Tag Archives: Stevens

8 Race Card – Autumn Classic Castle Combe

A couple of weeks ago Castle Combe’s 2014 racing season came to an end with the third Autumn Classic meeting and it has without question grown and flourished in the 36 months since the first one.

Anthony Binnington Cooper T67, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

Today I’ll focus on last weekend’s racing and return to some of the other stunning attractions at a future date. First race of the day was for Formula Junior cars which was won by Jonathon Milicevic in his 1962 Cooper T59. During the grid walk about before the start I became acquainted with Anthony Binnington who qualified his ex Peter Revson 1963 Cooper T67 6th, fell to 19th on the opening lap and climbed up to 7th in the remaining 15 laps. Anthony tells me his car originally belonged to Peter Revson, first US born Can Am Champion in 1971, who set an all time lap record for the Formula Junior class at any track of 130 mph at Enna Pergusa, Italy on his way to a second place finish behind Frenchman Jo Schlesser in August 1963.

David Smithies, Bruce Montgomery, Austin Healey Challenge, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

The John Gott Memorial Trophy race for Austin Healey’s last year saw an attempt by the leading 5 cars to go into the Bobbies chicane simultaneously, this year the action was not quite so wild, but the race for the lead twixt winner David Smithies, driving the #50, who got the jump on pole man Bruce Montgomery, driving the #177, at the start was entertaining until Bruce was forced to give up his second place to David Grace who finished just over .2 of a second behind Smithies.

David Reed, Chris Jolly Historic Aston Martins, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

Simon Hadfield driving an Aston Martin DB3S drove a text book race to win the Historic Aston Martin race by nearly a minute. The second place challengers David Reed, driving the #53 Aston Martin DB2, and Chris Jolly, driving the #16 DB2 were rarely more than spitting distance apart until the final 2 laps when the invited Jaguar XK 150 of Paul de Havilland passed Chris and made it stick to the finish.

Andy Wallace, Les Ely Jaguar Enthusiasts Club, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

One of the high lights of the Autumn Classic was seeing 1988 Jaguar Le Mans winner Andy Wallace, driving the #61 Jaguar D type seen above after lapping the #31 Jaguar 3.4 litre Saloon of Les Ely, on his first visit to the circuit in 30 years. Andy recorded a dead heat in a Formula Ford (Pinto) 2000 race on his last visit to the circuit, this time he was in third place in the D-type when the safety car came out and trapped him out of position in traffic from which he could only salvage a 5th behind 4 E-type Jaguars driven by Martin Hunt, Mark Russell, Brian Stevens and Grahame Bull.

Patrick Blakeney Edwards, Fraser Nash Owlet, VSCC Pre War Sports Cars, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

I am quite sure if the only competitor in the VSCC Pre War Sports Car Race had been Patrick Blakeney Edwards the crowd would have gone home convinced they had got their money’s worth. Patrick driving the chain driven Fraser Nash Owlet as entertainingly as ever only finished 6th behind winner Frederick Wakeman who was driving a roadster bodied Fraser Nash Super Sports.

Robin Ellis, Simon Hadfield,  John Ure, FiSCar 50's Inter Marque, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe

The FiSCar 50’s Inter Marque challenge lived up to it’s name with the lead contested by a pair of Lotus Elites, the #6 Cooper Bristol driven by John Ure and Nick Wrigley, and the #10 Elva Courier by Simon and Amanda Hadfield, seen above with Simon going into a brief lead ahead of the eventual winning #75 Lotus Elite shared by Robin Ellis and Richard Fores. The Hadfields finished 10th and the Cooper Bristol 3rd behind the Lotus Elite driven solo by Brian Arculus.

 Steve Jones, George Shackleton, Cooper, 500 Formula 3, Autumn Classic, Castle Combe,

I reported on the activities of the 500 Association on Saturday, above 500 Formula 3 winner of the BAC MSC Challenge Trophy Steve Jones thanks the track marshals with a wave with second place finisher George Shackleton riding shot gun, driving the #74 Cooper Mk X and #23 Cooper Mk XI respectively.

08 Austin Healey Challenge_2072sc

Light levels were falling as the final race of the day, for the ever entertaining Austin Healey’s, got under way.
David Grace, seen leading on the opening lap into Quarry above, made the best start and kept it to the end from pole sitter David Smithies.

