- November 14, 1945
- United States
- Not Active
Brett Lunger is a former racing driver from the United States who has competed in the various sports cars and formula racing categories. He recorded 34 starts in Formula One World Championship races between 1975 and 1978, scoring no wins or podiums. Prior to F1, he was successful in the North American Formula 5000, finishing in the top 3 for two years in a row.
Robert Brett Lunger was born on November 14, 1945, in Wilmington, Delaware. His racing career started relatively late. It was an era when the racing was extremely dangerous as the safety measures were at the very low level.
However, it was nothing for the brave man who served in the US Marine forces during the Vietnam War. His squadron operated even behind the enemy lines, so the risk on the race track was nothing to the one he survived in the war.
Another interesting fact is that Lunger left studies of political science at Princeton University to serve in the army while preparing a thesis on US policy in Southeast Asia. As one of the heirs of enormously rich DuPont family, he could have an easy going life but Brett chose to live on his own.
“I had gone to private boarding schools and left Princeton to join the Marines. My parents were pretty unhappy about that,” recalls Lunger.
Lunger always was passionate about the cars. Before the war, he raced as a privateer driving a Chevrolet Corvettes. He has competed in the Can-Am Series, as well in the Formula 5000. He could afford any car that he wanted but that wasn’t enough for success. However, he finished 3rd in L&M Continental Championship in 1971 and 1972.
After considerable success in the US, Lunger decided to try his luck in Europe. He spent two years competing in Formula 2 Championship but the results weren’t brilliant. The 4th position in the race at Mantorp Park in Sweden was his best result during two years. In parallel, he drove in the Formula 5000 in Europe and in the US with considerable success, so in 1974 Brett finished 5th in the SCCA/USAC Formula 5000 Championship.
Making a debut in Formula 1 Lunger reached the peak of his career. His brother Dave as well friend Rod Campbell played a decisive role in securing him a chance in F1 as they secured the financial backing. He was a teammate of James Hunt in Hesketh Racing team in the last three races of the season. Lunger’s first race was the Austrian Grand Prix in which he finished 13th. In the next race at Monza, American driver was 10th and in the final race of the season, the US Grand Prix, he had to retire.
The start of the Formula 1 career wasn’t promising. However, Lunger was ready to fight and in 1976 he became a driver of the less competitive Surtees Team where his teammate was a future champion, Alan Jones. That year was really one to forget as the results were awful. Lunger finished the season without points with 10th place in the Austrian Grand Prix as the best result.
Nevertheless, in 1976 Lunger became a kind of hero. During the 1976 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, Niki Lauda had a horrible crash. His Ferrari was in flames and Austrian driver was stuck in the cockpit. Lunger stopped his car, as well Harald Ertl, Arturo Merzario, and Guy Edwards, to get Lauda out of the wreck. They were brave and resolute to help his colleague and their act saved Lauda’s life.
Lunger left Surtees at the end of the year and signed with B&S Fabrications, a small English team. Despite having a relatively good car, the results again were pretty bad. Brett simply needed more racing experience. It was like he skipped a several grades and was put in the top class and had to overcome all the lessons of his own. In 1977 Lunger again was unable to pick a single point, with 9th place in the Dutch Grand Prix as the best result.
He stayed with the team for 1978 campaign but almost nothing has changed. Lunger’s points column again stayed empty but he scored three top 10 finishes what was a sign of small improvement. For the last race of the year, the US Grand Prix, he was driving for Ensign where his teammate was another future champion, Nelson Piquet. At the same time, it was Lunger’s last F1 race. Later he continued to compete for a while in the Sports Cars Racing in the US.
After the retirement from the racing, Brett completed his degree at Princeton and also worked as a Formula 1 TV commentator. Lunger is also a businessman, passionate cyclist and marathon runner, and also a pilot involved in a charity work with Angel Flight Network.