Tag Archives: Thomas

HSCC International Trophy – Silverstone

Now celebrating it’s 50th anniversary the Historic Sports Car Club organised a two day International Trophy meeting at Silverstone last weekend of which I popped along to the second.

Jaguar E-type_7278sc

The first race of the day was led by the #91 Jaguar E-Type shared by Julian Thomas an Calum Lockie for opening 13 laps of the Turnkey GT and Sports Car Cup, but they lost ground on the driver change which happened as the course was under a full course caution that became a red flag after three further laps leaving the #75 AC Cobra 289 shared by Leo Voyazides and Andy Wolfe that had been running in the top six to inherit the win.

Formula Junior_7318sc

Sam Wilson in his #53 Lotus 20/22 led the 2nd Formula Junior race of the weekend from start to finish five cars held second place over the 9 lap race with Andrew Hibberd’s red #79 Lotus 22, seen in fourth above securing the spot with two laps to go, a late charge from James Murray secured third in his Lola.

Michael Lyons, McLaren M26, HSCC International Trophy, Silverstone

James Hunt won the International Championship twice when the British Racing Drivers Club organised the event with Hesketh in 1974 and McLaren in his 1976 championship winning year, last weekend Michael Lyons, seen above, drove a 1977 spec McLaren M26 to an easy victory in International Trophy ahead of Andrew Smith’s Gunston liveried March 79B.

Lola T282, Voyazides-Wolfe, HSCC International Trophy, Silverstone

Leo Voyazides and James Wolfe had to work a little harder, than Micheal, in their 1973 Jean-Louis Lafosse / Reine Wisell Gitanes liveried Lola T282 to get the better of the #19 Simon Watson and Andrew Kirkaldy Chevron B19 and the third place #60 Chevron B26 driven by John Burton in the 50 minute Pre 80 Endurance race.

Historic Formula 3, HSCC International Trophy, Silverstone

After several successful seasons running a Cooper in Formula Junior Jon Milicevic has switched to driving the #14 Brabham BT21B in Formula 3 and looks to continue his winning ways, having passed the Micheal Hibberd’s #25 Brabham on the opening lap he retained the lead to the end to finish ahead of Simon Archer’s #22 March 703 which worked it’s way up from 5th at the end of the opening lap.

Guards Trophy, HSCC International Trophy, Silverstone

George Tizzard’s persistence chasing down, the out of shot, #4 pole sitting Chevron B8 shared by Sandy Watson and Martin O’Connell was rewarded when he took the lead in the HSCC Guards Trophy 2 laps from home driving the #2 Gulf liveried Lenham Spyder.

Ford Falcon, Leo Voyazides, HSCC International Trophy, Silverstone

Leo Voyazides took a fairly easy victory third victory of the day with a solo drive in his Ford Falcon in the HSCC ByBox Historic Touring Car Championship beating the Ford Mustang driven by Warren Biggs by 14 seconds from pole position.

HSCC Historic Formula Ford 2000, HSCC International Trophy, Silverstone

In the final race of the day Ian Pearson won the HSCC Formula 2000 race from pole in his #9 Van Diemen RF83 while Andrew Park had to battle back to second in his white #27 Reynard SF81 after giving the place up to the #87 Reynard SF79 driven by Nelson Rowe and #33 Van Diemen RF82 of Marc Mercer on the opening lap.

Thanks for joining me on this International Trophy edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me for the next Packard edition soon. Don’t forget to come back now !


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.


Classic Competition Cars – Classic Motor Show NEC Birmingham

Today’s blog is all about some of the classic competition vehicles at last weekends Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

Rosemary Smith,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

A couple of weeks ago I went to a talk at which Rosemary Smith, winner of the 1965 Tulip Rally driving the Hillamn Imp above, was to be the guest of honour, unfortunatley she had a fall and so could not make it so it was great to see her on her feet again at the Classic Motor Show despite the fact that some of her bones were still on the mend.

