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Grand Prix minnow, Aurora great



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Guy Edwards, Emilio de Villota


CW Clowes Racing Arrows-Cosworth A1G, RAM Racing Williams-Cosworth FW07


Brands Hatch


Pace Petroleum Trophy, round 9 of the 1980 Aurora AFX Championship (25 August 1980)


Two of the Aurora championship's main contenders slugging it out at Brands, with Emilio de Villota eventually coming out on top, ahead of the likes of Kevin Cogan, Giacomo Agostini and Val Musetti, not only inheriting this round from Edwards - who retired with a blown engine on the penultimate lap! - but also going on to claim the final Aurora title.

Not a driver who is mentioned along with the stars Guy Edwards was very much a journeyman driver. But not completely without talent he lacked natural speed and spent most of his career in sportscars. His name is more connected to his life-saving actions after Niki Lauda's near-fatal crash at the Nürburgring in 1976. Guy is also a respected motorsport sponsor chaser, having worked hard to introduce commercial activities into motorsport, although this once cost him his job at Lotus…

Guy himself started in karts but had to put his driving on hold while attending Durham University where he graduated with degrees in psychology and geography. By 1965 Guy was back on the tracks, this time in little Anglia and Mini saloons. Guy dipped his toes into single-seaters in 1968 when he tried his luck in a Formula 3 Lola T60. In 1969 Guy wanted to go international and decided to try sportscars. He managed to get ferry operator Tor Line to back his foray into his first year in sportscars with a Chevron B8. Dutch home-appliances maker Philips was brought in to support his 1970/'71 campaigns in Astra and Lola T212 cars. He appeared at Le Mans in 1971 with the T212 with Philips and Camel support but the DFV engine failed in the eighth hour.

By 1972 - at age 29 - Guy was coming of age, and he finished third overall in the European 2-litre Sportscar Championship. This time he was supported by Barclays in a T290 Lola. 1973 saw Guy progress to a works supported equipe, once again backed by Barclays International. His mount was a Lola T292 and he won two races at the Österreichring and Clermond-Ferrand. Despite his limited experience in single-seaters Guy was also entered in F5000 in a Lola T330-Chevy, yet again backed by Barclays. His sportscar experience helped him to score two wins in the category, at Zandvoort and Brands Hatch.

So at age 31, Guy felt prepared to take the ultimate leap - Formula One. He brokered a deal to run in Graham Hill's Embassy-sponsored Lola team. Neither cars nor team were top notch, and the season didn't see any point-scoring results. A seventh at Anderstorp and a eight spot at Monaco were his best results. Guy also continued in the F5000 category, also backed by Embassy cigarettes. Here, among lesser competition, he scored a win at Mallory Park. For 1975 Guy concentrated on F5000 while also having a few exploits in 2-litre sportscars. Guy finished third overall in the F5000 Euro Championship.

The following year Guy once again tried his luck in Formula One, racing the Rizla/Penthouse Hesketh 308D on several occasions. No results despite the all the hard work. But he was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal for a different kind of hard work. It was presented to him for his actions in the aftermath of Niki Lauda's crash at the Nürburgring.

It was the 1st of August on 1976 when Lauda lost Ferrari just before Bergwerk, bouncing back on the track and actually hitting Edwards' car when the Englishman came through the blazing inferno. He stopped and looked back and saw Lauda's car burning. In 1998 - twenty-two years on - Guy Edwards recalled the moment for Autosport magazine: "There he was. I could see him. I had time to get out of my car and run back and save him. It was a very difficult thing. Like the first time off a high diving board. Petrol fires are such awful things. This was a big one. The heat and noise were incredible. It was not a pretty sight at all. I was running towards the fire and I was thinking - do I really want to do this? The honest answer was 'no way'. But what could I do? Stop and walk back? Holy hell, it was a mess. Then for me it was all action. There were so many things to be done. I was aware of others around me. But the flames were so thick, I couldn't see the bastard. But I dived in and it was so hot and there was choking dust everywhere. I knew it was now or never and with a desperate sense or urgency, and help from more drivers, feeling quite desperate, we tried again. We were banging against each other, pulling, cursing and just struggling. His shoulder straps pulled away in my hand, and it was incredibly frustrating, and the heat was just so physical. I got hold of an arm and a good grip on his body and the little sod came out with all of us falling in a heap. We pulled him out like a cork from a bottle."

Guy also acknowledged a marshal and said: "If Lauda owed his life to any single factor, it was two hand-held extinguishers", but he also said it needed four men to pull him free and without the four men the extinguishers would have been in vain. The fellow rescuers were Brett Lunger, Harald Ertl and Arturo Merzario. Strangely Lauda never thanked Edwards for this. Guy actually also won an F1 race in 1976: the non-championship Oulton Park Gold Cup race in a Brabham BT42.

For 1977 Guy raced in Britain in the Group 8 Shellsport Championship. This was a precursor to the Aurora F1 series. He raced a March 761 and won three races, finishing third overall in the final standings. He was also invited to try and qualify the Stanley-BRM P207 V12 at his home GP. Larry Perkins and Conny Andersson had already given up on the difficult device and Guy could not make it go any faster. He failed to prequalify. He also did his second start in the 24 hours of Le Mans. As in 1971 he had to retire with a blown engine, this time in a Kremer Porsche 935K2.

Guy continued in the British big-banger series - now renamed Aurora AFX F1 Championship - in 1978. He drove his old 761 but also developed the new 781S. This car was only run in the British series as March had pulled out of World Championship racing. So he was now effectively a works driver. Sponsorship came from the motorsports division of Chrysler, Mopar. He finished the year with two more wins to his name, despite the unreliable form of his development March 781S. He finished a disappointed fourth in the final standings. He also raced at Le Mans, this time in a peculiar Hesketh 308-based IBEC 308LM a.k.a. P4. This time his car took him to the 19th hour but once again the engine let him down.

