Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Tambay’

PT aboard the Ligier JS17 Matra at Dijon in 1981. Q16 and DNF wheel bearing in his first race for the team. Alain Prost won in a Renault RE30

Patrick Tambay, grand prix winner and Can-Am champion died on December 4, 2022 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease, aged 73.

Every girl’s idea of a racing driver, the dashing Frenchman developed his need-for-speed in the European Alps where he was a schoolboy ski champion, but cars then grabbed his attention.

Total, Motul and Elf invested vast petro-francs to develop French drivers from the 1960s. The first wave who made it to F1 included Johnny Servoz-Gavin, Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Francois Cevert. Tambay was one of the mid 1970s talent-wave along with Jacques Laffitte, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Rene Arnoux, Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jarier.

PT at Villars, Rossignol ski type and year unknown! (unattributed)
Aboard an Alpine A366 Formula Renault at Paul Ricard during1972 (Winfield School)
Pau GP 1976, Martini Mk19 Renault V6. DNF accident, Rene Arnoux won in the sister car. Jabouille won the title in a Jabouille 2J Renault (MotorSport)

Tambay won the Winfield Racing School’s Volant Elf competition in 1971. After two years in Formula Renault he graduated to F2, finishing second in the European Championship to Jacques Laffitte’s Martini Mk14 BMW aboard a works March 752 BMW in 1975. He was third in 1976 aboard a Martini Mk19 Renault, behind fellow Equipe Elf pilots, Jabouille and Arnoux.

Patrick was picked up by Carl Haas to replace the injured Brian Redman in his works central-seat Lola T333 CS Chev Can-Am team in 1977. Tambay shone in the 525bhp Chev V8 missiles, taking the championship with six wins, and befriending Gilles Villeneuve who raced an unwieldy Wolf WD1 Chev for much of that season.

Press call for the Alpine A442 Renault at Paul Ricard in April 1977. Obscured J-P Jabouille, PT, Marie-Claude Beaumont, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Derek Bell. None of the cars finished Le Mans that year, with much more to come!
Feel the earth move. Haas Lola T333CS Chev at Mosport in August ’77. PT won the Can-Am race from George Follmer and Peter Gethin, Lola T332C and T333CS respectively (unattributed)
Ahead of Alan Jones during the 1978 French GP at Paul Ricard. McLaren M26 Ford and Williams FW06 Ford. Ninth and fifth in the race won by Mario Andretti’s Lotus 79 Ford

Both impressed during the ’77 British GP weekend at Silverstone, Patrick aboard a Theodore Racing Ensign N177 Ford, and Gilles a works McLaren M23 Ford. That silly-season McLaren signed Tambay and Ferrari got Villeneuve, Patrick topped the Scuderia’s list but Teddy Mayer beat them to the punch.

Tambay then endured two shocking years with McLaren, who were on one of their downers, then bounced back into F1 in 1981 with Theodore Racing, after winning another Can-Am title for Haas, racing a Lola T530 Chev in 1980.

In mid-1981 fortune again favoured Tambay when he replaced the injured Jabouille at Ligier, but he had shocking reliability, mechanical failures in every race. His GP career seemed on the rocks until Villeneuve’s fatal 1982 Zolder accident, he replaced his friend at Ferrari.

Tambay relished the competitive car, taking a tough win at Hockenheim the day after Pironi’s career-ending Ferrari crash. Third at Brands Hatch and second at Monza helped the team win the Constructors Championship with the Ferrari 126C2.

In the best of company. Ronnie Peterson, PT, Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter, Paul Ricard 1978
PT, Ferrari 126C3, Italian GP 1983. Fourth, race won by Nelson Piquet’s Brabham BT52B BMW, Arnoux was second in the other Ferrari
It looked the goods at least. PT aboard the Lola THL2 Ford at Spa during the 1986 Belgian GP weekend. DNF after first lap prang, Jones was 11th and out of fuel. Mansell’s Williams FW11 Honda won

Patrick won again at San Marino in 1983, finishing a career best of fourth in the driver’s title. Ferrari won the ‘constructors again, but teammate Rene Arnoux’ three wins eclipsed him.

