A Fast Drive In The Country With Martin Stretton And The Tyrrell 012
Photography by Stuart Adams
The Cosworth DFY on full song shatters the peace of the Kent countryside, and this beautiful music bounces off the trees that hug Brands Hatch. In a moment, the Tyrrell 012 is gone – off on its next rapid lap of this Historic 2.4-mile circuit, around one minute and twenty seconds, it’ll do it all over again. That’s an average speed of 108 mph.
Brands Hatch has undergone few changes to the GP circuit since its golden F1 years of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. During those times, all the great drivers such as Clark, Hill, Stewart, Lauda, Hunt, Villeneuve, Andretti, Mansell etc. kept us enthralled. But now modern-day historic racers keep their spirits alive, for today’s generations to marvel over.
The Tyrrell, is driven by Martin Stretton, one of Britain’s fastest and most renowned racers of historic race cars, and is the 2019 Masters Historic Formula One Champion. This is his third Historic F1 title.
I have been fortunate to witness and photograph this winning combination many times at Brands Hatch, and the accompanying photographs capture some of the racing essence and power of these awesome cars driven to their limits in expert hands.
To give a brief insight to some key points to a lap of the Brands’ GP Circuit – where 4G can be pulled, Martin explains’ that the most daunting and fastest sections of the track are going into Hawthorns and Paddock Bends, which are both challenging and technical. The actual speeds in both corners are around 170mph. By comparison to modern ‘hypercars’ that are capable of 200mph, this may not sound fast. Still, it is and resisting the temptation not to reduce speed more than the absolute minimum is enormous.
In current race trim, the 2,993cc Cosworth DFY powered car produces just a shade over 500bhp, revving to the regulated 10,000 rpm, using five gears at this circuit. It’s this along with years of driver experience that get to a qualifying lap time of 1.20.7 and race lap time of 1.21 at the 2019 Brands Hatch race.
The Tyrrell 012 was designed by Maurice Philippe for the Tyrrell Team and used in the 1983 / 84 seasons with limited success. It was the first chassis built for the team composed mostly of carbon fibers – a trend set by Lotus and McLaren. Although the car was light and nimble – it was no match for the power of the Turbo cars of the time. The very quick and much missed Stefan Bellof was the main driver in both years.
Martin Stretton Racing has run and operated the Tyrrell 012 since 2014. Russel Sheppard brilliantly leads the workshops as he has for the last 24 years.
The car is owned by American Martin Adams (no relation), who used to run Commonwealth Racing and Smokin’ Joes racing. There is a little interesting and poignant fact on the airbox of the Tyrrell; there is an ‘In Memorial to Nicky Hayden – The Kentucky Kid’ graphic. Martin and Nicky, another much-missed racer, worked together, and this is Martin’s gift to his ‘spirit’ in Racers Heaven, and with that spirit, the team has won a lot of races.