In 1988, Johnny and the Jordan team moved up to F3000 together. Their title challenge
began promisingly at Jerez with victory first time out in the Jordan Reynard 88D-Cosworth
Unfortunately, Johnny's luck deserted him during the second round at Vallelunga, where
he was injured in a crash whilst dicing with Gregor Foitek for the lead. As a result of
that accident, he had to sit out the next round at Pau, returning to finish 7th in the
fourth round at Silverstone. Next was Monza, one of the best races of Johnny's career -
this is how the 1988/89 Autocourse Annual recounted it:
"The star in Italy was Herbert, the plucky Briton focus for the attention of the tifosi.
Unable to refire his engine when the race was restarted (following Giroix's massive
crash), then balked by a multi-car dust-up at the first chicane, Johnny produced perhaps
the drive of the year in clawing his way back to a brilliant third place at the flag. His
car control in the Camel Reynard was awesome, and the bark of that Cosworth as he jabbed
the power, his right foot buried earlier than anyone, will long ring in the ears of those
who heard it." - With grateful acknowledgement to Autocourse.
In August 1988, Johnny was asked by Team Lotus to stand in for its regular drivers
during tyre testing at Monza, where he immediately outpaced the reigning World Champion,
Nelson Piquet. Unfortunately, at Brands Hatch on the 21st of that month, Johnny was
involved in a dreadful multi-car accident. It was one of the worst accidents ever seen in
F3000, and it prematurely ended Johnny's F3000 season when he sustained serious injuries
to his feet and ankles.
The Autosport race report, and a series
of TV screenshots, capture the crash in all its horror.
Some may choose not to read the report or see the photos but they have been included here
as a historical record as one of the most important events in Johnny's career.
This is how Johnny remembered it, in his F1 Racing column in 1998:
"I remember lying in intensive care while all the doctors were debating what to do
with me. What I didn't know was that they were all convinced of one thing: my driving
career was over. Initially it was a question of which bits they might cut off. Then when
they realised what I did for a living, it was more a case of how they would try to fix the
mess, and whether I'd ever walk again. I was ignorant of all this, but my parents and
Becky, my wife, had to bear all of it.
"I got a lot of press because of the accident, and of a lot of people thought my
career was over. But when it's you lying there you can't afford to think that way. You
daren't. I just got into a recuperation programme as soon as I could and worked as hard as
I could. If I got back into racing then it was going to be worth all the effort and the
"For years afterwards, bits and pieces of grass or rubber would work their way out
of my feet. I think the last bits appeared in 1991! Recovery is an interesting exercise.
You learn a lot about yourself in those situations; you can't rely on what other people
tell you. Doctors are pessimistic. If I'd listened to them, I'd have been in bed for a
year. As it was, I crashed at the end of August and I was driving a Benetton in December.
If you work hard enough at something, you can overcome all sorts of problems."
Through sheer hard work, grit and persistence, Johnny was back, only seven months after
that crash, making his stunning Formula 1 debut...
Race Results - Japanese F3000
1991 Circuit Pos'n Out (laps)
3 Mar Suzuka 5th
24 Mar Fuji 7th
14 Apr Fuji DNF Transmission (23)
12 May Mine 2nd
26 May Suzuka DNF Accident (21)
28 Jul Sugo DNF Clutch (8)
11 Aug Fuji DNF Engine (16)
29 Sep Suzuka 7th
17 Nov Suzuka DNF Transmission (10)
30 Nov Fuji 6th
Car: Ralt RT23-Mugen (number 25). Team: Suntory West
Final Ranking: 10th (7 points - limited under the scoring system)
Champion: Ukyo Katayama
1990 Circuit Pos'n Out (laps)
4 Mar Suzuka 19th
15 Apl Fuji 10th
15 May Nisi-Nippon DNF Spin (17)
27 May Suzuka DNF Puncture (9)
29 Jul Sugo 7th
12 Aug Fuji DNF Spin
2 Sep Fuji 5th
23 Sep Suzuka 6th
28 Oct Fuji DNF Electrics (31)
18 Nov Suzuka DNF Accident (0)
Car: Reynard 90D-Mugen (number 25). Team Itariya.
Final Ranking: 18th (3points)
Champion:Hitoshi Ogawa (died 1992)
With thanks to Iori Kurisu and Takeshi Katoh.
Race Results European F3000
1988 Circuit Pos'n Out (laps)
17 Apl Jerez 1st
8 May Vallelunga DNF Accident (45)
23 May Pau DNS Recovering from accident
5 Jun Silverstone 7th
26 Jun Monza 3rd Fastest lap and lap record
17 Jul Enna-Pergusa DNF Clutch (0)
21 Aug Brands Hatch DNF Major Accident (22)
Did not compete for the rest of the season.
Final Championship standings:
1 Roberto Moreno (BR) 43
2 Olivier Grouillard (F) 34
3 Martin Donnelly (GB) 30
4 Pierluigi Martini (I) 23
5 Bertrand Gachot (B) 21
6 Mark Blundell (GB) 18
7 Gregor Foitek (CH) 15
8= Johnny Herbert (GB) 13
8= Eric Bernard (F) 13
10 Jean Alesi (F) 11
Every effort is made to ensure factual accuracy but
no responsibility is accepted for this information.
The photo of Johnny's wrecked F3000 car was
used by kind permission of Paul Harvey ©
Last revised 30th January 1999.
All rights reserved.