MAY 27, 1996

Reynolds to build F1 engines?

WE hear that the Reynolds Metals Co. of Richmond, Virginia is considering funding the construction of a Formula 1 engine in an effort to publicize the company's expansion plans.

Reynolds is one of the world's leading aluminum producers, with annual sales of around $6 billion. It was founded in 1928 by Richard Reynolds, nephew of tobacco baron RJ Reynolds, and specialized initially in foils before diversifying into mining and refining. In recent years the high price of aluminum has seen profits soar and, in an effort to stabilize income, Reynolds is looking for new markets in Asia and South America, and new products, particularly in the automotive industry. In 1994 Reynolds bought a factory in Wisconsin to manufacture aluminum wheels.

Motor racing has been used successfully by automotive and technology companies on many occasions. The most successful such deals have been TAG engines (Porsche's badged by Mansour Ojjeh's Techniques d'Avant Garde) and Australian car parts company Repco. Tony Vandervell used his Vanwall racing cars to promote the family bearing company, while there have been several wheel manufacturers who have run F1 teams to promote their products - notably Giuseppe Rumi's Fondmetal and Gunther Schmid's ATS and Rial teams.

The best course of action for Reynolds would be to badge an existing engine such as Brian Hart's V8 or fund the construction of engine with one of the engine companies which have been looking for work since Formula 3000 became a single-engine formula.