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Bin Laden dad's Formula 1 deal.

THE family of Osama bin Laden sponsored Britain's Formula 1 racing team Williams in the late 70s and early 80s.

Team chief Frank Williams even renamed the team to include them.

In 1977, Williams was looking for a strong investor to save his cash-strapped team.

After running marathons to raise cash, he and his chief technician, Patrick Head, went looking for investors in Saudi Arabia and secured funds from Saudi-Airlines and technical firm TAG. Hotel chain Albilad - then owned by Osama's father Mohammed bin Laden - joined the list of sponsors from 1978 to 1981.

Williams renamed his team Albilad-Saudia Williams Racing and then, with the start of the 1980 season, Albilad-Williams.

It was a successful team, which Australian driver Alan Jones took to victory at the Formula 1 World Championship in 1980. Jones also won his last Formula 1 victory for the Albilad-Williams team - the Great Prize of the United States in Las Vegas, in 1981.

The Williams team hit hard times after June 1970 when driver Piers Courage died in flames racing for the Great Prize of the Netherlands.

Courage's father had supported the Williams team, so Williams lost his driver, friend and investor.

He went bankrupt soon after and struggled for years before making the Saudi connection.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 27, 2001
Words:209
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