John Nicholson

6/10/1941 - 19/9/2017

Record updated 06-Oct-21

John Nicholson, best know for his preparation of Cosworth DFVs, is a former Formula One driver from Auckland, New Zealand. He participated in 2 grands prix, debuting on July 20, 1974.

John Nicholson
John Nicholson was born in Auckland in New Zealand and made his name as an engine-tuner. At the start of 1973 went into business with McLaren to prepare Cosworth DFV engines and their engines won World Championships for Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974 and James Hunt in 1976.

Nicholson was also a part time racer, winning the 1973 and 1974 British Formula Atlantic Championship driving a Lyncar. He raced in the 1975 British Grand Prix driving the one-off Lyncar Formula 1 car. His best result with the car was sixth at the 1974 Race of Champions. The car was later modified and raced by Emilio de Villota in the British F1 series in 1976 and 1977.

Plans to purchase a McLaren M23 for a serious assault on F1 fell through, but he did race subsequently in both Formula 2 and F5000 in 1976. He raced in the Peter Stuyvesant New Zealand series early in 1978 but he was loosing interest and turned to powerboat racing.

His engine company, however, continued to prepare Cosworth DFVs for F1 and also branched out into sports car racing with an IMSA programme, preparing BMW engines in 1978 and 1979.

At the end of 1980 Nicholson-McLaren Engines split from McLaren International and as the DFV faded from Formula 1 it turned its attention to preparing engines for Group C2 sports cars. After a brief involved in Formula 3 with the Saab engine, the company began preparing Formula 3000 engines in 1988, winning the title that year with Roberto Moreno. There were further championship successes in 1993 with Olivier Panis; 1994 with Jean-Christophe Boullion and 1995 with Vincenzo Sospiro. The engines were also used by Spice Engineering to win the World Sportscar Championship in Group C2.

In addition Nicholson also supply engines to a variety of different racing series such as hillclimbs and historic racing. Now based in Wokingham, the company is working on the development of engines with alternative fuels.