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Bobby Baird


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#1 Steve L

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Posted 20 November 2002 - 22:20

I would like to find out more about the Irish enthusiast Bobby Baird, and his activities with cars such as the MG K3, the Derby-Miller, and the first Emeryson Special in the 1940s-50s.

I don't think anything has ever been written about him?

I believe he was killed driving a Ferrari sportscar sometime during the 1950s.

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#2 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 November 2002 - 00:52

Ulster protestant - family owned the Belfast Telegraph newspaper - had a number of variably good cars - like K3 MG and Derby-Miller etc butchered to create peculiar road racing specials - Baird-Griffons (Griffins? - can't remember at the mo) - during early racing career when family reputedly refused him funds to buy decent new racing cars. Once he came into the family fortune the sky was the limit - hence Ferrari 500 F2 customer car acquired to be driven mainly by Roy Salvadori, and the big V12 Ferrari sports car in which he was ultimately fatally injured during a practice session at Snetterton. Car rolled over him. He emerged seemingly OK, and reputedly began to walk back to the pits - only to be felled by a broken rib puncturing lung and/or heart. His wife was popular amongst the motor racing set, he - I have been told - was less so.

DCN

#3 john medley

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Posted 21 November 2002 - 11:08

Was one of his cars an R-type MG?

#4 David McKinney

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Posted 21 November 2002 - 12:25

Originally posted by john medley
Was one of his cars an R-type MG?

Relying on memory here (away from my records), but I'm pretty sure he started with a Brooklands Riley in the early/mid '30s, then went on to an R-Type MG, re-emerging after the war with the K3 etc. The cars he had constructed for him by David Griffin seem to have raced as Baird-Gryphons, one of them being built from the remains of a 4CL Maserati, before he raced an ex-Parnell 4CLT, then the Ferraris referred to earlier

#5 fines

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Posted 21 November 2002 - 16:14

Originally posted by David McKinney
The cars he had constructed for him by David Griffin seem to have raced as Baird-Gryphons

Now I've seen this as Baird-Griffin, Baird-Griffon and Baird-Gryphon! Can anyone state the definite name here??? :confused:


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#6 David McKinney

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Posted 21 November 2002 - 20:49

I don't think there was a definitive name :D

#7 fines

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Posted 21 November 2002 - 22:20

:

But how did the car appear in race programmes?


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Stop the terror!

Help making the people of Israel aware that they don't have a future with Ariel Sharon!

Tell your government to support Amram Mitzna for Prime Minister on January 28!

It may well be the last chance for peace and freedom in the Middle East!

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 November 2002 - 22:41

Oh dear, you are a trusting soul...

When a Les Rose can be entered in the programme as 'L. Diprose' one can readily foresee that each spelling might have been used at different times and in different places.

#9 fines

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Posted 21 November 2002 - 22:46

: : :

[I know, I know, but pleeease, lemme try...]

#10 David McKinney

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Posted 22 November 2002 - 06:17

Michael, sorry to appear so unhelpful.
I haven't seen any relevant programmes, and haven't the spare hours to check back through the magazine reports, but I'm sure the common term at least in the cars' early appearances was Baird-Gryphon, with the variations appearing in later years, when organising clubs perhaps tried to "correct" the spelling in programmes, or race reporters, especially any who knew Dennis Griffin (to correct my earlier reference), thought they knew better.
The Hodges A-Z book uses only Baird-Griffin, though DCN's Autocourse history makes passing reference to other variations

#11 Steve L

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Posted 22 November 2002 - 13:17

I was flicking through some magazines last night, and noticed a picture of the recently restored Derby-Miller at a show in America, looking very shiny.

If Bobby Baird utilised the original car for one of his specials, then how much of the car as used for records in the 1930's exists today?

What did BB do to specialise it I wonder?

#12 David McKinney

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Posted 22 November 2002 - 14:27

AFAIK Baird never had anything to do with the Derby-Miller
He was however involved with the ex-Trossi/Straight Duesenberg which later passed to Denis Jenkinson and is an exhibit in the Brooklands Museum

#13 Pete Stowe

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Posted 22 November 2002 - 20:16

Originally posted by fines

Now I've seen this as Baird-Griffin, Baird-Griffon and Baird-Gryphon! Can anyone state the definite name here??? :confused:


During 1952 Autosport reports generally referred to the car as the Griffin. However a Wilson McComb report that August mentions the "Baird-Griphon (we still await a definite ruling as to the spelling)" and then in October "Bobbie Baird had brought both his 2685cc sports Ferrari and the Griphon (Gryphon, Griffin, Griffen - he still hasn’t decided!)"
So …………….. :

#14 ensign14

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Posted 22 November 2002 - 20:40

Gryphon is the ancient Greek spelling (pronounced more like Group-Hon, the y representing a sound like the French u), Griffin the English, so logically it ought to be one or the other.

