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Any information on Gordon Spice / Spice Engineering?


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#1 Amadeus

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 11:48

Hi folks,

I recently bought a 1968 Lotus Elan+2. It came fitted with a non-standard, small diameter steering wheel (like a racing car wheel) with the Lotus logo on a horn push boss and the name "Gordon Spice" engraved on it.

I have done some research and I know that he was a succesful driver and race team owner in the 70's, 80's and early 90's. He seems to mainly have driven Capri's and his team seemed to mainly compete in world sportscars. But info seems very scare and I would like to know more about him, if possible. Specifically any information on his conection to Lotus and what he's doing now (assuming he's alive!) would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

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#2 flat-16

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 13:11

Spice Engineering were a dominant force in Group C2 racing, check this link: http://www.geocities...wns/1403/c2.htm

Due to their Datapost sponsorship, the cars were always referred to as Postman Pat by commentators, but their success, with people like Ray Mallock and David Leslie involved, was certainly no joke. The core of the team is now in the BTCC.


:D

There's a lot more to Gordon Spice than Capri racing! ;) I'm sure there will be other members who are infinitely more knowledgeable than me on this topic - I suspect you should get plenty of information here.

Congrats on the Elan purchase - :up:


Justin

#3 2F-001

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 13:31

I think Gordon owned (or was involved in) a racewear and aftermarket accessory business, which may (or may not) be the reason for the legend on the steering wheel.

Spice's race-team partner Ray Bellm had similar interests (what is now Grand Prix Racewear ?, which merged with a smaller concern - and an extremely helpful and friendly one, I recall - Road and Racing(?), but I don't know if Spice and Bellm's businesses were connected beforehand or if their partnership grew primarily out of racing; or perhaps the two matters are inseparable!

I think this is something "Cirrus" might know about...

Didn't Gordon have some F5000 outings, too? I'm thinking Kitchmac for some reason.

#4 kayemod

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 13:39


As far as I know, there was never any connection between Gordon Spice and Lotus. Gordon had a successful chain of car accessory shops, all in west London I think. The shops were a cut above the average, they sold some nice stuff, my own business used to supply a few items to them. GS sold lots of steering wheels, produced by several different manufacturers, and I'd guess that the Lotus badge on your +2 wheel was transferred from the original Lotus item by the then owner. Having long legs, the +2 was my favourite Lotus when I worked there in the 70s. With what for those days were quite wide tires and no power assistance, I'd have thought the standard wheel was as small as most owners would want to go, steering was nicely weighted as standard. Although I was no longer in contact then, I think that Gordon sold all the shops once his C2 operation began to demand all his time.



#5 Amadeus

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 13:54

Interesting stuff! Thanks

If you are interested this is the interior, showing the wheel Posted Image

I hadn't thought about an aftermarket accessory as the name is engraved in a hand-writing style (looks freehand) rather than as a logo or stamped / mass produced. Would certainly explain it though.

The wheel is very small and it takes a little getting used to but the steering is amazing - almost telepathic. I'm thinking about getting a replacment moto-lita (would a 12" be the correct size?) but I didn't want to bin a wheel that may have some history.

I'm always fascinated reading about people like Gordon, they usually have very interesting biographies. Bit disapointing if the only connection to my wheel is from a posh version of Halfords though!!

Thanks again for your info



#6 Terry Walker

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 14:16

If you like it leave it on.

Lucky bugger!

#7 Peter Darley

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 15:01

When I was Competitions Manager of Britax, Gordon and Steve Neal were the the drivers of the Britax Mini Coopers. They were both smokers, and I remember it was hard to get a publicity shot of them without a fag in hand !

#8 Cirrus

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 17:09

I used to work for "Gordy" in the mid seventies at his motor accessory cash-and-carry warehouse in Staines. I used to work in the "Specialised Products" department selling racing gear. We distributed Linea Sport racewear, Griffin helmets, Fireater extinguishers. Gordon kindly sponsored my Chevron B15. I think the Spice family had a background in the coffee or cocoa business.

The warehouse business expanded in the late seventies, with warehouses in Cardiff and Canning Town. There were other businesses - "International Spares" (still going, I believe), and "The Aylesbury Tappet" retail outlet, run by the late Hugo Tippet. I've got many happy memories of those days, when everything seemed so much easier and relaxed...

