CONSTRUCTORS: ENSIGN (TEAM ENSIGN)
Name: Ensign (Team Ensign)
Morris Nunn - known as Mo - came from a family of car dealers and broke into motor racing almost by accident when in 1962 he acquired a three-year old Cooper-Climax which was owned by the Ashmore Brothers. He spent 1963 and 1964 learning with the car and with a Lotus sportscar, and in 1965 found backing from Bernard Lewis. He tried his hand at Formula 3 racing in 1965 with an old Lotus entered by Lewis-Nunn Racing and the team expanded to two cars in 1966 for Nunn and Ken Crook. Nunn won his first F3 race at Mallory Park in May. Other results followed in British races and at the end of the year he went to Albi to try his hand against European opposition. He finished fourth. He started 1967 with a privateer Lotus 41 and won several races which earned him sponsorship from Astrali Accessories for the 1968 season. In 1969 he was hired by Team Lotus to race in F3 alongside Roy Pike with occasional F2 outings. At the end of the year he tried to move up to Formula 5000 but the project collapsed and with support from Lewis he decided to become a car builder.
His prototype Formula 3 car - the LNF1 - was built in a garage behind his house in Walsall. It was finished in November 1970, was tested that winter and appeared for the first time at Brands Hatch in March 1971 with Bev Bond finishing second in the first round of the British F3 series. It won the second and third rounds and a second version appeared for Steve Thompson in May. Later in the year Bond's car was sold to David Purley's Lec Refrigeration Team and a third car was built for Mike Walker.
The cars were so successful that year that there was no shortage of customers in 1972 when Team Ensign ran Walker and Rikki von Opel in LNF3 chassis and several similar customer cars. Both Team Ensign drivers won races and customers David Purley and Colin Vandervell added to the score. There was also an LNF2 Formula 2 car which was driven by John Burton without success.
Towards the end of the year von Opel commissioned Nunn to build him a Formula 1 car for 1973. Nunn agreed. Dave Baldwin joined the team to work on F3 customer cars and Nunn designed the N173. It made its debut at the French GP and appeared at six other races that year but failed to score any major results. The 1974 car was a revamped version of the original and von Opel was lured away to the Brabham factory team, leaving Team Ensign to struggle. Teddy Yip came to the rescue backing Vern Schuppan and Mike Wilds in the cars.
The team went into 1975 with the same cars, being run at occasional races by Dutch drivers Gijs van Lennep and Roelof Wunderink with backing from Dutch security company HB Bewaking. Dave Baldwin designed the N175 which appeared for the first time at the French GP. Van Lennep scored an unexpected sixth place in the car at the German GP at the start of August but there were disputes with the sponsor and Nunn had to hand over the new car to the sponsor. It later reappeared as the Boro.
At the end of the year Nunn built another N175 for Chris Amon and the New Zealander stayed on with the team in 1976 to drive Baldwin's next car, a modified version of the N175. With race-by-race sponsorship he finished fifth in Spain but then suffered a couple of big accidents as a result of car failures. Patrick Neve rented the car for the French GP but then Amon returned. He decided to retire from the sport after Niki Lauda's crash in Germany. Hans Binder took over in Austria and then Jacky Ickx took over at the end of the year. The car was destroyed and Ickx injured in a fiery crash in Canada, probably caused by a car failure.
Nunn was fortunate to find support at the end of the year from Californian businessman Chuck Jones and Dave Baldwin started work on the N177. He then left for a job at Fittipaldi and the work was taken over by John Baldwin (no relation). Sponsorship from Tissot, which had begun with Ickx in 1976, continued for Clay Regazzoni. Ickx raced once on his return but then Teddy Yip funded the second car for Patrick Tambay. Regazzoni qualified for most of the races and scored three top six finishes while Tambay raced seven times and scored on three occasions. The team finished the year 10th in the World Championship with 10 points.
The 1978 season would be disappointing, however, as the team struggled for money again and Nunn was forced to resort to pay-drivers. The year began with Danny Ongais and Lamberto Leoni but then Ickx took over, followed Derek Daly and then by Harald Ertl and Nelson Piquet and finally Brett Lunger. Daly was the only one to score with sixth place in Canada.
For 1979 backing was found from Teddy Yip and Shahab Ahmed designed the N179. Daly drove for the first part of the year before quitting the team and then Patrick Gaillard took over before making way for Marc Surer. All struggled to qualify the car and there were no decent results.
That autumn Nunn convinced Unipart to sponsor the team in 1980 and commissioned Ralph Bellamy and Nigel Bennett to design a car for him and hired Gary Anderson as chief mechanic. Clay Regazzoni was signed up to drive and the car showed promise but in Long Beach Regazzoni crashed while running in fourth place and suffered serious back injuries. The team reeled from the blow and Tiff Needell, Jan Lammers and Geoff Lees all failed to score point in the car.
At the end of the year Unipart withdrew and Bellamy departed while Bennett produced an N180B for the 1981 season. Surer was hired and finished in the points in two of his six races before the team had to take on pay-driver Eliseo Salazar. He finished sixth in the Dutch GP.
The N180B was reworked again at the end of the year and the team started 1982 with the car in Cafe do Colombia colors for Roberto Guerrero. Bennett's N181 was built that year but Guerrero struggled with the car.
At the end of the year Nunn sold the team to Teddy Yip. He stayed on in F1 for a season and then went to America to work with Guerrero in Indycar racing, beginning a career which would lead to great success as an engineer with Patrick Racing and more recently with Target Chip Ganassi Racing.