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2015 TITAN REUNION III AT THUNDERHILL
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
was very touched when Ken Bailey presented Titan’s other
trophy, the Derek
Lawrence Memorial for the
fastest Titan to Ethan Shippert.
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!).
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
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
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!
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.
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.
and my adventure started with flying down from
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’.
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:
Trimble and helpful crew.
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.
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.
and Dana Vantussel, -who it transpires shared keen experiences of
tournament slalom waterskiing with me.
- former Chevron F.Atlantic competitor, and Alice Kennedy, crewing
Ganley, -fellow Kiwi ex-driver. I am looking forward to reading his
new book, waiting for me in the
Strong -Titan Mk9
exponent, confirming again what Derek proved – a good car.
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.
Anderson, Titan Mk 4
owner and racing preparation guru .
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.
Kwok -former Titan front runner, and so many others.
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.
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
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
, 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.
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
road trip must have covered some 2,500 miles in 3 states!
left SFO with some cherished memories of some great racing folk and
quite a few photos. I could
almost go racing again - Just joking !!.
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!
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
We had a very enjoyable evening and Ken, when
persuaded to, would talk about his exploits in the early days of Formula
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.