#15 Adam F

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Posted 22 November 2002 - 22:24

His full name was William Robert Baird.
He was killed on 25th July 1953 at Snetterton during practice, aged 41, so he was born in 1911 or 1912.
His cause of death was, as DCN says, a fractured rib puncturing his lung.

Adam F

#16 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 23 November 2002 - 01:51

Peter Miller, in his book The Fast Ones, mentions that in 1961 Baird's widow and young son won a lengthy legal fight over ownership of the Belfast Evening Telegraph newspaper.

#17 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 14:18

Having just found a 2nd pic of Bairds Ferrari 500 and part of his transporter , I wonder if you have any additional news to him or his cars. Would that Ferrari have been red ? I can see some of the back of his transporter sayinh Baird , Belfast "something, North or Northern Ireland (The last a guess).

#18 David McKinney

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 15:20

Originally posted by Bjørn Kjer
Would that Ferrari have been red ?

More likely green, though I'm only guessing

#19 Sharman

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 15:28

David
Carrying DCN's original resume to its logical conclusion. It must have been orange!
John

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#20 Graham Gauld

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 18:16

When I was dragged into the Royal Air Force for two years of National Service I was posted to the Dundonald signals centre for Northern Ireland. The fact that four of us were sent there by mistake - it was a Womens Royal Air Force camp so there were 44 WAAFs and four of us. ( This story will be told sometime later.) However the Signals Centre was about fifty yards from the Dundonald hairpin on the old Ards Tourist Trophy circuit and most evenings Bobby Baird would come roaring by in one of his Ferrari sports cars ( He had at least two) I was a member of the 500 Club of Northern Ireland - this was 1953/54 - and Doug is quite correct. Nobody seemed to say much about Bobby Baird and I never saw him at a Club meeting at Kirkistown.

#21 David McKinney

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 19:05

Originally posted by Graham Gauld
Nobody seemed to say much about Bobby Baird and I never saw him at a Club meeting at Kirkistown.

He was killed only four weeks after the first-ever Kirkistown meeting, but had made fairly regular appearances in clubbies at Newtonards before that

Originally posted by Sharman
Carrying DCN's original resume to its logical conclusion. It must have been orange!

Took me a moment to get the joke, Sharman
But I'm sure most Ulster Protestants would have regarded themselves as British in those days

#22 gerard BARATHIEU

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 05:27

Could Roy SALVADORI brings more information !!!

The FERRARI 500 is-it in the BISCARETTI Museum in TURIN now ?

#23 Leigh Trevail

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 06:42

Bobby Baird was the first fatality at Snetterton, I have been told by one of the attending Marshals and by the son of the attending St. John’s Ambulance nurse that he was advised to lay in the recovery position and await medical assistance. This he chose to ignore, as he walked away to look at his car a broken rib pierced a lung.

#24 David McKinney

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 06:58

Originally posted by gerard BARATHIEU
The FERRARI 500 is-it in the BISCARETTI Museum in TURIN now ?

I believe so

#25 Ted Walker

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 07:41

One of our "Irish Posters" has been researching the subject for many years,and the results will be available at all good bookshops in the near future.

#26 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 09:21

Here's Baird (foreground) in the paddock at Donington (when it was on the outside of the Craner Curves) in the late 30s with his M G R Type before it became the focus for one of his notorious specials...
Posted Image
And racing the Baird-Griffin in the 1952 Ulster Trophy which was based on a Maserati 6CM I think and was raced very little.
Posted Image
(Both photos copyright Simon Lewis Transport Books)

#27 Graham Gauld

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 09:38

This is the Bobby Baird 500 in the Biscaretti.

URL=http://img241.imageshack.us/my.php?image=baird500ep5.jpg]Posted Image[/URL]

#28 Graham Gauld

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 09:40

Posted Image

#29 David McKinney

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 11:12

Originally posted by Graham Gauld
This is the Bobby Baird 500 in the Biscaretti

With a typically Irish backdrop :lol:

#30 Dutchy

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 11:29

I thought the Baird-Griffin was based on a 4CL.
Some years ago Rodney Felton ran an odd looking 4CL which was said to be the ex Baird car. Are they one and the same?
Felton didn't keep the car for long and it's not the same one that he later campaigned successfully (that was the Reggie Tongue car I believe). Does anyone know what happened to it?

#31 David McKinney

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 13:19

Yes, the Baird-Griffin was built from the remains of Salvadori's 4CL
Baird also had anther 4CL, ex-Parnell and Ashmore, though I don't think he ever raced it
I wondered the same as you about Felton's odd car, which I never saw. The ex-Tongue 4CL is still seen on the circuits, in the hands of Wolfgang Wegner-Bscher

#32 Dutchy

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 13:24

I saw it just the once at Oulton Park in the early 1980s. Brian Classic had it for sale after Rodney Felton owned it and that's the last I heard of it.

