Newsletter – June 2009

Stirrings from Overseas.

As some of you may have noticed I have been away recently.  Indeed in August of 2008 we uprooted ourselves from a comfortable existence in East Yorkshire and re-located to upstate New York - Rochester to be specific.  Now, I can promise you one thing.  Such a move is guaranteed to be quite an upheaval from a general life standpoint – family, schools, work, house etc etc etc.  This is before we even give any thoughts to the small matter of racing historic cars.  The last nine months has been a major challenge I promise and only recently have thoughts – or actions at least – turned to motoring matters.

The plan was always to sell the F1 Surtees TS9B after Monaco.  The deal was all done by August when the exchange rates were reasonable.  By September the buyer chickened out at the VERY last minute leaving me very much high and dry and poor Rick Hall with even more grey hair.  More than six months later the deal was finally signed and sealed albeit with a very significant shortfall because of exchange rate changes.  Now the next task was to organize some motors to race in the good old US of A.

The Lyons clan has always been wonderful supporters of our efforts and once again Frank came to several rescues.  First, arrangements were made for the Crossle  19F F2 car to be sent to Liaz Jakhara at Zul Racing – minus the engine of course.  That went to Terry Hagerty who stripped it and produced a fresh lump for a modest fee.  Liaz stripped the car completely and before long the car was ready to travel over here for life as a FB car.

Frank then announced that he was sending a partner in the crate to spend some time in New York.  A Chevron B29 from 1975 just happened to be ready to travel!  This is a F2 car with a Hart 420R in the back – fresh from a rebuild I am glad to say!  This car runs on slicks and wings of course and between them they should make a nice pair for several events.  I have never actually seen the B29 in the flesh but have some experience of the cars from Bolton – the F5000 B28 was a recent Scalpel team car of course.  Thanks a lot to Frank as always!!

At the time of writing this newsletter both cars are due to arrive off the ship in New Jersey and be transported to Lee Chapman’s place in Connecticut.  Lee is going to look after the Ecurie Scalpel cars for the time being and hopefully will not be telling me any bad news about the cars and their journey.

With some money burning a hole in my pocket after the sale of the Surtees, the search was on for a sports racer.  These are great cars to have as they run in various endurance events giving good track time.  By and large they are also easy enough to run being designed for long distance events.  I have looked at numerous cars over the last year and while many were worth considering I finally settled on a long-time favorite – the McLaren M1B.

As it happens Rick Hall – who was handling the sale of the Surtees – is the UK point man for Bruce McCaw in Seattle.  Bruce is a long time major collector and indeed was the owner of my very first racing car – the Elva 300 Formula Junior that features elsewhere on this website.  This car actually maintains the Elva link because as all true anoraks know the first of the customer McLaren cars were built by Elva – especially those for the US market.

Chassis 30-03 was used by the transplanted German driver Lothar Motschenbacher for the 1966 campaign and has been completely restored by the Vintage Racing Motors team run by Thor Thorson in Washington State.  Shortly it will also be under the careful gaze of Lee Chapman and his team and barring any disasters both the McLaren and Crossle will be heading North to make the Ecurie Scalpel debut at the annual historic festival in Mont Tremblant near Montreal.  Look in the Gallery for some pictures of the car.

Nerdy trivia fact about Lothar?  He holds the record as the driver who ran more miles than any other in the Can-Am series from 1966 until 1975 with a best championship result of runner up to the late Denny Hulme in 1970 – the year Bruce McLaren was killed in Goodwood testing the new CanAm car.  In that year he used three different McLaren cars and although he was second in the title race he never worried Hulme who won six of the 10 races that year to end up with more than double the points of Lothar.  That’s why they called it the “Bruce and Denny Show” after all!

So what else is new for 2009?  The Huffaker has just been invited to the Goodwood Revival in September, which this year is of course featuring the front-engined cars.  The car has just finished a treatment session with Denis Welch and is ready for action.

The Toj SS02 returned to the tracks last month driven by Frank Lyons in the Masters Series event for the ‘70’s Protos.  I was delighted to hear – very envious though – that the newly built “B” spec engine is a stormer producing over 300 brake.  There are still a few wiring problems to be sorted out but the car was certainly on the pace and I am trying to convince Frank to take it out again sooner rather than later.  Every time it goes to an event it is a hugely popular attraction with the crowds and certainly we should have her out more and more.

Sorry to have been so quiet for so long but after quite a hiatus we might be back in action soon!!


Back To News Index