Howden Ganley is a former racing driver from New Zealand who participated in 41 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, scoring a total of 10 championship points. He also participated in numerous other races and founted Tiga Race Cars in 1976 with Tim Schenken.
James Howden Ganley was born in Hamilton, New Zealand. A laconic, practical Kiwi, his racing ambitions were fired when, at thirteen years of age, he attended the 1955 New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore. On leaving school, Ganley became a reporter for the Waikato Times and also wrote a column for Sports Car Illustrated.
He started racing in 1960 racing a Ford Anglia at Raglan. He then acquired a Lotus Eleven and raced throughout New Zealand and winning the Ultimate Ekco Trophy race at Ardmore in 1961.
Then in April 1961 he went to work as a foreman for a concreting company but quit in November to go back to racing his Lotus Eleven in International events in New Zealand.
In April 1962, in an attempt to race professionally, he moved to England, going to work as a mechanic preparing cars at a racing school. Later in the year he joined Falcon Cars Ltd as development engineer and drove in three GT races for the factory finishing in 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.
The following year saw Howden move again, this time joining the Gemini FJ works team as a mechanic and driver. Then, after a spell working on the ill fated Talon F3 car, he joined McLaren Motor Racing Ltd as mechanic and fabricator. He was seconded by Ford to work in the USA on their Le Mans project, eventually returning to Europe to work on first McLaren F1 car.
As a remarkably good engineer much in demand, he had little time to indulge in actually racing cars. However after a spell as Crew Chief to Skip Scott and Peter Revson for Drummond Racing in the Can-Am series in 1966 and 1967, he purchased a new Brabham BT21 which he raced in Europe for the next two years.
He switched to a Chevron B15 in 1969, finishing third in the European Formula 3 Championship at Karlskoga in Sweden. That year he set the first 100 mph F3 lap record at Brands Hatch and his success in F3 led to an opportunity to compete in F5000. He also founded Racing Gearboxes Ltd which grew to be the largest Hewland service agency.
With sponsorship from Barry Newman he drove a works supported McLaren-Chevrolet M10B in 18 races finishing on the podium in second place on five occasions, enough to secure him second in the European F5000 Championship behind Peter Gethin.
This led to an offer from BRM in 1971. It was a mixed season, scoring points with a strong fifth in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and a fourth at Watkins Glen. In non-championship races, he finished second in the Oulton Park Gold Cup, fourth in the Jochen Rindt Memorial at Hockenheim and fifth in the Race of Champions. He also had a number of sports car drives which included a 3rd in the Can-Am round at Riverside with the BRM P167 Chevrolet and another 3rd at Kyalami driving a Chevron B19 Ford with Paddy Driver and Mike Hailwood in the 9 hour race. At the end of the year he sold Racing Gearboxes Ltd to the Trojan Group.
Staying with BRM for 1972 his season was once again mixed. In F1 he was constrained by the lack of access to the latest chassis but took fourth at the German Grand Prix and a sixth in Austria at the Österreichring. In sports cars he had a number of good results, the high spot being second place at Le Mans sharing a works Matra with Francois Cevert. He took wins in the Interseries round at the Nürburgring driving a BRM P167 Chevrolet in April and the Shell Trophy Interserie race at the Ostereichring again driving the BRM P167. He set a new 2-litre lap record at the Nürburgring in the works Chevron at another sports car race.
For 1973 Howden joined Frank Williams to drive the Iso-Marlboro sponsored Williams FX3. The car proved dissapointing and was replaced by the FW02 in time for the Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuich Park. The FW02 was not much better and though he actually led the Canadian Grand Prix for some distance, he faded to sixth, his best finish of the year. Once again sports cars provided some success, driving a John Wyer Gulf Mirage to second in the Spa 1000 Km race.
1974 saw Ganley without a serious drive. He drove for March in the first two GPs in Argentina and Brazil and took fifth in the GP Presidente Medici, a Brazilian non-championship race. He then accepted an offer to drive the F1 Maki. This was an ambitious F1 project that had originally intended to be an all-Japanese contender. However the team initially used a Ford Cosworth DFV engine. This turned out to be a rather poor move. The car failed to qualify on its debut at the British Grand Prix. Howden then suffered a major suspension failure during qualifying for the German GP at the Nurburgring. The ensuing accident left Ganley with serious foot and ankle injuries and an end to his Grand Prix career.
That year he entertained the idea of entering F1 with his own car and designed and built a Ganley F1 car however it was never run due to the withdrawal of his sponsors.
Once recovered from his injuries, he returned to racing sports cars in 1975 with Gelo Racing's Gulf Mirage. He finished second at the Nurburgring 1000 Ks and drove for Gelo at Le Mans with Tim Schenken in a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR, retiring after fourteen hours. In Interseries races with a Gulf Mirage he took a second and a third. Howden had met Judy Kondratieff in 1971 and in 1975 they married in England. Judy was from San Francisco was an accomplished racing driver, race team member and race team administrator.
In January 1976 Howden founded Tiga Race Cars with Tim Schenken. Over the coming years they supplied cars for Formula Ford, Formula Ford 2000, Formula Atlantic/Pacific, Thundersports, Can-Am, Sports 2000, Formula K, IMSA, and Group C, scoring numerous wins.
He was back at Le Mans in June with Gelo Racing in their Porsche 911 Carrera RSR, this time sharing the driving with Clemens Schickentanz and once again retiring, this time after seven hours with a failed driveshaft. He also competed in Interserie racing. He also undertook testing and development work with March during the year. He continued with his testing duties for March in 1977.
His final race came in June 1978 but by now Tiga Cars was taking more and more of his time and in 1978 after a final race in the Can-Am round at Mid-Ohio in a Gulf Mirage, finishing fifth overall and taking a class win, he retired from racing to concentrate on the business.
In 1987 he sold his stake in Tiga to pursue other interests which included working with Vern Schuppan on his road going Porsche 962 project. He also continued to provide race instruction until the mid 1990s.
In 1990 and after living solely in England since the 1970’s, Howden and Judy bought a home in the San Francisco Bay Area with a plan to eventually settle there full time.
Splitting his time between Europe and America, Howden continued to be involved in the sport. He served as secretary of the British Racing Drivers Club between 1998 and 1999 and was a Director between 1992 and 2003. He was a former director of Silverstone Circuits and Silverstone Estates and has been Vice President of BRDC since 2006. He was also once Chairman of Maidenhead Golf Club.
Unfortunately Judy developed cancer in 1998 and after a courageous fight she passed away on April 27 2007 at their Bay Area home surrounded by her family.
hr with thanks to Gary Horstkorta.