In the sixties South Africa enjoyed a thriving Formula One circus of it’s own. And one of it’s best remembered practitioners was Brausch Niemann. Not because he was especially talented – although he did appear to be half-sharp – but because he had a Lotus Seven. And by all accounts, a particularly tatty one.
Now a Lotus Seven isn’t a Formula One car is it? Well it could be, if you had enough imagination and Ambraüsus 'Brausch' Niemann had enough imagination.
He stripped it down to the bare necessities and fitted a 1500cc Ford 105E engine. All he needed to do now was to qualify for the 1962 Rand GP at Kyalami, and he would be an F1 driver. So he did. In last place, which doesn’t sound that impressive until you realise that the Rand GP had attracted a lot of world-class entrants from Europe, and that there were 13 other cars that didn’t even make the grid at all.
Brausch did little to worry the big-boys, but he completed the race, finishing in 11th and last place, 5 laps behind the winning Lotus-Climax of works driver Jim Clark. Again, not especially impressive, but it was more than many achieved that day. He was also timed at 127mph through the speed-trap on the straight.
The Natal GP followed, and Braush qualified 20th, out of 32 starters. But this time he didn’t finish. That was about it for the Seven. Niemann now acquired a Formula Junior Lotus 22, which like the Seven was uprated to F1 spec, and made his World Championship debut with it in the 1963 South African GP at East London.
Brausch would continue to campaign the Lotus 22 for the next few seasons, even making another attempt to qualify for the South African GP in 1965, but the moment had passed, and his bodge-up machinery was no longer quick enough.
A spell racing sportscars and saloons followed, before he turned his attention to motorbikes and won the 1969 South African Enduro Championship.
Having achieved some sort of ambition, Brausch now walked away from motorsport completely. It’s believed that he went to live on a remote farm, where he hopefully survives anonymously happy to this very day.