Kenneth Henry 'Kenny' Acheson
- November 27, 1957
- United Kingdom
- Not Active
Kenny Acheson is a British former racing driver who recorded ten participations in Formula One Grand Prix events but he was more successful in the sports car racing. In 1987, he was Japanese Sports Prototype Endurance champion and then he scored three overall podiums at Le Mans 24 Hours with three different teams: Sauber Mercedes (1989), Silk Cut Jaguar (1991) and Toyota Team Tom's (1992).
Championship title in the first season of racing
Born in November 1957 in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, Kenneth Henry Acheson tried a race car for the first time in 1976, when testing father Formula Ford car at the local Kirkistown Circuit. In 1977, Kenny started his career in the Northern Irish Formula Ford 1600 Championship, immediately becoming a champion.
In 1978, Acheson moved to England and continued to race in the Formula Ford. He was extremely successful, winning 29 races in three different FF championships.
British Formula 3 vice-champion in 1980
In 1979, it was a time for Formula 3. Driving an old Ralt-Toyota and new March-Toyota for the RMC Group, Acheson scored six podiums in the Vandervell British F3 Championship to finish sixth in the points. He was successful in non-championship F3 races, winning the Radio Trent Trophy, John Player International Trophy and BARC TV Race.
In 1980, Acheson joined Murray Taylor Racing to drive March-Toyota in the Vandervell British Formula 3 Championship. He won five races and fought for the title until the last race, finishing second in the points and losing a title to Stefan Johansson.
Three seasons in the Formula 2
After two seasons in the Formula 3, it was a time for the European Formula 2 Championship in 1981. Acheson joined Docking Spitzley Racing to drive a Lola-Hart. Unfortunately, his season was interrupted by a big accident at Pau Grand Prix, when he suffered two broken legs in a crash with Michele Alboreto. Acheson returned to season's finale at Mantorp Park, where he scored his maiden F2 podium.
In 1982, Kenny returned to Formula 2 with Ralt Racing, driving a Ralt-Honda. He finished seventh in the final standings. For the 1983 F2 season, Acheson joined Maurer Motorsport and finished 10th in the points.
Seven attempts and just one Formula 1 start in 1983
In July, Acheson was invited to drive the #17 RAM March 01-Cosworth for RAM Automotive Team March in the Formula 1 British Grand Prix. He was the slowest driver in the field and didn't qualify for the race.
Later in the season, Acheson failed to qualify for five more Grand Prix races (Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Italy, Europe/Brands Hatch) and then finally made it to the grid in the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. He finished the race in 12th place, six laps behind race winner Riccardo Patrese (Brabham).
Four attempts, one start in the Indy Car World Series
In 1984, Acheson moved to North America, participating in four CART Indy Car World Series races with four different teams. He managed to qualify for one race only, driving the #47 March-Cosworth for GTS Racing at Meadowsland.
In 1985, Acheson moved to Japan and participated in the Japanese Formula 2 with Advan Sports Nova, scoring one victory and finishing third in the points. He also drove Reynard-Toyota at Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix for Nova Engineering, finishing in the 14th place.
Formula One return with Skoal Bandit F1 Team
The season 1985 was also marked by Acheson's return to Formula 1. Skoal Bandit F1 Team invited him to replace Manfred Winkelhock, who lost a life in August at FIA WEC race.
Acheson had a debut in the #10 RAM 03-Hart in the Austrian Grand Prix at Österreichring, retiring after 28 laps. He failed to qualify for the Dutch Grand Prix and then made his last F1 start in the Italian Grand Prix. Acheson retired after just two laps at Monza due to broken clutch.
Starting a sports car career in 1985
The season 1985 was also a milestone year for Acheson because he started his sports car career. In Japan, he was driving Porsche 962C for Advan Sports Nova at Fuji 1000km race in May, not finishing the race. He returned to Fuji in October to drive a Porsche 956B for Richard Lloyd Racing, again not finishing the race.
In Europe, Acheson was driving a Porsche 956B for John Fitzpatrick Racing at Monza and Le Mans. He failed to qualify for the 24 hours of Le Mans because of a crash during practice.
Japanese endurance champion in 1987
In 1986, Acheson continued to race in Japan with Team Ikuzawa, driving a Tom's-Toyota prototype in the Japanese Endurance Championship with Michael Roe as his co-driver. They finished 12th in the final standings.
Next year, Acheson became Japanese endurance champion driving a Porsche 962C for Advan Alpha Nova team. His full-time co-driver was Kunimitsu Takahashi. In five races, they were on a podium five times, including two wins.
Racing in Japan until 1988
While in Japan, Acheson also participated in the 1987 Formula 3000 Japan, driving a March-Cosworth for Advan Sport Tomei and finishing 15th in the points.
His last season in Japan was 1988 when he was driving a Porsche 962C for Omron Racing Team. Sharing a car with mostly with Price Cobb, he finished ninth in the overall classification of the Japanese Endurance Championship.
Joining Sauber Mercedes in 1988
In 1988, Acheson also joined Sauber Mercedes on two occasions. In July, he was supposed to drive Sauber C9 at Le Mans, but the team withdrew due to problems with tires.
First Le Mans podium in a Sauber C9
In 1989, Acheson joined Sauber Mercedes as a full-time driver in the World Sports-Prototype Championship. Driving a Sauber C9, he finally made a debut at Le Mans 24 Hours, finishing in the second place together with Mauro Baldi and Gianfranco Brancatelli.
Later in the season, Acheson and Baldi scored WSPC victories at Brands Hatch and Spa. Kenny finished fourth in the championship standings.
1990 – a season with Nissan Motorsports
At the end of 1989, Acheson was dropped by Sauber and he moved to Nissan Motorsports to drive Nissan R89C and R90CK in the World Sports-Prototype Championship. He and Julian Bailey finished third at Spa, what was their only podium that year.
1991 Le Mans podium with Silk Cut Jaguar
In 1991, Acheson joined Jaguar. He didn't manage to start at Daytona 24h and Sebring 12h with Bud Light/Jaguar Racing and then joined Silk Cut Jaguar/TWR at Le Mans 24 Hours. Sharing the #34 Jaguar XJR-12 LM with Teo Fabi and Bob Wollek, Acheson scored his second Le Mans podium by finishing in the third place.
Later that year, Acheson joined Team 0123 in two races of the Japanese Sports Prototype Championship, retiring at Suzuka and finishing 6th at Fuji in a Porsche 962C.
1992 – third Le Mans podium in a Toyota
In June, Acheson returned to Le Mans with Toyota Team Tom's, driving the #33 Toyota TS010. His partners were Masanori Sekiya and Pierre-Henri Raphanel. They finished in the second place, between two Peugeot 905s. The same crew participated in one more race in Japan, failing to finish at Suzuka 1000 Kilometers.
Last Le Mans attempt in 1995
In 1993, Acheson had a same schedule of races, driving for All American Racers at Daytona (DNF) and for Toyota Team Tom's at Le Mans (DNF).
After being out of racing in 1994, Acheson returned to Le Mans for his final attempt in 1995. He was driving the #26 SARD MC8-R for Japanese SARD team, sharing a car with Alain Ferte. They retired after just 14 laps.
Acheson's last ever race was the 1996 Daytona 24 Hours, where he was driving the #89 Lister Storm GTS. His partners were Geoff Lees and Tiff Needell. Late in the race, their car was hit by another car and destroyed. Luckily, Acheson was unhurt. After that accident, he decided to retire from racing.