to just 4 in 1996) and the series was popular with fans. The title eventually went to Donohue, but if not for a disqualification at Detroit and missing the Portland rounds, Australian Touring Car ace Neil Crompton could have spoiled the party for the Americans as his 7 wins handsomely outnumbered everyone else and ensured a clean sweep of NATCC Manufacturer's titles for Honda. The only other notable competitor that year was South African lady driver Desire Wilson and for the reasons mentioned above, as well as Dodge pulling out at the end of 1997, the series did not continue into 1998 and folded.


Though, given the existence of NASCAR, any attempt at a different kind of tin-top series that wasn't already well and truly established in North America was likely doomed to failure right from the very beginning. At least the NATCC actually took off and lasted two whole seasons whereas the American TCR never got off the ground.
 
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Suzuka 1000km oragnisers dumping Super GT for a GT3 10 hour

This always baffled me. That be like Bathurst dumping the Bathurst 1000 and Supercars for the Bathurst 12 Hour instead of including it separate. One of premier Japanese motorsports loses the premier race, initially trying to run a Fuji 500 miles to replace it.

So what happened this random GT3 10 hour event for the IGTC? It ran for 2 years with worse attendence, COVID hit and after COVID there is a lack of interest in continuing the yearly Suzuka endurance making 2019 the last event, killing off the main Japan endurance event.
As the old saying goes "If it's not broken, don't fix it!"
 
As the old saying goes "If it's not broken, don't fix it!"
Speaking of "If it's not broken, don't fix it!"

Willi Kauhsen ran March chassis in the 1976 European Formula 2 season, scoring 7 points with Klaus Ludwig and Fittipaldi protégé Ingo Hoffmann, three 5th places being the best results.

For 1977, Kauhsen acquired the ELF-Renault 2J chassis that had won the title in 1976 with Jean-Pierre Jabouille and the team proceeded to modify the cars repeatedly as the season progressed. This only succeeded in making the cars less rather than more competitive. The season got off to a promising start with Michel Leclere taking pole for the season-opener at Silverstone but he didn't even finish a race until Round 9 at Nogaro and he was only 15th. Ludwig took only until the 4th round at the Nurburgring to reach the finish, he came 9th and improved to 7th two races later at Pau, after which he left the team. The only other finishes were a pair of 10th places, one for Leclere, one for Alain Prost, though Vittorio Brambilla did manage a 3rd in the 2nd Heat at Misano.

Did Kauhsen learn their lesson?

NO!

They dropped out of F2 for 1978 and after failing to acquire the Kojima chassis that had contested the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix, they spent the year attempting to build an F1 car for the 1979 season. The car was to be based on the Lotus 79 but the first prototype failed due to failure to account for the variable ride height of cars during braking and acceleration, hindering the proper function of ground effect. Cue a completely redesigned second prototype and a significant drain on limited funds with Harald Ertl and intended driver Patrick Neve doing the testing and time running out before the start of the 1979 season. Still the team couldn't get ground effect to work on the chassis properly so the car had to be redesigned as an older wing-car and the team could only afford older Goodyear tyres and could barely pay the entry fee for the 1979 season.

By this time, Neve and his sponsors had had enough and walked out. The team eventually hired Gianfranco Brancatelli and sponsorship in January 1979 but were forced to delay their entry until the start of the European Season. The car, dubbed the WK004, made its race debut at the opening round of the 1979 Aurora AFX British F1 Championship at Zolder where Brancatelli qualified a promising 8th out of 22 entries but retired after just 2 laps due to starter motor problems. The team finally paid their entry fee in time for the car to make its World Championship debut at Jarama. Such was the lateness of their entry that Bernie Ecclestone had to help them strike a deal with Lotus just so they could have some pit garage space. It all ended up being pointless as, for the reasons mentioned above and then some, Brancatelli was slowest in qualifying, 8.7 seconds off the pace and didn't make the cut. He would repeat this performance (or lack thereof) at Zolder in the revised WK005, only this time, he was 13 seconds off the pace and his clutch broke to boot. The Kauhsen team was immediately wound up and their cars and assets sold to the Merzario team who didn't fare much better.
 
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The Monte Carlo 001-Cosworth

Or the Life L190 of International Formula 3000. In the hands of Fulvio Ballabio, the car's sole outing at Imola in the 1986 F3000 Season saw it not only fail to qualify but it was also bog last of the 36 entrants. Its fastest time? 3 minutes, 4.8 seconds! 1 minute, 25 seconds off the pace of the March of pole-sitter (and eventual Champion) Ivan Capelli, 1 minute, 11.5 seconds off the pace of the Dollop Racing Marches (i.e. a team that only made the F3000 grid once in two years of trying, and on this occasion, were slower than everyone else). The car is said to have suffered from gearbox problems but still, similar things could be said about the Life at the same circuit four years later! Not surprisingly, Ballabio and the Monte Carlo made no further appearances, though it has been said that the team's transporter crashed down a ravine and caught fire on the journey home from Imola, thus ruling out further appearances anyway.