I’ll be revisiting Castle Combe in the coming weeks with further blogs on this great day out.

Thanks for joining me on this “8 Race Card” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow to continue the Dodge centenary celebrations. Don’t forget to come back now !


Purple Haze – Brighton Speed Trials

The the skeletal old pier at Brighton was shrouded by a sea haze as I enjoyed an excellent breakfast with local organic eggs at the Lucky Beach cafe on the beach front.

The purpose of my visit to Brighton was to see the 1/4 mile Brighton Speed Trials which earlier this year were saved, with the aid of some GALPOT readers who signed an e-petition organised by Brighton and Hove Motor Club.

Austin 1800 S, Brighton Speed Trials

Among the Brighton and Hove Motor Club members taking part was Andrew Atherton and his immaculate 1970 Austin 1800 S Mk II, also known as a Landcrab, who recorded a best time of 20.77 secs which translates to a final speed of at least 66.55 mph.

Plymouth Satellite, Cheng Lim, Brighton Speed Trials,

Surprisingly Cheng Lim could not better Andrew’s time in his similarly aged General Lim Plymouth Satellite who only managed a best time of 29.67 or 47.49 mph the slowest time of the day.

Porsche 911, Barry Stewart, Brighton Speed Trials,

At the sharper end of the field Barry Stewart managed to record 41st fastest time with a best 12.10 secs approx 112 mph in his Rallycross, off road competition, spec turbocharged Porsche 911.

Allard J2, Jim Tiller, Brighton Speed Trials,

Jim Tiller’s drag spec Allard J2 “The Old Fella” had the largest quoted engine size at 7342 cc / 448 cui but he could only record 14th best time at 10.62 seconds / 127 mph.

Force SR4, Rob Stevens, Brighton Speed Trials,

Like the slowest car the fastest car in the field was painted purple, but the competition Force SR4 powered by a 1300 cc / 79 cui turbocharged motor was driven by 2012 Brighton Speed Trials Winner Rob Stevens who recorded a best time of 9.87 seconds / 144 mph in the top six run off.

Suzuki Hyabusa Turbo, Craig Mallabone, Brighton Speed Trials,

Unsurprisingly 8 bikes managed a faster time than Rob with fastest being Craig Mallabone on his 1300 cc / 79 cui turbocharged Hayabusa powered Suzuki who recorded the only sub 9 second time of the day at 8.94 on his first timed run, seen above, at an astonishing 150.68 mph.

My thanks to those GALPOT readers who signed the Save Brighton Speed Trials e-petition without your support I would not have found myself writing this blog.

Thanks for joining me on this “Purple Haze” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again for a look at a proto Can Am car tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


All Wheel Drive Ace – AC Ace Prototype

In 1986 the Hurlock Family ended their 56 year controlling interest in AC Cars by selling their share to Autocraft and Ford.

AC Ace Prototype, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

Under the new management today’s prototype AC Ace known as the Ace of Spades was developed styled by Ford’s own design studio and built by Autokraft in time for the 1986 Birmingham Motor Show.

AC Ace Prototype, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

The Ace of Spades was built around a steel monocoque and featured all wheel drive and a V6 motor from the Ford XR4x4 / Ford Scorpio parts bin. It was estimated the car would reach 60 mph from rest in less than seven seconds and that the top speed would be of the order of 140 mph.

AC Ace Prototype, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

For unspecified reasons Ford dropped their interest in pushing the Ace of Spades into production and eventually sold their interest Ford to Autocraft. In 2000 AC enthusiast Mr Stevens bought the car with 20 miles on after AC Car Group Ltd had gone into receivership in 1996.

AC Ace Prototype, Classics at the Castle, Sherborne

Mr Stevens turned the show car into a more practical road going proposition which included commissioning the Leiter Motor Company of Semley to devise a roof and electrically operated window’s. When the car was seen here at Classics at the Castle in Sherborne the Ace of Spades prototype had clocked up 6,000 miles.

Shortly after this the car was sold by Mr Stevens family at auction where it fetched £15,000. Classics at the Castle will be held again tomorrow and if time permit’s I look forward to attending.

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


Blakely Oil Special – Schroeder Offenhauser

The Blakely Oil Special was designed and built by Gordon Schroeder for owner John McDaniel to enter in the 1951 Indianapolis 500.

