Harvey ‘The Doc’ Postlethwaite

About Harvey Postlethwaite

Harvey (Doc) Postlethwaite was born on the 4th March 1944. After leaving the Royal Masonic School for Boys, he studied science at the University Of Birmingham, England, and later obtained a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He had hoped to be a pilot though when it was discovered that he was colour blind, that dream was scuppered. He did try his hand as an amateur racing driver for a while however before a lack of funds ended that pursuit.

After graduation, Harvey joined Imperial Chemical Industries as a research scientist, but quickly became bored so began to pursue a career as a race car engineer. In 1970, at the age of 26, he joined the March team, working initially on the young company’s Formula 2 and Formula 3 cars. One of March’s customer teams was Hesketh Racing and Lord Hesketh recognised that Harvey could play a vital role in the team’s fortunes.

When asked why he had left March for a team more famous for their off-track shenanigans, Postlethwaite gave one of the best explanations for ever doing anything;


He worked to modify and improve the team’s existing March 731 chassis and helped move the team from making up the numbers in 1973 to serious contenders. Before long, Harvey had Hunt running in the top six and their efforts were rewarded with a 3rd at the Dutch Grand Prix, Hesketh Racing’s first podium.

By the end of the year, as the works March flopped, Hunt was challenging Ronnie Peterson and Lotus for victory at Watkins Glen.

For 1974 Lord Hesketh made good on his promise to Harvey that he would finance the team’s first ground-up designed Formula 1 car.

It was not surprising that his design followed very conventional lines. The ‘Hesketh 308’ featured an aluminium monocoque chassis and like many of the competitor’s cars it used a ‘coke-bottle’ shape. Unlike most of the 1974 Formula 1 cars however, the new Hesketh still sported a nose mounted radiator. Power came from the obligatory Cosworth DFV V8 engine, which was used by all top runners except for Ferrari. Probably the most striking design feature of the 308 was the massive airbox, which was also part of Postlethwaite’s modifications for the 1973 March.

Thanks to the simple effectiveness of Postelthwaite’s design, they made their way up the grid to join the front runners. Sporting unusual but efficient rubber spring suspension, the 1975 308 beat the might of Ferrari and Niki Lauda to victory at the Dutch Grand Prix, confirming Postlethwaite’s status amongst the elite of the day.

When James Hunt won the ’75 Dutch Grand Prix, defeating the might of Niki Lauda and Ferrari, it marked more than just the only win the team was ever to achieve, but the debut triumphs for both Hunt and Postlethwaite. There were to be many more for both but the first was always the sweetest. At the end of the year the team finished 4th in the Constructors’ Championship and James Hunt scored points in every race he finished.

In 1976 when the team folded, Postlethwaite went with his cars to the newly founded Wolf–Williams Racing, headed by the oil magnate Walter Wolf and Frank Williams, but the results were poor and the owners soon went their separate ways.

Postlethwaite remained with Wolf, designing the team’s 1977 challenger, the WR1. Success was immediate with Jody Scheckter taking victory at the season’s opening race. Two more wins and a number of podium results followed and Scheckter eventually finished second in the Drivers’ Championship. Although Postlethwaite remained with the team until 1979, they were never to repeat their 1977 success.

The result was no fluke. Postlethwaite was amongst the first to properly realise the potential of sliding skirts/ground effect with the 1978 Wolf. His next car, the WR7, featured a sleek monocoque construction that eliminated the weak joints of previous fabricated designs, which proved very timely, bringing him to the attention of Enzo Ferrari.

Having finally recognised that aerodynamics could no longer be ignored, it was testament to the Ferrari’s faith in Postlethwaite, that he was chosen to lead a new approach to chassis design at the team.

Blending new carbon-fibre construction techniques successfully with the expertise of Mauro Forghieri and the power of the Ferrari’s turbo engine, his first car was the 126C2. It put Ferrari back on top, taking the constructors’ championship in 1982.

The following year’s revised car, the 126C2B, again took the constructors’ title. The rest of the eighties saw more victories, but ultimately proved less successful.

Postlethwaite eventually joined Tyrrell. The latter stages of his career mirrored those of his earlier years, working with smaller teams on tight budgets, among them a brief period with Sauber, prior to returning to Tyrrell.

Many of Postlethwaite’s design principles remain fundamental to modern F1 racing, from the pioneering high-nosed Tyrell 019 which recognised the importance of maximising airflow under the car, to the semi-automatic transmission and airbox used as a roll bar.

