Larry Perkins was a Formula One driver from Australia. His Formula 1 career spanned four seasons, making appearences for Amon, Boro, Brabham, Stanley BRM and Surtees.
His best career finish was 8th in the 1976 Belgian Grand Prix.
Early Life & Career
Perkins raced in various Australian championships in the formative years of his career, between 1970 and 1972.
He finished fifth in the Australian Formula Ford National series in 1970 before winning the Formula Ford Drivers to Europe crown the following year, winning six races in an Elfin 600.
He backed up his Formula Ford credentials by winning the Australian Formula 2 Championship the following year, winning four out of the seven races that year. He also competed in the Australian Drivers Championship but could only finish 11th with a solitary third place to his name.
He moved to Europe in 1973, competing in British Formula 3. He endured a disappointing season driving a GRD and a Brabham, taking 12th place in the championship. After a year out of Formula 3 to make a brief foray into Formula 1, he returned to Formula 3 in 1975, taking two wins in British Formula 3 to take fifth in the Championship. He also won the newly established European Formula 3 Championship, winning six races, including wins at Monaco and Monza.
Formula One Career
He made his first entry into Formula 1 at the 1974 German Grand Prix, driving for Chris Amon Racing. With regular driver and team owner Chris Amon withdrawing due to sinusitis after one lap in practice, Perkins took over his car for his first championship appearance. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to qualify the AF101 after ending up 30th in practice after a crash on the second day, only finishing ahead of teammate Amon, who only completed one lap and the Maki of Howden Ganley who didn't even set a time.
Chris Amon recovered for the following Grand Prix, meaning that this was Perkin's only appearance of the season.
After a successful year out of Formula 1, he signed a deal with the Boro team, driving a Ensign N175 rebadged as the Boro 001 after a legal squabble between the teams. The team missed the opening three flyaway races, and so Perkins made his first appearance of the season at the beginning of the European season at the Spanish Grand Prix heading a one car Boro entry. Perkins scraped onto the last gridslot to make his first Formula 1 start from 24th position. He finished in 13th and last position, three laps behind the eventual winner James Hunt.
The following race in Belgium was an improvement, with Perkins again making the grid, qualifying in 20th, over one second faster than the time required to qualify. He finished a strong eighth position, which turned out to be his and Boro's best ever finishing position. The next two races were less successful, as he failed to qualify in Monaco, and blew an engine on lap 18 of the Swedish Grand Prix after qualifying 22nd.
The Boro team were enduring financial difficulties which led to them missing the four races after the Swedish Grand Prix, leaving Perkins without a drive for these races. However they made a return for the final two events of the European season, the Dutch and Italian Grand Prix, with Perkins returning as driver. Starting 19th at Zandvoort, he retired after spinning out into the catch fencing on lap 44, and retired from the following race following a second engine failure of the season.
Boro's financial troubles meant that they wisely decided not to compete in the three flyaway races at the end of the season, again leaving Perkins without a seat on the grid. He signed a three race deal with Brabham, replacing temporary driver Rolf Stommelen as Carlos Pace's teammate, and so made his first start for his new team at the Canadian Grand Prix. He was comprehensively beaten by his teammate, with Perkins qualifying 19th and finishing 17th, compared to Pace qualifying 10th and finishing one position of the points in 7th. He endured another disappointing weekend in the penultimate race of the season at Watkins Glen, retiring with suspension issues, and withdrew from the final Grand Prix of the season in Japan, along with Pace, due to the wet conditions.
Perkins ended the season disappointingly with no points, with a best finish of eighth in Spain from his eight starts. He failed to qualify once and retired five times, only managing three finishes.
Replaced at Brabham by John Watson, Perkins was again on the search for a new drive. He joined BRM, a team who were on a terminal decline and entering what would be their final F1 season. His P207 didn't arrive in time for the opening race in Argentina but was in Brazil in time for the following Grand Prix. Perkins qualified dead last, with a time 12.1s off the pace, and 6 seconds behind second last Alex Ribeiro in a March, and was out after a single lap due to overheating. Next time out in South Africa was another poor showing, as he qualified second last, and finished in 15th and last place, lapped 5 times by the leaders and twice by 14th place Brett Lunger. BRM didn't compete in Long Beach and by the time the European season rolled around Perkins had quit the team saying "It's slow in a straight line, slow under breaking and slow out the corners", when describing the P207
He sat out the next three rounds before taking Hans Binders' place at Surtees, driving a TS19. His first race was the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa where he had his best performance of the season, qualifying 23rd and finishing a creditable 12th. He failed to qualify for the following race in Sweden, and despite driving at Friday practice at the French Grand Prix, was replaced on Saturday morning by debutant Patrick Tambay.
1977 was even worse than 1976 for Larry Perkins, only managing to finish two races, with a best finish of 12th at the Belgian Grand Prix. He failed to qualify twice and failed to finish once. The Belgian Grand Prix also marked his final start in Formula 1 and the French Grand Prix his final Entry
Overall, Perkins entered 15 Grand Prix for five different teams and constructors, making 11 starts with a best finish of 8th at the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix.
Career Post F1
After a promising yet ultimately unsuccessful European Career, Perkins moved back to his native Australia to mostly drive Supercars, although he made some brief appearences in Formula Pacific, finishing in the top three in both the International and the New Zealand Formula Pacific Championships.
He spent the rest of career driving in both the Australian Endurance Championship and the Australian Touring Car Championship. His only notable success was a second place finish in the 1990 Australian Endurance Championship. He also won the Bathurst 1000 supercar race six times between 1982 and 1997.
He retired in 2003 after a 33 year career, and was inducted into the V8 Supercar hall of fame in 2008.
Formula One Statistical Overview
Formula One Record
|Year||Entrant||Team||WDC Points||WDC Pos.||Report|
|1974||Chris Amon Racing||Amon-Ford Cosworth||0||NC||Report|
|1976||HB Bewaking Alarm Systems||Boro-Ford Cosworth||0||NC||Report|
|Martini Racing||Brabham-Alfa Romeo|
|1977||Rotary Watches Stanley BRM||BRM||0||NC||Report|
|Team Surtees||Surtees-Ford Cosworth|
|Complete Formula One Results|
|3rd||DNQ||Did not qualify|
|5th||Points finish||DNPQ||Did not pre-qualify|
|14th||Non-points finish||TD||Test driver|
|Italics||Scored point(s) for Fastest Lap||DNS||Did not start|
|18th†||Classified finish (retired with >90% race distance)||NC||Non-classified finish (<90% race distance)|
|4thP||Qualified for pole position||[+] More Symbols|