F1 Friday: Hesketh 308
It couldn't happen now, but this was the early 1970s. And 22-year-old Lord Alexander Fermor-Hesketh met a kindred spirit called Anthony 'Bubbles' Horsley who suggested he set up (and pay for) a Formula Three racing team in order to give them both something to do at the weekends.
For several months, they travelled Europe's race circuits with great enthusiasm but little actual success. Until, that is, Hesketh met a young driver called James Hunt who was struggling to find work, having established a reputation as a somewhat reckless crasher of racing cars.
Hesketh's Racing's first F1 outing proper took place at the Monaco Grand Prix with a March. The team chose a Rolls-Royce Corniche and a Porsche Carrera as runarounds to get them to and from the track, with relaxation taking place off-shore on Hesketh's 162-foot yacht Southern Breeze - which was suitably well stocked with champagne and good-looking women.
The opposition laughed back at the track, as Hunt prepared for the race by being sick as a result of nerves. But Hesketh Racing was taken a bit more seriously when Hunt drove to sixth place before retiring with a blown engine. He then scored a point at the French GP, took fourth at the British, third at the Dutch and second in the U.S.
Flushed with success, Hesketh Racing developed its own car, the Hesketh 308, in which Hunt took three third places during the '74 season before going on to his historic victory in the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort to finish the Championship in fourth place.
But, just as the fairytale seemed to have come true, sponsor-free Hesketh Racing ran out of F1-style money. Hunt went off to McLaren and the rest, of course, is history - the sort that can never, ever be repeated.
The little model you see here is a Yat Ming from the era of the actual car. Yes, it should be white and not red, but red F1 models always seem to sell better, right? And somehow, I think James Hunt would have liked the way the little driver is fixed to the base...
It came to as part of an online auction win from Japan, and is remarkably well preserved for a cheapie from that time. It still have has the original "Made in China" sticker on the base.