Donald and Jean

This rather charming photo was kindly donated to me by Jean Wales, whose father was the great racer and record holder Sir Malcolm Campbell. The picture depicts Jean playing with her brother Donald, who himself became a holder of world speed records on land and water, like his father. The car illustrated is based upon the 1928 Bluebird III which became an LSR record holder at 207 mph.

Ginetta Factory Tour

The good guys at organised a trip to the Ginetta factory in Garforth a couple of months ago. Since being taken over by Lawrence Tomlinson, the company seems to be growing exponentially. The staff stayed late to guide us around and all proceeds went to charity – commendable in itself. The car park was littered with fine and exotic machinery of all kinds from Lamborghini to VX220s.

We had a good nose around the whole place. This starts with the boardroom, replete with Le Mans trophy for full effect from the LNT run Panoz which claimed GT2 class honours in 2006. From the boardroom it is down to the design office where the 3D CAD modelling was shown off. A full spaceframe is designed this way.

The next step is to look at the chassis assembly. Steels tubes are sourced within the UK, but not in-house. They are assembled on jigs at the Garforth premises before moving along for mechanical and electrical installations. There are bays featuring seemingly every model in the current line-up from the Zytek LMP1 car to the electric G40 and a G55, though we didn’t know it at the time.

In one corner is Lawrence’s helicopter – a nice touch. Next to it is the fine line-up of former racers from both Ginetta and LNT. Great to see those mighty TVR T440s again. Also available for viewing was the new F400. Originally a Farbio, Ginetta bought out Chrs Marsh’s company and will allow F400 production to continue in Bristol. Two cars are on-site, including Lawrence’s own road car. They look and sound as fantastic as the price tag might suggest.

Great to see a British success story, particularly one from Yorkshire. Long may it continue!

ERAs at Donington Park 1939

In 1939 my grandfather visited Donington Park to see the greats of voiturette racing go head to head. He has captioned the photos as being the Empire Trophy 1939 with Siamese prince B. Bira as the winner. I suspect grandfather actually attended that year’s Nuffield Trophy, which Bira won in ERA R12B, nicknamed Hannuman. I find it so exciting that he actually got to see Mays and Bira racing the cars which continue to excite and thrill crowds, myself included, in historic racing today – and looking just as they did then. It is magical to imagine him enjoying the nose of Castrol R and rejoicing in the rasp of that Riley-derived straight 6, just as I have done so many times in recent years. If only he was still around to share the experience with me.

There is a fascinating account of the race in Prince Chula’s book Blue and Yellow, detailing the emotions of watching your driver at the head of a fine field. The cover photo on the book looks remarkably similar to my grandfather’s and I do wonder whether it was taken during the same race. Sadly the cover illustration is not listed in the book.