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#1 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 March 2000 - 08:03

There are many stories of how some have struck troubles, had funny incidents or even tragedy en route to the races.
In Raymond Mays' BRM Story he mentions about being given details of a Bristol Airfreighter into which they had to pack their three 2.5-litre cars in a certain number of minutes for a trip to North Africa.
They made up jigs so the cars could sit atop one another etc, then found the plane was twice as big when it arrived and it was all a waste of time.
The classic story locally is probably of the crossing of the Nullarbor Plain by the Watson team for the 1951 Australian Grand Prix at Narrogin, about 110 miles south of Perth.
The tow cars included a 1937 Chev, the race cars were the Ballot Olds (a nice light thing built on a 1926 road-going Ballot chassis with a 6-cyl Olds engine) and an HRG. First trailers, then gear, tow cars and personnel were abandoned on the way across the desert. John Cummins hocked his shoes (true!) to buy petrol to complete the journey in the Ballot, ruining the gearbox on the way. A replacement was found under a bench at a cab depot - which was ironic: The Olds bits in the Ballot were unused spares purchased new by a taxi operator when he put an Olds into service in 1936.
Eldred Norman (that name again) gained his best ever placing in the AGP in a TR2 with a supercharger fitted. He brewed his own fuel, carting it from Adelaide to the Gold Coast for the race (1954, Southport, just across the creek from the present day Gold Coast Indy track, but 5.6 miles and all balls) in a trailer behind the TR2. During the war he had covered the same path with his bride in a Chev fitted with a gas producer. Spying a nicely burned out tree in a bushfire affected area, he cut out some extra fuel for the journey. Never hurts to carry an axe!
What other stories are there?

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#2 Keir

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Posted 04 March 2000 - 23:56

How about this?
When DG racing, (My Team), went to the various race tracks in the northeast USA.
We went in the relative comfort of a 1977 Honda Civic hatchback. All the racing kit (tires,fuel, etc.) was stored on the roof and the racecar was towed on an open trailer that was longer than the Honda. If we couldn't find lodging, we slept rough in the reclining seats. Bohemian as it was, we seldom complained, we were racing after all.
One incident that will ever be part of my memories was, when on a return trip, Dennis
and I were winding our way home when one of the trailer wheels decided to part company with the trailer. The next few moments were exciting to say the least, but Den was in control of the situation and brought us to a stop, as we watched the wheel pass us by.
Some of our fellow racers stopped to see if we were OK, but this being a holiday, getting the trailer fixed would be a problem. However, we decided to pick up the errant wheel and try to make it back to the track and find a welder.
On our way we stopped by an auto repair shop and luckily a welder was available. $20 later we were on our way again, just another page in the scrapbook.

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"I Was Born Ready"

[This message has been edited by Keir (edited 03-04-2000).]

#3 Joe Fan

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Posted 05 March 2000 - 01:04

One of the funniest stories I have ever heard was about Buddy Baker in a NASCAR race. Apparently, he had a big crash (I can't remember where but at a small 1/2 mile oval track) and he was banged up pretty good and had cracked some ribs. They got him out of the car and strapped him onto a gurney. Then loaded him up in the ambulance all the while the cars were circling the track under caution. When the ambulance started up the banking to leave the track (they didn't have tunnels that go under the track in those days except at Daytona), apparently someone forgot to latch the ambulance door properly and out rolled Buddy on the gurney back down across the track. He wasn't sure if the approaching traffic would see him or were paying attention so with all of his might (painful with cracked ribs) he raised his hand up to wave and get the attention of the oncoming traffic.

Edited by Joe Fan, 26 January 2013 - 21:42.


#4 Keir

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Posted 06 March 2000 - 21:08

Come on, lads,
There have to be more stories out there.

