|Based in: Towcester|
Founded: 1972 (active 1973-1978)
Principal: Lord Alexander Hesketh
Lord Alexander Hesketh was a man born with a passion for motor sport and the sort of fortune that could afford him his own team to play with. He set up his operation in 1972 from his stately home at Easton Neston and at first concentrated on Formula 3 with the help of his friend Anthony Horsley.
Around this time James Hunt was struggling to make a name for himself in the lower formulae. Luckily for him he met up with Horsley who agreed to run a Formula 3 car for him with the financial backing of Hesketh. In 1973 Hesketh bought a Formula 2 Surtees for James, who promptly wrote it off in testing. Hesketh decided to go the whole hog and rented a F1 car instead.
Hunt took a third place in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch and excited by the prospect of finally getting into the big league Hesketh ordered a March car and persuaded Harvey Postlethwaite to design a car for him.
Hunt proved that the lord's confidence in him was well-founded with points coming in France, at Silverstone and a stunning second place at Watkins Glen. During their first season in the circus the Hesketh team was often frowned upon by the more established teams, with their penchant for parties and champagne-toting butlers in the pitlane. All this simply masked the latent talent in the team. It finally emerged in 1974 when Hunt took a popular win in the International Trophy. With their teddy bear mascot Hesketh Racing captured the imagination of the British public, although the first championship win was still a year away.
The first and only win for the team came at Zandvoort when Hunt gambled on an early change to slicks before crossing the line just yards ahead of Lauda's Ferrari.
By 1976 the cost of the team was becoming too much for even Lord Hesketh's voluminous coffers and several teams were showing interest in Hunt, most notably McLaren who needed to replace Fittipaldi who had left to drive the family car for Copersucar. Hunt quit Hesketh and went on to win the 1976 title in dramatic style. Hesketh called a halt to the operation and sold his cars to Frank Williams, who was embarking on an ill-fated partnership with Walter Wolf.
Horsley continued to race an uprated version of the car - named Hesketh 308D and later on also the Hesketh 308E - for a few more years employing paying drivers, but few were ever of the calibre of Hunt and eventually the team was wound up. The last great romantic of British racing was gone.
|Car designation||Race years|
|Hesketh 308E||1977 - 1978|