A couple of readers are wondering when I’ll write something about Motor Racing. So here is something just to fill a gap for my friends Jim McDonald, Mark Hogan, Mick Gentleman and my friend Andy Gibbs in the UK. It’s Toys Books and Grand Prix. I thought I would combine some of my rare Toy Race Cars, Jim Clark, some Art and some old memorabilia.
I haven’t got a car racing , toy icon as I go to press so I am using the motorcycle and book symbol
Andy specialises in restoring old Corgi and Dinky race cars from the 1950-1960s period.This is his website, where you can see and buy some great models. This is an example of a model I commissioned from him. It’s Jim Clark driving a Lotus 21 The model is a Dinky. In later posts I will show you (show off) some other models Andy has done for me. I ended up including some later in this post
Jim Clark was my favourite driver as a boy. He was brilliant. He drove a Lotus, which for some reason I was attracted to; perhaps it was the yellow wheels and he was Scottish! Sadly he was killed in an unimportant race in Germany 1968
He drove alongside Innes Ireland, another Scot. So there was only ever really going to be one team in it for me. This was the first race car that really caught my attention.
This is Stirling Moss driving the Lotus 18, the car in which he beat the might of Ferrari at Monaco in 1961.
So here is some memorabilia of Grand Prix Racing from the 1950s and 1960s.
In an earlier post I mentioned about the first Moto racing book I had. Here it is “The BP Book of Motor Racing 1958”. The copy you see here is in perfect condition, but actually I rather prefer my original that has all the charm of a book much battered by lots of page flicking. I left it in the UK with my brother Douglas for safe keeping.
I decided to include some pictures from it. I guess first in respect of antipodeans sensitivities I should include the spread on Jack Brabham, just so I can keep all my Aussie ‘mates’ happy. Yes if it was a bit chilly drivers would race in a woolly jumper. You see him in this picture racing in the 2.5 litre Cooper (Coventry) Climax in which he won his 1st world title in 1959.
Unfortunately all the toy cars manufactured at the time were of old cars of the mid 50s so it was hard to replicate the battles of the Grand Prix at the time I grew interested realistically on the bedroom floor. I would mark out the track with match sticks like this picture. Which contains some of the cars of the last front engine era.
They are all Dinky Racing Cars except a Corgi BRM which I now see is driver less (Ooops) Leading the way is an HWM followed by an Alfa, A Maserati on the inside and a French Talbot Largo on the outer. Then on the inside is a French Dinky Ferrari followed by a Cooper Bristol and then the BRM. In the background on standby is an old Daimler Ambulance (1948) I have the original box and an old Dinky 1940s Fire Engine that has been restored. All the models in the picture are in original condition with the exception of the BRM and the Fire Engine.
There were 2 solutions: either push these front engine cars from back to front so pretending to now have rear engine cars. This was highly unsatisfying. The alternative was to get cartridge paper and trace a picture of a car, get some glue to stick it on to a playing card and hey presto there you have an authentic model of a car to play with. It was cheap and you could reproduce the whole field of cars. It was hard on the knees and wore out the toe cap on my shoes. Oh that spelt trouble but boy it was fun.
After the race started invariably the paper would start coming apart from the card. This was fantastic as it replicated a mechanical problem with the car, so you had to bring it in to the Pit for some hasty glue repairs…and then off again.
If the field was too large your tongue and lips got rather tired. Most of us wee boys developed the technique of making a cacophony of engine noises from a combination of our mouths, lips and tongues.
As developments improved so did the technique for making sounds more like the screaming Ferrari V12s or the more throaty sound of the British but slower straight 4 engines?. The speed of the cars also created carpet burns on the fingers
The way to make the sound here was to create a sound from the very back of the throat with the appropriate pauses and change of pitch to enable gear changing. A glass of water to hand was needed as often a sore throat would start to follow the screaming V12. Until voice and car packed it in.
Importantly no carbon was produced, or fossil fuel used, but the cars went amazingly quickly. Sadly, the smell of Castrol R was missing. What was all that rubbish going on about some Suez Crisis?
I confess Jack Brabham and his team mate Bruce McLaren were very poor performers better suited to sheep shearing, I guess. Ferrari and Maserati were driven by mad Italians and a super posh Englishman, Mike Hawthorn, and the Germans were exceedingly bad sports having come a very poor 4th again in another major world event some years previously. Though Stirling Moss and Fangio both drove for them.
So it was left to Jim Clark, Lotus and the Scots to win through.
As time went by, my technique (artistic skill) for replicating cars using paper and card improved.
In 1964 (crikey) I was now 13!!! I produced my finest Grand Prix Field. I also went to the actual Britisb Grand Prix that year, the very first held at Brands Hatch.
Brands Hatch was just about a half hour drive from home. You will see on the first lap of the race the cars after negotiation the hairpin curve at Druids come down the hill on bottom bend and then start a seeping left hand turn passing under the bridge. Just before the bridge is here I would sit with my Dad whenever we went Motor Car or Motorcycle Racing. So some where in the shot I am there. Jimmy won this day.
Here is the original Program set for the day. It is in mint condition and some people pay crazy money for them. On the bottom right hand side of the picture is the booklet that had all the profiles of the cars racing that day. It is from these that I made my tracings
Another link to part 2 of the 1964 British Grand Prix which gives you a better idea of the engine sounds from the actual race. Brands is a great circuit
The silhouettes of the Race cars led to the pinnacle of my engineering prowess. Just who did Colin Chapman, Jack Brabham and Enzo Ferrari think they were? Here was I building all the cars. I had discovered Bostick which worked so much better than previous plain old paper glue
I traced these again on to cartridge paper, only this time I used paint to colour the cars. I had BRM Lotus Ferrari Cooper (again Brabham failed). Actually everybody failed. This was my last season and it was never finished as boy meets girl at bus stop love had a boys “bells” ringing and the effort of trying to make engine sounds without any noise behind the bedroom door was just no fun anymore.
Imagine F1 with silencers. It just didn’t work anymore. I think this is why I find electric motors in cars wholly uninteresting. It’s plain dull.
So rock on senility at let’s say 75. Perhaps I’ll be able to roll out the cars again for one last mad dash Perhaps I’ll engineer a Macdonald V16
In the following picture are examples of later Dinky models which I would loved to have had as a boy but they came later. These shown in the picture are restorations and are reproductions of actual Race cars. The front 2 leading are Lotus with Jim Clark followed by Innes Ireland, Phil Hill is in the Ferrari being challenged by Graham Hill.
Sadly Jack Brabham is bringing up the rear
Just to prove I am not biased against dear Jack here is the only Dinky example world wide of his Red X Special Cooper Bristol as raced in the Tasman Series in 1956 (I think).
Finally a Video tribute to Jim Clark who gave a little boy many hours of fun on the floor of his bedroom. His was a very sad loss to me as I could no longer race with him in the car
Thanks Jimmy for all the good times you gave unknowingly to a little boy