Procter and teamate Jimmy Blumer raced the Tiger coupe at Le Mans in 1964, even though the better decision would have been to withdraw the car.
I defected to Ford racing with Alan Mann, driving Lotus Cortinas, Mustangs and Falcons. In formula racing, I was driving for Ken Tyrrell. Ken expected feedback from his drivers during testing, qualifying and races. Without this feedback, it was impossible to set up or improve the handling and efficiency of a car. It didn’t matter whether I was driving an F2, F3 or FJ car, when I took a car out on the track as soon as I got back to the pits I was asked about the car’s performance. Did the brakes need adjusting? Was the roll bar correct? Were the gear ratios right? Formula One today has some of the most sophisticated and technical equipment to tell them what is right or wrong with the performance of the car. However, it still comes down to what a driver can feel through the “seat of his pants” that tells the most.
Rootes had replaced Norman Garrad with Marcus Chambers as competitions manager. I suppose because of my three years previous experience and for continuity purposes, I was asked, by Rootes, to drive the Sunbeam Tiger in the 1964 Le Mans. Hindsight is a most wonderful thing. In retrospect, records show I should have walked away from it, but I didn’t, I accepted. My first experience of driving the Sunbeam Tiger was at the official Le Mans test weekend. Using the qualities taught and insisted by Ken Tyrrell, I took to the track. My idea was to push the car as hard as possible, “wring its neck,” tell the mechanics what adjustments were required and go forward from there. I soon found that the brakes were far from adequate and there was an oil surge problem. Traveling down the Mulsanne and through Arnage, the oil needle fell and the red light came on. Back at the pits, I conveyed my thoughts. Not wishing to apportion blame to anyone, the car was not changed from the first time I got into it to the last. This was very disappointing for me. It has to be remembered that the project was a little, if not wholly, rushed. Careful consideration was given, even up to the night before the race, to withdrawing the entry. My teammate for the race was Jimmy Blumer; he had similar experiences driving the car as I did. Sometimes in racing you can be given a real “pig” to drive, and this was one of those.
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