Little-known former Grand Prix driver Richard Robarts is celebrating his 67th birthday today!
Essex-born Robarts was a Formula Ford club racer in the late 1960s and early 1970s, before he made the jump to Formula 3 competition, tying with Tony Brise in the Lombard Championship in 1973.
His F1 debut came about courtesy of buying the second race seat at Brabham in 1974, where he was to be team-mate to no less a driver than Carlos Reutemann.
In the season-opening Argentine Grand Prix, Robarts qualified 22nd, and climbed to 15th place in the race before retiring with gearbox woes. Contrastingly, Reutemann led the race, and was on the cusp of a famous win until he too retired.
It was a similar tale at the next round at Interlagos, and as the field headed to South Africa for the third round, he cheekily asked team boss Bernie Ecclestone if he could have some more publicity for his efforts. Ecclestone responded as on he does, by arranging for Robarts’ name to be printed in large letters on the side of the near-sponsorless car!
It made little difference, as Robarts qualified a lowly 23rd while Reutemann claimed fourth, with the Argentine going on to win the race. Robarts finished 17th, a full four laps down on his own team-mate. With the writing well and truly on the wall, Robarts was shown the door.
He was later given a one-off drive by Frank Williams at the Swedish Grand Prix (pictured above). Robarts managed to qualify the Iso Marlboro car 25th on the grid, but with team-mate Tom Belso having destroyed his car in practice, Williams gave Robarts’ car to Belso.
Now well and truly out of F1, Robarts stepped back to Formula 2 competition (which gave him no joy) and later joined the ShellSport Series.
[Images via F1 Rejects]