Originally posted by BRG
Now I never knew that Patrick Head had done any rallying! I am warming slightly (but not very much!) to him as a result. Was he just doing clubbie stuff, or was it ever any more serious?
I am 99.999% certain that Pat only ever did clubbies (i.e. up to restricted level).
I am not sure he would thank me for this since it's all pretty mundane, but for the sake of historical accuracy, here is some info I can vouch for. Oh, and I warn you that most TNF types more interested in Nuvolari at Lesmo will also find this post pretty boring, since it is just a tale of impecunious clubbies having fun.
Perhaps I should digress to mention that in 1965 Pat and I shared a Buckler Ultralite Mk. IIB and went karting in the 197 Villiers class. We had been at school together until 1964 when he went off to Dartmouth Naval College and I went off to Birmingham University.
Actually, another digression if you will forgive me, James Hunt was another school contemporary, but I don't remember ever saying a word to him at school (or for that matter ever seeing Pat say a word to him either). But then he was in the year behind Pat and Wellington College society was pretty 'stratified'. Actually I was in the year behind Pat as well, but we were in the same Dormitory and got on pretty well once I discovered his dad was Michael Head. There's a story attached to that too but I'll leave it for the moment.
Note that the word Dormitory does NOT mean we all shared some gigantic room. All 50-odd boys in a Dormitory had a separate room or cubicle built with wooden partitions. Dormitories were equivalent to Houses at Wellington.
I suspect James Hunt had absolutely no interest whatsover in motor cars while he was at school otherwise I would probably have been aware of it. I recall James Hunt as a somewhat pale and flimsy looking boy - bit of a weed really. However he filled out a lot later and must have continued growing well after 17, as those of you who saw him on that TV Superstars competition will be aware.
The only time I saw him after we left school (at least I think it was him but if so he had grown a lot and become as tall as me since leaving school) was at Castle Combe. He walked into the gents when I was having a pee. I didn't say anything to him - well I wasn't certain it was him and even if I had been, I hadn't said anything to him while we at College so why start then? A bit of a shame, since I later became very impressed with Hunt's driving and think that even now he is under-rated as WDCs go.
Anyway, after Pat bought himself out of Dartmouth Naval College (to his father's intense annoyance - he had given Pat a Lotus 7 but took it away before Pat could use it and sold it to recoup the money needed to buy Pat out of the Service) Pat joined me at Birmingham University in the Autumn of 1965.
There we met a larger than life character called Andy Dawson. Andy seemed to be full of BS but some of the more outrageous things he said turned out to be true, so after a bit we started to take him more seriously. (I covered this ground in the TNF introduction thread once). It was Andy who got Pat and me interested in rallying.
The sort of outrageous things that Andy used to come out with were things like his father was the only Britisher to ever drive an Auto Union. But it's probably true, knowing Andy as I do now. Andy's dad had been an engineer with Rolls-Royce before the war and apparently they had done some consultancy work for Auto-Union. It was felt that an engineer had to drive it to see what was happening, so Andy's dad got his chance! Andy said his old man admitted to being terrified. When we met him, Andy's father was a director of Perkins Diesel and then became MD of Dowty Turbocraft. I think he may also have been a director at the old Rootes Group.
So it was Andy who got us interested in rallying. I think I shall fast forward a bit here and just list the rallies I know Pat did because I was either with him or on them.
Birmingham University Motor Club, Closed 6/11/1965 - Pat navigated for Andy Dawson in his Chamois.
Oxford University Motor Driver's Club Intervarsity Rally, Restricted 27-8/11/1965 - Pat navigated for Andy in his Chamois.
Peterborough Motor Club Nocturnal Noggin Restricted 27/2/1966 - Pat navigated for me in a Mini. I shouldn't do this (don't suppose Pat will ever read this so I'm probably safe enough) but my notebook of competition results reads,
"Patrick Head navigated for me on this event, which, in comparison with the sort of rally we were used to, was no more than a navigational treasure hunt, which could have been won by granny in an A30 if she had had a good navigator. We finished last of the experts. Moral:- don't have Pat as a navigator."
Note my tendency towards an expanded head! ("... the sort of rally we were used to".) But then the previous weekend I had done my first Motoring News Championship event, with Andy navigating in my Mini 1100.
It must have been after that that Pat did one or two rallies (driving his own Imp) around Bournemouth. Pat got kicked out of Birmingham (as I did) and transferred to an external London degree course at Bournmouth Tech. I think he came close to winning one of them; I knew he was quick (mad) - my only surprise was that he had not written off his car. He also did a few more with Andy I think.
There was also the Ebworth Chase rally that we did about then in his ex-Colin Vandervell ex Tom Trana Volvo PV544. I mentioned this in the Colin Vandervell thread.
