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A Galaxie win for Clark

20791Monday, August 5, was a holiday in the UK in 1963, which meant that all eyes turned towards Brands Hatch for the Guards Trophy (as in Carreras Guards filter cigarettes).  This was a classic British international race meeting run by the British Racing and Sports Car Club (BRSCC) in front of a classically-large crowd. The feature race was for sports cars over 50 laps; support events were for saloon cars, smaller sports-racing cars and GT cars.  Consider that this meeting was staged exactly 24 hours after the German GP, and that the line-up of drivers at Brands included F1 stars like Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Lorenzo Bandini, Trevor Taylor, Innes Ireland and Tony Maggs, plus other names like Roy Salvadori Roger Penske, Jack Sears, Timmy Mayer, Paddy Hopkirk, Sir John Whitmore, Frank Gardner, Mike Salmon, David Piper, Lucien Bianchi, John Miles (the future Lotus F1 driver) and Ray Parsons, (Jim Clark’s part-time mechanic) and you have a picture of what motor racing in the 1960s was all about:  it was about the drivers – about star names having one-off races in interesting cars, regardless of their chances of winning.  Trevor Taylor, for instance, jumped from an F1 Lotus 25 at the Nurburgring into a Lotus Elite at Brands.  The World Champion, Graham Hill, swapped his works BRM for a Jaguar 3.8.  Le Mans winner, Lorenzo Bandini, went from his Centro Sud BRM to a big Ferrari 330LM.

And Jim Clark, if you please, stepped from his Lotus 25 into…a Holman-Moody-prepared, Alan Brown-run, 7-litre Ford Galaxie.  20793Featuring lightweight panels, blueprinted V8 and stripped interior, this two-door “fastback” Galaxie was one of three Ford-commissioned, Holman and Moody-prepared cars to colour the British touring car scene in 1963. One Galaxie, owned by John Willment (who knew Holman and Moody well from his interests in marine engines) immediately won races in the skilful hands of Jack Sears;  the Alan Brown car was effectively a “guest” Galaxie, driven by Dan Gurney, Jack Brabham and, at Brands, Jim Clark; and Sir Gawaine Bailey, the very rapid baronet, owned and drove the third car.  Lee Holman, son of John, was 18 when, in early 1963, he was asked to drive the Alan Brown Galaxie from the H-M headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, to the port of New York.  “We put some Brillo pads up the exhaust to try to dampen the sound,” remembers Lee, “but the biggest help were the $100 bills I took with me to pay off the traffic cops!  One of them stopped me somewhere in Virginia so I showed him the paperwork about the car being owned by the Ford Motor Company and being shipped to the UK for racing and he was so impressed that he let me go…”

It’s hard to picture it, now – Jim, Graham, Trevor, Tony Maggs, Lorenzo and Innes all rushing back to England to race their widely-different cars at this Brands International.  Jim wasn’t even in the big race!  Instead, he could relax down at the lower end of the paddock with Alan Brown and the mechanics, settle himself into the Galaxie’s spacious, padded “bucket” seat and apply some of the intel he’d been given by Dan. The left-hand-drive Galaxie had a “four-speed, on-the-floor (L-shaped) shifter”, a lap seat belt only, a deeply-dished plastic steering wheel and a lateral (ie, not longitudinally-braced) roll-bar.  Driving it was all about taming the power – ie, minimising the wheelspin and the oversteer….and allowing for brake fade.20787

Why was Jim racing that Monday in a car he’d never even tested?  As much as Jim loved to drive nimble sports cars on the road like the Lotus Elite, Lotus Elan and Porsche 356 he was also amused by the concept of big, comfortable American “slushmobiles” like the Galaxie.  And controlling the Galaxie on a race track appealed to Jim’s sense of curiosity.  Ask one of the current F1 drivers to compete in a Porsche Supercup race and their initial response – even before they considered the complication of contracts – would be to ensure that their image was not dented by the likes of a Sean Edwards; Jim had no such qualms.  He was intrigued by the concept of racing the Galaxie; he liked the Ford connection, in view of his plans to race more extensively in the US; he liked the Holman and Moody people, who were at that point doing great things with the Falcon Sprint rally cars in Europe; and he wasn’t afraid of being beaten by an ace like Jack Sears:  this was but a part of motor racing.

As it happened, Jim qualified second to Jack but seized the lead into Paddock Bend:  Jack’s start, on the lower side of the track, had suffered from the usual Brands Hatch wheelspin. Jim held the inside line up the hill into Druids, won the mid-corner barging match at the hairpin and headed the field into Bottom Bend, his right rear Firestone picking up the dirt as he power-slid the big Galaxie onto Bottom Straight. 20747Jack Sears had won on all types of circuit (from Silverstone to Crystal Palace) with the Willment Galaxie and was not about to fall away; it was Jim Clark, though, who emerged from the back of the circuit still in the lead.  One can hear the voice of Anthony Marsh now, as the lumbering V8s teetered into  Clearways:

“And it’s Jim Clark in front!  Clark leads from Sears and then come the three Jaguars – Graham Hill in the Coombs car, Roy Salvadori, Mike Salmon, who banged into Sir Gawaine Baillie’s slow-starting Galaxie off the line…”

Jack, for once, ran into trouble – a punctured Firestone, to be precise.  Jim was left to win from F1 arch-rival Hill – but not without incident.  David Haynes demolished his Cortina GT on Bottom Straight right in front of Paddy Hopkirk’s Mini.  Paddy took major avoiding action on the grass – but Jim, too, was forced to put two wheels out there on the turf to miss the melee.  Fortunately, Haynes escaped uninjured.20743

So Jim won the 20-lap Slip Molyslip Trophy for B-class Group 2 saloon cars. The race was considered at the time to be so minor that no pictures at all were published in Autosport of the F1 Championship leader in the Galaxie.  Instead, the headlines went to Roger Penske, who won the Guards Trophy with his Zerex Special (basically a Cooper-Climax F1 car with bodywork). Frank Gardner’s Brabham beat the Lotus 23s in the sports car event; Bob Olthoff, who on August 18 would, with Jack Sears, win a 12-hour race in Washington, USA, in a Willment Cortina GT, took the up-to-3-litre class of Jim’s race; and Sir John Whitmore again reigned supreme in his Mini-Cooper. (Sir John would also win the GT race with his Stirling Moss special-bodied Elan.)  Balfour Place was thus heaving that Monday night – particularly as Cleopatra was on the agenda for Jim and Sally.  Jim would head over to Cheshunt on Tuesday to see Andrew Ferguson (to sort out some accounts!) – and they would leave on Wednesday for Sweden, where Jim was due to race in the non-championship F1 event at Karlskoga, near Orebro, west of Stockholm. Jim had had the pole there in 1961 but had retired from the race with that old Lotus foible – broken front suspension. Here was a chance to redress the balance.

Also eagerly awaiting the appearance of F1 stars on his home track was an Orebro 19-year-old who had over the past 18 months been winning a string of kart races.  His name was Ronnie Peterson.

Captions, from top: Jack Sears sits on the pole with rear wheels spinning while Jim (middle of the front row) smokes away from the line.  On the right, Graham Hill is up-and-running in John Coombs’ 3.8 Jaguar;  lap one, and Jim leads Jack Sears along Bottom Straight. Amongst the Jags, Roy Salvadori has passed Graham…; rear view of the opening lap battle.  Characteristically, Jim has already begun an early, small, initial turn towards South Bank Bend (with brakes yet to be applied).  Jack, more traditionally, is beginning to brake to a wider turn-in point; within a couple of laps, Jim had begun to put a little air between his Alan Brown Galaxie and Jack’s Willment car.  Here, on the entrance to the uphill South Bank Corner, he balances an oversteer slide; Jim takes to the grass to avoid what remains of David Haynes’ Cortina GT. Images: LAT Photographic

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15 thoughts on “A Galaxie win for Clark

  1. Peter Bakalor on said:

    Wonderful stuff. I like where that guy is standing watching the start…..might as well get up close/

  2. Thanks Peter – yes – looks like a mechanic related to one of the other races with a camera in his hand! The Sir Gawaine Baillie Galaxy, of course, found its way out to Australia for Lex Davison to race. (Big shunt at Sandown in ’65 when the brakes failed going into Peter’s!)

  3. I understand both Jim Clark and Colin Chapman had Ford Galaxie road cars, presumably given to them by Ford. A Lotus Cortina owning friend and fellow rivet counter has surmised they may have been right hand drive versions supplied by Lincoln Cars the concessionares but I think he is indulging in guesswork with that. Has anyone any info on the interesting proposition of these two very enthusiastic drivers navigating the British road network in these imposing vehicles? I cannot think of a bigger contrast in road cars between an Elan Coupe and a 7 Litre Galaxie!

  4. David Nicol on said:

    Great stuff as usual, Peter. As a ten year-old in Scotland, I remember being glued to our black and white TV whenever (rarely) ‘Grandstand’ showed saloon car races from Crystal Palace, Brands Hatch, etc. Those 7-litre Galaxies, sliding around like bulls on ice, were raw and exciting—and that bellowing sound….
    Thanks for triggering that memory.

  5. You’re very welcome. I got to see Lex Davison racing the Baillie car in Australia – truly awesome. When you think how small Jim was in stature, and how relatively crude were the seat and belts, it boggles the mind to think about him sliding that car around, absolutely on the limit.

  6. Thanks Peter for a well written post and some rather brilliant photography as well. 🙂 /Anders

  7. Jim loved his Galaxy (used on British roads in 1966) and used to slide it around on the ice in the winter on Scots country lanes. He originally ordered a 1965 Ford Mustang but it was destroyed whilst being loaded onto the docks in England. The Galaxy was the replacement. As far as I know they were both left-hand-drive – as was Jim’s 1967 Lotus Elan S3 Coupe.

  8. Thanks again Anders. Yes, it’s extraordinary, I think, that more photographs of Jim in the Galaxy were not published at the time. To me, Jim Clark racing that car was MUCH more significant than the Guards Trophy Sports car race that took place the same day. Back then, though, I guess they were used to the F1 stars sometimes driving in the support events and just took their appearances for granted.

  9. I can nothing but second that opinion of yours Peter. I miss the days when Ronnie used to drive for BMW as well as Ferrari beside the ordinary F1 ‘day job’. I say bring back Procar as support race to F1 as back in -79. 🙂

    /Anders.

  10. Bob Hill on said:

    I was there. I still remember mentally drooling (during the days before the event) about the unbelievable prospect of Jim Clark driving a Ford Galaxie. Clark not unsurprisingly set an all-out saloon car lap record in the Galaxie that day, which (if I remember correctly) stood until he broke it again some months/years (?) later in a Lotus-Cortina. I was also there on that second occasion, and (if I remember correctly) he lost a wheel early in the race, got back to the pits for another wheel, and went back out with no chance of a place, but just for fun. I was standing somewhere along the start-finish straight, more towards Paddock Hill Bend, and had a clear view of the cars coming down from Druids hairpin into the left-hander at the bottom (now called Graham Hill Bend, but I think it had another name back then). Lap after lap Clark threw the Cortina up onto two wheels at the start of that left-hander, and held it that way right through the bend – it was mind-boggling to watch, and I well remember women in the crowd literally screaming with fear every time Clark repeated this feat, lap after lap. Certainly an exciting way to break your own old Galaxie lap record in a Cortina!
    Anyway, many many thanks Peter Windsor for bringing back so many fond memories of my teenage hero Jim Clark. Best regards, Bob Hill

  11. jimmy on said:

    Yes thanks Peter for re-charging such age-old memories with such detailed background … like Motoring News being re-launched …
    … and Falcon Sprint rally cars ! completely forgotten about these …
    now THAT was what I called Excitement !

  12. You’re very welcome. Yes – all that Ford France/Ford Germany stuff was exotic to say the least. I hear that Holman and Moody have been commissioned to build special Tour de France versions of the Mustang. Very “Un homme et une femme”.

  13. John Grant on said:

    Hi Peter

    I have just seen this page on the Galaxie..
    My late brother in law Pat Crane was a friend and neighbour of Des Arthurs who was Alan Browns manager at his Portsmouth Rd Surrey workshop where they kept
    there racing Galaxie.When it first arrived Pat took me over there to see it as at that time I was ( and still am ) intrested in these find beasts,the mechanic there did not know anything about the car as there were no info sent with the car from Holman and Moody just a few spare parts,but I had some which I had collected from the US
    magazines like Hot Rod and letters I had from H&M because I used to write to them as a kid and they very kindly use to send me things like jackets,T shirts and info on their cars and what they were doing at the time so .So I could help out abit
    with things like engine setup and what bits to use,I met Jack a few time there and also because he lived in Byfleet where I lived.I went on to work at Alan Mann Racing also in Byfleet and we sometimes had a H&M Galaxie,I once changed a engine on the EX.by then Alan Brown car for the new owner Mike Hutchinson and
    Alan Manns manager my friend the late Howard Marsden and I spent that night
    driving the galaxie up and down the M4 motorway to run in the engine and after 5
    hours doing that we both got out the thing deaf and still shaking for a couple of hours later.I met Jimmy and spoke to him about the galaxie and he said apart from a lotus 7 he had it was the most fun to drive.Jimmy was to drive Alan Manns F3L sports car but had to drive in that race in Germany that sadly took his life.Nobody
    seemed to make that car work ,I think jimmy might have.

    John Grant

  14. Thanks John – a lovely story. I never knew that Jim had a Lotus 7 – so thanks for that bit of info, too.

  15. John Grant on said:

    Hi Peter
    Further to me saying that Jimmy had a Lotus 7,it was abit special in that it had an aluminium hard top which he complained could never be made water tight,if I remember right he drove it around Brands Hatch at the snowed off Boxing day meeting in 1964when people were asked to drive round the circuit to help clear the snow.Alan Mann also drove his TDF Mustang round the circuit.Jimmy also drove this and his Elan around Sir John Whitmores front garden “circuit” at his home Orsett Hall in Essex where he held the lap record in his Elan in competition with Roy Pierpoint,Alan Mann,Don Godden etc.

    regards

    John

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