Titan Formula Cars

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Eleanor-Richard_Hawkins.jpg (108851 bytes)Richard Hawkins --  My younger daughter Eleanor and I really enjoyed our adventure to CSRG’s Thunder Hills Raceway on the last weekend in October, and our road trip across the western US afterwards.

 We  met so many lovely racing people and custodians of British single seater marques from the 1960’s and 1970’s, and enjoyed seeing so many well prepared examples of Titans,  Winkelmanns ( Pallisers as we knew them in UK), Brabhams, Marches, Chevrons. They are  all credits to their owners and crews, still racing them some 40 plus years on from my day, and brought back happy memories.

I was touched by everyone standing to attention in allegiance to the lady’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner  at the beginning of Saturday’s proceedings.

I was very pleased to be instrumental in the donation of the 2 trophies  from Titan Cars and grateful to Oz Timms for getting them to Andy,   honoured to be one of the panel of judges,  and to present the Roy Thomas (Tom the Weld) Trophy for the Best in Concours Titan, to  worthy winner Doug Trimble for his beautifully presented dark blue Mk6 at the CSRG’s Dinner and Awards on Saturday night at the Veterans Hall in Willows. A credit to he and his crew. Unfortunately there was  only one prize, but there were many other worthy cars.

Whilst the judges decision was unanimous and of course impartial,  Doug’s car just could have been my favourite,  reminding me of my brand new dark blue 6b, when I drove down  in the van with trailer, May 1972, to pick it up from Tom himself at the Old Harley Searchlight works, Paxton Hill, St Neots,  Titan Cars workshop after relocating from Huntingdon.

I was very touched when Ken Bailey presented Titan’s other  trophy, the  Derek Lawrence Memorial  for the fastest Titan to Ethan Shippert.

I recall when Derek and Ken were doing all the winning in 1972, I had sold my Modsports TR4a racer, and had to decide which FF car to go for, after a trip down to see David Lazenby at Hawke, and enquiries to most of the other manufacturers,  on a sunny day my dad and I went to check out Ken’s Team Titan car, still on its VW transporter on the Bailey’s motor garage forecourt  in Stretford. We came away impressed by the quality of engineering, the Archway Motors chassis, and Specialised  Mouldings bodywork. My decision to order a Titan Mk6 was not difficult, the hard part was waiting delivery as the factory was busy fullfilling US orders, from agents Pierre Phillips and Effing Opert Racing, (as Fred’s well known decal re-engineered read, on the notice board at Chevron Car’s factory in Bolton!).

Ken’s story of his days at the top in 1971 & 72, reminded me of when I was still learning.  At Aintree in 1972 I blew a Titan 1-2-3 behind Ken and Derek in the Team Titan cars on my first FF outing, ending up against one of Aintree’s horse fences, which of course neither my Titan or myself where trained to jump!

At another  race in 1973, Derek and I qualified on the front row for an  STP FF Championship round at Snetterton, Derek in the works Dulon with Titan power,  I was in my Titan with Titan power.  It may have been one of my pole positions, can’t be sure after all this time.   Snetterton  was an old USAAF wartime bomber base, the track had long straights, so we agreed before the race to work together to tow each other clear of the pack, then have our own shoot out for the win.  But I let him past once too often and could not get back in front again before the chequered flag, my misjudgement handing Derek victory, with my finishing second. Experience counts!

My  Titan gave me 6 wins and 9 poles, 3rd place in the STP Championship, and enabled me to progress through more FF with the works Dulon, on to a full 1975 season in a  F3 March,  a few races and an F3 win the old Ehrlich and equaling the lap record, Mallory Park in 1976, and finally making a bit of a comeback with a handful of  F-Atlantic races in my Ralt RT1 in  1981 before hanging up my helmet.

Back to the Re-union, I almost had arranged a ride around the track for Eleanor in a handsome Shelby 350GT Mustang with its crew chief, but its owner/driver was only there for a days testing. Then I had a ride organized for her in Francois Castaing’s very nice BDG engineered Escort, but just as she was all ready, Francois brought the car back in with a lunched  gearbox.  Oh well - that’s racing.

Eleanor’s and my adventure started with flying down from Manchester to LHR, and out to SFO on a Virgin 747 (with Ken and son David on the same flight), hiring a car and arriving at the Best Western, Willows, all on the same day! Except our baggage didn’t! Luckily a trip to the local Walmart supermarket solved the shortage of ‘smalls’.

We just could not get around everyone, but we thoroughly enjoyed conversations with everyone we met, especially these Titan owners, and their allowing our sitting in their cars, and some past Titan owners:

Doug Trimble and helpful crew.

Bob Alder and sportscar racer wife Diane. - I was flattered to be asked to autograph Bob’s photo of him in his blue and white Titan.  Eleanor was fascinated with the Fulton Hogan NZ sponsorship decal on Diane’s sports racer, as she had worked for them a few years ago in NZ.

Paul Richins. - as well as Eleanor sitting in his sharp red Titan Mk6, our subsequent exchange of emails revealed his other single seater, a fantastic FB Brabham BT21C.

Ed and Dana Vantussel, -who it transpires shared keen experiences of tournament slalom waterskiing with me.

Mike - former Chevron F.Atlantic competitor, and Alice Kennedy, crewing for Ed.

Howden Ganley, -fellow Kiwi ex-driver. I am looking forward to reading his new book, waiting for me in the UK .

Todd Strong  -Titan Mk9 exponent, confirming again what Derek proved – a good car.

Ethan Shippert - a very neat drive to his win, and who carried the most speed through the long loop and up the hill from my vantage point at the top end of the paddock.

