Jaguar in the running at Mille Miglia 2012

By Eric Watkins

LOS ANGELES, May 13 – This year’s famed Mille Miglia road race is just days away, and promises to be a star-studded event in terms of cars, drivers, fun, and history, with more than 20 firms represented – led by Jaguar.

The May 16-20 race follows the most beautiful roads from Brescia to Rome and back, and remains a challenge for vehicles and drivers as the 1,600-kilometer course is covered in just three days under variable weather conditions.

The 2012 running of the Mille Miglia marks 60 years since Sir Stirling Moss and Norman Dewis (then Jaguar’s chief development driver) took the start in the first disc-brake equipped C-type.

JD CLASSICS

For this year’s race, UK-based JD Classics is preparing and supplying support to three cars from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust. All three cars are set to take part in the event.

“All three cars are significant in their own right but the 1952 Jaguar XK120 ‘LWK 707’ is of particular historical interest,” JD Classics said, referring to the car as the record-breaking ‘7 days and 7 nights’ XK120.

According to JD Classics, this fixed-head coupe covered “a staggering 16,581 miles over the period of 7 days and 7 nights averaging at a speed of 100.31 miles per hour.”

THREE JDHT JAGS

The other two JDHT Jaguars entered in this year’s event include a 1953 Jaguar C-type, chassis number XKC 045, as well as a Jaguar XK-120 open two-seater. Mario Tadini owned the C-type, which was driven in the 1953 race by Italian racing driver Franco Cortese.

In addition to the three JDHT-backed cars under preparation by JD Classics, the official Mille Miglia website shows another dozen or so Jaguars in the running – including entry number 136 to be driven by another storied name in Jaguar history: Lammers.

Jaguar will hardly be alone in this year’s event, with the Porsche Museum sending a host of cars, including the Porsche 550 Spyder, 356 Speedster 1500, 356 Speedster 1600, 356 Speedster 1600 S and a 356 Coupe.

ZUFFENHAUSEN BRAND

“The numbers 550 and 356 represent notable Mille Miglia successes for the Zuffenhausen sports car brand,” Porsche Museum said, noting that the first winning Porsche drivers was the two-man team of Prince von Metternich and Count von Einsiedel in 1952 in a Porsche 356 1100.

“In the following year, 1953, a downright phalanx of no fewer than 18 Type 356 sports cars took their place on the starting line in Brescia,” the Museum said, adding that the Porsche team of Hans Herrmann and Erwin Bauer took first place in the two-liter displacement sports car category.

The Mille Miglia has long been known for the derring-do of drivers and navigators, and in the annals of Porsche, the 550 Spyder in 1954 probably experienced the most spectacular exploit.

“To avoid losing valuable time, works driver Hans Herrmann drove the low-slung mid-engine sports car under a lowered railway barrier just in front of a passing train,” the Museum said. The duo Hermann/Linge ended up winning a class victory and an impressive sixth place overall.

BMW 328 RETURNS

The iconic BMW 328 Touring Coupé, which won the race in 1940, will also be on the starting line of this year’s race. According to BMW Board member Herbert Diess, who will drive the vehicle, the BMW 328 established benchmarks for automobile aerodynamics and lightweight construction.

Joining Diess on the starting grid is fellow Board member, Ian Robertson, responsible for marketing and sales at BMW, who said a record of “numerous racing victories” brought the BMW 328 to be one of the most “successful sports vehicles” at the end of 1930s.

This may be an historical event, but one can already hear the engines roaring, the tires skidding, and the cheers of the crowd all along the way. It will be history in the making, with a lot of history on the line.

© Glamma Productions Inc 2012

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Sir Stirling as Mouseketeer

Jaguar’s glory day at Torrey Pines

By Eric Watkins

LOS ANGELES, May 6 – As British racing legend Stirling Moss – now Sir Stirling – took to the wheel of a Jaguar C-type at the Donington Historic Festvial today, he opened the floodgates of memory around the globe.

