Grace Cunningham aspires to work within Formula 1 Marketing and Media focusing in connecting the sport with the fans. She runs her own blog at gracef1fanatic.blogspot.com and tweets at @GraceF1Fanatic.
July 15th, 2012 (F1plus / Grace Cunningham).- Colin Chapman is an iconic member of F1's history who is frequently mentioned across all coverage of F1 particularly in reference to Lotus but for those who don't know his incredible influence on F1 here are the basics of Colin Chapmans career in motorsport.
Colin Chapman studied structural engineering at UCL, joined the RAF and worked for the British Aluminium company before founding Lotus Cars in 1952. There began his unique assault on the process of aerodynamics with a focus on creating cars with a light weight and handling rather than the more common bulkier type cars.
His first association with motor sport came in 1948 as he raced an MK1 which he called 'Lotus' in local racing events and continued to develop his cars into 1950s which was also when he began to make waves in the motor sport world. In 1956 he raced in the French Grand Prix but after crashing into his team mate he focused soley on his aerodyanmics work rather than driving in F1.
One of the best duos in Formula 1: Jim Clark and Colin Chapman (LAT Photo)
Under Chapman's control Team Lotus won seven WCC titles and six WDC alongside the win for Clark in the Indy500 with many famous names driving for the team; Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt and Sir Stirling Moss to name but a few.
Chapman was also highly influential in the marketing development of F1 in particuarly revolutionising the use of his chassis as moving billboard creating the iconic 'John Player Special' Livery.It is a common factor in Formula One that winning is not down to just the driver or the team the perfect combination brings success and for Chapman that was with Jim Clark in 1963 as Lotus won their first F1 championship title.
More success came for the Clark/Chapman combination in 1965 when Jim Clark took the Indianapolis 500 title in the first ever mid engined car competitor. When Clark unfortunately lost his life in 1968 Chapman openly stated he had lost his best friend and had it have not been for that unfortunate accident for Clark further success would have been imminent.
His love and passion for motor sport eventually came to end as he passed away in 1982 after suffering a heart attack. But he is remembered in F1 today for the introduction and creation of engineering which still exist in F1 and IndyCar today including a monocoque chassis and the use of ground effect ( which the FIA have tried to eliminate in Formula 1 since 1981).
Colin Chapman will always be remembered as one of the greatest engineering 'minds' of Formula One and without his evolution of technology Formula One would not be where it is today. We as modern day Formula One fans owe it to those who helped to evolve our sport to remember and recognise their contributions.
Colin Champan and Mario Andretti featuring the great Lotus 1979 at Spain.