I met Gordon again, a few years ago at a BRDC event and we had a good chat about the old days.

Incidentally, Gordon raced a McLaren M10, Kitchiner, and Kitchmac in F5000, together with the Lola T332 that resulted in him sporting a very pronounced "Lola Limp" in the days when I worked there.

Here's a picture of the "Gordon Spice Group" logo (hand painted by the great Doug Eyre) on my Chevron...

Posted Image

#9 Mistron

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 19:47

Motorsport (I think) did an article on Spice a year or so back focussing on the GpC era.

From memory, I think Spice and Bellm had 'a bit of a falling out' towards the end, but can't recall the details.

I'll try to dig out the article and post issue details

#10 2F-001

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 09:21

Who was Gordy's regular team-mate in the Capris in that hectic Group 1 era? I'm wanting to say Chris Craft but that doesn't sound right, and my memory is letting me down lately!

#11 Cirrus

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 10:36

Pete Clark (or was it Clarke?) was the other Capri driver. He ran CC developments with Dave Cook, and they prepared the cars. Chris Craft was an arch rival, but good mate of Gordon.

#12 Mallory Dan

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 13:28

I thought Spice and Craft were teammates in red Capris, 1980??

#13 jcbc3

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 14:16

Originally posted by Peter Darley
When I was Competitions Manager of Britax, Gordon and Steve Neal were the the drivers of the Britax Mini Coopers. They were both smokers, and I remember it was hard to get a publicity shot of them without a fag in hand !


(details are sketchy in my head but I think this is the gist of it)

My brother was present at some kind of price ceremony in 1988 or 1987 after one of his group C wins. I think at Spa. Being offered water to cool down, he exclaimed: "Water????, don't you guys have beer?"



#14 Cirrus

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 16:01

I thought Spice and Craft were teammates in red Capris, 1980??



I think you're right, Dan. I was talking about the mid-seventies. Keith Greene was involved with the team in those days as well.

#15 Alan Cox

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 16:34

Gordon won the snow-stricken F5000 race at Oulton Park, 28 March 1975, which probably came as much of a surprise to him as it did to those watching.

http://www.oldracing...php?RaceID=E75B

Here is the combination in question - apologies for the quality (or lack of it)- it's come from the reject box.
Posted Image

#16 flat-16

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 18:09

Originally posted by Alan Cox
Gordon won the snow-stricken F5000 race at Oulton Park, 28 March 1975, which probably came as much of a surprise to him as it did to those watching.

http://www.oldracing...php?RaceID=E75B

Here is the combination in question - apologies for the quality (or lack of it)- it's come from the reject box.
Posted Image


All those horses on a snow-covered course? :eek: This is the first time I've heard of F5000 cars running on snow - does anyone have a link or information that gives more detail?

Gordon certainly earned his prize money that day! Jeepers!

edit: After trying a search, it appears that the only thread I can find in TNF that pertains to open-wheelers racing in snow is this one here: Ronnie Peterson at Silverstone

I wonder if the topic deserves a dedicated thread? How many races were held in snow and when did the practice stop?

Justin

#17 Alan Cox

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 18:36

When I described it as snow-stricken, the track itself was clear of snow, but it remained up to the track edge, and it was touch-and-go whether the event would take place.

This photo will give you a better idea of the conditions during practice:
Posted Image

#18 zoff2005

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 19:10

Wasn't his shop called City Speed Shop or something or other? It was on Bishopsgate, EC2, right next to where I started working back in 1969.
Marcus

#19 bradbury west

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 20:39

Originally posted by Mistron
Motorsport (I think) did an article on Spice a year or so back focussing on the GpC era.
I'll try to dig out the article and post issue details


Richard Heseltine interviewed him for C&SC, April 2007 issue, pages 200/204
Roger Lund.

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#20 Paul Parker

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 12:44

Gordon Spice owned the City Speed Shop in London, Bishopsgate during the 1970s and I seem to recall that his brother Derek was also involved.

The steering wheels were copies of the Moto Lita brand, slightly inferior but much, much cheaper. Their product name was 100+. The shop was run by Australian John Hansford who many years later started Luke harnesses. I worked there from March to late December 1971.

