Escort Mexico

Season’s start at Brands Hatch, 7th March 1976

The 1970s were a time when my Dad and I shared an interest (nay, more a  passion for me!), in watching motor racing at Brands Hatch and Thruxton almost every week, in spite of it being my finals year. I needed a break on Sundays from all that revision,  cough, cough! It is hard to give a summary of so many terrific race meetings  which included Group 8 (the old F5000), Atlantics, F3, FFord 1600 & 2000, Saloons, Clubmans and more.

Motor racing really came out of hibernation in the spring and so it was that on March 7th we arrived at Brands Hatch for the season opening BBC Radio One Championship Race Meeting, phew what a mouthful.

The Headline race was for Production Saloons with a new 3-litre capacity limit, designed to keep out the all-dominant Chev. Camaros, although the price based classes were retained.

Immediately the rule change appeared to have worked as a huge variety of makes and models meant the racing was close with battles throughout big fields in both the expensive and cheaper classes.

The race for the expensive classes, which featured a real who’s who of British Saloon racing, went to Phil Dowsett in a Capri 3.0 GT from Derrick Brunt in the IMP Manitou BMW 3.0Si, Bob Saunders (Dolomite Sprint) and Rod Birley’s Capri. Win Percy was next in a Toyota Corolla 1600GT who fended off challenges from the Magnums driven by Jeff Allam, Nick Whiting and Gerry Marshall.

The result of the cheaper class race looked similar to 1975 and went as usual to the fleet of Mazda RX-2s and RX-3s except that Ray Tunney and Danny Alderton in Escort Mexico and Honda Civic (yes really) got among them in 4th and 6th respectively.

Among the Ford formulae it was interesting to see Tiff Needell graduate to the 2000 class having been a winner in the 1600s in ’75, and win this day’s non-championship race from Ian Taylor, one of the perennial top drivers and benchmarks in UK National racing in the ’70s and ’80s for newer drivers to try and beat.

An interesting driver in this race was British Olympic Show Jumper Anne Moore who had been brought into motor racing by the promoters to broaden its appeal to more generalist sports fans. I recall she did reasonably well, for a novice with little training in the lower classes, although she was 9th on the grid and finished in the same position in a field of nine, i.e last! At least she was out there giving it a go, as we say these days.

Yours in motorsport


Affordable classics on the block

Jaguar E-Type fq

Barons Auctions is having a Yuletide Sale at Sandown Park, UK on December 9th. A range of vehicles from starter-classics to barn finds and concours beauties are for sale. The top find of the auction might be a 1962 Jaguar E-Type SI 3.8 FHC, chassis no. 232. Which has been in storage since 1981. Now fully re-commissioned it is a completely unrestored, original example. Estimate: £25,000-30,000 ($69,000 – $83,000 NZ)

Entries include a number of restoration projects, including a ‘barn find’ 1979 Morgan 4+4 Sports £8,500-10,000 ($23,600 – $27,800 NZ)  and a 1956 Bentley S1 Standard Steel Saloon £6,000-9,000 ($16,600 – $25,000 NZ).

The stately 1950 Daimler DB18 DHC (£14,000-16,000) should turn some heads, and there’s a whole bunch of performance machines. These include a brace of Aston Martins – a 2002 DB7 Vantage Volante V12 and a 1973 DBS V8i. The latter has covered just 27,000 miles from new.

Motorsports fans – or Austin Healey collectors/specialists – should check out the 1960 Austin Healey Sprite Pickup belonging to Austin Healey works driver Clive Baker, which was built by world-renowned marque specialist Brian Wheeler as a parts carrier £4,000-6,000 ($11,100 – $16,600 NZ). And those looking to move into classic saloon car racing should see the 1972 Ford Escort Mexico, which has been the subject of a major restoration and conversion to FIA race car specification £8,000-10,000.($22,200 – $28,500 NZ).