The names of Team Lotus, Cooper Cars, Owen Racing Organisation, etc. are household words, for they are constantly in the full glare of publicity. But what of the smaller teams and private owners, without whom there would be very little racing at all? In an effort to rectify the disproportionately small amount of publicity received by the small teams we have asked them a few questions about their history, present and future activities and their views on the sport in general. As will be seen from the answers, there is general dissatisfaction with starting and prize money and the regulations in Appendices “C” and “J.” Perhaps race organisers, the R.A.C. and other interested parties will take note.
Ian Walker Racing Ltd.
Ian Walker formed his team early in 1962 when he retired from active racing, mainly for the pleasure it gave him, but due to the financial burden of racing it has been run as a business venture in order to prevent it getting out of hand.
The team has always used Ford engines to power their cars and has mainly stuck to Lotus cars, although Brabhams were used in 1963. In 1962 the team had two Lotus F.J. cars and a Lotus 23 sports car, in 1963 they used two Brabham F.J. cars, one Brabham sports and one Lotus 23 sports car; this season they are using two racing Lotus Elans, one prototype Elan and the first Lotus 30 to be built. Many top drivers have raced the team’s cars, including Mike Spence, Paul Hawkins, Frank Gardner, Jackie Stewart. Sir John Whitmore and Tony Hegbourne. They have also had the services of Lotus works drivers Jim Clark and Peter Arundell.
The team has taken part mostly in International racing and has travelled very widely both in Europe and in Canada and the U.S.A. Team Manager is David Porter, who has five mechanics under Chief Mechanic John Pledger. The team uses two large Ford transporters with 6-cylinder diesel engines and 10-speed gearboxes. each of which can carry two cars. As tender vehicles the team have a Ford Cortina estate car and a Sprite caravan.
The team receives assistance from Lotus in the form of technical advice and the services of Team Lotus drivers. Contracts are made with trade suppliers, including Esso, Dunlop, Autolite, Girling, Ferodo and Lucas.
Ian Walker has fairly definite views on the Sport and, like most other people, he feels strongly on the subject of starting money. He reckons that no one would ever admit to receiving enough starting money, but he feels that a disproportionate amount of the total available starting money is given to the Formula One cars, leaving, very often, only nominal amounts for other types of car.
He also thinks that a great deal more thought should be put into the rules governing the construction and modification of cars coming under Appendices “C” and “J,” especially with regard to the continuity without variation which the Formulae rules allow; i.e., he would like to see unchanged rules for a period of say, three or five years as now applies in Formula One.
Alan Brown Racing Ltd.
Alan Brown, who used to race himself quite a lot, started entering cars jointly with Ken Tyrell in 1956. They entered Formula Two cars for such drivers as Ron Flockhart, Bruce McLaren, and Masten Gregory, but later on Ken Tyrell decided to run his own team in conjunction with the Cooper works, so Alan Brown decided to form a limited company to carry on racing.
The team runs one car at present, a Ford Galaxie, which has been driven mainly by Jack Brabham. The team is run mainly for pleasure but as Connaught Cars, of which Alan Brown is Managing Director, are the Surrey distributors for American Ford products, a certain amount of publicity obviously accrues and the organisation does benefit from this. The car is prepared by Connaught Cars, with Ian Cornell assisting in team management, and the mechanical work being supervised by Benny Benstead, who has prepared racing cars since Brooklands days and was with the Connaught team during its Formula One era. The team receives some financial assistance from Esso Petroleum and accessories from Champion Plugs, but apart from these two no other assistance is received except that which is paid for.
Alan Brown has few comments to make on the state of the Sport at present, but he does feel that there is a definite tendency for circuit owners to control race meetings rather than the organising club, which, from the point of view of the Sport, rather allows vested interests too much control.
For next season the team will probably continue with a large saloon, or maybe a Formula Two car, but plans are not yet finalised.
Reg Parnell (Racing) Ltd.
