Having just read through the February edition of your magazine, I thought I’d write a few comments and minor corrections to set the record straight.
The Bill Boddy article on the pre-war Austin racing cars was of particular interest to me as I remember clearly being most impressed with the 750cc single seaters at Crystal Palace in 1938 and 1939. Along with George Abecassis’ Alta 1.5-litre they were to me exactly what a racing car should look like. They sounded right too as they went through Stadium Dip — my favourite spectating spot.
Turning to the ‘Fiberglas’ item, it should be noted that Lotus began using GRP some time before the 18. I think it started with the Eleven when the bodywork specialists Williams and Pritchard latched on to its potential. Also the author seems to have forgotten the Rochdale Olympic — designed by Richard Parker — which was probably better, design-wise, than the Elite.
But naturally, my main interest was in the Eagle/Lotus story and very good it was too, generally; complimentary as well! However, there were a couple of factual errors that should not go uncorrected. First and foremost, although Dan’s father dreamt up the G-Eagle badge, the whole of the car (in both versions) including the nose-cone and the rest of the body was my responsibility alone. Also, the F1 version was not merely a thinner-skinned Indy car but a separate entity, albeit with many similarities. When reviewing its design, it should be taken into account that, working single-handedly and starting in September of 1965, I was called upon to design and draw (with no CAD then) from scratch, two easily-produced racing cars for two different formulae in a virtually new set-up and have them ready for testing in March ’66. As there was no existing hardware to call upon, this entailed all new castings and forgings, etc. for the running gear, to say nothing of the other 101 items that go to make up a complete race car. And of course, the procurement and production all had to be supervised to ensure accuracy.
That the cars finished up a little on the large size was down to the fact that Dan was the smaller of the two proposed drivers, the other being Gerry Grant — about 6ft3in and 220lbs! Also the fuel capacity for Indy had to be taken into account. Nevertheless, the F1 car collected championship points in only its second race and one of the Indy cars led the event and looked a certain winner until an engine problem side-lined it.
Ah, memories are made of this, even though they may differ from person to person.
I am, yours, etc.,
Len Terry, Lincoln, Lincolnshire