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"I Was Born Ready"

#5 BRG

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Posted 06 March 2000 - 22:38

Reading Keir’s post reminds me of an eventful journey to a rally in SW England. We set off with a Transit van towing a borrowed caravan, and a Volvo saloon towing the trailer with the rally car on it. We had hitched the van and caravan up in the dark and someone (errrrr, me?) forgot to remove the towball cover. Somehow the thing seemed to hitch up OK, but a couple of miles from home, the caravan came off. I was driving the van and saw with horror in the mirror the sight of the caravan disappearing into someone driveway. Mercifully, it was a slow narrow twisty bit of road and somehow the caravan didn’t hit anything at all, just rolled to a halt in this guy’s drive.

So we hitched it back on properly and set off again with sighs of relief. Ten miles on, just onto the motorway, one of the trailer wheels went walkabout, bounding past both rigs and down the embankment. We managed to retrieve it from the nettles (useful having work gloves sometimes) and refitted it with three nuts, one off each of the other wheels.

On we went, until, on the M4 motorway, we were gathering speed on a down gradient in Wiltshire when the Volvo and trailer, who were leading, hit the critical speed where the rig started to snake. With a ton or more of rally car and trailer, this quickly got pretty exciting. Paul, the driver, had a theory that you could "drive through" a snaking trailer incident by keeping your foot down (you can’t, by the way!!). So the rig was weaving more and more violently, with me watching from the van behind and wondering which bit of it I would hit. There was no other traffic, thank heavens, a rarity on the M4, and Paul was weaving from hard shoulder to the central barrier and back.

Somehow, he managed to get it slowed down and recovered control. When we checked, the car had come loose and had moved backwards slightly, upsetting the balance.

On the rally, a blown head gasket ended the run and we discovered that mixing hot radiator water with Shell Gemini (an early synthetic oil) resulted in a nasty gungy plastic muck that took days to clean out of the head and block.

All in all, a wonderful weekend…




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BRG

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#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 March 2000 - 07:43

Ah, those Transit vans -- I gave them a mention in the GT40 thread, so you know I l-o-o-ve them!

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#7 ZippyD

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 04:17

What Keir neglects to mention in the post above was the masterly, some may even say 'Fangio' like way I handled the car as the wheel flew off the trailer. If your not familiar with North West Connecticut, route 7 is a beautiful twisty, windy road. The kind of road that's great to take the Jag or Austin out for a weekend spin but not the type where you want to loose a wheel. Lots of trees, no shoulder, little room for error.
With a combination of brute force and subtle cajoling I brought the Civic and one wheeled trailer to a safe and reasonably gentle stop. After which I checked my pants for any 'accidents', got out of the car calmly, looked at the 35 foot long, 1 inch deep(about 10 meters, 25 millimeters for you metric types) gouge in the black top, light a cigarette and said "Phewwwwwww, what a ride!!!!"
It was also a good introduction of the life of a vagabond race team, 'up close and personal' for my future wife Suz. And she STILL married me. Quite the gal.


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"Pete, Do you sometimes get tired? Of the driving? Lately I have been getting tired. Very tired."



#8 Keir

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 06:42

In reply to Zippy's last post.
Yes, it was quite the masterful piece of driving. I think I will always like Sue for her reaction to the whole situation. If only there were more women like her out there!!!
Just another good page in the scrapbook.

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"I Was Born Ready"

[This message has been edited by Keir (edited 03-08-2000).]

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 09 March 2000 - 21:18

These might seem mild, but here goes -
I frequently set out after work Friday to hitch hike to either Melbourne or Brisbane for a race meeting (from Sydney). Melbourne was 560 miles - one time I got a good start and in only three rides I was at the highway and had two cars pulling up to give me a lift. Three more lifts down the road I was suggesting to a young lad in a Toyota Crown to take a shortcut. But at the end of the shortcut he stalled at a steep junction with the highway and flooded the beast.
"Clutch start it in reverse," I said. "Here, you jump in the driver's seat and do it," he offered. And then told me I could drive to Mittagong...
I ripped past a Holden just before Mittagong, just had time to write the name of a book our young friend should read down, got my finger out again and the Holden pulled up.
This was a car full of army lads who had come from Brisbane that morning - they'd been on the road 15 hours. Seeing that I had passed them, they tried to frighten my by driving progressively faster, but their weariness got to them and the slowed down again. Just before Yass, where I had decided it was best for me to leave them (they were turning off to Wagga just past Yass), a Dodge Phoenix (actually, to you blokes this would be a Dart - about 1965 model) roared past as we were back to only about 85 mph.
When I bailed out at the Yass service station the Dodge was there and I asked the passenger for a lift. He was just saying no when the driver came over and asked what I wanted. "A lift to Melbourne," I said. "Hop in!"
He sat on 105 mph all the way, touched the brakes but twice (that road was not as straight as it is now, those of my generation will recall) and backed off real early and coasted in to the slow bits. He owned a fleet of trucks and really knew the road.
I was in Melbourne in 9 hours and 20 minutes, better than most hot shoes ever drive it, and certainly better than you can do legally today. Barry will tell you that to drive it really hard in those days you would do it in eight hours (I did that once, Warwick Brown pulled a smoking Porsche up 60 miles short in five and a half...), but my trip was pretty good for all those lifts...
At the opposite end of the scale, for the Sandown Tasman in 1966 I booked on a bus. They overbooked it, so when I went to get on (which I delayed as long as possible stringing out time with a new girlfriend - later my wife) they said: "I'm sorry, Mr Bell, we've overbooked the bus - would you mind terribly if we flew you?" A couple more hours with her and my first ever trip in a plane - who was I to complain?

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Life and love are mixed with pain...

#10 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 10:20

10 years since the last post...............perhaps someone has found or been told other stories ?

Edited by Bjørn Kjer, 06 May 2010 - 10:21.


#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 13:32

I certainly hope so...

With racing circuits often at far flung corners of a country, there's always plenty of scope for humorous incidents. Especially on the way home, when many tend to be less clear in their thoughts than they were a day or two earlier.

#12 Graham Clayton

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 04:53

When Jack Brabham flew into Elmira Airport on route to the 1963 US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, there were no rental cars or taxis available to take him the 30-odd kilometres to the circuit. Brabham hitched a ride to the circuit complete with his personal luggage and racing gear.

#13 GMACKIE

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 06:02

Reminds me of an incident, not getting there, but getting home. It was 1963, and after racing the Beetle at Oran Park, we were on the way home, when [pit crew] John Arkwright's Wolseley 1500 broke a rear axle.

My Beetle was the only car in the group with enough 'grunt' to tow the Wolseley, so after scrounging a bit of rope, and selecting the best knot-tier, we had it all secured. The next problem was to find a competent driver for the Wolseley, as John had never steered a car being towed. Alf Bargwanna [pit crew] cautiously volunteered, and we worked out our plans for signalling, as it was now almost dark. Alf would do most of the braking, and I would try to keep the rope tight, and if there was a problem Alf would 'flash' the headlights onto high beam. All worked out, so we left Leppington and headed for Cronulla.

Everything went well, and I kept the [short] rope tight on the Heathcote Road, even if it meant getting up to more than 70 MPH. No sign of high beam, so all is well.

When we arrived at John's house, I hopped out and, feeling quite pleased with the effort, walked back to the Wolseley. The two blokes [Alf, driver and John, passenger] in the front were as white as sheets, and I asked what the problem was.

Evidently the Wolseley ran out of brakes very early, and the battery went flat....that's why I didn't see the headlights when Alf was frantically flashing them. Even the horn wouldn't work on the low voltage.

Alf still hasn't forgiven me for that experience! :blush:

#14 275 GTB-4

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 08:02

Reminds me of an incident, not getting there, but getting home. It was 1963, and after racing the Beetle at Oran Park, we were on the way home, when [pit crew] John Arkwright's Wolseley 1500 broke a rear axle.

My Beetle was the only car in the group with enough 'grunt' to tow the Wolseley, so after scrounging a bit of rope, and selecting the best knot-tier, we had it all secured. The next problem was to find a competent driver for the Wolseley, as John had never steered a car being towed. Alf Bargwanna [pit crew] cautiously volunteered, and we worked out our plans for signalling, as it was now almost dark. Alf would do most of the braking, and I would try to keep the rope tight, and if there was a problem Alf would 'flash' the headlights onto high beam. All worked out, so we left Leppington and headed for Cronulla.

