Nature takes its course during a dignified parade of racing Jaguars
The funniest moment of my Festival was an attempt to stage a parade of Jaguars from C to F-type. The F-type would be at the back with Mike Cross, head of car development at Jaguar and Land Rover, at the wheel. Next up the line was Bob Tullius’s famed SCCA Championship-winning Group 44 E-type helmed by your reporter. In front of me was the unraced, priceless D-type prototype driven by another scribe while the queue was headed by the C-type that was the first car to win a race using disc brakes. It was driven by Norman Dewis.
There was some debate as to whether we should just drive slowly and wave to the crowd or try a little harder. “Unless I’m told to go slow, I’m going to go for it,” was Norman’s simple response. But I don’t think anyone, least of all the D-type driver, expected the 91-year old Norman to disappear up the hill at quite such a lick. Blessed with well over 500bhp, I had no problem keeping up with the D, but we were halfway to the top before either of us caught the C.
Jaguar’s idea of a dignified parade lay in tatters and not one of us would have had it any other way.
The curious thing about the Tullius E-type is that despite its menacing appearance and the terrifying sound of its raucous V12, the car itself is the most docile racer of its era I’ve driven. The chassis is superbly stable and all the controls childishly easy to manage. So you can just sit back and enjoy the experience, safe in the knowledge that despite the bark it won’t bite.
It’s an important car, too: its success led to Tullius campaigning first an XJS and then his own IMSA prototype, the XJR-5. That car in turn provided the kick Jaguar needed to develop its own Group C car, with winning consequences. It might have taken 13 years to progress from this E-type to the top step at Le Mans, but the journey started here.