Dave Luckett: A less known figure with an incredible story
A less known icon in the motorsport world recently passed away, however he left an impact on safety in the Motorsport world that has changed Motorsport for good…
Luckett was a former F1 Engineer who also worked with Can-Am cars under Shadow Racing Cars with the later Shadow DN chassis of Can-Am racers and then with their F1 team. He was also involved with Lola, most iconically with Arrows but also with Simtek too. He can be seen as a stalwart, one that was committed to motorsport for over 40 years.
As I know one of his younger relatives personally, I was able to get to know some things about him and I thought it was too good not to share!
In 1995 Luckett joined the SimTek F1 team as Chief mechanic and worked with drivers such as Riccardo Patrese, Gerhard Berger and 1980 World Champion Alan Jones.
If you know F1 well, you might know about the 1981 Belgian GP, yes this is the guy. Luckett became chief mechanic at Arrows F1 team in 1981 working with Riccardo Patrese. That same year he was involved in something that could’ve easily helped towards the continuous improvement in safety we see today. At the 1981 Belgian GP at Zolder, there was a protest in the lack of safety for team personnel after the death of Italian Osella mechanic Giovanni Amadeo during the Friday practice session.
The race started as per usual, however Patrese stalled on the grid, the officials had not seen Luckett jump the pit wall on to the track to get Patrese’s car started. The race started, and without the officials knowing of Lucketts presence on the circuit, disaster struck. Siegfried Stohr, the second Arrows driver alongside Riccardo Patrese had hit Luckett upon the lights going green, leaving Luckett badly injured with a broken leg and broken arm. He survived and made a full recovery.
It was so bad in fact Nigel Mansell had driven passed the accident, and in shovk he had refused to leave his car after the race had been stopped, because he believed he’d never get back in it again. The last time Zolder was used to hold the Belgian GP was 1984.
Because of incidents like Luckett’s and Amadeo’s, other teams decided to join the protests and drivers even left their cars in protest. In 1981, track safety for both drivers and mechanics wasn’t as important as it is today, and events like this started to see changes in the amount of safety precautions the drivers and mechanics should have.
Home-made F1 car
Yes you are reading that correctly, Luckett for years has built up a F1 racecar from parts of older F1 cars from old teams such as Arrows etc… Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of it.
Other Racing Teams
From 2010, Luckett joined Patron as Chief Mechanic and then Technical Director working alongside David Brabham in the ALMS. Back in the 1990’s he briefly worked with West Surrey Racing’s BTCC team as a Workshop Manager, as he apparently preferred single seaters but he didn’t stay.
Although some info was taken by a relative of his, other information was found online. So it may not be 100% correct.