Tag Archives: Cunningham

C’est Ma Poisse ! – Ballot Racing Car

In 1905 former naval officer Gabriel Ernest Maurice Ballot, referred to down the ages as Ernest and or Maurice, with his brother Albert founded the company bearing their name in Paris to manufacture marine and industrial engines.

Six years later a group led by Adolphe Clément bought the company keeping Ernest as a senior employee with a small number of shares.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Following the cessation of the 1914 – 18 global hostilities, on the 11th of November, the 1914 Indy 500 winner René Thomas set about reviving his racing career and the fortunes of the French automobile industry by trying unsuccessfully to find a manufacturer to build a team of new cars to compete in the 1919 Indy 500.

Six weeks after Armistice Day René presented his idea’s to Ernest, who up until then had only been engaged in the manufacture of engines, never complete cars, but he was so enthused that by the end of December 24th he had persuaded the board of Ballot to go ahead with the project and signed René as lead driver.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

With just 120 days in which to design, build and test the cars before being shipped to the United States on the 26th of April, Ernest spent the next two days finding new premises from which his racing team led by former Peugeot designer Ernst Henry and assistant Fernand Marie Vadier could work in secret.

On December 27th the Henry, Vadier and three draughtsmen began work which allegedly would see no man leave the building except to take meals for two months.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Work started to fall behind schedule when the team could not secure a reliable supplier of crankshafts, leaving Ballot no option but to forge and heat treat it’s own, but on April 7th the first Ballot car ever built was complete with only the carburetor, magneto and wheels sourced from outside suppliers.

The French rail network was still so unreliable that the four crated racing cars left the Ballot factory on April 24th carried on the back of four trucks followed by a spare fifth truck with a couple of mechanics to ensure the team arrived at Le Havre on April 26th in time for the departure of the liner Savoie.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

Powered by 140hp straight eight engines with double over head cam shafts the Ballots were quick once the problem of over gearing had been sorted by fitting smaller diameter American sourced wheels.

René was the fastest qualifier with a speed of 104.700 mph and started from pole with the remaining team cars starting 6th driven by Paul Balbot, 9th driven by Albert Guyot and 13th driven by Louis Wagner.

Ballot Racing Car, Goodwood Festival Of Speed,

44 laps into the race a wheel broke on Louis Wagner’s car leading to a crash from which Louis emerged unscathed and sufficiently composed to take over from Albert Guyot whose hands were raw from blisters caused by the rough brick surface.

20 laps later Jean Chassagne who had taken over today’s featured chassis #1003 from Paul Balbot also crashed after a wheel collapsed again with out serious injury, but leaving the remaining two cars no choice but to pit for frequent wheel checks.

Louis eventually crossed the line in forth place with team leader René 11th, ironically the winning car driven by Howdy Wilcox was an older 1914 Peugeot another Ernst Henry design.

After receiving the telegram in Paris informing him of the teams misfortune Ernest sat in silence for a while before tossing them aside and growling “C’est ma poisse!” – It’s my bad luck.

After the race owners of #1003 included Centric Supercharger founder Christopher Shorrock and Anthony Heal in the UK, then D. Cameron Peck in Chicago, Briggs Cunningham and finally the Collier Collection.

Thanks for joining me on this “C’est Ma Poisse !” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

14/07/16 Thanks to Tim Murray and others at The Nostalgia Forum I have corrected the names Édouard and Maurice that originally appeared in this article to Gabriel Ernest Maurice and Albert.


Ferrari Friday – Blackhawk Museum and Danville Concours d’Elegance

While participating at the Danville Concours d’Elegance last month Geoffrey also popped into the Blackhawk Museum where some of today’s Ferrari’s were also seen.

Ferrari 195 Sport Touring Berlinetta, Blackhawk Collection

Among the cars yet to feature at Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres is this Ferrari 166MM chassis #0060M that was fitted with a larger 2.3 litre 195 engine by the Ferrari factory and entered at Le Mans By Chinetti and later at Sebring by Briggs Cunningham in 1950.

Ferrari 250 GT Ellena Coupé, Blackhawk Collection,

The Ferrari 250 GT Ellena Coupé above was built in 1957 it is the 23rd of the 50 Coupés with bodies by Carrozzeria Ellena.

Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet, Blackhawk Collection

Built in 1958 the 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet above was the 30th of 40 Series 1 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet’s to be built which I believe was seen at the 1958 Paris Salon before being sold to Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata in Venice.

Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet, Blackhawk Collection,

I have not yet I identified the chassis number of this 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet, if you know it please do not hesitate to chip in below.

Ferrari 250 Europa Vignale Coupé, Danville Concours d'Elegance,

Outside in the Danville Concours D’Elegance Brian Hoyte’s 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Vignale Coupé chassis #0295EU, another Paris show car, was judged worthy winner of the Award of Excellence.

Ferrari 250 GTO, Danville Concours d'Elegance,

While the Ferrari 250 GTO chassis #4757GT, another ex Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata car, now belonging to Tom Price turned plenty of heads, but on this occasion was awarded no prizes.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for once again sharing his photographs.

Thanks for joining me on this “Ferrari Friday” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a diminutive Chevron GT. Don’t forget to come back now !


English Wheel Master Gomm – Gomm Jaguar Special

The Gomm special is an amalgam of 1955 Jaguar XK 140 chassis, engine and running gear with bodywork craftsmanship attributed to a master of the english wheel Maurice Gomm.

Jaguar XK140 Gomm Special, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

I believe the motor is a 3442 cc / 210 cui double overhead cam Jaguar straight six.

Jaguar XK140 Gomm Special, Charles Fripp, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

The Maurice Gomm crafted body is said to have once been fitted to an ‘Alta GP chassis’ in these linked 2013 Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting race notes.

Jaguar XK140 Gomm Special, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

So far the only photo’s I have been able to find of such a vehicle are recent ones of Amy Tomlin’s Alta Jaguar GP with cycle mudguards, if you know which Alta GP chassis the body on today’s featured car was fitted to, please do not hesitate to chime in below.

Jaguar XK140 Gomm Special, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

While looking for information on the Alta chassis the body work featured here may have been attached to, I stumbled across this fascinating “Bring-A-Trailer” thread showing one of the last 4 unfinished Cunnigham CR3 chassis built with similar if not an identical right hand drive,RHD, body.

Jaguar XK140 Gomm Special, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

The Cunnigham CR3 chassis #5238 was bought separately form the body by Ben Shuckburgh and turned into a continuation Cunningham C4R featured on this link last June. If you know what became of the Cunningham’s body, seen in the Bring-A-Trailer thread please do not hesitate to chime in below.

Jaguar XK140 Gomm Special, Charles Fripp, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

Former Twyford Moors Classic Cars proprietor Charles Fripp commissioned his former business to fit the body to the XK140 chassis with racing suspension, Charles is seen at the wheel of his Gomm Jaguar Special in these photo’s taken at the Castle Combe Classic in October.

Thanks for joining me on this “English Wheel Master Gomm” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me tomorrow for a look at Emerson Fittipaldi’s favourite McLaren. Don’t forget to come back now !


Hansgen History For Sale – Hansgen Jaguar Special

Walt Hansgen was working at the family F.G. Hansgen body repair shop in Westfield, New Jersey when he was bitten by the racing bug aged 32.

In 1951 he managed to scrimp, save and borrow enough to buy a brand new Jaguar XK120 but despite ever improving results soon found it was not fast enough to keep pace with the competition and the new C-type Jaguar first seen in September 1952 in particular.

After racing in borrowed vehicles most of the way through 1952 Walt and Emil Hoffman built the chrome molly steel frame for today’s featured Hansgen Jaguar Special and transferred the running gear from his XK120 to save around 700 lbs in weight.

Hansgen Jaguar Special, Lime Rock, Ed Hyman,

Photo Copyright Ed Hyman 2007

Walt is known to have raced the car on at least 9 occasions through 1953 winning the SCCA Regional Cumberland Cup third time out and culminated by winning the 6th Annual Grand Prix of Watkins Glen.

Walt sold the car to Paul Timmins for the 1954 season and continued racing with a C-Type he bought from Marsten Gregory until he was eventually picked up by Briggs Cunningham to race as a professional.

Paul scored at least four second place finishes from at least eight known starts in the Hansgen Special.

Hansgen Jaguar Special, Lime Rock, Richard Rowley

Photo Copyright Richard Rowley 2014

Today the Hansgen Special is owned by Bob Millstein who bought her in 1983 and set about a six year restoration which was rewarded with a Jaguar Club of North America’s National Concours Champion award in 1989.

