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STAG PARTY July 2012 Volume 508

Editors Waffle Well, here we are seven months into 2012 and it hardly seems any time since the last Stag Party in March. And here I am scratching behind my ear with a sharpened pencil, trying to think up something interesting, informative and erudite to tickle your fancy! By the time that you all read this your editor will have gone to (and even returned from) this years ‘Le Mans Classique’, the biennial retrospective at Le Sarthe, celebrating the past 89 years of the famous 24-hour race. The trusty MGB GT V8 has been meticulously prepared ready for the journey (well, a full tank of petrol and a kick of the tyres), and as it is also the 50th anniversary of the MGB this year it somehow seems to be appropriate to take it to Le Mans, where the marque, if not the actual model, has had an illustrious history. The trip may even prompt a future Stag Party article, assuming all goes well. Changing the subject, a couple of recent incidents during this year’s competition season have served to remind us all that, although huge advances have been made in motor sport safety in recent years, it can still be a dangerous pastime, even at the relatively ‘benign’ level of Sprinting. A few months ago we read of the tragic death of a female competitor at a Goodwood sprint meeting, and perhaps it is worth remembering that, wonderful circuit that Goodwood undoubtedly is, it has been preserved very much in the layout of the fifties and sixties. This of course has contributed to the fabulous atmosphere and brilliant racing that we see at the Revival meeting every September, but it is a fast circuit and run-off areas are limited in places. Not that I am in any way concluding that this unfortunate accident was caused by anything lacking in Goodwood’s circuit safety, but it just goes to illustrate that, despite everything, the old adage that ‘Motor Racing Is Dangerous’ still holds true. The other incident occurred even closer to home, and happened at our last HCAAC sprint at Debden in May. HCAAC member Anton Rothwell inadvertently got a bit wide on his approach to ‘The Roundabout’ in his Caterham 1800 on his first timed run, and unfortunately rolled his car over into a drainage ditch, having run up a bank as he left the track. Happily, although shaken Anton was not stirred, and was promptly attended to by the ever-present marshalling team. The poor car was a bit bent, but Anton was largely unhurt, his first words being something along the lines of ‘Bloody Hell, how did that happen? (sorry Anton, I made that up, I wasn’t in the car with you at the time – it was probably a lot riper than that!!) We all hope that Anton is none the worse for his mishap, and that he can get the Caterham repaired in time for October. The incident has given rise to a review of the Debden Circuit layout to see what lessons, if any, can be learnt and applied. I shall let you all know what the outcome of this is in the next Stag Party. Finally, by way of a change, our cover picture was taken at the recent Le Mans Classic event, and features a 1956 Citroen Traction 11C Preparee ‘Grands Raids’, which was a lot in the Artcurial auction held on the Saturday morning. Looking somewhat the worse for wear, as you can see, nonetheless it was sold for €14,296, having been initially offered in the catalogue at between €20,000 and €30,000. They must have thrown in the shrub for good measure! Top sale of the day was a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTC at €1,540,200. That’s one and a quarter million quid! The world has gone bonkers. Sincerely, Trevor Scarborough

Odds & Ends Monthly Club Night Just to remind you that the once a month club get-together is held at: The John Bunyan, Colemans Green Lane, Wheathampstead, Herts. AL4 8ES It is held on the FIRST WEDNESDAY of each month from 8.00pm, and all HCAAC club members are very welcome. Since returning to the ‘The Bunyan’ last year we have generally had a healthy number of club members come along, but there is always room for more, so why not give it a go yourself? You can be sure of a warm welcome! Upcoming Club Night Features: Jowett Talk We are trying to get a gentleman by the name of Dave Stimpson to come along to give us a talk on Jowett Jupiter cars, but as yet the date has not been finalised – details will be emailed to members as and when a date is agreed. Quiz Another of the ever-popular Motoring Quizzes will be included at the October Club Night, so do come along and participate.

