- September 26, 1943
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Tim Schenken is an Australian former racing driver who recorded 36 entries (34 starts) in the Formula One World Championship between 1970 and 1974, scoring one podium, the third place in the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix.
Earlier in a career, Schenken was a champion in the British and French Formula 3 championships and British Formula Ford. He was also successful in sports car racing, taking the 1972 World Sportscar Championship title with Ferrari and recording five participations at 24 Hours of Le Mans. He scored one Le Mans podium in GT class, driving a Porsche 934 in 1976.
Tim Schenken was also one of two co-founders of the Tiga Race Cars company in 1974 in Great Britain, together with a fellow racer from New Zealand Howden Ganley.
Early success in junior open-wheel competitions
Born in September 1943 in Gordon near Sydney, Timothy Theodore Schenken spent a couple of seasons in Australian junior open-wheel competitions before moving to Europe in the late 1960s. His first success came in 1968 when he won both British Lombank Formula 3 Championship and British Formula Ford Championship. He also tried himself in some sports car races, driving a Ford GT40 at Monza and Spa but without any success.
In 1969, Schenken was sixth in the British Formula 3 but he won the French Craven A Formula 3 Championship, driving a Brabham BT28-Ford.
Formula 1 debut in 1970 with Frank Williams Racing Cars
In 1970, Schenken competed with Brabham BT30-Ford in the European Formula 2 Championship, finishing sixth in the points. In August 1970, he made a Formula 1 World Championship debut with Frank Williams Racing Cars.
Schenken's first F1 race was the Austrian Grand Prix at Österreichring. Driving the #26 De Tomaso-Cosworth, he retired with a broken engine after 25 laps. Frank Williams gave him an opportunity in three more races but the results were disappointing in all three. He recorded DNFs at Monza and Watkins Glen while in the Canadian Grand Prix he completed the insufficient number of laps to be classified.
In June 1970, Schenken visited Circuit de la Sarthe to made his debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans as a member of Matra factory team. He was listed as a part of several crews but didn't start the race.
Podium in the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix with Brabham
For the 1971 Formula 1 season, Schenken joined Jack Brabham's Motor Racing Developments to drive a Brabham BT33-Cosworth as a full-time driver alongside 42-year-old Graham Hill as his teammate. Schenken was more successful than Hill in that season, scoring points in two races against Hill's one points-paying finish.
Schenken took maiden F1 points by finishing sixth in the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring Nordschleife. In the next race, the Austrian Grand Prix at Österreichring, he finished in the third place, sharing a podium with Jo Siffert (1st, BRM) and Emerson Fittipaldi (2nd, Lotus). Schenken ended the season 14th in the classification, with five points on his account.
Outside F1, Schenken spent a season in the European Formula 2, scoring three podiums with Rondel Racing's Brabham BT36 and finishing fourth in the points.
Fantastic 1972 World Sportscar Championship season with Ferrari
In 1972, Schenken started a season with a victory at Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometers in the #30 Ferrari 312 PB, sharing a car with Ronnie Peterson. It was just a beginning of the great season because a month later he and Peterson finished second both at Daytona 6 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours.
The streak of good results continued in Europe where Schenken and Peterson finished second at Brands Hatch 1000 and third at Monza 1000. In May, they won Nürburgring 1000 Kilometers in the #3 Ferrari 312 PB. The fantastic season continued with third place at Zeltweg and ended with the second place at Watkins Glen 6 Hours. At the end of the season, Ferrari easily won World Sportscar Championship title.
A season with Surtees in Formula One
While achieving great sports car results with Ferrari, Schenken was also competing in the Formula 1 World Championship and many other Formula 2 events. In Formula 1, he spent a season with Team Surtees, driving a Surtees TS9B-Cosworth in eleven races and a new Surtees TS14 in season's finale at Watkins Glen.
He earned only points with a fifth-place finish in the season-opening Argentine Grand Prix at Buenos Aires. At the end of the season, he finished 19th in the points, two positions behind his teammate Andrea de Adamich.
Outside WSC and Formula 1 Championship, Schenken was third in the F2 tournament in Brazil and third in the International Gold Cup F1 non-championship race at Oulton Park.
Step back to Formula 2 in 1973
In 1973, Schenken left Formula 1 and returned in just one race with Frank Williams' team, finishing 14th in the season-closing Canadian Grand Prix. That year, Schenken spent a season in the European Formula 2 with Motul Rondel Racing, scoring one victory at Norisring but he was not eligible to fight for the title.
Schenken also gained some success in sports car racing in 1973. He and Carlos Reutemann finished second at Monza 1000 in a Ferrari 312 PB. In June, Schenken and Reutemann were partners at Le Mans 24 Hours in the #17 Ferrari 312 PB but they didn't finish the race.
The last Formula 1 season with Trojan
In 1974, Schenken made a return to Formula 1 World Championship with an Australian Ron Tauranac in his team Trojan-Tauranac Racing. Schenken started in six races and failed to qualify for one race. He was far from scoring points, finishing best in the tenth place in Belgium and Austria. For the season-closing US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Schenken joined Lotus. Although he was 27th in qualifying for the 26-car grid, he came to start and then he as disqualified.
Outside F1, Schenken raced part-time in Formula 2 European Championship and made few starts with Gelo Racing's Porsche 911 Carrera RSR in sports car events.
Co-founding Tiga Race Cars in 1974
In 1974, Tim Schenken also became a team owner as he and fellow racer Howden Ganley founded the Tiga Race Cars company. The company's name was formed by the first two letters of their names.
Based in the UK, the company built about 400 race cars for open-wheel and sports car competitions over the next fifteen years, until it was folded in 1989.
The front-runner in the European GT Championship
In 1975, Schenken left Formula 1 completely to expand his sports car racing commitments with German team Gelo Racing. He was driving team's Porsches or Mirage GR7 in different competitions, finishing second in the European GT Championship in a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR and third in the Interserie in a Porsche 917. At Le Mans, he and Howden Ganley didn't finish the race in the #59 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR.
In 1976, Schenken was again among the front-runners in the European GT Championship, finishing third in the points in a Porsche 934. He also scored two wins in the DRM (German Racing Championship) to finish fifth in the points.
GT class podium at 1976 Le Mans 24 Hours
The highlight of the season in 1976 was Schenken's podium at 24 Hours of Le Mans. He and Toine Hezemans were sharing the #57 Gelo Porsche 934, finishing 16th overall and second in Group 4/GT class.
Earlier that year, Schenken and Hezemans recorded one more great result, finishing second overall at Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers.
Ending a racing career in 1977
Tim Schenken's last competitive season was 1977. He spent it with Gelo Racing in the German Racing Championship and at Le Mans 24, driving a Porsche 935. He finished ninth in DRM classification with three podiums. At Le Mans, he didn't finish the race, sharing two cars with Toine Hezemans and Hans Heyer. The highlight of the season was a victory at Nurburgring 1000, together with Rolf Stommelen and Toine Hezemans in the #3 Porsche 935.
In his last season, Schenken had a double programme because he was also competing in the European Touring Car Championship, together with John Fitzpatrick in a Jaguar XJ12C, not scoring notable results.
Australian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee in 2018
In the post-race career, Tim Schenken worked in motorsport in many areas. Among other duties, he was a director of the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) and Clerk of the Course in some F1 Grand Prix events. In 2018, CAMS inducted him into the Australian Motorsport Hall of Fame. In June 2016, Tim Schenken was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division as part of the Queen’s Birthday honors.