In the small private team based in Kent, the mechanics were part of the family and Barrie was very lucky to have had some real chums helping with the cars over those years. Here are a few of those happy memories.
1967 I needed to get a proper mechanic. I put a small advert in Autosport and much to my surprise I had a reply from someone as near to us as Canterbury, Tim Hammond (whose dad owned the Cross Keys pub).
Tim arrived at the interview looking very smart with a brand new immaculate MGB, I was really impressed. He told me he had been working on Lotus Elites for Team Elite 62. Tim got the job.
I cannot exaggerate how much I learnt from Tim. He taught me that the devil was in the detail, cars must be cleaned to get them prepared properly.
He brought order where before there had been chaos! Tim was a star. The first race with him was my 1st win, many more followed thanks to his immaculate preparation. Tim stayed with us for 2 seasons then moved to Terry Croker’s team running a Lola T70Mk3b.
Sadly Tim was killed in a road accident in the late 70‘s. He is sadly missed.
Adrian was a chum of Tim Hammond from Abingdon and they were excellent working together. Adrian was always cheerful even when things did not go according to plan. Adrian left us to become an antique clock restorer, maybe racing around Europe was to fast for him, anyway he did slow down to just 60 minutes per hour, whereas we often were fitting in more than that!
Tony Gale was a long time local friend who had an interest in racing. I asked him if he wanted to give us a hand with our newly acquired ex. Red Rose Chevron B9 F3 car. The 1st trip we did was to Pau, the supporting race for the F2 race. It was a long drive down to S.W. France. Tony was with us till the winter and we took the T70 Lola to Argentina for the 1st races at Buenos Aires. After that he moved to Equipe Bonnier. Tony is now retired in the Cotswolds.
Malcolm was a friend from when we were kids. He was always very talented with automotive mechanical things. He started restoring Austin 7s when we were teenagers and when the cars were available for £10. He then moved on to Morris Minors.
I was stuck for some months in 1970 so he came along for the crack of it and it was great to have been working with him when he helped with the T70. We did Thruxton and some Scandinavian races. In the photo he is belting me in the D&A Shells Lotus F2 car at Thruxton.
Malcolm had family commitments so had to leave and I was only sorry he could not have stayed longer. Malcolm now has a garage in Broadstairs.
Bill was working for us in the workshop and did come on a few trips to Sweden and other circuits. Bill is a wonderful musician, key boards and guitar, he is a star who would keep our team and others amused into the wee small hours on many a summer’s night in the paddock. Bill is now retired in France from where he writes:-
Here are just a few of my thoughts about the motor racing days.
I remember well the sound of that beautiful V eight chevy engine, especially in the confines of the garage, it made my hair stand on end.
Do you recall the day in Phoenix Park Ireland when two men were leading a horse across the circuit during a race? A typical Irish moment was the time that we asked directions in a garage and the old fellow said “if you go to the bottom of the road opposite and you turn left, sure and you’ll be going the wrong way”.
Sitting in the paddock at the circuit in Karlskoga Sweden the night before the race and having a singsong with the guitar round a campfire, it was a great time.
For some reason just before a race I always felt nervous for you.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the time that I worked for you and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
A real star who I got to know when he was working for David Piper. Before that he was with Mike d’Udy, so John had lots of experience with Lola T70’s and Chevrolet motors. His first job for Avalon was in the winter of 69 when he rebuilt our Chevy before we went to Kyalami 9 hour race. It ran faultlessly allowing Jackie Petorius and I to win the class. John was the prime reason that our Lola T290 finished Le Mans in 72 winning the 2 litre class. John spent some years in Kent where he built and flied model aircraft. John sadly passed away in 2012.
I am grateful to Barrie for introducing me to SE Kent, I went to work for him in Margate, 1969/70 for a season and then again in 1972 for the Kodak team in France, there we were really a good team.
Based in Saint Parize-le-Chatel, Burgundy France, Barrie had rented a double garage from a local soulard, [drunk] Pierre, who used to bring me a large glass of white wine every morning about 10am!
That really woke me up. That season was all done in France.
I was always impressed with Barrie’s driving commitment when we did the “mountain races” I remember patting him on his helmet before he set off on those 25+kms roads in the Alps with our Lola T290. One slip up there it was curtains with the hill on one side of the road and the void on the other, we often geared for over 140 mph.
We had a great time in Meribel which was about 18kms from Brides to Meribel 1600 village. There were many lovely French girls there that week-end. (it was were Barrie met his present wife Marie-Therese). Happy days touring round the French circuits for a year.
Bernard Raffin was René Ligonnet’s mechanic who helped us with the Lola T290 in 72, a real salt of the earth type guy who was loads of Gallic fun. I remember him at Magny Cours in 69 on the village square dance floor, he was kissing all the girls while they were dancing with their boyfriends who saw nothing as he kissed the girl’s other cheek! He got out of motor sport after 72 and started farming in Languedoc-Roussillon.
Mary Nelly Lartigue
She was the most beautiful mechanic on any team. During the day she worked in a Paris hospital and at week-ends she was on the Kodak team, the only female mechanic, a PR idea I had which really worked as she was always in the press and she helped on the car too. A great asset to Kodak Team. I am sorry to have lost touch with her.
Ken was the best body shop man, a real artist in metalwork, he help us over the years with his skill, repairing alloy fuel tanks, body work and painting. He learnt his trade at Hoopers, Ken helped make the Lady Dockers Green Goddess Daimler in the 50’s. He made some of those great 50’s alloy tanks for the Isle of Man racers like Geoff Duke, Mike Hailwood and later Phil Read.
I loved to hear his stories of those old bike racing days. Ken is sadly no longer with us but not forgotten.
Here are some words from Ken’s son Mark, it is interesting to read his recollections:
I’ve had a look at your website which really did provoke some happy memories from my long distant teenage years, all that rubbing-down using ice cold buckets of water in a freezing workshop. At least the machinery was exotic (at times).
The pictures of the 250 GTO were a little surreal. I can remember the day you picked it up and must have met Dad for a drink in the Tudor Bar or Nottingham Castle, because I got a quick ride ‘around-the-block’ in it (literally a circuit of St. Mildred’s Road). The strange thing is that I was at the Goodwood Festival a few years ago with my partner Ann, the Ferrari tribute year, when they had the 50 most famous Ferrari’s on the lawn outside the good Lord March’s little country seat. Looking at Nick Mason’s fabulous 250, I was boasting to Ann that there were very few kids who had ever had a ride in one of those! Little did I realise it was that actual car. Had I known, I might have been able to persuade Mason for a ride up ‘the hill,” bet the bloody plugs still oil-up though..If I had a 250 GTO and a P3/P4 in the garage I would die a happy man.
Was the picture of the Brabham BT8 an early one? I’m sure I spent hours rubbing-down the fibreglass front and rear-ends and am convinced Dad re-sprayed it in British Racing Green, or was that just before you sold it?
The pictures of Malcolm Clark and Tim Hammond were great to see. Obviously I knew Malcolm very well from his years of sharing Dad’s workshop space, but I only met Tim a couple of times. I can remember he had one of the first very quick Ford Capri’s as a road car, plain white with what must have been one of the original Cologne RS3100 lumps in it and fettled, as Dad would say, as only Tim knew how. Dad personalised it a little, spraying the sills and rear panel in a very fetching metallic mauve. We took it back to Tim’s workshop in Canterbury and he then drove us back to Westgate a little faster than the old man had got us there! I have never been through that left-right sweeping kink as you leave Sarre village so fast, or so sideways, since (and believe me in my teenage driving days I tried and tried and…). I know Dad was really taken by Tim, something about shared respect for perfectionism I suspect, you only had to look at Tim’s workshop set-up to realise that this was no “grease monkey”, but a very proper racing engineer.
Talking of fast trips, I can remember a ride back from Lydden with you in an Alfa from the “sales forecourt”. The journey down with Dollie in one of those evil handling Triumph Spitfires (what possessed her) with Maxi on my lap was interesting, but I think you must of had a “bad day at the office” because you gave me a lift back, we left very early and managed to do a lot of “hedge-row maintenance” through the Wingham bends. Still, a lot less scary than Dollie in that Spitfire!!
Do you remember the panic of a late evening before an important meeting and finding a crack in the gearbox casing of what, I suppose, must have been the T70? Dad decided that, although he had never done it before, you could weld magnesium using your bog standard ‘High Street’ garage welding gear. At least he appreciated the physics of the potential results, telling anyone still within earshot that, if it did begin to flare and then burn, there was no way you could put it out and an explosion would follow. If my mother had known, he wouldn’t have been allowed home. Blowing-up Garlinge High Street and The Rodney might have been acceptable but, making my poor old Grandmother (who lived in Glebe Road directly behind the Avalon Garage) homeless, would not have gone down very well.
I was thinking of Dollie’s special Imp, which confused the life out of me at that tender age. So, we had this brand new bog-standard Hillman Imp turn-up in putrid light metallic green, we tear it apart, paint it dark blue with a silver flash and dress it with Minilites and then, we send it to someone called Roger (Nathan, I presume), who takes out an unused engine and puts one of his own in it. Very strange….. Or, when I had grown-up a bit………….
An absolutely gorgeous MK II Jaguar intended for a period of Continental cruising. From what I can remember, a 3.8 ltr staight-six with specially jetted SU’s or Webber’s, louvered bonnet, knock-off wire wheels, double tanks, metallic British Racing Green and original light green hide with matching Webasto sliding sunroof, most of which (the shiny bits and immaculate painted wire wheels) was courtesy of K.F.Lucas, stunning !!!!
HAPPY DAYS…. by Mark Lucas