Tag Archives: Thornton

Giant Killer – Chevron Chevrolet B24 #B24-73-02

Having developed a passion for engineering through his interest in model aeroplanes Lancastrian Derek Bennett took an apprenticeship in mechanical and electrical engineering to become a mechanic, during this time he was exposed to (British) Stock Car racing.

It was not long before Derek graduated into building, maintaining and racing vehicles in the British Clubmans series for small Ford powered vehicles and into Formula Junior.

Chevron Chevrolet B24, Oulton Park

In 1965 demand for copies of his Clubmans racer led Derek to establish Chevron cars assisted by mechanic Paul Owen based in a former mill in Bolton, well away from the regular stomping ground for racing car manufactured that with few excetions could be found in the arc from Southwest London, round Brooklands and Heathrow Airport to the East and Silverstone to the North.

In 1966 Chevron branched out into building a successful series of up to 2 litre / 122 cui sports cars and in 1967 the company expanded to build it’s first 2nd and 3rd tier open wheelers for Formula 2 and Formula 3.

Chevron Chevrolet B24, Oulton Park

In 1972 Chevron built it’s first over 2 litre 122 cui open wheeler the 5 litre / 302 cui stock block Chevrolet V8 powered Formula 5000 Chevron B24 which Lancastrian Brian Redman drove in four races, claiming one victory at Oulton Park driving the B24 having won the previous race at Mondello Park a month earlier in a McLaren M10.

Today’s featured car #B24-73-02 was the second built in 1973, third overall from 8 built according to factory records, though as usual this does not tell the whole story, but I’ll be spare you that particular diversion here.

Chevron Chevrolet B24, Oulton Park

#B24-73-02 appears to have been entered on three occasions carrying the #32 in British races as a factory entered car for Peter Gethin. The first two races held on consecutive days were at Brands Hatch where Peter won the Rothmans Formula 5000 championship round on the cars debut.

The next day the weekends feature event, The Race Of Champions, was a race for contemporary Formula 5000 cars and Formula One cars including entries from Lotus, BRM and McLaren all of whom had won championship Formula One events in the previous 12 months.

Chevron Chevrolet B24, Oulton Park

Starting 8th on the grid Peter managed to steer his Formula 5000 stock block Chevron to an unlikely victory as his faster Formula One rivals fell by the way side to hold off Denny Hulme in the latest McLaren Cosworth M23 and formula one debutant James Hunt in an ancient Surtees TS9.

There is a myth that this was the only occasion in which a Formula 5000 car beat a Formula One car in such a non championship challenge race, this is not quite true there was a long forgotten event called the 1969 the Madrid Grand Prix at Jarama in which Tony Dean driving BRM #P2615 powered by a V12 BRM was beaten by Keith Holland driving an F5000 Lola T142 and Peter Gethin driving an F5000 MacLaren M10A, but the field at Brands in 1973 was certainly more contemporary and competitive.

Chevron Chevrolet B24, Oulton Park

Chevron then entered Peter for one more British F5000 race at Mallory Park where Peter finished forth before the car was sold to Douglas Shierson Racing who entered the car carrying the same Marathon sponsorship for Peter in the US L&M series now running the #8 race number.

The B24 did not prove quite so competitive in the 1973 US series where only championship protagonists Brian Redman driving a Lola T330 and Jody Scheckter a Trojan T101 found victory lane. Peters best result came at Lagunna Seca where finished second.

Chevron Chevrolet B24, Oulton Park

After 1973 #B24-73-02 remained in the USA where, Roger Bighouse 1974 /1975, Pat McGonegle 1976 continued to enter the car in open wheel F5000 events. For 1977 Pat McGonegle converted the car to closed wheel CAN Am 2 spec, scoring a best 6th place finish at Road America in ’77 driving #B24-73-02 which Pat raced until the end of 1978.

Danny Johnson was the next owner and he raced #B24-73-02 sporadically between 1978 and 1982 scoring a best 5th place at Edmonton in 1981.

