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Tommy Hitchcock


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#1 Udo K.

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Posted 27 April 2004 - 19:23

When reading about the 1964 Nürburgring 1000KMs I came across Tommy Hitchcock, who drove his private Cobra in that race. He managed to beat all his fellow Cobra drivers plus the whole Ferrari and Jaguar GT-Armada in practice with a lap of 9'29.4.

In the race program he is given Swiss nationality, other sources say, he is American.
Does anyone have more information about him? All I know are some sketchy results.

Where does he come from? What was his racing background? What happened to him in later years?

Does anyone have pictures of the guy?

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#2 Stefan Ornerdal

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Posted 27 April 2004 - 21:36

Thanks, Udo, for posting this question!
I have been wondering about this driver for a long time.
Was he American, heir of a fortune of some kind?
Was his full name "Tommy Hitchcock III"?

Stefan

#3 Lotus23

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Posted 27 April 2004 - 23:42

Tommy is listed in many early sixties race results (e.g., 8th in the '63 Targa Florio in a 250GTO) as being from the U.S. But I'm not certain.

In this part of the world, a fellow of the same name was well-known as a top-level polo player, but that Tommy died in 1980 at age 76, so I think the Tommy we're discussing is a different person.

#4 Manfred Cubenoggin

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 10:57

Strictly from memory in an early 1960's(1963?) Road & Track magazine(which has been long since chuck into the the dustbin), I seem to recall a brief review of the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood where it featured a photo of a rolled 250 GTO with Tommy Hitchcock noted as the driver. Either in the caption or in the text body, I also recall a phrase similar to 'money in the wrong hands' with respect to the incident and a pretty clear inference to someone in over their head at this level of competition. This may be some small confirmation of Stefan Ornerdal's mention of him being heir to some fortune.

#5 Udo K.

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 20:26

So its seems to be quite difficult to find out more about our man.

Another interesting detail of the 1964 1000KM race program is, that the originally planned
co-driver was Prince Zourab Tchkotoua. He has been given Swiss nationality as well, but to my knowledge he was American. He actually did not drive the Cobra with Hitchcock, instead a German from Munich, named Gunter Thiel shared the car with T.H.
and another hint: The car was entered by "Thomas Hitchcock sr. - Schweiz"

#6 David McKinney

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 21:01

He also raced F3 around 1965
I've never doubted that he was an American

#7 Udo K.

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Posted 28 April 2004 - 21:03

An American with his money in Switzerland.. ?

#8 Coogar

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Posted 29 April 2004 - 07:13

IIRC Tommy Hitchcock was quick but erratic during a (brief) F3 career in the UK in (I think) 1966. There were plans for a two-car team of Brabhams for himself and Robs Lamplough which did, I think, come to fruition albeit briefly. One of the cars subsequently found its way into the hands of a certain John Watson for the Irish 'twin cam' formula and thence to Dave Berry who turned it into a sort of F5000 car.
Of Mr Hitchcock however, no further news.

#9 cabianca

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Posted 30 April 2004 - 05:17

Father was a famous polo player out of South Carolina. Was rated as a 10 Goal player 18 times between 1922-40. Enlisted. Died in England in 1944 when he crashed a P-51 Mustang. Tommy's brother worked for CIA while working for Lazard Freres investment bank. Don't know what happened to Tommy III after racing, nor do I know where the money came from, but will find out.

Regarding his entry, if it was entered by Tommy Senior, that would have been his grandfather. His grandfather and father were long dead by the time he was racing.

#10 Mike Jerram

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Posted 30 April 2004 - 15:02

I have a mental image of the Hitchcock/Tchkotoua 250 GTO comprehensively stuffed into the banking at Madgwick during the 1963 TT, but might be confusing it with John Surtees' accident at the same spot and in the same car (3647 GT) in the 1962 TT when he had a coming together with Jim Clark in the Zagato Aston while lapping him.

#11 Don Capps

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Posted 30 April 2004 - 18:04

Thomas "Tommy" Hitchcock, III was the son of 10-Goal Polo player & legend Tommy Hitchcock, Jr. In turn, Tommy, Sr. was the man primarily responsible for the establishment of Aiken, South Carolina as one of the leading Wintering places for the American aristocracy, the wealthy. Tommy, III's grandmother was Louise Eustis Hitchcock, granddaughter of W.H. Corcoran as in The Corcoran Gallery of Art here in DC. Tommy, Sr. was a Wall Street sort and founded the South Carolina horse colony which is still thriving today.

Tommy, III, is connected to the Mellons who founded Gulf Oil, in addition to the money that his own family had -- Tommy, Jr being a partner with Lehman Brothers prior to re-entering the service to fly in WW2. Tommy, Jr. died in a flying accident on 19 April 1944. Tommy, III was born in 1939 (an assumption based on his being five when his father died).

