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Was Barry Lee an all-rounder?


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#1 f1steveuk

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 09:22

I was in a "heated debate" with a chum yesterday, as he refused to accept that both Tony Pond, but more especially Barry Lee, were anythiny other than competent racers, "in their own field".

I recall Mr Lee was World Champion in Hot Rods, but also was pretty handy in rally cross, and heard that he set some pretty good times in circuit cars, and even a couple of runs in drag cars.

So was Barry Lee "competent in his own field"?

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#2 PMac

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 10:07

I remember being dazzled by Barry Lee as a kid at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich, when he was the benchmark driver of his era. He was particularly good in the wet, around the outside. Add to that a huge personality, his ability to work the crowd, his immaculate (Burton Performance Centre) vehicles, and strong media presence, and he was a very big fish in a small sea.

He had come out of speedway, where, by all accounts, he was a top-drawer rider. He retired after a fatal accident for which he was not to blame (he struck a fallen rider) and took part in rallycross and hot rods. It was in the latter formula that he excelled, but he was by no means a slouch at rallycross. I understand his Dealer Opel Team Kadette in the mid- to late-70s wasn't the ideal off-road vehicle, at a time when Escorts and Minis were ruling the roost.

He also tried his hand at saloon car racing, and I remember being disappointed that such a superstar (in my eyes) didn't dominate in the way I had expected him to. Again, he was a highly competent competitor in vehicles that were perhaps not quite from the top drawer. I last heard of him racing those big silhouette saloons whose name escapes me - Eurocar??- several years ago, to reasonable effect.

I was lucky enough to share a drink with him at the Metropole Hotel bar during a mid-90s Autosport Show, and we reminisced about Foxhall and the good times. He was flattered that a fan had come up to him. I remember shaking like a leaf. I telephoned my mum straight away. Autosport hack, and friend, Andy Hallbery was also there, and I remember him being equally enthralled at meeting the Big Man.

In summary, top bloke, showman, a gifted driver, but never quite made a successful transition to circuit racing.

#3 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 10:31

Wasn't Barry also European Rallycross Champion in the early 70s prior to moving to Hot Rods? He was also BTRDA champion in 1978.
I think he also won several fairly important rallies in his time and I remember him and Alex Hawkridge battling it out In Caterhams in the days just before the series switched to Vauxhall engines (I think Lee and Hawkridge ran BDA's). The car control Barry displayed verged on showboating - it was superb. I have some video of it hidden away somewhere and the crowd reaction is audible above the cars themselves.
Definately one of the great all-rounders and no mistake.

#4 rx-guru

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 11:55

Originally posted by simonlewisbooks
Wasn't Barry also European Rallycross Champion in the early 70s prior to moving to Hot Rods?


Nope, the 1973 Embassy European Rallycross Champion was Scotsman John Taylor (Ford Escort RS1600), the later rally driver and Ford Motorsport ambassador for Boreham. The first three (1973, 1974 and 1975) ERCs were not fully recognised but carefully watched by the FIA. The first true FIA European RX champion was Franz Wurz (Lancia Stratos HF), the daddy of Alexander Wurz, in 1976.

AFAIK Barry Lee (nicknamed "Leapy" or "351") was in the end of the 1960s some kind of a works driver for Boreham in RX (and rallying?), competing with RS1600s and sometimes got his hands on those three or four 4WD Capris that had been built for Roger Clark and his brother Stan Clark as well as Rod Chapman. In the late 1970s he drove a black 2.0 litre RS1800 of the Burton Performance Centre as well as a 2.6 litre Opel Kadett Coupé of the DOT in RX. IIRC he became also a four times World Hot Rod Champion. I am not aware about his rallying results, but I think he was quite successful in that field as well. A great all-rounder for sure and somewhat charismatic.

#5 Stephen W

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 11:58

Last time I saw Barry Lee he was definately an ALL-ROUNDER having put on a few pounds! I was returning from Ulster and bumped into him at Belfast International. We had a nice chat about Rallycross, motorsport in Ulster and the MSA. A really funny bloke and great company, he made the time sitting and waiting for the flight zip by.

:)

#6 RS2000

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 13:41

He did a number of "home International" rallies in the early 70s in a Clark and Simpson (David Sutton) "works replica" Escort in which he could justifiably be said to have been "best of the rest" after Roger Clark's works car. That's not to say he had the rally talent of someone like Chris Sclater at the time but he was undeniably close to Mike Hibbert in another C&S car.
Most oval fans outside Essex would claim George Polley was the better Hot Rod driver - but these days even he admits his underdog image (Anglia against Escort etc) compared to Barry Lee's operation was more for the show than any massive difference in machinery. Like any oval series, car set-up is everything and neither would have been anywhere without the best around?
In autocross (prior to rallycross) I only saw him in the best 1300 (works-loaned?) Escort (photo).
I'm best qualified to comment on his rallying and he was "thereabouts" as good as anyone in the UK at the time and with less experience. Those of us who felt "who's this posturing poseur from oval racing" when he first rallied soon changed our minds. If he'd kept at it in a good Escort and not been sidetracked into Datsun drives, who knows?

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#7 rx-guru

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 13:54

http://rallybase.mot...99&d=1228485285
© by rx-guru

RAC Rally 1983: The one with the blue jacket pushing te Mikkola quattro is Barry Lee. He was at the spot (IIRC Knowsley Safari Park) with his camera crew in 1983, when Hannu lost a wheel.

PS: Wonder why there is just a link instead of the pic…

#8 RS2000

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 14:07

Can't make link work but presumably it's of the 1983 RAC report shown on TV, made by Barry Hinchcliffe Productions. Barry Lee was I think acting as "spotter" for one of the BHP film crews, getting them to the right place etc. It was pretty sensationally lucky they were in just the right place to catch the most famous incident of the event!

#9 rx-guru

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 14:23

Originally posted by RS2000
Can't make link work but presumably it's of the 1983 RAC report shown on TV, made by Barry Hinchcliffe Productions. Barry Lee was I think acting as "spotter" for one of the BHP film crews, getting them to the right place etc. It was pretty sensationally lucky they were in just the right place to catch the most famous incident of the event!


I was also lucky to have been there as well. I took about two dozen pics, the one behind the link is just one of them. But I cannot find all my slides with Arne Hertz still sitting on top of the right hand side quattro tail while Hannu Mikkola is "limping" away pretty fast… :(

#10 kevthedrummer

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 14:55

Barry Lee was my childhood racing hero. I saw him racing many times at Cowdenbeath. I still rate some of the short circuit racers as the best I have seen. The speed and precision required to work your way through the field in such tight confines was considerable. For those unfamiliar with short circuit racing, drivers were graded, with the slowest guys at the front and the fastest at the back. There were several groups in between, with different roof colours making it easy for the crowd to see who was making progress and who wasn't. I've still got a Barry Lee hat somewhere. I spoke to him at Goodwood last year and he is still pretty involved in short circuit racing.
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#11 Gav Astill

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 18:07

He is quite possibly the only person to race a Rolls-Royce on a short oval .....

http://keithduke.fot.../p51295489.html

#12 PMac

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 18:14

Originally posted by Gav Astill
He is quite possibly the only person to race a Rolls-Royce on a short oval .....

http://keithduke.fot.../p51295489.html


Possibly not...
http://members.tripo...art/rollers.htm

#13 MCS

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 18:14

Definitely not. I was chatting to some chap from the Southampton area on a Cross Channel ferry before Christmas who was telling me that he did Banger racing in Belgium - in a Rolls !!!

What style!

#14 Rob Ryder

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 19:31

The last time I saw Barry was at the FIA-GT meeting at Donington in 2003 or 2004. Barry was driving the Safety/Medical car which was parked at the end of the pitlane.

I was admiring one if the Ferrari 575s (which happened to be blocking the pit access) with my young grandson when Barry wandered up, winked, and said to my grandson "You can't leave that here.. get in and move it back to the paddock". :lol:

The look on my grandson's face was a picture....

Nice touch from a great bloke. :up:

Rob

#15 Gav Astill

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 20:45

Originally posted by PMac


Possibly not...
http://members.tripo...art/rollers.htm

Blimey! - I blame the credit crunch

#16 Tim Wilkinson

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 21:46

He was racing trucks in '92, but I have no idea for how long or with how much success. He was on the front row at Brands in June, but failed to finish, according to my programme, which also mentions him being on the pace at previous meetings.

#17 f1steveuk

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 14:07

There was a rumour at one time that he had tried, quite succesfully, an F3 car at Brands, and set some very respectable times, but I have never been able to find out any more about it.

#18 Hezza

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 17:22

Barry had a few outings in a Lotus 51 Formula Ford car in 1969 but I'm not sure about F3. I seem to remember him driving a Chevy Camaro in the late '70s in the original ASCAR series, too. He also had three stabs at the Paris-Dakar. And before cars (and trucks), he was pretty handy on two wheels...

#19 f1steveuk

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 17:39

Originally posted by Hezza
Barry had a few outings in a Lotus 51 Formula Ford car in 1969 but I'm not sure about F3. I seem to remember him driving a Chevy Camaro in the late '70s in the original ASCAR series, too. He also had three stabs at the Paris-Dakar. And before cars (and trucks), he was pretty handy on two wheels...



That's pretty "all-round"!!!

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#20 rx-guru

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 20:02

I know that Ford has send a couple of their drivers in 1969 (on request of Ford Italy) to Italy to take part in a demo off-road event, and one of them was young Barry Lee. But I was not able to find out so far if it was a Rallycross or rather an Autocross event. It would be very interesting for me to know the date and venue as well as what kind of race it was, since so far the RX world is certain that the Dutch in 1969 were the first who imported RX from the UK to the continent (to a military base near the town of Venlo).

#21 ESSEXBOY

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 20:31

:wave:
bit off topic....
Barry Lee was a neighbour of my schoolfriend circa 1971/72

as nosey schoolkids we used to scope out his tasty Escorts etc outside his house at Rush Green,Romford :cool: :cool:

He was world famous in Essex :wave:

#22 Nephew

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 03:50

Thanks to Everyone for a trip down memory lane i am his nephew my story goes back to watching him at Hackney in speedway and then in the Anglia in autocross followed by rallycross with some occasional forays into Rallying mostly as a privateer with some backing from Boreham and for a brief time a works driver. then came the move to speedworth Hot rod racing over the years all sorts of people would show up at coventry service station where Barry's Cars where prepared i believe he was the first person to race a ford escort mk1 and Mk 2 and he had the shells there with a big curtain around them as the cars had not been realised to the public yet Someone will correct me i am sure. but he was players no 6 champion autocross British rallycroos champion Europeen rallycross champion world Hot rod Champion 4 times ( only England and denmark showed up but still a qaulity Field Barry if your reading) British Truck Racing Champion. and i think he won in Brazil he had a formula ford for about 2 Races and said that it frightened the living daylights out of him. Eurocar Champion he has raced caterhams he mad a foray into salon cars and had a problem with engine mangement that they couldnt fix and they where about to send it overseas to belgium to the guy who devolped it and he died. Barry you either loved or hated and of course it was exactly what spedworth wanted you had the polley fans another highly talented driver in the not so new Anglia with Lee in the imaculate Escort it was kind of like a David and goliath battle when in all honesty as the results show there was nothing in it . a friend of mine commented who was 10 years older than me at the time on the RAC Back in 1979 having seen Barry in his Hey day he said you would have mikolla and the likes all come through and then Barry in his privateer and he wasnt any slower. so in answer to the origanal blog you would definitley want him in your all round team. i would like to have seen him at the race of champions back in his hey day.


#23 Kevan

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 11:31

There was a brief foray into the BTCC in 1984 with an Escort RS1600i- IIRC it was pretty unreliable and didn't bring much in the way of results. A couple of 1985 outings weren't much better, and I don't think he appeared again with the car.

http://www.mkpics.sm...6451_mouV7-A-LB

Some more from the 1984 HotRod world championship:

http://www.mkpics.sm...3#5696486_nGNC7


Edited by Kevan, 13 March 2011 - 11:39.


#24 delta44

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 12:00

He shared a Austin 95 with John Young at Goodwood a couple of years back. We had our Westminster parked next to his team and Barry had us in hysterics all weekend.

#25 BRG

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 12:21

He did a number of "home International" rallies in the early 70s in a Clark and Simpson (David Sutton) "works replica" Escort in which he could justifiably be said to have been "best of the rest" after Roger Clark's works car. That's not to say he had the rally talent of someone like Chris Sclater at the time but he was undeniably close to Mike Hibbert in another C&S car.
Most oval fans outside Essex would claim George Polley was the better Hot Rod driver - but these days even he admits his underdog image (Anglia against Escort etc) compared to Barry Lee's operation was more for the show than any massive difference in machinery. Like any oval series, car set-up is everything and neither would have been anywhere without the best around?

I can't find the results, but I am sure that Lee came 2nd or 3rd o/a on the Welsh Rally in the 1970s, when it was a fairly important event internationally, so I reckon you are being a little sparing in your comments on his rallying ability.

Hot-rodders seemed to make decent rally drivers. George Polley (with whom I was quite friendly back then as he was an active member of Sutton and Cheam MC) tried his hand at local stage rallies and showed a lot of promise although he did not have the time or resources to go deeper into it. And he persuaded Duffy Collard to have a bash too, and he proved quick. His son, Rob, the BTCC racer, also usually turns out on the Tempest rally, which is his local event.

#26 f1steveuk

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 14:25

Thanks for the recent additions to my original question, it basically confirms what I was trying to impress upon my firend, Barry Lee, apart form being a top bloke, was very, very quick in quite a few different types of vehicles, and not just going "around in circles".

He kept me very entertained as a young motorsport follower!

#27 AbingdonST

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 16:46

I have not got it with me as I am at work but do have the 'Autosport', I think a 1969 RAC rally report edition on which front cover Barry Lee's Escort is pictured on the Silverstone stage if memory serves me right (so probably not, as it never has yet)

#28 Thundersport

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 18:18

He raced one of those Formula Zip single seater things in a one off at Brands about 5 years ago.

#29 bigears

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 20:39

He drove a Renault 5 Turbo race as part of the Amateur race at the 1986 Birmingham Superprix.

He finished 2nd and was credited the fastest lap of the Amateur race.

I would like to know more about his race though!

#30 ghinzani

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 00:29

Was Barry Lee an all-rounder? Is that rhyming slang.

#31 AbingdonST

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 19:12

Was Barry Lee an all-rounder? Is that rhyming slang.

What ? Quarter Pounder, no it can't be, unless he was a marketing tool of McD's

#32 ghinzani

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 03:00

What ? Quarter Pounder, no it can't be, unless he was a marketing tool of McD's


No, 'Utter Bounder'...

#33 petom

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 18:50

I can't find the results, but I am sure that Lee came 2nd or 3rd o/a on the Welsh Rally in the 1970s, when it was a fairly important event internationally, so I reckon you are being a little sparing in your comments on his rallying ability.

Hot-rodders seemed to make decent rally drivers. George Polley (with whom I was quite friendly back then as he was an active member of Sutton and Cheam MC) tried his hand at local stage rallies and showed a lot of promise although he did not have the time or resources to go deeper into it. And he persuaded Duffy Collard to have a bash too, and he proved quick. His son, Rob, the BTCC racer, also usually turns out on the Tempest rally, which is his local event.



