The Chequered Flag boss and Gemini founder was the first man to race an Elan and he didn’t much care for it. Well, not at first anyway…
“The standard Elan wasn’t a good track car until we started modifying it. I was the first person to race one. It was at Silverstone in 1963 and I was not impressed. Our car was standard other than having a Duckworth-modified engine, so it was very quick – but it didn’t handle. It was 80 per cent there but the backbone chassis would twist, which resulted in violent oversteer.
The brakes got worse the more you used them and there was terrible rear-end steering; afterwards we found the rear wishbones had twisted from all the heavy braking. We showed Chapman, who put in a little strut between the front and rear wishbone members immediately inboard of the hub casting along with a diagonal stiffener, which made the whole thing much stronger.
“We initiated a series of developments and had Stewart and Spence as drivers. Of course they wanted different set-ups, which would throw me whenever I sat in if they weren’t available. I won a few times, though. I was beaten only once, and that was at Crystal Palace when John Whitmore outfumbled me at the last corner after I’d led throughout. He was in the Costin-nosed [Stirling Moss-owned] car, which didn’t often hold together.”