The teenaged Borgudd watched Stirling Moss race at Karlskoga in 1959 and was hooked. Already a budding musician, he joined the merchant navy at 14, refocusing on cars in his early twenties. That the Swede reached Formula 1 – in what was a bit more than a cameo role, for a world championship point for sixth place in the 1981 British GP was a mighty effort with ATS – was remarkable.
After 10 GP starts, F1 was was over in 1982, for the money ran out after three races with Tyrrell, a dogged seventh in Brazil the highlight. But Borgudd never gave up, going on to win the 1994 Nordic Touring Car crown in a Mazda and four lucrative European truck racing titles.
Music opened doors for the drummer, who competed at home from 1968 with a Formula Junior Lotus 22 acquired from jazz legend Chris Barber in London, then Formula Ford-ised. The nickname ‘Slim’ stemmed from a New Orleans blues gig where shipmates cajoled him into stepping up to join Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim, whose drummer had tweaked a wrist.
After winning in the ex-Ronnie Peterson/Jonas Qvarnstrom Focus sportscar, Borgudd switched to tin-tops in 1972 with Rolf Skoghag’s ex-Ivor Goodwin Hillman Imp, then an elderly but rapid Volvo 122S. But 1973 Scandinavian Formula Ford Cup gold gave him a potential leg up to F3. He led late on his debut in a rented March at Kinnekulle in 1975 before he was taken out, but a point was made.
A master of stretching ‘glider fuel’ budgets, Borgudd’s mechanical skills, tenacity and popularity with rival F3 teams – Roger Heavens lent workshop and parts to sustain his dreams – got him there eventually. He won the 1979 Swedish title and finished third in the European (behind Alain Prost and Michael Bleekemolen) in a year-old Ralt-Toyota RT1, but an F2 deal for 1980 fell through, so F3 it was again!
Among his contemporaries on the 1960s Swedish music scene were Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, later of ABBA, for which Borgudd played session drums.
Slim Borgudd, ATS HGS1 Ford
Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch / Motorsport Images
The group would brand his F1 graduation, not fund it. The tempestuous Gunther Schmid’s ATS was lacking staff and budget, but Slim took Heavens as team manager, plus crewmen, and got the seat.
A journeyman in F3000 and at Le Mans, he won the 1989 Willhire 25 Hours at Snetterton with Mark Hales in a Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth, before finding his metier in trucks. Coventry-domiciled Borgudd subsequently developed Radical’s US market and ran teams, then prepared Classic F3 cars.
He will be remembered as a perennial hard tryer, fine musician and good bloke.