Two years with Renault followed in 1984-85, he was well placed occasionally, but a second and a couple of third placings was his best. Tambay was reunited with Teddy Mayer and Carl Haas at Beatrice Racing in 1986, his final F1 season. Good as the Lola chassis was, its Hart, and later Ford Cosworth GBA V6 lacked grunt and reliability, Patrick and Alan Jones had a grim season.

After a year aboard a Jaguar XJR-9 V12 in 1989 and two thirds in the Paris-Dakar, an event he loved, Patrick returned to F1 as a TV commentator and involvement in Cannes politics.

Two GP wins isn’t reflective of Patrick Tambay’s place in the pantheon of drivers, but his grit, valour and composure in the face of Parkinson’s reminded pit pundits just what an outstanding man he was.

PT’s Lada ‘Poch’ Samara T3 Porsche 3.6 during the 1991 Paris-Dakar, sharing the car with Lemoyne. The pair were seventh, the event won by the Ari Vatanen/Berglund Citroen ZX


MotorSport Images, Getty Images, Roger Hermsen, Winfield School Facebook page


Hans Stuck and Patrick during the GP Masters round at Silverstone in August 2006. Stuck was fourth and PT 11th in the race won by Eddie Cheever.

The cars, based on Reynard’s 2000 model 2KI Indycar, were built by Delta MotorSport. The engines were Ford XB derived 3.5-litre Nicholson-McLaren 80-degree, fuel injected V8s producing about 650bhp @ 10400rpm.


An impressionist’s perspective of the Ferrari 126C4 or thereabouts.

I cropped it off an AGIP ad of the period, I rather like it…

These turbo-charged Ferraris were an evocative series of Gee Pee cars for those of us in Australia who saw our first F1 machines ‘in the metal’ in the early Adelaide years.

Dangerous cars, high powered, towards 900 bhp depending upon the specs, aluminium monocoque chassis early on and then carbon fibre from the 1982 Harvey Postlethwaite designed 126C2.

Alboreto off to the shops in Turin- 126C4 in 1984 (unattributed)


Carbon fibre and kevlar monocoque chassis, disc brakes all round, rack and pinion steering. Pull rod and twin wishbone suspension front and rear. 1496 cc DOHC, 4-valve, twin-turbo charged 120 degree V6- 660bhp @ 11000 rpm. 5 speed manual transaxle (unattributed)

Gilles Villeneuve died in one at Zolder in 1982 and Didier Pironi had a huge career ending shunt at Hockenheim six races later.

Some talented fellas raced the cars to ten wins from 1981 through 1984- the roster included Villeneuve, Pironi, Andretti, Tambay, Arnoux and Alboreto. All won at least one race except Mario who had only two starts- at Monza and Las Vegas in late 1983.


Patrick Tambay 126C3 montage from 1983, above, and Michele Alboreto in a C4 at Monaco in 1984 below.

Tambay took two 126 wins at Hockenheim and San Marino in 1982 and 1983 respectively, whilst Michele won at Zolder in 1984.


AGIP, Getty Images, Paul-Henri Cahier, LAT Images

Tailpiece: Ferrari 126C4, Monaco June 1984…

Arnoux and Alboreto were third and sixth at Monaco in 1984, Alain Prost won the race in a McLaren MP4 TAG- Porsche from Ayrton Senna’s rapidly closing Toleman Hart.

Only the early red flagging of the race- because of the awful wet conditions prevented the precociously talented Brazilian taking his first F1 victory.

Prost, McLaren MP4-2 TAG Porsche from Mansell, Lotus 95T Renault early in the race- Mansell lost it on lap 16- and we saw it all from the in-car footage. Monaco in the wet with 800 bhp or thereabouts to tame (unattributed)

Factory Porsche 956 driver Jacky Ickx was the Clerk of The Course, he took the decision to red flag the race in favour of the TAG-Porsche engined McLaren, at a time the rain had eased somewhat- without recourse to the race stewards.

Mind you, it’s said that Senna’s car had damaged suspension and would not have lasted too many more laps- and then there is Stefan Bellof, Tyrrell Ford mounted who was catching them both hand over fist, he too was disqualified later for weight restrictions broken by Tyrrell…


Senna, Toleman T184 Hart 415T and Bellof, Tyrrell Ford DFY with Ayrton pulling away, but Stefan surged back to third later in the race- and was threatening Senna and Prost.