Since then Bob has continued to race the Hansgen Special which is seen in these photographs at Lime Rock. Ryan ‘Racer 187’ Smith, seen in the Daimler in the top photo, tells me the Hansgen Special is up for sale. If you would like to know more about this piece of Hansgen History, I will gladly put you in contact with the vendor, usual disclaimers apply.

My thanks to Ryan Smith for arranging permission for me to use the first photo by Ed Hyman and the second by Richard Rowley.

Thanks for joining me on this “Hansgen History For Sale” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I shall be looking at an unusual Japanese Formula One Car. Don’t forget to come back now !


Weight Saving Pussycat – Jaguar E-Type Lightweight #S850659

Between 1963 and 1964 Jaguar built 12 Lightweight E-Type Jaguars with six cylinder engine blocks, monocoques and bodies all made from aluminium which saved 250 lbs / 114 kgs over the standard E-Type.

Today’s featured Ligthweight E-Type, chassis #S850659, is the seventh of the 12 to be built and was delivered to Briggs Cummingham in time for him to enter it into the Sebring 12 hours for Bruce McLaren and Walt Hansgen to drive.

Jaguar, XK-E, Lightweight, Blackhawk Museum

Bruce and Walt finished the race in 8th place one place and one lap down on the class winning Kjell Qvalle lightweight E-Type #S850660 driven by Ed Leslie and Frank Morrill.

The cars next appearance was at Le Mans in 1963, where Walt Augie Pabst replaced Bruce McLaren to share driving the #14 with Walt. By this time Briggs has acquired two more lightweight E-Types to make up an impressive 3 car team.

Jaguar, XK-E, Lightweight, Blackhawk Museum

After just 8 laps Walt retired the #14 with a broken four speed gearbox, the sister #16 manged just 40 laps before Paul Richards and Roy Salvadori retired with fire damage after an accident. Team Patron Briggs and Bob Grossman also had to pit after loosing it’s bonnet in an accident, but rejoined the race to finish 9th overall and second in class to the AC Cobra driven by Peter Bolton and Ninan Sanderson.

After Le Mans #S850659 was fitted with a 5 speed ZF gearbox by the factory and driven to a third place finish by Walt Hangsen in the 1963 Bridgehampton 500 kms.

The car seen in these photographs, by Geoffrey Horton at the Blackhawk Museum, last year was tested by Simon Taylor in 1996 when he described it as a “pussycat” to drive, a racing car one “could go shopping in”.

Thanks for joining me on this “Weight Saving Pussycat” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for “Ferrari Friday” tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


ALFA Screen – Maserati Tipo 151 #151.006

In order to compete in the top 4.0 litre / 244 cui GT Prototype Class in the 1962 Le Mans 24 hours Briggs Cunningham and Frances Maserati agent John Simone funded the production of 3 Tipo 151’s.

Ing. Giulio Alfieri abandoned the Birdcage construction of his Tipo 60/61 models and returned to using large tube chassis construction as had been used on the one off Maserati 450S, the 151’s body featured a proprietary windscreen sourced from the ALFA Romeo Giuleitta Sprint Speciale parts bin.

Maserati Tipo 151, Colasacco / Hill, Goodwood Revival

Briggs Cunningham entered two of the Tipo 151’s, chassis 151.004 and 151.006 seen here, and Maserati France chassis 151.002 for the ’62 Le Mans 24 hours.

William Kimberly and Dick Thompson driving #151.006 qualified 3rd behind the Ferrari 330 TRI driven by eventual winners Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill and the 330 GTO driven by Mike Parkes and Lorenzo Bandini.

Maserati Tipo 151, Colasacco / Hill, Goodwood Revival

During the race William and Dick completed 62 laps before a brake issue caused Dick to crash and retire, the Maserati France car driven by Maurice Trintignant and Lucien Bianchi was withdrawn after 152 laps because the suspension was causing the rear tyres to wear out every 10 laps. The second Cunningham 151 driven by Walt Hangsen and Bruce McLaren retired after completing 177 laps with a blown motor.

#151.006 was then driven in two US events by Augie Pabst whose best result was a 7th place in the LA Times Grand Prix at Riverside. Bev Spencer then bought the car for Stan Peterson to drive in the ’62 SCCA meeting at Vacaville, however Stan crashed in the qualifying race and after it was repaired Bev sold the car to Skip Hudson whose best result, from three known starts, was a 3rd place in an SCCA race at Cotati in May 1963.

