The Private Teams



(Continued from last month)

John Fisher

John Fisher is a car and motorcycle dealer in Portsmouth and has been sponsoring a racing team since 1954. His main driver has been Bruce Milford, who drove his Lister-Jaguar and a single-seater Lotus in numerous races. Les Leston has also driven for the team. John Fisher retired from sponsoring racing in 1960 at the same time as Bruce Halford, but this year they both decided to come out of retirement, and a Ford V8-engined Lotus 30 was ordered last winter. This car, with chassis number 5, was promised for April but has still not arrived, so the team’s re-entry into racing looks like having a very short first season.

John Fisher participates in racing for pleasure but the team is sponsored by his company, of which he is Managing Director, and he feels that the publicity may well have some beneficial effect on the business.

The team is run as a spare-time occupation with one mechanic and Fisher acting as team manager. No assistance is received from the manufacturers and the team is contracted to B.P. for fuel.

Despite the delay in receiving the Lotus the team will probably carry on racing it next season.

R. R. C. Walker Racing Team

The Rob Walker team is probably the best known private team of all time for it was the first to prove that Formula One racing need not be a closed shop for the factory teams. He was of course aided by Stirling Moss in this endeavour and to date the team has won eight World Championship races, two Tourist Trophies and 50 or 60 other races. The team is undoubtedly thought of as quite recent but in actual fact Rob Walker began entering other people in his cars as long ago as 1939, having raced himself since 1934. In 1939 Prince Bira and Arthur Dobson drove for him in Delahaye and Darracq sports cars and Ian Connell co-drove the Delahaye with Walker at Le Mans, where they finished ninth overall. Since the War the list of drivers who have piloted cars for Rob Walker looks like a “Who’s Who of Motor Racing” and includes Tony Rolt, Eric Thompson, Roy Salvadori, Peter Collins, Jack Brabham, Jack Fairman, Tony Brooks, Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant, Peter Walker, Graham Hill, lnnes Ireland, Ricardo Rodriguez and his present driver Jo Bonnier.

The team is sponsored by Rob Walker himself purely for his own pleasure and the team is a separate entity from his garage business at Dorking. It is a full-time organisation, having three mechanics, with Alf Francis acting as consultant. Rob Walker acts as team manager and in his absence Jo Bonnier deputises. At present the team runs a 1963 Cooper-Climax and two 1964 Brabhams, one with a Climax engine and one with a B.R.M. The team also has a Mini-Cooper “S”, which, like all the other team cars, is fitted with a Colotti gearbox.

The team does not receive any assistance from the manufacturers of the cars it races but generous financial help is received from B.P. and Dunlop; Girling and Ferodo give some assistance, while Champion supply the team with free spark plugs. Rob Walker has strong views on the future of Formula One as he feels that it is in a very precarious position, especially as far as private entrants are concerned. He thinks that the works teams will soon eliminate the private entrants, as their financial demands have grown considerably in the last year. Both B.R.P. and the Rob Walker team have felt the results of this at Zandvoort and Rouen. At Rouen the Walker team was offered less than half the starting money they have been offered at any World Championship event previously, which was also much less than half of what the works teams received. The team didn’t go to Rouen.

This is a great disappointment to Rob Walker as he cannot help remembering that his team won the first two World Championship races that Cooper and Coventry-Climax ever won, the first four World Championship F.1 races that Lotus won, and his present driver, Jo Bonnier, won the first World Championship race that B.R.M. won. Now he feels that it is just these people who are squeezing the private entrant out.

Despite this he hopes to carry on next season and will probably continue with the same cars. He also plans to race one of the Lola-Ford GT prototypes.

Malcolm Wayne Racing

Malcolm Wayne commenced racing during 1955 at Davidstow in a TR2, when he finished sixth. He raced this car until 1956 when it was written off due to hitting a marshal’s car on the edge of the circuit at Charterhall. He then bought the ex-Archie-Scott-Brown Elva Butterworth, fitted with a Climax engine, but he had no better luck with it than Scott-Brown and turned to an Elva Courier, forming Team Elva Courier with Chris Meek and Gill Baird. This Courier was most successful and Wayne was leading his class in the Autosport Championship when a major engine blow-up combined with a lack of funds caused his withdrawal for the rest of the year. For 1960 a works-supported TVR was acquired, but poor handling and bad brakes led to a spectacular somersault at Rufforth which gave TVR their first convertible model! Another Elva Courier was purchased for 1961 with more success but a yearning for single-seaters caused him to buy the prototype Diggory-Gwyniad F.J. car which gave him a 2nd and a 3rd place but many mechanical failures. So it had to go and the Elva was brought back into service. A lightweight competition Courier was purchased from Trojan Ltd., and this was even more successful, notching up several good wins, including an outright win in the GT race at the Mallory Park meeting on Boxing Day, 1963.

He realised that the Courier was now becoming outclassed and for 1964 he acquired the first competition Lotus Elan to go to a private owner. This has brought nine successive wins and three lap records in ten outings and has proved to be a revelation in motor racing as far as he is concerned.

The team is sponsored entirely by Malcolm Wayne for pleasure and is a spare-time occupation. He runs the team himself and mechanical work is done by a friend, Peter Atkinson, who spends many spare-time hours on the car. Lotus are very friendly and helpful but give no financial assistance. The normal help from the Trade is also received. He expects to retain the Elan for next season if still competitive but would like to drive a good single-seater if the opportunity arises.

Like most other private owners Malcolm Wayne feels that prize money is hopelessly inadequate as, even with his recent success, he has barely covered travelling expenses. Starting money is virtually non-existent in his class so that racing is very expensive. He also feels that he is at a disadvantage living in the North for he does not have intimate contact with race organisers and it appears to him that this is as necessary as race successes when it comes to obtaining entries in International races.

