An Entertaining Evening
Old enough to have watched band leader Billy Cotton win the last race at Brooklands in his ERA before the war started, I remain fascinated with fast motor cars and the art of driving them. Brought up in Buckinghamshire from ‘39-‘45, cars were few and far between due to severe fuel rationing. As we had a small farm we had a petrol allowance and I learned to drive in a Vauxhall 25 in a field, as a sort of mobile sheepdog, rounding up the flock.
My first car was a 1931 Austin Tourer with a one off body, little in the way of brakes, no side screen on the passenger side, so not popular with the girl friend, and a performance figure of 0-50 in about two weeks. It cost me £60 and I think I sold it for £30 about two years later, thus giving me a useful lesson on how to lose money on cars. My father updated my driving arrangements with a 21st birthday present of a second hand Hillman Minx soft top, with which I began my motor sport career in minor navigational rallies. Later came the ex-Nancy Mitchell (European Ladies Rally Champion 1956) MGA in which I drove my first race, at Silverstone in 1959. Over the next four years, there followed the ex-Sid Hurrell Triumph TR3A and then a new TR4. Both TRs had to double up as my every day road car and weekend track car.
After buying the TR3A from Sid, I had a budget of £150. If that ran out my season was over. But somehow it didn’t and 20 races later I was still solvent but only just! In those far off days a set of Michelin X tyres cost £25 and the TR drivers used to pray for rain as we could then out fumble the AC Bristols which usually ran on Dunlop Racing. My principle target was Marque Racing (Austin-Healeys, AC Bristols, MGAs, Morgans, Triumphs, TVRs etc) around most of the English circuits, but Goodwood was always my favourite. One little excursion to the Italian GP in ’63 is worth a mention. The supporting race was for GT and Sports cars. With my flat mate Tony Flory I drove the TR4 down to Monza, raced it for three hours, picked up £85 in prize and start money for 2nd in class, headed back to London and was in the City on Tuesday morning – and £85 just about covered the expenses of the trip! Those really were the days! The only time I raced a Jaguar was as co-driver to John Sparrow in a 3.8 Mk ll saloon in a six hour race at Brands Hatch (retired, overheating) and a nine hour race at Nurburgring (3rd in class after a 45 min pit stop).
By this time Chris Lawrence was preparing the TR4 for racing and in association with John Sprinzel we planned the next season. The body of the TR4 was removed and a low lying aluminium body was designed by Chris Spender and Chris Lawrence and built by Williams & Pritchard who at that time were making the bodies for Team Lotus. The end result became the unique Triumph SLR (Sprinzel Lawrencetune Racing) and was displayed at the Racing car show in 1964. Reliability became a problem, but it was quick when it was on song. It still exists, owned by Tony Hall Griffin and usually driven by Steve Chapman in Historic Races, such as the Goodwood Revival meeting.
I then became part of a 4 man syndicate which acquired two of the ex-works Shelby Cobras in 1964 running them under the name of Radford Racing in the World GT Championship in ’65 at Monza, Oulton Park (Tourist Trophy), Spa and Nurburgring. Following my 8th place at the TT, I was honoured to be elected to the British Racing Drivers Club, achieving an ambition I had had as a small boy during the war, reading all the books on motor racing I could find.
In February ’67 my life changed dramatically when a job opportunity in Jersey came my way and so I swopped broking in London for a similar job in the beautiful Channel Island and a more peaceful existence for my wife Angela and myself. Up to this stage I had owned two Jaguars – a Sl E-type (bought from a fellow stockbroker) – which still exists in Essex and an old Mk Vlll saloon at a cost of £100 from Peter Jopp to tow the trailer for one of the Cobras. And then I met in Jersey a confirmed vintage and classic car nut – the late Mervyn Frankel who at one stage owned 6 vintage Bentleys. Instead of track racing (apart form three seasons of racing on St Ouen’s beach with a Lotus Elan), I caught the vintage/classic bug, when they were still cheap and “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” ruled supreme, rather than expensive concours rebuilds. Cars came and went over a number of years – including 2 XK 120s, a 150, SS100, Aston Martin DB2, 3 litre Bentley, 4 ¼ Derby Bentley, MG TD, MG PB. Alvis 16/95 Silver Eagle, Alvis 12/60, BMW 328, Rolls-Royce 20/25, Austin 7 and more….
