It started off in 1965 when Barrie asked me to be team manager for Avalon Racing (I still kept my day job). I was not to become just an ornament, I am delighted to say. This was a time when all-British sports racing and GT cars lead the world. Several qualities were needed for the job, probably the most important being to have a sense of humour, patience and great physical endurance.
It helps to know what a spark plug spanner looks like however it’s not absolutely essential.
A trip to Biarritz in 1969 to deliver a Chevron FVA B8 to the local Porsche Dealer Villenwebber became very dangerous. On the return trip a front tyre blew on the 9 ton transporter, the steering wheel went sharp right, Barrie and I rolled the bus into a Bordeaux Grand Cru vineyard. Barrie’s quote was this may be serious and will necessitate a cup of tea! Fortunately neither of us were hurt.
From Sweden to South America smooth running of a race team involves the reception of competitors, adherence the rules, and recording practice sessions and race times.
The Temporada races in Argentina was a highlight. Barrie had grown more ambitious and ingenious each year.
We were racing a Lola T70 MK3 B when encroaching onto the circuit on one of the practice days a dog appeared and ran across the circuit in front of our car causing a minor shunt. I complained to Fangio who had men sent out to shoot the dog! Those were the days.
Barrie met Jacques at a party in Margate. Jacques said he was a photographer working for Virage Magazine, Barrie said he was a racing driver! Neither believed the other one’s story. The following week-end Barrie was racing the T70 Lola at Thruxton and had a drive in an F2 Lotus. Jacques was also at Thruxton with his cameras and both were very surprised. They have been good friends ever since.
Thanks to Jacques there are some great pictures on this site from that meeting and also at the 1972 Le Mans where Jacques was the pit manager.
Many of the great photos on this site were taken by Jacques Barichella.
Mike was a vital part of the Le Mans team although we did not see him for a day as he was in charge of the signal pits on the far side of the circuit. A vital communicator. We are awaiting Mikes comments! In the mean time see the Barry Sheppard page as he remembers nearly everything about the Le Mans race.
Paul used to take care of the entries, do all of what was then tedious paperwork for us but for Paul, a journalist, this came naturally. Paul used to do the management for many of the private racers in the 60/70’s so he was in a good position to have 10 or more turn up to a race somewhere in Europe. The circuit race organisers used to be on very good terms with him.
Barry Bland, MRC said:
“My earliest memory is of your first race at Lydden with the GSM Delta, when lying 2nd, it was a case of ‘here endeth the first lesson’. You were too kind and moved off-line going into the downhill right-hander, to let the leader past and promptly put yourself into the barrier by doing so. Two more memories stand-out – one being the Sid Taylor Lola T70 episode at wet Brands (unfair to remember these two as I don’t recall you ever damaging a car at any other time) and the second being at Montlhery when I went over with you to hang out the pit board. That was an amazing slip streamer when the leader could be 20th one lap, 3rd the next, 25th the next and then lead again!”
< Mike Norriss
Mike was the last manager who allowed me to drive him for a couple of events for press coverage in 1975. We raced round Britain on the Tour of Britain and later that year the RAC rally, covering both events in Mike’s BMW 2002 Turbo, a super little car. Mike was a very brave passenger.
Were we mad? Certainly! In those days when our clients said jump we said how high. How mad was that? So when Satra Motors’ Lada asked us to take their cars racing we just asked how fast. But for very obvious reasons the Lada had an image of … er … well not exactly a racing car anyway. Of course we pointed this out to our clients. “Exactly” they chorused; so that was that. In a panic we suggested rallying rather than out and out racing because if every other car broke down or crashed, then the Lada might be the last car left rolling. Of course if this didn’t happen it would have just been the last car. They reluctantly agreed to this.
We decided that as fond as we were of our clients’ products we needed a car that was as quick as the leaders so that we could get ahead of the pack and take photographs. So a BMW 2002 turbo was acquired which in ’75 was probably the first production turbocharged car sold for use on public roads. So equipped with a Halda Speedpilot and a stonking great pair of headlamps off we went, Barrie to lead the pack while I took the pictures.
Dollie. [Née Salvisberg]
Dollie, Barrie’s first wife was a key member of the management team at Avalon Racing.
Dollie used to manage all kinds of travel arrangement and foreign negotiations. Dollie speaks four languages fluently and was invaluable booking and arranging deals with foreign circuit officials. Especially important when racing in Austria and Germany where no one else in the Avalon team or in fact any other of the British teams spoke fluent German. So she was well known around the circus and could be relied upon to help when needed. Her driving skills were immaculate. Barrie taught her to drive in an Austin Ruby which he bought for £10 and did it up with Malcolm Clark. He told Dollie when you can drive this,you can drive anything! She succeeded and was a regular driver of the team’s 30’ transporters and support cars while traveling to circuits across Europe. She still uses these skills today as many know and is a very close family friend.