He dipped his toes into the world of motorsport as a driver in 1957, starting out in Formula Junior and Formula Ford before moving onto Formula Three, and finally graduating to Formula Two, where raced with the works Lotus team.
He also competed in a number of non-championship Formula One races using various Formula Two cars, collimating into qualifying for the 1967 German Grand Prix behind the wheel of a Protos-Costworth.
Towards the end of his career as a driver – which ended in 1971 – he began working with the de Havilland company which provided him with training in the design and construction of airframes and – crucially – engines. From there, he joined Cosworth but left in 1969 to form his own company – Brian Hart ltd – that would service Cosworth’s Ford FVA engines, and was the man behind the Ford BDA unit used for rallying.
This unit was then tweaked for use in Formula Two cars, with it powering Ronnie Peterson to the 1971 title and Mike Hailwood a year later. He enjoyed mixed fortunes throughout the ‘70s, but thanks to his association with the Toleman team – which stepped into racing in 1981 – Hart would supply the engines for five seasons until 1986.
Hart’s return to Formula One came in 1993 when his company was tasked with creating a 3.5 litre V10 engine for the Jordan team. The team struggled in the first season of its partnership, but a year later, Rubens Barrichello finished third in the Pacific Grand Prix and added to that with a pole position at Spa.
Hart then supplied Footworks/Arrows until 1996 and then powering Minardi for the following season. A new V10 became the unit used by Arrows in 1998 and 1999 before team boss, Tom Walkinsaw acquired Brian Hart Ltd.
Former technical design director at Jordan, Gary Anderson told Autosport: “When we started to work together ahead of the 1993 season [when Jordan did the deal to run Hart engines in place of Yamaha] he was so easy to deal with.”
“In a five-minute phone call you could both speak the same language and then he would go off and do his bit. It was such an easy relationship with someone who understood motor-racing.”
Richland F1 would like to send its condolences to the Hart family.