Some of his most creative developments came when budgets were at their tightest, including hydrolink hydraulic passive suspension, the pneumatic semi-automatic gearbox and the short-lived X-wings; all featured on Tyrrell cars in the 90s.

“He was a great man with a young family, some of the best years of my life were spent in his company. He had charm, sense of humour, real ability and talent and was a great lateral thinker. He took us from nowhere to being a front-running team. He was a tremendous guy”.

– Lord Hesketh

James ‘Superstar’ Hunt

About James Hunt

Sex, drugs and fast cars: The legend of James Hunt has set Hollywood hearts racing

Even if you have not the faintest interest in motorsport, or Formula One – that shiny Babylon of sponsors and sleaze – the lure of James Hunt is hard to resist. Handsome, brave, articulate, he had a reputation for living as fast off the track as on.

He may have been said to have slept with 5,000 women and had the words “Sex, breakfast of champions” sewn on to his overalls, but for all the gloss and glamour, there was another side to Hunt. He was a nervous driver, who vomited before every race. He was a sensitive animal-lover, who reared budgerigars, and banned hunting on his Buckinghamshire farm. A series of financial blunders meant that, later in life, he was reduced to an Austin A35 van, or a bicycle, on which he’d be spotted pootling round Wimbledon.

Now, a month ahead of the 20th anniversary of Hunt’s death of a heart attack, aged just 45, there is concern among friends that the racing driver’s complexity could be forgotten. Lord Hesketh is among them. “James was a fantastically good sports person and an immensely civilised guy,” he says. “I won’t be seeing the film. I hope that I am wrong, but one of the things about people who makes films is that they’re not interested in being truthful.”

In 1972, as a rich 22-year-old, Alexander Hesketh had launched his own racing team, and later gave Hunt his break into Formula One. “The thing you’ve got to remember is that all the other teams were run by people 20 or 30 years older than us. When he came to me, he was 24 and I was 22. We were all very young, none of us were married, and everyone else was middle-aged. So inevitably people said how wild we were.”

But how accurate is the image of Hunt as a playboy?

Max Mosley, a former president of F1 governing body the Fédération International de l’Automobile and co- founder of the March racing team in 1969, says Hunt was a bon viveur. “Yes, he was totally wild, but I never knew him to do anything ungentlemanly.

In 1976, Hunt was crowned world champion but retired from the sport after the 1979 season, aged just 31. Why did he bow out so young? “I remember him saying,” says Mosley, “that driving at those sorts of speeds, if you’re racing for the lead, or racing for the world championship, is fine. But if you’re in 14th place, you suddenly start thinking, is this sensible? It was very dangerous in those days. Everyone always said you could have a nice party with all the people who got killed. It was appalling.”

Hunt’s choice of career was not obvious from his childhood. Born to a stockbroker father in Surrey in 1947, one of six, he was a bumptious and single-minded child, who thrived at prep school and Wellington College. Although not academically rigorous, he was a proficient trumpeter, and excelled in all sports, especially tennis and squash. As a sensitive child, he connected with animals, particularly dogs and birds. And apart from playing on his Scalextric set, he showed little interest in cars. But a chance invitation to a race meet at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk the day before his 18th birthday got him hooked on racing. “It was instant commitment,” he later recalled. “Motor racing was something impossibly remote… but here was something within reach of a mere mortal.”

He shelved his plans to become a doctor and began saving money to go club racing. His parents were less than enthused, especially when Hunt proposed a deal: they had been prepared to spend about £5,000 sending him to medical school; instead, he suggested they gave him £2,500 to buy his first car. The answer was a polite no.

However, his determination to race paid off, and Mosley recalls the first time he saw him was at a race meet at Snetterton in 1969. “There was a Formula Ford car that seemed to be going far too fast. And later in the paddock I saw this tall figure get out of it, and that was James. He didn’t have any proper racing clothes, but he just had this great natural talent.”

Lord Hesketh was also struck. “He was very quick. He wasn’t fearless – he was well aware of the danger. If I look at that period, most of the people I knew – Piers Courage, Ronnie Peterson – got killed. It’s not that like that any more.”

