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U.S.A.F. personnel racing in the UK


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#1 Leigh Trevail

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 07:55

In the nineteen fifties and sixties East Anglia was home to several American Airbases. Some of the personnel were keen on racing and joined the local car clubs, does anyone know if it is possible to trace these men or their relatives after all these years?

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#2 David McKinney

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 08:46

Are you seeking names, or do you already have those and want to try tracing them?

If the former, the only one I recall is Commander Bryant, whose name was commemorated in an annual race. Maybe Frank Griswold, too

If the latter, it must be possible to trace them through US military records - at least up to their discharge

#3 bradbury west

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 09:01

I am not near my records at the moment, but ISTR a picture of a Corvette at Snett? In Autosport in 58ish piloted by a serviceman. Was Art Markelson a serviceman? He was in a Corvette in an early 60s TT at Goodwood.
Roger Lund

#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 10:39

If you do have names, you might find the Fold3 website useful, Leigh. It claims to be "the web's premier collection of original military records." Could provide a jumping-off point anyway - although I've never used it for that sort of research. They do a seven-day free trial, so it'll cost you nothing to have a look ...

http://www.fold3.com/

The Stars & Stripes Archive - free to search and with day passes available - might also be helpful:

http://www.stripes.c...ervice/archives

#5 cooper997

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 11:08

May 1956 Autocourse report for the April 14, 1956 British Empire Trophy meeting at Oulton Park mentions the following in regards the Bryant accident in Heat 3.
"Unfortunately, towards the end of this heat the American driver, Lieut.-Comdr. A H Bryant, overturned his Aston Martin at Druids Corner. The driver was killed instantly."

Stephen

#6 RobertE

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 11:15

I believe that Curtis LeMay raced in East Anglia somewhere. Certainly, his name came up in regard to Austin-Healeys...

#7 RCH

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 11:27

Merton Lucia? Entered a Galaxie in the Brands 6hrs in 1963 with John Sprinzel. Never heard of before or since.

#8 Sharman

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 14:52

I have mentioned these chaps before on whatever thread. There were a couple of US (Air Force?) service personnel probably from Burtonwood who tipped up at Oulton in the 50s with, I think, a Hudson tho' it may have been a Plymouth. Their antics must have been recorded somewhere, they had "Rock and Roll" on their T shirts, this was some time before the phrase came into common usage but it summed up the car's progress. I can't even remember which event it was. Anybody have better recall?

#9 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 16:11

Eugene Hall, l a regular 500cc formula 3 competitor at Brands Hatch and other British circuits in the 1950's was often decribed as being a U.S Serviceman. His Cooper-Norton always carried the American racing colours blue and white.

#10 Leigh Trevail

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 20:10

Many thanks for the advise, I shall follow this up as time allows. Obviously there was a lot of U.S servicemen who spent their weekends racing, as usual the ones I am interested in are quite obscure and possibly only took part at club level. The first is Dan Hastings (3909th Operational Squadron Lakenheath) who rallied a Morgan (Possibly KWP 341) in 1952. The other is a Medic based at Bentwaters named Doug Sampta; who in the early sixties raced a Ginetta G3. Did either of these gentlemen continue competing on their return home?

#11 bradbury west

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 21:23

For things Ginetta TNFer
Geoff Butcher, h4887, is your man to check for poss GInetta use in USA, as many servicemen took their little cars home with them, and he may be able to trace history of any G3s, as they made precious few. Otherwise Peter Leigh Davies may be able help. Geoff prob has his no., otherwise I can help next week.
Roger Lund

Edited by bradbury west, 08 August 2013 - 21:24.


#12 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 06:47

Many thanks for the advise, I shall follow this up as time allows. Obviously there was a lot of U.S servicemen who spent their weekends racing, as usual the ones I am interested in are quite obscure and possibly only took part at club level. The first is Dan Hastings (3909th Operational Squadron Lakenheath) who rallied a Morgan (Possibly KWP 341) in 1952. The other is a Medic based at Bentwaters named Doug Sampta; who in the early sixties raced a Ginetta G3. Did either of these gentlemen continue competing on their return home?


Found these:

http://www.brandywin...BMC-Meeting.pdf

http://www.racingspo...stings-USA.html

Vince H.

#13 Stephen W

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 07:42

31st July 1953 Autosport (Vol 7 No 5) featured on pages 139 to 142 a report on the USAF Trophy meeting.

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Copyright Autosport.

#14 David McKinney

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 09:39

That's where the Frank Grsiwold bell-ringing in my head must have come from :)

#15 wenoopy

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 00:34

That's where the Frank Grsiwold bell-ringing in my head must have come from :)


And not because he won the first-ever Watkins Glen Grand Prix in 1948 in an Alfa-Romeo Coupe?

