Whitmore's early upsets

Sir,

With reference to your article in December's magazine on Sir John Whitmore in which he talks about his father, I thought you might be interested in the following:

The story concerns John's first event a driving test in a borrowed Austin A30. Told by his mother not to win the event as it might get publicity in the local papers Sports section (and this would annoy his father), John went one better!

The photos are on the front page of the paper of the said A30 with wheels in the air, resting on its tin top, with John hanging in the straps. The rush to buy up all the copies of the paper in the close vicinity of Orsett had to be seen to be believed! Yet his father never found out.

The other story about the writing off of the Elite may be worth a trip to your photo archives I remember a picture of the Elite trying to launch into space with doors, bonnet and boot lid open with John calmly sitting at the wheel about 15 feet above ground having launched the car over the banking - no Armco at Lesmo in those days.

What was left came back to the UK in a space about four feet square! What the Americans call a basket case, but if my memory serves me right the Elite was rebodied and raced again by Count Stephen Ouvaroff.

I am, yours, etc. Bob Eithey, Padstow, Cornwall