1976 Formula 1 Diorama

A McLaren M26 leads a Brabham BT45 into a corner during a 1976 Formula 1 Grand Prix

by Dave Freeman


Livered in Yardley colours, the M23 made its debut in the third race of the 1973 reason. Denny Hulme promptly qualified it on pole and he did so again in the next race. Seven races into the season, he scored the car's maiden victory. For 1974 the M23 changed little, except for the new Marlboro-Texaco livery, which was the start of a long relationship between McLaren and Marlboro.  The M23 won the 1974 Championship driven by Emerson Fittipaldi, with McLaren runner up in 1975 to the Ferrari, but winning the 1976 Championship in the hands of James Hunt. The high airbox that had become a common sight on the grid in the previous seasons was banned from the fourth race of 1976 season. McLaren created a new airbox with intakes on each side of the rollbar, which still fed plenty of air to the DFV engine, but complied with the new regulations.

While rival teams Lotus and McLaren relied on the Cosworth DFV engine from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, Bernie Ecclestone sought a competitive advantage by investigating other options. Despite the success of Murray’s Cosworth-powered cars, Ecclestone signed a deal with Italian motor manufacturer Alfa Romeo to use their large and powerful flat-12 engine from the 1976 season. The engines were free, but they rendered the new BT45s, now in red Martini Racing livery, unreliable and overweight. The 1976 and 1977 seasons saw Brabham fall toward the back of the field again.

Creating the Diorama

The track in this case is framing mat, with the “racing line” created by a wash of heavily diluted dark grey paint.  The wall is foamcore bent into shape then glued, with the advertising signs being created by scanning logos or downloading the logo’s from the Internet then printing them on a colour printer.

The car models are 1/20th scale Tamiya kits that I first built over 20 years ago.  Due to being carted around Australia on numerous Air Force postings, the models were slightly damaged, so have been painted in a couple of areas to “patch” damaged decals.  The vehicles bear no driver names or identification on purpose.



  • The Grand Prix Who’s Who (Second Edition) – Steve Small, Guinness Publishing
  • Grand Prix Fascination Formula 1 – Rainer Schlegelmilch, Konemann Publishing
  • The complete Encyclopedia of Formula One, Bruce Jones, Carlton Publishing

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