Focus - Tony Rudd tribute 23 Aug 2003
The Formula One paddock in Hungary is mourning the death yesterday (Friday) of Tony Rudd, one of the foremost engineers in the sport during the heydays of the BRM team in the 1960s. Rudd, who lived in Norfolk, England, was 81 and died of a massive heart attack and stroke.
Fired by a passion for engineering and motorsport in his teens when he worked for Siamese Prince Chula's White Mouse Racing team in the 1930s, Rudd served an apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce but was seconded to BRM to help on matters of combustion when the Bourne team was trying to make its highly complex supercharged V16 Grand Prix challenger work in the early 1950s.
Subsequently Rudd stayed with BRM until an acrimonious parting of the ways in 1969. On the way he oversaw the team's first Grand prix victory, courtesy of Jo Bonnier in the 1959 Dutch Grand Prix, and designed the 1.5 litre V8 engine which took Graham Hill to his first world championship in 1962. The 1.5 litre formula that ran from 1961 to 1965 was BRM's apogee. For the new 3 litre formula that came into effect in 1966 Rudd created a massively complex H16 engine comprising two V8s flattened out and mounted one above the other with the crankshafts geared together. BRM's own P83 and P115 cars failed that year and in 1967, but the engine won the 1966 US Grand Prix in the back of Jim Clark's Lotus 43.
Rudd had a phenomenal workload at BRM; besides running the entire race team operation, which designed and built its own chassis, engine and gearbox, he worked on sportscar and roadcar projects too. After leaving at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1969, following the disappointing form of his latest V12-engined Formula One car, he went to work at Specialised Mouldings, designing and manufacturing some of the first glass-fibre racing car bodies. He and protégée Peter Wright then took their aerodynamics and composite materials expertise to TechnoCraft before moving on to Team Lotus, where they jointly harnessed ground effect in 1977 with the ground-breaking Lotus 78.
Later Rudd ran Lotus Engineering, working on automotive technologies. By 1987 he was Group Technical Director of Group Lotus and the deputy chairman of Lotus Engineering. One of his last Formula One projects was the secret design of a stillborn direct-injection turbocharged engine for Toyota in 1985.
When Team Lotus was rent apart in 1989 by the fallout of founder Colin Chapman's legal problems resulting from the liaison with John de Lorean, Rudd was brought back in to caretake the team through to its purchase in 1991 by former Benetton and Williams team manager Peter Collins, and his partner Peter Wright.
Collins yesterday described Rudd as: "A kindly and avuncular man, and a brilliant intuitive engineer who inspired others to great achievements."