PEOPLE: JOHN WICKHAM
Name: John Wickham
Nationality: Great Britain
Wickham began his motor racing career in 1972, helping the British Automobile Racing Club organize race meetings. After a year he was asked to help run the Surtees Formula 2 team which had won the European Formula 2 title the previous season. The team had sponsorship from Matchbox and Fina and ran Mike Hailwood and Jochen Mass. When Hailwood was racing in F1 his place was taken by various pay-drivers. Mass finished runner-up in the European series but it had been dominated by March with BMW engines. Surtees decided not to enter a factory team in the series and so Wickham went back to the BARC. At the end of 1978 he was asked by Robin Herd to take over the running of the March Formula 2 team and the team enjoyed considerable success with drivers Teo Fabi and Thierry Boutsen.
At the end of 1981 Wickham and designer Gordon Coppuck announced that they were forming Spirit Racing to compete in Formula 2 in 1982 and to enter F1 with Honda engines. In Formula 2 the team ran a pair of Marlboro-sponsored cars for Thierry Boutsen and Stefan Johansson, Boutsen won three races and finished third in the European Championship. In November Spirit ran the new Honda turbocharged F1 engines in a modified F2 chassis. Johansson was chosen to be the driver. The team built a proper F1 chassis for 1983 but knew that it was going to lose its engine deal at the end of the year. With Honda going into partnership with Williams, Spirit had to switch to Hart engines in 1984. The car was tested by Emerson Fittipaldi although finance could not be found for the Brazilian to race for the team and an attempt to sign up wealthy Italian Fulvio Ballabio was blocked by the FIA. This meant that the team struggled for money. Mauro Baldi drove but he had to be dropped in favor of Dutch pay-driver Huub Rothengatter.
The team ran Baldi in a modified chassis in the first three races of 1985 but then the money ran out and it was decided to sell the Pirelli tire supply to Toleman and leave Formula 1. Wickham found a job as team manager of the RAS Volvo team in the European Touring Car Championship. The team won three races with drivers Johnny Cecotto, Thomas Lindstrom and Ulf Granberg.
In 1987 Wickham became a director and team manager of TOM'S GB and oversaw the company's programs in Group C, Group A and in the British Formula 3 Championship in which TOM'S ran drivers Damon Hill and Martin Donnelly.
In 1988 Wickham tried to revive the Spirit team in Formula 3000 with backing from Geoff Mitchell and Tony Searles. The team ran Bertrand Gachot in a Reynard chassis and scored two second places but Wickham was ousted in mid-season with driver Steve Kempton taking control. In 1989 Wickham took over the running of the Footwork F3000 team and when Footwork bought Arrows in January 1990 he became a director of the F1 team. In the middle of 1991 as the team struggled with its disastrous Porsche V12 engines, Wickham became team manager, replacing Alan Rees.
He stayed with Arrows until the start of 1995 but then left to be team manager of the highly-successful Audi Sport UK operation in the British Touring Car Championship. In 1996 Frank Biela won the BTCC title. The team continued to compete in the BTCC until 1998 when it began to prepare cars for an Audi assault on the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1999. This resulted in victory in 2000 and since 2001 Wickham has been overseeing the Bentley Le Mans programme.
In 2004 he was recruited by the A1GP Series and spent five years as Head of Operations.