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14. Hesketh 308E

S2233 Hesketh 308E No.24 Belgium GP 1977 – Rupert Keegan

Rupert Keegan came from a prosperous background. His father Mike Keegan was involved in the aviation industry. And he was participating as fighter pilot for the Royal Air Force to liberate Berlin in the Second World War. In the beginning of the 50ies he founded the BKS Air Transport and in the following years he bought some additional airlines to his already existing business. Among other things BAF, the British Air Ferries. With this enterprise the motorsports enthusiast planned an own Formula 1 project. But the BAF-Cosworth F1, which the young and unexperienced guy Adrian Reynard should have constructed came never to an end. That’s why Keegan senior decided to buy his son Rupert into Hesketh with the help of the BAF-money in 1977. The team, which ran a sensational season in 1975 and was ranked 4th in the championship with James Hunt, had passed their best days already. The resources of Lord Alexander Hesketh, who threw around his money once, became scarcer. And the Hesketh 308E which Frank Dernie designed was a solid construction, but only mediocrity unfortunately. Keegan had his debut at the Spanish GP and almost obtained one point for the Championship at the Austrian GP as he was on the way to finish 6th place, but the British Formula 3 champion of 1976 was overtaken by Jochen Mass three rounds before the end of the race. That’s why Keegan and the Hesketh team which also provided cars for the private drivers Harald Ertl, Ian Ashley and Hector Rebaque in that season remained without any GP points. It should be due to his extraordinary painting that the Hesketh 308E is named in the Formula 1 history. In addition to BAF it was also Penthouse appearing as a sponsor – and not only with a simple lettering. The men’s magazine was making promotion with the picture of a lightly dressed woman on the car of Keegan. He was very happy about this exceptional cooperation as he was regarded to be the “younger version of James Hunt” not only in England. At the car presentation, Keegan and his slightly overweight team chef Alexander Hesketh were surrounded by some Penthouse-bunnies. And who knew Hesketh could believe with high probability that the official part of the launch was followed by an unofficial one…

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