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My Fleeting Foray into F1

Loris Kessell powers his MacDonald-run Brabham BT44B through Westfield, at Brands Hatch, during the 1976 Race of Champions. Photo: Peter Collins

When I attend race meetings, I am often sought by those collecting autographs. I think I must be on the list of one of the most obscure names in Formula One. As a small boy, and into my teens, my bedroom walls were littered with pictures of the great Jo Siffert. His races and the way he drove was something that left an indelible mark on me. I distinctly remember looking at a picture of him in a Formula One racing car and thinking to myself, “It would be a dream come true to drive in Formula One.”

None of my family had previously been involved or interested in motor racing. I started with my brother and a mechanic. We wanted to race but had very little money. It was better for us to have a small garage and employ a mechanic to help. The first problem was that Switzerland has a total ban on circuit motor racing. To race we had to go to Germany, France, Austria, and Italy. Purchasing a good transporter for the cars was essential. Sponsorship was another problem—no, or very few, Swiss companies were interested in financially backing anything to do with motor sport, mainly because of the ban. I first raced in 1970 with an Alfa Romeo Spider and then with a Fiat 128. In 1973, I began in Formula 3 followed by two seasons in Formula 2. I was always very quick in races but the lack of financial backing inhibited my progress.

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