The team was formed early in 1963 when the Bowmaker team announced their retirement from racing and Reg Parnell, who was Bowmaker’s team manager, decided to purchase the team’s Lola cars. The principal driver was Chris Amon and in due course World Motorcycle Champion Mike Hailwood joined the equipe as a partner and director, as well as a driver. During 1963 the Lola-Climax cars were raced but at the end of that season two of the ex-works Lotus 25 monocoques were acquired, without engines and gearboxes, to which were fitted V8 B.R.M. engines and Hewland gearboxes. On the sudden death of Reg Parnell, his son Tim joined Mike Hailwood as a Director and Team Manager.
The team is run as a business and is sponsored by Tim Parnell and Mike Hailwood, who are assisted by Gillian Harris, who looks after the paper-work and timekeeping, etc. The team is a full-time organisation and has four full-time mechanics to prepare the cars, which are taken to circuits on the team’s own B.M.C. transporter. The team receives no financial assistance from Lotus, but various members of the trade, such as B.P., Dunlop, Lucas, Smiths, Champion, Ferodo and Girling, provide assistance either financially or in the supply of accessories.
Tim Parnell feels that the small private teams are finding it more and more difficult to gain entries in major races. The initial problem is that the works teams automatically receive two definite entries for each race at a guaranteed figure for starting money, which leaves the organisers with very little to offer the private entrants. This is the case even though drivers in private teams may have Championship points, whereas works drivers do not. In view of the high financial demands of the works teams, race organisers are tending to field fewer and fewer cars in major races, thus making it progressively more difficult for independents to gain entries.
In spite of this the team plans to carry on in 1965 and hopes to be running Formula Two cars as well as Formula One.
S.M.A.R.T. (Stirling Moss Automobile Racing Team)
Stirling Moss formed the team in March of 1963 with a Lotus Elan, which was modified considerably, fitted with a hard-top, and raced by Sir John Whitmore with considerable success. In fact, it won every event bar two, when it shed a wheel on both occasions. It was also raced by Valerie Pirie, Stirling’s secretary and Team Manager, in Club events early this year. The team also acquired a Ford Cortina GT, which she has driven in rallies. For the 1964 season the team acquired a Porsche 904 GTS, which has been driven by Innes Ireland, Trevor Taylor, Sir John Whitmore, David Hobbs, Lucky Casner and Hugh Dibley. S.M.A.R.T. also enters Hugh Dibley’s Repco-Brabham-Climax 2 1/2-litre in British events, his latest success being in the sports-car race at the British G.P. meeting. He has also set up the first sports-car 100-m.p.h. lap at Goodwood. The team also acquired a tuned Triumph Spitfire from the works for Valerie Pirie to enter in International rallies.
All the cars are maintained by three South African mechanics, Ed and Bud Rossler, who are brothers, the latter being well known in South Africa as a driver, and Pete Van Asperen. Stirling Moss and Valerie Pirie act jointly as Team Managers.
The team is entirely sponsored by Stirling Moss as a hobby; however, it has grown in size and is now a considerable financial drain and he has not yet decided on his plans for 1965. It is possible that, in order to keep the team running, some privately owned cars might be prepared for racing and run under the S.M.A.R.T. colours.
At Stirling Moss used to race on B.P., Ferodo, Dunlop, Lodge, etc., the team continues to use these products.
Regarding the future of the Sport, Stirling Moss would like to see a definite calendar fixed as early as possible so that teams can draw up their plans for the season well in advance. He would also like the Appendix J regulations to be more easily decipherable for entrants, as he finds he is continually troubling the R.A.C. to check small details which he is sure could be simplified.
Squadra Tartaruga International
This exotic-sounding title disguises the identity of a group of Swiss and English drivers who have joined together to race saloon cars. The Swiss Squadra Tartaruga team started first and was formed by a group of drivers who banded together to pool spares, information, share facilities and so on. John Aley, the well-known British saloon-car driver, met some of the members and became an honorary member of the team. He raced with the team on the Continent and eventually began handling entries for its members in British races, notably the six-hour race at Brands Hatch. John Aley has been joined by John Thurston, Sheridan Thynne, Charles Stancomb and John Terry, and as they are interested in taking part in the events counting for the European Touring Car Challenge and small Continental meetings, Squadra Tartaruga in Zurich arranges their entries.
