British Stock-Car Racing in the 1950s-1970s
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Now for something different:
Some different auto-related oddments that I like:

Look for UPDATE labels: new additions.

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The rest of my website is fairly 'exclusive' and unique, because the photos and stories are mine or those of fans who have personally sent me donations.  In this section I have collected oddments from everywhere: the InterNet, newspapers, books, magazines, etc.  

What other motor sport has this tough hands-on approach? A back axle is broken -- do you go home? No. You get to work and get into a race later in the meet (pdf file)

"The Scrap Yard":  a short story I wrote years ago

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Extremely cut-down Chevrolet station wagon:
It's a 1956 four-door station wagon cut short with only the front doors remaining

chev cut


Banger Heaven!

banger

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Graham Hill and his son Damon

graham

Damon Hill's autobiography WATCHING THE WHEELS is published in 2016

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A future F1 world champion with his father, a brilliant F1 Ferrari driver: who are they?

gilles et jacques

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In 1968 you could buy a Lotus 49 Grand Prix car, less engine/gearbox
for only ------------


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"The Man Who Fought Sugar Ray"

A terrific piece of writing ---

About the bittersweet experience of knowing you are very good, --- and the shock of coming up against the best ---

Pdf file of a Road & Track article from 1972. 

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Strong women


These are big lists, so don't expect to remember or recognize names.  But you will be surprised by the sheer number and variety of young and adult women who race cars and motorcycles, on and off-road.  Scrolling through these pdf slides will give you a new perspective.  My daughter accompanied me to the races when she was young, and it was one of the influences that inspired her to be adventurous and open minded. Try it.

Women race mechanics


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Racing Mums and their Kids

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Women still putting up with nonsense



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Whose BRM is this, with a four-cylinder motor? Photographed at Ragley Hall hill climb in 1964

Hillclimb champ Tony Griffiths. Chassis BRM 487, making it a P48 Mk2. model.   It had a 2.5 litre BRM four-cylinder engine, went eventually to the Donington Motor Museum, and today appears in historic races in the hands of Barrie Baxter.

brm 2.5


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"When I get old, -----"

The late Jack Lord was racing stock cars in 1963 --- there's a Belle Vue photograph of Jack on the SENIORS IN THE SIXTIES page --- and the photo below, courtesy of his son Glenn, was taken in 2013 at Warton, testing his Outlaw car --- that's sixty years later! What a man.

jack lord

MYSTERY ENGINE

Can anyone tell me what engine and/or intake manifold is under the hood of "Darkie" Wright's stock car?

It's a Ford 429 "shotgun" semi-hemi, known as The Boss, a rare motor built around the late 60s and early 70s.   NB: the Cobra Jet 429 is NOT the same. It was known as a high revver.  

WHAT MOTOR

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Oddity:  Loggers work with oddball equipment.  This log skidder --- forestry's equivalent of the farm tractor --- was a prototype built by the Texan company Le Tourneau.  It's a diesel-electric.  The diesel engine drives a generator, which feeds current to the four electric motors, one in each wheel hub, and to the log-hauling winch.  This one was abandoned by MacMillan Bloedel on "Haida Gwaii" (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) off the coast of BC in Canada. 

skidder

 

December 2012: (A big-Mb high-res file) Heavy-duty mechanics, please --- can someone predict what's gone wrong with this log skidder?  I can see a new bearing-race under the white cloth. Do these tractors have a reduction gear in the hub?  The photo was taken at Salmon Bay, BC, Canada.  That operator looks mighty tee'd off and is probably looking at a day's work lost.

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UPDATE September 2013:  Modified sidevalve V8.  Photo from newsletter of New Zealand's HISTORIC STOCK CAR CLUB.  

Raced in 1960 by Gary Wike, this Ford flathead V-8 is described as having Hogan cylinder heads, using twin spark plugs per cylinder, fired by twin coils, and drinking from four carbureters standing on "twisted-leg" intake runners. The distributor was probably a Nash, as Nash used twin-plug heads and a "16-cylinder" distributor for their straight-8-cylinder engines in the 1930's.  "Hogan" refers to a chap called Garth Hogan, and his farther, who made custom finned cylinder heads in the old days.

nz modified flathead


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UPDATE  March 2013: The weirdest Indy car ever was brought to the Brickyard by Smokey Yunick in 1964.  Duane Carter managed at the risk of his life to put in some 150mph practice laps before another driver crashed it.  It did not race, but has since been rebuilt for shows. Have a look at these old and new photos, and imagine yourself in that seat at 160-170mph on the backstretch.

