Preparing for battle

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Getting an historic racer ready for competition is no mean feat. That’s where Hall & Hall comes in

By Rob Widdows

Like boy scouts, racing drivers need to be prepared. They know from experience that time invested in preparation pays dividends once they arrive at the circuits and older cars need more specialised maintenance than the modern projectiles of the current formulae. The passion for nostalgia has been a windfall for professional race preparation companies such as Hall & Hall and the ever-increasing tribe of individuals and companies who prepare cars for battle around the circuits of Europe during the hectic historic season.

Rob Hall and his father Rick are two of the most highly respected men in the business, working not only for individual drivers but also for major manufacturers wishing to sustain their racing heritage by restoring some of their more important cars.

For more than 20 years the Halls have specialised in the preparation of single-seater and sports-racing cars, some of their key staff coming from the BRM workshops after the famous racing team closed its doors. The Hall & Hall address says it all, the business now being based in Graham Hill Way at Bourne, Lincolnshire, down the way from the old BRM factory. It moved there from Folkingham aerodrome where BRM was based in its heyday and where Rick spent five years in the engine shop. He still gets involved on the engine side, while both father and son keep their eye in by working on the cars.

“We still keep the dyno at Folkingham,” says Rob Hall, “so there’s still that link with BRM. It’s intensive work getting cars ready for the season and preparing engines, gearboxes and chassis for every kind of great racing car. And, of course, all our clients want the jobs completed as soon as possible, preferably by yesterday.”

Previous restorations include the Alfa Romeo Bimotore, BRM V16 MkI and P25, Tyrrell 002 and 006, Lotus 49 and McLaren M23. As well as specialising in BRM – the company owns the copyright to 22,000 BRM drawings, which enables it to provide rare or obsolete parts – Hall & Hall also holds an extensive range of parts for Maserati and Ferrari four-cylinder engines, as well as original Vandervell bearing shells for early V12 and four-cylinder Ferrari engines. It also carries spares for obsolete Lucas fuel-injection and ignition systems.

Among the major projects in the new Hall & Hall workshops are a McLaren M2B, Williams FW04, the 1973 Le Mans-winning Matra 670, OSCA MT4 and BRM P57, as well as a Formula 5000 Shadow DN6 and a 1970 De Tomaso.

The Halls describe themselves as a ‘one-stop shop’ for historic racers. “We do everything,” says Rob, “from re-building engines and gearboxes to fabricating suspensions to providing a laundry service for our drivers’ overalls. Many of our clients are short of time and we offer a complete service; all they need to do is turn up at the races and drive. We try to do as much in-house as we can, that way we don’t get let down so much. We have many American customers and we look after all their travel arrangements, entries and accommodation as well as preparing their cars. All they have to do is fly in and race.”

Hall & Hall also runs track days to enable drivers new to historic racing to learn the skills. Rob Hall was formerly an instructor at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School and does some of the teaching himself.

“We have a Caterham Superlight so drivers are able to get time on the track, learning more about the skills of racing safely and successfully,” Rob says, “and with the Caterham we can do days with road tyres as well as days on slicks, covering all the experiences. At the end of all this we’ll put the drivers in for the ARDS test and get them entered in some races.”

Hall & Hall has benefited hugely from the dramatic rise in the popularity of historic racing, due in part to the establishment of some new prestige events in the UK and in Europe.

“It has gradually been building up,” says Rob. “There are a lot of people with a lot of money who want to go racing and who have always dreamt of owning the cars they loved to watch when they were younger. They’ve worked hard to make a success of their lives and they are passionate about their cars. 

“One of our new clients has a Ferrari 312, and that’s because he always loved that car when it was racing. Then there’s a man like John Delane, a great guy who just loves his Tyrrells and now he can race the very cars he watched when he was younger. We look after his cars and we’ve become great friends.”

Hall & Hall also has a selection of historic racers and road cars for sale, currently including a 1951 Ferrari 195 Inter Ghia coupé, Maserati 150S, an ex-Kremer Porsche 962 and the 1958 Lola MkI prototype. Its buyers appreciate that good old-fashioned mechanics are preserving, and often improving, the world’s great racing cars for us all to enjoy.

“That’s another nice thing about this business – we make a lot of friends,” says Rob, “and you can’t say that about many businesses.”

Contact: Hall & Hall, 01778 392562, www.hallandhall.net

 

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