The five members of the English branch own their own cars, all of them being Mini-Coopers of various engine capacities; two of them have Downton-tuned 970-c.c. engines, and one a Broadspeed 1,275 c.c. Several of the team members have also driven works D.K.W. Juniors in various races. The team receives no assistance from B.M.C. except for the bonuses which are available for private owners, but component manufacturers such as champion, Armstrong, Ferodo, S.U. and Castrol have given much help.
All the team members help to look after their own cars, with the assistance of Aley’s small engineering business, although team-member Thurston works for Aley full-time. The team has a Leyland one-ton transporter to carry one car and tow another, while others are taken to meetings on trailers behind Mini vans. John Aley joins most other members of private teams in deprecating the fact that works teams take the lion’s share of starting money. He also feels that saloon-car racing is the “poor relation” in motor racing, and points out that it is as expensive to prepare a saloon car for racing as, say, a Formula Three car, whereas the starting and prize money seldom goes in the same proportion, although the saloons are often better spectator value. He also finds that the non-availability of homologated parts hampers the private owner, for he seldom gets them until the works have used them for some time, and then he dare not extend the car fully in case he breaks the precious new part. This lack of parts caused the team’s proposed five-car challenge in the European Touring Car Championship to be delayed somewhat.
For the future the team will undoubtedly stick to saloon cars, although Aley has a hankering to produce a GT car, using Mini components, to chase the French Alpines and Panhards in long-distance events.
Dick Jacobs’ racing career began shortly after the War, when he commenced racing a variety of cars, usually M.G.s or MG. powered “specials”. He soon graduated to the M.G. works team and raced TCs and TDs for the factory, and YB and ZA saloons under his own name. He then graduated to the M.G.-A and joined the works team for Le Mans in 1955, where they were racing the M.G.-A prototypes. Unfortunately he crashed at White House, just before Levegh crashed near the pits, and was severely injured, being out of action for six months. Although he recovered completely he decided that at the age of 40 he ought to give up racing, and turned to managing other people’s entries.
He ran the team of M.G. Magnettes which won the Six-Hour Relay Race in 1956 and also took over team management for Alan Foster and John Waller with their Magnettes in 1957 and ’58. In 1958 he bought one of the new Twin-Cam M.G.-As and entered it (in standard trim) for the Tourist Trophy, where it finished third in its class, driven by Alan Foster and Tommy Bridger. In 1959 and 1960 the pale green Jacobs Twin-Cam M.G.-As were a familiar sight on the circuits and many successes were obtained, despite teething troubles. Nineteen sixty-one was quiet but for 1962 Jacobs evolved the very rapid M.G. Midget Specials which have gained many successes in the 1,000-c.c. and 1,150-c.c. classes. They were run as prototypes with 1,300-c.c, engines in the 1964 Nürburgring 1,000-kilometre race and finished first and second in the class.
The team is a private effort by Dick Jacobs but assistance comes From the Mill Garage, the M.G. dealership of which he is proprietor, and from the factory, who supply technical advice and spare parts. The team is run for the patron’s pleasure, but since the team runs M.G.s and he sells M.G.s any publicity from success is obviously beneficial. Assistance from the trade comes from Ferodo, Champion, Armstrong, Castrol, Esso, Lucas, Dunlop, and Smiths.
Dick Jacobs manages the team himself and the cars are prepared by two mechanics, with Gerry Neligan as Chief Mechanic. The racing team is run as a part-time organisation but pressure of business is gradually squeezing the team out of the South Woodford workshops.
On general aspects of the Sport, Dick Jacobs makes the point that the cost of preparing and running small-engined cars it no less than many large-engined machines; yet prize money is usually lower for the smaller cars. Without assistance from the accessory firms even a successful team is barely able to cover the cost of preparation, transport and insurance from prize money. (To be continued)
Miscellany, December 1997
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