Peter is a fan to the core and kept on trying. When he was a teenager he lived in Australia and used to follow F1 so closely that he would be at the airport to meet the F1 stars when they arrived for the the Tasman Cup races. It was this that gave him the chance to befriend the great Jim Clark, a man who remains Peter’s hero.
Peter is now 56 but that same passion is still burning away. Born in England but brought up in Australia, he returned to his home country in 1975 and became a racing journalist, moving quickly up the ladder to become the sports editor of Autocar. In 1985 he switched sides and became Frank Williams’s manager of sponsorship and public affairs. He was in the car with Williams when Frank crashed and broke his neck.
In 1989 Peter teamed up with golfer Greg Norman and tried to buy the Brabham team. The sale ended up in the courts with Windsor seeking damages after the sale fell through. A big fan of Nigel Mansell, he rebounded from that setback by getting a job with Mansell at Ferrari, running the Italian team’s Guildford Technical Office and he then followed Mansell back to Williams becoming team manager.
After Mansell won the World Championship he fell out with Frank Williams over money and headed off to America. Windsor followed, hoping to set up a CART team but when that did not happen he returned to Europe and worked with Japan’s Tetsu Ikuzawa to set up a new F1 operation. That had a drawing office that began designing a car but the money ran out.
Following that setback Windsor turned to driver management, property development and then returned to writing and TV work, where he has remained ever since, praising the efforts of the likes of Ralf Schumacher and remembering the great days of Carlos Reutemann. Along the way he hooked up with Ken Anderson to pursue the dream of an American-funded F1 operation.
Anderson is another man who I have known forever. He first popped up in F1 in 1989 when Guy Ligier was having one of his many restructurings of his team. Ligier had given up with French engineers at that point and decided that America was the place to look and announced that he had signed up aerodynamicist Gary Grossenbacher (who had been working with Al Holbert’s Porsche North America), Anderson (from Penske), McLaren CAD-CAM specialist Andy Willard, Brazilian designer Richard Divila (who made his name with the Fittipaldi Brothers in the early 1970s) and composite specialist Paul Crooks, formerly of Toleman.
Grossenbacher never showed but the others did a decent job designing the Cosworth-engined JS33 – Ligier’s first in-house composite chassis. It was thrown together in a hurry and Rene Arnoux and Olivier Grouillard were able to score only three points. The impatient Ligier then went back to French engineers and Anderson moved on to Onyx and then drifted back to America where his ambitions were often thwarted, notably with the Falcon company, which was established with Michael Kranefuss, former Ford racing boss, to build chassis for the IRL. No-one ordered one and Falcon disappeared.
According to Windsor the two have now managed to get the money in place for the new team, to be called USF1.
“We have spent time putting together the right infrastructure,” he says. “In many ways we have done the really hard work, sourcing the right investment and sponsorship which will enable us to keep the team in the hands of the people who know what they are doing without the need to sell 80 per cent to a figurehead. We finally achieved our investment goals two weeks ago, and have the money to do what we want to do. We will be a lean and mean operation and will viciously control the head count. We always said that we would officially go public once we started to hire people. That moment has arrived.”
The team will be launched later today and aims to find American drivers to help create more interest in F1 in the United States.
Windsor and Anderson have dreamed big dreams and we can only hope that they are successful. F1 could certainly use more US interest and a team is probably the best way to achieve that.