MG B Roadster,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Rosemary drove a Ford Cortina Lotus on the 1968 London to Sydney Rally and finished 48th six places behind Jean Denton who drove the MGB GT Roadster seen above in need of some tlc, who finished 42nd.

Discovery Beetle,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Among the taller vehicles at the show was the road legal Gulf liveried Discovery Beetle, above, built on a shortened 1996 Land Rover Discovery chassis and fitted with a 300 TDi which being lighter and more aerodynamic than a standard Discovey goes well on the road and is perfect for off road trials.

Cooper Daimler T87,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Having acquired a 1966 Cooper T81 formula one car and fitted it with a 7.2 litre / 440 cui wedge engine for hill climbing Martin Brain acquired a 1967 Cooper T87 Formula 2 chassis and had it fitted with a 2.5 litre / 152 cui Daimler hemi V8, more commonly found in the SP250 and V8 250 Daimler models, for hill climbing on tracks with tighter corners. The car was rescued from a Swedish Museum in 2011 by Gillian Goldsmith better known as a successful equestrian and car racer Gillian Fortescue-Thomas who has since competed with the Cooper Daimler as has her daughter Samantha.

Gould NME GR61X,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Powered by a 650 hp Nicholson McLaren Engines (NME) 3.5 litre / 213 cui development of the Cosworth HB Indy car engine the Gould NME GR61X is the most successful car ever to compete in British Hill Climbing with Scott Moran claiming 133 wins and Roger Moran claiming a further 16 and Alex Summers 8 since the cars first appearance in April 2005.

Empire Wraith,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Successful Trike hill climber and Empire Racing Cars founder Bill Chaplin called Dutch born Formula One aerodynamicist Willem Toet, most recently at Sauber, to work on the Empire Wraith hill climb challenger which is powered by a 180hp Suzuki GSR K8 motor. This example built at the Empire factory in Stathe Somerset in 2013 is the first of three built to date and is driven by Clive Austin and Chris Aspinall.

Healey Westland,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

In 1948 Donald Healey and Geoffrey Healey drove the Healey Westland above to a ninth place finish on the Mille Miglia, the following year Tommy Wisdom and Geoffrey finished 10th in the same event in the same car.

Marcos Prototype,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

By 1959 former de Haviland aircraft engineer Frank Costin had a CV that included designing the Vanwall Grand Prix challenger that won the inaugural World Constructors Championship in 1958 and subsequent demand for his attention included that of Jem Marsh with whom he founded Marcos Engineering in Dolgellau, North Wales. The prototype Marcos, using the same plywood construction techniques de Haviland used to build the Mosquito fighter bomber the Vampire jet fighter, built in 1959 powered by a Ford 100E engine is seen above awaiting some well earned tlc having disappeared in Lincoln for many years.

Italia 2000GT,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Only 329 Italia 2000 GT’s were built by Vignale and in 1996 Jorg Von Appen had #210, one of five Italia’s he owned converted to race spec to take part in the TR Race series, it survived four races and was recently purchased by the proprietor of Patterson’s Original Pickles.

Porsche 904 Carrera GTS,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

After withdrawing from Formula One at the end of 1962 Porsche built their first tube framed fiberglass bodied sports car which would culminate in the development of the 917 and later 936 models, originally known as the 904 Porsche badged the car Carrera GTS in deference to Peugeot’s ‘digit “0” digit’ numbering system. The GTS seen here was I believe used in competition by Claude Barbier and possibly later by Cyr Febbrairo.

BMW GTP,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

No doubt much to the annoyance of Formula Ring Meister Bernie Ecclestone the manufacturer who supplied the engines for his Formula One Brabham team split it’s efforts in 1986 between Formula One and the IMSA GTP series and invested in four March 86G chassis and fitted them with a 2 litre / 122 cui version of the BMW engine that had powered Nelson Piquet to the World Championship in 1983. A BMW GTP was driven to it’s only victory by Davy Jones and John Andretti in the Watkins Glen 500, while the Brabham BMW team scored on 2 championship points in the worst season for the team up to that time.