A third year in British F1 followed in 1979, this time driving a Fittipaldi F5A, with continuing sponsorship from Mopar, joined by Ultramar. This car proved equally unreliable and only one win was gained and a lowly fifth in the championship table.

Now a 37-year old veteran he was into his fourth year in national F1 racing. Faithful backers Ultramar continued and together with Gilette, he raced both an Arrows A1B, entered by last season's winning team CL Clowes Racing, and also a much-modified A1G version. This car was constructed by GRID Racing, run by Giuseppe Risi (of today's Risi Competizione fame) and Ian Dawson. GRID later appeared in Group C racing in 1982-'84 with their own honeycomb-chassis designs. Edwards won two more races in 1980 at Oulton Park and Snetterton. He finished third in the championship. Finally in 1980 Guy also saw the flag at Le Mans when he took his Porsche 935K3 to a fine 9th sharing with John Paul Sr and Jr. They also scored a fine second place at Donington Park.

For 1981 the Aurora Championship was discontinued and Guy now concentrated his efforts on sportscars. He secured a place in the works Group 6 Lola T600 together with former Aurora rival Emilio de Villota. Sponsorship came from Unipart and Guy's loyal supporter Ultramar. De Villota brought Banco Occidental with him. A lowly 15th place was their reward at Le Mans but they scored two great wins at Enna and Brands Hatch in the World Endurance Championship.

For the 1982 season FIA introduced the fuel-restricted Group C category. The Lola Gr6/GTP was developed into the T610 and with it Guy continued in the new category with continued support from Ultramar while Hawaiian Tropic added glamour at Le Mans. This didn't help because the DFV failed in the 6th hour. A lowly seventh place at Brands Hatch was the best result by the crew for the season.

Porsche dominated 1982 with the 956 model. For 1983 they released it for customers and John Fitzpatrick Racing promptly bought two cars, 956.102 and 956.110. With Skoal Bandit tobacco backing Guy shared it with the team owner and old Hesketh mate Rupert Keegan. A 5th at Le Mans was a fine reward for Guy in 956.102. For 1984 he raced for the same team, crashing at Le Mans in the 5th hour. The hybrid 956/962.105 was raced by Edwards together with Roberto Moreno and Rupert Keegan. Two third places sharing with Rupert Keegan were his best results of the season. The third in the Silverstone 1000kms came in 956.110 while Guy claimed the other third place in the Brands Hatch 1000kms pedalling 962.105. 1985 once again saw Guy team up with John Fitzpatrick Racing, doing his ninth and final Le Mans, closing off with his best result ever at the holy temple of sportscar racing. He finished 4th with a 956.114 also crewed by David Hobbs and Jo Gartner.

At 43 Guy decided it was time to concentrate on the business side of the sport. Just turned 58 he now lives in Monte Carlo and is working as a sponsorship consultant.

Reader's Why by Michael Ferner

There were two mighty scraps between these two drivers in the same cars at the same circuit, but it is believed that British weather on Easter Mondays wouldn't warrant such outrageous gear for race-goers, so I'll vote for the Bank Holiday meeting, sponsored by "Pace Petroleum".

This race had a varied history as an event for various open-wheel formulae over the years with the odd F1 race thrown in. It was first run in 1950 by the Half Litre Car Club on the original 1-mile circuit that had just been surfaced after serving as a grass-track motorcycling circuit for a number of years, George Wicken being the inaugural winner in an F3 Cooper-JAP T11.

In 1954, with the HLCC transformed into the British Racing and Sports Car Club, the Druids hairpin was added to increase lap distance to 1.24 miles, now run in clockwise direction. That opened the track for larger cars and the Bank Holiday Race was run to Formula Libre rules for the first time, and then two years later for F2 cars, with Roy Salvadori winning in a Cooper-Climax T41. That same year saw Archie Scott-Brown win the first F1 race in Brands Hatch on a B-type Connaught in October.

In 1960, a new loop was built to lengthen the track to 2.65 miles and to celebrate this, the Bank Holiday Race was run to F1 rules for the first time, Jack Brabham winning this one in a Cooper-Climax T53 'low-line'. When the Aintree International Circuit closed in 1964, the new Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit took over as an alternating stage for the British GP with Silverstone, with Jimmy Clark winning the first one in a Lotus-Climax 25.

By the seventies the Bank Holiday Race had become a mainstay of the BRSCC Formula 5000 Championship, which opened up for F1 cars in 1977 as the British Group 8 Championship, at which time it hit tragedy when Australian Brian McGuire was killed whilst practicing his McGuire-Ford BM1, née Williams FW04.

The following year the BRSCC made it a full F1 championship with an option for F2 cars, in reality a glorified Club championship for redundant GP cars. It gave several teams and drivers the chance to compete in F1 without actually taking to the World Championship, and amongst others saw the appearance of the one and only F1 Chevron as well as the last F1 cars from Surtees and March Engineering, cars which never made it into real Grands Prix.

In 1980, Guy Edwards and Emilio de Villota, who had both tried unseccussfully to break into the WC, were the stars in the field and after 8 of the 12 races the Spaniard lead the Briton by 16 points in the championship. At Brands Hatch he took pole position by a huge margin but Edwards made the better start and stayed in the lead until his engine let go on the very last lap. Villota won and secured the title a fortnight later with a second place at Thruxton.