The shop was on two levels, downstairs it was accessories, steering wheels, crookloks, wheel spacers for Minis and Anglias, driving gloves, Jackie Stewart corduroy hats and myriad other ephemera.

Upstairs it was Nomex race suits and underwear, Bell helmets etc. The shop attracted the usual quota of nutters and persons seeking car spares and one day a rather Monty Python type character crossed the threshold and asked me for a set of bumper bolts for a Skoda. When I explained that this was an accessory shop and not a motor factors and we did not sell 'spares' he became quite belligerent and started saying things like "Call yourselves a motor spares shop" etc., etc.

It just so happened that Gordy was upstairs checking out the helmet stock and he had overheard the customer's complaints (we were standing at the bottom of the staircase). Gordy did not suffer fools gladly and he came down to see what was going on, demanding an explanation from me.

I told him about the request for Skoda bumper bolts and he paused for a few seconds, looked at the customer then turned to me and said "What the ****'s a Skoda?" Said punter exited rapidly very red in the face whilst I subsided into minor hysterics and Gordy went back to checking the stock.

Working there was a hoot and I enjoyed it immensely for a while, carefree and different days.

#21 Amadeus

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 13:55

Excellent story!

I doubt you can remember from this far away but did teh wheels have his name inscribed on them?

#22 Paul Parker

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 15:12

Not that I can remember Amadeus but it was 37 years ago (gulp!)

However they definitely had 100+ on them somewhere so possibly Gordy's name was there too. I had forgotten about the very small diameter s/wheels fad, the smallest I seem to recall was only 10 inches across!

All the stock was collected from the main warehouse normally by John and then brought back to the shop.
Another incident has just popped back into my consciousness. One sunny day a 750 Honda 4 stopped outside the shop and the attractive female rider came in to buy something (can't remember what now). The memorable thing was that she was wearing Chris Amon's Bell Star, apparently being a girlfriend.

All sorts visited and in those days briefly parking outside was viable. The past is another country.

#23 2F-001

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 16:00

Well, the Moto-Lita wheels have the brand name engraved in small, fine (if rather crudely lettered) script - I have an 11-and-half inch diameter example here right now. If the 'Spice' ones were essentially copies of, or 'in the style of', Moto-Lita they may have followed that style too, perhaps?

#24 Amadeus

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 16:53

Well that's it, mystery solved!

Great stories, hard to imagine that sort of thing these days.

#25 David Force

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 17:54

Anyone who came across Gordon will have tales to tell, they really do not make them like that anymore. If any publisher had the courage to cover his life story it would be an absolute scream, particularly in these PC times.

Unfortunately Gordon is rather unwell at present, he was due to attend a BRDC lunch last week but was unable to make it and for Gordie to miss a lunch with his mates you can judge he is poorly.

#26 Doug Nye

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Posted 22 January 2008 - 19:08

Indeed. Spare a thought for him...

DCN

#27 Paul Parker

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 12:10

Sorry to hear that.

#28 spa1972class

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 09:09

Further to the Gordon Spice/GS Engineering discussion, I can say that the suggestion Gordon write a 'hilarious' book is being acted on.

Gordon has been working his autobiography for some time, and I have the privilege of editing it in 2008. A publisher has verbally agreed to take the title, but contracts are awaited.

If you have a story about Gordon--and have not already been contacted by the great man--then please feel free to contribute. I'll check the site regularly and acknowledge published items, just as Walton/Haynes did for the Gerrry Marshall's 2005 Tribute edition of Only Here for the Beer.

To refresh memories Gordon had a full business life with the high street shops 1960s-1990, the Spice Engineering Group C cars [also based in Atlanta, GA. USA] and a strong Le Mans record.

Also prominent in 1960s saloon car racing with Minis: Britax, Arden and his own Minis with an amazing Downtown employment spell.
Capris are well remembered, but i was surprised to find GS started with the Wisharts Capri in 1973 and ran to 1980 with a dominant record of class championship wins 1976-1980

Not so well remembered, so contributions particularly valuable--Gordon also raced: MG TF; Morgan and then linked to Lawrencetune-Deep Sanderson at Le Mans.

Gordon also raced Formula 5000 with Tony Kitchiner [another thread on this site, pardon my rushed spelling] and a Lola, winning one event and suffering a huge crash at Mallory Park, 1975. We have accounts of this from insiders, but if you saw the incident, memories welcome.