Speed, drama, excitement, politics- all the elements that make GP racing great.


(B Harmeyer)

Brian Redman’s Carl Haas Racing Lola T332CS Chev awaits the off at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada 12 June 1977…

That’s Jim Hall in the Texan hat and you can just see a glimpse of Brian’s driving suit to the far left of the photo. Randy Lewis’ Shadow in front of the Lola I think. Redman was the ‘King of 5 Litre Racing’ in the US having won the American F5000 championship from 1974 to 1976 aboard Lolas- T332, T332/400 and T332C respectively.

When I first spotted Bob Harmeyer’s photo, I thought, ‘what a beauty, I can do something with that pit scene’. Then I looked a bit closer at the date and venue and realised it was the weekend Brian came close to meeting his maker-it was not the only ‘biggie’ in his career either.

Its the very first race meeting of the single-seat 5 litre Can Am formula- Brian and his Lola are about to indulge in some involuntary aviation, the landing sub-optimal in comparison to takeoff.

Carl Haas in the blue shirt and Brian Redman (who is the other Shadow bloke?) in the Mid Ohio pits, August 1975. #1 is Brians T332 ‘HU45’, #48 Vern Schuppan’s Eagle 755 Chev- Brian won from Al Unser and David Hobbs aboard T332’s, Vern was 5th (unattributed)

With F5000 on the wane a bit, in part due to the dominance of the Lola T330/332, it was decided to spruce up the show by creating a single-seat Can Am series for 5 litre cars- in essence F5000 in drag.

Gordon Kirby wrote about that first single-seat Can Am season in the June 2010 issue of MotorSport- ‘The death of the old Can-Am left the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) with Formula 5000 as its primary series. For a few years the American F5000 championship was pretty healthy, attracting big fields and top drivers like Mario Andretti, Al Unser Sr, Jody Scheckter and Brian Redman, who won the title for three consecutive seasons in Carl Haas and Jim Hall’s Lola-Chevrolets. But the SCCA and its promoters longed for the return of full-bodied Can-Am cars.

Burdie Martin ran the SCCA’s professional racing department in those days and says the series wouldn’t have come together had it not been for Haas. “Carl had sponsorship for his team from First National City Bank,” says Martin. “But he also talked them into sponsoring the series and, of course, thanks to Eric Broadley and Lola he provided the cars to make it happen. I talked to Carl and said we could make these 5000s into closed-wheel cars and call it Can-Am. I said it wouldn’t cost a lot of money and the cars were out there. We could add the 2-litre cars because there’s a lot of them around and they’re not that much slower. That would fill out the field. So Carl and I got on the phone and called some people, and all of a sudden we were putting a programme together.’

Team VDS Lola T333CS ‘HU2’ with standard Lola bodywork- albeit with the front wing added by the team- see text below

‘The SCCA’s last-minute decision to replace F5000 with the closed-wheel, single-seat ‘new era’ Can-Am didn’t inspire much confidence, or interest, from the racing industry. All the uncertainty surrounding the new series meant few teams were ready for the start of the 1977 season. In fact, Haas/Hall was the only Can-Am team able to do any serious pre-season testing and it quickly learned that the new nose for the enclosed wheels didn’t produce enough downforce. The team designed and built its own replacement, which incorporated an F5000 nose in place of the flat, cow-catcher nose of Lola’s T333CS ‘conversion kit’. The result was a car that looked more like an F5000 car with fenders rather than a sports/racer’.

Redman aboard his T332CS- note comments above in relation to the cars body/aero compared with the standard Lola body kit on Peter Gethin’s car above (Harmeyer)

‘Most Lola customers had installed the conversion kit on their F5000s and were pretty upset when Haas/Hall rolled out its unique car in first practice for the opening Can-Am race at St Jovite in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. But it soon turned out that in some circumstances even the Haas/Hall aerodynamic package wasn’t up to the job.