There is a 1985 book on Tommy, Jr which might have something on Tommy III, but I have never read the book despite doing some research on Aiken and its role in certain aspects of SC's sporting history -- the book being published after I wrote the article. Funny, but Tommy III gets little coverage while brother William "Billy" Mellon Hitchcock seems to be an internet immortal thanks to various conspiracy theorists.

The Hitchcock name is Big in Aiken. The memories of both Tommy Senior and Junior are still treated as they ascended from the heavens, while Billy and Tommy III seem to be largely non-entities.

I am sure I have more hidden away, but this might answer at least a few questions: for instance that Tommy, III was definitely an American by birth, which included the following: spoon, silver, one, each....

#12 Udo K.

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Posted 30 April 2004 - 19:10

Originally posted by Don Capps
I am sure I have more hidden away, but this might answer at least a few questions: for instance that Tommy, III was definitely an American by birth, which included the following: spoon, silver, one, each....


Thanks Don, it really answered most questions and it helped me a lot.

#13 fbarrett

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 17:31

Friends:

Here's more:

On February 10th, 1964, Shelby American sold a Cobra Le Mans Replica (customer car) to Thomas Mellon “Tommy” Hitchcock III, a resident of England and New York, who drove it just a week later at Daytona with his friend Prince Zourab Tchkotoua of Thailand.

Then in his mid-20s, Hitchcock had already teamed with the Prince in European events. Their previous best was eighth overall in the 1963 Targa Florio, driving the prince’s Ferrari 250 GTO (3647GT) that Hitchcock later smashed against an earth bank at Goodwood. For Hitchcock, money was a solution, not a problem. Having made its fortune in newspapers and investment banking, his family had also introduced polo to the U.S.; during the 1920s his father, Tommy Jr., had been one of the world’s best players. Their horse-racing background centered on a 3,000-acre training facility near Aiken, South Carolina. Hitchcock’s father, who died while testing a P-51B Mustang fighter in England in 1944, had served as the model for the polo-playing character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby.

Although they had shared the Prince’s Ferrari in European events, Hitchcock and his co-driver had never driven at Daytona before, but as a Shelby American entry for the 1964 2,000-km Continental, they took Cobra number 18 to eighth in the GT class and 10th overall. Later, at Sebring, also a new venue for them, they rose from 30th on the grid to seventh in class and 14th overall, finishing 27 laps down from the winner.

Not surprisingly, given the owner’s international lifestyle, CSX2155 next appeared in Sicily, for the Targa Florio. Again co-driving with Tchkotoua, Hitchcock crashed on the third of his 45-mile laps, the car suffering frontal body damage. He got back to the pits and turned the car over to his co-driver, but they completed only seven of the usual 10 laps before retiring.

At the Nürburgring 500 Km, Hitchcock shared the car with sometime-racer Gunther Thiele. After qualifying, their Cobra was surprisingly gridded first among the GTs, but Hitchcock was sure the timers had made an error. Bob Bondurant was clearly faster in a team Cobra. Whatever, both retired from the race, Hitchcock suffering another bout of front sheet metal damage when he spun on the second lap and hit an E-Type Jaguar. That August, he and the car won two races in England, one at Mallory Park, the other the Redex Trophy Race at Brands Hatch, where he set a GT lap record.

By the end of 1964, Hitchcock had moved on to a Brabham BT-8 sports-racer. His Cobra then went to a new American owner, racer Bob Grossman. The car was later raced by Stan Hallinan and Tom Fry in New England SCCA events. Today it survives, awaiting restoration, in the Shelby American Collection in Boulder, Colorado.

Prince Tchkotoua eventually moved to the Balearic Islands and married the daughter of one of that Spanish territory’s wealthiest entrepreneurs. A friend of King Don Juan Carlos and other European aristocracy, he eventually became the Islands’ biggest property owner and richest resident.

Tommy Hitchcock also went on to an unusual life. He, his twin brother, William, and their sister Peggy settled on the Mellon family’s country estate near Millbrook, New York. There, during the late 1960s, they hosted a psychedelic community led by Dr. Timothy Leary, who was hounded on various drug-related charges by the local district attorney, one G. Gordon Liddy!

This and more will appear in my upcoming book on the Shelby American Collection, Shelby Cars in Detail, out this summer. Hitchcock was a fascinating character, and the research was fun!

Frank

#14 Philip Whiteman

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 17:49

There are pictures of Hitchcock's inverted GTO at both Goodwood and the 1963 Nurburgring 100km, the latter pair showing Hitchcock emerging from under the car and standing contemplating the wreck, on pages 96 & 97 of The Automobile Year Book of Sports Car Racing written – or, more accurately – captioned by Denis Jenkinson.

