The private teams

Part 3

Team Elite ('62) Ltd.

Team Elite was already in existence when Clive Hunt began racing in 1960, driving a Lotus 17. This was purchased in kit form and assembled by the driver, but it had notoriously bad handling characteristics and was never very suceessful. The 17 was sold later that year and replaced by a Lotus Elite, and soon afterwards Clive Hunt was invited to join Team Elite. A good deal of experience was gained, especially on the Continent, and at the end of the 1961 season he was asked by Colin Chapman to take over the running of Team Elite, which he agreed to do, along with D. E. Jagger and H. Heath. That Season the team was very successful, the greatest moment being the capture of the Thermal Efficiency Award at Le Mans.

The team is run purely for the pleasure of the sport and is sponsored by the three directors. The team is managed by Ron Bennett, who is also Chief Mechanic, and he is assisted by two other mechanics. At present the team runs a 2-litre Brabham-Climax and a Lotus Elan, and it receives a great deal of help from the manufacturers—at very short notice sometimes.

The team has used many top drivers, including Trevor Taylor, Bob Anderson, Denis Hulme, Sir John Whitmore, David Hobbs. Frank Gardner, John Wagstaff, Doc Wyllie and Pat Ferguson.

Like most other private teams, they feel that more starting money should be allocated to supporting races to enable cars to be prepared properly and to use good drivers. It is felt that skimped preparation can result from poor starting and prize money. They would like to see more standardised scrutineering, with decisions not being entirely at the discretion of individual officials.

For next season the team will carry on racing a Brabham and one other car of as yet unspecified type.

The Chequered Flag

The Chequered Flag first began racing in early 1955 with two cars out of the showrooms – a Healey 100S and a Lotus XI. The original intention was to give members of the staff experience in driving fast cars and, as a secondary consideration, to publicise the firm. Progress in motor racing for the "Flag" was slow and very painful, involving the "writing off" of the Lotus Xl twice and the complete disintegration of their first real racing car, a Cooper Monaco, on its first outing. After this, the team's racing was limited to club events in Graham Warner's personal Elite 785 VMK. Nineteen fifty-nine saw the same Elite decidedly modified, in distinctive black and white finish, and re-registered LOV I. This car, in the hands of Graham Warner, was to see some sixty class and overall wins, including: first and second in World Cup races and three consecutive firsts at Brands in 1959; twelve firsts and three lap records in 1960; and more than thirty firsts and four lap records, in 1961.

By now "The Chequered Flag’s" efforts took on a more professional approach and a decision was made to manufacture their own racing car for the then new Formula Junior. The Gemini Mk. Il was a great success, particularly in me United States, but suffered the ironic fate of seeing orders cancelled simply because they could not match Cooper and Lotus delivery dates. The next Geminis, Mks. III and IIIa, were the only Juniors to successfully challenge the works Lotuses and Coopers, but, as is the way with efforts from small concerns, the team did not have the capacity to fill orders and very few were built.

In 1962 more development resulted in the Mk. IV Gemini, which, although very advanced, with inboard suspension and brakes and fully aerodynamic body, was continually plagued with gearbox and transmission problems.

In 1963 the responsibility of racing the improved Mk. IVa Gemini was delegated to George Henrotte, while the Chequered Flag team raced one of the new Lotus Elan 1600 GT cars. The Elan, while being an ideal road car, needed extensive redevelopment for racing, and throughout a season of slicing with Sir John Whitmore in the S.M.A.R.T. Elan many "all-nighters" were put on in sorting Out brakes, suspension and final-drive problems. Nevertheless, the Elan showed enough promise for "The Chequered Flag" to undertake to race the official works Elans in 1964. These ears were driven by Graham Warner, Jackie Stewart and Mike Spence, and SC1: up many new lap and race records in the course of their racing, usually in company with the Ian Walker cars.

The team, born by the enthusiasm of Graham Warner, has been in existence for six years, and during that time many now famous drivers have been helped in their early days with drives, including Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Sir John Whitmore, Tony Maggs and Mike Parkes.

Lotus help with a discount on the cars and spares required, while Esso's contribution, both financially and materially, is invaluable. Other assistance in the way Of special discounts and bonuses is available from Dunlop, Armstrong, Lucas, Champion, Girling and Ferodo.

Team management is the part-time occupation of Mike Banham., while Chief Mechanic Chas Beattie supervises the three mechanics of "The Chequered Flag Engineering"—the racing preparation offshoot of the main showrooms.

Although next year's plans are now being formulated, the cars to be raced are as yet, secret, but it is known that the distinctive black/white Elans will no longer be raced by the team.

Graham Warner does feel that scrutineering could do with a good deal of rationalisation; while on the question of starting money he would like to see amounts more in keeping with efforts of the small teams. The only objections, to the organisers are the lack of consistency in capacity divisions throughout the season and the deplorable tendency to mix sports and GT cars in the same race.

Ian Raby (Racing) Ltd.