A good example of Hunt’s skill was his performance at Silverstone. “For me, the greatest corner in Grand Prix racing was Woodcote at Silverstone,” says Hesketh. “The camber changes, and you can’t see the exit of a very difficult corner. It doesn’t exist any more. And if anything tells the truth, it’s the stopwatch. We always said that Woodcote was worth one second in a lap to us, because James always took it flat [out]. When he won his first race, he overtook Ronnie Peterson, who was in the lead, with two wheels on the grass on the inside. When you’re doing 165mph, that takes some doing.”

Yet Hunt’s early years in racing, before he was signed to Hesketh Racing, were dogged by lack of funds and some unfortunate accidents. On one occasion, at Oulton Park, he lost control and was catapulted into a lake. The car was ruined, and had been bought with a loan, which he had to spend the next two years paying off. Hunt later said he would probably have been killed had he been strapped in. “Seatbelts were not yet compulsory and I didn’t have them because I couldn’t afford them,” he recalled. “Had I been wearing one, I might have drowned.”

A popular anecdote is that he would have sex minutes before a race. (Patrick Head, co-founder of the Williams team, claims he walked in on Hunt with his overalls round his ankles, cavorting with a Japanese girl, in a pit garage, moments before the start of the crucial Mount Fuji Grand Prix.) And there was also that ritual of being sick, though he denied it was from fear of death. “I was sick with tremendous nerve pressure,” he said. “But that was basically because I was driving my own car, and if I crunched it, I was out of money and there was no way I could repair the car. So it was fear of my future on the financial side and on the job-security side. Nothing to do with danger.”

By the time he was in Formula Three, he had earnt the nickname “Hunt the Shunt”, which Max Mosley inadvertently coined. “He didn’t shunt more than anyone else, it just happened to rhyme.” Hunt was also a dream interviewee for journalists. “We had him in the works Formula Three team [one owned by the manufacturer, rather than a private entry] in 1972, and the car was no good,” says Mosley. “And then he told the press the car was no good. It was absolutely true, but I didn’t think that’s what you did if you were a works driver.”

Formula One in the 1960s and 1970s was, however, still a sport for amateur gentlemen rather than close-lipped pros. “The world was a very different place,” says Hesketh. “There wasn’t a great deal of money about. And our budget was less than anybody else’s. For our first season we had just one chassis and two gearboxes. It cost about £50,000 – about £500,000 now. Today, that would just about pay your PR man.”

Hunt left Hesketh Racing after the 1975 season, and joined McLaren, which was a much better-funded team. “I couldn’t afford to go on,” says Hesketh. “And I wasn’t going to ruin his career by keeping him in an uncompetitive car.” Before 1976, Hunt had only won two Formula One races, and racing for Hesketh, he came fourth in the world championship on 33 points, to Lauda’s 64.5.

ll that immediately changed when he began racing with McLaren the following year. He won the first two races of the year, which were non-championship events, and then won six out of 16 Grand Prix races. One of these was the infamous German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, when Lauda crashed in the first lap, and suffered appalling burns after being trapped in his car. (There were 38 track fatalities in the 25 years between 1953 and 1978.)

Despite falling into a coma, amazingly, Lauda was back at the wheel only six weeks later, and finished an impressive fourth at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Hunt made gains on Lauda’s lead in the points table during his absence, winning at the Canadian Grand Prix, and the US East GP, the penultimate of the season. Scheckter recalls the tension of that period. “It was at Watkins Glen [in New York], and [Hunt] was behind me, and caught me up. I could have held him back, but I didn’t. I felt that I wasn’t going for the championship, but I always had respect for those that were.” By the time of the Japanese Grand Prix, the last race of the season, Hunt was only three points behind Lauda.

On the day, there was torrential rain, and after two laps Lauda retired, saying it was too dangerous to carry on. Hunt did, and finished third, winning the championship by just one point. It was the most riveting climax to a Formula One season ever, and the world had Hunt-mania. Though he raced with McLaren for two more seasons, he never again achieved that record, and came fifth and 13th in the world championships of 1977 and 1978 respectively.

After Formula One, Hunt initially maintained the lifestyle, but without the adrenalin and glory that his racing had brought him. He bought a villa in Spain and a farm in Buckinghamshire, and divided his time between them, as well as a mews house in west London. Jody Scheckter lived nearby in Spain, and recalls that Hunt didn’t sit comfortably with the ex-pat lifestyle. “There wasn’t much to do; it wasn’t really for him.”