Beefy: a sprint car rear axle with quick-change gear (it's not a true differential, just a ring gear on a solid axle)

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UPDATE  January 2012:  A visit to Lynmouth in Devon brought back the history of of the terrible 1952 flood that came down the West and East Lyn rivers after 9 inches of rain fell on Exmoor in 24 hours.  This rare car was recovered from the sea.



UPDATE  July 2011:  In approx 1963 at Silverstone I saw this beast:  a Ford Cortina rebuilt and raced by "Doc" Merfield, an Australian dentist.  It had a 300-inch Chevrolet V-8 kitted out with three Stromberg carbs.  To keep it from tearing itself to pieces, it had a Jag XK-150 rear axle, and wheels from a Ford Zephyr.  It was wild, and I bet the Doc had a lot of fun fighting it.

In 1964 I photographed a tasty Ferrari 250 GTO --- This car was owned by Peter Clarke, but was snapped up by Pink Floyd's Nick Mason in 1978.   Here is Nick at the wheel recently, lucky man: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nick_mason_goodwood.jpg

This Ferrari, in 1962  was being raced by Mike Parkes for Tommy Sopwith's Team Endeavour. Chassis #3589, its distinctive three-vent side panel and two rows of hood louvres identify it. The car left the UK for the USA in 1963, eventually being owned by
then MicroSoft presidentJon Shirley.   It bears a typical Modena number plate, 76723-MO.  When new in 1962, if you had $18,000 and if Enzo Ferrari approved of you, could could buy one of only 39 GTOs ever built.  

In approx 1963 racer Innes Ireland was invited to buy the team GTO that he had raced, for about list price, and he turned it down as too expensive.  In 2008, a 250GTO auctioned in the UK for 15.8 million, which is silly money whichever way you look at it.  

On top of that, acknowledged replicas, and unadmitted replicas exist.  For example, Ferrari built 33 250TR sports cars, yet 46 [forty-six] documented 250TR cars exist today ----  suspicious.


UPDATE    April 2011:  In about 1963 I took this snapshot at Silverstone, of the new "LOLA GT".  A year later the design was adapted by Ford for their GT40, which went on to dominate Le Mans.  Here, with the rear bodywork off, you can see the Ford 4.6 litre single-carbureter V-8, and those gorgeous rubber "doughnut" joints in the rear axles. Lotus F1 cars used them as well. The massive gearbox behind the rear axles was a Colotti. This car was revolutionary in having a monocoque chassis, but was still happily pre-computer, and you can see a good old fashioned socket wrench and a timing light on one of the bulkheads.
lola 

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Novelty picture from the wild world of banger racing: Demo-Derby Rolls-Royces on their way to the big bang.  I believe this photo is by the late Dave "Smiffyman" Smith, one of the sport's top track photographers.

Can a dumper truck at high speed crash through a military compound wall?  Watch the video clip with sound on.

Why are Turkish pedestrians and drivers so polite and obedient in the presence of police?  I took this photo in Istanbul a couple of years back.  Would you give the young cop any "lip" if he stopped you?  Click through this sequence of 5 photos and see why Turkish drivers and pedestrians stop politely when the motorcycle cops say so.

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Gravity racers. Look at the "street luge" racers on these PowerPoint slides.  

How fast can you make a snowmobile go?

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Off Britain's North-East coast lies Lindisfarne Island (Holy Island), site of an early Christian monastery and home to these two Citroens, one metal and the other -----
2cv

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Low tyre pressures are common in drag racing, and they often result in noticeable  

Tire distortion;  

Really scary tire distortion  [photos at Santa Pod Raceway]

The late Gilles Villeneuve (here with his son, champion-to-be Jacques) remains a Canadian hero --- when Gilles died in Belgium, the Canadian government sent a Boeing 747 especially to transport his coffin back, and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau attended his funeral.  How many drivers get that kind of recognition?

Gilles was simple: he drove every car, good and bad, at and over its limit on every corner of every lap of practice, qualifying, and race, throughout his career until he was killed in the final minutes of qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982  --- doing exactly what he loved. 

Canada Post issued a commemorative set of stamps, and here they are:    front cover; back cover; sheet of stamps.

Mystery motorcycle: Someone sent me a card, featuring a photo from the 1940's or 1950's, and apparently taken in France.  What on earth is the tiny motorcycle?  The tank badge says "RZ", and it is not a toy --- see the primary chain and clutch and tele shock absorbers.  Anyone?  "R.Z." may just be the name of the one-off builder.  What's the 2-stroke motor?  September 2014: Tom McFarland suggests a Francis-Barnet motor, maybe a 150cc. Certainly the FB "Fulmar" model had that forward-canted cylinder angle.  Drop me an e-mail.

