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Photo: Pete Austin

My greatest racecar has to be the D-Type Jaguar. Of course, when I drove my greatest racecar it was fairly outdated. My father was in the motor business, so naturally when I left school it was assumed I’d do the same. During the 1950s in England, National Service was something all young men had to do, and I was no exception to that rule. It was while engaged on this duty when I collapsed due to what was said to be an epileptic fit. Of course, this stopped my driving for a couple of years and I was immediately discharged from the Army. While on this driving sabbatical, cars still played a big part of my everyday life. In 1956, on the Tuesday following the Easter Monday, I was looking through a newspaper and noticed a picture of a D-Type Jaguar upside down at Goodwood, a crash that had unfortunately killed a young driver called Tony Dennis. Apparently he had “plonked” the car into bottom gear instead of third going down the Lavant Straight. The car belonged to Duncan Hamilton, who I knew through our Jaguar dealership. I asked if I could buy the car and he agreed, once it had been released by Jaguar following the accident investigation by the Police. I paid Hamilton £1,250. When the car was released by Jaguar I went to collect it. It was loaded onto one of our drop-side lorries by a forklift truck. The lads at Jaguar laughed at me and asked what I was going to do with “the load of rubbish.” I rebuilt it just before I got my license back. The idea was to race the car and sell it on quite quickly, after I’d shown what it was capable of. Unfortunately, I soon learned racing was a completely different thing to driving on the road. Nevertheless, I continued racing and eventually had some great results with it over several seasons. The D-Type has been a firm favorite with me ever since then. Just last year I was treated to a drive in John Pearson’s “D,” XKD 543, around Silverstone—it really brought a tear to my eye.

Although my greatest racecar is the D-Type Jaguar, one of my best races was at Brands Hatch in the Guards Trophy, I think it was 1966. I drove the Lotus 40 of Alan Eccles, all the big boys were there and I was on the third row behind Graham Hill in a Lola. On the front row were Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon and John Surtees, with Brian Redman, and Graham Hill on row two. I can’t remember who else, but there was a large amount of money for the winner. When the flag dropped I just avoided running up the back of Graham because he “fluffed” it. I lost some places, but started to get them back and was lying 6th or 7th when the rain came down. It was so heavy the circuit was flooded with cars going off everywhere. I kept going and remember passing Jim Clark, who was in the Felday-BRM 4WD, approaching Paddock he looked at me and I looked at him, then I went fully sideways down the hill into a flood in the dip and I remember a big splash of water. This straightened up the car. Then I drove as fast as I could and was in the lead and did two or three laps. No one could have caught me, as I came toward the line the red flag came out and I had to stop. No sooner had I pulled up and the sun came out. We had to do a restart, blow me Graham did it again, I did finish 7th and I complained about the race being stopped, but I was told all the big names had asked for it to be done. It’s a shame as I wasn’t on wet weather tires either. I felt I had great car control in such circumstances. My brother Chris was also in the race in an Elva-Climax V8, also entered by Alan Eccles. He finished 17th, so the result was good for sibling rivalry too.

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