Eagle HF89,  Classic Motorshow, NEC, Birmingham

Dan Gurney’s All American Racers graduated to the IMSA GTP class in 1989, after claiming the driver’s and constructors’ championships in the GTO division Chris Cord in 1987, the teams all new HF89 was designed by Ron Hopkins and Hiro Fujimori and the following year Argentina’s Juan Manuel Fangio II drove HF89’s to three victories in the Topeka 300, Sears Point 300 with Rocky Moran and Del Mar Fairgrounds Road Circuit in November 1990.

Thanks for joining me on this “Classic Competition Cars” edition of Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Carrera Panamericana challenger. Don’t forget to come back now !


Blue Bird & Pandora – Pendine Sands

Anyone passing through Pendine in Camarthenshire might miss the relevance to the checkered flags on the head board of Sunbeam Dinner.

Sunbeam Diner, Pendine Sands

However if they were to turn left before the Dinner and go through to the small beach car park like the couple in the 1909 Alldays below …

Alldays, Pendine Sands

… they might notice the Museum of Speed, entry just £2.00 when BABS below is resident and free when she is not.

BABS, Museum of Speed, Pendine, Carmarthenshire

Regular readers may remember JG Parry-Thomas became the first man of land to travel at over 170mph when he set a new land speed record aboard BABS on the 7 mile beach at Pendine in April 1926.

Darracq 1.9 Twin, Pendine Sands

On July 21st this 1904 Darracq, builders of the first car to travel two miles in less than a minute, 1.9 Twin and all the other vehicles featured in today’s post gathered to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the previous land speed record of 150.87 mph by Malcolm Campbell.

Sunbeam 3 litre, Pendine Sands

Like the 350hp Blue Bird Campbell drove in 1925 the 1930 3 litre heavy sports car above was made by Sunbeam.

Chrysler Prowler, Pendine Sands

Sunbeam merged with Automobiles Darracq S.A. in 1920 to become Sunbeam Talbot Darracq shortly after Automobiles Darracq S.A. had themselves bought Clément-Talbot to sell Talbot Darracqs. In 1935 the triumvirate went into receivership only to be rescued by the Rootes Group owners of Hillman and Humber who created the new Sunbeam Talbot brand in 1938. Rootes sold a 30% stake to Chrysler who were attempting to establish a presence in Europe in 1964 which gives us a tenuous link to the 2002 Chrylser Prowler seen above.

Gilbern Invader Mk II, Pendine Sands

Adding another touch of local flavor in the car park was the 1971 Gilbern Invader built in nearby Pontypridd.

Blue Bird Sunbeam 350hp, Don Wales, Pendine Sands

Above Sir Malcom Campbells Grandson Don Wales, a World Land Speed Record holder for steam powered vehicles, drives his Grandfathers Blue Bird which was built in 1920 when the car was known as the Sunbeam V12. After several unsuccessful attempts at claiming the Land Speed Record Malcolm Campbell bought the car, which now belongs to the National Motor Museum, in 1924 and turned it into a record breaker.

Napier Railton, Alan Winn, Pendine Sands

Also being demonstrated at Pendine was John Cobb’s Napier Railton seen above driven by the Brooklands Museum’s Director & CEO, Allan Winn. In 1950 the Napier Railton was given a new nose and windscreen and called Pandora for an appearance in the film Pandora and the Flying Dutchman staring Eva Gardener as Pandora, James Mason as the Flying Dutchman and Nigel Patrick as a would be land speed record breaker Stephen Cameron. It’s a lovely period flash back movie the trailer for which can be seen on this link, after Stephen pushed the Napier Railton off a cliff to prove his love to Pandora he rescues the car from the sea and restores it and sets an improbably high 200 mph plus record before the car catches fire and has to be driven into the sea to quench the flames. The scenes of the fictional record breaking were filmed at Pendine apparently with Dylan Thomas among the extra’s.

