Marshal Jenkins

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Marshal Jenkins (born 13 August 1947 in Aldershot, England) is a former English racing driver and businessman, known primarily for his F1 career and his co-ownership of the soft porn business Jenkins Industries. More recently, he founded PowerSurge Rally Motorsport in March 2010.

Early life and career

Jenkins was born into a moderately wealthy family in the town of Aldershot, Hampshire in 1948 amidst the post-Second World War reconstruction in Britain. Having been educated from home by both his mother Daisy and older sister Lucy, Marshal left home in 1965, aged 18, to work as a journalist in Fleet Street, London. After four years in the job, and having been introduced to the motorsport scene by a colleague, Jenkins decided he wanted a piece of the action too. In 1969, he resigned from his position and used his savings to buy himself a Formula Ford chassis.

Three years of competing in various races followed, though his first year was dubbed by an Autosport journalist as "possibly one of the most determined, but woefully inadequate drivers of 1970". Results were thus very poor, with Jenkins only finishing a handful of the races he started, with the rest usually ended by either an accident or mechanical failure. Unperturbed though, Marshal steadily improved, culminating in a best result of 4th place at a meeting at Oulton Park in 1972. By the end of that year though Jenkins had grown tired of the series, and with an aspiration to one day drive in Formula 1, and having seen the likes of Tim Schenken and Emerson Fittipaldi progress from FFord to F1, he believed he could do the same. As far as he was concerned, Jenkins reckoned he would get better coverage by moving up a class, and so having sold his Formula Ford car, he convinced two friends of his to be his mechanics, one of whom was Tex Pearson, and he bought a brand new March 733 chassis to compete in the 1973 season. Again, as in Formula Ford, Jenkins competed in only selected F3 events, and whilst he found himself outclassed completely in his first season despite being in one of the best cars on the grid, results did get better, to the point in 1976 where he was able to score minor points on occasion.

Venture into soft porn and Jenkins Industries

During this period, Jenkins maintained a number of contacts within the journalism industry, and mid-way through 1975, was encouraged into a business partnership by his friend and mechanic Tex Pearson. Pearson knew Jenkins was running short on funding to continue into 1976, and proposed to his driver that the two should seek out opportunities to raise the money to continue their motorsport exploits. The partnership centred on a contact Pearson knew who was involved in the underground soft porn industry in Britain at the time, but who's venture was failing. Pearson and Jenkins proposed to take it over, and after paying a nominal fee, they came up with a business plan which would turn around the struggling venture's fortunes. Renamed Jenkins Industries, due to Pearson's unwillingness, and partial embarrassment, of being included in the company's name, the two made a substantial amount of money in the decade that followed. Their activities included producing magazines, amateur and semi-professional film productions, as well as a whole range of promotional material and merchandise for others in the industry. By the mid 1980s, the two were highly regarded by their peers, having made a fortune from their exploits. In 1987, Pearson decided to hand the business over to Jenkins, and in an act of generosity, sold his 50% share for only £2500. In later years Jenkins revealed Pearson's share of the business was in fact worth an estimated £150,000 at the time. Pearson would go on to establish a new business in rubber manufacturing, RubberTex, which itself would turn out to be highly successful, whilst Jenkins would ultimately sell the company in 1995 at a cost of £540,000 to a group of Dutch gangsters.

End of F3 career and a failed F2 entry

With a steady stream of funding secure, Jenkins dovetailed his motorsport endeavours with his activities making money from soft porn. Results in F3 were no better in 1977, although Jenkins did finish a career-best 3rd at a soaking wet Brands Hatch in which the majority of the field of 28 cars had either retired or crashed out. Despite being on the podium, Jenkins finished two laps down on the race winner Derek Daly, and was one of only five cars to actually finish the race. The result was a well-needed boost to both Marshal and his little team, as his old chassis began to show its age in the series. No more points followed that year, and things were worsened when Jenkins crashed at Snetterton, resulting in a hefty repair bill to fix the damaged car. By the start of 1978, Jenkins was beginning to realise that he needed to enter F1 soon or never at all. On the wrong side of 30, he'd done nothing of note to impress any of the existing teams in F1, and had not even received an offer to drive in Formula 2. He was able to buy a drive in the Aurora British F1 series that year though, driving a Surtees TS19 in the Sun Trophy race at Mallory Park that was due to be driven by Bob Evans. Jenkins was forced to retire the car after just 11 laps with driveshaft failure, with the car's owner later reporting to journalists that Jenkins had "revved the tits off it until it just packed up". Evans would go on to finish second in the championship that year in the same car. A handful of further F3 races followed, though Jenkins was hopelessly off the pace in his outdated March.

For 1979, and aged 32, Jenkins decided on one final roll of the dice, with an attempted entry into the European Formula 2 series. This backfired on Marshal however when, in an attempt to purchase a Ralt chassis, he offered a share of Jenkins Industries to a senior Ralt employee as part of the deal. Unbeknown to Jenkins, the Ralt worker was in fact a staunch Christian, and wholly against the idea of pornography and the related industry in general. Threatened with a lawsuit for harassment after he tried to press the issue, Jenkins was forced to abandon his plans, and looked set to miss out on his first season since starting his career.

Break-through into F1

Instead, and ever the optimist, Jenkins turned his attention to F1, and through a chance meeting with Frank Williams at a strip club where Jenkins was assessing future clients, he was later able to purchase two year-old FW06 chassis. Saving himself some money, Jenkins offered shares in his soft porn concern to Williams as well, and ever the shrewd businessman and as a self-declared fan of some of Jenkins' material, Williams accepted the deal, something which he has consistently denied to this day. Bringing Tex Pearson with him, Jenkins assembled a motely crew of people he knew to help run the team and service the cars. Most had little knowledge of engineering or motorsport, but all were keen to help out and enjoy the ride. The financial burden of entering F1 however meant that additional funding was required, and with porn only going so far, Jenkins hired Italian Beppe Gabbiani, who paid a sizeable amount for a second shot at F1 after two miserable outings for Surtees in 1978, both resulting in DNQs. In addition to the size of his wallet, Jenkins chose to employ Gabbiani due to his contacts in the Italian porn scene which provided Jenkins Industries with a new market for their material.

In year-old cars as ground effect began to tighten its grip on F1, Jenkins Industries F1 Team was the butt of many jokes in the paddock and with a background in soft porn, a deluded team principal who was also driving, and an Italian pay driver, they weren't expected to do well. Jenkins however remained positive, and was just happy that he'd finally realised his dream.


1979

When the team turned up in Argentina, for the first race of the season, Jenkins didn't expect to qualify. Despite selling the most amount of "merchandise", Jenkins was still pessimistic about his chances. However, both cars qualified comfortably, with Jenkins lining up 25th on the grid. Gearbox problems ended his race after less than half distance.

At Brazil, Jenkins was hopeful of qualifying again. Both cars managed to qualify for the race, however, once again, both retired with mechanical failures, this time after less than 10 laps.

Complete Formula 1 Results

Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Points
1979 Jenkins Industries F1 Team Williams FW06 Ford Cosworth DFV ARG
Ret
BRA
Ret
RSA
DNQ
USW
Ret
ESP
DNQ
BEL
DNQ
MON
16
FRA
DNQ
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
AUT
DNQ
NED
DNQ
ITA
DNQ
EUR
10
CAN USA AUS N/A* 0*
  • A * denotes a season currently in progress.