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6 February 2024

LEC F1 at Goodwood Festival of Speed

One of Formula 1’s forgotten machines, the Lec CRP1, will turn a wheel in anger for the first time in over 35 years at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 26-29.
The CRP1, which last appeared at the Thruxton round of the Aurora AFX Formula 1 Series in 1979, and previously put the cat among the pigeons by leading the 1977 Belgian Grand Prix in the hands of David Purley, has been restored by WDK Motorsport and will be driven up the iconic Goodwood Hillclimb by Festival of Speed and Revival regular, Joe Twyman.
The story of the Lec is fascinating. Charles Purley, owner of a Bognor Regis refrigeration business, provided financial backing for local team Church Farm Racing – which had already achieved success in Formula 2 with future motor racing legends Derek Bell and John Watson – to graduate to F1 with a second-hand March chassis in 1973.
Purley’s son David hit the headlines almost instantly, his bravery in attempting to pull Roger Williamson out of the burning wreck that would cost him his life at that year’s Dutch Grand Prix earning the former paratrooper a George Medal.
Lec debuted its self-produced, Ford Cosworth-engined CRP1 in 1977, having used fridge door-shaping machinery to manufacture the bodywork panels of the car during quiet nights. Its highlight came at the Belgian GP at Zolder, which Purley led from Niki Lauda briefly before falling back to finish 13th.
While Purley would sadly lose his life in an aviation accident off the coast of Bognor at the age of 40 in 1985, the team – run by Mike Earle – evolved through several phases, scoring an F1 podium as Onyx at the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix with Stefan Johansson and becoming a regular attendee at the Festival of Speed.
Joe Twyman, driver, said: “The car has been through a complete restoration process since being bought from the Purley family and taken out of the Donington collection around two years ago. I can’t wait to have a go on the hill in it – the aim is to reach the Sunday shoot-out and break 48 seconds, which I think should be achievable for the Lec.”