Stu


#16 David McKinney

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 05:00

Actually the loudest bell is that I know his son. The second-loudest are of course his wins in the 1940 World's Fair GP and the 1948 Watkins Glen. But the loudest bell in the context of this thread was his appearance at Snetterton as noted by Autosport

#17 Sharman

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 06:54

What about S Lewis-Evans in a Minor in the 1/2 hour blind?

#18 ReWind

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 07:39

And not because he won the first-ever Watkins Glen Grand Prix in 1948 in an Alfa-Romeo Coupe?

Two different men:
Frank Tracy Griswold, Jr. (1914–1969), the racing driver,
and Francis Hopkinson Griswold (1904-1989), the USAF general (& deputy to Curtis LeMay).

Edited by ReWind, 10 August 2013 - 11:08.


#19 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 08:02

Dale Prochazka - S/Sgt at Lakenheath - killed in a Formula Ford Lotus 51 at Mallory Park, 1970.

http://motorsportmem...hp?db=ct&n=4211

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 10 August 2013 - 08:05.


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#20 bradbury west

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 09:05

Leigh, when I was looking for info on the history of Ruffoth and Debden ISTR seeing links on various sites to USAF personnel sites and fora. A bit like an old boys list. Worth a try perhaps for sites in East Anglian too.
Roger Lund

#21 h4887

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 10:44

Doug Sampta/Ginetta G3 is unknown to me, but I shall make enquiries.

#22 nicanary

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 11:15

I was an habituee of Snetterton clubbies in the mid-60s, and can remember one meeting , probably Cambridge UAC or Mid-Essex MC, when the libre race at the end of the day was won at a canter by an American in a Brabham BT16(?) with twin-cam Ford 1600 power. I had no idea back then, and today, who the hell he was. He wasn't a "known name", and I can only assume he was a half-decent club racer back home who had taken the opportunity to take in a race or two after purchasing the car, before he shipped it home.

If he had been based at a USAAF base I assume we'd had heard more about him. If he was that useful as a driver, he would have won a few more. (Mind you, most of the field in those Snetterton libre races was made up of Jim Russell Formula Ford hopefuls.)

#23 David McKinney

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 11:40

Two different men:
Frank Tracy Griswold, Jr. (1914–1969), the racing driver,
and Francis Hopkinson Griswold (1904-1989), the USAF general (& deputy to Curtis LeMay).

Thanks Reinhard. I jumped to a conclusion back then. Should have known better, though in my defence I think I can say I've only ever heard of three people called Griswold, and if two of them are called Frank it's surely a forgivable error!

#24 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 11:40

Nicanary - Maybe recallng Jack Smith...though he was a Canadian and his Brabham was later Tasman Climax engined?

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 10 August 2013 - 11:44.


#25 bradbury west

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 11:43

As an aside, but perhaps of general interest, is there an equivalent in the US of our Electoral Roll Register with public access? Also for Australia?
Roger Lund

#26 nicanary

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 10:09

Nicanary - Maybe recallng Jack Smith...though he was a Canadian and his Brabham was later Tasman Climax engined?

DCN


Doesn't ring a bell. I think it was a rather more exotic name, and I recall the local press report the next day (the rather excellent Eastern Daily Press who used to regularly win awards as a provincial newspaper) named him definitely as a visiting American.
I would have thought that if he was based at Lakenheath or whatever, he would have turned up again from time to time - you wouldn't have such a car and not use it. Never heard about him from that day, though.


#27 Alfie

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 10:39

Although not a driver, there was a wonderful character at Upper Heyford in the late 60s early 70s, by the name of Doug Parker - a Staff Sergeant if IIRC.

He was a member of the fledging Emergency Services at Silverstone, something for which he was well equipped, since he was on the fire service in the USAF on the aforementioned Upper Heyford base. He would turn up at Silverstone complete with his aluminiumised fire entry suit and would regail us of tales of collecting debris from a typical airbase accident - two bags, one for the aircraft one for the pilot!

He taught me a huge amount about tackling fires - it's not called fire fighting for nothing was one of his favourite sayings - and he would certainly be a character I would look for.

#28 mike faloon

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 17:54

From my battered autograph book, Raymond L Caides '121' from Oulton Park, 56 or 57; seem to recall an American saloon car lurching round Old Hall, causing great entertainment. I rather think that there was an American Forces input into a regular club meeting. On a more sombre note I also remember Commander Arthur Bryant's accident, even though I was only nine or ten then.


#29 h4887

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Posted 11 August 2013 - 19:55

I'm told that 'Doug Sampta' with the Ginetta G3 was actually Dave Sampter, 'a really nice guy' according to Ivor Walklett.

#30 Sharman

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 07:24

From my battered autograph book, Raymond L Caides '121' from Oulton Park, 56 or 57; seem to recall an American saloon car lurching round Old Hall, causing great entertainment. I rather think that there was an American Forces input into a regular club meeting. On a more sombre note I also remember Commander Arthur Bryant's accident, even though I was only nine or ten then.


