Motor Racing, H:O Scale Slot Cars, Classic Cars, the building of my slot car circuit

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

From the Archives - Race of Champions 1972

I attended my first Formula One race in March 1969; nowadays it is great to say that you saw a F1 race in the sixties, except that everyone thinks you are incredibly old! It was the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch. In those days it was the European season opener for Formula One and took place after the South African Grand prix and the Tasman Series.  The F1 cars of the time were the high winged ones that were soon to disappear after the Spanish GP accidents.   Following the race in 1969 which was won by Jackie Stewart in a Matra from my boyhood hero, Graham Hill in his Lotus, I attended many Race of Champions.  I was back again in 1970 and remember getting the autographs of Graham Hill and George Eaton amongst others (now sadly lost with time).  As with all Brands Hatch regulars I also remember some of the great Race of Champions moments such as Peter Gethin beating all of the F1 stars in his F5000 Chevron in 1973 and Jacky Ickx driving around the outside of Niki Lauda to win in the wet in 1974.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a good camera in those days and rarely took photos at the events I attended.   I did, however, take a few paddock shots with a Kodak Instamatic at the 1972 Race of Champions which I share with you here.

The BRM team in the Brands Hatch paddock for the Race of Champions in 1972.   Tony Southgate, the designer of the BRM P160, can be seen at the back of the picture far left.   BRM entered a three car team for this event for Jean-Pierre Beltoise (51), Peter Gethin (52) and Howden Ganley (53).   This was the first event that I had seen the F1 cars race on slick tyres.
The 1972 season saw relatively little success for BRM but the late Jean-Pierre Beltoise did win in the wet at Monte Carlo to take BRM's fifth and last Monaco GP win.  This was the first year BRM were sponsored by Marlboro and I for one loved the shape and colour scheme of these cars.    From memory they sometimes entered as many as five cars at some races and used something like nine different drivers during the year!
The BRM P160 of Peter Gethin at the 1972 Race of Champions.  He was one of my favourite F1 drivers of the time and qualified second on the grid for this event and eventually finished fourth.  
Other teams entered for the 1972 Race of Champions included Yardley McLaren, Brooke Bond Oxo Rob Walker Surtees and Jean Player Team Lotus.   March, including another of my heros Ronnie Peterson, and the Rolf Stommelen Eiffelland were the other F1 teams entered.  This made about 12 F1 cars and the rest of the grid was made up of Formula 5000 cars for the first time.  Unlike the year after, the F5000 cars were very much making up the field in the 1972 race.  For the record, the top F5000 car was the Lola of Alan Rollinson who battled with Brian Redman in the McLaren.
The McLaren team working in the paddock at the 1972 Race of Champions.  The 56 car here is that of Peter Revson.  There was also a car for Denny Hulme.   In the background is the Surtees team and the car of Tim Schenken.  His team mate, Mike Hailwood (who I think is also in this picture but somewhat hidden) qualified third and finished second.  
It was great in those days to get so close to the cars, teams and drivers in the paddock.  I really, wish I had taken more pictures but photography was expensive for me in those days.

The race was won by Emerson Fittipaldi in the John Plater Lotus 72. He also took pole position and fastest lap.   It was the first of three times I was to see Emerson and his Lotus win at Brands Hatch that year as he also won the British GP and the Rothmans 50,000 Formula Libre race.   Whilst, Emerson was never one of my favourite drivers in the seventies, I remember his early career well as I saw him win in Formula Ford and Formula Three and I also saw him drive in Formula Two and on his F1 debut Brands in 1970.  Later when watching him on television in Indy Car, funnily enough, I became much more of a fan.

A few more memories of this meeting:

Whilst the F1 race was fairly routine there was a great British Group 2 saloon car race in which Frank Gardner's Camaro really had to fight for his victory from Dave Matthew's much smaller engined Broadspeed Ford Escort and Martin Thomas in another Chevrolet Camaro.

There was also a Formula Three race that a young Welshman called Tom Pryce won with some ease. Other future F1 drivers in this field included Bob Evans, Tony Trimmer, James Hunt, Roger Williamson, David Purley and Rikki Von Opel.   I was there at the Race of Champions again a few years later to see Tom win his only F1 race in the Tony Southgate designed 1975 Shadow.  Great memories!

I mentioned the F5000 cars earlier in the blog.  If like me you remember these wonderful cars, you may be interested in a book on them called La Formule 5000 Européenne 1969 - 1975 by Christian Navaux.   It contains a report and results on every race plus some great photos including many by my good friend Gareth Rees (who was certainly also at the 1972 Race of Champions meeting as one of his pictures is in the report on the Saturday F5000 race).  It is all written in French.  I would have thought they would get more sales if it was translated into English as most of the race took place in the UK. It is published by

My first memories of F5000 are watching on television the first ever F5000 race at Oulton Park on Good Friday 1969 and then going along in person to Brands Hatch on 11th May 1969 to see Peter Gethin win both heats in his McLaren M10A-Chevrolet and loving the sound these big engined cars made.

