Sunday 28 November 2021

Sir Frank Williams


It was with sadness I heard today of the death of Sir Frank Williams who  was the Founder of Frank Williams Racing. He started off in an old warehouse in Didcot before success enabled hot to move to a new factory up the road. Further success followed and they moved to Grove in Wantage.  I started following F1 when I was an apprentice seeing some incredible races at Brands, including James Hunts victory over Niki Lauda. I became involved in grass roots racing acting a a mechanic for a Mini Se7en racing car where we had many victory nearly wining a championship. I followed F1 avidly noticing that Williams Racing were making inroads. One day after moving into my new house a young lad who I knew bought a house a few doors down from me. He was working as a welder for Williams and invited me to have a look around one Sunday morning. You did not have to ask twice and went along with him to look around  at the original factory in Didcot where I say the ground effects cars in their stripped down state. Many years later when they had moved to grove I was invited to look around on a opend day by another person I knew who worked there. I fell I have been privilaged to see some of the behind the scenes worth that went on. I felt hearing of Sir Franks death I should do a tribute to a person who I held in high esteem and who's team I followed for many years. Apart from the first photo all the photos were taken by me on an SLR camera

This is the only photo I could find by Philip Jeffrey on Geograph   and shows some incredible topiary in-front of the conference centre where you will find the Williams Museum . When the old factory which was owned by Jenson Pharmaceuticals was put up for sale Oxford Instruments were considering purchasing the site, as it was they bruit a new factory a few miles away at Tubney

This is part of a formula 1 car the whole lot fits over a chassis  

In effect dropped over this little lot

And this is one of the most successful engines ever the Cosworth DFV

 Took this to show where the gearbox went but also shows the suspension with out the brakes. back then the wishbones were titanium shaped for the airflow and rose jointed ends. Now they are made from carbon fibre

Exhaust  manifold, that is what my friends used to weld up, complicated? well if you knew how it was done it's not that hard. it is also made of titanium and as light as a feather

And this is a Hewland gearbox that drives the cars 

This is Keke Rosberg up at Silverstone

This one is driven my Jacques Laffite, you might notice his autograph on it as well

The next series of photos were taken at the Grove HQ when I visited. The cars lined up are some of the old F1 cars.

 Keke's car and may well be the bodywork in the first photo

Looking the other way starting with Red 5

Red 5 in action, note the autograph, well I new his mechanic (his son used to go to school with mine).
In case you don't know who is driving it is Nigel Mansell 

Top one is Recardo Patrasi  Nigel's team mate  who I always thought was an brilliant driver. the one in front is Jonny Herbert who I'm sure at the time was team mate to a certain Michael Schumacher
These are more championship winning cars, this time Damon Hill

And this is the engine out of one a V10.

This one is just waiting to go back in the car
The team trucks and it is only one car and spare per truck and they are kitted out like a workshop. One of the guys around the corner from me used to drive one of these to GP's

Nose cone

 This was as near as I could get to my Hero Nigel's car.
I remember from when I was working on Minis seeing F3 cars with Nigel in the paddock along with other drivers like Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna they all started off in grass roots racing and went on to drive for Frank Williams. When I hear Frank and broken his back in an accident I thought how can you recover from that but he did and was successful just as much. I remembered seeing Frank out for a run near Upton one lunchtime and the next time I saw him was in the local Chinese Restaurant where I live sat in his wheelchair it was clear he was not going to give up. His team has brought me  a lot of pleasure watching them race over the year and I home they continue sucess.
Sir Frank Williams was a legend. 



  1. I didn't realise you are an F1 follower which I have to say I am not. I heard of his death on the news yesterday and all the many tributes to him. Your post was very interesting.

    1. Well in my younger days I was a real petrol head Minis in particular my greatest love. The last one I modified greatly in that it was a racer on the road. As you can see I also took photos at events though I only ever went to on F1 race, every other one was at Practice which I preferred. I related to Williams because I admired the engineering that went into the cars.

  2. The announcement was on the late news. Your post is interesting as you remember your connection with F1 and Sir Frank Williams, RIP.

    1. I had worse news this morning, I found out the person who founded the company I used to work for died. It really upset me

  3. I heard about his death.

    I can appreciate that kind of car racing far more than the kind of NASCAR, which is big in the American south.

    1. NASCAR are quite complexed cars as well though not as technologically advanced

  4. Interesting photos - I bet these were fun to drive. With joints that creak, I suspect I'd have problems getting into and out of those cars these days!
    Thanks for sharing at

    1. Not sure I would want to drive on, if you were not trained then accelerating could do some serious damage to you. The cars are made to measure for the drivers


Thank you for visiting, I welcome comments and will return the visit to you. I would love for you to consider following me if you enjoy my work. If you would like to follow by email you can subscribe at the top of the right had column