Eoin Young's Collector's
Column no. 3
Spring Racing in New Zealand
Whittakers MG Classic at Manfeild was the place to be if you like
to be among classic cars and classic car people. We even stayed
in a classic hotel. The YUB Racing Team from the South Island
stayed en masse at the Denbigh in Feilding, which was the perfect
setting for a classic weekend. I gather that some members of
the team presented the team title as Young Urban Businessmen when
it suited their quest for Feilding's best, but according to founders
Peter "Baldrick" Grant and Keith Cowan it actually stands for "You
Useless Bastard". Team shirts have now been produced.
I caught up with Dave Silcock at Manfeild, racing the black
1955 Cooper-Vincent that he bought from the evergreen Allan Bramwell
15 years ago but it hasn't seen action for the past three years. "I
was trying to sell it for £20,000 but I couldn't find a
buyer and I finally thought there was no point in just looking
at it, so I'd race it again. Problem is it costs every
time I take it out. It cost me three sets of pistons to
get the mixture right."
Mk 9 Cooper was brought to New Zealand by motorcycle and car racer, Syd Jensen
(no relation to Ross) who famously raced the little Cooper as a swift lightweight
500 and then took the Norton engine out and installed it in his Manx motorcycle
frame, winning on four wheels as well as two on the same day!
orchestrated the installation of the 1100cc twin-cylinder Vincent motorcycle
engine, which equates to a power-to-weight that still puts Silcock up among
what you'd imagine were faster cars. There are nicknames at either end. The
car is known as "Jilly Cooper" after Allan and Pam Bramwell visited novelist
Jilly Cooper at her home in the UK and asked her permission to name the Cooper-Vincent
after her. As you might imagine, she thought it was a hoot. I gather
there are different versions of the Jilly Cooper story, but trust me, this
is the true one. The scrolled name on the tail is "van Gof" as in Vincent
not much Vincent left in it now, thank God,! says Silcock, fervently. Original
engine parts are scarce now. "As the Late Jones would have said "It's
got a lot of character but we're working very hard to get rid of it. Murray
Jones was the brilliant vintage enthusiast engineer who breathed life into
South Island classics like Bill Clark's P3 Alfa Romeo GP car that sold for
millions at Monaco, and built Bramwell's supercharged Black Hawk Stutz that
I owned for a couple of glorious summers. In fact he was killed when
he took the Stutz for a run after it had been completed and swerved into a
curb, dodging a meandering learner driver. A wire wheel collapsed and
the Stutz rolled with fatal results. The Stutz is now owned by Scott
Dixon's entrant, Bruce McCaw. The
Cooper fell by the wayside on the first day at Manfeild when the
carburettor float chamber fell off but it was recovered in the
start-finish grid area and the little black racer performed faultlessly
for the rest of the weekend.
is an established frontline event - this one was the 16th running. There
were 210 entries in a weekend that stressed enjoyment above success and while
the winner took the chequer, it was down to Bruce McLaren's daughter Amanda
and partner Steve Connell who decided who scored the champagne after each race. Frank Hamlin is Mini-racing again at 74, having been away from
the circuits for the past 30 years, defeated cancer, and come
back to show all his old feisty brilliance. He complained
that he'd been struck down with food poisoning and hadn't had
time to fit his proper race engine - which must have been scant
solace for the people he was beating with his "cooking motor". Frank
worked with engine wizard Don Moore in England in 1960, bought
one of the first Minis, and when Bruce McLaren brought a very
special Mini Cooper out as a sideline entry on the Tasman Series
in 1964, Frank was a major thorn in his side. Jim Barclay is back from the USA as an ex-RNZAF Air Commodore
and racing his 1961 Mk 3A Gemini, towing it behind his aptly
named Holden Commodore wagon which carries the reggo "250F". Good
one, James. I remember Kiwi Ross Greenville punting one
of these needle-nose Formula Juniors through a brick wall at
Aintree, receiving serious leg injuries when he climbed out and
fled the fire on two broken ankles.
