JONATHAN WIL­LIAMS

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature -

Wil­liams be­gan his rac­ing ca­reer in the early ’60s at the wheel of a Mini and, later, Austin A40 cars. From there, he moved up to For­mula Ju­nior, rac­ing a Mer­lyn-ford MKV. Af­ter that car was de­stroyed in a ma­jor crash at Monaco, Wil­liams moved into the Lo­tus 22 fea­tured on th­ese pages. His best re­sult in the Lo­tus came when he fin­ished fourth in the Au­to­bahn­spinne-ren­nen. Fol­low­ing that, Wil­liams raced in the new For­mula 3 (F3) cat­e­gory un­der the An­glo-swiss Rac­ing ban­ner along­side his friend Piers Courage. By 1965, both Wil­liams and Courage were rac­ing Brab­ham BT10S for Charles Lu­cas, with Wil­liams win­ning races at Zolder and Monza. Fol­low­ing those suc­cesses, Wil­liams joined the de Sanc­tis team for 1966. Vic­to­ries that year in­cluded the first of three wins in the fa­mous Monza Lot­tery Grand Prix (GP). Wil­liams had now caught the at­ten­tion of Fer­rari, and he joined the leg­endary Scud­e­ria in 1967, ini­tially to drive in For­mula 2. How­ever, that didn’t re­ally work out, and Wil­liams con­tin­ued to race his de Sanc­tis F3 car while also putting in a few stints in Fer­rari sports cars. Then came what would be his first and only op­por­tu­nity to race a For­mula 1 (F1) car. Hav­ing lost Lorenzo Ban­dini fol­low­ing a tragic crash at the Monaco GP, Fer­rari was down to a sin­gle F1 driver for the re­main­der of the 1967 sea­son — Chris Amon. For the end-of-sea­son Mex­i­can GP, Fer­rari fielded two cars for Amon, but, at the last minute, Enzo Fer­rari de­cided that both cars should run in the GP. Wil­liams, only 24 years old at the time, sud­denly found him­self at the wheel of a Fer­rari 312, a car he’d never driven prior to that day. As you can imag­ine, he was way off the race pace, qual­i­fy­ing in a lowly 16th po­si­tion and fin­ish­ing in eighth place. Fer­rari never gave him a sec­ond chance. Wil­liams re­mained ac­tive, mostly in sports car rac­ing, although many will more read­ily re­mem­ber the part he played in the Steve Mcqueen movie Le Mans, co-driv­ing the Porsche 908/02 cam­era car. Wil­liams re­tired from mo­tor sport in 1972, be­com­ing a pi­lot and, in later years, a writer and pho­tog­ra­pher, and died on Au­gust 31, 2014, aged 71. His au­to­bi­og­ra­phy — Shoot­ing Star on a Pranc­ing Horse — ap­peared a year later in Au­gust 2015. In the book, Wil­liams talks about the Lo­tus 22 he sold to a New Zealan­der. Wil­liams also made an ap­pear­ance in the documentary film Steve Mcqueen: The Man and Le Mans, which was re­leased some months af­ter his death.

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