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  You have to love the North American sprint cars:

unwinged

Unwinged sprint cars weigh around 1200lbs / and their 410 cu.in. motors on methanol, routinely make 750bhp but when tuned to near destruction for a high-paying race, with compression ratios raised to a scary 17:1, put out up to 900bhp, which is good for an old pushrod two-valve design.  Wheelbase can be as short as 7 feet (84 inches), direct drive with no clutch between the engine and the rear axle.  In this photo you see the right-front wheel has no brake, only the left one ---- a hard poke is enough to snatch the car into the left-turn-only bends.  Solid beam front axle, and solid no-diff rear axle with a single inboard disc brake. To see fifteen and more of these open their throttles from a rolling start will knock you off your seat. Look at the one below 'digging in' so hard that its 15-inch-wide rear tire is nearly peeling off:

bite

Can you get more "opposite lock" than this?

More sprint car technology:

  • Rear axle "stagger" and offset.
  • Disc brake on solid tube axle; note, this is the left side SMALLER tire you can see!
  • Spare axle showing the quick-change gears --- NOT a differential, just an under-and-over arrangement like a shotgun!  The axle here has the incoming driveshaft section pointing down.


Lastly, a uniquely-American formula, the "Supermodifieds" are so extreme that they virtually cannot turn anything but left:  look at the engine and axle layout on this red devil Frame builders hang the big V-8 motors off the left hand side of the chassis, and the driveline runs down the car's left side to a diff that has the left rear wheel bolted directly to its stub axle no visible half shaft at all.   Supermod 1Supermod 2, Supermod 3.  These cars have lapped one-mile asphalt ovals at speeds approaching 160mph average.     

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Fifty years before the SMART car, post-war European countries, and especially Germany, were devising the smallest econo-cars imaginable. Someone passed on to me this Pdf slide show, thirty photos taken in a car museum, and most of these cars had single-cylinder 2-stroke motors of 200-400cc.  

The following two scans are of a restored Indianapolis roadster from 1960, a beautiful car:  Front view.  Overhead view.  Imagine the sound of the full-race Chevy (de-stroked from 283 to 255 cu.in. and tilted 18 degrees) through that long exhaust.  Incredible as it seems to us today, in 1960 the builder used a 1939 Ford 3-speed transmission with Lincoln-Zephyr gears.

Big motor for a motorcycle:  the builder, C.F. Leonhardt, calls this machine Gunbus, and the air-cooled V-twin engine displaces an astounding 410 cubic inches (just under 7 litres), and puts out 523 ft/lbs of torque.  "Boom - boom - boom - boom".

Of course, you could simply intsall a BMW V-12 car engine in your bike.

But if you prefer English engines, you could slip a Jaguar V-12 into your motorbike.

While we're on Jags, why do they have to have only four wheels?  Here's a Jag with SIX wheels .

Back to more reasonable bikes:  Bad Dog Cycles has designed a V-twin of 3500cc, DOHC, 4-valve fuel-injected beauty, and is considering a larger 4500cc version.

In 1956 a wooden-boat builder tried his hand at car building, and came up with this lightweight sports car powered by a rear-mounted Aerial Square Four m'cycle engine.

If you're my age you remember when motorcycle-sidecar racing used motorcycles connected to sidecars. Here are two of today's sidecar outfits, at Brands Hatch, minus their bodywork ---- .

sidecar 1

and another ----
sidecar 2

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"The Garlits Explosion":  Front-engined dragsters were a vicious breed that had a dozen ways to kill you.  Big Daddy Don Garlits had already been burned by an exploding supercharger, but the really scary event took place on the start line at Lions drag strip in Califronia in 1970.  The clutch and flywheel exploded and the shrapnel cut the chassis in half and badly injured Don.  The entire roll-cage/cockpit parted from the frame, rotating in the air.  

Do you like oddball engineering?  Here are some beauties, from various internet sources:  


"Stagger" is the difference in diameter between rear tyres, and this one is pushing it to the limit. Imagine gassing it with these wheels on the ends of your locked axle. "Stagger" at Skagit Speedway

 

Most of us have fantasized driving a racer on the road:sprinter on road

[Photo from a Sprint Car calendar by Paul Oxman publishing in California.]

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Oddments:  In about 1964 I photographed this daring experiment: a little KIEFT "Formula Junior" single-seater loaded with a 4.34 litre (265 cu.in) Chevrolet V-8.  The hill-climb driver was Ian McLaughlin of Stockland Garages in Birmingham, and the brilliant mechanic who built the car --- fabricating many parts from scratch --- was Jack Clewer, visible in the photographs working on the car. Jack and Ian are still with us today, and provided the information.  The Chevy motor came from a garage outside London, and it was mated to a Lotus F1 gearbox.  Ian McLaughlin and his cousin John competed in 13 Monte Carlo rallies.

kieft



It was running at a hill-climb at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire when I took the two pits snapshots. 

