Actually, that’s not quite true. Jack Brabham had no intention of letting one of his cars go to someone as competitively threatening as Courage. This particular Brabham chassis had been sold to a privateer on the understanding it would be converted for Formula 5000, a domestic series unconnected with F1. Frank, using his considerable charm, helped persuade the man to sell the car, into which Williams then inserted a Ford DFV, bought off the shelf from the manufacturer, Cosworth Engineering. Brabham’s concern was to prove well founded when Courage finished second in the 1969 Monaco and US Grands Prix.
The Williams-Courage partnership was to reach a terrible end the following year when the much-loved Englishman perished as his De Tomaso (Williams having struck a F1 deal with the Italian manufacturer) crashed and caught fire during the Dutch Grand Prix. Frank was totally devastated. But it was no surprise when he quietly gathered himself together and somehow managed to carry on.
The next few seasons would be a massive test of his resolve as he built his own F1 car with money from Politoys, a toy manufacturer. It was such a disaster that the very small team lived hand-to-mouth, Frank frequently having to borrow cash on his return to Heathrow in order to release his car from the car park.
His two mechanics, meanwhile, would scrounge enough from F1 insiders to fund the fuel necessary to get the truck home from a European Grand Prix – but only after they had gone to Goodyear and rooted through the tyres discarded by Ferrari and others in order to find a half-decent set good enough for practice at the next race. Frank would return to the workshop and discover that a visit from the bailiffs, plus unsettled phone bills, made it necessary to conduct his business from a phone box outside the nearby Reading Speedway.