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Goodbye Tyrrell

LAST Friday marked the end of one of Formula 1's most famous racing teams with the closure on the Tyrrell Racing Organization factory in Ockham, Surrey. The building, which still belongs to the Tyrrell Family, is now empty following the sale of its contents to Paul Stoddart for his planned Formula 3000 team.

Tyrrell was taken over last December by British American Racing and Ken Tyrrell and his son Bob ceased to be involved after a dispute with BAR over drivers in February. The cars continued to appear under the Tyrrell name until the recent Japanese Grand Prix.

The history of Tyrrell in motor racing dates back 47 years to when 27-year-old Ken "Chopper" Tyrrell, a timber merchant, bought himself a 500cc Formula 3 car and began racing. He was a frontrunner in F3 throughout the 1950s and in 1958, in addition to racing himself, he ran a Formula 2 Cooper for Henry Taylor in the colors of Nixon's Garage.

In 1960 the Tyrrell Racing Organization was established to run the factory Coopers in Formula Junior. The team was expanded the following year to run Mini Coopers in touring car races. At the start of 1964 Tyrrell was looking for a driver for the new Formula 3 and chanced upon the pairing of Jackie Stewart and Warwick Banks. The combination was a great success and Stewart won the British title and signed to race for BRM in Formula 1 in 1965.

Tyrrell kept up his links with Stewart, running him and Jacky Ickx in Formula 2 for Cooper and later that year when John Cooper was injured in a road accident Tyrrell took over the running of the Cooper F1 team for the rest of the year.

In 1966 Tyrrell switched to Matra chassis and it was with the French company that Ken entered F1 in 1968 as Equipe Matra International, running the new Cosworth DFV engine in a Matra chassis driven by Jackie Stewart. The team won three races and expanded to two cars with Johnny Servoz-Gavin alongside Stewart. The following year Stewart - joined by Jean-Pierre Beltoise - won the World Championship.

With Matra deciding not to continue in 1970 Tyrrell ordered March chassis but then secretly started building his own Tyrrell 001 car. This was not ready until August and did not race until the Canadian GP where it was on pole position and led until it retired with a stub axle failure. The car - by then designated a Tyrrell 003 - won its first race at the Spanish GP in 1971 and Stewart went on to win five further victories with one going to his team-mate Francois Cevert. Stewart won his second World Championship and Tyrrell took its one (and as things turned out only) Constructors' title. Stewart would win a third Drivers' title for Tyrrell in 1973 but it gave up its chance of a second Constructors' title when it withdrew from the United States GP following the death of Cevert.

Stewart retired from the sport at the same race and for 1974 Tyrrell had drivers Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler. There were occasional successes, notably in 1976 with the famous Tyrrell six-wheeler, and when Scheckter moved on to Ferrari he was replaced by Ronnie Peterson and then by Didier Pironi.

By the end of the 1970s, however, Elf - the team's big sponsor - had decided to concentrate on the French F1 teams and Tyrrell struggled for money. The team gained a reputation for finding new (cheap) stars, notably Michele Alboreto, Stefan Bellof, Martin Brundle and Jean Alesi but its last victory came in Detroit in 1983. The turbo revolution left Tyrrell behind and it never caught up with rivals Williams and McLaren. Several big sponsors were signed - notably Candy, Benetton, Courtaulds and Braun - but the team had a habit of losing them.

With no-one in the Tyrrell Family willing or capable of running the team Ken decided to sell out at the end of last season, leaving the sport with a very large check from British American Racing.

The core of the old Tyrrell team will remain intact, however, as many of the personnel at Ockham will be part of the planned Honda Formula 1 team. The Japanese car manufacturer is expected to make an official announcement about the team later this week.

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