#33 raoul leDuke

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 13:36

Bobby Baird was from Ulster, Ireland. His family were Northern Irish press barons and founded the Belfast Evening Telegraph which was first published on 1 September 1870 by brothers William and George Baird. Its first edition cost half a penny and ran to four pages covering the Franco-Prussian war and local news.

Bobby started racing with a Brooklands Riley in 1933, when he entered the International Tourist Trophy Handicap race at Ards/Belfast finishing 6th. Later he went on to race an R-Type MG in 1935.

During the early days, the family dissaproved and refused to fund his racing. However once he came into the family fortune he made up for this.

After the war he started racing again. In 1947 he raced his MG K3 Magnette in the Manx Cup in Douglas on the Isle of Mann in August. He then aquired the Emeryson-Lagonda Special. This was built by Paul Emery and his father with a tubular chassis and a Lagonda Rapier engine. They ran it successfully until they sold it to Baird. Baird entered it in the voiturette race preceding the French Grand Prix at Lyons, before modifying the car, with the assistance of Paul Emery, to enable the ex-Whitney Straight 4.5-litre Duesenberg engine to be fitted. He failed to finish on that occasion.

The car was raced in 1948 with the Duesenberg engine, including at the Jersey Road Races where he once again failed to finish. But Baird also had the Derby-Miller from the States and he wanted to use the engine (a Miller 91) in a tubular chassis with Fiat front suspension and ENV 110 gearbox and two stage supercharging. Whether this was a development of the Emeryson-Lagonda Special or a new special isn’t altogether clear.

In 1950 he entered the XII British Empire Trophy with a Tornado 1-Maserati but did not compete as the car was not ready. In August he had the MG out in the Ulster Trophy at Dundrod but crashed out after 7 laps.

He then teamed up with David Griffin to build an F1 car. This was built from the remains of the ex-Bira 4CL (1584) which Salvadori crashed at Curragh in 1949 and was raced as Baird-Griffin or Baird-Gryphons (there are a number of different spellings). The engine was also based on a Maserati 4CLT unit. This car became obsolete when the World Championship was converted to F2 for 1952 but Baird drove it in a few minor events. He came 9th with it in the 1952 Richmond Trophy but retired in both the Ulster Trophy and the Leinster Trophy the same year. He also raced it at Newtonards, picking up a couple of second places. It was also driven by Dave Griffin in the handicap race at Phoenix Park where he finished 7th. Griffin also raced it in the Wakefield Trophy but retired.

The car had an excellent record in Irish sprint events throughout this period. Baird made FTD in the Cairncastle and Spelga hillclimbs in 1952, and was second at Cairncastle the following year.

Baird also owned the ex-Parnell 4CL (1569), but never raced it, and it was sold to England. He did however race the other ex-Parnell 4CLT in 1951 before selling it to Italy.

Once he came into the family fortune he purchased a dark green Ferrari 500 F2 (0188F F2GP) (This car was eventually sold back to the factory, painted red and presented to the Biscaretti Museum). He also bought a V12 Ferrari 212 Barchetta sports car.

In April 1953 at the Lavant Cup at Goodwood he qualified 3rd and finished 9th in the Ferrari 500 and in the Aston-Martin Owners Club Formula 2 Race at Snetterton he came 4th and set the fastest Lap. He came 2nd in the Ferrari 500 in the Winfield JC Formula 2 Race at Charterhall and crashed in the Coronation Trophy at Crystal Palace in May. He came 3rd in the Ulster Trophy and the Snetterton Coronation Trophy later that month before racing the Ferrari 225S (0218ET) in the Leinster Trophy, Ireland, Wicklow Circuit where he came 4th. Then in July he entered the II United States Air Force Trophy at Snetterton with the 500, however in practice for the sports car support race he was fatally injured when the car rolled over him. He seemed to be OK, and began to walk back to the pits when he collapsed. A broken rib had punctured his lung and heart.

After his death his effects were slowly dispersed bit by bit amongst the racing fraternity in Northern Ireland and in 1961 Baird's widow and young son won a lengthy legal fight over ownership of the Belfast Evening Telegraph newspaper.

www.historicracing.com

#34 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 14:36

:wave: Fine story about Baird. Thank you!

#35 Squire Straker

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 18:09

Thanks Ted for outing me and my nearly completed BB book. Firstly It is all but finished but all those lovely little excuses for more research keep nagging away. I have enjoyed reading all the posts, some correct and some not so correct.
I note that of the 120 people that I have spoken to over the last 10 or so years many are now dead. However if I had only started 20 years ago some issues could have been resolved more satisfactorily. While I have gained much knowledge on BB the man it was and is always the cars that have fascinated me from the late 1950s when my family had associations with three of them.
Will start again tonight.
SS

#36 Alan Cox

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 20:04

A nice photo of the Baird-Griffin appears on Martyn Wainwright's site

http://www.motorspor...rs/MaserC01.jpg

#37 Steve L

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 20:44

Hope this works!