When the book is contracted I'll add more details, meanwhile thanks for reading this far.

I can say from the five chapters in place now that it is the most entertaining and educational project I have tackled in 33 motoring book titles...The experience has left me with deep respect for one of my 1960s spectator heroes, but also with sore ribs for his persistent saucy humour-- even in the face of current adversity..

#29 Cirrus

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 16:05

A small anecdote... After late night opening on Thursday evenings at the Staines warehouse, we would all repair to the pub. At this time Gordon had an aged Whippet called Charlie. Charlie had the run of the warehouse, but dutifully followed Gordon into the car when it was time to go. One particularly wet and cold Thursday, we were in the pub as usual, but Charlie had found his way outside. When we left, he was nowhere to be found. Gordon was very concerned, but after a fruitless search, we all had to go home.

The next day, somebody rang the warehouse from East London to say that he'd got Charlie. Apparently, what had happened was that the poor soaked dog was standing, shivering next to a car. A passer-by, thinking that it was his owners car, let Charlie in. He immediately curled up on the back seat and went to sleep. The driver did not discover that he had an unexpected passenger until he got home.

Gordon was extremely relieved when he got the call the next day.

#30 Capri53B

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Posted 07 February 2008 - 10:43

I have spent quite a lot of time with Gordon as he is my mentor for my racing and over the last few years grown to be good m8s.He is a great guy with a big heart and he has helped me with my racing for 3 years now and I can honestly say with out him I would have been last.

#31 Hans de Vries

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 21:21

This takes me back! I worked in 'The Aylesbury Tappet' from it's opening somewhere in the late sixties/early seventies with Hugo Tippet for 3-4 years. I am most saddened to hear that someone referred to him as 'the late Hugo Tippet'. He was a good friend.
The steering wheels were indeed a Steve Neal 100+ variant, meant to give an alternative to the much more expensive Moto-Lita wheels. They had less boss kits available than Moto-Lita, but I remember we used to 'modify' Moto-Lita bosses to make the cheaper wheel fit! It wasn't a bad product; being made out of dural as the M-Ls were. There were certainly poorer products around.
As 'The Tappet' was a Gordon Spice partnership, I also worked in the Staines warehouse for about two months, travelling down from Aylesbury on my Velocette MAC350, until it seized. In fact, I remember moving the stock from the Windsor warehouse to the 'new' big Staines location! We would have lunch at Gordon's house in Old Windsor as a break. I too have good memories of Gordon; very affable and kind, even to a spotty kid like myself in those days! I remember Derek and the International Spares man, Keith Cundell.
Any jolts to the memory would be great, and if possible any news on what happened to Hugo Tippet.

#32 Cirrus

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 22:21

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I met Gordon after a gap of many years, at a BRDC event. It was there that he told me that Hugo had died. He didn't seem to know many details, but implied that it may not have been by natural causes. Hugo was a true eccentric, with a very dry sense of humour. At the time I worked at Staines, he was running the Piranha Ignition distribution business, assisted by John Meale.

I enjoyed working for Derek - a bit of a renegade! I remember a new manager joining the warehouse, who had a particular dislike for motor racing, and anything to do with it, and therefore hated the high margin racing products department that I managed. Derek took me aside and said "Keep your eye out for him. Whenever he's around, it doesn't matter what you're doing, make sure it looks as though you're doing it f**king fast! Derek used to demonstrate the Linea Sport raceware by soaking a glove in petrol, putting it on his hand and setting fire to it. He would demonstrate the strength of the Griffin Grand Prix visor by shooting it with a 12-bore shotgun - a real showman...

I joined the Staines warehouse in early 1976. Keith Cundell's International Spares operation appeared to be thriving, and the whole place had a very enjoyable family atmosphere. At the time I worked there, Gordon had a cottage on Thorpe Green, not far from where I lived. If he passed me waiting at the bus stop for work, he would stop and give me a lift in his Porsche. On one occasion, I managed to reverse the automatic Austin 1300 of Gordon's wife, Mandy, into a ditch just outside the cottage, when I was meant to be taking it to Silverstone. Gordon said nothing, but the look on his face shouted "Pillock!".

The more I think about it, the more the memories keep flooding back - happy days!

