Checkered Past Racing: 1978 World Championship Lotus 79s Black on Track‘s Chris Locke is a part of Lotus Formula One History.  Three JPS Team Lotus type 79s have taken to the track together, for the first time ever.

At Snetterton on Wednesday 4th May 2011, 33 years after winning the 1978 Formula One World Championship, Classic Team Lotus ran three JPS type 79s; chassis 1, 2 and 3.  This never happened in period.

On behalf of American owner Paul Rego, the Team Principal of Regogo Racing based in Dallas, Classic Team Lotus has undertaken a complete restoration of chassis 1, which was driven by Mario Andretti in testing and practice throughout the 1978 season, then raced by Jean-Pierre Jarier in the US GP at Watkins Glen.

Regogo Racing Works driver Doc Bundy was at the wheel for testing prior to airfreight back to the States in time for the car to be raced in the Legends of Motorsport event at the Barber Raceway on the 22nd May.

Chassis 2 and 3 are part of the Classic Team Lotus Works Collection. Chris Locke, as Patron of chassis 2, contributed to its restoration and the car is fitted with his engine. Chris Dinnage, Team Manager of Classic Team Lotus, was at the wheel.

Chassis 3 was driven by Clive Chapman, son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman.

The team with the trio of 79s

Classic Team Lotus and Regogo Racing were joined by a number of the 1978 Championship winning team, including designer Martin Ogilvie and Chief Mechanic Eddie Dennis.

The Team Lotus type 79 dominated the 1978 World Championship to such an extent that the team would ‘sandbag’ their cars in qualifying so that their advantage did not appear too great.  The shape of the underside of the car in relation to the track surface created a venturi profile which, together with the all important sliding side skirts acting as seals, created a lot of downforce for relatively little drag.  Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson finished first and second on four occasions, at a time when such a result was rare.

In chassis 2 Mario won the Belgian GP and Ronnie won the Austrian GP.  In chassis 3 Mario won the Spanish, French and German GPs.  (Mario won the Dutch GP in chassis 4, the other JPS type 79, but this car was unable to attend.)

Trio of 79s on track at Snetterton

The type 79 has topped two polls of ‘Most Beautiful F1 Car Ever’ and was chosen as the best technical design in a survey of F1 designers.

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