Though having said all of the above, the car's performance (or lack thereof) can be explained by the stories behind it. For one, some stories claim it was originally intended to race in the 1985 F3000 Season so it was already a year old before its appearance at Imola. Also, the car had its origins in the unraced Dywa 010 F1 car, which was originally designed in 1983 (although some stories suggest it was 1980), which in turn, was the successor to the Dywa 008 that pulled out of the only race it ever entered after qualifying (The 1980 Gran Premio Della Lotteria at Monza) after Piercarlo Ghinzani's fastest time was 36.5 seconds off the pace of Emilio de Villota's RAM Racing Williams and nearly 21.5 seconds off the pace of a trio of Formula 2 Chevrons that were the next slowest qualifiers!

All in all, that's what you get for basing your car on a chassis that was already several years out of date but was also based on a car that was described as "a relic from an O-level metalwork class" and put together by a team that "lacked professionalism", according to their driver. After all, this is the same Piercarlo Ghinzani who felt it was better to be in F1 at the tail-end than not in F1 at all! To me, that's even worse than the "interesting flowerpot" that the FIRST F189 was described as before it was reborn as the Life L190!


It is possible to translate the pages mentioned above.
 


It is possible to translate the pages mentioned above.
The first entry refers to the third race of the year on 31. March 1975 in Brands Hatch. Under the start no. A "Dywa Chevrolet" was led there 51, the onset team was "Dydo Monguzzi", and Luigi Mimmo Cevasco was reported as a driver. The deployment was financed by the Italian shoe manufacturer Rossetti, whose name train appeared in several places on the car. Chevasco did not participate in the race itself.

If I had a nickel for every time an Italian shoemaker sponsored a failed open wheel racing team, I'd have two nickels. Which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it happened twice.
 
Andrea Moda doesn't look quite as bad by comparison now.
I would say "built many cars but never actually raced them" is a far better failure state than "ran such a clown show that they got perma-banned from Formula 1", but that's just me.
 
The "Third World" Racing Rovers

In the 1983 British Saloon Car Championship, the first year of the Group A regs that preceded Supertouring, the works Austin Rover Group team consisting of Tom Walkinshaw Racing and their trio of Rover Vitesses (or SD1s) dominated the top class (there were only 3 classes in 1983), winning all 11 races with Steve Soper winning the title outright from team-mate Peter Lovett by 5 points (68-63). Only the middle class Champion Andy Rouse in his Alfa Romeo managed to split the TWR Rovers in the outright standings, outscoring Jeff Allam by 8 points and just 2 behind Lovett. Such was the extent of the TWR Rovers' dominance that their nearest challenger in their class was Tony Lanfranchi's Opel Monza with only a quarter of the amount of points Soper scored and only 16th overall outright.

Job done, right? Well, no.

During the 7th round of the Championship at Donington Park, Frank Sytner of the BMW team protested the TWR Rovers over the size of their rear wheel arch inserts. The claims that the TWR Rovers' rear wheel-arches were over-sized and non-homologated parts were included in their engines, suspicions suggested the inclusion of Volvo rockers as used on the TR8 rally cars using the same basic V8 engine. The counter claim was that the covers had been ‘found’ at the Solihull factory and used in good will. TWR attempted to argue that there was such a thing as an Africa market SD1 with larger wheel arches to cope with mud, hence the nickname ''Third World Racing". The protests continued into the following two races but then appeared to die down.

For now.

The protests and scrutineering continued into the 1984 season and the matter was eventually taken to a Tribunal of Enquiry, chaired by veteran legal counsel Lord Hartley Shawcross. The result was the RAC disqualified the Rover team entirely over bodywork irregularities and engine installation issues, handing the 1983 title to Rouse, by which time, it was July 1984, over a year after Sytner's initial protest. The Austin Rover Group immediately withdrew all their entries (including those in the lower classes) from the Championship (by which time, 6 races had taken place in 1984) and all their points were redistributed. The TWR Rover trio were allowed to keep all their points from 1983 though, similar to Michael Schumacher in the 1997 F1 season.

Tom Walkinshaw did make a one-off guest appearance in one of his Rovers in 1985 at Brands Hatch and won, with Jeff Allam repeating that feat in 1986, but otherwise, the damage to the championship's reputation and those of all else concerned was done and the repercussions continued into 1985 and 1986 with the BSCC losing entries left, right and centre until it was changed to its current name of the British Touring Car Championship for the 1987 season. Ironically, Andy Rouse won the 1984 title in his own Rover Vitesse that was legal and the car would race in the series until the end of the 1988 season. The biggest loser out of this whole sorry saga though was Steve Soper who was destined never to win the title in his domestic tin-top series though he did go on to win the Japanese title in 1995.