Baird Griffin in France

#38 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 14 May 2007 - 22:03

:wave: This is great ,just because I wanted to know the colour of Bairds Ferrari , we now in just 2 days have a whole book nearly ready!!! :lol:

#39 roadmap

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 09:21

Originally posted by Bjørn Kjer
:wave: Fine story about Baird. Thank you!


Not quite correct. The Emmerson two staged supercharged rapier was broken up in 47. It also used a preselect gearbox and the new 48 car was fitted with the Dussie engine and did not start a race in 48, so did not finish is incorrect. It never started a race to finish. The whole Dussie episode was a disaster. There were both serious gearbox and back axle problems, that were never resolved.

95% of the original chassis and complete front end of the 47 car is currently fitted with a Bristol engine and the back axle as fitted to the 47 car, the back axle was a very innovative design and it was mated to a new chassis in 48 along with a new front end to accomodate the Dussie engine due to weight and space problems.

I doubt very much that the original back axle on the 48 car is as the 47 car set up due to the problems they had but it may be.

I had a lot of the correspondance in regard to this car and have given to the new owner.

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#40 Steve L

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 10:06

Does anyone have pictures of the Rapier and Duesie engined cars as they are now that could be posted on the forum, please?

#41 roadmap

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Posted 15 May 2007 - 11:02

I had the original pictures of the 47 car at Gransden lodge, with no bodywork as it raced and a couple at the Manx. All were under copyright. I will ask the new owner for photos now as is and if he will give them I will post

#42 Bjorn Kjer

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Posted 16 May 2007 - 22:06

There are 1 1/2 pages on Baird on this site :

www.historicracing.com

#43 cabianca

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 05:19

One thing not mentioned directly here is what Baird was driving when he was killed. While what is in the forum does not say it directly, it infers he was in the Ferrari 225. Am I incorrect in stating that he was driving a Ferrari 340 Touring roadster.

#44 Graham Gauld

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:54

Bopbby Baird was killed driving a 340MM that he had raced previously in the Leinster Trophy but the chassis number of this car has been something of a mystery. He was not killed in the 250MM

#45 raoul leDuke

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 09:29

It seems from most accounts that he drove the Ferrari 225S (0218ET) in the Leinster Trophy. However the Ferrari 212 (0136E) that he reportedly owned and raced in the RAC Tourist Trophy at Dundrod in 1951 did have a 340 engine installed at some point. Could this have been the car he was driving in the support race at Snetterton?

He was associated with at least four Ferrari but I can't find a reference to a 340MM:

Ferrari 166MM Barchetta Touring 0052M engine upgraded to 195 specification probably in 1951.
Ferrari 212 Spyder Touring 0136E which had a 340 engine installed at some point.
Ferrari 225S 0218ET
Ferrari 500 F2 0188F F2GP

It would be useful if we could clarify what he drove and when.

#46 David McKinney

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 11:29

I'm sure it was a 340, but don't have a number for it
I do however have the 250MM number 0296MM with him in 1953
On the other hand I don't have his name connected with 0136ET, which was surely in South America when it got its bigger engine?

#47 raoul leDuke

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 12:55

I'm think that you are right however apparently Baird used two Ferrari in 1951, a 1950 166 MM Touring Barchetta (0052M) and a 212 Export Touring Barchetta (0136E). He raced 0136E with Jean Lucas to sixth place in the Tourist Trophy at Dunrod on 15th September that year. There is even a painting of him racing against Stirling Moss who won the race on this web site Gerald Browne

With reference to 250MM number 0296MM, I have Palmieri driving the car in 1953 with it being sold to Baird after the Grand Prix in Portugal. I have no reference to Baird racing it. The car then went to Italy where it was bought by Inigo Bernabei.

All very confusing to me!

#48 cabianca

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Posted 25 May 2007 - 18:24

There were only two of those 340 Touring roadsters made in that style, 0268 and 0294. I don't have my notes that indicate which car Baird died in.

However, his 225 was definitely not 0218. That car was owned by Bill Spear at the time Baird was racing his 225.

#49 raoul leDuke

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 04:16

So did Baird own or drive a 225?

If it was a 225 that Baird was driving at various races in 1952 what was the chassis number.

Also I have reference to the engine being swapped between 0218ET and Pagnibon's 225S 0152EL.

Where can we find a definitive answer?

#50 David McKinney

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Posted 26 May 2007 - 06:20

Originally posted by raoul leDuke
Where can we find a definitive answer?

Sorry Raoul, motor racing history doesn't work like that. Especially concerning car IDs
We may never know