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Ralph Miller/Brownloe Whitehead Lotus cars


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#1 Darren Galpin

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 07:25

I've had the following e-mail enquiry which I'm struggling to answer:

"I am trying to figure out the history of Brownloe Whitehead's Lotus Eleven Chassis Number 150 which I recently purchased in Texas.
We already know that before the car was transported a mistake was made at the factory when the chassis plates of Lotus Eleven 153 (sorry, not IX as in your list), bought by Ralph Miller from New York and the prototype 150 bought by Brownloe Whitehead from Fort Worth Texas were switched. As usual Lotus must have been in a hurry with many last minute jobs to be finished before the shipment. Both cars still exist and still retain these swapped identities.
As the 3 Elevens 150, 153 and 155 were shipped to Sebring and only arrived a few days before the races I guess that Ralph Miller inscribed his car with the original chassis number as on the sales document.

I wonder if you could tell me if Brownloe Whitehead's car was also inscribed for the 1956 Sebring 12 Hour race but never participated? The car has the hole in the bodywork for the second fueltank as used for long distance races.

I would also be gratefull if you could give me some hints where I should get more info about my car and Brownloe Whitehead.
We are actually restoring the car which is 90% original and would like to keep as much of the original car as possible and get it back to the condition, color scheme included, as when raced by Brownloe Whitehead in the 50's."


A couple of things I have established:
1) TATS reckons Miller's car was a Lotus IX for the 1956 Sebring 12 Hrs, but it does contain a few errors. Can anyone confirm either way from other sources what the car was?
2) I have no record of Whitehead entering a Lotus in the '56 Sebring race.

I have no further details about Whitehead either. Can anyone help with this at all?

Many thanks,

Darren

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#2 Lotus11Register

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 10:51

The Miller Eleven, chassis tag #150, WAS the first Lotus Eleven to race, making the debut at the 1956 Sebring event after the factory Eleven rolled and burned. A photo of Miller in the car is at:

http://www.lotuselev...chassis_155.htm

The MK 9 in the photo was Joe Sheppard's car, co-driven by Colin Chapman.

True, race records show Miller's car entered as a MK 9, perhaps because he wasn't sure what his car would be called when he made his entry. (The Mk 9s that made their debut at Sebring in 1955 were entered there as Mk 8s.) The Fletcher Lippett / Brownloe Whitehead Eleven, chassis tag #153, wasn't entered at Sebring, and a sketchy recollection from Whitehead in the 1970s said this was because there weren't any spare parts.

Yes, #153 was the earlier of the two cars, and most likely THE prototype Eleven. More info is available to all on the www.lotuseleven.org web site.

The Miller Eleven and the Whitehead Eleven raced at Eagle Mountain in Texas in 1956, and probably got a lot of attention there and elsewhere as the Eleven was such a striking car and still very new & rare. It would be especially helpful if someone on this forum could post a COLOR PHOTO of the Lippett / Whitehead Eleven as seen in 1956. Naturally, anyone with first-hand information about thes cars is urged to tell us more about them. Thanks.