Frank Williams. Source: The F1 News.

Sir Francis Owen Garbett Williams CBE (born 16 April 1942) is a British businessman, former racing driver, and technician.  He founded the Williams Formula One team and served as team principal until September 2020.

Source: Getty Images

Early life

Frank Williams was born in the town of South Shields, in the county of South Tyneside. His father was an active Royal Air Force officer at the time, while his mother worked in special education — first as a teacher, then as a headmistress. Williams was reared in Jarrow by his maternal aunt and uncle after his parents’ marriage failed.

He later spent much of his boyhood at St Joseph’s College in Dumfries, Scotland, a private, fee-paying boarding school. A friend gave Williams a ride in his Jaguar XK150 in the late 1950s, which sparked his passion for fast vehicles.

Career

Source: THe Guardian

Williams started Frank Williams Racing Cars in 1966, after a brief career as a driver and mechanic. He was sponsored by his profession as a travelling grocery salesman. For numerous years, he drove as drivers in Formula Two and Formula Three, notably Piers Courage. Courage raced a Brabham Formula One car for Williams throughout the 1969 Formula One season, finishing second twice.

Williams had a brief collaboration with Alejandro de Tomaso in 1970. Following Courage’s death at the Dutch Grand Prix that year, Williams’ association with de Tomaso came to an end. In 1971, he raced Henri Pescarolo in a chassis purchased from March Engineering; in 1972, the Williams works created its first F1 car, the Politoys FX3 designed by Len Bailey. During its maiden race, Pescarolo crashed and destroyed it.

Williams, who was cash-strapped and doing team business from a phone box after being disconnected for unpaid fees, sought sponsorship from Marlboro and Iso Rivolta, an Italian car manufacturer. Despite having volunteered their assistance, they failed to deliver on time. In 1976, Williams formed a partnership with Canadian oil magnate Walter Wolf.

Though the team continued to operate, it was no longer controlled by Williams, who left with one of his employees, engineer Patrick Head, in 1977. When the two bought an empty carpet warehouse in Didcot, Oxfordshire, they founded Williams Grand Prix Engineering.

First victory

Source: Pinterest

The team’s first victory occurred in 1979 when Clay Regazzoni drove the Cosworth-powered Williams FW07 to victory at Silverstone. Their first Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships were both won in 1980, with Australian Alan Jones taking the drivers’ title. Between 1981 and 1997, the team won six additional driver’s titles and eight more constructor’s titles.

In March 2012, Williams announced that he will stand down from the board of directors of Williams F1 and be replaced by his daughter Claire Williams, while he would continue to work with the team as team principal. Williams will no longer be involved in the sale of the Williams F1 team in September 2020.

Personal life

Source: David Crump

In 1967, Williams met Virginia Berry. In 1974, they married. They had two sons, Jonathan and Jamie, as well as a daughter, Claire Williams (who would later become the deputy team principal of Frank’s future Formula One team, Williams Grand Prix Engineering).

Williams has been confined to a wheelchair since a vehicle accident in France on March 8, 1986, which rendered him tetraplegic. When the incident occurred, he was travelling with team sponsorship manager Peter Windsor in a rental Ford Sierra from the Paul Ricard Circuit to Nice Côte d’Azur Airport.

Williams had come to see the testing of the team’s new Williams FW11, but as a passionate long-distance runner, he was returning to the airport after the trials because he wanted to compete in a fun run in London the next day.

Williams lost control of the rental car on a tiny left-hand kink in the road on the route to the airport, forcing it to leave the highway. The car rolled onto the driver’s side due to an eight-foot (2.4-meter) dip between the road and a field. After being pushed between his seat and the crushed roof, Williams sustained a spine fracture between the fourth and fifth vertebrae. Windsor was only slightly hurt.

Virginia penned an autobiographical book, A Different Kind of Life; which was published in 1991. In which she describes her experiences in the Formula One team’s formative years as well as her husband’s near-fatal accident. Her cancer was discovered in 2010, and she died on March 7, 2013, at the age of 66.

Williams was admitted to the hospital in December 2020 for reasons that the family did not reveal. On Christmas Eve, he was released from the hospital to heal at home.

Rеаl Nаmе/Full NаmеSir Francis Owen Garbett Williams CBE
Nісk Nаmе/Сеlеbrаtеd NаmеFrank Williams
Віrth РlасеSouth Shields, United Kingdom
Dаtе оf Віrth/Віrthdау16 April 1942 
Аgе/Ноw Оld 79 years old
Неіght/Ноw Таll6 ft 0 in (183.0 cm)
WеіghtNot Available
NаtіоnаlіtуBritish
Маrіtаl ЅtаtuѕMarried
WifeVirginia Berry
Кіdѕ/Сhіldrеn NаmеJonathan, Jamie and Claire Williams
РrоfеѕѕіоnFormer team principal and
founder (Williams F1)
Nеt Wоrth$135 million)
Lаѕt UрdаtеdЈunе 2021

Honours

Queen Elizabeth named Williams a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1986. And he was knighted in 1999. France honoured him a Knight of the Legion of Honour for his work on Renault F1 engines. Williams was awarded the Wheatcroft Trophy in 2008 for his major contributions to motorsports.

At the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards in 2010, he received the Helen Rollason Award for extraordinary performance in the face of hardship. Sir Frank Williams Avenue, a new road in Didcot, Oxfordshire, was named after him in 2012.

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