 Jaguar XF Portfolio Sportbrake D, Pendine Sands

Finally this Jaguar XF Portfolio Sportbrake D in the car park was a reminder that Bristol’s own SSC Bloodhound team are making preparations on their own Supersonic World Land Speed Record attempt in South Africa in the not too distant future.

Thanks for joining me on this “Blue Bird & Pandora” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be making the first of three visits to Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance. Don’t forget to come back now !


All Enveloping Compliance – Allard J2X Le Mans #3055

In 1950 Sydney Allard ventured to Le Mans for the 24 Hours race with American Tom Cole as his co driver and the pair in the Cadillac powered Allard J2 came home with a more than credible 3rd place overall finish, and 8 litre / 488 cui class.

Allard J2X Le Mans, Silverstone Classic,

The following year two J2’s were entered for the 24 Hours, but this time Sydney and Tom retired after completing 134 laps with a broken gearbox team mates were frustratingly unclassified, despite having completed more than 194 laps, due to transmission problems which kept from them running when the clock heralded the end of the race.

Allard J2X Le Mans, Silverstone Classic,

For 1952 new regulations for Le Mans outlawed cycle wings / fenders on cars like the J2, and Talbot T26 by mandating bodies with fully enveloped wheels.

Allard J2X Le Mans, Andy Dee Crowne, Silverstone Classic, Test Day,

Talbot employed Charles Deutsch to simply rebody their existing T26 cars, but Allard took the opportunity to switch to his new J2X chassis which featured an extended frame, trailing radius rods, and the engine mounted 7 1/2 inches further forward to create more space in the cockpit.

Allard J2X Le Mans, Andy Dee Crowne, Silverstone Classic, Test Day,

Two types of body were available for the J2X, cycle mudguard of which 77 are believed to have been built and enclosed J2X Le Mans of which 10 or 11 are believed to have been built.

Allard J2X Le Mans, Silverstone Classic,

Two Chrysler V8 331 cui / 5394 cc powered Allard J2X Le Mans cars were taken to Le Mans for the hour race in 1952, today’s #4 chassis #3055 for Sydney Allard and Jack Fairman and the #5 chassis #3049 for Frank Curtis and Zora Arkus Duntov.

Allard J2X Le Mans, Silverstone Classic,

Frank and Zora qualified 14th on the grid, but retired with brake failure, in front of the sister car of Sydney and Jack which had qualified 18th and retired with a fuel tank issue.

Allard J2X Le Mans, Silverstone Classic,

#3055 was prepared to it’s present condition by Sam Thomas Racing and returned to Le Mans for the first time in 62 years last year.

Allard J2X Le Mans, Silverstone Classic,

Owner Andy Dee Crowne is seen at the wheel in these photographs taken at the Silverstone Classic test day earlier this year.

Thanks for joining me on this “All Enveloping Compliance” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at two of the all time greatest drives in history that gave Mercedes Benz a 1-2 finish. Don’t forget to come back now !


Wide Body – Scirocco BRM SP-1-63

In 1962 American Tony Settember with backing from compatriot Hugh Powell made his Grand Prix debut driving a Coventry Climax powered Emeryson Mk2 in the British Grand Prix where he finished 11th from 19th on the Grid.

Tony qualified 21st and last for the 1962 Italian Grand Prix and retired, but undeterred Hugh Powell bought out Paul Emery at the end of the season and rebranded the team Scirocco for the 1963 season.

Scirocco BRM, Goodwood Revival,

The team commissioned Roy Thomas to build the chassis which features a combination of monocoque and tube frame elements, John Tojeiro to provide the suspension and Williams & Pritchard to provide the body work.

