Brett Lunger

Brett Lunger was a rare thing: an American racing fulltime in Formula 1. He competed in a total of 34 Grands Prix but is probably best remembered for the role he played in helping to rescue Niki Lauda from the flaming remains of his Ferrari at the Nurburgring in 1976.

Lunger was a brave man. Prior to beginning his racing career he was a US Marine who served with distinction in the Vietnam War with one of the elite reconnaissance squadrons which operated in the front line and even behind the enemy lines. After 13 months in action Lunger returned to the US and went back to his passion in life: motor racing. Before the war he had raced Chevrolet Corvettes and had even tried his hand at open-wheelers but when he returned he was a man in a hurry and went straight to the big-engined CanAm sportscars and then into the Formula 5000 open-wheeler series. Lunger was lucky. He could afford it as he was born into one of the richest families in the world, being one of the heirs to the du Pont chemical fortune.

Having enjoyed some success in America, Lunger decided to move to Europe and after racing in Formula 2 he made his F1 debut in 1975 as James Hunt's team mate with the Hesketh Racing operation. The following year he moved to the less successful Surtees team as team mate to Alan Jones. After that he took his Chesterfield sponsorship to Bob Sparshott's BS Fabrications, which had previously run a customer Surtees for Henri Pescarolo under the Team Norev banner. Sparshott had aspirations to one day build his own F1 cars and Lunger's budget was a big help. The team acquired a series of McLarens from the factory and ran them from premises in Luton, Bedfordshire.

The team contested 17 races in the course of 1977 and 1978 before the alliance broke down and Lunger went off to briefly race for Mo Nunn's Ensign team. At the end of 1978 however Lunger's F1 career came to an end and he headed back to the United States.

He remains a very competitive individual and even in his fifties was racing in marathons and cycling events.