Ralt was the name devised for a series of cars built in Sydney, Australia, in the 1940s and 1950s by brothers Ron and Austin Tauranac. The name took advantage of the initial of Austin’s second Christian name, Lewis – which was appropriate, because he was an essential part in the construction of those early cars.
Ron at the wheel. Photo courtesy Graham Howard
When Jack Brabham returned to Australia, now as reigning 1959 World Champion with Cooper. Brabham invited Ron to England to work at his garage in Chessington, fitting Coventry Climax engines into Triumph Heralds. In 1961 he and Brabham decided to build their own cars and Tauranac designed the MRD (Motor Racing Development) Formula Junior car. The following year Brabham left Cooper to form his own marque and he and Tauranac began building cars for a variety of different formulae. The business was a big success and by the mid 1960s Brabhams were winning in all the major categories.
By the end of the decade, Brabham was struggling, although the customer business continued to be successful. Brabham retired from racing at the end of 1970 and went back to Australia, leaving Ron to run the business but he sold the Brabham marque to Bernie Ecclestone shortly after. He stayed in England, designing the Trojan T101 Formula 5000 car and being involved with Frank Williams's F1 team.
Ron retired to Australia but by 1974, he was back in England where he opened a small workshop in Woking and produced the Ralt RT1, which was designed to be raced in Formula 2 and 3 and Formula Atlantic. Victory came in 1975 when Larry Perkins won at Monza. The Australian went on to win the European Formula 3 Championship for Ralt. The following year Bertram Schafer won the German title in a Ralt-Toyota and in 1977 Anders Olofsson almost won Tauranac a second European F3 title while the only championship success was in Italy with Elio de Angelis.
The 1978 season was a great success with Jan Lammers winning the European series, Derek Warwick and Nelson Piquet each winning a British F3 title and Schafer winning a second German title. The F2 version of the RT1 finished second in the 1977 European Championship in the hands of Eddie Cheever.
In 1978 F1 team owner Teddy Yip asked Tauranac to design the Theodore F1 car, but the TR1 was not a great success although Keke Rosberg won the International Trophy in the wet. For 1979, Ron designed two new cars: the RT2 for F2 and the RT3 for F3. The first was supplied exclusively to Ted Toleman and Brian Henton won three times in the car. The RT3 became the dominant F3 design of the early 1980s, winning the 1983 European title for Pierluigi Martini, five consecutive British F3 titles in the hands of Stefan Johansson, Jonathan Palmer, Tommy Byrne, Ayrton Senna and Johnny Dumfries. It won the French title in 1982 with Pierre Petit and a string of German and Italian titles. An alliance with Honda in Formula 2 resulted in the RH6 Formula 2 car in 1980 and this was to proved enormously successful, Ralt Racing winning the European F2 title in 1981, 1984 and 1985. Ralt then entered Formula 3000 and enjoyed more success in the late 1980s although not with the dominance of the Ralt-Honda days.
In Formula 3 the RT3 was followed by the RT30 with which Mauricio Gugelmin won the 1985 British F3 title. Competition from Reynard meant that Ralt began to struggle in F3 and F3000 and in October 1988 Tauranac sold the company to March. Ron has now retired for a second time, back to Australia.
Our thanks to Graham Howard