How 'Gentleman Jack' tamed 450 wild horses
"Aintree was a lucky circuit for me:' recalls Jack Sears."I had quite a few wins there, and so on that basis I have happy memories of it. As well as the Galaxie victories, I won there in 1960 in the Aston Martin DB4 GT run by Equipe Endeavour; in a3.8 Mk11 Jaguar in '62; and in the Cortina GT in '63.
"I particularly remember that Jaguar win, because a week before, down at Snetterton, my team-mate Mike Parkes had had a huge shunt when the halfshaft broke, and Tommy Sopwith withdrew my car until more testing had been done. "When we got to Aintree, Sopwith put Michael in my usual car and hired another Jaguar from Peter Berry, for whom I had finished fourth in the 1960 RAC Rally in a Mk11. Bob Jane, the previous year's Australian saloon car champion was also in Liverpool, driving a Coombs Jag MkII. He was very sure of himself, quite confident he could beat us. He did lead the race for a while, but then Michael took the lead and I was third, right behind them when, approaching Melling Crossingdane spun it right across the grass. Later I passed Parkes to win, and we left a rather sheepish Bob Jane in fourth place:'
Jack's biggest Aintree wins came in the International meetings of 1963 and '64 driving that gorgeous great Willment-run Ford Galaxie:"My Galaxie was prepared by Holman & Moody to NASCAR spec, with fibreglass bonnet and bootlid and aluminium bumpers. But it was still a good half-ton heavier than the Jaguars. "We were worried about the brakes lasting 100 miles for each of those races — there was a lot of braking required round Aintree. But although the Jag's brakes were slightly better, I was never out-braked by or even beaten by them. The exit of slow corners required so much grunt, and the Galaxie had plenty of that. It was, in fact, unbeatable.The Lotus Cortinas never beat me in a Galaxie either, though Jimmy Clark used to hang on in there like a terrier. He was the only one that ever came close to passing me."
So what made Sears so good at Aintree, in such varied cars?
"Aintree required precision.You had to get the apex right, otherwise you'd be wandering out early, forcing you to stay off the throttle for longer and therefore losing time. One thing that might have helped me was my rallying. You never had a chance to do a recce, so you had to judge the corner as you saw it. And I seemed able to assess corners quite well. "Well, I treated Aintree like that:1 saw a corner and just attacked it. Of course, the one that did exercise the mind and cause one to concentrate was Melling Crossing.That could be taken very quickly if you were on the perfect line; if you weren't, you could lose quite a bit of time. It was the key to a good lap:'
And numerous wins.