Annual Awards Dinner 2013 Just to let you all know that next year’s awards dinner will be moving from it’s regular venue of Mill Hill Golf Club to Totteridge Golf Club. It will be an extra-special event as it will celebrate the 110th anniversary of the club, which was founded in 1903 (as proudly stated on the front cover of this very magazine). The date will be Saturday February 23rd, so please make a note in your diaries so you can be sure not to miss it.

Annual General Meeting The AGM was held at the end of June, where the committee welcomed a new member, in the form of Debden sprint regular Tony Gattuso. His details can be found on the back page along with the rest of the committee. Stepping down is Alex Ballingall who is moving away from the area, and the committee thanks him for all his hard work. The AGM also noted the considerable contribution made to the committee and club by Derek and Tony Staines, both of whom had stood down from active committee membership earlier in the year.

New Club Members This year the club has seen the arrival of several new club members, and Stag Party takes this opportunity to welcome them all and hopes to see them at the occasional club night or sprint (or both).

The Nostalgia Forum The Nostalgia Forum’s April film show organised and presented by Richard Hinton, was held on Saturday 28th and as usual was hugely entertaining, with lots of interesting and rare motor sport films. Guest of honour was none other than John Watson, ex-McLaren F1 driver of the 70’s & 80’s, who entertained the packed house with fascinating and often irreverent insights into the ‘behind-the-scene’s world of F1. His parodies of such racing luminaries as Ron Dennis, Frank Williams and Bernie Ecclestone were hilarious. A favourite Ecclestone quip concerned this year’s Bahrain GP. Bernie was asked by journalists if the race was going to go ahead (amid all the political upheaval there) and whether all the teams would be there. His terse and typical reply was. ‘Of course, why wouldn’t they be going? Everything is fine’ When he was then asked, off the record, if he himself would be there he replied ‘No of course not, it’s much too dangerous!’ (Mind you, we’ve only got Wattie’s word for this story, but it made us all chuckle, particularly as it was delivered in a passable attempt at Bernie’s accent). If any HCAAC club member would like to attend any future Nostalgia Forum film shows (and they seem to get better and better), drop an email to Richard Hinton at: Note that they are becoming increasingly popular and usually sell out very quickly. The last six events have had the following guests: Hugh Chamberlain

Group C Le Mans entrant and driver

Murray Walker

Racing commentator and broadcaster

Andy Rouse & Pete Hall

BTCC winner, driver, builder and entrant

Stuart Turner

BMC and Ford Competitions Manager

Jackey Oliver, Murray Walker, John Miles

F1, sports cars and broadcasting

John Watson

F1 & sports car driver and TV commentator

…and it only costs £25 for the day, including lunch and tea.

… and Still Talking of Murray Walker! In the March Stag Party we included a number of Murray’s entertaining verbal faux-pas that people have been collecting over the years. As you all obviously enjoyed them so much – here is another batch (well, it fills another page, doesn’t it?)

“Cruel luck for Alesi, second on the grid. That’s the first time he has started from the front row in a Grand Prix, having done so in Canada earlier this year “”Anything can happen in Grand Prix racing, and it usually does” “Alboreto has dropped back up to fifth place” “As you look at the first four, the significant thing is that Alboreto is fifth” “It’s raining – and the track is wet” “And this is the third place car about to lap the second place car” “Schumacher’s appeal for ignoring the chequered flag is next Tuesday” “Ah! Now here’s Senna in the pits. No point in saying I wish I could lip read. I can’t even see his lips!” “The lead is now 6.9 seconds. In fact, it’s just under 7 seconds” “You can’t see a digital clock because there isn’t one” “…and Blundell is doing very well in sixth position. In fact he’s lapping 2.5 seconds faster than Blundell who is in fifth position” (never could tell Brundle and Blundell apart!) “Ukyo Katayama is undoubtedly the best Formula One driver that grand prix racing has ever produced” Murray: “What’s that? There’s a BODY on the track! James: “I think that’s a piece of BODYWORK from someone’s car, Murray”