In the middle of St Jovite’s backstraight was a humpbacked rise over which the Can-Am cars of Paul Hawkins and Hugh Dibley had taken flight in 1966. Ditto Jackie Oliver in 1970. In afternoon practice Elliott Forbes-Robinson became the first driver to fly a new-era Can-Am car through the air when his flipped as he tried to go over the hump on full throttle. Miraculously, the car cartwheeled through 360 degrees and landed upright on all four wheels. Forbes-Robinson jumped unscathed from the wreckage.

Later that day Brian Redman had a much more serious accident. Redman’s car did a violent backflip, landing upside-down and leaving him unconscious and in a critical condition with a broken left collarbone, a cracked sternum, two broken ribs and a fractured vertebra in his neck. Redman lay heavily sedated in hospital for a week while the swelling and contracting of his brain’s epidermis ran its course and his doctors assessed the damage to his brain and nervous system.’

Harmeyer’s shot of Redman’s car back in the paddock. The Lola aluminium monocoque has stood up to the impact remarkably well, look closely tho- the roll over hoop is gone, torn off/flattened in the huge physics upon landing. Redman a very lucky boy (B Harmeyer)

‘Deeply shaken by Redman’s accident, the Haas/Hall team withdrew from the race and headed home. With the three-time F5000 champion in hospital, a makeshift chicane was installed before the backstraight hump.’

Redman recalled that ‘…the roll bar broke and my head went down on the road. My helmet was worn away on each side. But as the car rolled off the track onto the surrounding land, it landed on its wheels, which was a good job. Because my heart had stopped and the track doctor was a heart specialist- he got that going again. And then on the way to the hospital the ambulance blew a tyre!’

Tom Klausler in the Schkee DB1 Chev at Road America in August. Truly wild coupe like so many cars in this series Lola T332 based (

The Mont Tremblant race was run in half wet, half dry conditions and was won Formula Atlantic standout Tom Klausler driving the unique Schkee coupé, a quite sensational looking Lola-based car built by veteran Can-Am builder Bob McKee. Unfortunately the little team didn’t have the money to race or develop the car and ceased to exist by the seasons end.

Haas/Hall missed the next race at Laguna Seca whilst they looked after Brian’s needs and sought another driver to replace their pilot of the previous near half-decade.

Brian in the Mont Tremblant pitlane, not sure of the chassis number of his T332CS. Randy Lewis Shadow DN4B Dodge # 00 alongside. The car behind the Shadow looks like a T332CS with ‘standard Lola body’ but am not sure which car (B Harmeyer)

During practice in California there were more problems with ‘Cessna 180’s as Aussie F5000 ace, Warwick Brown’s VDS Lola T333CS took off going over the fast brow beyond the pits.

Brown- already a ‘Lola Limper Club’ member by virtue of a T300 F5000 accident at Surfers Paradise in early 1973 broke both legs in the big accident. Teammate Peter Gethin, a vastly experienced driver with an Italian Grand Prix victory amongst his many credits withdrew from the race until a proper solution could be found. Clearly the aero treatment was ‘unresolved’, as the lawyers would put it.

Tambay in the Haas Lola T333CS Chev ‘HU6’ on the way to a win at Mosport on 21 August 1977 (B Cahier)

Kirby- ‘Haas signed up-and-coming French driver Patrick Tambay to replace Redman. A smooth, fluid driver and a gentleman too, Tambay won six of the seven Can-Am races he started in 1977, all from pole, and easily claimed the championship. “I was also doing my rookie F1 season with Ensign, so I had a lot of miles under my belt that year, not only aeroplane miles but driving miles,” he recalls. “The Can-Am car had a lot of power, gave good grip and was a good tool to do mileage to make me sharp for my F1 ride. My Can-Am successes helped me build a strong confidence.”

Back to Brian. As we all know Redman was a racers-racer with several successful comebacks- that he did in 1981 driving a Lola T600 Chev. The Cooke-Woods run car won the IMSA GTP championship on top of the 24 Hours of Daytona, a classic Brian won at the seasons outset together with Bobby Rahal and Bob Garretson in a Porsche 935 K3.

The Redman/Sam Posey Lola T600 Chev during the Road America 500 miles in 1981, 2nd (M Windecker)


Bob Harmeyer, Bernard Cahier, Getty Images,, Mark Windecker, MotorSport magazine article by Gordon Kirby 2010

Tailpiece: Calm before the storm, Mont Tremblant…