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  Lec CRP1 Cosworth
 

  Article Image gallery (39) Chassis (2) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1977
Numbers built:2
Designed by:Mike Pilbeam
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 20, 2016
Download: All images
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Click here to download printer friendly versionDavid Purley was a more than accomplished privateer racer, who made a more than memorable Formula 1 debut at Zandvoort in 1973. This was not so much for his driving exploits but for his heroics in trying to rescue fellow racer Roger Williamson from the burning wreck of his upside down car. Although his efforts sadly proved in vain, Purley was awarded the George Medal for his bravery. During the following years, he predominantly raced in F2 and F5000 before he convinced his father, founder of the Lec refrigeration company, to fund the design and construction of a bespoke F1 car for the 1977 season.

Former BRM employee Mike Pilbeam was tasked to design the new Lec badged car. He created a wholly conventional machine around an angular aluminium monocoque. Only the front suspension was unorthodox as it featured pull-rod actuated, in-board mounted springs dampers. Like most British Formula 1 cars of the day, the new Lec CRP1 was powered by the readily available Cosworth DFV engine, which, together with the Hewland gearbox, served as a fully stressed member of the chassis. The car also featured laterally mounted radiators with additional oil coolers placed ahead of the rear wheels. The body was created using refrigerator door shaping machinery.

Liveried in the colours of the Lec Refrigeration company, David Purley gave the CRP1 its competition debut at the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. He qualified the car 13th and ended the race in 6th. The Lec did not fare so well at its first World Championship race at Jarama, where Purley failed to qualify. After skipping the Monaco Grand Prix, the next race was the Belgian Grand Prix where Purley qualified 20th. During the race, he briefly grabbed the lead ahead of Niki Lauda before dropping down the order to finish 13th. At the subsequent Swedish Grand Prix, Purley finished 14th, while he retired from the French Grand Prix following an accident.

Next up was the team's home Grand Prix at Silverstone. It would be a dramatic race as Purley suffered a monumental head-on crash during practice after his throttle stuck open. The car decelerated from 173 km/h to 0 km/h in just 66 cm, generating a staggering 179.8 g. Miraculously, Purley survived the impact, although he did suffer from multiple fractures in his legs and body. Until Kenny Brack's 2003 near career ending impact, this was the most violent impact survived by a driver. In order to give his son a goal to work towards, Charles Purley had a second car built, ready to be raced. Barely recovered, David Purley raced the second chassis twice in minor events in the fall of 1979.

The massive accident at Silverstone effectively ended both the career of the Lec CRP1 and David Purley. Sadly, he was later killed crashing his aerobatics plane off the English coast. As a testament to the CRP1's incredible strength and potential, Charles Purley displayed both the wreck of the first car and the complete second car in the Donington Grand Prix Collection museum for many years. In more recent years, a pair of enthusiasts has bought the two cars and had them restored to full running order.

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  Article Image gallery (39) Chassis (2) Specifications