The recent passing of Alan Minshaw, who was the bottom class Champion in 1983 and ended up as the outright Runner-up after the Rover exclusion, brought this to my attention. To dominate a championship to the point of taking a clean sweep of the race wins and then lose it all several months into the following season because it turned out you were running illegal parts on your cars the whole time makes for a rather glaring and embarrassing failure. At least TWR were able to rebuild their reputation running the works Volvo team in the 1990s and ARG were able to narrowly prevent a Vauxhall clean sweep in 2001 when they returned as a works team under the MG Rover moniker, with the win in question coming, somewhat appropriately, at Brands Hatch!
 
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It's more for the conspiracies thread; Frank Synter knew about the illegal wheel arches because he drove for Rover in 1982. Sytner fell out with Tom Walkinshaw so he had an axe to grind. He started racing for BMW halfway through the 1983 season which is why the protest appeared to come out of nowhere.
 
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It's more for the conspiracies thread; Frank Synter knew about the illegal wheel arches because he drove for Rover in 1982. Sytner fell out with Tom Walkinshaw so he had an axe to grind. He started racing for BMW halfway through the 1983 season which is why the protest appeared to come out of nowhere.
Well maybe so.

Still has an air of failure about it at least since it retrospectively cost them a championship that they took a clean sweep of.

Not to mention the damage done to the championship's reputation and the resulting gradual decline in entries in the coming years. By 1986, grid numbers were dropping to as low as 12 cars, with the odd exception such as the British Grand Prix Support race.

For good measure, TWR Rover protested the BMWs of Sytner and Hans-Joachim Stuck and to further complicate matters, some websites claim the TWR Rovers were excluded from the last 7 rounds of the 1983 season with their wins in those races going to Sytner, Stuck, Charles Sawyer-Hoare's Rover and Dave Brodie's Mitsubishi and others still crediting Soper, Lovett and Allam as sharing in the original clean sweep.

Truth be told, none of the sources I had found pertaining to the exclusion of the TWR Rovers from the 1983 BSCC had said anything about Sytner's grudge or his having driven for Rover in 1982 and fallen out with Walkinshaw. To add further irony to the story, ARG could have been contenders for a title by legitimate means in 1984 as the MG Metro Turbos of Patrick Watts and Robin Brundle had won 4 of the first 6 races and scored 56 points between them in the middle class at the time of their withdrawal.

Just when it looked as if British Leyland had finally done something good....
 
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Bugatti's final Grand Prix car
bugatti-3.jpg


When Bugatti entered their new Type 251 for the 1956 French Grand Prix at Reims, the company was a mere shell from its former glory years eariler. But the 251 was unique compared to the other cars on grid for its transversely mounted straight-8 engine which sat behind the driver.

251%20bugatti.jpg


bugatti_type_251_1.jpg


Maurice Trintignant, a respected driver at the time, was given the task to drive the car at Reims. In the field of 20 cars for the event, Trintignant and the Bugatti only managed 18th place in qualifying and set a time over 18 seconds slower to polesitter Juan Manuel Fangio in the Ferrrari D50. The Type 251's only race lasted 18 laps before retiring from throttle problems and Bugatti disappeared from Grand Prix racing.

 
What about Dave Walker? By today's standards, he would have scored just 3 points to Emerson Fittipaldi's 176 when they were team-mates at Lotus in 1972. Even if he was a victim of the poisoned chalice that was being Lotus' #2 driver during the Colin Chapman-era, it still makes you wonder how the Australian failed so spectacularly, lucky for him that only the points from the best placed car counted towards the Constructor's Championship back then.
Rest in Peace Dave Walker 1941-2024.
 
Since mistakes (simple or otherwise) can effectively count as failures, then, no disrespect to Mike Hawthorn, but his lapping Lance Macklin then diving straight into the pits, causing Macklin swerve into the path of the following Mercedes' led to the deaths of Pierre Levegh and over 80 other people in the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Not to mention the failure of the organisers and all else concerned to account for the fact that the circuit and its facilities had hardly changed since the first Le Mans in 1923 while the cars had become much faster in that time.
 
Just how many failures have Red Bull had in recent times with regards to drivers who ultimately didn't live up to expectations after getting a seat with either of the RB teams?
 
It started goingdownhill when Seb left for Ferrari. There was a bit of stability between Daniel and Max and then when Daniel left it went over a cliff.
 
Even that would have been in jeopardy as long as RB made Max the clear no.1. There may have harmony if they were treated equal
After Turkey 2010 and Azerbaijan 2018, one would think Red Bull would have learned something in that respect.
 
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