FINISHING STRAIGHT/WHAT’S ON THIS WEEK
Walter Hayes archive goes online
July 27th 2017
courtesy and copyright of Autosport
RICHARD HAYES, THE SON OF DFV backer Walter Hayes, has set up a website to honour his father’s legacy, which features a personal archive and showcases a portion of Ford’s motorsport history.
In 1967, the impending introduction of the upcoming three-litre Formula 1 regulations led Team Lotus founder Colin Chapman to seek a new engine. Together with technical expertise from ex-Lotus engineer Keith Duckworth at Cosworth and funds from the Ford Britain public relations executive, the DFV was born and between 1967 and 1982 it would power nine drivers to 12 F1 championships.
Hayes Jr created the website to provide historically accurate information, as Hayes Sr, a modest man, never wrote an autobiography. The fact everyone approached by the younger Hayes was happy to contribute towards the archive is a testament to his father, as an individual and for his career achievements. Contributors who provided material included author Graham Robson, who delivered previously unseen photographs relating to the DFV.
The website is worth visiting alone for its reports of 1960s sportsmanship, such as in 1967 when Hayes asked Chapman if he was OK removing their initially agreed two-year exclusivity agreement, to which Chapman agreed, allowing March, Ken Terrell and McLaren to begin using the DFV. “Using a Cosworth engine, March chassis and Hewland gearbox, a team could have a championship-contending car for around £30,000,” says Hayes Jr.
Other highlights include the original DFV contract draft, which runs to just six pages of A4, compared to the hundreds no doubt needed in 2017, with the actual description of the engine being only a few lines. Hayes Jr recounts discussing the contract with Duckworth at his father’s funeral: “Father kept sending his draft sent by the Ford lawyers and Keith kept taking issue with various things and the way things were expressed. Father then said, ‘Well, you write the contract,’ so it was actually drafted by Keith.”
Motorsport fans should care about what Hayes Sr brought to F1. “Father was the first person, through Ford/DFV, to bring manufacturers in, and that’s what sustains F1 now, but my father pioneered that,” according to his son.
Modern day F1 could also look back 50 years for inspiration on the sound of its next engines, and for many, the noise of the DFV is an event highlight at many historic events each year.
While some fans may think Hayes Sr merely got the money from Ford and took credit for the DFV’s success, Hayes Jr recounts that his father greatly supported Chapman and Duckworth in the ambitious project, one that could have negatively affected their respective careers in various ways.
“If Duckworth had done a bad job then he’d have been in trouble, but father provided every support and opportunity and they went away and made a hell of a lot of it,” he says. The website, www.walterhayes.co.uk, with its many personal recollections, shows those who raced with one of F1’s most successful engines in a previously unseen light. The series was much smaller in the 1960s than it is today, so Hayes Sr, a gifted amateur photographer, was able to capture a unique view of the close relationships between many of the key figures on the grid at the time.