PEOPLE: ADRIAN REYNARD
Name: Adrian Reynard
Nationality: Great Britain
Born in Hertfordshire, Reynard was mad about racing from an early age and built his first racing car while he was studying mechanical engineering at Oxford Polytechnic. An enthusiastic 750 Motor Club competitor, he graduated with an HND in 1972 and went to work as a development engineer at British Leyland. The following year he went into business with former March production boss Bill Stone to form Sabre Automotive with the aim of building customer versions of his cars. It was not a great success - in 1974 for example the company produced only one car. Reynard sold five Formula Ford cars the following year but still had to work elsewhere, designing a Formula 3 car for David Lazenby's Hawke company. There was even talk of a Formula 1 car - to be funded by Mike Keegan, the boss of British Air Ferries, for his son Rupert to drive. That was never built but a F3 car, designed by Reynard, did appear briefly in 1976.
At the start of 1977 Reynard joined Sabre full-time when Stone decided to return to his native New Zealand. The company was renamed Reynard and built 23 cars for Formula Ford 2000 in 1978. In 1979 David Leslie drove one to success in the British FF2000 Championship and Reynard himself won the EFDA European title. The 1980 car was a disaster, however, and Reynard struggled to survive. Reynard went to work for John Macdonald's RAM team, engineering an ex-factory Williams in the British F1 Championship and at selected Grands Prix. The following year RAM ran the new March 811 chassis for Derek Daly and, after a poor start to the year, Reynard became the team's chief engineer and reworked the car. It was more successful and Reynard began to design the March 821 for the following year. At the same time he planned to build a groundbreaking Formula Ford 1600 car.
Reynard quit March in September 1981 and the Reynard 82FF made its debut at the Formula Ford Festival. As a result, 50 cars were sold in 1982 and for the next seven years Reynard enjoyed enormous success in Formula Ford 1600 and 2000 winning an impressive string of titles. By the time the company stopped building Formula Ford cars in 1989 it had sold 661 chassis.
Reynard began to ponder entering Formula 3 as early as 1983 and in the course of the 1984 season he designed what would become the Reynard 853, the first carbonfiber composite F3 chassis. Andy Wallace won on the car's debut but the F3 market was tough and Reynard's only championship success that year came in the unimportant Swedish series. The car was refined for 1986 and Andy Wallace won the British F3 title. Orders flowed in and in the years that followed Reynard won all the major F3 titles. When F3 production ended in 1993 the company had built 360 cars in total.
At the same time Reynard won deals to supply chassis to Formula Vauxhall Lotus between 1987 and 1992 and in 1989-90 Toyota Atlantic as well. In 1997 Reynard began supplying chassis for the Barber Saab Pro series.
In 1987 Reynard began work on the design of a Formula 3000 car and at the start of 1988 Johnny Herbert gave the company victory in the first event of the year. Formula 3000 would become another successful story with 220 chassis being sold between 1988 and 1995.
Reynard's ambition was Formula 1 and in 1989 he began planning a Grand Prix program. He hired a group of engineers from Benetton - led by Rory Byrne - and announced the intention of entering F1 in 1992. He came close to signing a Yamaha engine deal but that fell through and in the end Reynard sold the entire project - including the Enstone factory - to Benetton. The design became the basis of the B192 while some of the Reynard research data went to Ligier and was used on the Ligier-Renault JS37. Reynard went on to design a car in 1993 for Pacific and in 1994 for DAMS but neither were very successful.
The failure of the F1 project almost sent the company to the wall but F3000 sales and a switch to CART in 1994 revived Reynard's fortunes. The tradition of winning the first race in each category continued in CART with Michael Andretti's victory for Chip Ganassi in Australia. Reynard developed the car and by the late 1990s was dominating CART.
Reynard's successes resulted in two prestigious Queen's Awards for Export Achievement in 1990 and 1996.
In recent years the Reynard company has flirted with the automotive industry through its Reynard Special Vehicle Projects company. This designs and manufactures vehicles which are not badged as Reynards. Back in 1994, Chrysler decided to build a gas turbine-engined car called a Patriot. Reynard was commissioned to design the car. That project was shelved in 1996 but Reynard went on working with Chrysler, building the racing version of the Dodge Viper and developing the Chrysler Stratus for the North American Touring Car Championship.
There was a similar relationship with Ford. In 1996 Reynard was asked to design and build the Indigo concept car and this was followed up by a deal for the company to develop the Mondeo for the British Touring Car Championship.
In January 1996 Don Panoz approached Reynard and asked them to build him a series of GT sportscars, based on the road cars Panoz was producing in the US. The result was the Panoz GT1. Reynard has also designed the Strathcarron sportscar for the Honorable Ian Macpherson, who wanted to produce a basic, affordable sportscar for road use
Reynard has also dabbled in other areas, notably the design of airline seats for Virgin Atlantic. This was the result of a friendship between Reynard and his neighbor Richard Branson.
Reynard is a big fan of flying, although he has been taking things a little easy in recent years after emerging unscathed from a crash which destroyed the World War II Harvard plane he was flying, near Witney in Oxfordshire in 1991.
In December 1997 it was announced that Reynard would be a part-owner (15%) of the British American Racing F1 team and technical director of the team. The team debuted in 1999 but was not a success.
The enormous financial success in CART led Reynard to diversify that year with the purchase of Gemini Transmissions and the US racing car constructor Riley & Scott. Reynard also opened a research and development establishment in Indianapolis called the Auto Research Center (ARC). Plans to float the company on the New York Stock Exchange were, however, suspended and in 2002 the Reynard firm ran into serious financial difficulties and went out of business.Adrian moved to America and continues to run the ARC.