Chevron Chevrolet B24, Oulton Park

Similarly intermittently Mike Engstrand drove #B24-73-02 from 1985 to 1987 scoring a best 4th place finish in the cars last in period appearance in the 1987 Canadian American Thundercars Pueblo event.

Chevron Chevrolet B24, Oulton Park

#B24-73-02 now belongs to Greg Thornton. In 2012 the car caught fire and was badly damaged and it is seen here at Oulton Park after it’s rebuild from the fire damaged remains.

Chevron Chevrolet B24, Oulton Park

Thanks for joining me on this “Giant Killer” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l more psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at a another Italian vehicle once owned by John Lennon. Don’t forget to come back now !


60th Anniversary – Oulton Park Gold Cup

On Bank Holiday Monday a couple of weeks ago I picked up GALPOT contributor Tim Murray and headed 175 miles north to Oulton Park for the second day of the Gold Cup meeting which marked the circuits 60th Anniversay. When we got there we met friends Simon and Phil from The Nostalgia Forum who directed us toward the control Tower where Steve Jones invited us to a cup of coffee and we met Alan Cox who also puts in a regular appearance on these pages.

March 761, Gold Cup, Oulton Park

Afterwards Tim and I had a wonder around the paddock where we found Greg Thornton’s Formula One March 761 resplendent in the colours of Sweden as would have been seen in the hands of Ronnie Peterson. Greg was declared the winner of the opening Derek Bell Trophy race of the day after Micheal Lyons experienced a pinion failure in his Lola T400 Formula 5000 car and an accident in which no one was hurt blocked the track.

Dodd, Chevron B31, Gold Cup, Oulton Park

Despite a sagging rear wing James Dodd driving his, non period, Martini liveried 1976 Chevron B36 appropriately won the Martini Trophy for 2 litre / 122 cui sports cars.

Watts, Peugeot 406, Gold Cup, Oulton Park

I only ever saw Patrick Watts 1998 British Touring Car Championship Peugeot 406 racing on the television but I spent many hundreds of happy hours driving one just like it in a Play Station game called TOCA 2, Patrick found his old car in Australia. Unfortunately he did not finish the Super Touring Trophy which was won by the versatile James Dodd who didn’t have time to celebrate his Martini Trophy win in the Chevron B36 before jumping into his Honda Accord.

Mitchell, Merlin Mk20, Grant, Merlyn Mk20a, Gold Cup, Oulton Park

The Historic Formula Fords can always be relied on to provide entertaining racing, Sam Mitchell and Callum Grant in their #40 and #1 Merlyn MK 20’s were never much further apart than this through out the 20 min race. Callum eventually got the better of Sam to take the chequered flag.

Smith, Delta T81, Gold Cup, Oulton Park

Nelson Rowe won the Amitstead Barnett Financial Services Formula Ford 2000 race and sowed up the Historic Formula Ford 2000 championship with a fine win in his Reynard SF79, the #10 Delta T81 of Derek Smith above has a chassis design going back to 1978 which was penned by none other than Patrick Head went on to form a formidable partnership with Frank Williams.

Historic Touring Cars, Gold Cup, Oulton Park

The Historic Touring Cars also provided a hugely entertaining spectacle above the #14 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super of Bob Schukburgh takes the bumpy route as he tries to pass a couple Hillman Imps, the #4 Mini was driven by British Olympic Cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy. Richard Dutton in the red and gold #35 Ford Mustang worked his way up from the back of the grid to 5th place in the race which was won by Mark Jones in a Ford Lotus Cortina.

Oosterbaan, Alton Holden AR2 , Gold Cup, Oulton Park

A welcome Antipodean novelty in the Libre race for Classic Racing Cars was the Alton AR2 powered by a Holden straight six driven by Henry Ooterbaan, the race was won by Andy Jones driving his father Ian’s Lotus 59.

