NOVEMBER 30, 1998

The future for David Richards

THE current wheeling and dealing in Formula 1 circles does not seem to be taking into account David Richards - the recently deposed chief executive of Benetton Formula. In recent weeks he has been closely linked to the Ford MotorÊCompany and there was talk that he might be involved in a takeover of Stewart Grand Prix.

Although Richards is very close to Ford Motor Sport's Martin Whitaker, it remains to be seen if this will be enough to sway the Ford factory F1 engines his way. It would make sense for Ford to give Richards control of the operation as he is running the Ford touring car program and is rumored to be on the verge of taking over the Ford rally team as well. This would involve setting up a separate operation from his Prodrive company, as this has a long-term deal with Subaru.

Richards is up to something and it is interesting that just a few weeks after buying the Arden Formula 3000 team he has now bought a major shareholding in Galmer Engineering.

Established in November 1988 by former March engineer Alan Mertens and CART team owner Rick Galles, GalmerÊEngineering has everything necessary to build Formula 1 cars.

Initially the organization did research & development for the Galles Indycar team. At the same time it became involved in manufacturing components for F1 cars and doing design and development work in touring car racing. In 1991 Galmer built a prototype Indycar and the following year Danny Sullivan took a Galmer-Chevrolet to victory in Long Beach and Al Unser Jr. took the sister car to victory in the Indianapolis 500. The program was not as successful as had been hoped and was discontinued in 1993.

At the end of that year Galmer Engineering began to design a Formula 1 car for the owners of the Brabham team. This was suspended in January 1993 when money did not arrive.

At the end of the 1993 season Rick Galles sold his shares in the company to Bruce McCaw of PacWest Racing and for the last five years Galmer has been doing the team's research and development. It now seems that McCaw has sold his shareholding to Prodrive.

Mertens has never disguised his desire to build an F1 car and the sale must be seen as part of Richards's plans to put together his own F1 team.