John Anderson,  Titan Mk 4 owner and racing preparation guru .

Jay Ivey and son,  - the engine builders who keep all those English Fords alive, and who we enjoyed dinner with in the Mex restaurant in Willows.

Tenny Kwok -former Titan front runner, and so many others.

James Antipas - on the way to becoming a fine musician, as well as an able crew chief, maybe a Titan driver in a couple of years time, Andy? Remember - start them young, start them often.

After the Reunion weekend, and eventual arrival of Mr. Fedex with our bags on the Monday,  Eleanor and  I enjoyed trips for lunch at the Calistoga Inn, Calistoga, and exploring Sacramento old town. 

We left the glorious weather of N. Cal. to go up to Tahoe, hit a little snow storm, overnighted at Topaz Lake, stopped for lunch at Tonapah,  drove across the Nevada desert to Vegas, overnighted at Boulder city, visited the dam, then carried on through more snow down to our other main destination, the Grand Canyon. We overnighted at Williams on Route 66 in Arizona , where the snow plough cleared the main street, so we found a good steak house.  Next day we drove up to the Canyon.  Eleanor took the helicopter ride around the canyon, which, as a geologist and mining engineer, she thoroughly appreciated.

Returning from the GC, we also looked in on a classic aircraft museum nearby, before leaving the snow behind with more driving to Barstow and a nightstop there, then up I-5, all the way to stop over for our last weekend with an old friend and workmate and his wife from Hong Kong, now living in Livermore, and visiting San Francisco’s non tourist destinations.

Our road trip must have covered some 2,500 miles in 3 states!

We left SFO with some cherished memories of some great racing folk and quite a few photos.  I could almost go racing again - Just joking !!.

We are especially appreciative of Andy and Locke’s organizing such a great event. We even have the T-hirts to prove it!  I look forward to the next one!

Kind regards and many thanks to all,



David Bailey -- When Andy first mentioned the idea of organising a reunion towards the end of 2015, I was really excited but, Ken was a little more cautious. Once the dates were firmed up, my task was to convince Ken what a great opportunity this was: to meet up with Andy once more, to make new friends & to have a proper “Boy’s trip” abroad!

Persuasion completed, Ken & I organized our travel arrangements to the States. We also met up with Richard Hawkins (another original Titan owner/driver from the 1970’s) and his daughter, Eleanor, who were also preparing to make the trip.  

Our first step was to fly from  Manchester to Heathrow and then on to  San Francisco . All went well, with the 747 that we were traveling on feeling a little empty with only 130 passengers on board: a little under a 1/3 full. Once landed and bags collected, we picked up our hire car and drove to Willows, where we were staying. The circuit was only 15 minutes drive for us, which made the commute there nice and short!  

Our first day at the circuit was on the Friday. We met up with a few of the drivers and had a good look around the circuit and its layout. Andy arrived later that afternoon with his son, James. It was fantastic to see Andy again: it had been, I’m guessing, over 10 years since we’d last seen each other. We had a chat and caught up on news and Andy also explained the format of the event over the next few days. The informal gathering at the circuit that evening was a great opportunity to meet some of the drivers and talk about all things formula ford and especially Titan! Lots of the drivers were already taking a great deal of interest in Ken’s scrapbook and all of the photos and articles about his races as a works driver for Titan.  

For the Saturday, Andy suggested that we all look around the paddock with the intention of finding the best presented Titan. What a hugely difficult task that turned out to be! It was terrific to look at all the cars close up and chat to the drivers who all showed tremendous pride and love for their cars. So many of the cars looked absolutely stunning and I’m sure that Tom would have been very proud to see so many cars in immaculate condition. After this, it was decided to watch some racing and, in typical Formula Ford style, the racing was close and exciting. It was perhaps quite fitting that a MK6 won the feature race.  

On the Saturday evening, there was a joint celebration dinner held in Willows where the two trophies were presented: one for the concours competition and the other for the race winner. Ken was delighted to be asked to present the Derek Lawrence trophy to the race winner and spoke quite eloquently about his time with Derek and how, as “team mates” they often tried to drive for each other. Ken and Derek dominated the UK Formula Ford scene in 1972 when they ran as “Team Titan” in their familiar orange and white livery.  One of the stories Ken retold was, when he and Derek were at Oulton Park in a race that Derek had to win to clinch the Championship, with his nearest rival (a certain Ian Taylor in a Dulon) finishing 3rd or lower. All race long, with Derek leading and Ian Taylor 2nd, Ken tried to split the pair of them. In the end, Ken managed to get ahead of Ian, hold him off and finished 2nd behind Derek. Some of the press clippings quoted that Ian Taylor finished a “fist shaking 3rd”! and others that inferred that Team Titan’s tactics, that day, would have done a Grand Prix Team proud, praise indeed!  

We had a very enjoyable evening and Ken, when persuaded to, would talk about his exploits in the early days of Formula Ford.  

Sunday saw us back at the circuit to enjoy some more racing and to say our goodbyes to all friends new and old.

One final thought: for those of you who leafed through Ken’s scrapbook, you may have seen a summary of his race outings in that 1972 season. Out of 30 races, Ken scored 16 victories, 11 second places and 3 third positions. This along with 6 lap records culminated in Ken winning 4 Championships. There was also an advert for his MK6 which was sold at the end of that season. With all that success and only being 12 months old and having never suffered any accident damage during the year, the price?... A mere £1500.00 !!! I wonder where that car is today!!!

Finally, a massive thank you to everyone we met during our visit for being so welcoming and kind and the biggest vote of thanks to Andy for putting the event on in the first place. Just don’t leave so long before the next one!!  

Best wishes to you all.

David Bailey

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