Tag Archives: Downe

Wrecked Prototype Reincanated – Nimrod Aston Martin NRAC/1 #001

With a world caravan speed record in his pocket set with his twin turbocharged Aston Martin ‘Muncher’ Robin Hamilton came to an agreement with Aston Martin Chairman Victor Gauntlet to enter a partnership to form Nimrod in 1981 which set out to build Aston Martin powered prototype Group C and GTP racing cars.

Nimrod Aston Martin NRA/C2, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The design of the cars was credited to Eric Broadley, though I have always had my doubts about the extent of his involvement because the design does not feature ground effect aerodynamics that were de rigeur in Formula One and becoming rampant in prototype sports cars such as Eric’s contemporary Lola T600 Group C / IMSA GTP design shows.

Nimrod Aston Martin NRA/C2, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Nimrod chassis tubs were certainly built by Lola, they were known in the Lola factory as T385’s and the cars do appear to bear a familial resemblance to the smaller open Lola T380 of the type Alan de Cadanet purchased in 1975. The heavily modified Aston Martin V8’s were prepared initially by Aston Martin Tickford and later by Aston Martin Lagonda.

Nimrod Aston Martin NRA/C2, Goodwood Festival of Speed

It is believed that the 1981 car, seen here at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, belonging to the Louwman Museum is the rebuilt wreck of the prototype that crashed before ever turning a wheel in open competition, that was never raced subsequently either.

Nimrod Aston Martin NRA/C2, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Nimrods turned out to be underfunded and inevitably disappointed, the works cars best result, in second generation NRAC/2 guise that appeared in 1982, was a 5th place finish in the IMSA GTP series which fell to Reggie Smith, Lyn St. James and Drake Olson in the 1983 Sebring 12 Hours. At the end of the season Nimrod Racing folded.

The best Nimrod finish in the World Sports Car Group C series fell to Ray Mallock and Mike Salmon on the Nimrods debut at the 1982 Silverstone 6 Hours. This private entry by Viscount Downe was independently developed by Ray Mallock until 1984 and proved quicker and more reliable than the works entries scoring the marques only Le Mans finish in 1983 when Ray and Mike were joined by Simon Philips and finished 7th from 23rd on the grid.

In 1983 for the Daytona 24 Hours Nimrod manged to team up both 4 time Indy 500 winner and one time Daytona 500 Winner AJ Foyt up with fellow Daytona 500 winner and three time NASCAR Cup winner Darrell ‘Jaws’ Waltrip and an unknown Argentinian Guillermo Maldonado with Darrell’s sponsor Pepsi in their lead #11 car.

They qualified 13th, but retired with engine failure to be classified 54th. AJ who had not driven the car in the race moved over to join Preston Henn in the Henn’s Swap Shop Porsche 935 and shared a victory with Preston, “Brilliant” Bob Wollek and Claude Ballot-Lena.

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


Dealer Pressure – Aston Martin DP 212

Following the success of the Aston Martin DBR1 at Le Mans and the 1959 World Sports Car championship the Aston Martin team refocused it’s attentions on an ill timed Grand Prix effort that folded by the end of 1960, by which time the front engined Aston Martin DBR4 and DBR5 were completely out classed by rear engined cars.

Aston Martin DP212, Goodwood Revival

Under pressure from dealers to come up with a new racing program David Brown sanctioned the development of the DP 212 for the 1962 Le Mans 24 hours.

The cars was built using an Aston Martin DB4GT frame with a 345hp 4 litre / 244 cui six cylinder motor and a sensuous slippery long body to suit the potential of 4 mile Mulsanne straight at Le Mans.

Graham Hill and Richie Ginther were engaged to drive the car at Le Mans where it had a brief moment of glory leading the opening lap of the 24 hour endurance race with Graham Hill at the wheel, however from there on the car dropped down the field over the next six hours until it retired from 9th place with piston failure following an oil pipe fracture.

The original bodywork was found to experience stability problems at speed and after aerodynamic tests was replaced with a Kamm tail of the sort that was later used on the back of the Aston Martin DB6.

Subsequently DP212’s only other appearance was at the 1963 Le Mans test weekend where Jo Schlesser, Bruce McLaren, Lucien Bianchi and William Kimberly drove the car which recorded 5th fastest time. By the 1963 Le Mans 24 hour race the DP212 had been replaced by the DP 214 and DP215 models.

DP212 was later converted to a road car with even larger 349 hp motor and driven in a variety of events by Hon.John Dawnay, later Viscount Downe, and Mike Salmon the later winning the 1974 Classic Car Championship with it.

Thanks for joining me on this “Dealer Pressure” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at a Le Mans winner from Germany. Don’t forget to come back now !