In a sport that has seen over 150 different teams compete, there have been many that have become house hold names in the sporting world. Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Lotus are just a few that have made their mark on the sport and all have their legions of fans in every corner of the world.
But what about those teams who had a name that only a mother could love? The teams that you often had to take a second glance at the start list to see if that actually WAS their name.
With the recent speculation that a team known as ‘Scorpion Racing’ was in talks to reestablish the defunct HRTF1 Team, we thought what better time to look at the most bizarre team names in the history of Formula 1!
The criteria for these teams are that they must have been a ‘constructor’, rather than simply using an ‘off-the-shelf’ customer chassis. Teams in the Indy 500 have also not been included.
10. HRT F1 Team
Although technically the team’s name is actually Hispania Racing Team (or HRTF1 Team), for many it was always referred to as simply HRT. The Spanish team entered the sport as one of three new teams in 2010, and were originally referred to as ‘Campos Meta’ after collaboration between Adrian Campos and Enrique Rodriguez of Meta Image. They were then rebadged as Hispania Racing in the lead up to 2010 after being taken over by Jose Ramon Carabante.
So why is the name on the list? Well, HRT can mean a few things. For many in Australia it’s synonymous with the Holden Racing Team that is at the forefront of the V8 Supercar championship.
For others, it could also refer to ‘Hormone Replacement Therapy’, a common treatment during menopause and in gender reassignment surgeries. It’s funny to think that a team that lasted three years in the sport could be mistaken for something treated with menopause, which as we know only happens after a long period of time.
9. Onyx Grand Prix
The first thing that comes to mind when Onyx is mentioned might just be the Pokemon of the same name. Perhaps not, that of course depends on how old you are or if you have kids who know what on earth you are talking about.
If it’s not a Pokemon, then maybe its the caves called ‘Onyx Caves’ in the US, the professional wrestler from the WWE, the semiprecious gemstone, or even the ally of Batman in the DC Comics universe? There was even a world tour from pop star Britney Spears called ‘The Onyx Hotel Tour’ in 2004. No matter which one you think of when you hear the word Onyx, any team that has a Pokemon named after it deserves a spot on this list.
In fact, Onyx Race Engineering was a fairly successful single-seater team during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and attempts by its founders Mike Earle and Greg Field to enter the sport were seen as early in 1981 as they took a privately owned March to the sport.
However, it wasn’t until the end of the decade when Onyx Grand Prix became a constructor in its own right, and had two fairly average seasons, although they manage a flukey podium finish at the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix at the hands of Stefan Johansson. The team, however, didn’t make it to the end of 1990 (by which point it was called a Monteverdi Onyx!) and withdrew from the sport.
8. Leyton House Racing
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘Leyton House’? Not sure about you, but we picture a certain former World Tennis number 1 sitting by his pool, sipping on a cocktail as his wife Bec swims in a bikini in front of him. Ok, that’s probably just us, but any team with the word ‘house’ in its name surely deserves a spot on this list, right? Given a house with wheels on it probably would’ve done a better job on track, it seems fitting that they take number eight on our list.
After serving the preceding three years as a naming rights sponsor, Leyton House raced in 1990 and 1991 as a constructor, born from the ashes of the old March team (which narrowly missed out on a spot on this list themselves).
The team was derived from a Japanese real estate company and in its two seasons, Mauricio Gugelmin and Ivan Capelli struggled, only bringing in 8 points, with the pinnacle being a near-win at the 1990 French Grand Prix (pictured right).
Even the addition of Karl Wendlinger (the driver who dominated Michael Schumacher in some of his junior categories) couldn’t help Leyton House, and the name vanished at the end of 1991 after its owner, Akira Akagi, was arrested. It reverted to the March name in 1992, but collapsed at the end of the year in a mountain of debts.
7. Virgin Racing
Just as HRT were admitted into the 2010 season as one of three new teams, so were Virgin Racing. Initially starting off as Manor Grand Prix, the team found themselves being bought out by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group after the entrepreneur spent a year as sponsor of the championship-winning Brawn team in 2009.
Virgin Racing struggled in its two-year existence, failing to score a point and not doing the long term career prospects of veteran Timo Glock any justice. The team was bought out and rebranded as Marussia from 2012 onwards and continues to race in Formula One.
Perhaps the name is the reason why they were so unsuccessful? Just like a Virgin they were inexperienced, didn’t seem to know what they were doing and were finished before they could ever really get going. Branson should’ve stuck to sponsoring Brawn’s current guise of Mercedes, at least they have won a race since changing their name.
6. RAM Racing
Despite the team only ever running their own car in 1983, 1984 and 1985, we just sneak in RAM to our list. The team in fact competed in the sport from 1976 onwards, but used other chassis such as ones from Brabham, March and even Williams before 1983.
Results for the team were very few and far between, failing to score any points during their time in the sport. They did manage, however, to give the brother of Gilles Villeneuve and uncle of Jacques Villeneuve, Jacques Sr., his one and only F1 outing at the 1983 Canadian Grand Prix. He failed to qualify.
