Innes Ireland

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Sir,

I am sure that all those who knew Innes Ireland will join me in thanking you for the generous tribute in December’s Motor Sport. He was indeed a very fine fellow.

I am certain that stories of Innes’ riotous life will continue to entertain us for many years to come. Perhaps I may recall one incident that occurred during the winter of 1958. I was then a Sandhurst cadet, and although cars were forbidden during the first year, most of us contrived to conceal our transport in lock-ups and private car parks within half a mile or so of the college. My own was a shabby two-seater Morris Eight with loud exhaust and completely bald tyres, its damp road characteristics providing useful schooling in car control in comparative safety at low speeds.

Accompanied by two colleagues I set off one Saturday evening to sample the hostelries of Surrey. Heading back to comply with our strict 23.00 curfew we could not resist one last pint at a particularly attractive pub, somewhere near Farnham. We emerged contented after a thoroughly enjoyable evening, relishing the prospect of the sporting drive that was by now necessary to meet the dreaded deadline. Failure to do this was quite unthinkable.

Fate now intervened, as the old Morris refused to start, the battery having inexplicably expired. In a state of some agitation I concocted a heart-rending tale involving a sick relative and asked the publican if I could ‘phone Sandhurst to explain our now inevitable lateness. Three men in conversation at the bar overheard this request and immediately volunteered to help out, insisting that we join them for another drink before hitching the Morris to a well-used Austin A90 by means of a very short rope.

I had imagined we were about to tow-start the Morris, but was curious that the driver, the youngest of the three, insisted that my colleagues should join him in the A90. As we moved off, I hopefully engaged gear . . . but to my consternation the A90 tore off into the darkness at enormous speed, leaving me wrestling with the unlit Morris, snaking wildly on its ‘slicks’ in the frosty lanes, my foot riveted to the rapidly lengthening brake pedal.

Eventually we swung into the drive of a substantial country house, where a van bearing the legend ‘Innes Ireland Racing’ was parked. We then realised just who our benefactor was. I never discovered the identity of the older men, though I now believe that one of them was Reg Parnell.

Innes flung open the door of his spacious workshops: “In you go lads. Help yourselves, try ’em for size.” Quite forgetting our plight, we fell upon the machinery within. From memory there were a couple of Lotus XIs, an A-type Connaught, a Ferrari and sundry exotic road cars. Meanwhile, a ‘phone call to the house summoned the then Mrs Ireland with a bottle of scotch, six glasses and a silver tray. As we soaked up both the atmosphere and Innes’ whisky we became careless of the fate awaiting us at Sandhurst.

Unnoticed, Innes slipped away to the house, reappearing in the number one dress from his days as a captain in the parachute regiment. To our critical eyes this did not look entirely convincing as the uniform was somewhat crumpled, the buttons were tarnished and the red beret sat uneasily on Innes’ distinctly civilian haircut. However, the plot was now obvious so the six of us piled into the A90, which was then unleashed into competitive mode.

The car slid, rolled and squealed its cross-ply tyres as Innes deftly clonked the steering column gearchange up and down. To us it was a splendid demonstration of on-the-limit motoring, though one of Innes’ chums frequently urged caution as we rushed along at between 90-100 mph. Naturally, this only encouraged him to greater things, and I certainly remember seeing 90 on the clock as we streaked through Aldershot.

We arrived at Victoria College guardroom in a long slide over the gravel parade ground. “OK lads, off you go,” said Innes. It was by now 1.30 and the duty provost sergeant, to whom first-year cadets were meat and drink, bellowed “You’ve lost your names gentlemen” as he gleefully reached for the charge sheets.

Enter Innes: much stamping of the feet, saluting and grovelling by our sergeant. “The lads have been out with me for the evening and my car broke down. I’m sure you will overlook the matter, sergeant.”

Naturally the answer was affirmative and three relieved cadets made off to their billets while a perplexed sergeant watched Innes and friends wheel-spinning on their way, guffawing with laughter.

The following weekend I went over to Elstead to collect the Morris. Its battery had been charged and the dynamo fettled, and payment for this service was firmly refused.

Needless to say, I followed Innes’ career with enthusiasm thereafter. It was always a source of regret that he never raced the Maserati 250F acquired from Patrick Lindsay in 1970. That would have enlivened historic racing.

By today’s standards our behaviour on that night 35 years ago would have earned us a driving ban, or even a jail sentence. Yet then the only offence we committed was speeding in a built-up area, from which one could usually escape with a good ticking-off if caught.

Those were the days.

Peter Davis,
Tenterden, Kent.