#33 sterling49

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 22:36

Originally posted by Cirrus
On one occasion, I managed to reverse the automatic Austin 1300 of Gordon's wife, Mandy, into a ditch just outside the cottage, when I was meant to be taking it to Silverstone. Gordon said nothing, but the look on his face shouted "Pillock!".


If looks could kill Alan!!!! Gear selection probs in an auto ??? :D

#34 Gregor Marshall

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 22:42

I admit to knowing little about "Gordys" early life of his Saloon car racing in the Capri; so I'd love to hear the stories of him and TW clashing in Group 1 and the in World Sporsts Cars; there must be some great stories!!

#35 sterling49

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 22:47

I particularly liked the period he spent in the Britax-Cooper-Downton 1300 "S" great battles with such a variety of cars and, as with all of his cars, superbly turned out :up:

#36 eddie2859

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 20:48

Originally posted by spa1972class
Further to the Gordon Spice/GS Engineering discussion, I can say that the suggestion Gordon write a 'hilarious' book is being acted on.

Gordon has been working his autobiography for some time, and I have the privilege of editing it in 2008. A publisher has verbally agreed to take the title, but contracts are awaited.

If you have a story about Gordon--and have not already been contacted by the great man--then please feel free to contribute. I'll check the site regularly and acknowledge published items, just as Walton/Haynes did for the Gerrry Marshall's 2005 Tribute edition of Only Here for the Beer.

To refresh memories Gordon had a full business life with the high street shops 1960s-1990, the Spice Engineering Group C cars [also based in Atlanta, GA. USA] and a strong Le Mans record.

Also prominent in 1960s saloon car racing with Minis: Britax, Arden and his own Minis with an amazing Downtown employment spell.
Capris are well remembered, but i was surprised to find GS started with the Wisharts Capri in 1973 and ran to 1980 with a dominant record of class championship wins 1976-1980

Not so well remembered, so contributions particularly valuable--Gordon also raced: MG TF; Morgan and then linked to Lawrencetune-Deep Sanderson at Le Mans.

Gordon also raced Formula 5000 with Tony Kitchiner [another thread on this site, pardon my rushed spelling] and a Lola, winning one event and suffering a huge crash at Mallory Park, 1975. We have accounts of this from insiders, but if you saw the incident, memories welcome.

When the book is contracted I'll add more details, meanwhile thanks for reading this far.

I can say from the five chapters in place now that it is the most entertaining and educational project I have tackled in 33 motoring book titles...The experience has left me with deep respect for one of my 1960s spectator heroes, but also with sore ribs for his persistent saucy humour-- even in the face of current adversity..

:up:

MEMORYS



#37 Gregor Marshall

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 20:54

Does Mr Spice ever post on places like this??

#38 TooTall

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 03:30

Here is the Spice-Pontiac IMSA GTP-Lights car of Don Bell and Jeff Kline at Riverside, 1987. They placed 1st in class and 6th overall.

Posted Image

Cheers,
Kurt O.

#39 bluebird

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 18:59

I thought Spice Racing cars were bought up some years ago in its entirety? If that is the case, than I'm sure I know who now owns it,

Blue Skies

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#40 fausto

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 00:02

Originally posted by bluebird
I thought Spice Racing cars were bought up some years ago in its entirety? If that is the case, than I'm sure I know who now owns it,

Blue Skies


At first was bought by the group of people behind Allard Sportscar project (Costas Los, Jean-Louis Ricci, Chris Humberstone), then it was the turn of an Australian businessman, who intended to bring the marque back to Le Mans (mid '90s)

#41 john winfield

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 16:30

Really interesting to hear some news about Gordon Spice and I hope he's on the mend. The book should be fun!

But, like Hans, I'm very sorry to hear that Hugo Tippet is no longer with us. He was very good to me, an incompetent 18 year old, between school and college, and gave me a six month job helping with Piranha at Staines and the shop in Aylesbury. I think I came along in early 1976 just after Hans had left.

I loved motor sport, was delighted to be working for racers like Hugo and GS, couldn't drive a car and used to commute from Tring to Staines on a very slow Puch Maxi moped. Hugo took pity on me and, during the winter, began to give me lifts, from his house in Ford, in his racy mini van, a replacement I think for his even more sporty modified Austin Maxi. If early enough, I'd join Hugo and Barbara for a big bowl of coffee before setting off. And, some evenings, he let me loose in the mini on some wasteland to learn the art of driving. I got into third once but stalled a lot too.....

As the weather improved that summer I bought a Honda 125 and have happy memories of biking between Tring and the Spice warehouse in Staines. Some of the lads in 'International' had some tasty bikes I remember, much bigger than mine!

The Piranha work was interesting and so was the shop - Tony ? helped Hugo run that. In early 1976 John Meale was running The Rallyman in Egham, I think. He took me as his assistant to the Donington Speedshow for ten days - accommodation was hard to find and we shared a bed in a Melbourne pub I think, but that's another story. It was a very big bed, honest. I'm not sure if we made much money at the Speedshow but I remember Mick Dodsworth from Chequers Travel taking me for a drive around the still unmade-up track, and having the freedom to browse among the museum exhibits each evening, once the public had gone. I was a big fan of Ickx, Regazzoni and Ferrari and, in the half darkness, climbed into the 312B, sat behind the wheel and promptly got stuck in the moulded seat. My hips were a lot wider than Ickx's! After what seemed like an age I manged to clamber out before Tom Wheatcroft caught me.

I last saw Hugo at Silverstone in the late 1970s or early 1980s - I think he was working for Tom Walkinshaw's race team. I wish I'd kept in contact but, sadly, it seems now that it's too late. I know a little about what he did in the 1960s and ealy 1970s, but I'd love to know what he got up to post 1976. In a way though, I still see Hugo regularly. I handle a lot of racing programmes and, if you look in those from 1970s Silverstone meetings, there are some great Aylesbury Tappet ads, some showing Hugo in the racing Clubman, others with him driving a very full shopping trolley. Happy days!

#42 Cirrus

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 18:13

I remember you well, John. I seem to recall that Chris Delaney (who looked after the Specialised Products section before me) had his RAC medical form signed by a Dr John Winfield! I also remember Syd Fox coming in for a new Griffin Helmet, and mistaking your name for that of John Wingfield on the Tannoy. I was interested to hear of the Donington bed-sharing story with John Meale. It must have been a big bed! The last I heard of him, he was a storeman for Tyrrell in the early nineties.

Hugo's niece, Claire (daughter of Charles) is a racer and instructor, and now works for the Masters Series - the next time I get a chance to talk to her I'll make some discreet enquiries about Hugo.

Here she is http://www.motor-spo....php?details=42 There's a strong family resemblance isn't there?

They were great days at Staines - so many laughs! I guess that's what you get when you are 40-ish and staff your company with teenage and twenty-something racing nuts!

#43 bluebird

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 20:16

I've been reading all the posts - such lovely times as - someone already pointed out - in those un-PC days of old.
From 1974 to the mid 80's, Brands Hatch endured me as a regular BRSCC marshal on post 3 from where I saw many of the real characters like Tony Lanfranchi, Whizzo Williams, Gerry Marshall et al. Because of its convenient location, many drivers used to come on post and chat to us in between 'work'.
David Purley was always one in particular that drew a good crowd whenever he visited.

I was quite fortunate that I still knew BRSCC guys like Bert Lamkin, Monty Tyrrell, Tony Beadle, Colin Holdom and many more that actually cared.
Thank you for those years!

Arthur Benjamins

#44 john winfield

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 22:22

Alan, you have a remarkable memory!
So, I falsified Chris Delaney's RAC medical form did I......I'd forgotten that. I'll be struck off...well I would be if I were a doctor. I remember going with Chris (and you?) to Mallory where he was racing his FFord in a support event at an F5000 meeting. Chris gave me a lift from Aylesbury where I left my moped and during the day I managed to lose my old open face Stadium helmet. On the Sunday evening Chris kindly lent me his very smart full-face Griffin and I did feel a bit of an idiot on the Monday morning, trundling along to Staines at 28mph on a Puch Maxi in a flash helmet. I bought myself an orange Speedstar from the warehouse, a trendy jacket from the Aylesbury Tappet, and swopped the Puch for a Honda 125 - I must have been the coolest thing in Staines unti Ali G arrived, surely.

Would that be Syd Fox the F Ford driver? I think I saw him win a hatfull of races back in the 70s and John Wingfield had the F2 Brabham didn't he, amongst other things. Gerry Marshall's other half, as it were. Your mentioning the tannoy brings it all back....I used to sort the Piranha orders up on that sort of mezzanine floor high in the warehouse - between announcements the lads played cartridge music: 10cc and a Stones' album with She's a Rainbow were often on. It was hot up there (1976!) and I used to go down to reception to cool down a bit, and have a chat with Sylvia.

Nice to hear that John Meale got to work for Tyrrell. Did all the GS shops, Specialised Products, International etc. close at the same time?

Thanks for the website link - that's a nice picture of Claire Tippet and , yes, I do see the resemblance. Charles is Hugo's younger brother isn't he? Do /did they look quite alike?

John

#45 hardy

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 11:28

Originally posted by Cirrus
I used to work for "Gordy" in the mid seventies at his motor accessory cash-and-carry warehouse in Staines. I used to work in the "Specialised Products" department selling racing gear. We distributed Linea Sport racewear, Griffin helmets, Fireater extinguishers. Gordon kindly sponsored my Chevron B15. I think the Spice family had a background in the coffee or cocoa business.

The warehouse business expanded in the late seventies, with warehouses in Cardiff and Canning Town. There were other businesses - "International Spares" (still going, I believe), and "The Aylesbury Tappet" retail outlet, run by the late Hugo Tippet. I've got many happy memories of those days, when everything seemed so much easier and relaxed...

I met Gordon again, a few years ago at a BRDC event and we had a good chat about the old days.

Incidentally, Gordon raced a McLaren M10, Kitchiner, and Kitchmac in F5000, together with the Lola T332 that resulted in him sporting a very pronounced "Lola Limp" in the days when I worked there.

Here's a picture of the "Gordon Spice Group" logo (hand painted by the great Doug Eyre) on my Chevron...

Posted Image


Hi cirrus

When did you work for the Aylesbury Tappet, i used to work for Alexander engineering Haddenham early 60's, was there any business, relationships between the two companies?

#46 Cirrus

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 12:15

Hi Hardy. I never worked at The Aylesbury Tappet, but I did work at the Staines warehouse, where Hugo was based, between 1976 and 1977.

#47 johns333

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 19:07

As this seems to be gathering of people who worked at Gordon Spice Staines, I shall add my name to the list. If I remember correctly, I worked there for about a year (76-77). Alan, I worked as your assistant before you left to join Fireater?

Worked with Hugo and John Meale.

Used to go to the Touring Car race meetings with the Specialised Products Support Transit van - in which I remember doing a very interesting, after hours lap of Thruxton.

I too remember Derek setting fire to himself to prove the effectiveness of Linea Sport racewear.

Why the actor Tom Baker came to the warehouse I can't recall, was being paid to promote something I guess, maybe Griffin helmets. He certainly seemed to enjoy the lunchtime pub session. I see he is the guest presenter of Have I Got News for You tonight.

John Strickland

#48 Cirrus

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 19:24

Hi John - I certainly remember you. We must all try to meet up some time. I'm sure we'd have a good laugh at some of the antics we got up to. Didn't you take over the Specialised Products department for a while after I left? Then another guy (Pete something?) took over, and was rather too efficient for my liking.

Strange how we've all ended up here...

#49 johns333

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 19:46

Yes, I did "run" Specialised Products for a while - probably only a few months. I left to go back to college and also before the affair of the missing Avdel Pip Pins came to light.

The reason I came accross this forum was that I was driving past the premises that used to be Thames Car Radio which was owned by Rich Wager and that made me think of John Meale who was a friend of his, googled him when I got home and that brought me here!

Whilst I remained interested in racing, it was about 20 years before I got involved again and have raced myself on and off for the last 12 years, currently off. Although I am getting up at 5.00am tomorrow to go to Donington to help a friend. I remember your Formula 4 car. Did you carry on racing? Do you still?

#50 Cirrus

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 20:05

I, too had a long layoff from racing, but was coerced back in by a mate from those days, Iain Rowley. We now run the Historic FF2000 Association together, and thanks to his generosity, and that of Michael Ashley-Brown and Stuart Olley (two of his customers), I've done a bit of racing over the last couple of years in a Lotus Elite and Royale and Delta FF2000 cars.

What did/do you race, John?

Sorry - this must be very boring for people interested in the Spice Group C cars...