You would expect a team with the name of RAM to perhaps try and avoid accidents, otherwise an easy nickname could be placed on them, right? Well that’s exactly what they didn’t do when the car was in the hands of Frenchman Philippe Alliot during the 1984 and 1985 seasons. In the 26 races he qualified in, 22 of them resulted in retirements and out of those 22 retirements, six were due to accidents. While that may not exactly scream ‘Romain Grosjean’, he still had the distinction of driving for a team that should’ve been avoiding accidents at all costs.
5. Wolf (Walter Wolf Racing)
A Wolf in sheep’s clothing? Seems fitting for the team that shocked everyone with victory on debut, a feat that wouldn’t be repeated until 2009 with Brawn GP.
In all seriousness, however, teams being named after animals just don’t seem to fit into the sport. Even the current benchmark of Red Bull Racing could be on this list, and probably would sit comfortably in the Top-20 if we were to extend this list that far. The jokes are apparent for any team bearing the name of an animal, and that sees Wolf take a spot at number five.
Running from 1977 to 1979, they actually won the very first Grand Prix they entered when Jody Scheckter famously brought home his WR1 to win the 1977 Argentine Grand Prix (pictured left).
Another two victories would follow for Scheckter that season, before a couple of podiums in 1978 saw the South African depart for Ferrari in 1979. In the hands of future World Champions James Hunt and Keke Rosberg the following year, the team failed to score any points, and it left the sport at the end of the season.
4. Token Racing
Token only took part in four Grands Prix in 1974, failing to qualify for one of them and not scoring any points. The team in fact was actually intended to be the promotion of successful Formula Two team Rondel Racing into Formula One, a team that was founded by one Ron Dennis.
However, with the energy crisis of 1973 this never materialised, and the car was placed in the hands of Ray Jessop instead. Up-and-coming driver Tom Pryce made his debut in a Token during the 1974 Belgian Grand Prix, but the team folded at the end of the season after equally unsuccessful outings for David Purley and Ian Ashley.
You could list them as the ‘token failure’ of this list. There is nothing spectacular about a name as bland as Token. You think of something you pick up and put in a machine, or something you collect in order to exchange for a soft toy at the carnival. Maybe that’s what they could’ve done with their cars? At least they would’ve won something…
3. Super Aguri F1
Super Aguri seemingly came out of nowhere. A few talks in early 2005 from the team started by Aguri Suzuki led to a last-minute entry for the 2006 season, and through numerous battles along the way they lined up on the grid in time for the Australian Grand Prix of that season.
It seemed the team was set up purely to give Honda refugee Takuma Sato a race seat, with the team entering a partnership to use Honda engines over the three years they were in the sport. The team infamously gave Yuji Ide his four-race stint in the sport and also provided one of the moments of the 2007 season when Sato overtook then-reigning champion Fernando Alonso for sixth place in the Canadian Grand Prix. Only four points were scored in their history, and the team folded after only four races in 2008.
Having the word ‘super’ in your title makes you sound like a wannabe superhero if you ask us. And it’s not like they were actually that super to begin with. Aguri Suzuki was an average driver during his time in F1, so not even adding a word in front of his name made him any better. They did seemingly show up the three new teams that entered the sport in 2010 by actually SCORING points, and Sato’s move on Alonso has to go down as one of the most memorable moves in the last decade. But no, just no.
2. Trojan (Trojan-Tauranac Racing)
A company that sells vans entering Formula One? That’s almost reason enough to put them on this list.
Trojan actually entered Formula One with a long history, having been founded in 1914 as Trojan Limited. The company decided it was time to have a go at the sport, and given its key market was designing delivery vans, it was a big step.
As part of getting closer to running their own team, the company would design several McLarens in the early 1970s before finally becoming a constructor in their own right in 1974. They would compete in eight Grands Prix and give Australian Tim Schenken his final eight races of his short career, scoring no points and having a best finish of tenth.
Certainly, the Trojan T103 looked like a van. Perhaps that’s why it was appropriate that a name synonymous with hiding people inside it in order to sneak into enemy territory should have a car that looked like it left a few of its mechanics inside to turn the wheels and work the gears. It could also be seen as the modern take of the word, infecting a computer with malicious intent. Although the only infecting being done was that on people’s eyes at the race track. It was certainly no Trojan Horse…
Remember the movie The Mummy and those little black beetles that would come out of tombs and turn people into a rotten corpse? That’s generally what comes to mind when you hear the word Scarab.
A team named after a small bug is never going to be remembered for anything good, and even if they had of become a powerhouse in the sport, it’s hard to image people flocking to races wearing giant beetles on their t-shirts and waving beetle flags. Maybe it was an attempt to cash in on the Beatles mania? Both began in 1960, but only one would go on to world domination.
The short-lived career of this American team lasted only until the end of its first year. They attempted to race in five Grands Prix, but only managed to start one race, and the fact the L4 used front-mounted engine when everyone else had adopted a rear- engine placement didn’t help their cause. The cars were certainly pretty, but hopelessly out of date.
Three drivers attempted to race for the team and only American Chuck Daigh would successfully qualify for his home race at the Riverside International Raceway in California.
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