Tavern Motor Club Aer Lingus Bristowe 18 Feb 1968 - our first forest stage event, in my Mini 1100. There were some big names on this like Colin Malkin and Terry Hunter. Vandervell and Sharpe were fastest novice on Stage 1 (must have been Colin). We were delayed by a fire on stage 1 but got fastest novice on stages 7 and 9.
Herefordshire Motor Club January Jaunt 11-12/1/1969 - Pat navigated for me in my first event in my Saab V4. This was a 'Closed/co-promoted' event and somewhat surprisingly we came 7th overall. The fog was appalling. I followed one car that thought it had got to a 'T' junction and turned left - into a river. The real 'T' junction was just beyond a ford!
To quote once more from my notebook, (sorry Pat)
"At the fifteenth time control we were lying equal second, and the car ahead of us later went off. However, Patrick's navigation deteriorated after we thought that a loop through a control twice might cost us a fail. On one occasion I had to look inside a telephone kiosk to see where we were!
In the second half, it soon became clear that Pat was not fully plotted and as he would seldom give me directions I was reduced to following others to the finish.
Luckily the fog had made things difficult for other crews as well, and we finished 7th O/A and 5th in class "
Sutton & Cheam Motor Club Sandblaster Rally 29/11/1970 - Pat navigated for me in my Saab V4. This was a very rough stage event (and very wet) held on Army ground. We came 5th and Doug Lockyear's ex-World Cup Saab won it. Amongst the entries was twice British Hot Rod champion George Polley, who came 9th.
This is the rally I always think of when I read that Head and Williams do not make drivers of a fragile temperament feel cosseted (e.g. Frentzen). At the halfway we did not seem to be doing very well (but I thought I had been driving really well). Patrick said in his most serious tone, "We must have a big think about how we can go quicker in the second half." "Big think was one of Patrick's stock expressions in those days".
Privately I thought that there was no way I could possibly drive any faster, but I pretended to participate in this "Big think" discussion. Then we discovered that a couple of stages had been cancelled so our penalties were less than we thought and we were actually 10th at the halfway - not at all bad for a very mildly tuned car with no LSD. Anyway, the "big think" must have worked becuse we pulled up to 5th at the finish. My notes show that we caught at least one car on every afternoon stage.
He also co-drove quite a few times for Andy Dawson in his Singer Chamois, and for me in my Saab V4.
Welsh International May 1971 - Pat was going to service for me in the second half, but I didn't get that far.
Herefordshire Motor Club Welsh Marches (a round of the Motoring News and Escort Mexico Championships) 18-19/3/1972 - I navigated for Pat in his Saab V4 (which he had bought from my father by the way). It was standard apart from Bilsteins. Navigating on competitive road events is damn difficult and I was probably no better at it than Patrick!
So I refer to my notes again,
"I was continually urging Patrick to take things fairly easily, as I expected him to be more concerned with finishing than going flat out. I did not navigate well in the first half but improved in the second half. Therefore we did quite well to finish 37th out of about 120 starters, so justifying our starting position at no. 38.
... This was intended to be a warmup for the Wlsh International. However Pat later decided against doing the Welsh."
By the way, the Innes Ireland Trophy and award was given to the best Herefordshire Motor Club member.
Considering that the car was group 1, and the entry included names like Nigel Rockey, this was a good result. We were 20th on the second selective and 17th on the third selective.
Sporting Car Club of Norfolk Lancia Pointer Midsummer Stages 3/6/1973 - Pat stood (sat) in for my usual navigator on this BTRDA/CCC stage event. We were in my Saab V4, now a bit more highly tuned, although not by any means as hot as I would have liked. We had a couple of top 5 stage times but finally finished 41st out of about 120 after a few incidents and losing 1st, 2nd and reverse gears. The entries included Prince Michael of Kent (who came 73rd).
That was the last event I did with Pat. To summarise, he was a very quick driver. Remember he diced with Mansell for 10 laps in a Mexico invitation race many years ago. He did not do a lot of rally driving and no doubt could have got better, but I did not feel as safe with him as I did with Andy Dawson. This may just have been Andy's greater experience, since as students he could afford to drive more rallies than Pat.
As a road event navigator, Andy was brilliant and Pat and I were just normal people. As a stage event co-driver, I always enjoyed rallying with Pat because he was braver than most if not all my co-drivers and I sure as hell did not want him to think I was lifting off where he wouldn't. His analytical approach was useful (the "big thinks"). So I probably drove faster and better with him in the hot seat than with anyone else.
So, if anyone is still reading this post they probably know more about Pat's rallying than he does, since he will have forgotten most of this!
But may I ask why BRG warms only slightly to Patrick?