May I, as a TR racing owner-driver, add something about TRs which may give food for thought to other TR owners and which I hope they will find interesting. I have been racing a TR3A for the last two year’s, Reg. No. 505 FLV if anyone’s interested.
I first bought my TR3A in November, 1967, with 48,000 miles on the clock, as a rally car but found that it was unsuitable for the modern type of “car breaker” rally, so I decided to do some circuit racing instead. As the car was to be used for work it needed to be reliable so I decided to modify it to Stage I. This entailed the engine being overhauled thoroughly and being balanced. A semi-race cam replaced the standard one, a lightweight flywheel was fitted as well as competition clutch and valve springs. After doing some work on the head myself and obtaining a free-flow exhaust manifold, the whole lot was bolted together. This gave a safe rev limit of 6,000 r.p.m. (normally I don’t exceed 5,000) and a standing time of 17.3 sec. The first event was the Spring Brunton Hill-Climb, where a time of just over 30 sec. was recorded. I then entered a race at Thruxton and found out that there’s a lot more to motor racing than the spectators, etc., ever realise, to wit a correspondingly slow time of over 2 min. per lap and a jibbering idiot of a driver. An autocross was entered next and, although we took second place in the class, I felt that autocrosses were not for us. This was followed by a speed hill-climb in the wet which made me dubious that Michelin X tyres were quite the right tyres. This was later confirmed when attempting to take Old Paddock Corner at Castle Combe at over 90 m.p.h. The car continued in a straight line for the ditch, but luckily without any real damage, though my faith in Michelin X even in the dry, was shaken. An anti-roll bar was fitted as well as 51/2J 72-spoke wheels shod with SP41s and resulted in the car becoming very nearly neutral in handling; power on for oversteer usually resulted in a 360 degree spin in the centre of the track, usually Woodcote!
Towards the end of the season, as experience was gained, so confidence improved and we took second in class at Mallory Park, a nice end to the season. The only work done to the car for last season was to decoke the head and the fitting of a new gearbox, front discs and pads. These were decided on after being beaten into second place at a sprint at Castle Combe. This greatly improved matters and at two hill-climbs in Cornwall, last Easter, I had the satisfaction of beating all other TRs entered, including some 2.2-litred hairylooking beasties.
Although my times were faster this season, 29 sec. for Brunton Hill-Climb, for example, so was everyone else, so I tended to finish somewhere in the lower half of the field. My fastest lap at Thruxton was 1.53 min., almost 20 sec. slower than the winning car but a time which only two years ago would have broken the class record. Which brings me to one of my favourite moans that it seems a little unfair that in a race billed in the programme as Production Sports Cars and with a normal field of 25 cars only three of four cars are actually capable of being used on the ordinary roads, my only race preparation being the substitution of richer carburetter needles and the removal of silencers.
The speedometer now reads 77,000 and the car is still capable of reaching over 120 m.p.h. in road trim and with Michelin ZX tyres now fitted, the problem of handling in the wet is no more.
Francis A. Snook