Ian Raby has been racing for many years; in fact since 1949, when he became one of the founders of the 500 c.c. class, although for most of this time he raced as an individual. The present team was formed three years ago to race the ex-Keith Greene Gilby car and this season he has been running an ex-works Brabham fitted with a B.R.M. V8 engine. The team also has a Lotus 27 fitted with a Ford Formula 3 engine which is raced by American driver Bruce Eglinton.

The team is sponsored by Ian Raby for pleasure but as his business in Brighton deals almost exclusively with selling racing cars it is probable that any publicity which might accrue is useful to the business.

No outside assistance is received from any direction and all racing expenses are met from his own pocket. Two mechanics are engaged full-time to prepare the cars and Ian Raby looks after entries and management himself.

He feels, along with almost every other private entrant, that starting money is gobbled up by the stars while the privately owned cars, which often provide good battles further down the field, are very poorly rewarded. Now that it is established that works teams receive an agreed amount of starting money for each race he would like to see similar arrangements made for private owners.

Normand Racing Team

The Normand team was formed in 1962 when Mike Beckwith, who worked for Normand as a car salesman, persuaded the firm to sponsor a small team. They purchased a Lotus 23, and during that season Beckwith recorded 2 wins, five seconds and a third, winning the Autosport Championship and the B.R.D.C. Chris Bristow Memorial Trophy. The team was expanded for 1963 and was augmented by the addition of Tony Hegbourne, who had been Beckwith's: main adversary in 062 with his Lola. Hegbourne won the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy that year. Three new Lotus 23Bs with twin-cam Lotus engines were acquired, together with a large transporter, and the team set oil to another successful season by being placed in the first three; 35 times out of 49 starts. Jim Clark drove for the team on four occasions, winning three times and coming second; once.

The team forsook Sports ears for 1964 and purchased two Formula Two Coopers with Cosworth-Ford engines and Hewland six-speed gearboxes. Due to handling problems the cars have been much less successful and only one major victory has been scored, when Tony Heghourne won at Avus in May.

The team has two mechanics, Colin Knight and Gerald Southby, and Mike Beckwith looks after organisation and team management as a part-time occupation. No decision has yet been taken on next season's plans but it seems certain that the Normand team will be back to re-establish themselves as one of the most successful teams in the country.

John Coundley Racing Partnership

The team was originally formed by John Coundley, after several years of racing as a private entrant, along with Bill de Selincourt, Ken Fielding, and Gordon Buckle. In 1963 de Selincourt retired from racing and Stanley Palmer took his place. It is a purely amateur team, being supported by the three partners entirely, the only outside help coming from the usual trade assistance at National and International meetings.

At present the team runs a Lotus 19 with Climax engine and a Lotus Cortina, which is normally raced by Mrs. Coundley. Only one full-time mechanic is employed but enthusiastic friends assist with preparations under the supervision of team manager Stanley Palmer.

The team finds that they are treated very well by race organisers in general but they feel that the motoring press could give a little more recognition to the efforts of the smaller private teams. They also echo the plea for more even distribution of starting and prize money as the amateur teams depend on this income to keep the team running whereas large firms are more interested in advertising successes rather than reaping income from motor racing.

Aurora Gears

This team is sponsored by the Rotherham firm of Aurora Gear and Engineering Co. Ltd., and only came into existence in the Spring of this year: The original idea was to purchase a Lotus 30 for Trevor Taylor (who lives in Rotherham) to drive when he wasn't engaged with the B.R.P. Formula One team. Unfortunately serious development problems have occured with this car and all the private purchasers who have ordered them have been told that the car will not now be available this year. In its place the team has recently acquired one of the rapid Elva-B.M.W.s but it has not yet been decided whether this car will be retained for next season.

While they were waiting for the Lotus 30 the team bought a Couple of 1,070-c.c. Mini Cooper Ss for Trevor Taylor and his sister Anita to race. Due to their lack of experience with the technique of Mini racing it took them some time to find their feet but at use Brands Hatch Six-Hour race they led the 1,300-c.c. class (with the 1,070-c.c. engine) at the four-hour stage but the timing chain then broke. The cars were then converted to the latest 1,275-c.c. specification and with one of these cars Trevor Taylor took the 1,300-c.c. lap record at Silverstone.

Aurora Gears' participation in the team is restricted to providing the cars while the Taylor family do all the rest. Trevor Taylor's father manages the team and his brother Mike maintains the cars and all the work is done at the family garage huffiness in Rotherham. Like nearly everyone else the team would like to see the incentives for the saloon car class increased and they would also like to have more stringent control modifications under Appendix J, Group II as in their experience they have found that a favoured few always seem to be a jump ahead of the rank and file.

Gerard Racing

Gerard Racing was formed in 1961 by Bob Gerard, the well-known pre- and post-war racing driver, on his retirement from active racing. The team is run fundamentally tor pleasure but it also helps to publicise the team’s other activities of building racing engines and the manufacture of tuning equipment and other accessories.

