Motorsport: Adrian Reynard's rolling back the years

By Eric Thompson

John Pickford's Reynard 84FF will be raced at Hampton Downs this weekend by the car's designer and builder, Adrian Reynard.
John Pickford's Reynard 84FF will be raced at Hampton Downs this weekend by the car's designer and builder, Adrian Reynard.

Adrian Reynard will race a single seater for the first time in nearly four decades in the Tasman Revival Series at Hampton Downs this weekend.

The former Formula Ford, Formula Three, CART and Formula One race car builder is in New Zealand and has been reunited with one of his 1984 cars. He'll be entering the fray over the weekend in an 84FF restored, raced and owned by John Pickford, who has had the car since 2011 when he bought it off Kenny Smith.

"It's actually quite a nice car and was originally one of the Madgwick Motorsport (official Reynard) works cars," said Pickford.

"A New Zealander called Steve Richards went over to England, bought the car from Madgwick and raced it at the World Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch as Team New Zealand.

"Steve raced it back in New Zealand and then sold it to Lou Schollum [went on to have a 26-year IndyCar career, winning championships with J. R.

Hildebrand, Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon, plus Indy 500 victories with Franchitti and Wheldon]. After that, it was the car Craig Baird raced."

Getting Reynard out to New Zealand wasn't too big an ask as he's been out here for the Revival Series in the past. Pickford was chatting to someone who knew Malcolm Oastler (former Reynard designer) and told him to let Reynard know that if he ever wanted to race a Formula Ford car in New Zealand he could race Pickford's 84FF.

"Malcolm said to Adrian that if wanted to come out here to race he'd also come and race as well. And that's how it happened.

"The car has been completely rebuilt to its original specifications and runs quite well. I'm slowly remembering how to race as it's been a lot of years since I raced a Formula Vee. My times are getting better and the car should go well for Adrian.

"I'm absolutely rapt that Adrian's made it out here to race my car and AutoSport in England has even written a small piece about it," said Pickford.

Reynard cars were the ones to have in the 1980s and 1990s with the likes of Johnny Herbert, JJ Lehto, Roberto Moreno and Jean Alesi winning various championships on their way to a seat in Formula One. He also had a hand in the design and development of the BAR F1 cars raced by Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button in 2002 and 2003.

His career has, you might say, come full circle from the days of building Reynard Formula Ford cars in the '80s through to F1 and now he's back where it all started.

"I'm actually scared silly about all this [going racing]," said Reynard.

"I haven't driven a Formula Ford since 1974 and I'm really nervous about it. My expectation levels are pretty low at the moment.

"Malcolm [Oastler], who I worked with for 15 years, actually convinced me to come and have a drive. And to race against Malcolm again in a Formula Ford seemed a good idea. Driving a Formula Ford again after 40 years is another challenge I suppose.

"I don't know how the car will feel, what the slip angles are or when it'll start to go sideways - I've got no idea what's going to happen so it's with some trepidation I'll be starting my sighting laps.

"I will be doing some slow laps in practice and hopefully not make too many mistakes.

"My main concern through all this is not to damage John's car, to not make myself look stupid and bring it home in a respectable position."

Adrian had a fitting for the car on Thursday and, as he's much the same size as John, the car felt good. This particular model was one of the best designs by Reynard and he has fond memories of how it performed back in the 1980s.

"It was successful at the time and had a very stiff chassis and was pretty fast in a straight line. Aerodynamically it was a slippery car and coupled with consistent handling, it proved to be very competitive.

"This one [model 84FF] was the last Formula Ford I designed myself," he said.

The Revival Series allows Formula First, Historic Formula Ford, Formula Junior, Historic Muscle Cars, Historic Saloon Cars, Sports Cars, Formula Libre, Historic Sports Sedans and Pre-65 cars to roar in anger once again.

- NZ Herald

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