Tag Archives: Tim

Celebrity Car – Ferrari 550 Maranello GTS

The 200 mph front engine rear gearbox 550 Maranello road model was introduced in 1996 with a 485 hp 5474 cc / 334 cui 4 valve quad cam V12 motor that could take the GT car from zero to 62 mph in 4.5 secs.

Ferrari 550 Maranello GTS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Prodrive prepared a batch of 20 550 Maranello GTS’s for racing in Europe and the States where they were regular winners in the GT/GTS class in 2001.

Ferrari 550 Maranello GTS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

In 2003 another Prodrive 550 Maranello GTS beat the Corvettes by 10 laps at the Le Mans 24 hour race coming home 10th overall.

Ferrari 550 Maranello GTS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

This chassis has taken part in at least 42 Races in the GT/GTS class for at least four different teams from 2002 to 2006 it has never recorded an out right win but has scored several class wins.

In 2004 this chassis (Prodrive 03) driven by Darren Turner, Rickard Rydell and Colin McRae came in 9th overall at Le Mans but was beaten by two Corvettes which finished 16 and 5 laps ahead respectively.

Ferrari 550 Maranello GTS, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Today’s featured Celebrity Car has been driven by a number of well known drivers including Colin McRae former World Rally Champion, Rickard Rydell former British Touring Car Champion, Alain Menu former British Touring Car Champion, Luc Alphand former World Cup Skiing Champion and Dakar winner, David Brabham, former Japanese GT Champion and Le Mans winner 2009, Jan Magnussen, former Danish Touring Car Champion, Danica Patrick queen of IRL and NASCAR, Darren Manning IRL driver, Christophe Bouchut 1993 Le Mans Winner, and one of my former racing instructors Tim Sugden former British and Asia Pacific GT Champion.

Thanks for joining me on today’s “Celebrity Car” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow, when I’ll be looking at a Formula One Lotus. Don’t forget to come back now !


Fuzzy Long Shot – Locomobile Old No: 16

A couple of weeks ago Steve e-mailed me “Those four slides were put in a “special place” by my dad for good reason. I scanned them, and they are fuzzy.  There’s no reason for me to send these outcasts to you.”

I replied in typical ‘Prisoner’ fashion “Fuzzy out casts or not I am curious, remember ‘we want information !’ :-)”

Here is one of those 54 year old fuzzy slides that Steve’s Dad Ed took at Bridgehampton on the 20th July 1957 and what a story it has to tell.

After a few adjustments and a little cropping, I posted some copies on a new ‘Fuzzy long-shot identity ?‘ thread at The Nostalgia Forum and it took all of twenty minuets to get a response from Tim Murray that we are looking at a 1906 Locomobile Old 16 now 105 years old.

The Locomobile then owned by well known motoring artist Peter Helck is probably being driven by George Robertson who manhandled this vehicle weighing less than 1200 kgs / 2645 lbs around 11 laps of a 23.4 mile road course on Long Island to cover a distance of 258 miles in 4 hours averaging 67 mph to win the 1908 Vanderbuilt Cup by nearly 2 minuets thus becoming the first American to win an international motor race.

Going into the white flag lap George held a lead of over 4 minuets but instead of easing the pace he pressed on so hard he lost control of Old No: 16 and left the track and damaged a tire. In order to return to the race it had to be replaced on the rim a feat George and his riding mechanic Glenn Ethridge, required as a living on board fuel pump to keep the fuel pressure up amongst other things, managed in ‘just’ 2 minuets 10 seconds !

Visit the excellent Vanderbuilt Cup Race website for more fascinating information and pictures on the Vanderbuilt Cup Races, as I understand it Old No: 16 is still a runner, it’s flame spitting 90hp 4 cylinder 16,200 cc 989 cui motor can still push the car to 90 mph. Here is a link to a video of the car running in 2008.

Old No: 16 became an instant legend in 1908 and has been kept in full working condition ever since, it has never been restored and currently resides at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan.

23 year old George Robertson won several races before driving with a journalist in preparation for the 1910 Vanderbuilt Cup. Entering a corner the Journalist panicked and clutched George causing an accident in which George’s right arm was so seriously injured he was unable to drive the heavy vehicles of the day competitively ever again.

My thanks to Ed and Steve Arnaudin for the photograph, Tim Murray, Doug ‘Meat and Drink’ Nye, Marticelli and D-type for all chiming in with useful information.

My thanks to Ed Arnaudin for a his fascinating series of sports car photographs it has been my privilege to research and share with you particularly over the last week or so, there are a couple more left that I will be sharing in due course, meantime I look to forward to sharing Ed’s real passion, for the Indy 500 in the coming weeks as we head into the 100th anniversary
of the running of the Indy 500.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s Fuzzy Long Shot edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll join me again tomorrow for a look at a truck built in the Australian outback so big it requires two General Lee tank motors to get up to speed. Don’t forget to come back now !


