Wolf - Canada's own Formula One team 22 Jun 2006
Canada loves motorsport, and the country has given us the driving talents of both Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve. But this weekend's race will also spark memories of the time that Canada had a home team in Walter Wolf Racing - and one that took a memorable final victory in the Canadian Grand Prix 29 years ago.
Walter Wolf was a successful Austrian-born Canadian businessman who had made his fortune through oil drilling. A growing fascination for motorsport brought him to Formula One racing and, in 1976, he bought a controlling interest in Frank Williams Racing, which he then combined with the assets of the recently defunct Hesketh Formula One outfit. Harvey Postlethwaite was hired as chief designer, with driving duties handled by Jacky Ickx and Michel Leclere.
The Wolf-Williams FW05 failed to trouble the scorers all season, despite several changes in the driver line-up. At the end of the year Wolf split from Frank Williams, who went off to found Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd, the predecessor of the current Williams team. Wolf brought in Peter Warr, previously of Lotus, to manage the renamed Wolf Racing team for 1977 and lured Jody Scheckter from Tyrrell as lead driver.
The new team would turn out to be the big surprise of the season, with Scheckter taking victory in the first race of the season in Argentina. After a second in South Africa and two third places in the USA and Spain, the South African was soon leading the championship, a position he strengthened with another memorable victory in Monaco, beating Ferrari's Niki Lauda by a whisker to take a second win for Wolf.
As the season progressed, Lauda fought back with a series of dominant performances, and he had already been crowned drivers' champion before the Canadian Grand Prix, then the penultimate race of the year. But Scheckter was still racing for honour, if nothing else, and put in a strong performance to take himself from ninth on the grid to victory at the flag.
It was a race of attrition - 12 cars of the original 25 starters were classified as having finished, but of these only seven were still running at the flag. It would turn out to be Wolf's final Grand Prix victory, although it was enough to take the team to fourth place in that year's constructors' championship, with Scheckter taking second in the drivers' standings.
The Wolf team never enjoyed a similar level of success again, although it continued to race until 1980 before being sold to Emerson Fittipaldi.