Thompson's pseudo-Anglia "Brutal" made corners out of the straights when he
wellied the 5.7-litre Chev V8 engine in what had, at some time been two Anglias
(1955 and 1962) a Triumph 2000 and the Chevvie set well back in the chassis. Weird
or what? Exciting anyway. Took me back to the days of the sadly
long-gone days of Allcomer races run as curtain-raisers to the Tasman races
in the 'sixties.
down Ashley Stitchbury's dad, Paul, in the paddock at Manfeild but he had left
his ex-Harold Heasley Humber 80 at home. He told me a great tale about
Bruce Webster who had re-made his famous old ex-Le Mans winning Alfa Romeo
(Birkin/Howe in 1931) back in the 1950s by replacing the blown-up Alfa engine
with a TR motor driving through a Ford V8 truck diff. According to Paul,
Webster cut a slot in the original Alfa Romeo diff and used it as a letterbox
at his gate for years. (But don't bother going to find it. I've
looked and it isn't there any more.)
me of my mate Ron Kellog in Los Angeles, who bought a crashed 250LM when bent
Ferrari racing cars were not exactly sought- after items of great value, sawed
the classic tail off, cut a slot in it and used it as his letter box at then
end of his drive. Today someone would take that letterbox and build a
new 250LM around it! Colin Waite must be of Hamlin vintage but he still hustles his
superb looking front-engined Stanguellini Formula Junior around
and he tells me that he has bought the pair of ex-works rally
Skodas out of Central Otago. I knew vaguely where they
were and always fancied a dabble at something different but never
got around to it. Story of my life. The story goes
that Skoda ran the cars in the international New Zealand rally
years ago, and couldn't afford to ship them home!
was keeping an eye on Glenda Gorton in her Fraser and was mildly surprised
to see her getting smoked by a green Fraser which obviously had the legs on
everything else in its field - until I discovered that the green one has a
2.5-litre Mazda V6 in front and is campaigned by marque-maker Neil Fraser,
and Glenda is actually his sister in what was the previous 2-litre works
prototype. Literally a "sister car."
for design excellence to Stephen Beattie with his brand new 2-litre mid-engined
Beattie sports racer, supplanting his previous pretty little front-engined
sports-cars that he has produced as race and road versions.
"Racer Ray" Williams must get right up the nose of Porsche enthusiasts
who fork out a wheelbarrow full of money to buy the best Porsche
they can afford, and they still get smoked by Raymond, he of
the varying thatch colour, as though they were parked at the
kerb. And to make matters worse he has painted the car
and his paddock bike in leopard spots. Rubbing it in!
Bain takes me to task for suggesting earlier in the year that the 4.5-litre
Grand Prix Ferrari from Bernie Ecclestone's amazing collection based at Biggin
Hill and demonstrated by modern Ferrari whiz, Michael Schumacher at the British
GP this year was not the actual car that "Pampas Bull" Froilan Gonzales drove
to win the very first GP for Ferrari at Silverstone in 1951. Gavin was
responsible rescuing and restoring the ex-Roycroft 375GP V12 Ferrari which
was the Gonzales car and this has since gone through a variety of owners. It
has been shorn of its Indy-style Roycroft vented nose, re-fitted with the original "works
nose" - is now owned by Bernie and is the original. Further info available
from the latest edition of George Begg's great read 'When the Engine
Roars' updated with a Classic World section which explores the detail that
Auto Restorations go to in their quest to re-create originality and the Gonzales
Ferrari is one of the cars he profiles. 'When the Engine Roars' is available
from Fazazz, 84 Lichfield Street, Christchurch. NZ.
To read previous
click on the links below:
SCRAPBOOKS and THE EDDIE HALL PHOTO ALBUM MYSTERY
GOODWOOD CIRCUIT REVIVAL 2001
SPRING RACING IN NEW ZEALAND
5. "CHASING THE TITLE"- A 'must-read' book...
HERMANN BEATS THE TRAIN
OLD CAR IMAGININGS
NEW BOOKS, PRESCOTT AND GOODWOOD 2002
FIXING FORMULA ONE
CLASSIC RACERS, FORZA AMON! and COLIN CHAPMAN
MY NEW BOOK... & BERNIE'S NEW BOOK
SELLING AT GOODWOOD AND BUYING AT BEAULIEU
TARGA NEW ZEALAND, BRABHAM ON SCHUMACHER, AMON ON CLARK
IT STILL BEATS WORKING!
PUSHING BUTTONS; F1 DRIVER SHUFFLES
STILL OPEN FOR BUSINESS
COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS IN WARSAW
Eoin Young is a
who left a bank job to join Bruce McLaren and help set up his racing
More or less. He arrived in the UK in 1961 as a freelance journalist,
the Formula Junior season with Denny Hulme, joined McLaren in 1962.
director of team. Established Motormedia 1966. Started weekly "Autocar" diary
page in 1967 -- it ran until 1998. Covered CanAm, Indy and GP series.
In 1979 established as a dealer in rare motoring and motor racing books
and ephemera. Still trading with regular lists. Autobiography "It
Beats Working" published in 1996. with its sequel "It Still beats Working"
in 2003. He lives in tiny low-beam period
cottage in Bookham, Surrey. Drives VW Golf VR6.
The stock of
books and ephemera is constantly changing.
here to view the current catalogue.