A shared story
People often look back with affection at cars they one had. The article following was published in the Colne Valley Vintage and Classic Car Club monthly newsletter recently. As a member of the CVCVC and the MGCC I thought others may be interested to read Gordon's comments. Gordon was for many years involved with Mini racing at a National Level. Maybe I should ask Geoff Broad about rallying an MGB too!
Reading how Geoff Broad started rallying in an MGB brought back lots on memories for me. You might think that with a fleet of three cars, and three bikes, five of which are foreign, that I'm not all that interested in British cars, but I do have a soft spot for the MGB.
Back in the sixties and seventies you could just get in touch with the RAC, get the paper work and the Blue Book and go racing. These days you have to assessed by “experts” and “racing instructors” My opinion is that if you can't figure out what to do you shouldn’t be doing it! I've seen several of these people instructing at track days and while they may know their way around the circuit, what they know about racing is often minimal. There is a lot of difference between the two. If you haven’t managed to win even an evenly matched National Championship, how can you possibly know that much about it?
Geoff says he didn’t spot the absence of the roll cage and fire extinguishers, in a car that had been “prepared” for events but there were a lot of dishonest people about in those days. The first mini I bought was supposed to have Cooper S discs - they turned out to be from a BMC 1100, with home made spacers, potentially a lethal set up, even on the road! However I was lucky enough to meet some nice people when I did start racing.
We had our MGB GT new in August 1972, taking over from our trusty Series 2 Morris Minor, by which time the chrome grill and bumpers had gone and the "B" did have a five bearing crank and an oil cooler - a big improvement over the earlier three bearing version. With an almost 50/50 weight distribution front to rear, it handled well, despite lever arm shockers. We took it to Rimini in 1973 on a pre arranged destination holiday with Cosmos and despite one or two boy racers on the same trip we were usually the first to arrive at the hotels, while the others turned up all through the evening! A decent size tank and overdrive made it easy.
In 1974, for reasons you have all heard before, I started racing the Mini, and the MG towed the mini for five seasons of racing until we moved to Colchester. You had to be careful to keep around 60mph, otherwise the trailer started to wag the car!
It wasn’t without its problems. I had it rust proofed and one Saturday afternoon, while getting ready for an early start to the racing the next day, I was underneath the jacked up car, greasing the prop shaft UJs,(remember them), I felt petrol dripping on me. Those of you familiar with MGBs will know the tank is like a large bowl with a flat top on it and the rust proofing hadn’t reached the top! I did get it replaced free of charge and I watched it being replaced and made sure the floor and the tank were treated first! I repaired the rack, replaced the king pins, (I still have the reamer!) and the prop shaft UJ's, despite regular attention, and the clutch. It did 89000 miles, most of it hard work, and never broke down. When we first had it, we did have the RAC out once as we were almost home in Norwich from a trip from Witney when it started to misfire, and that turned out to be a faulty distributor cap from Lucas!
It had to go as our daughters arrived, and it wasn’t very practical for carrying sheets of glass and I sold it for almost what we paid for it. Sad to see it go and I wonder if it’s still about. Mind you its replacement, a Mk 5 Cortina estate, was absolutely useless, and was soon replaced by a 2.3 Granada Estate which was a huge improvement!
I was also reminded by the article on the Sierra Cosworth. I must say that during the racing days, the Sierra Cosworth was very impressive whenever it was on the track. A very quick piece of kit, even when in the hands of some celebrity drivers completely out of their depth! And it was capable of embarrassing lots of other manufacturers of much more expensive cars for quite time. On my list, just under the 911!