The article on OKV3 reminded me of an incident twenty-five years ago. At that time I had seen OKV 1 and OKV2 raced by Duncan Hamilton and Bob Berry respectively, but not OKV3. That was until the evening of Friday 18th May’ 1956, when I spotted it heading south through Alton in Hampshire. The driver wore a dark crash hat with visor, a green windcheater and a bow tie. As it was but ten miles from Farnham I had no doubt that it was Mike Hawthorn, but my elders doubted mystery. This was the Friday of Whit weekend and Hawthorn was to race at Goodwood on the Monday. Presumably he would have practised there on the Saturday. The next weekend he was to drive in the Nurburgring 1,000 kms. and the following weekend in the Rheims 12 hours.
Why, then, were Hawthorn and OKV3 in Alton on that Friday evening? A note in a contemporary magazine mentions that Paul Freer, Ivor Barb (whose Lotus XI Hawthorn drove at Goodwood) and Lofty England spent some time testing at Rheims the following week with one fuel injection car and one carburetter car. Was the latter perhaps OKV3, delivered by Hawthorn to Southampton docks on that Friday or even taken by him to France after Goodwood when on his way to the Nurburgring? A few weeks later I waste be impressed by the fact that the works Jaguars were driven to and from ram on the road. I was in Southampton on the Monday following Le Mans when the whole team (including the Belgian entry) drove through the town. This practice must have presented problems at the height of a busy season with cars to be ferried around Europe for races and test sessions.
But had I really seen our future World Champion acting as a delivery driver for the Jaguar Can Co.? Even if I was mistaken over the driver’s identity, the car itself was unmistakable. As far as I am aware, the works did not race OKV3 again after this time. If it had been in France for testing that following week, would Norman Dewis have raced all the way back to Coventry for a replacement when Paul Fri en crashed in practice at the Nurburgring? Call anyone throw any light on the mystery?
Hayling Island ROBERT BARKER