The team originally had a Cooper, fitted with a push-rod 1,500-c,c. Ford engine, which, driven by John Taylor, did very well in Formula One events, despite its lack of power. For the 1964 season a 1964 Cooper semi-monocoque chassis was acquired, and this was fitted with a twin-cam 1,500-c.c. Lotus-Ford engine and Hewland gearbox. This car was still outclassed by other F.1. machines which have some 50 b.h.p. more, but John Taylor has put up some excellent performances in the car. Recently the team has acquired a 1962 works Cooper with V8 Coventry-Climax engine, and John Taylor drove it in its first Continental outing for the team recently at Enna, where he finished seventh.

The team receives no financial assistance from the manufacturers of cars or engines, but technical assistance is readily forthcoming and spare parts are always available. Support from other sections of the trade is only that available to all competitors at trade-supported meetings. The team is managed by Bob Gerard and two regular mechanics look after the cars, with the assistance of specialists from other branches of the Gerard Motor Group. Much of the organisational work is done in the spare time of team members but the cars are prepared at the Gerard workshops.

Bob Gerard feels that independent entrants should be given more assistance generally as they are the backbone of the Sport. The team will continue next season in Formula One and will probably use the V8 Climax engine in a new chassis.

John Willment Racing Team

The team was formed at the beginning of 1963 to race a team of modified Ford Cortina GTs, which they did with great success, winning their class at almost every outing. A variety of other cars joined the team, although they invariably had the common ground that they were all powered by Ford engines. For 1964 the team has been running their well-known Ford Galaxie plus two Lotus Cortinas and Cortina GTs in Group II Saloon car events while in Group III, they have a 1,650-c.c. Ford Anglia and a Cortina GT with a Lotus twin-cam engine. For GT racing they run two A.C. Cobras (or Shelby Americans if you so prefer!) in open form and are shortly completing their own coupe-bodied version. The Learn also has a Lotus 23with 1,100-c.c. Ford engine a Brabham-Ford F.II car and a Lola Ford F.II car, although the Brabham has also been seen as a Formula One car with a twin-cam Lotus engine.

The team is run mainly to publicise the Ford tuning equipment sold by Willment and also to promote the sale of Ford cars, as Willments are one of London's largest Ford main dealers. Each car is allotted one mechanic but these are transferred from one car to another as the need arises. Two mechanics work full-time on engine building, testing and development and two more fitters and two body builders are employed on new projects such as the 7-litre Galaxie-engined prototype and the .coupe bodied Cobra, although the body builders are often called in to repair crashed cars. The racing team is a full-time organisation with its own workshops in Feltham and is tinder the direction of Jeff Uren.

The team receives assistance from Ford in various forms, and they are contracted to Shell for fuel and oil, Dunlop and Goodyear for tyres, Girling for brakes, Ferodo for pads and linings, Borg and Beck for clutches, Champion and Autolite plugs, and Armstrong and Koni for shock absorbers. These companies sometimes Supply equipment free of charge or at reduced prices and most of them pay a schedule of bonuses for race successes.

As regards the state of the Sport in general, Willments have probably suffered more than most others at the hands of the scrutineers and have some strong comments on scrutineering, starting money and prize money. Their comments are summarised as follows:

They feel that current proposals for amendments to the various F.I.A. Appendices and Groups seem to be along the right lines, but as with all regulations their success must depend entirely on the attitudes of all concerned in their enforcement. Race organisation, both in this country and abroad, is generally good although there is an increasing tendency for organisers to send passes, times of scrutineering and practice etc. too near to the actual date of the race. There is probably too much racing taking place in this country, as a result of which attendances are bound to suffer. In so far as general treatment is concerned, small teams should have nothing to complain about other than in respect of starting money. On this subject there can be no doubt that in general, organisers are not in favour of paying for saloons or G.T.s and sports cars. In the ease of saloon cars, starting money bears very little relation to the spectator appeal of the event. In other classes the sums of money available from organisers always suffer whenever a Formula One Or Two race is included at the same meeting and although the Mayfair scale may have done a lot for works Formula One teams, it has done much harm to the interests of those entrants attempting to provide good, fast, spectacular and well-prepared machinery for other classes of racing. With but few exceptions prize money is ridiculously low. As an example, in the recent Tourist Trophy Meeting, a manufacturers Championship event, the Willment Cobra placed fourth overall and second in the G.T. category, won only £50 after some three hours of racing. Continental race organisations of sports, G.T. and saloon car races also seem loath to give reasonable starting money and it is becoming increasingly difficult to cover the cost of sending such cars to race on the Continent. A great deal could be done to improve the present arrangements for scrutineering and there is no doubt that somewhere, somebody must be able to produce a system that works better than the present. It is repeatedly suggested that the regular competitors in motor racing should present their cars for an elaborate scrutineering at the start of the season and to undertake to declare subsequent modifications. Whilst this would not prevent any cheating, it would certainly cut out the majority of minor technical infringements and make most entrants a little less upset at having such infringements pointed out to them in mid-season, even though the car has been racing in this condition for some three or four months without query. In any event, it should be possible for scrutineers to act more consistently.