The versatile Chris Alford, on the cusp of his 52nd season
The name will be familiar to anybody who has watched historic racing these past 35 years, though his latest acquisition might not. Chris Alford has purchased a Saab Sonett for use in the Historic Sports Car Club’s ’70s Road Sports series. “I believe it will be one of only about a dozen in the UK,” he says. It’s almost certainly the only one racing.
For all that it’s unusual, it’s also appropriate. Having honed his craft at the Jim Russell Racing School, Snetterton, Alford began racing in 1967 at the wheel of a Saab 96. It was the start of a journey that has carried him through couple of European Touring Car Championship races – he and Jeremy Mitchell finished third in class in the 1969 Nürburgring Six Hours, at the wheel of a Mini Cooper – and on to Formula Ford, production sports cars and Sports 2000.
“I stayed in S2000 from 1977 until 1981, then didn’t do much in 1982 [his one race was the Willhire 24 Hours, which he won with Rob Wells and Malcolm Paul in a Morgan +8] and approached the following season with nothing at all on the radar. Then I received a visit from Jim Clark’s former mechanic Cedric Selzer. He’d just restored a Lotus 23 and wondered whether I’d like to race it…”
He has been a permanent fixture ever since in historics, driving everything from MG Midgets to a Lotus 25 via a Formula Junior Elva – an example of which he will also race this season.
Any plans to stop? “It always comes down to money,” he says, “but no…”