Joe Colasacco and Derek Hill were drove #151.006, now owned by Lawrence Auriana when it was photographed during practice for the RAC TT Celebration races at Goodwood in 2011 and 2012.

Thanks for joining me on this “ALFA Screen” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a French WM Le Mans entry. Don’t forget to come back now !


Prototype, Racer, Decoy – Jaguar #E2A

After Jaguars bitter sweet success at Le Mans in 1955, when the works D-Type driven by Mike Hawthorn and Ivor Bueb won the ill feted race following Mercedes Benz mid race withdrawal, Sir William Lyons concluded, as did the board of Mercedes Benz, that Jaguar’s resources would be better spent turning it’s racing success into commercial production success.

The Jaguar racing department became the Jaguar prototype department as all Jaguar works racing programmes were left to customer teams like Ecurie Eccose who promptly won Le Mans in 1956 and 1957 with their D-Types and Briggs Cunningham, who realised he did not have the resources to build and compete with an American sports car with the best Europe had to offer, but still had the resources to buy top line European cars to race.

Jaguar E2A, Ziegler, Goodwood Revival

The Jaguar prototype team’s first job was to build a production version of the D-Type using monocoque construction and replacing the D-type’s live rear axle with independent rear suspension.

This prototype, known as #E(Type)1A(Aluminium), was a 130 mph 2/3rds scale drivable vehicle built in 1957 which after much testing was broken up and scrapped somewhere between 1959 and 1960 without ever having been shown to the press or public.

Jaguar E2A, Ziegler, Goodwood Revival

Today’s featured car #E2A was a full scale second prototype with a monocoque and aluminium body styled by Malcolm Sayer. The car was fitted with a 3 litre / 183 cui fuel injected aluminium straight 6 motor in order to meet the Le Mans prototype regulations. E2A was entrusted to Briggs Cunninghams team and painted in his teams white with two blue stripes colours.

Before going to Le Mans in 1960 E2A was tested at the oval MIRA test facility and the suspension was set up for this purpose when it arrived at Le Mans unknown to Dan Gurney and Walt Hangsen who were employed to drive it.

Jaguar E2A, Ziegler, Goodwood Revival

Dan and Walt found the car extremely twitchy and it was late before the race that the suspension settings were changed to something more suitable to a public road used as a race track rather than a steeply banked oval at MIRA.

#E2A completed the opening lap of the 1960 Le Mans 24 hours in third place, but after just 3 laps the car was in the pits with a broken injector pipe. This was replaced but a train of damage had been set in motion which resulted in E2A retiring after six hours with a failed head gasket and burned piston.

Jaguar E2A, Dron, Goodwood Revival

Back at the Jaguar factory the 3 litre #E2A engine was swapped for a 3.8 litre / 231 cui unit and the car was shipped to the USA Walt Hangsen drove it to a win in the 2nd Annual Inter-club Championship Bridgehampton and class win in the 500 mile Road America race.

Reigning double world champion “Black” Jack Brabham drove #E2A 10th place finish in the 200 mile Grand Prix Riverside, a twisty track to which E2A was as poorly suited as Laguna Seca where Bruce McLaren drove #E2A in two heats of the First Pacific Grand Prix to 12th and 17th place finishes.

Jaguar E2A, Dron, Goodwood Revival

Thereafter #E2A was returned to Jaguar for further testing which included an early anti lock braking system called ‘Wheel Slide Protector’ as used by the Ferguson P99.

#E2A was eventually put into storage, only to be pulled out and painted green in 1965 so that it could be used as a decoy while testing of the top secret XJ13 was carried out at MIRA.

In 1967 Jaguar customer car competition manager Roger Woodley managed to save E2A from the usual destruction for scrap prototype fate by mediating a deal for his father in law Guy Griffiths Camden Car Collection in the Cotswolds to take it with Jaguars insistence that #E2A should never be used in competition.

Jaguar kindly repainted #E2A in Briggs Cunninghams original racing colours and some time after handing it over manged to supply Guy with a 3 litre fuel injected motor.

In 2008 Roger’s wife sold the car for just short of US$5 million at Bonham’s, owner Stefan Ziegler has since had the car prepared to ‘weapons grade racer’ standard much to the chagrin of some old curmudgeons, myself included.

Stefan is seen at the wheel of the car at Goodwood in the photo’s dated 2012, while Tony Dron is seen driving the car in the older images.

Thanks for joining me on this “Prototype, Racer, Decoy” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !