It was one of those days you wish had never happened. As you might imagine, I had been looking forward to the day when I was to drive the D-type and GT40 on our cover more than a little. Everything had gone according to plan right up until the moment the weather and its forecasters agreed to differ.
Within minutes I would not have been more wet had I elected to spend the morning lying in the bath which, incidentally, is not unlike how siting in the GT40 felt. The Jaguar was driveable unless asked to follow the Ford when the spray kicked up by those massive rear tyres removed all visibility. But only when the cameras were more full of water than film did we wonder whether we’d leave the tack with anything approaching a result. I remember feeling like I had been served the finest meal in the world and being told I could only sniff.
In the end, the weather relented a little, enough at least to give the Ford something approaching stability, we grabbed our moment and bagged the results you will find elsewhere in the magazine. All through last year the weather had smiled benevolently upon us whenever we had taken to the track in racing cars and we all knew pay back day was going to come sooner or later. On motoring magazines, it always does.
Pursuant of the above, there are a couple of people to whom we owe considerable thanks. John Coombs has owned the D-type for over 30 years and has a refreshingly robust attitude to its use. The car was driven through rain and rush-hour to the track and despite spending the day being force-fed water by the Ford, it behaved impeccably throughout. So did, it should be said, the GT40, owned by Janet Willment, daughter of the late John Willrnent Over this winter it is to gain the power lacking in its current engine though, for once, I was not sad to have less than the full quota of horsepower at my disposal. To them both, I send my deepest thanks.
On a similar note, you will remember Ascari’s Ferrari 340 Mexico whose extraordinary profile graced these pages last month. At the time we had intended to thank both its owner as well as David Cottingham and the staff of DK Engineering who provided the car and made sure the day ran smoothly. Production gremlins too tedious to warrant further mention meant their contribution went unrecognised at the time, a fault I am happy to rectify now. The best part of our day with the Mexico, however, has yet to be mentioned. Without prior arrangement, Cottingham also brought along a Ferrari 500, uprated to 1954, 2.5-litre 625 specification. I didn’t even have to ask; my childhood dream of driving a Grand Prix Ferrari was answered with a wave of the hand. You will read about it on these pages soon.
I was interested to see the cascade of letters in support of our new series where we try to persuade drivers good and great to sound off about the worst cars they have ever raced. I can see we’re going to have a lot of fun with this one. If Perry McCarthy’s account last month of the Andrea Moda opened your eyes more than a little, try Richard Attwood’s offering on the Porsche 917 in this issue. Yes, you did read that right. It’s on page 88.