Since the early days of Grand Prix racing many attempts were made to enter the Formula One and pre-war Grand Prix era. The period 1885 – 2021 contains over 650 Unraced projects. Every now and then new projects appear on the surface. To share with you all the stories i decided to summarize the stories per year. Don’t you worry, all the stories will be researched and eventually published. This is the summarized overview of the 1977 season.
In 1977 a new Swiss Formula One team appeared during the season on the grid. The name Apollon was the name of the sponsor a pharmacist. Loris Kessel formed the team, after he left the RAM team from John Macdonald. For 1977, Kessel asked Williams if they had a ride for him. However, Frank Williams did not. Eventually he offered Kessel to buy one of their old Williams FW03. Kessel approached Jolly club Switzerland, who were successfully active in the touring cars and rally, to enter the car. Former Ferrari designer Giacomo Caliri was hired as well to update the old FW03. Several adjustments were done, and the car ready to race.
The car was now in a white yellow livery rebranded as Apollon Fly and powered by the Cosworth V8. Their first attempt to appear on the grid was for the Belgium Grand Prix. Due to transport trouble, the car never arrived. The same happened for the Dutch and Austrian Grand Prix. During the French Grand Prix Loris wasn’t allowed to race. Eventually at Monza, the Apollon appeared on the track. There were not enough pit boxes so the team was forced to operate from a grass field. Kessel failed to qualify with the car. Eventually destroyed the tube in the last qualification session. It would be his last attempt to race in the Formula 1.
In 1976 the rumours appeared that BRM was working on a six-wheeler. Tyrrell showed with their P34 that six-wheels where profitable. The BRM six-wheeler would have the 2-4-0 concept and debut in 1977. Much info isn’t there. It is said that the team approached Jean-Pierre Jarier to race with the six-wheeler in 1977. It is questionable if this was pure PR or a real attempt. In 1976 the team only appeared at Brazil. What ever happened with the BRM six-wheeler is unknown. In 1977 they appeared with the BRM P202 and the P200..
Their last attempt would be the P230, as already covered here. BRM would not be the only one to deploy their ideas for a six-wheeler.
In success of Tyrrell, Ferrari worked on their own six-wheeler a totally different concept as the Tyrrell and the March 2-4-0. Ferrari their concept was to fit two rear-wheels to each other. In 1976, the first mentioned were made in the Italian media that Ferrari was working on a six-wheeler as well. While speculations were rising Ferrari did published anything about it. In March 1977 the info would be public that Ferrari developed the 312T6. The car was tested a couple of times by Niki Lauda at Naro and Fiorano. The Ferrari 312T6 has already been covered here.
March Cosworth 2-4-0
In the flow of Tyrrell also March started working on their six-wheeler concept. The march 2-4-0. Robin Herd putted four 16-inch front wheels to the rear-axel. The idea is to minimize the aerodynamic drag by increasing the contact. As March had not a good financial balance, the team used many parts they already had on their shelves. The team used the March 761-6 to adapt with a brand new gearbox and differential. Howden Ganley tested the car for the first time at Silverstone. Soon it became clear that the high loads twisted the housing and the gears were not interdigitate into each other. The team eventually removed the second rear axle drive.
In February 1977, Ian Scheckter tested with the March 2-4-0. The car had now a modified gearbox. Ian, as media said, was impressed by the cars performance on the track. Due to financial struggles, the team abandoned their six-wheeler project. It was not the last time the March appeared on the track though. In the hands of Roy Lane, the car actually won a hill climb race and scored several podium.
It seems that many don’t know about the McGuire BM1. The Australian Brian McGuire was to race with his own Formula One car a couple of races in 1977. Brian purchased the Williams FW04-02 already in 1975 and raced with it in the Shellsport International Series with decent success eventually. With a win at Thruxton.
He tried to qualify himself as well for the 1976 BRDC International Trophy. However, he was disqualified. For 1977, he would race again in the series. However, he was also on the entry list for the British Grand Prix. With his McGuire BM1. With the help of Mike Pilbeam the car was slightly redesigned. He failed to qualify himself for the Grand Prix and went back to the Shellsport series. Only six weeks after his attempt he crashed in the practice for the race held at Brands Hatch. He sadly did not survive the crash.