Around and about, May 1978

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The GP Opel conclusion

Last month we published pictorial proof that Opel I, described in Motor Sport for September 1977, and owned by Noel Mavrogordato, is the car which finished 10th in the 1914 French Grand Prix, driven by Carl Jorns and which came to Brooklands as Opel II, entered by Capt. A. G. Miller. Since then I have turned up some engine and chassis numbers for these cars, as declared when they ran at Brooklands, which offers conclusive proof of the identity of Mavrogordato’s car. These numbers also prove that Neil Corner’s Opel is the car that ran as Opel II in the Grand Prix, driven by Erdtmann and retired. It came to Brooklands in single-seater form as Miller’s Opel I and now has a replica GP body. It is thought that the third of these team Opels, the car driven by Breckheimer in the Grand Prix and which also retired, is in the Opel Museum in Germany but we understand that so far this has not been confirmed to Mr. Mavrogordato. – W.B.

Silverstone 6 hrs/Welsh Rally

Britain’s two main motor sporting events this month are the Silverstone Six Hour race and the Welsh International Rally, and both have attracted some famous foreign car/driver combinations. A host of star-name drivers will be competing in the Silverstone Six hours, a round of the World Manufacturers Championship on Sunday, May 14th. The full entry includes works entries from both the Porsche and BMW teams. Jochen Mass and Jacky lckx are down to drive the Martini Porsche 935/78 turbo, with 800 b.h.p. in a shakedown for Le Mans. Hoping to challenge them will be Ronnie Peterson and Hans Stuck, paired in the official works BMW 320i turbo entry. A myriad of other turbo Porsches will appear in the hands of such established aces as Derek Bell, Toine Hezemans, John Fitzpatrick, Riccardo Patrese, Hans Heyer and Patrick Neve, while last year’s winner Dieter Quester teams up with Scot Tom Walkinshaw, who won the event two years ago with John Fitzpatrick. The BMW Junior team will be out in force and all these drivers will be trying to beat the winners of the recent round at Dijon, Henri Pescarolo and Bob Wollek. Long-distance endurance racing is in the doldrums currently, with low spectator turn-outs in Europe, yet the cars are probably the fastest and most spectacular in current racing. Last year’s two British rounds were amongst the beat-supported of the season and it will be interesting to see whether last year’s twice-soddened spectators will have maintained their interest. Practice and a number of club races will be held on the Saturday.

The Welsh Rally, third round of the Sedan Products Open International Championship and a round of the European Rally Drivers’ Championship, starts on Thursday May 11th from the City Hall in Cardiff. Lasting from the 11th to the 14th, the Western Mail Phonepower (Wales)-sponsored event has attracted a starstudded entry from the works teams of Fords, Vauxhall, Fiat, British Leyland and Opel. Leading Britons like Roger Clark, Russell Brookes, Tony Pond, Brian Culcheth, John Taylor and Jim McRae will be pitched against the likes of foreigners Hannu Mikkola, Penni Airikkala, Markku Alen and Kyosti Hamalainen. Last year Airikkala broke the previous Ford Escort domination with his Vauxhall Chevette, but he will be expecting stiff opposition all the same this year and the rally should prove to be tremendous for both competitors and spectators alike.

D-Day at Thruxton

There is to be a D-Day Anniversary Show of Historic Military Vehicles at the Thruxton race track near Andover, Hants on Sunday June 4th. Presented by the Military Vehicle Conservation Group, the show will feature a mock battle with fighting vehicles of World War Two from Britain, America and Germany. The gates will open at twelve noon, while the events themselves (which will also include a parade and a concours) will start at two o’clock. Admission is 75p for adults and 25p for children.

Lanfranchi’s benefit CRICKETERS

Cricketers and footballers have benefit and matches, so why not racing drivers? The BRSCC aim to rectify this anomaly when they run Britain’s first racing driver benefit meeting (so far as they know) at Brands Hatch on May 7th. And what better recipient for this good cause than Tony Lanfranchi, one of British motor racing’s colourful characters, the Yorkshire-Swiss who has consistently given paying spectators their money’s-worth since the late 1950s. Lanfranchi’s long competition career spans everything from Dellows to Formula One. His competitiveness never seems to wane and this erstwhile King of Brands is currently one of the three or four leading production saloon drivers, at the wheel of the Mayfair Opel Commodore. His coaching talents as Chief Instructor of Motor Racing Stables have helped wean some of Britain’s top drivers.

One of the most nostalgic and exciting races in the seven or eight race programme at the Lattfmnchi Benefit Day should be the Shellsport Escort Race (sponsored by the British Racing Drivers’ Club, no less) for which entries include names from the past like Jack Sears, Roy Pierpoint, Dickie Attwood, Rollo Fielding, and current stars like Derek Bell. The meeting is sponsored overall by Debenhams and each race has an individual sponsor. The sponsorship money and the receipts from the grandstand will go to Lanfranchi, not one of motor racing’s wealthiest participants, who will be earning his keep in the Production Saloon Car Race and probably in the Shellsport Escort Race. Racing will start at 2 p.m.

Slower Range-Rover?

Leyland have confessed to a misprint in their Press Release, quoted in last month’s issue, which claimed that the new overdrive version of the Range-Rover would be good for 110 m.p.h. They meant “over 100 m.p.h.”!

London to Andorra by Austin Seven 

Over 50 brave crews from England, France and Germany will point forth their Austin Sevens on a 2,000-mile route from London to Andorra and back on May 6th, in the Seven Fifty Motor Club Brooklands Centre’s Third International Pre-War Austin Seven Rally. The route will take them through some of the most interesting and scenic parts of France, broken into stages, and at most night stops receptions and meetings with local vintage car clubs have been arranged.

A stop will be made at Le Mans on the return journey, where a demonstration run and competitive event will be held on the Bugatti circuit. The cars are expected back in England on May 20th.

Town and Country Motoring Festival

Organisers of the Town and Country Motoring Festival at the Royal Showground, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, hope to entice the largest gathering of “classical” cars ever, with over £23,000 worth of Concours d’Elegance prize money to compete for.

Sponsored by the Town and Country building Society, the event will form a major part of the Town and Country Festival, incorporating the Kenilworth Agricultural Show, on August 26th, 27th and 28th and be a curtain-raiser to the Motor Show. More than 1,800 cars and commercial vehicles are expected. The main event will be an Inter-Club Concours d’Elegance for the best team of up to 10 vehicles representing the development of the marque throughout its years of manufacture. Four of the main awards have been presented by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders; the winning cars will be displayed at the International Motor Show at the National Exhibition Centre in October.

The 19 classes for Veteran, Edwardian, Vintage, “Post War Classic” and racing cars and historic commercial and passenger service vehicles, allow scope for entries from the oldest right through to current machinery. More details can be obtained from Bob Gathercole, Town and Country Motoring Festival, Royal Agricultural Society of England, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh, Kenilworth, Warwickshire (Coventry 56151).

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The Daimler & Lanchester Owners Club is holding a National Rally on June 11th at Sudely Castle, Near Cheltenham. There will be a myriad of Daimlers, Lanchesters, BSAs, scout cars, sports cars, limousines and so on as well as an autojumble and family entertainment. If you’re interested in going then contact John Ridley on Chaddleworth 563.

Derek Bennett

It is sad to relate thd death of Derek Bennett, the man behind the successful Chevron Racing Cars concern in Bolton, Lancashire. Bennett, aged forty-four, died towards the end of March, having never regained consciousness after a hang-gliding accident. The quiet Lancastrian was responsible for every single Chevron racing car from the first clubmans types to the present day F2 and F3 cars, each being tested and developed by Bennett himself before being produced in Chevron’s old mill factory for customers. It has been said by some that he never built a Formula One car, but that isn’t strictly true because most of his time over the last year or so has been spent constructing such a chassis which is now 80% complete. Derek Bennett’s passing will leave a gap in British and International motor racing that will be hard to fill.

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We learn with great regret of the deaths of the well-known Morgan enthusiast Joe Huxham and of Miss Nancy Woodhouse, who was secretary to Mr. Monk of Trojan, which company she joined as a junior in 1920, and was the girl who drove the prototype Trojan over a series of railway sleepers at the works to test its cantilever suspension. Later she took the part of the lady Trojan driver in the publicity film “You Can’t Afford to Walk”. She was driving her car up to the age of 79, shortly before she died in a nursing home. 

The Alvis Owner Club’s International Alvis Day will be held at Knebworth House, Knebvvorth, Herts. on Sunday, May 14th. The event will follow a similar format to last year’s with a concours in the morning and the driving tests in the afternoon. All details from T. G. S. Oakman on 01-560 3131.

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After the huge success of the 1977 Yeovil Festival of Transport, the Yeovil Car Club are again promoting their popular annual show over two days at the 40-acre Barwick Park showground at Yeovil, Somerset, on August 12th/13th. Anyone wanting further details, including regulations and entry forms, should get in touch with Keith McGee, 38 Kenmore Drive, Yeovil, Somerset. Tel.: 0935 4630.

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There will be a Lotus Charity Open Day on June 11th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. organised jointly by Lotus Cars Limited, Club Lotus and Wymondham Lions. Attractions will include a Lotus Formula One car demonstration, a comprehensive tour of the Lotus factory and a cavalcade of Lotus cars covering the last twenty-one years. Last year £3,000 was raised for the Kidney Unit at Norwich hospital. More information is available from the organiser, Graham Arnold, on Norwich 810354.

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Following the success of the inaugural Standard Triumph International Rally at Weston Park, Shropshire in 1976 when over 160 Standard and Triumph cars attended, 1977 saw this annual trans-Atlantic event staged at Southampton, Long Island, New York, under the auspices of the Vintage Triumph Register of the USA. Now the spotlight swings back to the UK for the 1978 rally, which is being held on Sunday, September ber 17th. Those Standard Triumph owners wishing to take part should write to, Cohn Eastwood Esq., 41 Hillside, Lichfield, Stalls. for full details and entry forms, enclosing s.a.e.

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M. H. RICHARDS of Clay Cottage, 107 Brandon Road, Watton, Norfolk would like to hear from all Opel owners or Opel enthusiasts interested in setting up a national club with regional centres, film shows, sprint meetings and, possibly, an insurance scheme.

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The Morgan Sports Car Club is holding its annual Concours d’Elegance on the week-end of May 20th/21st at Ragley Hall, Alceste near Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire. The club is hoping for a big attendance this year and any serious Morgan enthusiasts really shouldn’t miss this event.

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The Owen Motoring Club is holding its Graham Hill Sprint Trophy and Concours d’Elegance at Curborough Farm, Near Lichfield, Staffordshire on Sunday, June 18th.

Le Mans Entries

A quick glance through this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours entry lists would seem to suggest that the race on June 10/11th will prove to be a straight fight between the factory-entered Porsche 936 turbos and the works Renault Alpine turbos. Opposition, however, could come from two de Cadenet Lolas, a 3-litre DFV-engined Ibec entry from Ian Bracey, which will be formally announced soon and is believed to be based on an F1 Hesketh and one of Jorg Obermoser’s rapid Tojs, while the two Alpine turbo-engined Mirages owned by American Harvey Cluxton could spring a surprise. All in all the Group Six class has 14 entries up to now while the other fastest cars in the race will probably come either from the 2-litre section, which contains one of the beautiful Swiss Cheetah cars or from the Group Five section which contains, as eve a host of turbocharged Porsches including the new 800 b.h.p., longltailed, factory 935/78 probably the most interesting new car in the entry, and itself a potential winner.

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