Around and about, June 1988

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Fresh Capital for March

When a Gran Prix team’s sponsor is willing to invest more heavily, you know that not only is he satisfied with the return he is already getting but he also sees the long-term potential in that team.

It has just been announced that Mr Akira Akagi, Chairman of Leyton House, has agreed to subscribe almost three million new ordinary shares in Robin herd’s March Group, subject to the approval of both companies’ shareholders. The subscription will provide March with about £4-million (before expenses) which will be invested into developing specialised areas of engineering as well as in existing racing activities.

Since the March team re-entered F1 at the beginning of last year, Leyton House has been its major sponsor and a good relationship has developed between the two chairmen.

Once the subscription has been completed, Mr Akagi will become a non-executive director holding 20% of the share-capital.

Three Generations

At Donington Park’s 750 MC meeting on August 29, three generations of one family will be represented in the same race. Jack French will drive his old Austin Seven-based Worden which now belongs to Peter Hornby; his son Roger will race Complexity, which was also once Jack’s but is now owned by Martin Eyre; and his grandson Jan French will appear in Simplicity, the famous A7 Special which Jack is rebuilding.

Is this the first time such a clan-gathering has competed together?

Nissan Rocks IMSA’s Boat

If the Porsche 962-equipeped establishment in the United States’ IMSA sportscar championship thought the only serious 1988 challenge to its four-year-old reign would come form Jaguar’s XJR-9, it had a rude awakening in April.

By declining to enter the endurance events at Daytona and Sebring, the Electramotive Nissan team delayed showing its hand until the Miami round, at which Geoff Brabham put the ZX-T on pole position. Brake problems in the race disguised the threat.

However, early-season expectations have been turned on their heads by the fourth and fifth rounds of the series, at which Brabham claimed further pole positions in the Japanese 3-litre V6 turbo and completed convincing victories with co-driver John Morton.

On the fast Road Atlanta track the powerful Nissan fought back from a one-minute deficit to overhaul the Jaguar of John Nielsen and John Watson, and on the Twisty Wet Palm Beach circuit it displayed impressive handling characteristics in defeating the TWR sister-car of Jan Lammers and Davy Jones.

Competition Winner

Congratulations to Mr Alan Smith of Cardiff, winner of the MOTOR SPORT/TOMY Aurora Competition we have been running over the last three months. His name was drawn at random from a bucketful of correct entries.

As our winner, Mr Smith and a child will be the guests of Aurora and MOTOR SPORT at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Sunday, July 10, where they will be able to watch all the race action from prime seats in the grandstands, and will be treated to a champagne reception and four-course lunch.

During the course of the day the child will be presented with Aurora’s magnificent slot-car race set, worth over £50.

Silverstone Appointments

Following the death of Jimmy Brown, Tom Walkinshaw has been appointed Chairman of Silverstone Circuits Ltd. He has been a Director of the BRDC for eight years. Pierre Aumonier, Deputy Chairman, will continue to administer the group’s day-to-day running, while Hamish Brown becomes Managing Director of the Silverstone group of companies.

Return of the Tour

Next year’s Autoglass Tour, backed handsomely by well-known Bedford-based windscreen replacement company Autoglass Ltd, whose marketing director Mike Cornwell was himself a rally driver some years ago, will be a six-day event with sea crossings linking the tests in England, Wales and Scotland with others in Northern Ireland and Eire.

It was said at the announcement that this will be the first home-based motor sporting event to include a sea crossing, but this is not actually so. We wonder how many readers can identify a previous occasion when a sea crossing formed part of the route of a British motor competition. We’ll tell you next month.

In addition in hill-climbs and special stages in forests and other venues, there sill be circuit races at Silverstone, Castle Combe, Oulton Park, Mondello Park, Kirkistown, Ingliston, Cadwell Park, Donington, Mallory Park, Snetterton and Brands Hatch. There will even be a special stage at Crystal Palace. Co-drivers can hardly expect to be named in the results, for the RAC MSA has agreed to allow changes of co-driver, leg by leg. The start, on Monday September 26, 1989 will be at the immense hangar of Airship Industries at Cardington, where R101 was built, and the finish at Brands Hatch the following Sunday.

Mercedes Demo

An attraction at the VSCC Hawthorn Trophy meeting at Silverstone on June 25 will be demonstration runs by W125, W154 and W196 Mercedes-Benz GP cars. Hawthorn Boulogne and Pre-War trophies are the main races with another for pre-war Bentleys. Admission costs £5.50 (children under 15 free), paddock transfer £1.00. The action starts at 1pm.

Andrew White

It came as a truly terrible shock to hear that Andrew Whyte had died of a heart attack on May 3 while driving from his home in Warwickshire to the Jaguar factory. He was 51. Andrew, who joined Motoring News in 1962 as a rally reporter, had been apprenticed to Jaguar in 1955, where he edited the celebrated apprentices magazine and after a spell as a motoring writer returned to Jaguar where he was promoted to PR Manager in 1972.

A typical product of Gordonstoun, his father an army officer, Andrew was a self-contained person, taking long holidays alone in order to photograph odd places and rare cars until he met Wendy and her daughters Sarah and Loiuse when bachelorhood went overboard.

An extremely likeable extrovert, always willing to help other historians, there is little need to list all the books Andrew Whyte wrote about Jaguars and subsidiary makes. Suffice to say he was the world’s greatest expert on the subject, from Sallow sidecars and bodywork to the very latest Jaguar competition successes.

He had won the respect of Jaguar personnel from Sir William Lyons downwards and is remembered as a very friendly, happy-natured, efficient person. His death is a tragic blow not only to motoring history, of which I am sure there was much more to come, but to the whole motoring world from which Andrew’s very many friends were drawn.

Jimmy Brown

British motor racing has lost one of its central figures with the passing in April of Jimmy Brown, Chairman of Silverstone Circuits Ltd, at the age of 67.

For 40 years this cheerful Scot occupied a vital position at Silverstone, running the first RAC Grand Prix there in 1948 and overseeing all 22 since. Appointed Track Manager when the BRDC took over the lease in 1952, he took on amongst other things responsibility for the circuit farms, later becoming a Director of Silverstone Circuits Ltd on its formation in 1966, and Managing Director in 1974.

During these years the one-time airfield track blossomed to become one of the world’s finest venues thanks to Jimmy Brown’s enthusiasm, warmth and energy.