Blakely Oil Special, Schroeder Offenhauser, Desert Classics, Concours d'Elegance

The #52 qualified 29th and finished 5th, having run has high as second, with rookie Bobby Ball at the wheel. Schroeder and Clint Brawner were on the crew led by Myron Stevens formerly of Miller who was also responsible for the fabrication of the chassis and the body work.

The Blakely Special was powered by a 4 cylinder 4.4 litre / 270 cui Offenhauser motor as were all the other cars in the 1951 Indy field apart from the two Novi powered Novi Purelube entered Kurtis chassis. Indy 500 historian Michael Ferner informs me that the The Blakely Oil Special failed to qualify for the 1952 500 after Bobby Ball crashed the car in practice.

Blakely Oil Special, Schroeder Offenhauser, Desert Classics, Concours d'Elegance

The Blakely Oil Specials next appearance in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing came in 1953 with Jimmy Bryan at the wheel. Jimmy qualified 31st and was classified as a runner in 14th place with 183 laps completed.

Blakely Oil Special, Schroeder Offenhauser, Desert Classics, Concours d'Elegance

In 1954 Andy Linden and Len Duncan driving for entrants Brown Motor Company and Brady qualified 23rd and 26th were classified 25th and 31st respectively driving Schroeder Offenhausers. Today’s featured car, seen in these photographs by Geoffrey Horton at last years Desert Classics Concours d’Elegance, did not qualify for the ’54 Indy 500 after Frank Mundy failed to complete his rookie orientation programme.

Blakely Oil Special, Schroeder Offenhauser, Desert Classics, Concours d'Elegance

John McDaniel nearly had a third DNQ at Indy in 1955 when Duke Nalon failed to make the cut, but rookie Keith Andrews saved the day by qualifying 28th and was classified 20th with 120 laps completed.

Michael Ferner has also told me that Tony Bettenhausen raced the car on dirt tracks in 1954 as did Bill Cheesebourg in 1956 when the car ran as the #23 McDaniels. Dick, father of 1979 Le Mans winners Bill and Don, Whittington bought the car in 1957 and ran it in dirt events and at Pikes Peak where the #36 came home with 21st fastest time slowest of the USAC entires to complete the course.

The car has been restored by Gary Schroeder, Dick Russell and Gary McCourt the original body by Wayne Ewing and Jerry Weeks, upholstery by Darel ‘Whitey’ Morgan and the motor by Phil Reilly & Co.

My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing today’s photographs and to Michael Ferner at The Nostalgia Forum for sharing his wealth of knowledge.

Thanks for joining me on this “Blakely Oil Special” 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 !


Testing The Beat – McLaren F1 GTR #10R

For several years before his untimely death Bruce McLaren toyed with the idea of building a road car once his racing operations had become firmly established. In 1970 he had a Can Am McLaren M6 fitted with a GT body that both he and Gordon Coppock had worked on to perfect. After Bruces death the directors of McLaren decided to shelve the road car project although to further copies of the M6GT were built by Trojan who were responsible for building McLaren’s customer racing cars.

Twenty years later McLaren designer Gordon Murray convinced Ron Dennis to back his concept for the ultimate road car which Peter Stevens was engaged to complete the exterior styling. The McLaren F1 road car was launched in 1992 and in 1998 it set road car speed records of 231 mph with the rev limiter switched on and 243 with the limiter switched off.

At around the same time as the launch of the F1 a movement for racing GT cars was gathering pace and for the 1995 Season McLaren built 9 F1 GTR variants the first of which #01R, modified road car chassis #019 was loaned to Lanzante Motorsport who entered Yannick Dalmas, Masanori Sekiya and JJ Lehto into the 1995 Le Mans 24 hours under the Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing banner and improbably won as a result of superior reliability over the much faster Courage Porsche C34 prototype driven by “Brilliant” Bob Wolleck, Eric Hélary and Mario Andretti. The race winners covered just 298 laps the last time a Le Mans 24 hours had been won with less than 300 laps completed was 1952 to when Hermann Lang and Fritz Reiss drove their Mercedes Benz 300SL to victory with 277 laps completed.