See my earlier post. Rock & Roll

#31 Jagjon

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 17:51

From my battered autograph book, Raymond L Caides '121' from Oulton Park, 56 or 57; seem to recall an American saloon car lurching round Old Hall, causing great entertainment. I rather think that there was an American Forces input into a regular club meeting. On a more sombre note I also remember Commander Arthur Bryant's accident, even though I was only nine or ten then.

Raymond L. Cordes, in a Plymouth & the car did roll around a bit, going off track occasionally, eventually a stub axle broke. I was there & I think it was 1956. I believe Cmdr. Bryant's accident was in practice in a DB3s.
A 300sl won the sports car race driven by Tony Brooks I think. It was a long time ago. British Empire Trophy race meeting maybe?

#32 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 18:25

Raymond L. Cordes, in a Plymouth & the car did roll around a bit, going off track occasionally, eventually a stub axle broke. I was there & I think it was 1956...A 300sl won the sports car race driven by Tony Brooks I think. It was a long time ago. British Empire Trophy race meeting maybe?


This one:

http://www.racingspo...9-22-11889.html

Vince H.

#33 D-Type

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 18:48

Raymond L. Cordes, in a Plymouth & the car did roll around a bit, going off track occasionally, eventually a stub axle broke. I was there & I think it was 1956. I believe Cmdr. Bryant's accident was in practice in a DB3s.
A 300sl won the sports car race driven by Tony Brooks I think. It was a long time ago. British Empire Trophy race meeting maybe?

Yes, 22nd September 1956, the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting: Tony Brooks drove Rob Walker's 300SL to overall victory in the Saloon & GT cars race. This can be fixed as it was the only time he raced the car according to his autobiography Poetry in Motion.

Edited by D-Type, 12 August 2013 - 18:51.


#34 mike faloon

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 19:03

I couldn't tell you what I for lunch on Saturday, but I can remember that race meeting!!

#35 Jagjon

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 19:08

Yes, 22nd September 1956, the Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting: Tony Brooks drove Rob Walker's 300SL to overall victory in the Saloon & GT cars race. This can be fixed as it was the only time he raced the car according to his autobiography Poetry in Motion.

Thanks for that, I hadn't realised it was the Gold Cup meeting but I see Cordes is listed on the previous posters link to results.
The event when Tony Brooks won was the day Cordes wheel departed the Plymouth,, I don't recall him at another meeting, but maybe.
I now think the fatal accident with the Aston DB3s was earlier in the season, maybe that was the Empire Trophy race meeting with more sports racing cars entered.... SMoss etc.

#36 Jagjon

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 19:27

I couldn't tell you what I for lunch on Saturday, but I can remember that race meeting!!

Yeah! Remember! Me also, mainly for the sight of the Plymouth & the disappointment when it stopped coming around, later in the paddock I saw it on 3 wheels.
Also I recall Tony Brooks getting out of the Gullwing having just won so easily, but I didn't collect autographs.
Looking at raceannouncers link, it's amazing what cars contested that event. I remember Patsy Burt in the Aston looked so quick up Clay Hill, & the other lasting impression was from the 500cc
race, cars swimming in oil & with out of shape steering wheels, lots of effort to drive them I guess back in the day.
Not sure what I had for lunch today either!

#37 D-Type

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 19:58

From the Motor Sport Memorial entry, Commander Bryant's accident was in the British Empire Trophy on 14th April 1956.

#38 Sharman

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 20:31

Yeah! Remember! Me also, mainly for the sight of the Plymouth & the disappointment when it stopped coming around, later in the paddock I saw it on 3 wheels.
Also I recall Tony Brooks getting out of the Gullwing having just won so easily, but I didn't collect autographs.
Looking at raceannouncers link, it's amazing what cars contested that event. I remember Patsy Burt in the Aston looked so quick up Clay Hill, & the other lasting impression was from the 500cc
race, cars swimming in oil & with out of shape steering wheels, lots of effort to drive them I guess back in the day.
Not sure what I had for lunch today either!

Ivor Bueb in a 150S was second to Brooks who won by a country mile. I was there having only 14 days left of freedom. reported to 7 Training Regiment, Royal Signals at Catterick Camp on 6 October. But I did get to know the Mad Major later in my service!

#39 D-Type

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Posted 12 August 2013 - 21:49

Ivor Bueb in a 150S was second to Brooks who won by a country mile. I was there having only 14 days left of freedom. reported to 7 Training Regiment, Royal Signals at Catterick Camp on 6 October. But I did get to know the Mad Major later in my service!

1956 is too early for an XK150s (if that's what you mean). The record that it was an XK140 is correct - but it may have been an XK140S.

