Brian McGuire? Who’s Brian McGuire you might ask?
I have to admit to not knowing who he was either until I read Joe Saward’s excellent blog post on the 8th December 2018.
Despite never driving for the Williams Formula 1 team Brian McGuire, a friend & compatriot of future Williams World Champion Alan Jones, was the first person ever to win a race in a Williams Formula 1 car.
Not Clay Regazzoni – he gets the kudos of being the winner of Williams’ first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix at the 1979 British Grand Prix.
But three years prior to that, a Williams car was being driven to victory by Australian Brian McGuire in the Thruxton round of the 1976 Shellsport International series.
Okay, so it’s not a Grand Prix, but a race win it is nontheless.
The Shellsport International Series was a UK based series that allowed F1, F2 and F5000 cars to compete alongside each other, and boasted a strong field, containing a host of past, current and future F1 stars such as Eddie Cheever, David Purley, Alan Jones and Divina Galica.
McGuire bought from Williams both FW04s the team used to compete in the 1975 Formula 1 World Championship, and as Wolf-Williams (following Walter Wolf’s buy-in to the Williams team) a single round the following year.
It was these FW04s he used in his Shellsport International campaigns.
‘Hang on a minute’, you’re probably saying to yourself. ‘I thought Williams were founded in 1977?’
And you’d be perfectly correct!
Williams Grand Prix Engineering was indeed founded in 1977. The FW04, prior to Wolf’s involvement in 1976 was entered by ‘Frank Williams Racing Cars’, a previous incarnation of Williams, which subsequently became Wolf-Williams.
Then when Sir Frank and Walter Wolf fell out, a new team: Williams Grand Prix Engineering, completely distinct to Wolf, was born.
So you might argue that the FW04 wasn’t a Williams at all. And although I like a good argument, on this occasion I wouldn’t argue with you. It technically isn’t.
But it sort of is.
McGuire would go on to finish 8th in that season’s Shellsport International Series with his FW04s.
He stuck to the Shellsport International Series for 1977, along with entering his modified FW04s, now renamed McGuire BM1, into that year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Alas, he failed to qualify.
Sadly, Brian McGuire was killed when he lost control of his Williams FW04/McGuire BM1 during practice for the Brands Hatch round of the Shellsport International Series on August Bank Holiday Monday 1977.
Approaching the fast left-hander at Stirlings, McGuire suffered brake failure, he clattered the outer wall hard, and he was killed instantly.
His car also collected three marshals stood nearby, one of whom also later died in hospital.