Brian Hart (1936-2014) was a British racing driver, an engineer and a founder of Brian Hart Limited, a company that built engines for Formula 1 teams. As a racer, he was active between 1958 and 1971. He founded his own engineering company in 1969 and worked in it until 1999.
Brian Hart pictured in 1996
Hart recorded one start in the F1 World Championship
Born in September 1936, Brian Hart started his racing career in 1958, driving a Lotus VI. Next year, he teamed up with Len Terry, driving his Terrier race cars in the following years over different single-seater competitions.
In the mid-1960s, Hart started to race in Formula 2 events in the UK and Europe, even driving for Lotus factory F2 team. He also participated in some non-championship F1 races with F2 cars.
In August 1967, he qualified for the Formula 1 German Grand Prix at Nürburgring Nordschleife, driving the #25 Protos-Cosworth for Ron Harris Racing. He completed twelve laps, three less than race winner Denny Hulme, not being classified in the official standings.
Brian Hart at 1967 German Grand Prix
Retiring from racing in 1971, focusing on an engineering career
Parallel to his racing commitments, Brian was working as an engineer, first in the De Havilland aircraft company in 1967 and then in Cosworth in 1968. He left Cosworth in 1969 to establish his own company Brian Hart Limited, continuing to work with Ford/Cosworth engines. As his engineering commitments started to grow, he retired from racing in 1971.
The Hart-tuned Ford FVA and BDA engines were very successful in Formula 2, helping Ronnie Peterson and Mike Hailwood to take championship titles in 1971 and 1972.
Brian Hart - an engine builder
Developing his first own engine in 1976
After several years working on Cosworth engines, Brian Hart developed his first engine in 1976. It was the 420R, which was first raced in Chevron sports cars and then in Formula 2 in the following years.
In 1980, the British team Toleman Motorsport dominated in the Formula 2 Championship using Hart engines, winning first two places with Brian Henton and Derek Warwick. That success initiated the next step – Formula 1 entry for Toleman.
Ayrton Senna and Brian Hart
Entering the Formula 1 world in 1981
In 1981, Toleman decided to enter Formula 1 World Championship with its reliable partner Hart. Brian Hart developed a turbocharged version of the 420R 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, named the 415T. The engine was initially underpowered and unreliable but it was good enough to establish Brian Hart Limited as regular F1 engine supplier for the next two decades.
Toleman was using Hart engines until 1985. Derek Warwick was the first to score points with Hart engines in 1983 while Ayrton Senna was the first driver to reach podiums, three times in 1984.
Brian Hart built F1 engines from 1981 to 1999
The long list of teams using Hart's engines
From 1984, the number of teams using Hart engines started to grow. During the 1980s, Hart was an F1 engine supplier to RAM Racing, Spirit Racing and Haas Lola. When turbo engines were prohibited at the end of 1988, Hart became a tuner of Cosworth engines again, working with Footwork/Arrows, Tyrrell, Larrousse and AGS.
He then designed his own naturally aspirated V10 engine in 1992, making a deal with Jordan for the 1993 F1 season. After two years with Jordan, Footwork/Arrows was using Hart engines from 1995 to 1999 and Minardi in 1997.
Tom Walkinshaw, who owned Arrows, also bought Brian Hart's company in 1997. Brian Hart stayed in a company until the end of 1999, then leaving due to some misunderstandings with an owner. Arrows itself went into bankruptcy in 2002.