Senna’s restored Van Dieman takes centre stage at Race Retro

Ayrton Senna fans are in for a nostalgic treat when the Van Diemen Formula Ford car driven by the Formula 1 legend, the one he used early during his career in the United Kingdom, is shown in public for the first time since it was restored by the man who built it.

The yellow Van Diemen RF81 has been meticulously restored by Van Diemen founder Ralph Firman, who gave Senna his car racing break with this machine on the very same Norfolk industrial estate that it was originally built.

The car will take pole position in the Motorsport Hall of Fame live at Race Retro to be held at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, from 22-24 February.

Race Retro report on their website:

This will be the car’s first public viewing since it has been restored by Van Diemen founder Ralph Firman. The rebuilt car also features the Minister 1600 engine, identical to the 1981 original.

Senna finished fifth on his FF1600 debut at Brands Hatch on 1 March 1981, and just two weeks later won his third ever car race at Brands Hatch, at the wheel of a Van Diemen RF81.

By the end of the season Senna had established himself as the man to beat, finishing the season with 12 wins, six other podiums, and the championship, winning the two prestigious national British Formula Ford titles.

In 1982 Senna graduated to Formula Ford 2000, competing in both the British and European Championships. He dominated the Formula winning 21 out of the 27 races contested. That year, Senna also had his first chance to race in a non-championship Formula Three race at Thruxton where he started from pole position and won easily. The rest, as they say, is history!

Race Retro’s Acting Show Director Lee Masters said: “We are deeply honoured to have the Van Diemen at Race Retro and thrilled that our visitors will be the first to get a closer look at this incredible racing car.”

The Motor Sport Hall of Fame Live will also include other racing and rally cars, with a number of key milestones celebrated, along with special guests, many of whom will be interviewed on the Motor Sport Live Stage.