If you have memories of the 1972 Race of Champions meeting please enter them in the comments box below.

If you are interested in motor racing from the sixties, you might want to visit my 1965 page.  Click on the 1965 button at the top of this page or click here on 1965.   During 2015 I will be adding a new post to this page each week.

Further of my "From the Archives" photos can be accessed by clicking on the From the Archives button at the top of this page or click here in Archives.

The photographer John Etherton asserts his copyright to the photographs on this blogpost.  However, you may publish them elsewhere on the web as long as you provide a link to this web page and credit the photographer and mention the name of this blog.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

From the Archives - May 1968 Alvis National Day Crystal Palace

The first time I went to the Crystal Palace Motor Racing Circuit was not for a race meeting but for an Alvis National Day.  It was 47 years ago on May19th 1968 and I think it was the day after I saw my very first ever race meeting at Silverstone.   The cars went through a number of driving tests and there was also a concours d'elegance.  These driving tests were quite popular at the time with many car clubs; I'm not sure they happen any more.  According to the Motor Sport report of the day, 220 cars took part. Included amongst the cars were three of the Alvis Le Mans cars from 1927.

Alvis was a car manufacturer in Holyhead Road, Coventry from 1919 to 1967 and were absorbed into Rover in 1965. They didn't become known as Alvis until 1921.  In more recent times they have produced military vehicles although even more recently Alvis have started to produce one of their older model cars again.  In terms of racing they only participated from 1925 to 1930.

These photos bring back memories of the old pits and stands.  Picture quality is not high as they were taken on a Kodak Instamatic; remember them?

Pre-War Alvis in front of the old Crystal Palace pits.  I think it is a 12/60 beetleback.
This Alvis Special was my favourite car on that day.
Alvis on parade in front of the stands on the start finish straight at Crystal Palace 1968.  I think they were taking part in a concours d'elegance competition.
Not being much of an Alvis expert, I need some help in identifying the cars in the pictures.  please enter a comment if you know.

Here are some interesting links for those wanting to know more about Alvis:

John Etherton asserts his copyright to the photographs in this blog post.  You may reproduce them elsewhere on the web providing you provide a link to this post and the name of the photographer and this blogsite.

My Favourite Nissan H:O Scale Slot Cars

I haven't done a slot car post for a while, so here goes.  Inspired by Alex Harmer's article on Nissan's greatest sports car on I thought I would share my favourite Nissan 1/64th scale slot cars.  The Motor Sport article is well worth seeing even if just for the pictures of the Can-Am inspired R381 of 1968 which won that year's Japanese GP.

When we had some good friends around for the weekend recently I set up a 4 lane slot car circuit for us guys to race on whilst the girls took the dogs for a walk.  Thus the circuit forms a back drop for the Nissan slot cars.

BRE Datson 510.   I love these cars as they have the magnasonic chassis which means they are fun to drive as they are slow but tail out and make a silly noise!   The real BRE Datsun was a creation of Peter Brock and BRE stands for Brock Racing Enterprise.  The 510 was from 1971 and 1972 and BRE's driver John Morton was very successful in the SCCA races in the USA. 
Group C Nissan VG30ET powered March 85G.  The car on the right represent the Weaver/Hassemi/Hada driven car that finished 16th at Le Mans in 1986.
Tyco Datsun 280ZX.   The car on the right represents the Bob Sharp Racing car that Paul Newman drove to win the SCCA C production championship in 1979. The car on the left comes from an era when you could advertsise cigarettes on a kid's toy!
The photographer John Etherton asserts his copyright of these photos.  You may reproduce them elsewhere on the web as long as you credit the photographer and this blogsite and provide a link to this web page.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

I also have a Wine and Food Blog

My other hobby is food and wine.  Why not visit my other blog by clicking on Les Vignes et Les Vins.
New Year's Day 2015 in Sancerre

40 éme Salon de Retro Mobile 2015

Although this was the 40th edition of Retro Mobile in Paris, I had never been before.  Exhibitions and crowds are not really my thing.   However, the lure of the Le Mans Pegaso was enough for me.  Plus, I went on Wednesday night when the crowds weren't to bad.


Pegaso was a Spanish marque of the nineteen fifties who tried to emulate and beat Ferrari.  They failed  after seven years between 1951 and 1958 but left a beautiful legacy of eight four cars.  Quite a number of them were exhibited at Retro Mobile this year.