Everything went well, and I kept the [short] rope tight on the Heathcote Road, even if it meant getting up to more than 70 MPH. No sign of high beam, so all is well.

When we arrived at John's house, I hopped out and, feeling quite pleased with the effort, walked back to the Wolseley. The two blokes [Alf, driver and John, passenger] in the front were as white as sheets, and I asked what the problem was.

Evidently the Wolseley ran out of brakes very early, and the battery went flat....that's why I didn't see the headlights when Alf was frantically flashing them. Even the horn wouldn't work on the low voltage.

Alf still hasn't forgiven me for that experience! :blush:


Jayzus!! You must have really kept the boot in it down Deadman's Hill (we used to hit about 40-50 MPH down that on our pushbikes!) :smoking:

#15 GMACKIE

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 08:19

Jayzus!! You must have really kept the boot in it down Deadman's Hill (we used to hit about 40-50 MPH down that on our pushbikes!) :smoking:

That's where the Wolseley ran out of brakes.

#16 arttidesco

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 08:53

Two that stick in my mind BRM's commedy of errors with the new P207 was so big the box it was packed in did not fit in the plane and IIRC this meant they missed the 1977 Argentinian GP, when it got to Brazil poor Larry Perkins has miles of pace anyway.

The other is more recent (2009 ?) when McLaren were launching their new effwun challenger a couple of year ago the car was to big for the lift at McLaren towers and so parts of the car had to be removed and taken down the lift separately and the car reassembled for presentation.



#17 Emery0323

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:08

Here is an appropriate anecdote, since this is the Daytona 24hrs weekend.

Back in 1969, the Roger Penske Team's Daytona 24Hr-winning Lola T70 was stolen, along with the transporter carrying it and everything else inside, when a couple of team members were returning the car to their shops in Pennsylvania after the Sebring 12 Hour race.

The car had been stripped. Eventually, everything was recovered, but due to the disruption of the Penske team's endurance racing efforts, the Daytona 24hr winner did not enter LeMans that year:

http://bangshift.com...a-t70-mk3b.html

Mark Donohue talks about the incident in his autobiography, "The Unfair Advantage". The Lola T70 was recovered and eventually restored to race trim, and it's made appearances at vintage racing events in recent years.


Also in 1970, there was an incident where the Shadow Can-Am team's transporter crashed on the way to (or from?) one of the races and the car was badly damaged. They had to build another car to be ready for the Mid-Ohio Can-Am race.

#18 Stephen W

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:05

Several years back I was travelling to Durris hillclimb up near Stonehaven and I was following a chap towing a saloon behind a transit van. As we swept through a series of bends the trailer suddenly made a bid for freedom going straight on as the Transit turned right over a bridge. The saloon car was quiet badly damaged and the fault was traced to the Transit as the tow bracket was still hooked up to the trailer!

A couple of years later I was heading away from Loton Park when the chap in front who was towing a single seater suddenly was overtaken by his trailer! It hadn't been hooked up properly but in this instance it came to a halt undamaged on the grass verge - luckily there was no-one coming in the opposite direction.

The funniest story I heard was of a particular chap who enjoyed the odd tipple or three. Friday he loaded up his clubmans race car into his trailer which was attached to his towcar then popped in for a glass of wine with his evening meal. In the morning he jumped into the towcar and drove the short distance to the event (Shelsley Walsh). Upon inspection there was no car in the trailer and he was about to phone the police to report it stolen when his wife rang from home to ask why was his race car parked in the driveway! Apparently in his haste to get to the vino he hadn't tied the race car down or properly closed the tailgate of the trailer. So a quick trip home and having loaded it up properly this time he arrived back in the paddock rather red-faced.



#19 group7

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 15:10

a good friend of mine who ran a audi quattro in slalom events here in ontario canada, was returning from a long weekend of racing, flat towing the quattro behind his truck. his young son was with him, at some point the son said to his father, dad there's a red audi just like ours passing us ! he had not hooked up properly and the car broke loose. luckily the car ran into the ditch with minimal damage.

mike in canada