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JULY 11, 2002

In the Silverstone paddock...

THE paddock at the British Grand Prix is one of the busiest of the year with the Formula 1 circus meeting the British motor racing industry and so the opportunities for deal-making are much higher than at other races. This year was no exception with a variety of government ministers being thrown into the mixture to add a little spice.

One low profile face in the crowd was that of Gordon Kimball, a well-known F1 engineer in the 1980s and early 1990s. Stanford-educated Kimball met John Barnard while working in the Vel's Parnelli Formula 5000 team in 1976 and joined Barnard in England two years later when the pair designed the ground-breaking Chaparral 2K, which went on to win the Indianapolis 500. After a period working in the design of offshore drilling equipment Kimball returned to racing as chief designer of the Patrick Racing Wildcat. In 1984 he moved back to England to work with Barnard at McLaren and in 1988 went with Barnard to Ferrari.

He maintained a low profile until 1990 when he went back to McLaren as Ayrton Senna's race engineer and was then appointed technical director of Benetton in June 1990. The arrival in the team of Tom Walkinshaw that summer resulted in a reshuffle and disenchanted with F1 Kimball went back to the United States of America where he has run his own design consultancy business ever since. In recent years Kimball has been overseeing the career of his son Charlie. The 17-year-old enjoyed a very successful karting career and is now racing in Formula Ford and Barber Dodge events in the US, although he is looking to move to England in the years ahead and make a name for himself in F1.

The Kimballs were off after Silverstone to visit Van Diemen in Norfolk to discuss a drive in the Formula Ford Festival this autumn.