Pegaso Z 102 Touring Super Leggera Spider Le Mans 1953
I became interested in the Pegaso maque from a South African book on automobiles of the world that I got given when I was young.   I then read that one had entered the 1953 Le Mans 24 hours.  Unfortunately that entry did not end well. During practice the car crashed at speed causing the driver Juan Jover some serious injuries. The car also entered the 1954 Carrera Pan America but again crashed out.  However, in 1953 it did prove its speed when the 2.8 litre supercharged barchetta used at Le Mans broke the World Record for the flying kilometre at 151mph.  It is also certainly a beautiful car and a rare Spanish sport car of that era.  Although the sports car production was brief the marque produced trucks and coaches before and after the fifties.

Pegaso Z 102 Spider Le Mans
Note the exhaust pipes that look like the rear bumpers on this Pegaso

1968 Porsche 908/2
1968 2 litre Alfa Romeo T33/2 Daytona Coupe that finished 4th, 5th and 6th at Le Mans.  The Autodelta No.39 car finished fourth driven by Ignazio Giunti and Nanni Galli and won the two litre class.
1971 Porsche 917 as driven at Le Mans by Vic Elford
1990 IMSA Jaguar XJR12 IMSA as driven by Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace
Porsche Carrera 6
1971/2 3 litre Alfa Romeo T33 TT
Porsche 936 in the colours that it won the Le Mans 24 hours in 1977 driven by Ickx, Barth and Haywood
Ford GT 40

Rare Jaguar XKSS
1938 Mercedes 540K Stromlinienwagen
The 1955 Alpine A106 that started the Alpine Renault story.  Alpine Renault is 60 years old this year.  The car was based on the Renault 4CV and was built by a Dieppe based Renault dealer.
Bugatti Royale - you really appreciate the 21 foot length of this car when you see it in the flesh
1930 Bentley Speed Six
1955 Alfa Romeo Guilietta Spyder Bertone
1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS Zagato / Aprile

Around the World for charity in a 1915 Model T Ford
Petrol Pump Americana

Early fifties Skoda 966 Supersport.  I seem to remember from the Briggs Cunningham photos that there was a Skoda sports car at the 1950 Le Mans 24 hours.
1959 Porsche 718 RS


New Renault Alpine Vision GT concept car designed for a computer game Gran Tourismo 6
New Alpine concept car

1959 DB Panhard HBR5 Coupé
Shelby Daytona Cobra
I only had a brief two hours at the 2015 Retro Mobile but I enjoyed it and it left me wanting more. Great to see the Pegasos and also some rather nice Alfa Romeos as well.

A link to the Retro Mobile web site:

The photographer John Etherton asserts his copyright on the photographs on this blog post. However, you may republish them elsewhere on the web as long as you provide a link to this blogsite and reference the name of the blogsite and the photographer under the photo.

Monday, 2 February 2015

2015 Rallye Monte Carlo Historique Depart Reims

I hadn't actually been to the start of a rally since 1968 when I saw the start of the London to Sydney Marathon at the old Crystal Palace circuit.  As Reims is somewhere I love both because of the motor racing and champagne bubbly connections,  I decided to go and see the start of the Monte Carlo Rallye Historique from Reims this year.   The city of Reims does this rather well as they are proud of their motor racing heritage unlike some towns who seem to want to hide it.    The 30th January started off as a cold snowy day, rather typical Monte Carlo Rally conditions, but at the end of my three hour drive to the Reims-Gueux circuit it had improved but was still overcast and grey. 
Early mornng stop at the Reims-Gueux circuit, the venue where Mike Hawthorn won two of his Grand Prix victories.
I would return to the circuit later in the evening but first I wanted to go to the Parc des Expositions in Reims to see the Verifications Technique for the Rally cars.  There I was was hoping to get my first glimpse of the cars and some of the more famous drivers and co drivers, most of whom were starting from Reims this year with the exception of Fred Gallagher who was starting from Barcelona.

The cars this year were all of a type that had competed on the Monte Carlo Rally in its heyday from 1955 to 1980.

Brits Steve and Tony Graham prepare their 1972 Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF

More serious work going on under the Norwegian 1978 Porsche 930 Turbo
Michele Petit "Biche" puts the decals on her 1973 Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV.  She co-drove with Jean-Claude Andruet to win the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally in an Alpine Renault A110
Meanwhile other teams indulge in a typical French lunch
The 1964 Mini Cooper S of Alistair Vines and Willy Cave lines up for its technical check
British entered 1964 MGB of Robert Livingstone arrives for its verification Technique.
Two beautiful cars from the fifities - a 1950 Aston Martin DB2 and a 1959 Alfa Romeo Guiletta Sprint
Rally navigator since the fifties, Willy Cave who will turn 90 this week, standing beside his Mini Cooper
No shortage of Alpine Renaults who are celebrating their 60th birthday this year

French entered 1969 Opel GT of Eric and Mathieu Gnat

General view of the exhibition hall

French entered 1973 Ford Escort RS2000 of Jean-PierreDucroux and Guillaume Balloy
Belgian 1968 Fiat Moretti 850S
1962 Porsche 356SC of Jonathan and Christine Miles
1972 Datsun 240Z of David Ring and Peter Moss
After spending a good few hours here I was off into the centre of Reims and the Hotel de Ville where the cars were to gather for the start.  There would also be opportunities to take photos of the cars actually driving around reims.

