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Commanders Cup-BRSCC East Anglian centre-Commander Phiip Heseltine

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#1 carrotcruncher

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 09:31

To all TNFers,can anyone enlighten me as to the history and life of this important man in the history of snetterton?

I thought I had researched my local circuit but this gentleman and his life have escaped me.

                                                                                        Anyone with any info, please help,can't find anything on the usual search engines.

                                Regards to all,



#2 carrotcruncher

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 11:45

Really surprised that there has been no reaction to this request for information.Does no-one know who he is/was?Or are they just not interested.

Don't think I'll bother again,


#3 Tim Murray

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 13:43

CC, I'm sorry you've had no response so far, but I'm sure it's not down to lack of interest - if any of us did know something we would have responded. I know of two Snetterton experts who used to be regulars here but who we see little or nothing of these days - Andrew Kitson and Leigh Trevail. It might be worth dropping each of them a PM alerting them to this thread as they probably haven't spotted it. :)

#4 SWD

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 15:23

I dont have any information on Philip Heseltine but I am interested in this event, back in 1964 a Sabre Six won the event. The reg of the car was WGT 889 - f anyone knows its current whereabouts I would be interested to hear from them

#5 D-Type

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 16:13

CC, can you let us know what information you have already to save re-inventing the wheel.  It might trigger a few memories.


-     Who was Commander Philip Heseltine? 

-     Apart from the obvious Snetterton connection, what else was the BRSCC (East Anglian Centre) involved in? 

-     What was the Commander's Cup? - I assume a top level clubbie or national open race at Snetterton but for what type of car? 

-     When, for everything?

Edited by D-Type, 25 June 2014 - 16:15.

#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 25 June 2014 - 16:33

Like Tim, I was waiting for a Snetterton expert to chime in. The name Philip Heseltine is surprisingly unusual, with very few hits on Ancestry in England.


I've found two Lieutenant-Commander Philip Heseltines on Ancestry - probably father and son. The elder one - who is likely your man - was Philip Edward Heseltine, born August 27th 1904 in Hull, died 1992 in Bury St Edmunds. He was presumably a 'career man' as he's in the Navy List between 1924 and 1949 - a full 25-year hitch - although he appears to have not been promoted after 1934, so possibly on the reserve list. [edit: or maybe, like Ian Fleming's Commander Bond, he was doing something more 'interesting'?]


The second Philip Heseltine arrives in 1935 as a 6-week-old baby on a ship from Malta - the Bendigo - and many of the others who had boarded there appear (not surprisingly) to be members of RN families - lots of home addresses around Plymouth and Portsmouth.


If it's the right chap - and believe it is - then his full name was Philip James Heseltine and he was born on July 24th 1935 (presumably in Malta?) and died in Plymouth in 2002. According to the Navy List he was an engineering officer, commissioned as an acting Sub-Lieutenant in September 1955: the last Navy List on Ancestry which mentions him is Spring 1968 - by which time he was a Lieutenant-Commander, a rank he achieved in November 1965. He married a Susan Tremeer in Plymouth in early 1960: I'd guess she was probably another 'navy brat' since I can't trace her birth either, although there were a couple of naval officers with that unusual (Cornish?) surname in the mid-1950s..

#7 SWD

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Posted 26 June 2014 - 07:07

The Commander's Cup 24-hour was a distance record trial for a single car. As a said a Sabre Six won it in 1964, previous winners I think include a Jensen 541. Later the Willhire included the Commander's Cup as the first single car entry past the post and that of course included Martin Brundle and others - so clubbie yes but nevertheless a tad higher up the food chain than a 750 MC meeting at Lydden!

#8 carrotcruncher

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Posted 30 June 2014 - 11:05

Vitesse2 and SWD,

                             thank you both for your help and persistence on this topic,I have to admit that it did not occur to me to pursue the naval(military) angle .Apologise to all for my rather petulant post previously,just shows that I should try to think in a more lateral fashion in future ,and remember that Wikipedia is not the only /perfect source!

                                                                      Promise to keep on trying

                                                                                                              carrotcruncher :o

#9 dgs

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Posted 06 July 2014 - 10:37

Commander Philip Heseltine is mentioned in  Peter Swinger's book 'Motor Racing Circuits in England'


On Snetterton circuit it mentions that Commander Heseltine was a stalwart of the club, and one evening in the early 1960's he arrived with his wife Biddy at the clubhouse to find that Jim Russell had just completed a 24-hour reliability trial in a Vauxhall. During the evening Commander Heseltine asked Jim Russell if he would like a cup to commemorate the feat. The offer was accepted and a tradition developed whereby the record established by Jim Russell's Vauxhall was challenged in later years. There was only one basic rule to challenge for the Commander's Cup which was that the vehicle used had to be an unmodified production saloon; the rule was later changed to allow any production car to make the challenge.