Unlimited Grass Track Racer – #SS11 Xtreme Chevrolet

It is a great privilege to get down and dirty on the 11th Day of Christmas with Adrian Turners eye popping Unlimited Class 10 #SS11 Xtreme Chevrolet grass track racer built in 2009.

State of the art Xtreme Race Car chassis have been built in Somerset by South Somerset Autograss Club founder members and regular race winners John Gay and Russ Shepherd since 2006.

Adrian Turner a building contractor started racing in 1984 and qualified for the 2010 Nationals with this car.

The National Autograss Sport Association (NASA) Class 10 is for open wheel vehicles with motors over 2065 cc / 126 cui with no limits on the tuning. Adrian’s car is fitted with an all aluminium (US pronunciation) 5,665 cc / 345.7 cui LS6 engine more usually found at home in the front of a Chevrolet Corvette.

Lighter than a Formula One car at 600 kgs / 1323 lb and with around 480 hp at the rear wheels transmitted by a two speed gear box the #SS11 Xtreme Chevrolet is capable of over 100 miles an hour on 1/4 mile muddy grass tracks thanks to the grip afforded by 15 inches of rear suspension travel.

Sadly soon after I took my photographs of the #SS11 Xtreme Chevrolet it was badly damaged by crash barriers after a roll while in the hands of one of Adrian’s friends, thankfully no one was hurt. Adrian plans to rebuild the chassis around a smaller engine with a FIAT Seicento body.

I’d like to thank Tim Street of Rebel Racers for his assistance and the last photo in this blog and Adrian for his time, I am sure you will join me in wishing them both the best of luck for the season ahead, I look forward to catching Tim and Adrian at the first grass track meeting of the year at Oak Tree Arena on the 20th of March.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s grass roots edition of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you’ll hop aboard with me tomorrow on the 12th and final day of Christmas for a ride on an icon from London. Don’t forget to come back now !


Honeymoon Racer – Crosley Hotshot Sport

My heartfelt thanks once again go out to John Aibel for sharing with us some photo’s of his 1951 Crosley Hotshot Sport, a vehicle that in 1951 competed in my favourite race the Le Mans 24 hours.

Twelve months after Briggs Cunningham took a shot at top honours at Le Mans with his Cadillac Le Mans special ‘Le Monstre’ and more conventional 61 Series ‘Petit Pataud’ two Florida enthusiasts made a low budget attack on the Le Mans 24 hours ‘Index of Performance award’ which sought to calculate the best performance for vehicles completing the race based on engine size and distance covered with this cute little Crosley Hotshot Sport.

Crosley was an American manufacturer that went against the grain in the US automotive industry by building small and light vehicles from 1939 to 1952. Indiana industrialist Powel Crosley Jr came to prominence manufacturing auto accessories, cheap radio’s and other household electrical goods distributed by independent retailers and backed by a then pioneering ‘money back guarantee’ .

The legend behind the Crosley Le Mans entry is that Phil Stiles and George Schrafft inspired by the success of the stock Hotshot in the Sam Collier Memorial 6 Hours at Sebring in December 1950, were discussing the potential of the Hotshot over the odd libation when they decided to write to the FIA stating they had a Crosley to race in the Le Mans 24 hours, and to Powel Crosley saying they had an entry to Le Mans and were in need of a chassis ! The returning correspondence confirmed both an entry for Le Mans and the supply of a chassis !

The Hotshot / Super Sport VC chassis was prepared for the race by Pappy Dwyers race shop in Indianapolis with a one off aluminium body and sent back to Crosley where a specially developed 726 cc engine was installed.

The cast iron over head cam engine was probably the strongest part of the package having a 5 bearing crank so that it could run all day at full power in order to power military generators which was its original application, as a race engine it was frequently modified Bandini even had a twin over head cam version. The stock engine gave around 26.5 hp the development engine for Le Mans on the #59 seen here around 42hp.

Once ready at the Crosley factory Phil and George went to pick it up from Ohio in George’s Aston Martin DB2, they then borrowed Mr Crosley’s boat trailer and converted it to take the Le Mans challenger to the docks in New York for eventual shipping. On the way to NY Phil and George took the Crosley off the trailer fitted the trailer plates to the car and then ran the motor in on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

In practice at Le Mans it was discovered the lights were not up to racing at night and more powerful Marchal units were fitted along with a Marchal generator while a new Prestolite generator was ordered from the States.

