The juweller Charles Goldenberg had got a more than modest prosperity in Paris of the thirties. He had been born in 1901 and at the age of only four years he had emigrated together with his parents from Russia, because the Jewish family had been confronted with a lot of reprisals. But when Hitler´s troops invaded in France in 1940 the situation for Goldenberg´s family became much more threatening. Meanwhile Goldenberg was married to French Huguette, who had given birth to three children within a few years two becoming famous all over the world later. In the streets of Paris fear was reigning, the Gestapo was everywhere and who was identified as a citizen of Jewish faith, disappeared in Ausschwitz or one of the other concentration camps. Goldenberg hid his children, but above all he had them registered under the maiden name of his wife: Cevert.

Albert Francois Cevert, born on 25th February 1944, became France´s best Grand Prix driver of the sebenties. He would have become world champion, long before Alain Prost had been able of thinking of it. His sister Jacqueline had been married to famous Jean-Pierre Beltoise, whose rise is inseparably connected with that one of technology group Matra. In 1964 Beltoise had been left at the rim of the track considered dead at the 12 Hours Endurance Race of Reims, he had been found by a marshal by chance, but then he had fallen into a koma for while. Inspite suffering under a serious handicap Beltoise, who also had been driving for Ken Tyrrell´s Matra International team, won his only Grand Prix at Monte Carlo in 1972 after his separation from the French make: It was the last victory for B.R.M., but the the first one for Sponsor Marlboro.

Ken Tyrrell´s connections to France to the state owned oil group elf are going back to the common Formula 2 days with Matra during the sixties. In 1969 Tyrrell´s Matra International team, already with elf as the main sponsor, had become world champions as the only private team in history both at the drivers and the constructors. Once being caught in the trap of international car groups´politics, Ken Tyrrell had to compete with bought March Ford 701s in the 1970 season. Francois Cevert replaced his fellow countryman Johnny Servoz-Gavin, who surprisingly had retired after the Monaco Grand Prix, at the side of Jackie Stewart. But during this year Ken Tyrrell made the decision to establish himself as a constructor in his own rights. The Derek Gardner designed Tyrrell Ford 001 (and it´s nearly the same way constructed sister cars 002 to 004) were a further development of the successful 1969 Matra Ford MS80. Already in their first complete season Tyrrell won the worldchampionship, a thing only done before by the team of Mercedes-Benz, who had been able to rely on their pre-war experiences, back in 1955. In 1971 Tyrrell also won the constructor´s title, a competition existing only since 1958. Francois Cevert won his only Grand Prix of his career with the Tyrrell Ford 002 at Watkins Glen of New York State in 1971, as the first Frenchman since the legendary Maurice Tritingnant in a Cooper Climax in Monaco 1958.

For 1972 Derek Gardner, who had worked before at Ferguson designing transmissions and later at the four-wheel-drive Matra Ford MS84, followed the original concept of the Tyrrell Ford. The 005, that existed in a few different versions, was very, very similar to the Lotus Ford 72, especially the version with the wedge-shaped nose and it´s lateral water radiators. But this model had been presented in a modified shape to the public in spring 1972. At this time the 005 was supplied with the by a 2.0 litre Chevron inspired revolutionary sportscar nose (that Gardner had presented for the first time in Zandvoort 1971 for the 003 model), a water radiator in the front section and two oil radiators at it´s sides. Later there was also one version with one front oil radiator and two lateral water radiators and another one with one front water radiator and the oil radiators under the rear wing. Until spring 1973 the model designation of the Tyrrell Fords always had been identical with the chassis number. That changed, when Jackie Stewart had a very heavy accident in the fast Crawthorne Curve during the same year´s South African Grand Prix practice caused by a collapsed brake line. For the first time for years the team had got no spare car available (because such a one never had been neccessary before) and so Jackie Stewart had to take over the 006 of Francois Cevert. The Frenchman entered Stewart´s repaired 005, but he was last on the the grid with no time driven, because he formally had not driven an identical car as demanded by the sporting regulations. Stewart had qualified only 17th place with the 006, but he won the race. In April 1973 the 005/006s were able to be adopted to the new safety regulations (with lateral, fireproof crumble zones, safety fuel tanks of a maximum capacity of 80 litres and a minimum weight of the car of 575 kg) as the Lotus Ford 72, while most of the other competitors had to construct new cars for this reason. During it´s whole career the 005 to 006/3 cars had got massive problems especially with the front brakes, that were inside the chassis similar to that ones of the Lotus Ford 72, but because of the sportscar nose they did not ever receive enough air for cooling. Like the 001 before the 005 had got a difficult debut: Both at the first outing with Cevert in Clermont Ferrand 1972 as the next practice appearance under Stewart at Brands Hatch accidents happened to prevent the car drom being raced. In Zeltweg the same year Stewart stayed a long time in the lead, before a tyre problem made him drop down 7th place. But at the end of the season he scored two consecutive wins at Mosport and Watkins Glen.