Of the TT accident, Jenks says 'Of historical interest is the fact that John Surtees crashed this self-same car [reg MO 7 7434] at the same corner in the previous year's race'. Jenks also mentions several 'near misses' by Hitchcock on other corners in the same race, and also describes on the opposite page 1963 as the year of the "Hazard of Hitchcock"…

#15 David McKinney

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 18:00

Originally posted by fbarrett
... with his friend Prince Zourab Tchkotoua of Thailand

...or Georgia :)

#16 d j fox

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 20:09

Just for the sake of accuracy here—Tommy Hitchcock did not actually roll the Ferrari in the 1963 Goodwood Tourist Trophy..I know, I was there and saw the whole thing

After only a handful of very wild laps after the start he left the road at Madgwick and continued across the grass at unabated speed and drove head on into the bank. The Ferrari all but climbed the earth bank and remained there for the rest of the race with its battered nose pointing skywards!

..by the way ( and somewhat topically!!) the race was actually sponsored by The News of The World!

Finally I seem to remember the Prince was described at the time as a “White Russian Prince”

David Fox

#17 Tim Murray

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Posted 23 April 2008 - 20:33

Nürburgring crash photo here:

http://www.thenurbur...html&lang=en-us

#18 Paul Parker

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 11:55

David McKinney is correct.

#19 fbarrett

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Posted 24 April 2008 - 20:10

David:

Right you are. See http://www.geocities...s1/society.html

Thanks for the correction. Will correct my text.

Frank

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#20 H B Statham

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Posted 23 October 2009 - 12:10

Just for the sake of accuracy here—Tommy Hitchcock did not actually roll the Ferrari in the 1963 Goodwood Tourist Trophy..I know, I was there and saw the whole thing

After only a handful of very wild laps after the start he left the road at Madgwick and continued across the grass at unabated speed and drove head on into the bank. The Ferrari all but climbed the earth bank and remained there for the rest of the race with its battered nose pointing skywards!

..by the way ( and somewhat topically!!) the race was actually sponsored by The News of The World!

Finally I seem to remember the Prince was described at the time as a “White Russian Prince”

David Fox


David
Hi, I was also there and very close by, also by (good) luck took a photo just as he hit the bank, the car ended up almost upside down and almost on top of the old guard rails which is why its often quoted as 'rolled'. It was later rolled back onto its wheels and laid there for ther rest of the race.
Regards
Howard

#21 fbarrett

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 21:59

As an update, the Hitchcock Cobra, CSX 2155, has been restored (to early race form) and is now on display at the Shelby American Collection in Boulder, Colorado.

 

As an aside, anyone wanting to know more about the Hitchcock family should read the biography Tommy Hitchcock by Nelson Aldrich; Its subject is "Cobra" Tommy's father, but it gives good context. Copies are available on Amazon (but not cheap).



#22 M Needforspeed

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 17:00

As at the 1964 Nürburgring 1000 Km,  Hitchcock wealthy or not showed he cld  deliver inspired driving.

 

 He entered the 1965 French GP F3 support race. Driving the only Brabham entry at  the Formula 3 Clermont Ferrand Charade demanding track, not only he qualified on pole, but won the race .

 In that event, he beat not only  Chris Irwin new Merlyn, but the new Matras F3 of Jaussaud and Beltoise in their maiden race, and the Alpine work team three entries.

 That ain't a bad show, all those drivers having a better knowledge of that long and demanding track.

 

 Just at the starting grid, Jack who didn't raced himself , seeing it was the only Brabham car, came and gave him a cheerful support.


Edited by M Needforspeed, 05 October 2013 - 17:09.


#23 ReWind

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 18:45

If anyone cares: Twin brothers Thomas Mellon Hitchcock III and William Mellon Hitchcock - Tommy and Billy - were born on 17 July 1939.

http://content.time....,761742,00.html

Monday, July 17, 1939

Born. To Thomas Hitchcock Jr., 39, world's No. 1 polo player; and Margaret Mellon Laughlin Hitchcock, 38, grandniece of the late Secretary of the Treasury Andrew William Mellon; twin sons, their third and fourth children. Weights: 7 Ib. 8 oz. and 7 Ib. 10 oz. Names: Thomas and William.


Edited by ReWind, 05 October 2013 - 18:46.


#24 M Needforspeed

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 22:21

  Charade 1965

 

  On the back, we can see Jean Redelé, the boss from Alpine, who nursed Mauro Bianchi, Philippe Vidal,and Jean Rolland.

 

  Surprisingly ( or because of  better inlets ports ) , the 3 (only) entrants from foreign countries started on the first row : Hitchcock, Irwin and Stiller.

 

   On fourth lap, Tommy Hitchcock spun  at the Rosier corner .On the last pic, Mauro Bianchi Alpine will take the lead .But on the Eighth lap, Hitchcock will pass him and win the race.(Pole with 3'38"20 , win and best lap)

 

http://img853.images...3/1883/d678.jpg

 

 

http://img42.imagesh...2/8278/uij9.jpg

 

 

http://img62.imagesh...2/6586/n3lm.jpg

 

http://img42.imagesh...2/5406/k9ni.jpg


Edited by M Needforspeed, 05 October 2013 - 22:48.