PEOPLE: JOHN MACDONALD

Name: John Macdonald
Nationality: Great Britain

John Macdonald and Mick Ralph were partners in a car business in Willesden, north London in the late 1960s and Macdonald raced Ford Anglias and took part in occasional Formula 3 events with March machinery. These became more regular in 1972 and 1973 but he was never a front-runner and in 1974 he decided to stop racing and run a March Formula 5000 team for Alan Jones. Ralph Macdonald Racing enjoyed considerable success and the following year RAM entered Formula 1 with a pair of Ford-engined Brabham BT44Bs. The team used a variety of pay-drivers beginning with Loris Kessel and Emilio de Villota. Patrick Neve, Jac Nelleman, Damien Magee, Bob Evans and Lella Lombardi all followed.

There was legal trouble between the team and Kessel at the 1976 German GP and the season ended in farce.

In the British F1 series RAM was more successful, with Guy Edwards winning the Oulton Park Gold Cup in one of the cars. After several abortive projects RAM returned to F1 in 1980 entering ex-works Williams FW07s in the Aurora British F1 series for Rupert Keegan and de Villota. The Spaniard won the title.

In 1981 RAM did a deal with March and found backing from Guinness and Rizla to run Derek Daly and Eliseo Salazar in the World Championship. The team was based in the old March Engines factory but the relationship with March soon broke down and after running Jochen Mass and Raul Boesel in Rothmans-sponsored Marches in 1982, the team decided to build its own cars. It was not a great success but in 1984 the team found major sponsorship from American Tobacco's Skoal Bandit brand and ran Jonathan Palmer and Philippe Alliot. The team had to pay for Hart turbo engines and at the end of 1985 it was forced into liquidation with debts of over 1m after IMG insisted on full payment for Manfred Winkelhock's salary. He had been killed in a sportscar race in the mid-season.

Macdonald tried to make an F1 comeback in 1987 with plans to run an old Benetton for the Middlebridge company with sponsorship from Trussardi and driver Emanuele Pirro. The team was banned as old chassis were declared illegal. Macdonald began doing sub-contract work with a new company called Superpower - which also ran teams in Formula 3 and Formula 3000.

He was briefly appointed coordinator of the Formula 3000 series in 1989 but popped up again in F1 in 1991 as team manager of the Middlebridge-owned Brabham team in 1991. Thereafter he concentrated on developing Superpower's engineering business, doing sub-contract fabrication work for F1 teams. In the Spring of 1999 he sold the company to Austria's Pankl.

Print