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#40 Sharman

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 06:29

1956 is too early for an XK150s (if that's what you mean). The record that it was an XK140 is correct - but it may have been an XK140S.


Memory playing tricks sorry! It was 47 years ago, though on 150s how things change, a friends father bought one of the first and I remember seeing 130 on the clock on the road from Chelford to Macclesfield. Can you imagine a present day insurance company's reaction to allowing a couple of 19 year olds on the road in an F type, fully comprehensive?

#41 D-Type

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 08:29

Pedantry alert: 57 years ago!  ;)

#42 Sharman

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 08:53

Pedantry alert: 57 years ago!  ;)


See what meant about memory, but that error was down to arithmetic, 71 years ago Ratty Boulton, Gawd Bless 'er, would have cracked me across my knuckles with a ruler for that. :p

#43 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 16:25

Ivor Bueb in a 150S was second to Brooks who won by a country mile. I was there having only 14 days left of freedom. reported to 7 Training Regiment, Royal Signals at Catterick Camp on 6 October. But I did get to know the Mad Major later in my service!

I also spent time as a reluctant temporary guest of The Royal Corps Of Signals at Caterick Camp and recall that most of the Majors that I came across seemed to be mad. In fact most of the permanent occupants from Lance Corporal upwards seemed to be lunatics!. It could be a grim place.

#44 Sharman

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 06:51

I also spent time as a reluctant temporary guest of The Royal Corps Of Signals at Caterick Camp and recall that most of the Majors that I came across seemed to be mad. In fact most of the permanent occupants from Lance Corporal upwards seemed to be lunatics!. It could be a grim place.


We know we have a common history Eric, did you go on to 1TR where Bobo Townson held sway? Bobo was a corruption of Popo, he could do anything if somebody else pulled the string!

#45 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 11:03

We know we have a common history Eric, did you go on to 1TR where Bobo Townson held sway? Bobo was a corruption of Popo, he could do anything if somebody else pulled the string!

Afraid that name rings no bells. I started off at 26th Sigs, Vimy Lines. May 1960 a little after your time?. One bloke I do remember was a wreck of a man named Cliff. A Lance Jack in the Medical Corps, who was like a walking decomposing corpse, shambling about, smoking a fag and usually gasping for breath. Typically, he worked in the Medical Centre and was assistant coach of the Regimental football team!.

#46 Sharman

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 12:45

Afraid that name rings no bells. I started off at 26th Sigs, Vimy Lines. May 1960 a little after your time?. One bloke I do remember was a wreck of a man named Cliff. A Lance Jack in the Medical Corps, who was like a walking decomposing corpse, shambling about, smoking a fag and usually gasping for breath. Typically, he worked in the Medical Centre and was assistant coach of the Regimental football team!.

Bobo was 2 Squadron commander, he was a major. The lance jack I remember best was Kenny Scotland, the Scottish full back who was, so we were told, not allowed to take a commission as he was too valuable to the regimental XV (we won the Army Cup year after year). Kenny spent his entire national service as postings corporal, working 1 day per fortnight. Only in the British Army. The "Mad Major" I referred to was Arthur Mallock who was my CO for a short time.

#47 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 14:58

Bobo was 2 Squadron commander, he was a major. The lance jack I remember best was Kenny Scotland, the Scottish full back who was, so we were told, not allowed to take a commission as he was too valuable to the regimental XV (we won the Army Cup year after year). Kenny spent his entire national service as postings corporal, working 1 day per fortnight. Only in the British Army. The "Mad Major" I referred to was Arthur Mallock who was my CO for a short time.

Sorry, I should have twigged who that particular Mad Major was, for that was how he was known around the circuits at the time. I shall now put myself on a charge!.
(I think this has gone a tad O.T for most!).

#48 Sharman

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 15:20

Sorry, I should have twigged who that particular Mad Major was, for that was how he was known around the circuits at the time. I shall now put myself on a charge!.
(I think this has gone a tad O.T for most!).


It can't be that far off thread as at least we have service personnel in racing and the last referred to in your post founded a marque which must at some stage been used by a member of the USAF :rolleyes:

#49 fuzzi

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 15:50

From Jenks's "Porsche Past and Present":

"One such friend was Steve Wilder, another American in Europe who somehow had forgotten to go home. He had been based in England with the American Army and so enjoyed the motor sporting club life that he stayed on when he was demobbed and got himself a a 1500 Super Porsche.."

Wilder drove his Porsche (and sometimes Jack Burke's Carrera in sprints and races.

Hope that helps.

Now I've got to stop reading the rest of the book. :)

#50 David McKinney

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 18:38

Wilder also raced a year-old F2 Lotus 12 in England in mid 1959, before shipping it home

At the same time his buddy Jim Haynes raced an F2 Cooper T43, though whether he was a military man I don't know