Birkett 6-Hour Relay Race 1954 The following report, kindly provided by committee member Steve Muir, recalls trips to the annual Birkett 6-hour Relay Race at Silverstone nearly 60 years apart. I went to the 750 MC Birkett 6 Hour Relay Race on the 29th October 2011 and found it little changed since I first witnessed it in August 1954. On that August day I rode from St.Albans to Silverstone on my ancient motorbike. It was a Francis Barnett 2 stroke, which gloried in the name of “Black Hawk”. It was heavy and its 175cc engine was a bit short of puff, but it got me there, and home again afterwards. Spectators got in free but car parking was 7/6d, grandstand seats 1/6d and programmes 1 shilling. The circuit used then was an extended version of the old Club Circuit, the extension running from Becketts to Club and back via the other side of the same runway, making a 2.5-mile lap. 39 teams each with up to 6 cars per team were listed in the programme. On scratch were five C type Jaguars and an Aston Martin DB3. At the other end of the scale were teams of VWs and Morris Minors each with 48 credit laps. Harrow Car Club ran a team consisting of TR2s, an Allard, an Alvis, an HRG and Les Needham driving an MG TC – they had 25 credit laps. Other drivers names that still are familiar to me are D.B.Farrell (Allard), K.Shellenberg (Bentley), Haesendonck (MG), Harold Grace (Riley), and Innes Ireland (Riley Nine). In 2011 all was much the same – spectators paid £10 but car parking was free and programmes cost £2. The Historic GP Circuit was used, necessary to accommodate the 63 teams. First, I sought out Harrow CC’s team, finding they had two drivers sharing a Mini, a 105E Anglia substituting for a Camaro, an MR2, a Sprite and a BMW M3. The Harrow CC’s team ended 51st with 122 laps done (32nd on handicap). At lunch in the paddock restaurant I ran into the Gibbs family. Jonathan was driving his Caterham in a late entry team called TGB Racing. I was invited to join them supporting Jonathan. I spent the rest of the afternoon in their pit. The team consisted of three Porsches and Jonathan’s Caterham. He had done the first stint starting from near the front of the enormous grid. The Caterham’s tank capacity limited it to 30 minutes per session. HCAAC ex member Phillip Brough, driving one of the Porsches, had an exciting time when rain fell during his stint, but he brought it home safely, maintaining the team’s position of 8th overall. While the rain fell there was much activity in the pits as most teams put one car on wets in case the rain became serious. It did not. The pit atmosphere was generally laid back. From time to time during a stint a pit board signal would be hung out showing the driver how many minutes to the end of his time, finally the IN board was shown. The signaller really had to concentrate not to miss the passage of “his” car. When a car finished a stint, it was fuelled and checked over then put in its place in the team queue. There was a monitor screen nearby, showing the race order of the first 20 teams. This proved most useful for the team manager. Teams of Radicals dominated the scratch event finishing with 148 and 143 laps. TGB Racing finished 8th in the scratch event with 137 laps and 47th on handicap.

Birkett 6-Hour Relay Race 2012 Herts County to enter a team on 27th October 2012

Six HCAAC members and their cars have formed a team for the forthcoming annual Birkett 6 Hour Relay Race run by the 750 Motor Club. The event, which is run on the Silverstone GP Circuit and takes place on 27th October, has a wide variety of cars taking place from race cars such as Radicals and Junos to road going saloons and sport scars. Indeed, HCAAC’s own team is likely to reflect this variety with cars including Ford Capris, a Ginetta G12, Ferrari 308, Renault Clio V6 Trophy and Caterham C400 likely to be in the HCAAC pit garage. With up to 70 teams and around 400 cars taking part this provides a marvellous day’s racing, and it would be great if HCAAC members can come along to enjoy the racing, support their team and join them in the pit garage throughout the day. For more details see the 750 Motor Club’s website at or contact David Gibbs on or 020 529 0616. Tickets can be bought at or on the gate and are priced from £9 per person.

