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Howden Ganley

Full Name:
James Howden Ganley
24th December 1941 (Age 78)
Hamilton, North Island
New Zealander
Most recent race (in database):

This New Zealander made it to Formula 1 through sheer hard work and graft. He raced at that level for three and a bit seasons during which time he started 35 Grands Prix. He finished no higher than fourth but was little more than half a second from winning a GP on another day.

Early racing career

Inspired by watching "B.Bira" win the 1955 New Zealand GP at Ardmore, he began racing in 1959 and moved to England three years later to further his career. With precious little money, Ganley worked as a gofer for McLaren and as a mechanic at a racing school. He was then crew chief for Skip Scott and Peter Revson during the 1966 Can-Am season.

Finally in 1967, he had enough money to buy a Formula 3 Brabham BT21-Ford and he raced in the category for three seasons without victory. His breakthrough came after graduating to the 1970 European Formula 5000 Championship with a works-assisted McLaren M10B-Chevrolet. The New Zealander won the F5000 class of the Oulton Park Gold Cup F1 race and finished as runner-up in the series behind Peter Gethin.

Formula 1 with BRM

The 29 year old joined BRM for the 1971 F1 season. Placed in several non-championship races (including second at Oulton Park), Ganley was involved in the closest mass finish in GP history at Monza. He finished in fifth position to earn his first championship points when just 0.61 seconds covered the top five. His improving form was confirmed by fourth in the United States GP at Watkins Glen.

As well as another season with BRM, during which Ganley was fourth in Germany, he finished second in the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hours with François Cevert and a Matra-Simca MS670 in a 1-2 for the marque.

Formula 1 with Williams

He moved to Frank Williams’ Iso/Marlboro F1 team in 1973 but struggled. Sixth position in Canada earned Ganley his only point of the season. Second in the Spa-Francorchamps 1000Kms during his parallel campaign with John Wyer’s Gulf Mirage M6-Ford was welcome relief.

F1 finale with March and Maki

Ganley began 1974 in a March 741-Ford but was replaced by Vittorio Brambilla and Beta Tools sponsorship after the South American races. Instead, he accepted an offer from F1 newcomers Maki but the Japanese concern’s Ford-powered chassis proved a disaster. He failed to qualify for its debut at Silverstone and suffered fractured feet and ankles when the suspension broke on his first full lap during German GP practice.

That spelt the end of his F1 career but he was second in the 1975 Nürburgring 1000Kms with Georg Loos’s private Mirage-Ford. Ganley then raced in Can-Am before retiring as a driver in 1978.

By that time he had formed Tiga Race Cars with fellow Antipodean Tim Schenken and the company built F2, F3, Formula Ford 2000 and sports cars until it was sold in 1987.

Championship seasons