18 January 2020
Fascinating F1 Facts: 46 - The adventures of Bob Sparshott
To the north of Saint Albans in Hertfordhsire, the B651 passes through the quaint half-timbered village of Wheathampstead, dips down and crosses the River Lea and then climbs uphill to the Mid Herts Golf Course, one of the oldest in England, dating back to 1892. It then reaches the village of Gustard Wood, which boasts the inevitable pub, The Cross Keys, and of course the local church.
2020欧洲杯体育投注软件It was in this idyllic English setting that Ernie and Ethel Sparshott settled and where their son Robert was born in 1944. Ernie was a carpenter but as the work reduced he turned his hands to construction work. Robert soon became known as Bob and went to the local school in Harpenden and then spent time at Hatfield College before getting a job with a little-known company called Lotus Components in Cheshunt in 1962, when he was 17 years old. After a while he was switched to the Lotus service department which was then operating out of a hangar at Panshanger Aerodrome, between Hatfield and Welwyn. Lotus boss Colin Chapman was already into flying at that point and his Piper Comanche was based at Panshanger. Chapman and Jim Clark would often pass through on their way to foreign races.
2020欧洲杯体育投注软件Young Bob Sparshott wanted to be in the racing side business and in 1964 he switched across to Team Lotus, working under the celebrated Bob Dance. They were assigned to the Lotus Cortina Racing Team in the United States, where three cars were sent to take part in the 1964 United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC). As the pair were based in the States, Lotus called them up to help with Clark’s car at the Indy 500 that year, and were back again at Indy in 1965 - when Clark won the race.
2020欧洲杯体育投注软件For 1966 Sparshott returned home to England and began working with the Lotus Formula 2 team as mechanic to Graham Hill. He then moved into F1 in 1968, to work with Hill. Graham would win the title that year, but the team lost Jim Clark in a Formula 2 accident in Hockenheim. At the end of the year Sparshott decided it was time to lead a quieter life and set up his own fabrication business in Luton, not far from his home village. He formed a partnership with John Woodington, working for a number of F1 teams, and the business was named BS Fabrications. It was very successful as there were plenty of small F1 teams in that era.
2020欧洲杯体育投注软件In 1972, Sparshott agreed to run a March 722 Formula 2 with a Formula 1 engine for Mike Beuttler in selected events. This was called a March 721G and was sufficiently competitive that March built similar versions for the factory team. That year the team also ran American Brett Lunger in Formula 2 under the Space Racing banner.
2020欧洲杯体育投注软件The second BS Fabrications venture into Formula 1 came in 1976 when Henri Pescarolo's sponsor Norev bought a Surtees TS19 and asked Sparshott to run the car for him, alongside the factory entires of Alan Jones (Durex) and Lunger (Chesterfield). The programme began at Monaco where Pescarolo failed to qualify but the Frenchman went on to start seven races and managed to finish five of them, his best result being a ninth place at the Austrian GP. Vittorio Brambilla then arrived at Surtees with money from Beta for 1977 and so Lunger asked BS Fabrications to run him in Chesterfield-sponsored March 761. After a few races, it was decided to switch to a McLaren M23 and that arrangement continued into 1978 with an upgrade in the mid-season to a newer McLaren M26. This left the M23 available and Sparshott offered the drive to the young Nelson Piquet for the Austrian, Dutch and Italian Grands Prix. In the end Piquet did a one-off race with Ensign in Germany before joining BS Fabrications for the planned three races.
For 1979 there was a plan to run a Lotus B team, using the all-conquering Lotus 79, while the factory would move on to the new Lotus 80. The original idea was to run two cars for Rupert Keegan and Michael Bleekemolen but the project disappeared because Keegan didn’t have the money and Bleekemolen didn’t have the right paperwork. That winter Sparshott bcame involved in the creation of the Chaparral 2K Indycar, which John Barnard and Gordon Kimball were busily designing for Jim Hall in England and which Barnard insisted be built in the UK. The car was very successful although Hall was unimpressed by the cost involved. In the end two cars and a third set of parts were completed and shipped off to the United States where Al Unser Sr ended the season with a victory in Phoenix. In 1980 Johnny Rutherford took over and took the car to victory in the Indy 500 and went on to win the title.
After the Lotus B Team project failed, BS Fabrications began to work on a project to build a chassis for Argentine Ricardo Zunino. The team ran Zunino briefly in British Formula 1 but it all fell apart because of uncertainty surrounding the Argentine GP. As a result BS Fabrications closed down in January 1980. The factory was used to build the Toleman TG280 with which Brian Henton and Derek Warwick finished 1-2 in the European F2 Championship that year.
Sparshott would later start a new operations called BS Automotive and won the Formula 3000 title with Christian Danner in 1985. Bob retired from racing in 1988 but went on running a company called Sparshott Technologies Ltd, making components for racing teams.