You and Your Cars In this, the fourth in this popular series, written by you and about you, we are indebted to Rob Howard for this article, featuring his ultra-competitive Mini. RACING & SPRINTING A SIR ALEC ISSIGONIS CREATION When I first received an email from HCAAC members Pete & Trevor enquiring whether I would be interested in putting a few words together on my Mini/racing I was delighted to be considered interesting enough for consideration, then fear set in primarily due to my illiteracy. I’m now beginning to question my decision to agree to this! THE START The beginning: Where and how did it start? Well, Iate one evening I received a call from Bernie asking whether I would be interested in pursuing a career in motor racing, but I politely declined as I felt a career in building services would be more high profile and rewarding (I’m sure one of my old bosses, a certain Gerry Cannon, would agree!) Oh well hindsight is a wonderful thing! Having always been a motor racing enthusiast, probably due to watching my father race in the 750MC and being “dragged” around many a club and F1 race meeting, it was perhaps inevitable, should I get the opportunity to race (apart from a few kart races and track days) with family and financial constraints permitting, that I would jump at the chance. Well 3 years ago I got that opportunity when I managed to get myself into a “put up or shut up” situation (yes you’ve guessed it another decision based upon the pure logic of ...alcohol!). A director of my then employer raced in the “Mini 7 Miglia Championship”, and I have always been a massive fan of the aerodynamic brick, my first car being one such brick, so when said director decided to hang up his helmet and emigrate back to Guernsey I somehow managed to end up with a nice and shiny silver Mini Miglia #72 sitting in my garage.

Croft 2009 - spot the mistake! I got told off for keeping my accelerator planted instead of braking …my excuse: I was trying to spin him back around!

This was the start of a lifelong dream and that may sound over-dramatic, but I have followed Mini racing for 30+ years so to be so close to actually racing a car/bike that you have lusted over for a long time is a feeling that only those who have been in that position will totally understand. My feelings of elation were further compounded by my wife Sarah’s (who happens to be HCAAC member/steward Harry Metson’s daughter – small world!) genuine support and delight at my purchase (I suppose it helps that she too had been bought up in a racing environment and understood a little that it is perfectly normal for a grown man to stand there stroking his car making vroom vroom noises!),

Debden ’09 Shared drive with Mark Metson (this must be Mark’s lap as I have much more finesse under braking!) However this elation was short lived when a certain idiot (namely me!) left the receipt in the back pocket of my jeans for the “Purchase of One Silver Mini Miglia” which was duly found during the wash cycle and not even the “but darling that includes spares and VAT” statement seem to work. I defy any of you to deny that a few receipts over the years spent on our hobby haven’t gone missing! Anyway, cue spare bedroom and lots of flowers and D.I.Y. around the house, although knocking down the house and rebuilding it was stretching it a bit, sweetheart! THE CAR The car is based on a new(ish) shell (well it was when it was built at the start of 2000) and had not seen life on the road in any shape or form so I am led to believe. Although the car is heavily modified with a full welded in roll cage that also picks up subframe mounting points, the original shape, form and technical aspects all have to be retained. Subframes – Lightened but standard make / material and mounting points

Suspension – Original design / mounting points but with adjustable “hi-lo’s”, dampers, castor, camber brackets etc being allowed. Brakes – Standard Minifins at rear, vented disc with 4 pot callipers at front with the discs machined down to allow fitment under the 10” wheels, braided hose throughout served by Wilwood master cylinders and remote reservoirs.

