Former F1 driver Jan Lammers is celebrating his 54th birthday today!
After winning the 1978 European F3 championship, this diminutive Dutchman made his F1 debut in 1979 with the Shadow team. The DN9 was not the marque’s finest, but Jan managed to qualify for all but three races that season, and achieved a highest-placed finish of 9th at the Canadian Grand Prix, which would turn out to be his best F1 finish.
For 1980, Lammers moved to the ATS team, failing to qualify for the opening three rounds until the team’s new D4 chassis arrived. He promptly managed to get on the grid at the next race at Long Beach, but his time with ATS would only last a further two races before he moved to the Ensign team, where he registered five DNQs in his eight appearances with the team.
He moved back to ATS for 1981, but only participated in the opening four rounds before he was on the sidelines again. For 1982, he found a drive mid-season with the little Theodore team, but he only made the grid once (pictured, at the Dutch GP) in six outings with the team before his F1 career seemed over for good.
A brief foray into IndyCars didn’t provide Jan with much success, but it was in sports cars where he finally achieved some success. Undoubtedly his greatest triumph came at the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours where he, along with Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace, broke the Porsche stranglehold on the event, winning in the Silk Cut TWR Jaguar after driving for 13 of the 24 hours of the race, all with a broken gearbox!
For this incredible feat – it was Jaguar’s first Le Mans win since 1957 – Jan was awarded a BRDC Honorary Membership, a title rarely awarded to non-British citizens. Lammers would also win the 1990 24 Hours of Daytona in a Jaguar XJR-12.
Then, in late 1992, Lammers was a surprise call-up back to F1 to drive for the financially-stricken March team, some ten years after his last F1 appearance with Theodore. It remains the longest gap between Grand Prix starts in the sport’s history. Little was expected and delivered from Jan in the races in Japan and Australia, but his F1 career and that of the March team came to an end when the team collapsed at season’s end.
After F1, Jan competed in touring cars before setting up the Racing for Holland enterprise, which competed in the FIA Sportscar Championship and also acted as the group that oversaw the Team Netherlands A1 Grand Prix team, for which he was the seat-holder.
[Original image via The Cahier Archive]