The new Scirocco’s were powered with V8 motor’s supplied by reigning World Champions BRM which were fitted to Colotti Type 34 six speed gearboxes.

Scirocco BRM, Delane, Goodwood Revival,

Two cars were completed for the 1963 season and were driven by Tony and Englishman Ian Burgess.

The teams world championship effort was disheartening, from 10 entries the team withdrew Ian’s car on three occasions Tony failed to qualify in Italy and the team did not record any finishes although Tony was classified 8th in Belgium despite retiring after an accident 7 laps from the finish.

Scirocco BRM, Goodwood Revival,

The high point of the teams qualifying for world championship races was Tony’s 18th place start in the British Grand Prix.

However alongside their championship programe the Scirocco Powell team made three non championship appearances and at the 1963 Austrian Grand Prix Tony qualified 8th in chassis #SP-1-63 seen in these photographs and brought the car home in 2nd place five laps down Jack Brabham’s Brabham BT3.

Scirocco BRM, Goodwood Revival,

The Scirocco Powell team folded at the end of 1963 and SP-2-63 was sold on to Equipe Scirocco Belge who had Tim Parnell fit a Coventry Climax V8 for André Pelitte who’s best result in 1964 was a 6th place finish in the non Championship News Of The World Trophy at Goodwood.

#SP-1-63 was built a bit wider than #SP-2-63 because Tony was a bit bigger then Ian, it is seen in these photographs at Goodwood Revival a couple of years ago with John Delane at the wheel.

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


150.87 mph / 242.80 kph – Sunbeam V12

These day’s if one had just £500 to spare it would probably not be too difficult to scan a few classified car ads and find a car that was still capable of reaching 150 mph.

Sunbeam V12, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

When Sunbeam’s chief engineer and racing team manager Louis Coatalen conceived today’s featured Sunbeam V12 in 1920 the World Land Speed Record stood at 124.09mph / 199.70kph set by Lydston Hornsted driving a 200hp Benz at Brooklands in June 1914.

Sunbeam V12, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

Louis’s idea was to fit a 350 hp 18.3 litre / 1116 cui V12 Sunbeam Manitou V12 aero engine in to a chassis and clad the vehicle in the most aerodynamically slippery shape that could be devised.

Sunbeam V12, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

Harry Hawker was given the task of driving the Sunbeam V12 at two Brooklands race meetings in 1920, but the car suffered from damage after a tyre blew on the Whitsun Weekend and then could not start after the engine stalled in August, but René Thomas drove the car to a new 108 mph course record on the Gaillon Hill Climb in France.

Sunbeam V12, Doug Hill, Goodwood Festival of Speed

In 1921 Kenelm Lee Guinness drove the car at Brooklands recording a top speed of 140 mph and an average lap speed of 116 mph at the Autumn meeting, the following year Kenelm set a one way flying kilometer record of 133 mph, but this was never recognised as a World Land Speed record for which the speed is determined by the average of two runs in opposite directions.

Sunbeam V12, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

Malcolm Campbell borrowed the Sunbeam V12 to compete in the 1923 Saltburn Speed Trials and recorded a one way run of 138 mph which was enough to convince him that he should purchase the car for further Land Speed Record attempts in 1924.

Sunbeam V12, National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

After Ernest Eldridge raised the official Land Speed Record to just over 145 mph aboard the FIAT Mephistopheles, a vehicle I shall be looking at next week, in June 1924 at in Arpajon in France, Malcolm took his now blue and silver, previously green and silver, Sunbeam to the Pendine Sands in September 1924 and recorded a two way average speed of just over 146 mph for his and the Sunbeams first World Land Speed Record.

In July 1925 the combination returned to Pendine Sands and raised the World Land Speed Record to 150.87 mph / 242.80 kph a record that stood for just under a year when a car that I shall be looking at in two weeks took the record up to 170 mph.

Thanks for joining me on this “150.87 mph / 242.80 kph” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Maserati Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !