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#1 Michael Müller

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 09:16

As some of you may know, I’m currently involved in some reasearch about the early Ferrari monoposti, and besides the well-known greats of the period there is one name which comes across so often that in the meantime it is so familiar to me than that of a good friend – Peter N. “Pat” Whitehead. Some days ago I asked myself “what do you know about this man”, and surprisingly I came to the result – not much! A racing driver with an active career of nearly 25 years spanned over 3 decades, and barely nothing known? I have to admit that I even did not know how he looked like!

I searched my archive with little result, then I checked the standard websites most of us know and use, and was still disappointed. A full query across the whole web brought some additional information, but still astonishing litte for a man with an active career of nearly a quarter of a century. Is that the fate of a privateer? I decided to start this topic, but as a “starter” I put one of the photos I found (the other is a very small one of a really young Peter at Leif’s website, not counting the action pics where not much could be recognized) to the forum in order to check the knowledge of the rest of you. As expected, the reaction was not overwhelming.

Hereafter I’m trying to accumulate my actual kowledge:

Born on 12 Nov 1914 at Menstone / England, started racing at the age of 19 in 1934. Some sources report wealthy parents, others that he earned the money needed for racing by himself. Raced a Riley and an Alta before buying a new ERA (# R10B) in 1936, some respectable results (2nd and 3rd places) in British national events during 1936 and 1937.
Wins the Australian GP in 1938, and gains a 3rd place at the 1939 Nuffield Trophy.

Continued racing with mothballed R10B after the war, again some good results in 1946 and 1947. Badly hurt during a plane crash, no racing in 1948. Bought a new Ferrari 125 F1 (# 10C) early in 1949, which he raced extensively during 1949 and 1950 seasons, took the car even to South America for the 1949/50 Temporada. Won the Masaryk GP in 1949 in absence of the Alfa-Romeo and Ferrari works teams. The 1950 French GP at Reims he finished 3rd 3 laps behind the leading Alfas. At the end of 1950 he sold 10C and bought a new Ferrari, # 0114, again a supercharged 125 although the new 375 had already shown its superiority to the 125. Limited results in 1951, and from 1952 onwards 0114 could only be used for Formula Libre races. At the 1951 British GP he drove Vanderwell’s Thinwall Special No. 2, a car similar to his own Ferrari.

In 1951 his 8 years younger half-brother Graham made his debut with Peter’s old ERA, and for 1952 an Alta F2 was purchased and raced by both brothers, but also the Ferrari # 0114 was used sporadically in WC events, most probably with a tipo 166 2 litre engine.
The following year the Alta engine was installed into a Cooper T24 chassis, but in 1953 and 1954 - except the British home GPs - only non-WC and F2 races were entered.

Formula Libre racing in Europe was “out of fashion”, so Peter took the Ferrari #0114, meanwhile equipped with a 2 ltr supercharged engine, to New Zealand, where he retired in the 1st NZ GP in 1954, but gained a win at Christchurch. The car probably remained in New Zealand. Whitehead then bought a Ferrari Supersqualo with a 3 litre engine, which he entered for the New Zealand GPs 1955 and 1956, and with increased 3.5 litre engine also in 1957.

Already in 1950 Peter Whitehead had his first start at Le Mans together with John Marshall in a Jaguar XK120. A 15th place was not really notable, but the following year he gained victory together with Peter Walker in a works C Type. He was member of the Jaguar works team also 1952, 1953, and 1954, winning the Reims and Hyeres 12 hours, but changed to Cooper in 1955, when he raced a Jaguar-engined T38 together with brother Graham.
This sports car racing period is rather confusing, as I do not know whether Peter was really a works driver, there are other reports that he owned the cars, and only race management was provided by the factories – a similar arrangement probably he had with Ferrari for GP racing.
Both Whitehead brothers owned and raced a lot of different cars in this period, Jaguar C Type, Aston Martin DB3, DB3S, and DBR1, and also Ferrari 225S as well as a 750 Monza, making it extremely difficult to issue detailed logs.

In 1958 he was competing with his half-brother Graham in the Tour de France in a Jaguar 3.4-liter saloon. This plunged off a bridge at Lasalle while being driven by Graham and Peter was killed on 21 September 1958.

So, this is what I know about Peter Whitehead, of course most of the race results are available also, but I don’t consider them as really important, because I’m more interested to look at the person behind all these naked data. A lot of open questions, let me mention only a few of them.
Wealthy family, or own earned money, what is correct? If the first, what was the family business, and if the latter, how can a 19 year old lad get rich enough to finance his racing passion? Racing nearly 25 years as privateer with top machinery means really a lot of money must have been involved …!
What Riley did he race? David G. Styles book “Sporting Rileys” mention him only in the ERA chapter, although otherwise even the smallest events with Riley participation are mentioned.
What was his duty in WWII?
One of the main questions, what led him to Ferrari at a time where the standard privateer equipment was a Maserati? And what caused Enzo to sell him a brand new GP car which was (nearly) identical to the works cars? I should mention that this was unique, as Ferrari always sold “second hand” F1 machinery, only F2 cars could be purchased as new.
What was his exact agreement with Ferrari, as for some races the car had been entered by the SF? Who maintained and repaired the cars, did he had his own team?
Why was his second Ferrari again a 125, although the new 375 would have been the better choice? I believe the 125 guaranteed flexibility, because by swapping the engine it could be entered for F2, F1, and FL races, but don’t know whether this was in fact the reason. Was Enzo not ready to sell him again an actual car as he did 2 years earlier?
Why did he enter the Cooper-Alta only to minor events, and not for the complete world championship series?
What was his relation to the Scuderia Ambrosiana, as for some races they are shown as entrant?
And what was the reason that his half-brother Graham started racing only at the age 29, although Peter’s ERA was idle since 1949?
I can go on with numerous other questions, but stop here, because the mailing already is much longer than expected, may be even too long, so most people will skip it.

However, the main question still remains: why was he always privateer?? Did he never get a real chance from one of the big teams, or was it his own wish to be fully independent? And of course, how was be able to finance all this? Don’t believe that price money was able to cover costs, and considering his numerous attendances around the world, not much time could have been left for running a successful business.

Okay guys, it’s up to you now, any info about Peter Whitehead and his half-brother Graham is highly welcome.


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#2 fines

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 13:10

I have only ever seen him reported as a "wealthy businessman", don't know which business he was in. His was quite a typical career for an amateur, an accomplished driver with some exotic machinery, but of course he did not have the time to become a professional. Some other names spring to mind, most notably Louis Rosier, who was IMHO one of the most underrated drivers of all time.

#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 14:06

Quoting John Medley from his excellent book, 'Bathurst, the Cradle of Australian Motor Racing,' we have the following:
'Whitehead, a wealthy amateur from a Bradford wool industry family was in Australia to look at the family interests in this country, running the ERA at Bathurst, Rob Roy (hillclimb), Aspendale, 90-Mile Beach and the aborted Parramatta Park meeting, and surviving various encounters with the law.'
This latter comment would indicate that John has heard anecdotes about escapades worthy of some mention. He usually mentions these things late in the evening after race meetings, beer can delicately held in the right hand as the fire burns nearby, the story rolling off the tongue just after the last one had you in stitches and finishes with the lines: "And that reminds me of the time..."
It never ends!
The Ferrari mentioned was in fact sold to Dick Cobden, who did well to master its difficult handling and was running away with the 1954 AGP (Southport) when a lapped car got in the way and he spun.

#4 tombe

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 14:56

Some images of Whitehead's Ferrari here:
[http://www.sergent.com.au/1954.html]

BTW: Somebody from this forum involved in that site?

Tom Berge[p][Edited by tombe on 12-10-2000]

#5 David McKinney

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 15:59

He didn’t win the Mount Druitt 24hrs in 1954, Ray: the C-type was driven by Whitehead, Gaze and Alf Barrett but had problems of some sort. I think it was Mrs Anderson and Bill Pitt (and perhaps someone else as well) who won in an XK120 or XK140 coupé.
One car you have omitted from your list, MM, is the E-Type ERA, which Whitehead raced once or twice 1946/47. He was still racing the B-type on occasion as late as 1951.
Whether his V12 Ferraris were brand new or ex-works cars re-numbered I have no way of telling; it would certainly not surprise me if the latter were the case.
He raced three single-seater Ferraris in the Southern Hemisphere. The first was his second V12, with supercharged 2-litre engine, in New Zealand in 1954 and sold to Dick Cobden in Australia. In 1955 he raced a 625 with 750 engine in NZ, Australia and South Africa. This car was rebodied in ‘Argentina’ form back at the factory, and possibly fitted with an 850 engine, for the 1956 races in NZ and South Africa. This car was thought to have been sold to Argentina, but it seems its new owner was an English collector, who never did anything with it. Finally came the 850-engined Supersqualo in Australia at the end of 1956 and NZ at the beginning of 1957, and sold in the latter country.
Those were his last single-seater races, though he continued to compete in sportscar events.
He raced three sportscars in Australasia: the C-Type at Mt Druitt in 1954, the Mk2 Cooper-Jag at Ardmore in 1956, and a Ferrari Monza at Albert Park at the end of 1956.
English magazines usually described him as a farmer. Whether his family had land in Australia as well as in England, or whether they were in the wool importing business, I don’t know. Either way, the family clearly earned enough money to support his racing.
Whitehead was just one of hundreds of drivers at this time who raced strictly as amateurs, with no desire to become fulltime Grand Prix drivers. His business interests would have taken priority in terms of time and he would often choose to race at a meeting where he could use two or three cars rather than just one. In any case, in this period only outstanding foreigners such as Fangio, Gonzalez or Hawthorn were invited to join the Italian factory teams - there were any number of Italian drivers available to them then.
Scuderia Ambrosiana was a private Italian team formed before the war, and often closely associated with the Maserati factory. They ran the official team in 1948, for example. I believe that when Reg Parnell bought a new Maserati that year it was entered under the Scuderia Ambrosiana banner so the authorities would regard it as Italian-owned, and therefore not charge customs duty on it. The same applied to other British Maserati owners, and no doubt to Whitehead’s Ferraris as well.
I have Graham’s first race as the September 1948 Goodwood meeting, in the B-Type ERA. He may have raced the car in 1949 as well, and certainly did in 1950 and 1951, before moving on to a C-Type for 1952/54. He also raced Peter’s F2 Alta in 1952 and a Cooper-Bristol in 1953, but concentrated on sportscar events after that. His last single-seater drive seems to have been in a borrowed A-Type Connaught at Castle Combe in October 1955.


#6 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 18:51

I can't recall where I read it but there was a question in a quiz that asked for the British drivers who had driven works Ferraris. Peter Whitehead's name was in the answer.
In Steve Small's Grand Prix Who's Who, Whitehead's entrant for the 1951 Swiss GP is listed as Scuderia Ferrari.
Was this a works drive?

#7 Roger Clark

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 19:46

Originally posted by Milan Fistonic
I can't recall where I read it but there was a question in a quiz that asked for the British drivers who had driven works Ferraris. Peter Whitehead's name was in the answer.
In Steve Small's Grand Prix Who's Who, Whitehead's entrant for the 1951 Swiss GP is listed as Scuderia Ferrari.
Was this a works drive?



Paul Sheldon also has him in a works entry but contemporary Motor Sport, Autosport and Autocourse make no mention of it. All are agreed it was his usual 1.5litre s/c car.

#8 jarama

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 21:34

The book "Ferrari", by Hans Tanner and Doug Nye, in his Appendix 5, Ferrari Team Drivers 1948-1983 don't mentions Peter Whitehead amongst the 60 drivers listed.

#9 Ray Bell

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 22:17

A clear answer to the question of Whitehead's monetary sources would come from Gib Barrett, who is still alive and well in Melbourne. He would surely have known him quite well, considering that he was at Bathurst and at least Aspendale in 1938, and would have been there with them as his brother joined in in the C-type at Mt Druitt. Don't know where I got the idea they won, by the way, nor where I got the idea that Graham was with him!
I spoke to Gib at length a few weeks ago, so I may make a point of chasing this information up some other time.

#10 David McKinney

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Posted 10 December 2000 - 22:26

We're straining the memory a bit here, but I think the C-type led that Mt Druitt race most of the way - it would certainly have been the fastest car in the race.
I'm not one to pick an argument with people who should know better than me, but I thought Julian StQ Barrett was a cousin or nephew of Alf?

#11 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 11 December 2000 - 02:50

From C type Jaguar Specification and world listing in Jaguar Quarterly Nov/Dec 1991.

XKC 039. E1040. K1039
April 21, '53. Henlys. Dark green. RKX 991

Virtually direct sale to Peter Whitehead whose brother Graham drove twice, 1st at Goodwood and 6th at Silverstone International. Whitehead and Tom Cole shared to win the Hyeres 12-hour. Whitehead 6th at Lisbon, retired at Pescara with Hamilton co-driving. Retired after leading Mount Druitt, NSW, 24-hour race with Gaze co-driving. Sold to Jack Tutton. Later owners include David Young and J.G. Forsyth. South Island (NZ) Jaguar distributors Ian and Ray Archibald bought car for show and historic racing in 1966.
Current owner Peter Agg, UK



#12 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 11 December 2000 - 03:05

David
I've just found a report on the 24-hour race and you are correct about the winning car. It was a Jaguar XK120 Coupe driven by Mrs Doris Anderson, Bill Pitt and Charles Swinburne.

The race was run from 2pm on Sunday, 31st January to 2pm on the Monday.

It is a very strange report as it does not mention the drivers of the C-type apart from a photo of Whitehead handing over to Gaze and then later this about the car's retirement.

A hush fell over the crowd as the XK120C pulled in with the rear suspension locating link broken. At that time, Alf Barrett, well-known maestro of Australian motor racing, was at the wheel. He said that the car was hitting poy holes at over 100 mph.
At 11.30 pm the link was welded and the car was again on its way. Two hours later the "C type" was again out with a broken radius rod.

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 December 2000 - 03:31

Pot holes at Mt Druitt? Somebody's exaggerating here...

Not until 1957, when Belf Jones went round the whole circuit weaving from side to side with a plow....

#14 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 11 December 2000 - 07:21

Ray

The report, which is from Motor Manual's Australian Motor Racing Year Book No 4, most definitely mentions pot holes - more than once. The XK120 Coupe had to pit at 9.25 pm with carburettor trouble. Due to the engine rocking on its mounts when hitting the bad pot holes appearing on the track, a jet adjusting nut had snapped off one of the S.U. carburettors.
An Aston Martin retired with a cracked timing case and "shot" engine mounts. A Holden pitted just after dawn with a broken rear spring.

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 December 2000 - 07:35

My comment was facetious, I recognise that that surface would have broken up in such a race. Sorry, I don't take the trouble to use smileys...:blush:

Regarding the sergent site, his name is Bruce Sergent, he is an expatriate Kiwi living in Sydney, and if he posts on this forum he's kept it a secret.
He's done a great job with the site, which covers NZ racing and the Tasman races in both Australia and New Zealand.[p][Edited by Ray Bell on 12-11-2000]

#16 oldtimer

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Posted 11 December 2000 - 19:57

Back to the question of wealth. I don't have any information, but would make the comment that the Whiteheads must have had a lot of 'pull' in important places to import the Ferrari. There were severe currency restrictions in Britain at the time. Tony Vandervell imported his Ferraris under the guise of industrial research.

That sort of 'pull' normally sprang good connections, which were usually attendant with wealth in Britain at that time.

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 11 December 2000 - 21:22

Regarding my earlier post and John Medley's comment on Whitehead having brushed with the law, I made the mistake of ringing John to establish what it was about.
He told me it was Whitehead's shenanigans that got Alan Sinclair (another Brit racing in Australia at the time) locked up at Bathurst for a day or so.
Why a mistake? Well, my phone bill blows out when I ring this master of the funny story...
Is it now time to start a thread about Sinclair?

#18 Michael Müller

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Posted 13 December 2000 - 14:22

Ehh ..., nothing really important to say, but would like to bring this thread "back to sight", and may be also I finally get rid of the "junior" term, which was caused by changing login to full name.

Hmm, does not work! Thought 20 is the magic number, anybody knowing the hurdle to get back full membership??

#19 Egon Thurner

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Posted 13 December 2000 - 14:59

Michael, for I know, how old you are, you ARE a junior HERE, believe me!

And to the Wealth of Peter Whitehead. He really was wealthy. He earned a lot of money producing sheep wool on his large farm. I have more info, but not with me. Will it post next days.

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#20 Egon Thurner

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Posted 14 December 2000 - 10:01

Michael, I just mailed you an article, written by Cyril Posthumus. Too lazy to type the whole stuff.

#21 Michael Müller

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Posted 14 December 2000 - 11:00

David, correct, the ERA-E was unknown to me. I know that he raced the old B-type # R10B still in 1947, and Graham even in 1951, so owning an "E" and racing a "B" was somewhat paradox of course.

Egon Thurner and myself had been (and still are) quite busy with these early Ferrari monoposti, and especially Whitehead's first one (# 10C) was always a miracle, because he raced it already at San Remo in April 1949, whereas the works cars # 08C and # 12C had been reported for first appearance only 3 months later at the Swiss GP. Meanwhile we can prove that at least one works car was also entered already as early as San Remo.
It is also proven that Whitehead's # 10C really was a brand new car, although having another rear axle than the works cars, but which has been upgraded later that year.
His second Ferrari, # 114, possibly was a renumbered and rebodied works car, however, only potential chassis was Villoresi's Geneva crash car, and if they used these remains, the result more or less could be considered as new.

Milan, Whitehead definitively was a privateer. As I said, for some races the entries came from the Scuderia Ferrari, but I believe this can be considered as a kind of service only.

Oldtimer, you are correct, Vanderwell used some trick to import the Thinwall Specials to Britain. However, as far I'm informed such import was not prohibited in general, but due to extremely high import taxes. Whitehead raced # 10C and # 0114 in Britain under his own entry, so it is obvious that the cars formally had been imported. If the info about his wealthiness is correct, he didn't care about such minor details like 100 % import duty.

Egon, as far I know you are still a few years younger than me.
Thanks for the Cyril Posthumus biography, I placed the file on our server, for those interested can have a look here
http://home-3.worldo.....ad, Peter.jpg

However, I finally have to accept that really not much is known about Peter Neild Whitehead, depite his long and - for a privateer - rather successful career in international racing. Even in this forum, where some people obviously own the old diaries of some drivers, and others know exactly the number of threads of the cylinder head bolts of certain race engines, Peter seems to be a kind of alien. Maybe one day I will try to change this.


#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 14 December 2000 - 12:11

When I get a chance, Michael, I'll see if I can spend a bit of time with Gib Barrett and maybe get a bit more detail... like where they had property in Australia and probably some detail of the business overall.
These people, the wealthy amateurs, stuck together and discussed business as well as racing, and the Barretts had some nice interests of their own... I'm sure there'll be something there, or he'll be able to tell me where to go.
Shame, really, I wanted to talk to Peter Dale, but he died aged 91 or 92 a few months ago, he spent half a year in England and half in Australia in latter years, started in racing about 1934... he would have known something too.

#23 Barry Lake

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Posted 27 December 2000 - 12:15

Originally posted by Ray Bell
The Ferrari mentioned was in fact sold to Dick Cobden, who did well to master its difficult handling and was running away with the 1954 AGP (Southport) when a lapped car got in the way and he spun.


To avoid any distortion of history on Atlas F1, I provide the following notes from the 1954 Australian Grand Prix:

At the end of lap one the order was Stan Jones, Lex Davison, Jack Brabham, Dick Cobden.
Cobden inherited third when Brabham blew up on lap 2.
From lap six onwards, Cobden began to close on Davison.
On lap 10 he set the fastest lap of the race and passed Davison but was still 26 seconds behind Jones.
The following lap Cobden spun off while passing Snow Sefton’s Mercury Special.
Jones was still well in the lead at that time, but crashed on lap 14, leaving Davison to go on and win the race.


#24 Ray Bell

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Posted 03 January 2001 - 07:28

Sorry to put you to that trouble, Barry... By the way, is there any real evidence that Sefton was Ford-powered in that race... that car received a Cadillac engine at some time?

#25 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 18:33

Peter Whitehead aquired a Maserati 300S for 1956 and did indeed do some British sports car races. Has this car been mentioned on this thread ? I believe I read all here , but seniormoments ! Does anyone know more about this car ?

#26 Gil Bouffard

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 22:15

Either I've been sleeping or something. Through out this long thread about Peter Whitehead I see no reference to the "famed," Aston Martin DB3S, 62 EMU that he and Graham raced at Le Mans.
The brothers Whitehead are seen often in the video collection, "A Gentleman's Diary of Motor Racing."

Gil Bouffard
www.fastlinesinternational.com

#27 Lola5000

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 22:18

Originally posted by Bjørn Kjer
Peter Whitehead aquired a Maserati 300S for 1956 and did indeed do some British sports car races. Has this car been mentioned on this thread ? I believe I read all here , but seniormoments ! Does anyone know more about this car ?

Yes #3064 bought new in April '56 painted green.Sold in May '57.car never ran well due to suspension failures,thought is he bought the car due to a fallout with Ferrari. reference Walter Baumer "The Maserati 300S"

#28 terry mcgrath

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 01:53

Peter Whitehead
now there is subject that interests me
I have a lot of info on Whitehead including probably every pic there is of him racing in Australia in the ERA and luckily his autograph on one.
You would have to say it was family money
He came to Australia in the 1938 I believe on family business - to source wool?
I have seen a mention that the ERA was locked up somthing to do with driving it from Sydney to melbourne
The C type rear suspension certainly broke at Mount Druitt and the XK120 chassis no S669015 of mrs geordie Anderson had a float bowl crack/break from hitting the steering column (this is only a problem on a RHD car) the story goes and that a part was sourced from a spectators car who has been identified.
He purchased an XK120 roadster 660146 that finished up with jumbo goddard and later went on to have one of the early 120 fixed head coupes.
He purchased an XK150 fixed head coupe chassis no S824021 from Jaguar cars in August 1957 that was specially built in the experimental dept of Jaguar for him and is noted in the Jaguar records as "XK150 tour de france" "prototype triple carburettors" He ran this car in the 1957 Tour de France - they were 14th behind a stack of ferraris until they retired with brake problems (the old round pad dunlop disc brakes) the car was upgraded to the later quick change square pad dunlop brakes when they were annouced on the 150"S"
The reason he entered this rally was that he noted he was a contracted driver for Shell Mex the sponsors of the event who asked him to enter.
He drove this XK150 to Lemans in 1958 to drive the Aston
He ran a Jaguar MK1 in the Tour de France in 1958 and whilst Graham was driving they crashed and peter was killed

I have a letter from lofty England (jaguar) to him querying his age
I have his obituries from the english papers and certainly his assets wern't huge and maybe a lot was in the company
Lofty England noted that he thought Peter Whithead had some connection with the town of Chafont St Peters west just north west of Heathrow

You could actually write a book on his exploits in England Europe Australia and NZ

Edited by terry mcgrath, 01 October 2011 - 02:13.


#29 terry mcgrath

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 01:55

PS I forgot to mention that I am the lucky owner of his XK150 purchased in 1984 as family transport for 10 years.
Currently undergoing a total rebuild
terry mcgrath

#30 Adam F

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 07:51

Originally posted by terry mcgrath
You would have to say it was family money
He came to Australia in the 1938 I believe on family business - to source wool?

Lofty England noted that he thought Peter Whithead had some connection with the town of Chafont St Peters west just north west of Heathrow


The source of Peter Whitehead's wealth was the family company, W & J Whitehead of Bradford, who were worsted spinners.
I doubt that he had any active role in running the company.

http://news.bbc.co.u...and/1606665.stm

Peter Whitehead lived near Reading, and Motorwork (Chalfont) Ltd. of Lower Road, Chalfont St Peter was the base for his racing activities.

#31 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 08:06

There is the Chalfont (again) name , good for id on transporters . Thanks all and happy 2009 !

#32 Squire Straker

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 09:27

Peter Whitehead drove a 330S Maserati at the 1956 Leinster Trophy race on the Wicklow Circuit. He set fastest lap in the race at 87.40mph and won the unlimited scratch class.
His first race in Ireland was in 1935 when he finished third in an Alta at Limerick.
SS

#33 Lola5000

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 09:34

what happened to his half brother Peter Walker?

#34 Adam F

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 09:37

His half brother was Graham Whitehead, not Peter Walker.

#35 Lola5000

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 09:59

Originally posted by Adam F
His half brother was Graham Whitehead, not Peter Walker.

sorry,

#36 Pat Clarke

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 11:47

Quote Squire Straker "Peter Whitehead drove a 330S Maserati at the 1956 Leinster Trophy race on the Wicklow Circuit. He set fastest lap in the race at 87.40mph and won the unlimited scratch class".

I know, I was there =] Well, I didn't know the fastest lap but I remember the 'Mazzer'.
I watched that race with my dad who was a spectator marshall at Rathnew, where they turned right onto the Dublin road after the run down from Bollarney. That was about 3 miles from where I lived as a boy.

Happy New Year to all

Pat

#37 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 18:12

The wonderful book 'Alf Francis-Racing Mechanic' devotes several chapters to Alf's time with 'Equipe Whitehead' based in Chalfont St. Peter (he had his job interview in The White Hart pub near Whiteheads garage). Peter Whitehead comes across as having been a 'Gentleman Driver' in every sense of the word.

#38 RS2000

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 19:34

Originally posted by Eric Dunsdon
The wonderful book 'Alf Francis-Racing Mechanic' devotes several chapters to Alf's time with 'Equipe Whitehead' based in Chalfont St. Peter (he had his job interview in The White Hart pub near Whiteheads garage). Peter Whitehead comes across as having been a 'Gentleman Driver' in every sense of the word.


I was just thinking of that. There is mention of his XK120 Fixedhead being used as transport to south of France to get to a race and it being unbearably hot inside?

#39 sandy

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 03:34

Originally posted by Eric Dunsdon
The wonderful book 'Alf Francis-Racing Mechanic' devotes several chapters to Alf's time with 'Equipe Whitehead' based in Chalfont St. Peter (he had his job interview in The White Hart pub near Whiteheads garage). Peter Whitehead comes across as having been a 'Gentleman Driver' in every sense of the word.

If being a 'Gentleman Driver' may mean racing for the pleasure of it, not taking it too seriously and having the independent means to support your involvement, then it does not really appear that Peter Whitehead was in that category. The impression is more that he belongs in a particular strata of drivers who raced in the 50's and who had similar characteristics - older rather than younger, not quite fast enough to obtain works drives in GP cars, addicted to motor racing and not necessarily financially carefree yet adept in covering their motor racing costs. This group would include Ken Wharton, Louis Rosier, perhaps Harry Schell although Harry was just fast enough, often enough, to get works drives, Jack Fairman also perhaps, and Horace Gould, as well as others. Peter Whitehead came to Australia several times with older Ferraris, won consistently and then sold the Ferraris locally, presumably making it all worth while financially. It appears that the key factors are the addiction and the astuteness of making motor racing pay for that addiction.

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#40 sandy

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 09:05

Just as an aside, there was a general feeling in 1956 that the two Maserati 250F drivers in Australia, Stan Jones and Reg Hunt were potentially world class, they just needed the opportunity to show how fast they were so it was pretty humbling, to me as a teenager at any rate, to see Peter Whitehead in the Super Squalo, an overseas driver who wasn't even in a works team, effortlessly disappear into the distance, leaving the locals far behind. As for Moss and Behra in their works Maseratis they were obviously from another planet, just cruising yet so far in front that it was apparent that if the works Ferrari team had turned up with Fangio and Castellotti (or Collins) resulting in Moss and Behra actually having to try, then we would have seen racing in a dimension beyond our imaginations.

And another aside. Peter Whitehead was killed in an accident on a public road, as was former World Champion Nino Farina and of course Mike Hawthorn. Who else of that era died in road accidents? Fangio was in a bad accident but got away with it, but is there a connection between ageing drivers of that time being over confident on the road? (Hawthorn, a younger man, apart of course but he did seem to be reckless on public roads, or was it just that he was particularly unlucky?)

And further to all of this when looking at the 12 World Champions from 1950 to 1970, 2 were killed in road accidents, 1 was killed while testing, 2 were killed while racing, 1 was killed in an airplane crash and 1 died of a heart attack while on a track. Off the 5 remaining, 2 died of old age (to put it simply) and so we have left from that era just Jack Brabham, John Surtees and Jackie Stewart. Let us appreciate their presence all the more.

#41 David McKinney

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 10:39

I'm sure any perceived overconfidence didn't apply in the case of Whitehead's accident, as he was a passenger at the time

#42 sandy

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 11:46

Yes, his brother Graham was driving; I would think that Graham was so similar as to allow the point to stand.

