Reg and Rosberg
Just a minor correction to your article in the March issue about Dick Protheroe’s E-types. The car bought and raced by Roger Mac was registered 256 DJU, not CJU and was generally called ‘Deja vu’. It was later rebuilt with a convertible body by John Lewis and used by Roger to win the 1983 European Historic Sportscar Championship.
Further to the Chevron article in the same issue, I remember standing at Donington Park’s Old Hairpin and watching a young Keke Rosberg practising for a Formula Two race in a Chevron in 1978. As he exited Craner Curves with the car oversteering he would overcorrect to flick the tail the other way, in rally style, to enter Old Hairpin already sideways at over 90mph.
As practice reached its end he became wilder and was getting on full power well before the apex, hanging the tail all over the exit kerbs until on the last lap he went completely over the top of them and spun almost down to the bridge. Up to then it was one of the most amazing pieces of car control I have ever seen — and one way of curing understeer.
I very much enjoyed the saloon car racing bias in the February issue, especially Gerry Marshall’s ‘In the Hot Seat’. My twin brother and I both enjoyed drawing when we were younger, and not long after I first got hooked on motor racing in 1986 we met Gerry and sold him a few of our works of the cars he was racing at the time. Hopefully he still has them!
He became a bit of a hero of mine as did his good friend, the recently departed Tony Lanfranchi, who was competing in the same Production Saloon series in 1986. Gerry began the year in an Opel Monza, which showed off his crowd-pleasing oversteer style to good effect. However, during the year he had to change to a Ford due to sponsorship commitments. He was supposed to drive a Sierra Cosworth but as it wasn’t homologated he had to use an Escort RS Turbo, as did many other competitors that year (including Mike Smith from the telly!). It says something about Gerry’s all-round ability that he was usually at the front of the pack in the Escort which was front-wheel drive, not the preferred choice for his driving style. But I still remember him getting the Escort very sideways!
Here’s hoping that Gerry will provide plenty more demonstrations of his amazing car control to his followers for many years to come. I think he should have made the top five in your list, and Tony Lanfranchi should have been in there somewhere too!
St Albans, Herts.
Family album gems
I was most interested in WB’s ‘From Track to Traffic’ article in the February edition, as old family photographs show that my grandfather, W G Chamberlain of Ramsbury in Wiltshire, owned and converted such a vehicle, a Panhard-Levassor.
His notes on the rear of the original photograph read: “In Panhard-Levassor car (which belonged to Sir William Pearce. Bingey bought it at the sale and I had it from him; we lengthened the chassis frame 2ft after this photo was taken and put a new body on it). It was in the Paris-Madrid race.” The picture shows it in its original form. I have another after its conversion.
Alas, I have no further information as the pictures only came to light relatively recently. I wonder if by any chance anyone has any knowledge of Sir William Pearce?
Reims of memories
I read with interest the Mike Anthony article and would like to add a bit to the accomplishments of this talented driver/mechanic.
His mention of driving the Reims 12 Hours brought back memories. First of all, the scrutineers informed us that the plastic racing screen we had fitted had to connect to the hood. Of course the factory-supplied hood did not fit so off to town we went, with Mike’s fractured French, finding material and a seamstress to make us one. The scrutineer came to inspect our efforts and asked how we could do hand signals with the fixed plastic side curtain. Mike very quickly brought out a knife, slit an L-shape and stuck out his hand to wave to the official, who promptly threw up his hands in a typical French gesture.
Secondly, a piston blew because the Ken Rudd-tuned Bristol engine ran on 95 octane fuel and ours was only 84 octane. A new piston was air-shipped to us and, when Mike picked it up at customs, they would not let us have it for two days because of paperwork. But while the officer was not looking Mike swapped our burned piston for the new one in the carton and off we went.
As to the race, I must correct Mike on his comments that he drove 11 of the 12 hours and that I did not like the car or the fog. Please Mike, you may have driven an hour more than me as I respected your better lap times, but I loved the car enough to have had two of them and drove it in 12 races successfully around Europe. And who does like driving in fog?
In the February issue Bill Boddy asked who Barré Lyndon was. This was the pseudonym of Alfred Edgar Frederick Higgs — it’s small wonder he used a pen-name. This prolific writer was born in 1896 and started his career as a journalist before writing a stage play called Speed, which was produced in 1931.
A friendship with Cecil Kimber no doubt led to the writing of three MG books, Combat, Circuit Dust and Grand Prix, in 1935. However, with MG’S withdrawal from competition in the same year there could be no more books with the same theme.
Barré Lyndon did continue to write and produced material for the MG sales department as well as for The Autocar and The Sports Car on MG topics. In collaboration with Land Speed Record breaker George Eyston another book appeared — Motor Racing and Record-Breaking. I think that Lyndon may also have ghosted Eyston’s earlier book called Flat Out, but who knows?
There was a further spell of playwriting: Hell for Leather and They Came by Night; both appeared on the London stage. Lyndon then wrote a thriller which had nothing at all to do with motoring called The Amazing Dr Clitterhouse. This was produced as a film by Warner Bros, starring Edward G Robinson and Humphrey Bogart
This was Lyndon’s big break, and he left for America in 1938 and settled in Hollywood to pursue a career as a scriptwriter. He went on to produce some 15 filmscripts, including the film of HG Wells’s classic The War of the Worlds. He also wrote for television, including The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Dr Kildare.
He died in Beverly Hills in 1972 at the age of 77.
Lyndon also wrote boys stories and early motoring novels as ‘Alfred Edgar’. — GC
It has come to my attention that Mark Webber will be driving a Williams FW27 with race number 7 in Formula One this year. Alan Jones was the last Australian to drive for Williams and he won the title in 1980 with an FW07, race number 27 (same as Webber, but reversed).
I wonder if this is a good omen for Webber. I just hope it is not an omen that he is going to score 27 points and finish seventh!
Perth, Western Australia