Welcome to Who? What? Where? When? Why? on the World Wide Web. Your comments, criticism and suggestions: editors#8w.forix.com (replace # with @).
8W is forix.autosport.com's motorsport history section and covers the drivers, cars, circuits, eras and technology that shaped the face, sounds and smells of motor racing.

SuperHen's egg hatches too early



Related articles


Brian Henton


Arrows-Cosworth A4


Long Beach


1982 US West GP


Brian Henton began racing at a relatively late age of 23 in 1970 in a Austro Formula Vee. He was immediately on the pace, finishing second in the 1970 championship and winning outright in 1971 after taking 14 victories. He graduated to the next level in 1972, racing Formula Super Vee, finishing second in the championship. In 1973 he bought a GRD 373 Formula 3 car but he rarely finished and soon ran out of money. But he had done enough to have his talent noted by Mo Nunn and this led to some impressive outings in a works Ensign F3 at the end of 1973. For 1974 he was offered a works drive for March in British F3. Brian won 17 races and took the Lombard North Central Championship and the Forward Trust Championship. Determined to further his career Brian then loaned a works March 752-BDA to race in the European F2 Championship. He proved quick but few results were gained, with a third at Hockenheim his best.

Then, in 1975, came Henton's F1 break: after a disillusioned Jacky Ickx had left JPS Lotus mid-season Brian was offered the long-wheelbase 72F for the British GP in July. Brian accepted the offer but found himself in a season of transition for the Lotus team. The glory days of the Lotus 72 were over, the 76 proved a disaster, while the new 77 was still not ready. Brian crashed during heavy downpour in his GP debut but was classified 16th after the race was red-flagged. He was again seen in the same 72F later in year at the Österreichring and Watkins Glen but no results were gained.

The next year was wasted in Tom Wheatcroft's Abarth-powered R26 F2 car before Henton set up set up the British Formula 1 Racing Team in cooperation Don Shaw. Together they bought a March 761 to drive in the Shellsport F1 championship and in selected World Championship races. Brian drove a works March 761B at Long Beach and then tried his own 761 for a couple of races until the funds had dried up. A one-off in the Ensign N175-based Boro at Zandvoort later in the year turned to nothing as he was disqualified after a push-start.

This left his F1 career in limbo, as Henton spent the following three years back in F2, in 1978 racing a March-Hart 782 on a shoestring budget, then getting signed for the front-running Toleman team. This was to be his way back into F1. In a Toleman-run Ralt RT2 he finished runner-up in the European championship in 1979, winning it the next year in the John Gentry/Rory Byrne-penned Toleman TG280, taking three wins and five runner-up spots.

Warmed by the success of its self-designed car, the Toleman Group decided to move up to F1 with engine wizard Brian Hart and their F2 champion Brian Henton. This became a rather sobering experience as the team tried to develop both the car and the turbo version of Brian Hart's F2 engine at the same time. From 12 starts Henton only managed to get over the qualifying hurdle just once. Finally, at Monza he made the device go the distance as he finished 10th.

The early part of the next season was spent in the Arrows team. Here we see Brian racing his A4 at Long Beach in his last race for the team. After that he took his money to the Tyrrell team, squeezing out Slim Borgudd in the process. With Tyrrell, Brian completed his final GP season without any results to speak of. The following year he did his final ride in F1 machinery when he took fourth place in the Race of Champions in a Theodore N183. By then, Brian was well in his thirties and knew he had grown to old for the golden opportunity to arise. Taking the F2 championship at 34 years of age had already been an unexpected gift, but with young talent knocking on the door he understood his days were effectively over. So, at the age of 37 Brian retired at the end of the 1983 season. He has not been seen in a race car since.