#43 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 12:33

Originally posted by sandy

If being a 'Gentleman Driver' may mean racing for the pleasure of it, not taking it too seriously and having the independent means to support your involvement, then it does not really appear that Peter Whitehead was in that category. The impression is more that he belongs in a particular strata of drivers who raced in the 50's and who had similar characteristics - older rather than younger, not quite fast enough to obtain works drives in GP cars, addicted to motor racing and not necessarily financially carefree yet adept in covering their motor racing costs. This group would include Ken Wharton, Louis Rosier, perhaps Harry Schell although Harry was just fast enough, often enough, to get works drives, Jack Fairman also perhaps, and Horace Gould, as well as others. Peter Whitehead came to Australia several times with older Ferraris, won consistently and then sold the Ferraris locally, presumably making it all worth while financially. It appears that the key factors are the addiction and the astuteness of making motor racing pay for that addiction.


In the way he went about his motor racing and in his attitude to those who worked for him Peter Whitehead comes across as having been a 'Gentleman', indeed Alf Francis describes him as being such.

#44 RStock

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 20:03

Originally posted by sandy


And another aside. Peter Whitehead was killed in an accident on a public road, as was former World Champion Nino Farina and of course Mike Hawthorn. Who else of that era died in road accidents? Fangio was in a bad accident but got away with it, but is there a connection between ageing drivers of that time being over confident on the road? (Hawthorn, a younger man, apart of course but he did seem to be reckless on public roads, or was it just that he was particularly unlucky?)


But weren't Peter and Graham competing in the Tour de France at the time ? I'd say that's a bit different circumstance than Farina or Hawthorne .

#45 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 20:40

Indeed they were. Graham shocked some of the British motor racing establishment by appearing in the Steering Wheel Club, London, 'indecently soon' after the accident, drinking 'heavily' and 'carousing'. Of course this could have been his way of handling what had just befallen him and his half-brother, but I was told by some who were present that it was not taken that way.

Peter Whitehead - as the saying goes - 'never married'. David Yorke was regarded as his close friend as well as manager of their little racing operation, which was always notably well run. Nobody I have ever spoken to - and certainly not David himself - was ever too clear on whether or not he and his friend Peter were ever 'an item'. But it was rumoured: in my view unfortunately.

He had a large farm at Arborfield in Berkshire, and owned the Motorwork garage and race preparation business in Chalfont St Peter...or was it St Giles???? I always muddle them up.

DCN

#46 terry mcgrath

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 23:51

the official address from letterhead for the farm was
Carters hill farm
Arborfield Cross
Nr Reading, Berks
tel Arborfield Cross 266

Lofty used the name Motor Work Ltd Chalfont St Peter

Is David Yorke still around

terry

#47 Doug Nye

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 17:54

Sadly, David is no longer with us. He suffered a fatal heart attack, I believe, in his hotel during an Austrian GP meeting at the Osterreichring, in the 1980s? I'm sure somebody here will provide the correct date.

He always struck me as a VERY impressive bloke. He was team manager for Whitehead, Vanwall, Essex Wire GT40 team, Gulf-JW and finally a consultant to Martini Racing. Most of his drivers trusted him implicitly - a few emerged unimpressed, racers being what racers are. I have been told that at Gulf-JW team and drivers would listen earnestly to John Wyer's drawled briefing, then most would look to David to tell them how things would really run. John Horsman might have a different view on this... During WW2 David flew Hurricanes in Europe and Hurribombers I believe in North Africa but certainly in the Burma campaign. A full life.

DCN

#48 Carles Bosch

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 22:25

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Sadly, David is no longer with us. He suffered a fatal heart attack, I believe, in his hotel during an Austrian GP meeting at the Osterreichring, in the 1980s? I'm sure somebody here will provide the correct date.



It was the 17th August of 1984, two days before the Austrian GP.


Carles.

#49 Doug Nye

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 22:28

There you go...! Thank you Carles.

DCN

#50 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 13:01

Peter Whitehead looks on as his team prepare the famous green Ferrari 125 for the 1952 Daily Express Trophy at Silverstone.
Posted Image

On the subject of David Yorke - wasn't it Yorke who fell out very badly with Leo Kinnunen during the Gulf 917 days and effectively had him dropped from the team? Or was it Wyer himself?
The argument apparently not helped by Leo's lack of willingness to learn much English. I guess few at JW could claim to speak fluent Finnish at the time....