Renato "Tico" Martini was born in France of Italian parents who built his first racing machines in 1962 when he was living on the island of Jersey, off the French coast. This was a 650cc Triumph motorcycle-engined hillclimb car which was used at the famous Bouley Bay hillclimb on the island. This led him to meet the Knight brothers who ran the Winfield School at Magny-Cours and in 1963 Martini moved to Magny-Cours to look after the fleet of school racing cars.
This led to him building his first cars in a garage at the circuit, giving them the designation MW (Martini Winfield) and later MK (Martini Knight). The first cars were for Formule France and F3 and it was not long before Martini's became regular winners with Jacques Laffitte giving Martini its first F3 title in 1973. In 1975 Martini entered Formula 2 with Schnitzer BMW engines and Elf sponsorship and Hugues de Chaunac ran the team which gave Laffite six victories and the European Championship.
In 1974 Schnitzer engines won three (3) of the twelve (12) wins by BmW units. The domination continued in 1975, all but three (3) finisnihg places in the top three (3) in each race over the year being provided by BmW based engines. For most of the year Lafitte's Schnitzer 20,4 motor was rated at 290 bhp, but with higher lift valve gear took them to a claimed 300 bhp (150bhp / liter).