“Not sure the A-Series was ever designed to punch out 140 BHP” Body – Heavily lightened (driverless weight of about 550kg) the body, doors, A-panels, roof, floors, bulkheads must be of original metal form, with front end, boot lid and windows being open to carbon/fibreglass/plastic alternative. Series dictates a minimum finish race weight of 660kg. Engine – Standard A-Series 1275 block bored to 1293 capacity, steel EN40B crank, straight cut close ratio gearbox, Webber 45DCOE, I run an MBE management system although again this is free choice. Wheels / Tyres – 10” Split Rims, Dunlop series slicks D599 Rear, D269 Front (not very good for one lap sprints as the marshals at Debden will verify!) and a Dunlop Wet which is a specific compound not a cut dry. THE RACING As anyone involved with racing knows, our sport brings with it highs and lows and like most I’ve had both, with the lows more often than not resulting in financial expenditure! I have been quite fortunate in my short 3 years of racing that the series I race in has been invited to some prestigious events/meetings including a Silverstone Festival on the GP circuit, Donington at the WTCC Meeting, Spa-Francorchamps at a Historic Meeting, and two of these are firmly planted in my grey matter one for good and one for bad!

Unfortunately it didn’t look this straight the next lap! THE FIRST RACE My first ever race after obtaining my race licence happened to be a big “Mini United” Festival weekend at Silverstone, funded and organised by BMW Mini so no expense spared - we were given the F1 garages the whole weekend and it was like a festival with a few big name singers/bands performing, and I had not even turned the wheel of the Mini in anger up to this point. I am sure you can imagine my feelings sitting in the car waiting for qualifying to start. I think if I wasn’t strapped in by a 6 point harness and HANS device I would have jumped out the car and sprinted off into the sunset never to be seen again! The first half a dozen laps were a complete blur, a baptism of fire to say the least. I had cars going by left, right and almost centre including a few of the slower Mini 7 class no doubt much to their amusement (there is a friendly rivalry between the Mini 7s and Miglias), but as confidence grew in the car and myself each lap the accelerator was held down a little longer, the brakes applied a little later and I finished what I think was a respectable 12th out of 20 cars. I got out of the car and I don’t think I came down for the rest of the day, the adrenaline buzz was immense and I was well and truly hooked on this racing lark. Come race day I think the adrenaline rush of the previous day must have drained me as I felt shattered, although it may have been partly due to the previous night’s partying to the live music of Paul Weller and Calvin Harris along with a few responsible beers! Race One ended up with a 15th place finish. However up until 3 laps from the end I was running 9th when I was unceremoniously shunted off by an over eager Mr Dan Wheeler - we now have an affectionate pet name for each other “c@ck 1” and “c@ck 2” (Editor’s note: is this the kind of language we should be encouraging in a family publication?) Race Two ended up with a 12th place finish and a lap time gain of over 4 seconds from my best qualifying time, so all in all an absolutely cracking weekend.

THE LOW POINT Without a shadow of a doubt the low point was unfortunately what should been the best racing weekend of my life, Spa-Francorchamp on the full F1 circuit! The week before the race was spent tinkering, packing, double checking everything, and a quick trip to the rolling road to make sure all was right with engine (I didn’t fancy a 400mile trip to find the engine was ill). With racecar all loaded up on to lorry, lorry fuelled, ferry booked, off we set. Due to work commitments I was leaving later than the others, as such I was already chasing the clock (never a good idea on our speed camera infested roads) and had to admit defeat and accept that I would not make the Friday testing, so my testing would have to be done in the Saturday qualifying session - never ideal, but such is the balance between hobby and life. The journey down was an uneventful one other than missing one ferry by 15mins (we had open tickets) which meant a 3 hour wait for the next one (oh joy!), but we eventually arrived at the circuit at about 10pm the Friday evening. No time to unpack, too late and too much noise, so we hit the sack ready for an early start

Spot the Mini Qualifying - Strapped in car full of anticipation for what is about to happen, the flag drops and we are let out onto the circuit. I put my foot down only to find a horrible noise escaping from the engine bay and a distinct lack of power. Conscious that I have not driven the circuit before and assuming it would not be a quick stop in the pits to resolve, I gingerly complete the obligatory 3 laps watching every gauge on the dashboard like a hawk so I could at least argue to the stewards/clerk (if necessary!) that I have completed my “learning laps” (although to be fair at the speed I completed the laps I probably saw more of the circuit than anyone!). Thank god they didn’t invoke a 107% lap time rule as I was over a minute slower, starting 17th out of 17! Investigation led us to a loose wire in the ECU that must have been shaken loose on the journey down (as the car was fine two days previously on the rollers) resulting in the car intermittently firing on only 2 cylinders. Semi pleased that it was a quick and easy fix and nothing major, but at the same time extremely annoyed that such a simple thing had ruined qualifying and, more importantly, valuable circuit time.