Hunt opened a nightclub, Oscar’s, named after his German Shepherd, and in 1982 met Sarah Lomax, an interior decorator who was on holiday with friends. They married, moved to Wimbledon, and had two sons. (The marriage fell apart in 1989, though they remained on good terms. His previous marriage, to model Suzy Miller, had lasted only 16 months, and ended early in 1976, when she left him for the actor Richard Burton.)

Hunt’s career in broadcasting went surprisingly well, despite Murray Walker’s suspicions on hearing he was being joined in the commentary box. “James Hunt was, in my eyes, the archetypal loud-mouthed, irresponsible Hooray Henry,” he said. “My immediate reaction was a mixture of concern and irritation. I wondered if the BBC was trying to ease me out of my job. I had been doing it alone for two years and I didn’t want somebody else horning in. Particularly some bloody Grand Prix driver who knew nothing about commentating, and particularly James Hunt.”

In the event, it was a great success, despite their different styles. According to Hunt’s biographer, Gerald Donaldson, at his first Grand Prix in Monaco in 1980, Walker was infuriated that Hunt turned up minutes before broadcast, shoeless and with his leg in plaster. “He planted the injured limb in Murray’s lap and proceeded to consume two bottles of rosé during the broadcast.”

Hunt later turned his attention to writing, and wrote a Formula One column in The Independent during the 1991 season. His first piece was typically forthright. “We are supposed to be showing the rest of the world the way in motoring matters and it is high time Fisa’s rules permitted only environmentally friendly fuel,” he wrote. Hunt was also a vocal advocate of improved safety, which did eventually come to the sport.

The ultimate irony was that a man who risked his life so often on the track should lose it in the safety of his home. He died in the early hours of 15 June 1993, from a massive heart attack. Earlier that day, he had proposed to his girlfriend, Helen Dyson. Towards the end of his life, he had given up drinking and smoking, thanks largely to her. He was beginning to get fit again, and had taken up cycling.

“He was famous for living life to the full,” Dyson said after his death. “But I knew a much quieter man. He was a wonderful father to his sons, and my best friend.” Still, he didn’t mind being remembered for his wild side. To make sure everyone had a good time, he put £5,000 towards the wake of his own funeral. By all accounts, it was quite a party.

Anthony ‘Bubbles’ Horsley


In 1966 an imposing and rather elegant 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II rolled into the paddock at Silverstone. This was no ordinary car. She had a movie career behind her, having co-starred with Rex Harrison, Omas Sharif, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley MacLaine, George C Scott, Alain Delon and Jeanne Moreau in the 1965 movie ‘The Yellow Rolls Royce’.

Four racing drivers emerged, wearing their overalls, although each sported a yellow bowtie and a black top hat. They sat down and enjoyed a impromptu lunch of caviar and crackers, with champagne whenever their glasses were empty.

It was a Formula 3 event and Charlie Crichton-Stuart, Piers Courage, Charles Lucas and Jonathan Williams were all taking part. The champagne, serving chauffeur was none other than Anthony ‘Bubbles’ Horsley. They all shared a particularly notorious flat in Pinner Road, Harrow with another motor racing hopeful, Frank Williams (yes, THAT Frank Williams) who slept on the sofa.

Anthony Horsley, born in Newmarket in 1943, was educated at a Dover College in Kent and studied estate management at Cirencester only long enough to realise it was not for him. In 1962 he went to London to seek his fortune, but instead found work first as a restaurant waiter and subsequently as a van driver and sales manager for the Scirrocco-Powell Racing Team based in Shepherd’s Bush.

When Horsley promoted himself to racing driver by acquiring a racing car from a well-known lady racer, Bluebell Gibbs, her name became his nickname, which was then contracted by Piers Courage to Bubbles.

Bubbles spent the mid-1960s wandering around Europe with Frank Williams as Formula 3 nomads, sleeping ‘among the bits’ in the back of a van scraping a living from the prize and appearance money, much as James did a few years later.

‘I don’t think we ever had any highlights in the accepted sense of the word’. The Horsley funded, continental racing adventures ended when he crashed into Frank Williams’ car at the Nurburgring in Germany. ‘I was so busy watching this prune, who later turned out to be Frank, bouncing through the trees that I followed him in sympathy. The net result was a great big binge in Hamburg and back to England with a few quid’s worth of broken car in the back of my van.’

