Autosport (UK) - - INSIGHT -

WHILE RON­NIE PETER­SON was oc­ca­sion­ally the sub­ject of flir­ta­tions from Fer­rari in a For­mula 1 con­text, he did have a suc­cess­ful sea­son with the Pranc­ing Horse’s en­durance sportscar team in the 1972 World Cham­pi­onship for Makes. Along­side fel­low ris­ing star Tim Schenken, he won the 1000km races at Buenos Aires and the Nur­bur­gring aboard the 312 PB, and added four sec­ond places and two thirds. Had there been a driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship, the young duo would have trailed team leader and ac­knowl­edged sportscar mae­stro Jacky Ickx by just 12 points.

While Ickx usu­ally part­nered Mario An­dretti, and the Bel­gian’s F1 team-mate Clay Regaz­zoni joined the rapid and re­li­able Brian Red­man in the other car, it was an in­ter­est­ing choice by Fer­rari to part­ner Peter­son with fel­low young­ster Schenken.

But they com­ple­mented each other per­fectly.

“The thing with Ron­nie was that he wasn’t very good in set­ting a car up,” says Schenken, “so in the first cou­ple of races I did he’d go out and put a time in very quickly, and then I’d get in and I found it very dif­fi­cult to drive. So I would get the car nicely bal­anced and work­ing prop­erly and I’d think, ‘Oh my God he’s go­ing to an­ni­hi­late me’. And in fact he never re­ally went any quicker. What he’d tend to do was take it out of the car and the tyres and drive around what­ever the prob­lem might be.

“We were both about the same size, the seat was the same. We got on well. We al­ter­nated who started first. But the blokes to beat were An­dretti and Ickx. That was an in­cred­i­ble com­bi­na­tion.”

Schenken lived near Peter­son in the Maiden­head area (“Ron­nie was just a reg­u­lar guy, he’d be mow­ing the lawn, or mess­ing around with his fish tank – he was mad on trop­i­cal fish”) and saw the Swede in his new Monaco home just be­fore his fa­tal ac­ci­dent: “It was our son’s birth­day. Our son and Ron­nie and Bar­bro’s daugh­ter Nina were great friends. We were stay­ing in Monaco and cel­e­brated our son’s birth­day on Septem­ber 5. Brigitte [Schenken’s wife] and I went back to Lon­don, and Ron­nie drove to Monza, and that was the last time we saw him. He was just a reg­u­lar nice guy, not af­fected at all by his fame.”

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