John Wickham had a remarkable career in motorsports spanning five decades. He worked all around the world with teams involved in various racing categories and for multiple manufacturers. At March Engineering he was team manager when Marc Surer won the 1979 European Formula 2 Championship. With Audi Sport UK he oversaw their British Touring Car Championship title at the first attempt in 1996 with Frank Biela behind the wheel.
Wickham’s career also included stints as team director with Spirit who Honda brought back into F1 in 1983 as well as a return to Bentley in 2012 to mastermind its re-entry into motorsport with the Continental GT3 racer. He served as general manager, technical and operations, of the A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Motorsport throughout its four-season life between 2005 and 2009.
Long-time Bentley motorsport boss Brian Gush remembers John Wickham fondly: “He was a master organiser who was always on top of everything… That’s why I brought him back when we did our GT3 programme because he was the ideal person to handle all the intricacies of FIA homologation.”
Early Career at Marches, Surtees and Honda
John Wickham’s motorsport career began at the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) as competitions manager before moving to Surtees to manage its F2 operations for 1973 season when he was only 23 years old. After furthering his experience at BARC, Wickham returned to F2 paddock with March for 1979.
His contact with Honda while at March resulted in an invite to set up a team focused fully on marque’s F2 programme and introducing two-litre V6 engine introduced by them 1980 onwards. This lead him leaving March along with designer Gordon Coppuck to establish Spirit for 1982 where they only narrowly missed out on winning title that year.
Honda made their return to pinnacle of sport using modified Spirit F2 car during non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch April after which they went onto contest six grands prix events.