Jackie Stewart, suffering under an ulcer in 1972 and therefore leaving out the Belgian Grand Prix held at Nivelles (to become second in that year´s worldchampionship in spite of that), was considered being the favourite for the 1973 title together with the Lotus drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson. But at that time Francois Cevert became more and more a competitor of the same level as the best racing automobilist in the world of that period. In 1973 Stewart won five Grand Prix, in Monaco he reached Jim Clark´s world record of 25 victories to bring it up to 27 at the Nuerburgring. It should take 14 further years to break this record again, until Estoril 1987 with Alain Prost with the McLaren TAG. Inspite a puncture Jackie Stewart came home fourth in the 1973 Italian Grand Prix to win his third and last worldchampionship, something that only had been done before by Fangio and Jack Brabham. For Helen, Jackie´s red-blond wife, elf Team Tyrrell was "the happiest team in Formula One." The mechanic and the bank clerk from Scotland were the most glamorous couple in the international world of sports, not like the Schumachers or the Hakkinens later, but more like David and Victoria Beckham, the star footballer and the Spice Girl. Francois Cevert, first being together with Brigitte Bardot, then with the young duchess Cristina, once thrown out of his family by his father Charles, then highly respected, was as popular as the movie stars Yves Montand and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Eighty per cent of his fan letters were written by women. elf Team Tyrrell, the state owned group from France and the private enterpreneur from England, Entente Cordiale and Rhapsody in Blue, was sport and noble society the same time. Ken Tyrrell, the Jean Todt and Ron Dennis of his epoque, gentleman, but also woodcutter, especially loved two Grand Prix: Austria and Sweden, the Oesterreichring at Zeltweg and the Scandinavian Raceway of Anderstorp, rustic with a lot of forests, but very far away from the hectic civilization of the big cities. Tyrrell´s famous blue racing cars were built in a wooden shed in East Horsley, a little village in the county of Surrey full of forests, but the metroplis of London is not far away. Before the 1973 United States Grand Prix the threetimes world champion Jackie Stewart was before his 100th Grand Prix, Tyrrell before the repeated win of the constructors´worldchampionship and Francois Cevert had got chances to win the second place in the drivers´championship. Stewart was a master of the perfect analysis and also of high diplomacy. His retirement from active competition he had planned exactly for this 100th Grand Prix of his career one year before, as the most important representative of engine partner Ford in their home country and under US-American conditions ahead of their Detroit headquarter´s door. Only Ken Tyrrell and Ford director Walter Hayes had been involved exclusively in the perfect prepared retirement from the tracks of the world, but not Jackies´s wife Helen. Even at Watkins Glen Ken Tyrrell had signed a contract with Baby Bear Jody Scheckter for 1974. At that time it was usual for the highly paid Grand Prix of Canada and of the USA ( already the United States Grand Prix winner won the at that time enormous prize money of 50 000 $) the teams´third cars to be entered with an additional driver. Tyrrell´s third man for those cases was Patrick Depailler since 1972, already in the Alpine Renault Formula 3 car supported by elf. But France´s new hope had sustained a complicated leg fracture being involved in an accident with a private moto cross motorcycle making him stay out of motorracing for many months. Francois Guiter, as the head of elf´s motorsport programmes also the partner of Ken Tyrrell, first got very angry and then he sacked the adventurer from Clermont Ferrand. Later a terrible tragedy forced Guiter to revise this release. For this reason the highly talented, but throughout his whole career luckless operating Chris Amon was driving the Tyrrell Ford 005 at the side of Jackie Stewart (006/2) and Francois Cevert in the 006.

 

Robert Kenneth Tyrrell won his last Grand Prix in Detroit 1983 with Michele Alboreto, a Ford normally-aspirated engine among the crowd converted to turbocharged units meanwhile, and for the first time with Benetton even as a commercial sponsor. But he remained in Grand Prix Racing for further 15 years with repectable successes and he discoverd a lot of new driver talents as well as new sponsors. At the end of 1997 he sold his team to British American Racing ("I am leaving Formula One without debts.") and declared his retirement as a team principal for the end of 1998. But when the BAR director Graig Pollock signed up with the lowly talented Ricardo Rosset as the team mate of Tora Takagi, Tyrrell´s immidiate resignation was a question of principles. As the president of the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) he occupied one of the most important honorary offices in the whole United Kingdom after that. Ken Tyrrell, suffering under cancer for while, died on the 25th August 2001 at the age of 77 years, only a few days before the terrorist attacks of the USA and on the same day as America´s young soul lady Aaliyah Dana Haughton. His blond wife Norah, who the former flight engineer had married shortly after World War II, for many years managing director of Team Tyrrell , followed him only a few months later, she also suffered under cancer.