For starters, the Jaguar C-type Moss drove, chassis XKC 005, is the very car in which he won the 1952 Reims Grand Prix for sports cars. Then, too, that victory marked the first-ever win for a car with disc brakes – a Jaguar innovation.

XKC 005 went on to run in a host of further races over time, among them the 1952 Monaco Grand Prix and the 1953 Mille Miglia. In between, XKC 005 took wins at Boreham and Turnberry as well as a second at Goodwood. Even today, the car remains competitive in historic racing.

It’s all part of a new venture under the Stirling Moss Trophy for pre–1961 sports cars and sports–racers, a tribute to racing launched two years ago by Motor Racing Legends with the support of the great man himself.

PRICELESS SILVERWARE

The series made headlines when Sir Stirling presented the winners with a priceless piece of silverware: the very trophy he received after winning the 1955 British Grand Prix at Aintree in July of that year.

Just six months after that victory, Sir Stirling appeared as a spectator at another illustrious event in California – the final day of racing at the Torrey Pines track just north of San Diego.

Few people may remember that race, but footage of the event in January, 1956, marks the end of a venue that had an illustrious history, replete with Hollywood stars of the day.

“Jackie Cooper raced an Austin-Healy at Torrey Pines,” said Art Evans in Torrey Pines Remembered. “Clark Gable was an official. Keenan Wynn was an entrant, and one of our first starters. Steve McQueen drove a Porsche Speedster.”

In his appearance at Torrey Pines, Sir Stirling himself paid homage to Hollywood, sporting a Mickey Mouse cap, as documented by the film.

CALIFORNIA VICTORY

Anyone who loves Jaguars is going to cherish this four-minute piece of footage by John McClure which opens with some splendid shots of the first-ever D-type ever imported into California: Jerry Austin’s XKD 527.

Shipped from Coventry in November 1955, the car boasts what one reviewer calls “a temporary flame-job” – something he likes a lot: “who would have guessed how bad-ass a Jag D-Type looks with flames?”

Some 10,000 people were on hand to witness the event, according to coverage by Gus V. Vignola in the January 27-February 3, 1956 issue of Motor Racing – an account that takes note of Jaguar officials’ reactions to the race.

“All the Jaguar top brass, sub-brass, top flunkies – in the dumps of despair since the new D model fizzled last month at Palm Springs – perked up like a cannibal at a nudist camp along about dusk Jan. 14 at Torrey Pines,” Vignola said.

Of course, their excitement came as a result of the first place finish of Jerry Austin’s D-type.

COVENTRY’S PRIDE AND JOY

“For the pride and joy from Coventry, England, had boomed across the finish line to get Al Torres’ checkered flag – an easy winner by three laps and 47 seconds in the third and final six-hour endurance race staged there,” Vignola said.

He then summed up the meaning of the event for Jaguar officials, saying that, “It was the third endurance victory here in as many tries for the Jaguar, a fairish sort of a record and a silencer for all the loutish know-it-alls who have been rapping the marque.”

For others, though, it was a day of mixed feeling, including a young lad named Fred Puhn. Just after arriving at the course that day, young Puhn turned and caught sight of a very special car.

“It was a white D-Jaguar, the first one we had ever seen. We ran in a confused mass over to the car. Pierce Woods himself, the driver, sat in the cockpit, warming up the engine.

“Suddenly, The quiet chugging rose to a tremendous howl that echoed among the giant trees and shattered the misty silence,” said Puhn.

McClure’s film shows us Woods’ white D-type roaring around the track that day, a memorable one in Jaguar history.

END OF AN ERA

For Puhn, though, the excitement of seeing those new D-types was tempered by the loss of the Torrey Pines Race Track, soon to be turned into the world-famous golf course we all know today.

“This was the greatest road race course in the world,” said Puhn, “and I admit we all shed a few tears as we looked at it for the last time.”

One or two people might disagree with Puhn’s view of Torrey Pines as the world’s greatest road race course. But there can be no doubt that it was a course of significance – a point underlined by the presence that day of the legendary Sir Stirling Moss, replete with Mickey Mouse ears.