Later, Jack Clewer built a new intake manifold and fitted four SU carburetors and a higher-lift camshaft.  Eventually it was dismantled and the V-8 engine went to a stock-car driver. 

Kieft cars were built in Wolverhampton.  Industrialist Cyril Kieft built and designed the single seaters, and his great-grand-daughter, Savannah Courtenay, was a world class kart racer.  The Kieft was originally one of just five built for the Formula Junior category, with an Anglia 105E four cylinder engine.

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Two more Oddments:  First, the golden days of "Formula Libre" in England, when you could bring almost ANY darned thing to the track.  

Chris Summers took a tube-framed Lotus 24 and dropped in a fuel-injected Chevy V-8 that he'd got from BP Research branch.  This snapshot was taken in (approx.) 1962-64 at Silverstone.  The exhausts sounded wonderful.  I saw this car launch from the front row down the straight to Cope Corner, and his tires were "hazing" all the way something that was very rare in those days.  

Second one is a prototype Diva Valkyr sports car, rear-engined, aluminium-bodied, and using the then-popular alloy Hillman Imp motor.  Photo taken same time as the Summers one.   Jack Reynolds has identified Mike Aired on the left, and Mike Walton in overalls, and pointed out that a Valkyr was also built, experimentally, with a big Coventry Climax 2.7 litre (4-cyl) motor. 

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Holy!  In 1988 the Pope visited Ferrari's workshops and blessed one or more of their current Formula 1 Grand Prix cars.  I don't know whether some supernatural agency helped with subsequent races. 

Glory days: when Grand Prix drivers could switch from an F1 car to a saloon to have some fun.  Here are three saloons in 1966 at Snetterton, four-wheel-drifting through a fast bend: a Mustang, a Galaxie, and hard on their tails the tiny Lotus Cortina of world champion Jim Clark.

Three more GT's photographed at Silverstone sometime in 1963 or 1964: Tojeiro-Buick GTRacing under the Ecurie Ecosse team colours, this  rear-engined car had the then-new Buick alloy V-8.                         

Here is the rear view.   The Tojeiro originally had a Climax 2.5 litre 4-banger engine.  A second Tojeiro was built along these lines and raced briefly by Jackie Stewart.  

One of the two Tojeiro cars still exists, and was advertised for sale in 2009; here are two InterNet photos of the nicely-restored Tojeiro:  one,  and two.   John Tojeiro was a brilliant ex-Fleet Air Arm engineer who also designed the A.C. Ace chassis,  the basis of the legendary AC Cobra.

Sleek:  This prototype Costin-bodied Lister-Jaguar was built for Le mans.  It may have been used in the racing film "The Green Helmet", as an open-bodied sports racer.  Hand-beaten aluminium bodywork.

46 years after I took that b/w snapshot at Silverstone, i discovered that Lister Jag still exists, and is being worked hard .

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Is this the biggest engine ever installed in a competition vehicle?  A German tractor-pull special called "Dragonfire" uses a massive 42-cylinder Russian submarine engine.  With seven banks of 6 cylinders each, it is 8,665 cubic inches, or 144 litres.  When the tranny locks up, Europe moves East six inches .

Thanks to keen-eyed Alistair Howarth, I can add this info:

Weight 3200kg with gearbox, 3.7m long. Here are scores of photos of the build:  http://picasaweb.google.de/tractorpulling.sascha/BuildingDragonFire#

Zvezda M503 engine in the Dragonfire
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zvezda_M503 

Here's a tractor with three V-12 Allison aero engines (1,710 cu.in. each.)  

And one with an old air-cooled radial engine probably from a WW2 bomber.  

Here are some more tractor-pull engines:  




The "Michigan Madman", E.J.Potter had among his many weird and scary machines, a "Double-V-12" Allison aero engine, which naturally he put in a tractor.   Allison built only 150 of these prototype bomber engines, but ol' E.J. got himself one.   

It has 56 litres 24 cylinders Turbo-and-supercharged two crankshafts in one crankcase Over one ton in weight.   E.J. reckoned it was one of the most beautiful engines ever made. 

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How would you like to take off the valve-train cover of your engine and see this?   It's what drives the sleeve-valves on a 14-cylinder Bristol Hercules engine.  Just don't drop a spring-clip in there .  The beast (they built tens of thousands of them) was a two-row radial with 14 cylinders.  Until March 2010 I had labelled this a 12-cylinder, but my thanks to Fred van der Horst of the Netherlands for spotting my error.

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in the Sixties

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in the Sixties

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