John Young Stewart, first worked as a representative of his sponsors and as a journalist after his retirement. In 1996 he founded the team of Stewart Grand Prix together with his older son Paul, a former racing driver and political scientist, being the base of Jaguar Racing for 2000. Jackie Stewart is Officer of the British Empire (O.B.E.), an engineering science´s doctor of honour and he also was knighted. He also won a Grand Prix as a constructor with Johnny Herbert in the cockpit at the Nuerburgring in 1999. Sir Jackie himself, his wife Helen and his son Paul survived different cancer deseases in 2000. Sir Jackie is still an advisor for Ford, to whome he is relied through a contract for life, his younger son Mark showed good performances being an actor also in plays by William Shakespear.

Derek Gardner remained designer at Tyrrell until 1977, but he had to leave the team after the deep fall of the P34 sixwheeler project (caused by Goodyear´s refuse to give further development to the ultra-small front tyres for only two cars in the field). The Briton went back to Ferguson to design transmissions, a job, that he ever had expressed to be his great passion. He never attended a Grand Prix, but for a while he is looking after his Tyrrell Ford 005/006 and also the P34 at historic race meetings.

elf stayed as sponsors of Team Tyrrell until 1978, from 1977 on, together with the US-American bankers of First National City. From 1979 on the French oil group concentrated exclusively on the works cars of Renault to become a co-sponsor again, when Tyrrell was supplied with Renault turbo engines in 1985 and 1986 as well as Lotus and Ligier. Being successful during the nineties with Williams Renault they made a merger with their rivals of Total and FINA . With the return of the Renault works cars in 2001 elf also is back to Grand Prix Racing.

Jo Ramirez, who once had come to Europe together with the Rodriguez brothers at the beginning of the sixties, was, as Francois Cevert´s mechanic, one of only 25 employees Team Tyrrell was consisting of. Later he became a team manager at ATS and Fittipaldi, at McLaren he was, as their team co-ordinator, also the right hand of Mika Hakkinen for many years. When the Fin retired at the End of 2001, the meanwhile 60 years old Ramirez also retired after 40 years in international motorsport. Today Ramirez works as a journalist.

 

The Bridge at Watkins Glen is no overpass in the original sense like in Suzuka for instance. The right-left combination, up the hill, with a drop and the safety barriers very close to the track, was nearly 265 km/h fast. Niki Lauda writes in his first book* appearing in 1975: "In this curve there are unbelieably dangerous kerbs, that´s touching can be fatal. Eye-witnesses told about Cevert´s accident, that Francois had been a little too much on the left side to touch the kerb getting a bump from it. At the bridge this bump forced the car going right too much, both the right side wheels touched the safety barrier there making the car getting a spin movement. Then it was driven to the other side to crash into the barrier at nearly a 90° angle. Then I saw the whole monocoque standing under the barrier - it had uprooted and lifted the barriers. Only the back wheels were at the track´s side." Like the legendary Graham Hill Francois Cevert flew a Piper and night flights he loved more than anything else. In Watkins Glen he met the destiny of Saint-Exupéry´s desperate heroe Fabien. Ken Tyrrell withdrew the cars of Stewart and Amon, because the happy end could not happen anymore. Francois Cevert had never known his great idol Jackie Stewart to retire making himself becoming number one in the best Grand Prix team of the world. Francois had collided in Mosport with Jody Scheckter in the third McLaren shortly before, one of the many accidents in 1973 the South African was, at minimum, party responsible for. The Tyrrell Ford 006/3, as a spare for the heavily in Canada damaged 006 brought to the USA by air treansportation, was totally destroyed at it´s first outing. Also thirty years later Cevert´s accident would not be a crash to survive. Albert Francois Cevert, son of Jewish juweller Charles Goldenberg, once had done his military service in Germany and for the short time staying there, he had spoken the language of his host country pretty good. On 11th October he was buried in St Germain, on the same day as ninetimes long distance gold medalist Paavo Nurmi. The Finn had become 76 years of age, Francois Cevert had not been able to celebrate his 30th birthday, but in the hearts of his millions of fans he really is France´s first world champion. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry´s heroes are immortal.

 

* Cf.:
Niki Lauda
FORMEL 1
Technik und Praxis des Grand-Prix-Sports
Verlag Orac / Motorbuch Verlag
Wien / Stuttgart 1975
ISBN 3-85368-817-9

pp. 144 f.

 

 

Graphics by project * 2000 , © 2003 by researchracing

 

 

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