© Glamma Productions Inc 2012

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Vrooom… vrooom…

Back on track: Jaguar Heritage Racing

By Eric Watkins

LOS ANGELES, April 15 – Jaguar racing fans will no doubt be delighted to hear about the launch of Jaguar Heritage Racing, a program which will see the famed marque return to the competitive arena.

“Jaguar is proud of its heritage, and it is a heritage that is both alive and ever evolving,” said Jaguar Global Brand Director, Adrian Hallmark, adding that “racing is very much part of our heritage also.”

That’s why Jaguar has launched the JHR program that will see Jaguar C- and D-types in competitive action this year. Indeed, for the first time since 1956, works-supported C- and D-types will race again at venues including Goodwood and the Nürburgring.

JHR will be supporting numerous additional events on the historic motoring calendar, including Mille Miglia, as well as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

ADVANCED ENGINEERING

JHR will also support each round of the UK’s E-type challenge – a series which last year showed the depth of worldwide interest in historic motorsport, and especially in Jaguar’s participation.

“Advanced engineering is part of our heritage – 2012 sees the 60th anniversary of Jaguar’s development of the disc brake for automotive use,” said Hallmark.

It’s also ten years since the marque introduced aerospace-inspired aluminum monocoque technology to its modern range, technology today used on both the XJ and XK.

“Forward looking design is part of our heritage – the poised intent of the C-X16 concept pushes the boundaries today just as much as the SS Jaguar 100 did in 1935,” said Hallmark.

May’s Mille Miglia retrospective will be JHR’s first event this year and this year’s running of the event has especial significance for Jaguar: it marks 60 years since Sir Stirling Moss and Norman Dewis took the start in the first disc-brake equipped C-type.

‘GREEN HELL’

In August, the JHR team will be in competitive action at the AVD  Nürburgring Oldtimer Grand Prix. Often referred to as the “green hell”, the Nürburgring Nordschleife is considered one of the world’s toughest tracks.

“To also see historic works Jaguars in competitive action at the Nürburgring this year will be fascinating,” said Jaguar Land Rover Global Head of Communications, Frank Klaas.

 The Nürburgring Nordschleife presents “a unique automotive challenge that Jaguar’s development team continually subject our current and future models to in order to perfect their attributes of quality, durability and dynamic precision,” said Klaas.

In September, the JHR team will return to the UK for the Goodwood Revival, considered the undisputed jewel in the crown of the historic motor racing calendar.

The Revival provides what Jaguar calls “a dazzling backdrop of nostalgia for an equally dazzling array of competitive action in which the Jaguar Heritage Racing C- and D-type will play their part.”

JD CLASSICS

The JHR program is operated and managed by the Maldon, Essex-based JD Classics, which will prepare the C- and D-type Jaguars for the track and have responsibility for all race-day activities.

“Jaguars have been at the heart of our business for many years,” said JD Classics Managing Director Derek Hood, adding that his firm is only too happy to “accept the opportunity to work with Jaguar Heritage Racing.”

In June, JD Classics will be welcoming the 1988 Jaguar Le Mans winning team to their Essex showrooms, marking the first time that the 1988 team would have all been together in 25 years.

Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace will all be present, along with the actual car they drove to their historic victory – the Jaguar XJR-9LM, which produced a succession of consistent performances and good results.

LE MANS 1988

The 1988 Le Mans 24 hour race was, according to JD Classics, “a battle from the outset with the XJR-9LM fighting off serious competition from the sheer force of the Porsche team.”

Despite the persistence of the Porsche 962C, and a transmission problem which left Lammers driving the Jaguar in fourth gear only, the car still finished a clear two laps ahead of the Porsche to take victory at the 1988 Le Mans 24 hour.

Now part of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, the winning XJR-9LM holds a significant place in automotive and racing history – a bit of history to be relished on June 3rd at JD Classics.

Next week, Mister Jaguar revisits Torrey Pines where the last-ever race run on the course was won by Jerry Austin’s XKD 527, the first-ever D-Type imported into California.

© Glamma Productions 2012

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