During the race the car was an immediate success, despite using only top gear so as not to risk damage to the standard non synchromesh Hotshot / Super Sport three speed gearbox, George was able to turn in 73 mph average laps and easily lead his class however 2 hours into the race the roller bearings in the new Marchal generator proved unequal to its task, with Phil at the wheel the unit seized and tore off its mounts, damaging the ignition loom and the water pump mounted on the back of the generator.

After bye passing the water pump and relying on thermosiphon cooling, like an old Model T Ford, the car was prepared to run using only the battery, however once it became dark and the lights were required the battery was inevitably run flat and after 40 gallant laps the devastatingly quick in its class Crosley was out for good.

The next day the team pooled funds to release the Presolite generator from customs in Paris and fitted it to the Crosley so that Phil and his newly wed wife could tour Europe, in Switzerland the local authorities mistook them for and favourably treated them as entrants in the Monte Carlo Rally.

The Crosely was returned to George Schrafft who replaced the standard Hotshot gearbox designed for 26.5 hp motors with a more robust 4 speed FIAT gearbox. This change without any modifications to the rest of the drive train resulted in the rear axle being pushed back one inch, which does not appear to have adversely affected either the performance or reliability of Le Biplane Torpedo as John sometimes refers to his unique Crosley.

The story of how John came to own this splendid Honeymoon Racer is one of 15 years perseverance, in the late 60’s John read an article about the car written by Phil Stiles in a 1958 issue of Road & Track. John decided to trace the car with a letter published in R&T; and got so many responses he founded the Crosley Auto Club.

Becoming friends with the owner of Le Biplane Torpedo through the club John expressed his interest in purchasing it over many years at the AACA Hershey Annual Fall meeting. He was disappointed one year to find the owner had sold it on to buy a motorhome in the 1970’s, in the early 80’s Johns brother established the Crosley was for sale after the owner had decided to sell his entire collection of racers.

John reluctantly had the roll bar fitted after surviving a slow roll in another vehicle at Dellow without one, and has raced the Crosley and remembers having many entertaining races with Bob Duell in his Panhard Jr and with two other chaps one in a pre war Morgan and a Renault Special.

He says of his car “On my first track run with it, I was going as fast in the corners as the Lotus 7’s. They of course were much faster out of the turns! ” Look out for a book to be published on US Le Mans challengers by Tim Considine which will feature this Crosley in the near future.

I’d like to thank John once again for taking the time and trouble to share these photo’s of his wonderful Crosley and particularly for taking the time to tell me the romantic story behind it. I have always had a strong conviction that there is something quite noble abo
ut taking what is essentially a road vehicle racing it and then returning it to road use, highly impractical in this day and age with all the safety requirements for racing but as Johns “Le Petite Pataud” Replica and Le Biplane Torpedo show once upon a time this was not an unusual practice.

Special thanks to Chief 187 for putting me in touch with John and thanks to everyone for popping by this bumper edition of Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres, I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for a slightly shorter edition, don’t forget to come back now !


Was one of these Fraser Nash BMW’s an antecedent of the AC Cobra ?

At the August VSCC Prescott meeting one of the things that stood out was that the car park was almost as interesting as the Paddock.

For example pictured here in the car park is what I believe to be a Fraser Nash (UK BMW importer and assemblers amongst many other things for those not in the know) BMW 315/1.

Amazingly the car above is also a Fraser Nash BMW 315/1, dating from 1935 according to the VSCC programme, but the bodywork stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the traditional VSCC fare in the paddock at Prescott.

My first thought was that it might be a Tojerio body or AC Ace body, or at least a copy of either of those two vehicles dating back to 1952 and 1953 respectively, I also wondered how this car could possibly qualify to run in a VSCC event which generally caters for pre WW2 vehicles.

Thanks to Tim Murray at the TNF Forum I found out what the story behind the aluminium (English pronunciation please) bodied BMW 315/1 special, though there are many question marks around this vehicle, not least who actually commissioned it in the first place ?

It turns out this vehicle was originally supplied with body work by Abbots of Farnham and then after the War turned up, sans body, in the hands of a chemist who took it to Williams & Pritchard of London, a small sub contracting bodywork shop before WW2, a Spitfire fuselage workshop during WW2 which returned to doing repairs and bodywork after WW2.

The owner of the chassis took with him a pile of motoring magazines and sat down with Williams & Pritchard and pointed out all the features he wanted incorporated into the new bodywork for his old BMW.

When did this happen you may well ask ? 1965 ? 1960 ? 1955 ? after the Tojerio and AC Ace had been around ? 1950 ? none of the above amazingly the aluminium body work dates back to 1948 four years before the Tojerio which famously morphed into the AC Ace !

The Fraser Nash BMW 315/1 is allowed to compete in VSCC events because the body sits on a prewar chassis.

More information on Williams & Pritchard and the story of this car can be found here.

Hope you enjoyed today’s blog and will join me again tomorrow.