#10 DavePoole

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 15:40

Here's a photo of Commander P.E.Heseltine (centre) with Mike Watts (left) and Graham Warner (right) in front of the winning Reliant Sabre Six in 1964  :D 



Edited by DavePoole, 20 October 2014 - 15:42.

#11 Dick Dastardly

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Posted 20 October 2014 - 18:54

Here's a photo of Commander P.E.Heseltine (centre) with Mike Watts (left) and Graham Warner (right) in front of the winning Reliant Sabre Six in 1964  :D 




Given Graham Warner's connection with the factory team on the Monte earlier that year, I'm surprised they didn't use 876 HWD, the lightweight car built for Le Mans.

Unless, of course, it was being used elsewhere that weekend...

#12 Trevail

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Posted 28 October 2014 - 18:25

Unfortunately due to other commitments I do not get the time to spend on TNF as I used to, I know that Andrew Kitson is very busy at the moment which is possibly the reason he has also not replied to this. Over the last few months I too have been making enquiries about the Commander but with little progress. All I know is he was the main representative of the BRSCC in East Anglia and lived between the circuit and Norwich. Apart from that I cannot add to what has already been stated.




Leigh Trevail

#13 Andrew Kitson

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 09:25

Commander Philip E.Heseltine R.N ( ret.), was a marshal at early Snetterton meetings when Oliver Sear formed the Snetterton Motor Racing Club in 1954. He quickly became chief marshal, perhaps because of his ability to command? This was a post he held at all SMRC meetings until 1958 when he took on the role of Clerk-of-the-Course at some meetings. This continued into the 1960s, at most SMRC meetings by then he was CoC. However he also attended some BRSCC meetings as the RAC steward. Grovewood Securities purchased Snetterton in 1963, this included the SMRC which held its last race meetings in 1964. Heseltine continued to be CoC at the remaining SMRC meetings, thereafter becoming a BRSCC steward, as this club then organised most of the Snetterton meetings. If the Commander worked as an official at Brands or other circuits I do not know, but due to his East Anglian and BRSCC links he was appointed chief of the BRSCC EA division. In 1957 Jim Russell thought it might be a good idea to try and set a 24 hour distance record around Snetterton with his Vauxhall Victor. It is said the Commander arrived at the circuit clubhouse in the evening as Jim and his team were celebrating their feat ( av 56.55mph ) to learn of this and asked Jim if he'd like a trophy to acknowledge it? The Commanders Cup was born and could be challenged by any team of drivers in a single production car. A Singer Gazelle successfully won the cup in October 1958, covering 1392.94 miles. Subsequent winners included a John Aley team in a Mini, Gerry Birrell in a Ford Consul and in 1978 it was unsuccessfully challenged by Gerry Marshall, Tony Lanfranchi, Whizzo Williams, Roy Pierpoint and Jack Sears in a Porsche 924, although Jack kept disappearing to go and work on the harvest! With the arrival of the Willhire 24 hour race in 1980, Britain's first 24-hr race, it was open to any single car team. However other attempts away from the Willhire were made, in 1982 Gerry M, Lanfranchi, Skid Scarborough and David da Costa took up the challenge in a Roger Dowson prepared Ford Capri. The circuit manager Peter Stayner said they could use the old pre-74 circuit if they wished, still intact then with the Norwich Straight. This was I think the last time the full 2.71 mile lap was used in competition. In the 1983 Willhire the AFN entered Porsche 928S of Tony Dron, Andy Rouse, Win Percy and Phil Dowsett raised the bar to 1907 miles. An attempt has not been made as far as I am aware since the demise of the Willhire 24 hour race in 1994, the record standing at 1025 laps of the 1.9 mile circuit in 1988 by Skid Scarborough and Lionel Abbott if a Ford Sierra. The trophy resides in the archives in storage at Snetterton Circuit. 

#14 bradbury west

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 14:05

Perhaps the lightweight  Sabre Six was not considered a proper production car so any record could be queried, spirit of the regs etc

Roger Lund

#15 carrotcruncher

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Posted 12 December 2014 - 13:13

Forumites all,

                      my sincere thanks to all who helped find the answer. It has been a somewhat topsy turvey quest ,but  I thank you all for your very comprehensive replies.

                                    As I become older I find my patience becomes less, but know I can  rely on my colleagues on this excellent forum to provide help, clues  and the answer!

                                           Many thanks again and may I wish you a happy,safe and festive season.