Vita “D” Racing Team

The team started in August, 1963, when the Rev. Rupert Jones was introduced to Vitafoam Ltd., who are suppliers of various components to the motor industry. Jones was finding racing expensive so Vitafoam agreed to sponsor his 1,071 c.c. Cooper Mini. The car was prepared by B.R.T. of Rochdale and Harry Ratcliffe of B.R.T. also joined the team with his car.

For 1964 it was decided to expand slightly and enter such events as the Targa Florio, Spa 24 Hours and the Tour de France. The team was increased to three with Geoffrey Goodiiffe and the team acquired three new Cooper “S”s, two with 970 c.c. engines and one with 1,275 c.c.

Vitafoam sponsor the team to help develop new items such as special seats and also to put back something into an industry from which they gain their livelihood. They also believe that the company’s racing activities will interest the 2,000 employees of the firm.

The team is only a part-time occupation as far as Vitafoam is concerned, but the B.R.T. tuning shop works full time on tuning cars. The team is managed by Geoffrey Dyson and B.R.T. mechanics look after the cars. For 1965 the team will continue to race in saloon-car events but more overseas races, including the Targa Florio, will be entered. In addition to the Mini-Coopers another Mini-based vehicle of revolutionary design is now being prepared.

Ashley Smithy Team

The team first started in the early ’50s when Ron Mitton met Dave Rees while they were racing privately. In 1959 they joined forces for racing with Mitton’s Lotus Seven and Rees’ notorious special, the Austin-Rees, which won the Goodacre Trophy for 750 Specials. In 1961 the Lotus was exchanged for a Terrier, which the two partners shared with great success. However, the clutch blew up and wrecked the car and its place was taken by a Marcos which also went extremely well. Natalie Goodwin joined the team with her Lotus Seven and she was eventually persuaded to change the colour of her car to the team’s orange colour. The Austin-Rees was still exercised regularly and holds the distinction of being the only car to compete in all the six-hour relay races at Silverstone.

For 1964 Frank Lythgoe decided to help the team and presented Dave Rees with the ex-Stirling Moss Lotus 21 while Fraser Crombie joined the team with his Lotus Seven. Natalie Goodwin bought another Seven and sold hers to the team so that a three-car Lotus Seven team was decided upon. They were all painted orange and given the rather original registration numbers of NAT 1, NUT 1 and NIT 1. Frank Lythgoe added a Cooper F.J. and a Lotus 27 to the stable and the team moved to new premises. Despite many setbacks with the single-seaters the Lotus Sevens have gone very well and this year they have gained 10 first, 15 second and 14 third places.

Racing is now virtually full time as the separate competition department also prepares customers’ cars as well as the team cars. Mechanical work is supervised by Dave Rees and the paperwork is handled by Natalie Goodwin. No help is received from the car manufacturers nor from other members of the Trade.

Ideas the team would like to see adopted include the excellent one that each competition licence holder should be given a number which he could retain all season, thus obviating the tremendous expenditure on stick-on numbers. They would like to see longer races for the Club driver instead of the interminable five-lappers and they also feel strongly about people who enter races but never appear.

No definite plans exist for next year as yet but there are vague plans to enter the International scene in some way.

Revson Racing (America)

Peter Revson started P.J. racing in America and came to Europe to race an F.J. Cooper in 1963, which he did with some success. He decided to join forces with Tim Parnell and together they formed Team Revson Racing (America). Revson now races Parnell’s Lotus 24 fitted with a B.R.M. engine and painted in the American racing colours.

Naturally the car is not competitive with the works teams but Revson has kept the car well up in most of his races and in the recent Solitude G.P. he finished fourth overall, behind Clark, Surtees and Anderson.

The team is run basically for pleasure but it is organised on a business-like basis with Tim Parnell acting as team manager, a task which he also performs for his own team of Lotus 25s. No assistance is received from the manufacturers but Dunlop, B.P., Ferodo, Girling, Lucas, Champion, etc., do give help.

Plans for 1965 are not yet finalised but it is possible that an F.2 car will be raced as well as an F.1.

Alexander Engineering

Michael Christie, Managing Director of Alexander Engineering, began racing in 1948 with a “chain-gang” Frazer Nash fitted with an A.C. engine. He followed this with a Cooper-J.A.P., which he used to become runner-up in the R.A.C. Championship four years in succession, together with a little circuit racing as well. He then retired from racing and concentrated on tuning cars for road use as well as racing, preparing, amongst others, the well-known A40 driven by Geoff Williamson which gained many successes during the “A40 era”.

Later on, the company began to race its own cars and during the 1964 season has been running a couple of Mini-Coopers driven by Mick Clare and Elizabeth Jones. These have often been well up to the fore of the Mini battles in National saloon-car racing, and Clare, especially, has often given the works cars a beating—that is until he had his sensational shunt at Aintree, when he left the track and demolished a brick boiler-house. However, he hopes to be racing again soon.

The team is sponsored entirely by Alexander Engineering and, although the racing team is run as a spare-time occupation, the intention of the racing team is to publicise Alexander products and B.M.C. cars. The Team Manager is Tom Rolfe, and a team of three mechanics under Fred Hillyer prepare the cars as well as a couple of engines for the Aurora Gear Racing Stable’s pair of Mini-Coopers, driven by Trevor and Anita Taylor. Some assistance is received from B.M.C., mainly in the shape of spare parts for maintaining the cars, and the only other assistance is received from Shell Mex.

For next season the Alexander team will continue to race the same cars.

(To be continued)