The Front End Rebuild (before you ask, it is brake fluid in the glass on the bulkhead, not lager) Race - Car all sorted and ready for the race. A rolling start was the order of the day, which pleased me, as I’m rubbish at getting away from a standing start quickly! Green flag dropped, racing starts, after the first corner I’ve made 3 places, then onto Eau Rouge. Now, bearing in mind this is the first “race pace” lap I have done all weekend I put my trust in …blind faith, and keep the foot flat down as that’s what all the others appear to be doing! Thankfully I emerge the other end in one piece and by the end of the 3rd lap I am up to 12th and gaining on the next little group ahead of me. Unfortunately that is as good as it got; at the very fast double apex curve of Pouhon the back end let go (and to this day due to the damage sustained we have not been able to pinpoint a cause. It may have been lack of talent or a seized rear wheel bearing as the rear just snapped instantly) resulting in substantial damage and the end of my 2011 season, and had the majority of the rebuild work not been carried out by “Garage Dad” reducing the repair costs then it could have been the end of 2012 as well! THE HIGH POINTS Most of the high points to date have been off the circuit in the drinking establishments! On the circuit I have to admit no major feats …yet! Other than perhaps a couple of strong qualifying showings in the wet at both Castle Combe and Snetterton where, with an underpowered engine (compared to the front runners), I qualified 4th and 6th respectively out of about 20 cars, both times beating much more experienced racers. Unfortunately I couldn’t turn them into race results as electrical gremlins ruined both races.

I’m sure there must be some talent hiding in here somewhere! As a HCAAC member I have marshalled on and off for longer than I care to remember (what is it about age that it sneaks up on you without realising?) so to enter my first ever sprint and walk away with a 1st in class did give me a certain amount of pleasure. Even a friendly reprimand from the clerk of the course (who happened to be fellow Miglia racer Sarah Munns), as apparently the marshals at the “roundabout” took exception to me arriving at them sideways, couldn’t dampen the spirits!

“What way around do you go?” Hopefully if I get invited to update you with a report on exploits next year I will have added a few trophies to the cabinet, including Debden October 2012, so watch out fellow class racers!

Rob Howard

HCAAC Debden Spring Sprint, May 2012 Full results and a gallery of excellent photographs of all the competitors are available on the HCAAC web-site, and as your Stag Party editor was not actually present at the event a full report is not possible. However, we have already noted in ‘Editors Waffle’ the unfortunate accident which befell Anton Rothwell, which dampened enthusiasm a bit, but other than that the day went off without a hitch, thanks to the excellent work of all the organising body, marshals, helpers and all. Carver Barracks have been doing yet more digging up of various parts of the land, and to make a raised roadway have dug a couple of ditches to provide the raw material. This unfortunately cuts across part of our chosen track way, particularly up near the ‘roundabout’, and it was here that Anton had his inversion. As a result of this incident the club has reviewed the track and re-evaluated the safety aspects of it in the light of the on-going developments by the military at the site. It is likely, therefore, that the October sprint will feature a revised course, probably taking in part of the runway which links the present marshalling area to the ‘roundabout’, and avoiding the long sweeping left-hander which approaches the ‘roundabout’ where Anton was unlucky to go off and roll into the new ditch. The club committee is still discussing these developments and alterations. Full details will be provided to all competitors in the entry form and regulations sent out prior to the event. Fastest time of day (FTD) went to Steve Boother in his OMS 2000M, on 59.73 seconds, although he actually bettered that in the second timed practice, with 59.61. He was the only competitor to get below 1 minute. Class Winners were – Class 1: Class 2: Class 3: Class 4: Class 5: Class 6: Class 7: Class 8: Class 9: Class 10: Class 11: Class 12: Class 13: Class 14: Class 15: Class 16:

