In 1976 one year after production of the Lotus Elan had ceased the 4th generation Group 5 regulations came into effect for “Special Production Cars” for cars that met the criteria for groups 1 to 4 but were allowed almost unlimited bodywork modifications excluding the bonnet, roofline and railpanel combined with unlimited lightening of the chassis.
Porsche dominated the series overall from 1976 to the series demise in 1981 with numerous variations of the 935 model, though it’s ultimate development ‘Moby Dick’ 935/78 ironically only one one race. Lancia was most successful in the smaller under 2 litre / 122 cui division with it’s Lancia Beta Montecarlo winning two championships with BMW and Ford taking the smaller category once each.
Three different Lotus models were entered into selected Group 5 (Silhouette) races three Elan’s like the one featured today, a Europa and a couple of Lotus Esprit’s. Over the next couple of weeks I will be looking at how three of those teams faired.
In 1968 Derek Mathews built the first of several well known and successful racing cars a Sprite for John Banks, which by 1970 became the Ark Sprite powered by Ford Twin Cam engine. After building and running a Group 6 2 seat open sports car with F Lester Ray originally called the (Derek Matthews) DM6 (sixth car) which became the Vogue Derek built a Lotus Elan for John Evans to race in the 1974 in British Modsports races a combination which recorded many class wins in 1974 and 1975 being crowned BRSCC (British Racing Sports Car Club) Modsports Champions in 1975.
For 1979 Ark Racing built an Elan for Max Payne and John Evans to run in selected World Manufacturers Championship, German DRM, and Belgian events, becoming the third Elan to be used in Group 5. According to ‘The Oracle” and Richard Jenvey the Ark Racing Group 5 Elan, seen above making it’s debut at Silverstone, was built on a Lotus chassis.
At Silverstone the Elan qualified 23rd overall, 3rd last in class and retired with gearbox issues. The car was raced four times in 1979, Max Payne beating a de Tomaso Pantera to win a Benelux race at Zandvoort in The Netherlands.
The last time I saw the Ark Racing Elan was in 1982, again at Silverstone above, when Max Payne was sharing the car with Chris Ashmore they qualified 32nd and were disqualified for a push start. The Ark Racing Elan is thought to have been the last one to have raced taken part in an international ‘in period’ race qualifying 25th and finishing 18th at the 1982 Brands Hatch 1000 kms race with Payne and Ashmore at the wheel.
My thanks to The Oracle, his spokesman Pete Taylor and Edward Fitzgerald for their comments at The Nostalgia Forum and to Richard Jenvey for his private comments.
Thanks for joining me on this “Out Of The Ark” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !