PAUL STAIT - 1945 - 2015
We had the sad task of attending Paul's funeral on Tuesday October 6th at St. Cadog's Church, Llangadog. Paul's illness was very sudden and it was a shock to hear that he had succumbed to cancer so quickly. We got to know Paul and his wife June quite well over the years - firstly when he marshalled with Brian Thomas on the 1994 Monte Carlo Challenge, and more recently when out marshalling on the Three Castles and before that, the Targa Rusticana and similar events. Paul had completed some rallies with son James in the MGB and also supported James (a very quick driver) on various stage events in Wales in James' Sunbeam Lotus. Paul and June also came over to Madley on a couple of occasions to show the MGB in the Madley Classic Car Show. Son James spoke movingly of his father at the funeral service and the church was packed with friends. Paul had been a well-respected member of the local community, much admired for his integrity and kindness. Amongst the mourners we met with Brian Thomas and Kenny Owen and were able to chat over a pint and sandwiches in the pub alfterwards. We have promised to keep in touch with June once we get back from Australia before Christmas.
BARBADOS HISTORIC RALLY CARNIVAL
Organisers plan to run this event between 18th - 30th August with the actual rally taking place over the weekend of 27/28th August. There will be 75km of competitive distance, starting on the Saturday. Fantastic travel deals can be obtained from the organisers - see
This article first appeared in September 2015 in Autocar magazine and FBHVC gratefully acknowledges the permission granted to reprint it here as does Classic Motor Sport News. Steve Cropley is editor-in-chief and is regarded amongst the most authoritative motoring writers of his era. One firm is keeping British classics alive using original tooling and traditional skills. Steve Cropley takes a closer look.
"If it wasn‘t for British Motor Heritage (BMH), the Oxfordshire-based maker of replacement bodies for British cars of a certain age, it‘s probable that thousands of otherwise healthy classics would by now have returned to the earth as red oxide. Either that, or they‘d have been consigned to the crusher as a result of structural incapacity to begin a new life as soup cans or fencing wire. When British Motor Heritage was born as part of British Leyland back in 1975, rustproofing in cars was regarded as an unnecessary luxury. Only expensive cars were built to last. British car owners expected their cars‘ sills to bubble extravagantly after five years, and after 15 many an owner would be treated to views of the road through the footwells. Although it was the nation‘s largest car maker, BL at the time was beset by already terminal problems with engineering development and manufacturing quality. It was building some of the least durable cars on the road - yet these days you see a surprising number of old Minis, MGBs, Spridgets, and Triumphs still driving happily about. This is partly because the cars are enjoyable to own and drive, so owners look after them, but mainly because crucial replacement body bits, made off original tools, are affordable and easily available through BMH.
At first, BMH‘s role was to meet a growing demand for early pattern parts; the original Mini, MGB and the rest were still in production. It functioned happily enough into the 1990s, supplying more than 2000 MGB bodies for the RV8 project in the mid 1990s. "It was a monument to BL‘s inefficiency that the tooling was still available," says current BMH MD and owner, John Yea. "Most companies would have scrapped it long ago." The business passed into the hands of BMW in 1994 with its £800 million acquisition of Rover Group, but when the Germans decided in 2000 that their bold British exploit was never going to work, BMH was acquired by a team steered by Yea, a former Rover finance man, initially with several partners. "BMW‘s overriding priority was to avoid bad publicity," Yea recalls. "They were desperate to be seen as good citizens." Yea thought the business had potential, although it was saddled with quite a lot of slow-moving stock stored in two distribution centres when only one was needed. "It was clear the company‘s prospects would be better if it was controlled and owned by one person," Yea says. Yea soon cleared the old stock and started building on the company‘s core strength as a supplier of panels to the classic car market. It had ready access to original tooling for more than 40 different UK-built models, and its people had unique metal finishing skills. He soon added a lucrative line: that most vulnerable of all Jaguar E-Type components, the huge, rear-opening bonnet. "Tooling of that era isn‘t good enough to finish the panels as the market likes them," Yea explains, "although the ex-BL tooling is actually of a high quality. The Jaguar E-Type stuff isn‘t so good - among the worst, actually. It won‘t finish the complex bonnet curvature at the front, so we have to do that by hand. But E-Type demand is quite steady. We‘ll make a batch of 10 next month."
Apart from the evergreen Mini, a ‘younger‘ product that keeps on giving, Yea acknowledges that the demand for the original panels that BMH started making in 1975 is in slow but noticeable decline. Replacement MGB shells, properly protected to last a lifetime. BMH has compensated by expanding its export markets, by planning the manufacture of panels for upmarket British marques not yet catered for ("we have big aspirations but I can say no more") and establishing a thriving web-based accessories business called Motoring Classics. These days, BMH can sell you any steel body part for an MGB roadster or GT or Midget. It also makes original Mini doors and boot lids, full Mini bodyshells from the 1969-1970 model onwards (including Clubman) and Minivan rear doors. Triumph lovers can get most of what they need for a TR6, many key pieces for a Stag or Spitfire and several high demand items for a TR7. "Everything is batch built," says Yea, "and demand is quite reliable, so production planning isn‘t difficult. We expect to do runs of 10 complete MGB shells and 30 Mini shells twice a year."
BMH‘s headquarters at Witney is a standard-looking industrial unit in a well concealed industrial estate, but take the two-minute walk out back to the manufacturing area and you‘re rapidly transported back several decades, a fact from which Yea does not attempt to shrink. The company‘s purpose, he reminds you, is to use original tooling, original build processes, and material as near as you can get to the original steel to make body parts as close as possible to the originals. Its top quality steel, though and parts get Metacoat corrosion-proofing, so they‘re ready to fit and paint. BMH employs about 40 people, many of whom are experts in body techniques that get rarer as the weeks go by. Hand manufacture is the watchword; an MGB bonnet consists of five major pieces that take a good two hours to fit and finish. (On a modern car like a BMW Z4, Yea points out, the same piece is far easier to make.) Period tools abound. One prize exhibit is a purpose-built multi welding machine, dating right back to the beginning of Mini production in 1959, that joins early Mini window surrounds to door inner panels in a rolling series of spot welds. For 15 minutes, we watch a Mini body being created from pressed component to a single load bearing steel structure, an operation conducted by two strong men who have clearly done it many times before. It involves lots of clamping, judicious leverage, trial fitting, discussion and some judicious application of brute force, delivered by what the pair describe as "Dave‘s educated hammer". In full swing, Dave and his pal can do three or four Minis in a day. When I talk to the pair an hour later, they‘ve just finished fitting another roof to another car. "It went on really well," says Dave with satisfaction, "We hardly had to use the hammer at all. "We warn visitors not to expect Lexus panel gaps," says Yea, "and if they are expecting bodyshell construction to be a delicate process, we advise them to look away now. It‘s hard, physical work for the people who do it, and when they go home, they know they‘ve done a decent day‘s work." But it‘s important - and satisfying. BMH isn‘t the kind of firm that creates headlines, but talk to the people that work there and you‘ll soon discover their pride in the place on two counts. They‘re well aware that their skills are rare, and that they‘re helping to keep some important cars on the road. "I feel huge pride in this place," says Yea. "It‘s not a huge turnover concern, but it‘s important. Our challenge is to keep finding the people who can keep it going."
Readers may know that we were in Australia for six weeks before Christmas 2015. Whilst staying with our daughter in Melbourne (pronounced "Melbun" by the locals) , we used the city trams quite a lot and had boarded a No. 12 to take us back to South Melbourne in time for supper at our daughter's house. At the next stop, a lady and her daughter came to sit in the two seats opposite to us. I could see that she was staring at our rain jackets which bear the logo of the Three Castles Rally on them. After some hesitation (during which I was thinking "that face seems familiar!") she leaned forward and said "It's Dave & Joan Williamson isn't it? I'm Margaret Pither (as was, as she re-married after Don's death). "Good Grief!" we said and of course got chatting. She was, like us, staying with her daughter in Melbourne and apparently, had another daughter in Sydney whom she was going to visit later in the month before returning home to England. But of all the amazing coincidences... Margaret could have sat anywhere on the tram and we would never have seen her.....She did comment that she enjoyed reading my column in "Old Stager" ...I didn't like to tell her that I don't write it anymore..... and that she isn't the only one who has commented.......
ANN RILEY (NEE WISDOM) 1934 - 2015
We are very sorry to have to report the passing of Ann Riley (born Ann Wisdom) on 14th October 2015.
As long-time co-driver to Pat Moss, Ann and Pat were one of the most formidable teams in international rallying in the late 1950's and early 1960's. They were not only successful as a ladies team but were able to compete on the same level as the men, and indeed often beat many of the best men's teams. Their outstanding success as outright winners of the Liege-Rome-Liege Rally in 1960 in an Austin Healey 3000 made them a legend in motor sporting circles.
Ann was born in 1934 to Tommie and Elsie Wisdom who were both well known in European motor sport. She grew up surrounded by horses and horse-jumping, as did Pat Moss, but it was at a BRDC dinner that she first met Pat Moss. Subsequently, the two became firm friends and ultimately took up rallying together in Pat's own Triumph TR2. Ann became an accomplished co-driver, who, despite frequently suffering from car sickness, refused to give up and the pair became a formidable duo on the rallying scene.
Ultimately, Pat Moss married Erik Carlsson whilst Ann met and married rally driver Peter Riley - their marriage service was conducted by none other than the " rallying Rev" the Reverend Rupert Jones. After she was married, Ann went on with Pat Moss to win the Tulip Rally in 1962. It was after this that the Riley's first child was born and Ann subsequently retired from rallying. She went on to form a very successful family business eventing horses and then breeding cattle on a commercial basis in the 1980's and 1990's. Finally, she established a herd of pedigree Hereford cattle in 2000 - these won numerous prizes both as a herd and as individual animals.
Ann was a formidable lady and fierce competitor and, remarkably, died on the same day (October 14th) exactly seven years after Pat Moss. Seven was their lucky number and they always tried to include it in the number plate or competition number of their cars.
We will all miss Ann - a plucky and very talented lady.
NEWS ABOUT THE Endurance Rally Association
We are a bit late with this news, but better late than never... As many of you may already know, Jane Young has been appointed as the ERA Company Director and Vice President. Fred Gallagher will take a more active role to work alongside the existing ERA team to build on Philip Young's legacy. See the report on Philip's funeral below. In the meantime, the entry list for the 2016 Peking -Paris is already full and has been closed with 120 places allocated. The Sahara Challenge from Madrid to Marrakesh will take place in October this year and entries for the 2016 Flying Scotsman are going well.
David & I attended Philip Young's funeral in Wadhurst, East Sussex on April 2nd 2015. The church was packed with mourners, including Paddy Hopkirk, Tony Mason, Alistair Caldwell (who used to be James Hunt's team manager at McClaren),Paul Easter, Ron Gammons, Bill Price and countless other familar faces too numerous to mention. Philip was buried in the churchyard at Wadhurst so that partner Jane and daughter Emma will be able to visit his grave as they live locally. It was a very sad but uplifting occasion. Philip had a motto which was "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what other people say you cannot do" (Walter Bagehot). Who else would have revived the Peking-Paris, or driven a Fiat Panda from Capetown to London with friend Paul Brace in order to set a world record? Philip was one of Motor Sport's movers and shakers. He annoyed a lot of people in the process but he always achieved what he set out to do. We shall sorely miss him....
Classic rallying has lost a great character - would that there were more like him on the motorsports scene! Check out the photos on the header and spot Philip with the late Ralph Stokes (co driver to the late Bill Bengry) at the Cortina finish of the 1989 Classic Marathon. There is also a photo taken at the top of the Stelvio on the Mitsubishi Classic Marathon 1992. The chap in the pork-pie hat on the left is Philip!
Don't forget that Le Jog will be running again this year between 3rd-6th December and that entries are already filling up. It will be cold and dark but that doesn't seem to deter enthusiasts from entering and bashing their way to the finish at John O'Groats. We used to marshal on this event - usually in Wales - let's see what happens this year before we commit. We were in Australia last year sunning ourselves in Perth! However, this doesn't stop all you enthusiasts from having a go...younger marshals are definitely needed as we older ones find more conducive things to do!
HISTORIC RACING IN AUSTRALIA
Historic Racing is one of Australia's, if not the world's, best kept secrets. But only to the press. Those in the know attend these historic race meetings in ever increasing droves. Historic racing is in fact the fastest growing form of motor sport in the world. Anyone who has been to the Phillip Island Classic, Historic Sandown or the Historic Winton will recognise the popularity of these events. And don't forget the famous Targa Series in Tasmania (see below in this column) Thousands of fans take the opportunity to attend these events - many more than other forms of circuit racing in Australia. Entry levels are always high and fans can be sure of spotting someone that they might know or support. So if you are planning a trip "down under" why not give it a go? And you might like to take in the Australian GP in Melbourne whilst you are at it. For further info, go onto the website at http://www.vhrr.com/ Also, if you want to find out the dates of some of these events, go to the calendar on our main site at
We have made contact with the VHRR via Glen Campbell, their newsletter editor, and visited their clubhouse when over in Australia in November. The Clubhouse is situated in Box Hill, a suburb of Melbourne. As our married daughter lives in South Melbourne, this was very convenient and made an interesting day out. As Glenn was not able to be there that day, Ron Simmons (known as Simmo to his friends) collected us from the tram stop and took us over to the Clubhouse where we were able to meet members and were shown around. The Club not only holds all of Sir Jack Brabham's trophies (he was the Club's Patron until his death), but also has on display the car in which he won the World Championship in 1966 - the Repco-Brabham BT18. We were made most welcome and given free tickets to the Historic Sandown race meeting the following Saturday. See our report on www.retro-speed.co.uk Our thanks go to Ron for his friendly guidance and assistance.
BRDC MOTORSPORT ARCHIVE AT SILVERSTONE
Gordon Cruikshank who writes a regular column for MotorSport magazine, tells us that he has recently visited the BRDC motor racing archive. I can remember visiting it back in 1999 to take a look - I think they almost offered me the job of achivist except that I was still working at the RAC and, on reflection, rather foolishly turned it down out of (misplaced) loyalty. It was a very extensive collection of books, programmes, photos, badges, papers,bulletins, posters, trophies and other memorabilia dating right back to the Club's origins as a dining club organised by that well-known Bentley Boy, Dr. J.D. Benjafield. Like the RAC's collection, much of it is still stored in cramped racks of archive boxes and about 70% is catalogued. Sounds like the familiar tale of wonderful resources which are not being displayed to full advantage. The Club does however plan to digitise the collection. Also, with plans afoot to build a new club and circuit interpretation centre, which will contain the archive, £9.1 million has been promised by the Lottery Fund provided that Silverstone can match that by 2016 and clinch the deal. if anyone feels generous and feels like giving a donation or organising a fundraising event - get in touch with Sally Reynolds at the BRDC. She has been tasked with sponsorship and planning. Good luck to everyone involved.......
RALLY ROUND NEWS
After the success of the Paris-Madrid Rally in 2014, Rally Round will be running some exciting events in the near future, such as the Haka Classic Rally in New Zealand in November 2016. Peter Rushforth has just been appointed CoC for this event. As his competition history dates back to 1961 he should bring plenty of experience to bear. For more information, those interested can contact Liz Wenman at the rally office on +44 (0)1252 794100 or go to the new website at : www.rallyround.co.uk
Also just announced is the 2017 Samurai Challenge - the first competitive UK-organised rally to visit Japan. It will be run between 12th April to 5th May 2017 to co-incide with the spring flowering of the cherrry blossom. Crews will follow a route of approximately 2033 miles from Fukuoka in the south to Lake Toya in the north. Should be a wonderful event - we used to live in Japan and can vouch for amazing scenery, good food and warm hospitality. We can also vouch for some amazing mountain roads. Ideal for a well-tuned 240Z! For more details, see the website above.
Did you know that historic formula 1 merchandise can now be purchased from a company called Retro GP? This all came about because the company founder Andrew Smith spotted that there was no "retro gear" available at the British Grand Prix in 2009. It was easy to purchase the modern stuff, but none of the historic teams such as Hesketh, Minardi or Lotus were represented. Smith set about putting that right and his business now deals with wholesalers all over the world. to find out more go to www.retrogp.com Their best T-Shirt has the slogan "I'm not old, I'm Retro" on the front. Great!
MOTORING NEWS CHAMPIONSHIPS 1961-65
Peter Robinson, the indomitable author of "Memory Lanes" is on the hunt again for information - this time for stuff on the Motoring News Championship between 1961-1965. He is looking for photographs and information - regulations, entry lists, results sheets - whatever. Anyone who supplies material will be credited. We have just purchased his second volume on the Championship between 1966- 1969 - it's a book which we shall treasure and worth every penny of the purchase price. The forward by Stuart Turner almost makes it worth the price alone. He reminices about "plot and bash" and suggests that regularities were banned - no faffing about watching watches! Ah, those were the days!
Peter can be contacted via http://www.photohistoric.com
PHOTOGRAPHS AT THE HEAD OF THIS NEWS BULLETIN
Readers will notice that the photos on our banner header change constantly. When the photo of the Clan Crusader LUP 62J comes up, you are looking at the editors of this site! We still campaign the Clan from time to time and still follow motor sport avidly. So keep reading...! Other photos are courtesy of Colin Barratt (Frogmore Photography) who is also a motor sport enthusiast.
In general the photographs on our heading remain the copyright of the photographers, but no doubt we can put readers in contact with the individuals to discuss use of copies if required.
AUSTRALIAN TARGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Still to come this year is the Targa High Country which will be held between November 4th-6th 2016.
The Targa Tasmania will be celebrating its 25th consecutive year this year and already over 200 cars are entered for this world famous event which is run over tarmac roads and through stunning scenery in Tasmania. If you are "down under" don't miss........
THE VICTORAN RACING REGISTER
Incidentally, the Victorian Historic Racing Register has an excellent scheme for junior members - the VHRR Junior Driver's Development Programme. This consists of an on-going series of workshops on a wide range of aspects of motor sport which aim to develop and support young talent. Much of the information provided in these workshops will also be useful to youngsters in their every day lives. Subjects covered include driving skills, team organisation and management, handling the media, mechanical preparation, electronics, track behaviour, flag marshals duties, marketing and last, but not least, arranging and handling sponsorship. Sounds like a pretty full programme to us and well worth the time involved.
The VHRR also makes an encouragement award to a young driver who they feel has earned praise for his/her efforts in motor sport. The young man who won the award this year looked like a dead ringer for Daniel Ricciardo - must be the smile and the teeth!