There followed a spell when the smiling face of Bubbles could be seen on British TV, appearing in commercials either as a chef, extolling the virtues of a certain brand of stuffing or as a swimmer, who, having crossed the channel to find his favourite brand of beer, was so disgusted when the waiter shook his head, that he swam all the way back again.

The carless Horsley was twiddling his thumbs one day when another former driver, Nicky von Preussen asked him ‘What are you doing?’ I said ‘Nothing’. So he said ‘Let’s go to Bhutan then’. And we did, in an old Land Rover’.

During his year long tour of the Far East, mainly in India and Nepal, Bubbles sought enlightenment, fished, hunted and spent all his savings.

‘I’d got no bread (money) when I came back, so I set myself up in business, peddling used cars in North London’. The company was called Horsley’s Horseless Carriages, though Frank Williams suggested a more accurate name for the enterprise might be ‘Horseless, Gearless and Brakeless carriages’.

At the end of twelve months ‘hard labour’ Bubbles was restored to the way of life he deserved.

Just about the time when he started thinking about motorsport again, Bubbles met up with Lord Hesketh. Both wanted to go racing and after rejecting Formula Ford, settled on Formula 3. With His Lordship deciding that his own participation was far too risky, there followed a brief spell when Hesketh Racing’s prime target was ‘Bubbles’ Horsley for World Champion.

The plan did not last very long. After a few, enthusiastic performances in international races, Bubbles realised that he wasn’t in the least bit competitive. Much to his own relief, he was promoted to team manager.

But what good was a team manager without someone to manage?

Enter James Simon Wallis Hunt.


  1. James Hunt: The Biography by Gerald Donaldon
  2. The heavily censored history of Hesketh Racing

Lord Hesketh ‘Le Patron’


Lord Hesketh succeeded in the barony on 6 October 1955, aged four, when his father, Frederick Fermor-Hesketh, 2nd Baron Hesketh, passed away at age 39.

His family seat was at Easton Neston, near Towcester, on the doorstep of Silverstone. It was inevitable that this would become one of Lord Hesketh’s favourite circuits.

He was educated at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire, England, from where he absconded at the age of fifteen. When he was sixteen, he gave up the idea of formal education altogether and went into the used-car business.

As Alexander Hesketh, he said that he gained more useful knowledge from his two years selling cars than in all the time he was at school. His next move was to head for the United States, where he spent eighteen months working in a Californian investment bank before continuing his journey to Hong Kong to join a ship-broking firm.

Returning to England in 1971 he set up his own company, Hesketh Finance, with the inheritance given to him on his twenty-first birthday. Now he had his finances sorted, he turned his attention to his great passion, motor racing. He become friendly with Charles Lucas and through him met Anthony ‘Bubbles’ Horsley, long-time partner-in-crime of notable motor-sport personalities such as Piers Courage and Frank Williams.

Horsley was living in Chelsea with Piers and his wife, Lady Sarah, when the two met. As a result Alexander used to spend long hours at the Courage household, listening to racing chat and meeting more famous names.

Horsley eventually went off to the Himalayas, to be what Lord Hesketh called ‘a guru’. He returned in 1972, by which time His Lordship was completely bored outside working hours, and the two of them decided to enter motor racing. The plan was that they would buy a Formula Ford car for Horsley to drive, and take the machine around Europe, simply having fun along the way.

The seeds of the future Hesketh Racing Formula 1 team had been sewn.

Lord Hesketh married Hon. Claire Georgina Watson, daughter of Joseph Rupert Eric Robert Watson, 3rd Baron Manton and Mary Elizabeth Hallinan, on 21 May 1977 and has three children.

Although Lord Hesketh was a member of the House of Lords he took no active part in politics until he met Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher after the IRA’s bomb attack on her in Brighton on 12 October 1984.

Thatcher was visiting Lord Hesketh at Easton Neston and during their conversation, “Mrs. Thatcher asked me if I served on a regular basis in the House of Lords, and when I told her no, she said, ‘You must. It’s your duty, and I expect you to be there.'”

From that point Hesketh worked under Thatcher, who he described as “the most outstanding person I ever worked with” and held the office of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment between 1989 and 1990 and was Minister of State in the Department of Trade and Industry between 1990 and 1991. On 22 May of that year, he became Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms (Government Chief Whip in the House of Lords) under the next Prime Minister John Major, a position he kept until the 16 September 1993.

He later was president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club from 1993 to 2000.