You are quite right he started 10th in the Welsh International 1972 and finished 2nd behind Roger Clark who won the event. So he was definitely no slouch
Tom Bradley

#34 RS2000

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 20:37

I can't find the results, but I am sure that Lee came 2nd or 3rd o/a on the Welsh Rally in the 1970s, when it was a fairly important event internationally, so I reckon you are being a little sparing in your comments on his rallying ability.


Sparing??
I'm not sure what more complimentary comment I could have made about BL? - someone who was not full time into rallying. Mike Hibbert, the other Clark and Simpson regular driver, might feel aggrieved at me putting BL even on a par with him!
It's all a matter of who (and in what car) the competition was. That wasn't a period when the "home" UK Internatiionals were filled with Swedes and Finns and the Escort in "works" spec was already the totally dominant car. Much as we liked to think it was, the Welsh wasn't anything more than an extended UK "club" event then - but how we loved it. Clark was seriously unpopular with UK drivers for competing in the RAC Championship in a works car, despite what may be claimed now. You could argue Lee effectively "won" the Welsh by being "best of the rest". I certainly didn't trouble him on it (by about one hundred places...) in a 1300 Mini.

Lee (then in a Datsun) tried to help Airikkala get to the finish of the 76 RAC (which PA was leading - in the infamous Avon sponsored but Dunlop A2 using car) by pushing him on a road section. Probably not something too many of the professionals would have done for PA (who's popularity and regard among amateur rally drivers for his outspokeness was sometimes matched equally by a lack of friends in high places...). BL was certainly "one of the good guys" in all respects then.


#35 BRG

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 21:27

Sparing??
I'm not sure what more complimentary comment I could have made about BL? - someone who was not full time into rallying. Mike Hibbert, the other Clark and Simpson regular driver, might feel aggrieved at me putting BL even on a par with him!

I think it was the comparison with Hibbert that prompted that comment. But you obviously rate Hibbert more than I do.

#36 Nephew

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 06:43

I think it was the comparison with Hibbert that prompted that comment. But you obviously rate Hibbert more than I do.


i seem to recall Barry broke down with the finish line in sight whilst leading a major UK event it could have been the circuit of Ireland. and back then i believe you could push the car accross the finish line but alas it wasnt to be. anyone shed some light on that one. and who remembers the transit rallycross van which i had the pleasure of been driven in by the man himself, a bit of a publicity thing from Boreham.

#37 wrighty

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 12:43

i'm struggling to find pictures at the moment, but i seem to remember that Barry also raced stock cars in an invitational event (cars were built by Allan Barker and Frankie Wainman to an identical spec for promoter Stu Bamforth) at Odsal alongside Frankie, Smithy, Bill Batten and several others......i've watched Barry race hotrods, stock cars and Eurocars (at Mallory) 'live' and saloons and rallycross on tv.....wasn't he involved in the tv special meeting in Maestros or whatever it was too? the Grandstand Trophy was it?


a great driver (if a little wider than the average wideboy lol) and definitely a true all-rounder :up:

aha here's the Barry Lee career fanpage

ps - thanks for the post Nephew :wave: i'd forgotten all about the truck racing :) nice one.

Edited by wrighty, 07 May 2011 - 12:50.


#38 McTaff

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 20:34

I can't find the results, but I am sure that Lee came 2nd or 3rd o/a on the Welsh Rally in the 1970s, when it was a fairly important event internationally, so I reckon you are being a little sparing in your comments on his rallying ability.

Hot-rodders seemed to make decent rally drivers. George Polley (with whom I was quite friendly back then as he was an active member of Sutton and Cheam MC) tried his hand at local stage rallies and showed a lot of promise although he did not have the time or resources to go deeper into it. And he persuaded Duffy Collard to have a bash too, and he proved quick. His son, Rob, the BTCC racer, also usually turns out on the Tempest rally, which is his local event.


There is a piece written by Barry in our Welsh Rally book which was published last year, it's a very lively piece! All his Welsh Rally results are in there too. He was a very good driver without a doubt.