Thornton, March, Glover, Lola, Lyons, Hesketh, Gold Cup, Oulton Park

If the first Derek Bell Trophy race disappointed because of it’s premature end, the second made up for it by the bucket load. With Micheal Lyons Lola rendered hors d’combat by it’s gearbox Micheal’s father Frank stepped aside to let his son race the family Hesketh 308E with which he started from the back of the grid. For the first 5 laps Neil Glover driving the #10 Lola T300/332 kept Greg Thornton in the #32 March 761 at bay by which time Micheal Lyons joined the fun. Greg on the left is seen above about to over take Neil in the Lola while Micheal on the right is about to pass on the outside on lap six. On the following lap Micheal got past Greg to take a comfortable win. Afterwards I was left wondering what Micheal might have achieved in his Mum Judy’s Surtees TS9.

Challis, Petty, de la Roche, Smith Buckler, Monro, Cooper, Gold Cup, Oulton Park

Steve Jones won the 500cc / 30.5 cui Formula 3 race in his Cooper, above the #7 Petty of Nigel Challis leads the #65 Smith Buckler of Richard de la Roche and #89 Cooper Mk 4 of Shirley Monro in the squable for 10th place, Challis finished the race ahead of Monro and de la Roche.

Yarwood Ladybird Mk6B,  Gold Cup, Oulton Park

John Harrison led the Classic Clubmans race from lights to flag, above the #77 Ladybird Mk6B driven by Bob Yarwood was built by Oulton Park legend Derek Walker, who is credited with winning more races than anyone else at Oulton Park. Derek received a special award for his achievement during the meeting.

Arculus, Lotus Elite, Gold Cup, Oulton Park

As the sun atarted to set the final race of the day was FISCAR Team Handicap race for sports cars built in the 1950’s was won by Brian Arculus in the #71 Lotus Elite.

After a quick sausage and chips washed down by a strong cup of tea it was time to head the 175 miles into the evening with the heavy bank holiday weekend traffic listening to Radio 2 which was celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the release of Dark Side Of The Moon.

Thanks for joining me on this “60th Anniversary” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again for Americana Thursday tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 1958 racing Corvette. Don’t forget to come back now !


Racer and Runabout – Arnott Sports #AT112

Daphne Arnott was born into a mechanical world in 1926, her Grandfather appears to have been captain and secretary of the Bath Road Club and ‘in control of’ MMC built Werner Motorcylces and her father was responsible for the Arnott Superchargers sold through Carburetors Ltd in North West London.

Daphne spent many childhood hours spectating at Brooklands and in her early teens she became competent mechanic. During the ’39-’45 war she was employed by the Hawker Aircraft company.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

In 1948 Daphne joined the family business Carburetors Ltd and by 1951 she had created a department within it to design and manufacture 500 cc / 45.5 cui Formula 3 cars with assistance from the works manager George Thornton.

After Bob Brown of Bromley won first time out in the Arnott, Daphne built 8 copies, one of which became a streamliner in which John Brise set 500km average speed record of 108mph at Montlhery in 1953 which still stands.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

For 1955 Daphne came up with the 1100 Sports model seen here, complete with wishbone independent suspension, which was entered into the Le Mans 24 hours.

It is a measure of the esteem in which she was held that her Arnott, one Lotus and one Kieft were each given a new Coventry Climax motor with which to compete in the 24 hour classic.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

Jim Russell, of racing school fame and Peter Taylor were the drivers but they crashed during practice after which Daphene had an Arnott supercharger fitted and used the car as her daily driver for 20 years.

A second attempt was made at Le Mans with another Coventry Climax powered Arnott Sports in 1957, this time Jim Russell and Peter Taylor qualified but retired with ignition problems after completing 46 laps and that seems to be the end of the Arnott story as a manufacturer.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

In all 25 Arnott Sports are thought to have been built with fibre glass bodies. The current owner bought today’s featured vehicle from Daphne Arnott after it had spent some time disintegrating in a barn in 1998.

Arnott Climax Sports, Goodwood Revival

In 2003 this Arnott Sports still fitted with it’s original Coventry Climax motor #FWA400/3.6264, Arnott supercharger, MG TC gearbox and ENV back axle was given a £30,000 plus overhall by Sigma Engineering in Dorset.

When I saw this remarkable testimony to the grit and courage of a little remembered British entrepreneur Daphne Arnott at Goodwood Revival last year it was being offered for sale, if you are interested I have contact details for the owner. Usual disclaimers apply.

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