Keith Warnell, Citroen Saxo VTS Chris Fulke-Greville, Honda Integra R Mick Davis, Suzuki Swift Stephen Reynolds, Renault Clio Bill McKenna, Porsche 996 Mel Poolman, Subaru Impreza STi Graham Perry, Sylva Striker Paul Bowden, Caterham 7 Bob Gibson, Alpine A110 Brian Moore, Vauxhall Nova Adrian Goding, Ford Sapphire Ray Heal, Mallock Mk21 Simon Boulter, Raw Striker Steve Boother, OMS 2000M Tony Staines, Reynard Formula Opel Paul Bryan, Morgan 4/4

1:18.61 1:14.03 1:17.39 1:14.11 1:09.39 1:12.12 1:09.63 1:05.19 1:10.73 1:25.65 1:21.95 1:41.08 1:08.70 0:59.73 1:01.65 1:12.38

Congratulations to all. We look forward to seeing you all on 7th October to round off the 2012 season.

Answer to March ‘When, What, Where, Who?’

Answer: Not too difficult to identify the great Jack Brabham in this picture, seen signing autographs at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1996. And 100 bonus points for also identifying club member Howard Dawson standing just behind Sir Jack (and looking entirely the other way) Or as one quiz entrant stated – “I recognise the fat bloke in the picture, but who the heck is the guy in the racing overalls?” (Actually that was Howard himself who said that, in the only reply we actually received!)

Who, What? We’ll forget the Where and When this time, as they are the same as our last poser, answered above, so we are still at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1996.

The car is pretty straightforward, particularly in the light of another item elsewhere in this edition of Stag Party, but can you identify the ‘old-timer’ getting himself reacquainted with it up the Goodwood hill, after an interval of 44 years?

A Bit of History For those of you who read The Times newspaper the following snippet may have already been seen, but nonetheless we are including it in ‘A Bit Of History’. To mark the occasion of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last month Times Newspapers reprinted an edition of The Sunday Times from May 31st 1953, and one little item near the bottom of page 1 caught our eye. The paragraph was headed:

Fangio’s 198mph In B.R.M. “Juan Fangio, the Argentine motor racing champion, drove the British-made B.R.M. at more than 198mph today, when he broke the track record during the second trials of the Grand Prix of Albi. He covered the 5 & 1/2-mile course in 2 minutes 52.5 seconds, an average of 116.6 miles an hour, the fastest it has ever gone.” Now, in this day and age it is not uncommon for the latest supercar to claim speeds well in excess of 200mph, many ‘average’ high performance cars can easily top 150mph, and even the family hatch can probably nudge 120 at a pinch. So, 198mph may not be that worthy of attention. And yes, we also know that very high speeds were being attained by Grand Prix cars even before the war, by Mercedes and Auto-Union particularly. But, just think about it. French public roads of the early 50’s (Albi was a road course, as most were), 1500cc supercharged V16 screamer, open cockpit and skinny tyres – and bloody nearly 200mph! It gives us goose bumps just to think of it.



Graham Scarborough


Chris Wilson

Honorary Treasurer

Khan Busby

Honorary Secretary

Donald Duncan

Membership Secretary

David Gibbs

Child Protection Officer

Evelyn Gibbs

Committee Member

Steve Muir

Committee Member

Brian Horne

Committee Member

Tony Gattuso

Committee Member

Lionel Reeves

Committee Member

Jonathan Gibbs

Committee Member

Gerry Cannon

Web Site Editor

Gordon Stubberfield

Events Secretary

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