When I retired at the end of 2000 I set about trying to find all the E-types in Jersey. The JDC only knew of about 10 at the time and of course more cars have been imported since but there are now 55 owned by Jersey residents, although a couple are kept overseas. As your representative in Jersey I keep the E-type Register in the island. The social and event side is now run very successfully by the admirable team of Chris and Andrea Le Boutillier. Chris is also a member of the XK Club and had just acquired a stunning XK140.
Finally I have had huge support from the family over the years for which I thank them heartily. Angela has spent more hours in the navigators seat on E-type tours than she cares or dares to remember, son Euan is in the finance business in Jersey and for fun runs a Vauxhall Nova in local stage rallies and daughter Annabel is currently living in Cape Town. Both are married with two children apiece and Annabel and family are expecting to return to Oxfordshire next year. Outside of cars my wife and I are still keen golfers although well past our sell-by dates in terms of performance and we love our three Birman cats.
Channel Islands, Jersey – Brittany Trip, April 23,
Eight cars took the 9am Condor ferry from Jersey to St Malo on a brilliantly sunny day to follow the Circuit Touristique along the Rance river; some of it rather narrow, but very picturesque in the Spring sunshine, writes Neil Dangerfield. A coffee halt was taken at the quiet little village of St Suliac, to the surprise of the local population.
Continuing along the route planned bt the enthusiastic Le Boutilliers brought us to the ancient Port of Dinan, before crossing the viaduc for an excellent and lengthy lunch. Monsieur Le Patron proudly stopped the traffic while the cars were parked in herringbone formation outside his restaurant. Some faster roads were included on our return to St Malo, but there still wasn’t time to visit Cancale before the 17:30 check-in at the port. Since then we have held The Liberation Run on May 10 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Jersey from German occupation at the end of the war. This time about 15 cars turned out, winding through Jersey lanes past points of German occupation interest to visit the Battery Lothringen, an enormous gun emplacement dug into the cliffe face at Noirmont to guard the South west of the island, now open to the public on special occasions. The vast barrel of the gun was thrown into the sea later in 1945. After all this excitement, a cream tea followed at the Poplars Tea room.
Tinsel Run, 2014
The sun shone, the sky was blue, a chilly wind, but a wonderful bright wintry day, and some 27 shiny & tinselled Jaguars met at Vinchelez de Haut Manor for the start of the The Tinsel Run. A special thank you to Helen & Gary Hamilton for opening up the Manor to us, a wonderful venue for our Christmas Meet. By way of a special thank you to Helen, I asked her to select a charity of her choice, to whom we could send our donation. A cheque will thus be winging its way to Autism Jersey. Thank you for your generosity.
It was especially nice to welcome Norma True, who will be 90 in February, and daughter Penny in her wonderful SS100, and several others who joined us for their first time.
After a very scenic drive, all the cars arrived safely at the home of Anne Forbes, for champagne and canapes. A special thank you as ever to Anne for opening up her wonderful house to us yet again, I think we should call it The Jaguar Clubhouse! and a special thank you to Gwenda, Mary, Gaile and of course Anne for providing the wonderful canapes. What a team!
All in all, a very enjoyable final event for the Jaguars in 2014. Hopefully more planned for 2015.
We have had some ideas, but if anyone would like to arrange, or host or contribute in any way to an event next year, please do not hesitate. This club only works well with your help and support.
2014 Aug 3 – Samares Manor, Jersey
Here is a photo of the 9 E-types + other Jaguars at the finish of a run last Sunday, August 3rd, from Samares Manor in Jersey via the east coast to the fabulous St John’s Manor, owned by John Dick.
Falcon keeper, Richard Hall, presented a free flying exhibition of three of his collection of birds of prey which are kept at the Manor. The three birds selected were a Barn Owl, a European Eagle Owl and a Harris Hawk. The latter pinched the straw hat from a spectator’s head.
Awesome, quite awesome – as are the gardens of St John’s Manor.
A picnic followed at E-type owners Judith and Ralph Genee’s property. I was not able to make this as my navigator, grand daughter Isla, was due to fly out of the island that afternoon, but rumour has it that it was a great success, if a trifle noisy towards the end!
Picture by Andrea Le Boutillier, one half of the splendid organising team with husband Chris.
Just to show that we (or at least Chris and Andrea) do put on the odd event from time to time in Jersey, even if they don’t always get reported to you.