A 1976 Triumph Dolomite Sprint arrives from Glasgow
The Australian crew that started from Glasgow in a 1979 Porsche 924 Turbo
A 1972 Peugeot 504TI 
A Danish entered 1971 Lancia Fulvia 1600HF
A Belgian entered 1979 Fiat X1/9 on its way to the start
A 1970 Renault 8 Gordini entered by a team from Norway
The all woman team of Catherine Labbe  and "Biche" in their Alfa.
1972 Alpine Renault A110 1300S
The 1966 MGB of David Pengilly and Mark Denham 
Didn't we see this Lancia Fulvia earlier
"Biche" admiring the Lancia Stratos
Citroen DS line up for the start
This French entered 1970 Trabant was rather late getting to the Forum
My third venue of the day was the Place du Forum in Reims where the cars would have a podium start before their long 12 hour 600km drive south to Puy en Velay.

At 19.00hrs the cars began to depart starting with Jean Ragnotti seen here on the left whilst being interviewed on the podium.   He won the Monte Carlo Rally for Renault back in 1981 in a Renault 5 Turbo.

Thus he was an appropriate driver to lead the field off in this 18th edition of the Rallye Montecarlo Historique.

Jean Ragnotti is first away on route for Monte Carlo in his Renault 12
The second driver off was last year's winners Jose Lareppe and David Lieven in their Opel Kadette GTE.

A Renault 17 Gordini driven by Christian Chambord being flagged away.  The young boy flagging them off will have some good memories of the event.
A 1979 Polish Zastava 1100 leaves the podium
A Belgian entered 1970 Porsche 914/6 gets away
Bob Neyret gets back into his 1966 Citroen DS21 after the podium interview.  He was a professional rally driver in the sixties and seventies who won and had a couple of other high finishes in the Rallye du Maroc
It was certainly the year of the Renault 12 Gordini - the engines of these cars powered the original Formula Renault cars
A Norwegian 1971 Porsche 911T 2.2 takes the flag 
After a while it gets a bit repetitive seeing each car leave the podium so off to see some other photo opportunities and then off to the Reims-Gueux circuit.
A BMW 2002 TI speeds through the streets of Reims on its way to Monaco
BMW 320 on its way to the first control point at the Reims Gueux circuit
Some cars such as this Norwegian entered Volvo 142S didn't get very far!
2015 was the first year where the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique had had a control by the restored pits at the old circuit of Reims Gueux.  Thus it was a must to visit there on my way out of Reims.  I first visited the old pits in 1970 which was shortly after the last race in 1969. For me it is always a special place to visit.   It was very dark by the time I arrived but I managed to take a few photos.

The rally cars speed by the old pits at the Reims-Gueux circuit
The first control point by the pits
A happy Citroen GS driver at the control point
Leaving the check point
Spectators packed the pits by the control point
1976 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 leaves the pits

Citroen CX 2400 GTI passes the empty stands
Alpine Renault A110 1300 races through the night
At this point I decided that perhaps it was rather too dark to take more pictures with my camera and I started the three hour journey back home.   This was a rather shorter drive than the rally drivers had in front of them.  They will have a tiring week ahead.  A former competitor in the rally was telling me the story over the weekend about how he had driven the event and qualified for the last day only to oversleep because he was so tired and missed the best stages over the Cols!   I wish better luck to this year's competitors.

Finally a few more pictures of cars that I saw during the day:

An all female crew and their very feminine looking 1969 Lancia Fulvia Zagato 1300
The Renault 12 of Alain Serpaggi, a French F3 champion in the early seventies.

Two Renault 16 TS (nos 16 & 18) parked next to the Renault 12 of Jean Ragnotti (No 1).  The car in the middle is that of Michel Leclere the single seater star of the early and mid seventies.  He was a F3 champion, a F2 winner and a Grand Prix driver but now drives for the Renault Classic team.
An event I might well do again another day.  If you are thinking of doing this in 2016 I hope this post gives you some idea of what you might see.  A great thing about an event like this is that it is free apart from your travel.  Well done to Reims and the Automobile Club de Monaco!

The photographer John Etherton asserts his copyright on the photographs on this blog post. However, you may republish them elsewhere on the web as long as you provide a link to this blogsite and reference the name of the blogsite and the photographer under the photo.