Former Grand Prix driver and retired team boss Jackie Oliver returned to his racing roots when he drove Jim Utting’s Ford Mustang to third place in the first Top Hat Endurance Challenge event at Silverstone on May 27.
Oliver, 57, who won the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours in JW Automotive’s Ford GT40 and the 1974 Can-Am title for Shadow, raced a Mustang in the early ’60s before turning to single-seaters. “I’d forgotten how badly these things handled,” said Jackie, who will also contest future rounds. The one-hour pre-’65 saloon car race attracted a starstudded entry, and many of the veterans played key roles, like Gerry Marshall, who led in Miles Townshend’s Mustang until its crank broke. He was taxied back from Becketts corner afterwards by his old pal Tony Lanfranchi who, with brother Peter, won the Lotus Cortina class.
Warwick Banks, the 1964 European Touring Car champion, co-drove Nick Swift’s Mini Cooper S, Modsports ace Gabriel Konig returned with an Austin A40 and Jeff Uren piloted a sister Ford Zephyr to his 1959 British Saloon championship winner.
Jaguar Mklls, driven by John Young/Alec Hammond and Graeme Dodd, finished first and second in a superb race, while the Mini Cooper S of Norman Grimshaw and Paul Ingram chased the Oliver Mustang home in fourth. The series continues at Brands Hatch on 1-2 July and concludes at Spa on 9-10 September. MP