Derek's F1 design honoured on stamp
A LUTTERWORTH man has seen a racing car he designed in secret for Formula 1 driver Sir Jackie Stewart immortalised on a stamp.
Derek Gardner (75) was the brains behind the Tyrrell 006/2 which has been pictured on one of a set of six new stamps being released to commemorate 100 years of motorsport.
Mr Gardner, who was born in Warwick, trained as an engineer at Harry Ferguson Research in Coventry in 1947.
In 1969 he was seconded to France to work for the car company Matra. The soon-to-be Formula 1 legend Ken Tyrrell was managing the company’s racing team with Jackie Stewart as its driver.
Tyrrell decided to set up his own Formula 1 team and asked Mr Gardner to design him a car for Stewart to drive.
He said: “I thought about it for a while, then said yes.
“To design a racing car is every engineer’s dream. Now, companies have hundreds of people working on a car. Then it was just me in a converted bedroom.”
Mr Gardner started work on the car. It was kept secret because of sponsorship and Tyrrell not wanting to upset his former colleagues at Matra.
He said: “I had never designed a car before.
“Fortunately I had a reputation as an engineer and was able to go to various companies and ask them to design parts for me.”
He built a mock-up of the vehicle, using his wife Margaret as the model as she was of a similar size to Stewart.
The car – the Tyrrell 001 – had its debut at the Oulton Park Gold Cup in 1970. It was the first time its creator had seen it driven.
He said: “I felt sick. A few things had to be rectified before it put in a clear lap. When it came in at second place, I was elated.”
Mr Gardner’s car won the team 27 grand prix and it was driven to victory by Stewart at World Championships in 1971 and 1973.
He was also responsible for designing one of the most radical Formula 1 cars ever made, the six-wheeled Tyrrell P34, which was so successful it was banned by the F1 Association.
Now retired and living in Lutterworth with Margaret – “I couldn’t have done it without her, we were a team” – he has fond memories of his time with Tyrrell and working with Stewart. He said: “He was demanding, but most people in motor racing were demanding.
“Motor racing is a very exciting and a very frustrating business. It’s in my blood. Cars, boats and aeroplanes are in my blood, but overall motor racing.”
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