McLaren F1 GTR, Autosport International, NEC, Birmingham

For the 1996 season Mclaren built a further batch of nine cars with extended front and rear bodywork which was easier to remove than on the original ’95 F1 GTR, magnesium gearbox housing with stronger internals which resulted in a lighter car. Two of the ’95 Spec F1 GTR’s were similarly upgraded.

Today’s featured vehicle is the first of the ’96 F1 GTR’s chassis #10R which was used as a test development vehicle to replace the Le Mans winning #01R which had immediately been retired from competition for publicity purposes.

David Brabham used the car for a test session at Le Mans in 1996 where he recorded the 20th fastest time, but the car has never been raced.

When pop drummer Nick Mason bought #10R he had McLaren convert the car for road use as were several F1 GTR’s once their competition careers were over.

Mark Hales tested the 600hp BMW V12 powered #10R for Evo magazine and recorded a 0-60mph time of 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 240.1 mph.

In 1997 a further development of the F1 GTR featuring an even longer body, 10 examples of which were built. An over view of the racing results of the F1 GTR from 1995 to 2007 can be seen on this link.

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


Worlds Best Handling FWD – Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo

When General Motors acquired Lotus Cars in 1986 it committed to investing £35m / US$55m in to a new affordable car that was to be built on the reputation of the Lotus Elan which was discontinued in 1973.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

Unlike the original rear wheel drive Elan the new Peter Stevens designed M100 Elan featured front wheel drive, and was powered by a development of an Isuzu motor that produced 130 horsepower in normally aspirated form and 162 hp in SE Turbo form.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

The rest to 60 mph time of 6.5 seconds and top speed of 137 mph was matched by the handling described by some sources as ‘the finest front wheel drive car bar none’.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

Unfortunately as the Lotus M100 Elan came to market in 1989 Europe and the USA were entering a recession and Mazda had already flooded the market with it’s retro ‘Elan’ the MX5/Eunos/Mita series and so Lotus ended up selling just 3,855 M100 Elan’s between Nov 1989 and July 1992.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

Second series of 800 155 hp Elan’s were built between June 1994 and and July 1995 featuring mandatory catalytic converters and slightly longer and heavier body work to accommodate the latest US spec safety features including airbags.

Lotus M100 Elan SE Turbo, Classic Sports Car and Action Day, Castle Combe

General Motors had sold it’s interest in Lotus to Bugatti by this stage and the new Lotus owners did a deal with Kia Motors to license the manufacture of an updated Kia Elan complete with a Kia sourced power unit. Kia wound up production of it’s M100 Elan in 1999.

Today’s featured M100 Elan SE Turbo seen at last years Classic Sports Car Action Day at Castle Combe was built in 1991.

Thanks for joining me for this “Worlds Best Handling FWD” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now.


Thirty Year Restoration – Lotus Mark 6 #JZ 7890

The Lotus Mark 6 represented Colin Chapman’s first attempt at building a vehicle which customers could purchase in kit form.

Lotus VI, Bristol Classic Car Show

Chassis #JZ 7890 was one of the first eight built, therefore one of the first 13 Lotus cars ever built. The car was originally assembled with a 4 cylinder Ford Consul motor and Austin Gearbox by Patrick Stevens for owner Denis Wilkins. Wilkins competed in the car at numerous events in England during 1953 and in 1954 took the car to Ireland where he shared it with Ian Titterington. It’s best result that I could find is a third place at Kirkistown in an Open Handicap Final in June 1954 with Wilkins at the wheel. In 1955 the car returned to England and competed in the hands of George Pitt, Rodney Bloor and Ken Coffey before being sold, in 1963, to an owner in Bristol who intended to fit a six cylinder motor from a Ford Zephyr.

Lotus Mark 6, Bristol Classic Car Show

Despite the original engine and gearbox being stripped out and sold on the conversion was never completed and the current owner bought the engineless remains in 1976 and then spent thirty years piecing it together with another Ford Consul engine and an MG TC gearbox. A couple of months after returning it to the road in 2006 he drove it to Le Mans in France.

Lotus VI, Bristol Classic Car Show

110 Lotus Mark 6 kits were eventually sold, including a one off trials version, scoring many competition victories and establishing Lotus as a specialist vehicle manufacturer.

Thanks for joining me on this “Thirty Year Restoration” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me for a Drag edition tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !