IN MEMORY OF JACK SEARS (1930-2016)

Alan Mann's favourite story about Jack Sears was about Le Mans 1965. Jack was driving one of two Daytona Coupe Cobras being run by Alan Mann Racing, as part of the wider Ford effort which included early GT40s. A faulty batch of cylinder head studs caused problems for all the Ford entries, and one by one they retired from the race. Eventually, the car Jack was driving with the American dentist Dr. Dick Thompson was the last Ford in the race. Their car had not been immune from incident though, having had two separate accidents and a broken oil pickup. This last problem was causing oil pressure to drop dramatically during cornering, so Jack brought the car into the pits, with the intention to retire from the race. However, my father was conscious of the possible headline 'no Fords finish at Le Mans' and was determined to keep the car out there if possible.

There was apparently a tricky conversation in the pits, Jack saying the car was undriveable, and Alan saying he must drive it...

And drive it he did, to an 8th place finish overall and winning the GT class (plus saving Ford an embarrassing headline). My father's opinion was that it was the most professional  piece of race driving he ever saw, when Jack could have blown the engine at any time, but instead kept delicately balancing the oil pressure by keeping cornering, braking and acceleration forces to a minimum, a tricky feat in a race! But he brought the battered car home, and my father was eternally grateful and impressed. He commissioned a painting of the car with its mangled front end and gave it to Jack, who hung in his house as a memento.

Alan and Jack remained fast friends thereafter, and Jack gave a moving tribute at Alan's funeral. 

It's very sad to hear news of his death, and he will be greatly missed, surely one of the nicest men in motor racing. Many condolences to his family.

9 QUESTIONS FOR 9 TIME LE MANS WINNER TOM KRISTENSEN

from last on the grid to winner at the goodwood revival 2015 - © fiona hanson PHOTOGRAPHY

from last on the grid to winner at the goodwood revival 2015 - © fiona hanson PHOTOGRAPHY

ALAN MANN RACING: We loved having you as part of the team at Goodwood so the first and of course most important question is will you be driving for Alan Mann Racing again in the future?

TOM KRISTENSEN: Sure, but always in a different car!

AMR: After our issues in qualifying your win from last place at the Goodwood Revival was pretty spectacular, but is there a single race that stands out as the most special for you?

TK: That was fantastic! Maybe also the American Le Mans Series at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres in 2002 where we (Dindo Capello and I) started last with our Audi Sport Team Joest’s R8 to go on and win – or the German Super Touring Car Championship at Nürburgring winning the final race from last row on the grid (Honda Accord).

Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, August 3rd 2002 - American Le Mans Series - Audi R8

Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières, August 3rd 2002 - American Le Mans Series - Audi R8

AMR: This year was your fourth Goodwood Revival and you're an ambassador for the Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix - So now that you're officially retired from racing, is classic motorsport something you're going to be doing a lot more of?

TK: Happy to, yes. It's important to show respect and passion for our great heritage that made us dream of capturing moments with a sport that is in our blood.

Tom has competed 4 times in The St. Mary’s Trophy at Goodwood. A win in an Austin Westminster A95 in 2010. Third with a Lotus Cortina in 2011. A win with a Ford Galaxie in 2013 and of course this year with Henry Mann and Alan Mann Racing in the Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt. Tom also won the TT Tourist Trophy on very wet circuit in the 1963 Daytona Cobra with Kenny Bräck in 2013.

AMR: Throughout your career you've driven everything from single seaters to sports cars, which out of all of them was your favourite?

TK: I feel I excelled best with sportscars. It is the best and most healthy racing category on the planet according to my experience. Formula cars are the basic’s though, the extreme and it's important to make a name for yourself towards a long term future. The saloon cars are the most fun...Especially at Goodwood!

Tom during his F3 days in Japan where he won the championship in 1995

Tom during his F3 days in Japan where he won the championship in 1995

AMR: The Ford Fairlane you drove for us at Goodwood was the prototype that started the next 40 years of NASCAR design - Given its size and age what was your approach to driving it, were there any key priorities in your mind?

TK: Getting it sideways to turn was a priority!

Getting the Fairlane sideways - © Scott Dennis Photography

Getting the Fairlane sideways - © Scott Dennis Photography

AMR: You are involved with the development of young drivers at Audi and with fellow Dane Kevin Magnussen fighting through for a place in Formula 1 who are the young drivers that you are excited about?

TK: Plenty... I am watching and following many catagories and the younger drivers are fast, committed and close to their peak earlier due to many laps, simulator work, their understanding of data and intelligent collaboration with engineers and teams.

AMR: Your father Carl-Erik was a successful driver before you, will we be seeing the next generation of Kristensen's in motorsport?

TK: My brother is doing well in touring cars, but I will not be surprised if one or more of our sons will be fast, committed and passionate in racing too.

Carl-Erik Kristensen - 1980 Danish National Rallycross Champion - © Kurt Ellegaard

Carl-Erik Kristensen - 1980 Danish National Rallycross Champion - © Kurt Ellegaard

AMR: A friend of yours and fellow Le Mans legend Jacky Ickx's first professional drive was with Alan Mann Racing in 1964. Who is the driver that most inspired you over the years?

TK: Really, I wasn't aware of that, that’s great! Many drivers but Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti and Ayrton Senna – as well as living the life on the circuits with my Dad – were all very inspiring to my childhood dreams.

AMR: Finally, which of the Alan Mann Racing cars would you be most excited to drive from a historical and performance perspective?

Your choices are: Lotus Ford Cortina Mk I & Mk II, Ford Falcon Mk II, Ford Mustang Mk I, Ford Escort Mk I, Daytona Cobra, Ford GT40, Ford F3L-P69, Ford Open Sports Can-Am

TK: Definitely all the cars,  but I would like to wear my Audi overall doing it. I want to start with the Escort Mk I as I grew up watching my Dad being blindly fast in this model - and listening to him saying that his dream would be to drive the right-hand drive Alan Mann car.

AMR: Sounds good to us, we have an Escort ready and waiting.

Thanks a lot to Tom for taking the time to answer our questions.
To find out more about what Tom's up to at the moment head to his official website:

 
A pair of Escorts at Silverstone, 1968

A pair of Escorts at Silverstone, 1968

ALAN MANN RACING STORMS TO REVIVAL WIN WITH TOM KRISTENSEN

Henry Mann crossed the line to seal victory in the Goodwood Revival’s two part St Mary’s Trophy on Sunday, September 13th - the first time Alan Mann Racing has won it at one of the most prestigious and high-profile events on the historic motorsport calendar.

However the story of the weekend has to be the stunning Saturday Part 1 drive of Tom ‘Mr Le Mans’ Kristensen, Henry Mann’s co-pilot for the event. After a fuel-flow problem in qualifying on Friday, Kristensen had just half a lap under his belt at the end of the session and subsequently had to start Saturday’s race from the back of the grid.

What followed was a masterclass in race-craft. 9-time Le Mans winner Kristensen put on a formidable display behind the wheel of a 1964 Ford Fairlane 427cu.in.Thunderbolt. Charging through the field, more often than not sideways through the corners, he propelled himself past the fast-starting Lotus Cortinas of Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan before finally taking 1st place.

While Goodwood commentators have hailed it as ‘the greatest race in Revival history’, Tom Kristensen himself was a little more modest, saying:

 “After the issues we experienced on Friday and starting from the back of the grid, I knew I’d need to give it my all. It was a really memorable win and I loved power-sliding that car through the corners! Goodwood Revival is a unique event, and it was fantastic to explore it with the great Alan Mann Racing and teammate Henry."

Alan Mann Racing’s weekend was far from over with Kristensen’s victory, as Henry Mann started in 3rd place in Part 2 on Sunday. Mann then produced a composed, controlled and professional drive in the Fairlane to take the second race win of the weekend and secure the overall Trophy.  

Henry Mann said:

After coming to the Revival for half my life with my father Alan Mann, it’s a truly special feeling to win the St Mary’s Trophy at such a great event, particularly with such a brilliant teammate and such a strong field. I know Dad would be absolutely delighted and very proud of the team.”

This year, in addition to racing its own cars all over Europe, Alan Mann Racing has started to prepare and run ‘customer cars’ – of which the Fairlane was the first: owned by Martin Adams of Smokin’ Joes & Commonwealth Racing motorcycle fame.

The Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt was originally built by legendary Ford works team Holman & Moody in 1964, and was raced in 1965 by Alan Mann himself who took it to two Brands Hatch Boxing Day wins in a row.

In 2002 Lee Holman of Holman & Moody, using original archive designs and drawings, made this faithful recreation from a 1964 Fairlane discovered in a California garage.  The resulting car raced in Europe for several years before arriving with AMR at the beginning of 2015, where it was completely overhauled and is now presented in authentic period specification.

Race Report: Brands Hatch - TOP STEP TO NAUGHTY STEP

Hello and welcome to my first race report as part of the Red & Gold Revival. My name is Henry Mann and as well as running the company with my brother Tom, I'm lead driver for Alan Mann Racing.

AMR had two cars to run at Brands Hatch over the bank holiday weekend: A 1964 Ford Fairlane owned by Martin Adams of Commonwealth Racing motorcycle fame, and the our own 1965 Mustang.

Martin's Mighty Fairlane

Martin's Mighty Fairlane

After testing on Friday, the weekend began with Saturday morning qualifying on the GP circuit for the Mustang. A good first flying lap stood as provisional pole for most of the session, but slipped to third fastest by the end.

There were two half hour races for the Masters Touring cars, with the result declared on aggregate. After a lunchtime rain shower, a drying line was appearing on the track as 37 cars assembled for the first race. Mike Whitaker’s Mustang led the field followed by the ever-competitive Ford Falcon of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield. Whitaker pulled an early lead as a four way battle for second developed, including the AMR Mustang and the Mercury Comet of Roger Wills. Everything was shaping up nicely until our hapless driver, yours truly, put a wheel on the wet grass at the exit of Sheene Curve and spun. After laboriously restarting the engine, I managed to pull the red and gold Mustang past the pits in 19th place. Fortunately a few laps were left and the car rallied to 8th, setting the grid position for the Sunday race. Mike Whitaker won in fine style, after resisting a late challenge from Wills’ Comet Cyclone. Leo Voyazides had an uncharacteristic retirement following brake failure.

Race two started in good dry conditions, and I made a good start and was up to third on the first lap. The start was obviously a bit too good, because in race control they weren’t happy with it. Video was replayed and a drive through penalty was issued, to which I was totally unaware. Back on the track, I'd passed Roger Wills for second and was pursuing Mike Whitaker and the lead. A few laps later and I was alongside Mike's Mustang going through Druids jostling for position until the exit of Surtees, when I managed to settle matter, taking the lead and opening up a respectable gap.

Blissfully ignorant of the stop and go penalty issued earlier I took the chequered flag and drove back to parc ferme where officials were waiting with stern words. My protestations were useless and I was advised to go to Specsavers, having missed the black flags that were apparently issued. The car was disqualified and I had my collar felt. Despite the obvious disappointment, it was great to know that the car is on the pace.

GREETED BY MY BROTHER TOM AFTER THE RACE

GREETED BY MY BROTHER TOM AFTER THE RACE

NOT SUCH A WARM WELCOME - SUMMONED TO THE STEWARDS OFFICE

NOT SUCH A WARM WELCOME - SUMMONED TO THE STEWARDS OFFICE

Monday saw the first outing for the Fairlane. More of a shakedown than anything else, we were looking to iron out any issues and generally see how she ran in competition. Built by Holman & Moody, this car came to us after terrorizing the European circuits in the hands of a German team. It was to be returned to its original racing specification, as raced by Alan Mann in 1965. It is a big powerful car not ideally suited to the Brands Indy circuit, but qualifying went smoothly and a respectable 57.0s time was posted. The car behaved well over the 40 minute race distance, confirming that the mechanical changes would stand up in competition.

THE FAIRLANE IN ACTION

THE FAIRLANE IN ACTION

Next up, Donington on the 4th of July when we will also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AMR/Shelby/Ford Dayton Cobra GT World Championship win.

As always a big thank you to our mechanics who did a great job all weekend!

Sunday: Full Gallery

Monday: Full Gallery

Creative Journal: 'Classic' Logo Development

There are some big changes underway at Alan Mann Racing as we ramp up the Red & Gold Revival and a significant part of that is happening on the creative side of the company. My name is Tim and I am currently AMRs resident designer working with Tom and Henry Mann to bring AMR into the 21st century, this is the first of what I suspect may be quite sporadic (I apologise in advance) creative updates.

For this first entry in what I’m calling my ‘Creative Journal’ I’m going to give you a little insight into the development of the new Alan Mann Racing logo. I’m calling this logo the ‘Classic’ logo as it’s now the principal logo for the company. Over the years AMR had various iterations of their logo that we’ll be exploring in the future for use in graphic design and merchandise. However, for now Tom and Henry wanted a new logo that would not only celebrate the revival of Alan Mann Racing but also bring a new level of consistency to the brand and complement their iconic red & gold colour-scheme.

Because Alan Mann Racing does have such a bold and identifiable livery we all felt it was important to keep the logo as simple as possible, using subtle elements such as line-work and typography to reference their historic roots and attention to detail. Sadly I never met Alan in person but having read his autobiography as well as speaking to his sons and close friend Brian Lewis it feels like the core AMR philosophy (in an often complicated industry) was always about trying to keep as much as possible as simple as possible.

The first step was to visit the AMR workshop to get my first look at the cars and pick up on any design cues that might prove useful.

Three contrasting styles of logo were produced that suggest different directions for the business as well as the brand.

Once a direction was chosen it was developed and refined in order to create a mark that is simple, legible, balanced and recognisable.

An optional footer is used to reinforce the heritage of the brand, complementing the strength of the 'AMR bar' above it.

Patterns can be produced using a detail of the logo that are in keeping with 1960s abstract art such as that of Bridget Riley and Frank Stella.

By condensing the 'AMR bar' a variant is produced that is still recognisable but more suitable for constrained contexts such as social network icons.

The logo can be combined with 'Byfleet' stripes that are locked to a specific ratio. More about the 'Byfleet' stripes at a later date.

We think the 'Classic' logo achieves what we set out for, simple, bold, timeless and versatile. Here's to the next 50 years of Alan Mann Racing.

'We Manage' BY ALAN MANN

FBCM-Cover.jpg

Taken from 'The Ford Book of Competition Motoring'
Edited by Jim Clark & Alan Brinton
1965

 
 

We manage

BY ALAN MANN

 

On the firm basis of a concentrated engineering experience, Alan Mann has emerged as one of Europe's leading team managers. His knowledge of car preparation is backed by considerable talent at the wheel, and as he shows, team management is an often overlooked but vital aspect of motor racing.

At any large race Meeting, the paying spectator usually has the opportunity of seeing drivers, mechanics, race officials and a host of other easily recognised personalities. All of them are, of course, essential to a successful days racing. But I am quite sure that the average member of the crowd has very little conception of the amount of work which has been put in by the teams in order to get the cars on to the starting grid. And I am certain that one person rarely recognised or even considered by the spectator is the team manager. His is a complex job, a job simply packed with endless problems, and Ill try to explain in outline the sort of things he has to do, and why.

It should be fairly obvious that every racing team produces scores of day-to-day problems, all of which call for urgent and positive answers. The best solutions to all of these questions can be found only by one man, the team manager. His is a lonely position; it has to be, for unless the team manager is captain of the ship, he cannot control with the authority which is absolutely necessary for him to do his job. This is something which is increasing in importance as more and more large manufacturing companies are entering the competition field. A competition or team managers job can rapidly become impossible if he is continually having to explain and justify his actions to somebody who probably knows little or nothing about the real hard facts of racing and rallying. However, most of these large manufacturing firms have realised that the largest single ingredient towards a successful competition or racing department is the selection of the right type of manager, whose decisions they can accept and trust without question.

Some teams, however, are not so lucky, and whether they suffer from poor management or suffocation through rigid and ill informed direction, the result is inevitably always the same; slow and cautious decisions, and unrest within their team. I would say that these two factors can lose them half their races before they ever get on to the starting grid. Team management is such a manysided activity that it is virtually impossible to write down all the requirements in textbook form. To give an idea of the scope of a team managers tasks, I would like to show you what really happens during a typical event in the European racing season, by taking you with me from the start to the finish of one individual meeting.

 

"..the largest single ingredient towards a successful competition or racing department is the selection of the right type of manager.."

 

The one I have chosen was the Nurburgring Six-Hour Saloon Car Race, held on the famous German circuit on June 21, 1964. We entered a couple of Cortina Lotuses for this gruelling event, and our Number 1 drivers for each car were Sir John Whitmore and Henry Taylor. Now the regulations stated that no driver would be allowed to complete more than four hours of racing. This meant that we had to find two codrivers. Now this wasn’t as easy as it may sound. The snag was that the 24-hour race was taking place at Le Mans during the same weekend, and naturally this cut out any possibility of asking many of the top competition drivers to join us. It took quite a time, and a lot of phone calls, before I managed to land Tony Hegbourne and Peter Harper.

The entry forms and official regulations were received one month before the meeting. And of course they were in German. So the first thing was to have them translated immediately into English, and to study them carefully after this had been done. The entries, duly visaed by the Royal Automobile Club, had to be lodged with the organisers by June 1, accompanied by an entry fee of 150 Deutschmarks per car (and dont try just sending a cheque, or you quickly find a very irate employee of the Bank of England breathing fire, brimstone and tradegap figures down your neck). At the same time, hotels had to be booked for three mechanics, four drivers and wives, and myself. This was not the easiest of problems to solve, because you can quite easily find that B.M.C, Atlas, Saab and the rest have beaten you to every bed in the Eifel Mountains - from the flashiest hotel right down to that of the Bürgermeister’s daughter. Suitable hotel accommodation is always a problem at Continental events where the track can be up to twenty miles from the nearest town, and though it can be a good idea to get the drivers away from the circuit to relax, they don’t want to be too far away.

Although the race was on the Sunday, scrutineering began on the Thursday, at 12 noon, so our transporter had to be in the area by 6 oclock on the Wednesday evening at the latest. All of this tied in very badly with the fact that the cars had just been competing in the hill climb at Mont Ventoux, in Southern France. Henry Taylor had been successful with the Number 2 car, but John Whitmores car broke its rear suspension and had some quite serious damage to the bodywork at the rear. After the hill climb, the cars were unceremoniously bundled into the transporter and driven to the main Ford dealers at Grenoble, where they were met by two fresh mechanics with new engines, and the cars were completely rebuilt. So, in the space of four days (June 14 to June 17) two mechanics were dispatched with the engines and spares, plus reams of French Customs papers, to drive the 500 miles to Grenoble. Two other mechanics who had been with the cars at Mont Ventoux drove overnight to Grenoble. The two Cortina Lotuses were stripped and rebuilt, and then transported the 400 miles to Nurburgring. A pretty hectic four days!

Then, rather as expected, the real problems began. Scrutineering sessions at a Continental event calls for a great deal of patience. Imagine having to explain to a German race official (when your knowledge of his language ends at Achtung) that because the Cortina driven by the German champion carries thirty-two gallons while yours carry the maximum homologated amount of twenty-two gallons, it is not you who is trying to get away with something. You need lots of patience. The race was on the Northern loop of the Nurburgring as used these days for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and with a lap distance of a little over fourteen miles, with quite steep gradients and something like 170 corners, it presents quite a problem for the inexperienced driver.

Fortunately, all our drivers had previous race experience at the Ring, so that a couple of laps devoted to trying out the cars was sufficient for each of them. Race day presented most of the familiar problems: the last minute panics on the cars; giving the drivers strict instructions on race position, lap times and rev limits; organising the wives into an efficient lap chart / timing / coffeemaking crew; checking on the refuelling regulations and making sure that they were followed and, finally, gently trying to dissuade the jackbooted Polizei from bodily throwing out one of the mechanics because he was not wearing his armband.

 

'Imagine having to explain to a German race official that because the Cortina driven by the German champion carries thirty-two gallons while yours carry the maximum homologated amount of twenty-two gallons, it is not you who is trying to get away with something.'

 

So far as our team was concerned it was a pretty successful day. We decided against taking on the big Mercedes 300SE driven by Böhringer and Glemser for first place overall. As Autosport commented the following week, in reporting the race: They [our cars] could no doubt have disputed the lead, but common sense prevailed and they contented themselves with just winning their class.” We were content with the Whitmore/Hegbourne car being second overall and first in its class, with the Taylor/Harper car third overall and second in class. Both cars finished over twenty minutes ahead of the next car in their class, which was a fair demonstration of superiority! I suppose that in all good story books this should be the happy ending. But the cars still had to pass a final technical inspection (no troubles on this occasion, though there have been times when officials have been awkward about something), the trophies had to be distributed during the evenings festivities, and the drivers and myself were due in Marseilles, 600 miles away in the South of France, for the start of the Alpine Rally on the Tuesday. But that is another day, and another story. However, perhaps this outline of just one race will give you some idea of what often goes on behind the scenes in the middle of a crowded competition calendar. That day at Nurburgring everything went pretty well according to plan; the results were just what we had aimed for, and we finished with two successful cars all in one piece. I can assure you, though, that its not always plain sailing. . . . The team management problems I’ve dealt with so far relate to tangible things, such as entries, travel timetables, car preparation and so on. Now let us look at some of the intangible problems, such as how to select and handle drivers.

Drivers can be a real problem for a team manager. You may find it surprising to learn that their driving ability is not always the most important factor one has to consider when selecting them. Perhaps the best thing I can do is to try to show what qualities are needed for different types of competition. First and most popular in Britain is sprint racing, where the race distance covers only a few laps. Whether it is in Grand Prix cars or saloons, flatout speed is required from both car and driver: if either one is lacking, the chances of winning these sort of races are very small indeed. It is no use being slow when the flag falls, because there is no time to carve your way through the field when a race comprises only a few short laps. Neither is it any use having drivers who are very quick but prone to make errors, because again there is no opportunity for redeeming a mistake (as is sometimes possible in longer events). Driver personality for sprint racing is not too important; I could put up with a lot of unpleasantness from a driver if he is capable of lapping half a second quicker than anyone else. 

One important point that often gets little consideration is a drivers ability as a tester. Very, very few cars are built and prepared for racing without a considerable amount of private testing. Some are, I know, but they do not win races! With the present high standard of competition, it is just not possible to buy a new racing car and win races with it immediately. There is always a little more speed to be gained if the car is set up to suit the driver and the circuit. In order to do this there are a lot of factors to be considered. For example, work has to be carried out to decide camber, caster and toe-in angles for the wheels; what spring rates to use; what tyres to use, and what pressure to use in them; the thickness of roll bars at front and rear; what front-to-rear braking ratios should be used and how much under- or oversteer is needed. All these and a dozen other factors have to be carefully considered in the light of possible improvement, if necessary by trial-and-error testing, and it is an enormous help if a driver can do a few fast laps on a circuit, then come into the pits and tell the mechanics exactly how the car is behaving. 

So many drivers have beautiful little phrases, such as ‘’it’s a bit twitchy on fast corners”, or ‘it doesn't stop’ - or the best one of all - ‘it just doesn't feel right’. I am sure that when they make these remarks they honestly imagine that they are being useful. In fact, it is probably obvious to us in the pits, by checking the lap times, that all is not well. This situation is not improved by a series of unintelligible remarks by the driver, which could mean anything from slicks of oil on the circuit to a sticking throttle pedal. 

Thank heavens, though, there are drivers who can spot in an instant the faults which are to be found in a cars handling in a manner which is easily understandable and usually (but not always) appreciated. Graham Hill is a good example of a thoroughly professional driver who, after fifteen minutes in a new car, can give a list of suggestions (mostly unprintable) which are of enormous value. Although Graham was absolutely confounded by his first drive in a Cortina Lotus, when he spoke at some length about all the reasons why he found it impossible to drive the car quickly, he was to find to his amazement that all his lap times were within half a second or so of the lap record. 

Quiet followed, and Graham had to dig deep to buy lunch all round! Other top drivers with a good reputation for being articulate about testing cars include Jack Brabham, Richie Ginther and Bruce McLaren. There is one more quality essential in a good sprintrace driver, and this is the ability to practise at his maximum speed. Some drivers have great difficulty in getting down to within half a second or so of their fastest possible lap time during a practice period, when they are fighting against the stopwatch rather than against other cars. But this can be a considerable handicap, because it can mean being on the second row of the starting grid - a real disadvantage in a ten lap race.

 

'GRAHAM HILL IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF A THOROUGHLY PROFESSIONAL DRIVER WHO, AFTER FIFTEEN MINUTES IN A NEW CAR, CAN GIVE A LIST OF SUGGESTIONS (MOSTLY UNPRINTABLE) WHICH ARE OF ENORMOUS VALUE.'

 

Now let us take a look at longdistance racing drivers. This is a form of racing more popular in Europe with Grand Touring and Touring cars. For this type of event a driver must have a great deal of intelligence and self-control if he is to be a real asset to a team. At all times during a long race a driver should be thinking not how fast he is able to drive but how slowly he can afford to circulate. To some people, it is often impossible and always frustrating to slow down at all during a race, and although this is understandable it is not tolerable. The qualities that a team manager is looking for in a long-distance driver are: mechanical sympathy, discipline, the ability to lap at respectable speeds if necessary, and one most important but difficult-to-define asset: that of keeping out of trouble by being exceptionally careful about overtaking slower cars and trying at all costs to keep out of any wheel-to-wheel driving (which is always unnecessary in a race of any length).]

A really good example of a completely versatile driver of great ability is Sir John Whitmore, whom I was fortunate enough to have driving a Cortina Lotus for me in Europe during the 1964 season. To those who have only seen John hurling Minis and the like around British circuits in a quite ridiculous and unbelievable manner, it will come as a surprise to learn that he is in fact quite one of the most sensible, well-controlled, and, above all, safest drivers that I know. It is always comforting to know, when sitting in the pits, that the only person who can pedal a Cortina Lotus along faster is usually sitting in his Formula 1 Lotus a thousand miles away.

But though drivers are a wonderful crowd of people, I sometimes wish we could do without them. Life for a team manager would then be so much easier!

 

Forever With Blue Genes

 

Alan Mann Racing’s cars are famous for being cloaked in red and gold – but a strong association with Ford, now as in period, is equally symbolic. With the team on the verge of scaling back, we took a lingering glance at a fleet that will soon partially be dismantled.
 

Writer: Gordon Cruickshank

Photographer: Matthew Howell

Read more at: MOTORSPORT MAGAZINE

 

It fits, somehow. Henry Mann, son of 1970s racing team boss Alan Mann, has a camera slung around his neck as we meet to talk about the team his father closed down in 1969 and then restarted when he fell in love with historic racing. Only this isn’t a megapixel smartcam, it’s a Rolleiflex, with film you have to dunk in chemicals. It fits with the fact that Henry works in a small record label in Limehouse, dealing not with downloads but with valves, tape and vinyl. And it fits with the red and gold cars we’ve come to see, all of them decades old. Today is all about yesterday.

Alan Mann died in 2012, but the renewed team has continued to race at historic meetings, with John Young and Henry himself driving cars built up more recently under Alan’s aegis, of course in that memorable, eye-grabbing livery. But without his father’s involvement and with a career of his own to pursue, Henry has decided the team has to contract. In future he will race only the Mustang, so before the cars are dispersed we assembled them at Fairoaks Airfield, the team base, to hear about Alan, AMR and helicopters. Fairoaks is the site of the highly successful helicopter leasing business Alan built up after leaving the car world, but not many realise it owes its current form to him. “It was an old WWII airbase, and when my father bought it, it was just a grass airstrip,” Henry says. “Gradually he expanded it so it was the ideal base when he started the aviation businesses.” We wait while a deafening Jet Ranger taxis past. “It’s the perfect location. We’re out in the country, yet we could be at your office in 10 minutes!” As MS HQ is opposite Battersea Heliport he’s not exaggerating. Mann sold the airfield in 2009 but it’s still busy – before we can drive the cars from workshop to hangar apron we queue, line-astern, behind a van with FOLLOW ME in large letters. Ironic. Following anyone has always been anathema to the Mann team.

 

"Dad went at Historic Racing as though he still had a Ford works budget"

 

It was Goodwood that refired Alan Mann’s racing passion. Having been a bright star of Sixties privateer racing, especially in saloons, he had dropped out of motor sport for 30 years. In 2003 he was invited to race Rupert Clevely’s Lotus Cortina at the Revival, then Rowan Atkinson’s Falcon, and, says Henry, “He got completely wrapped up in it all over again.” He quickly bought a Mustang for himself, had it prepared and threw himself back into the sport where his team had scored so many red and gold stars decades before. “He went at it as though he still had a Ford works budget,” Henry grins. Yet before long his own revival reflected the original team’s progression, as he switched from driving a car to running the new Alan Mann Racing outfit.

It was a parallel to the 1960s. He’d had a modest career on track in the 1950s and early ’60s, though you could argue he made it to Grand Prix level – if you accept the 1957 Naples GP, which he contested in his old single-seater F2 HWM-Alta. But while he’d planned the motor trade as his main focus, his success as a preparer and manager sidetracked him into the sport big style.

Knowing the value of racing PR to the dealership he was running at the time, he had entered Anglias, Cortinas and even a Zephyr on track under the semi-private Andrews banner. With his emphasis on prep and polish, plus future GP driver Henry Taylor at the wheel, he was running a quasi-works effort by 1963. Results were good, but it was an injection of Yankee testosterone that pitched the team onto the front pages of the racing mags. Staying ahead of a beefy V8 Ford Falcon Sprint in the 1963 Marlboro 12 Hours impressed Ford in the US and suddenly (that’s to say with 14 weeks to go) Mann found himself tasked with preparing eight Falcons for the ’64 Monte. Anyone who knew that relentlessly demanding event could tell you those behemoths were hardly suitable; anyone who knew the relentlessly demanding Alan Mann could tell you that wouldn’t stop him. It meant racing full-time and the founding of Alan Mann Racing, signalled mid-season by the arrival of that paint scheme.

Fastest on stage after Monte stage, though finally beaten by the pipsqueak Mini on handicap, the unexpected success of the Mann Falcons boosted Ford across Europe and AMR across Ford. From then on, AMR was an official part of the blue-blood brotherhood, and big V8s were a muscular part of the Mann mix, along with compact Cortina and later the Escort. Years later, when the call came about the Atkinson Falcon, the stars were aligned. 

 

“Of all the tracks he raced at, Dad always loved Goodwood”

 

“Of all the tracks he raced at, Dad always loved Goodwood,” Henry says, “so it was something he couldn’t turn down.” Those races, plus a Can-Am reunion in the States, reignited the passion and soon Alan was after a Mustang of his own. Luckily his long-time team stalwart Brian Lewis was nearby, running his own business on Fairoaks Airfield. Part of the team right through its first incarnation, he is once again a vital part of AMR in its revived guise and is on hand today to oversee things, along with John Gray, another long-termer. Brian has seen virtually every racing arena, including running F2 cars for John Coombs and F1 Lobster-claw BT34s at Brabham, and having assembled GT40s at Ford Advanced Vehicles he was crucial to Mann’s lightweight Ford GT experiment in 1966. That was apart from the Cobra roadsters and Daytona coupés AMR fielded, helping Ford to the ’65 international GT championship, the team’s vital part in Ford’s ’66 Le Mans victory, the Monte Carlo Rally and Tour de France entries… All that alongside Sir John Whitmore’s 1965 European Touring Car 1600 title in a Cortina and back-to-back British Saloon Car Championships for Frank Gardner in bellowing Mustang and squat, brawny Escort. Not forgetting the F3L P68 and 69, the sensational super-slippy Gp6 DFV-powered sports cars that AMR created off its own bat in 1968, and the two unique Can-Am machines. Alan Mann’s mantra was undoubtedly ‘yes we can’. 

“Magic car,” Brian says of the F3L, defending a machine often seen as flawed. “I feel sorry for the guys struggling with a DFV when nobody knew about them” – only Lotus and AMR had them at first – “but it could have been a winner.” Seriously quick but problematic, the ambitious project was punctured by lack of resources, Chris Irwin’s awful accident and finally a rule change that sidelined the gorgeous machines. But at least Brian had a second chance with it after AMR was reborn.

 

“I got a call from Alan saying ‘I’ve just bought David Piper’s F3L. I think it could be a bit of fun!’"

 

“Alan came to me in 2004 and asked who could build him a Mustang,” says Brian. “I put him on to Jim Morgan, another ex-Mann guy.” Mann was still running the aviation firms, but the retro team under Morgan and then Grahame Goudie quickly expanded, buying both original team cars and building ‘new’ examples to race. Mustangs, Cortinas and Escorts, plus in 2006 a MkI Capri for Henry’s racing education, then a GT40 (now sold). “After that,” says Brian, “I got a call from Alan saying ‘I’ve just bought David Piper’s F3L. I think it could be a bit of fun!'”

With this expanding fleet Lewis was now back full-time, completely rebuilding the F3L he helped assemble in the first place, improving and re-engineering it to use the DFV block as a stressed member. It reappeared in 2008, a much better car, and Richard Attwood raced it at Goodwood in 2010. It has now gone to a private owner in Switzerland.

By the end of 1969 Alan Mann had a trophy shelf to make anyone proud, but what you’d now call the ‘brand synergy’ was about to snap. With two Le Mans victories on top of its other achievements, Ford’s ‘Total Performance’ programme halted. Not fancying following Ford of Britain into stage rallying, Mann, already a keen pilot of both full-size and model planes, chose to leave racing and take to the skies with helicopters and other equally successful aviation enterprises based at Fairoaks. But even Henry doesn’t know why he chose black and yellow as his aviation livery rather than red and gold. Nevertheless, the famous livery has more recently spread across historic racing grids around Europe.

Alan Mann’s health was declining, but sharing drives in the St Mary’s Trophy with his old partner Sir John Whitmore in Mustangs and a Cortina gave him real pleasure. Latterly John Young has been a regular team pilot, taking a Masters title in the Mustang, while Henry, too young even to be aware of his father’s early race successes, has also proved pretty handy, winning a title in that Capri, then two more in Cortina and Mustang. It was especially sweet, not long after his father’s death, to win the Alan Mann Trophy at Donington in his Mustang, while Goodwood’s memorial gathering of Alan Mann cars and drivers was possibly the largest ever assembly of red and gold, a fitting farewell to a man who made such a visible mark on racing.

Though the team is downsizing, Henry does fancy racing an Escort. And Brian tells me he’s just seen a Falcon shell on eBay – “and Henry sounds excited by the idea!” Maybe there’s an expansionist gene in the Mann genome.

 

 
 

 

Ford Mustang 289

Brian Lewis built this in 2011 from an American road car import. Using the traditional four-barrel Holley carb the 289 V8 produces about 430hp. Sharing with current British Touring Car Championship driver Mat Jackson, Henry won the Alan Mann Trophy at Donington in 2012.

Mustangs and AMR go way back. Following the Ford and Falcon connection the team tested a development car at Goodwood before it was publicly launched in 1964 and developed it into a rapid vehicle in races and rallies, scoring two Boxing Day victories for Mann himself at Brands Hatch, finishing 1-2 in the touring division of the 1964 Tour de France and lifting the ’65 ETCC title as a privateer entry for Roy Pierpoint. A young Jacky Ickx was an occasional Mustang driver, too.

“Even though it has no power steering, it’s quite easy to drive”, Henry says. “It’s very physical, with heavy steering, but it seems to be the one I do best with!” Just as well – this is the one car the reduced AMR will be running next year, entering some Masters rounds and of course the Goodwood Revival.

“It’s up there with the rest,” says Henry. “Except Leo Voyazides – we can’t seem to beat his Falcon!”

 

"Dad claimed he wasn’t worried about it as he’d won so many things before, but he was over the moon.”

 

Ford Cortina Lotus

Not a period team car, but an LHD vehicle found in Slovenia and rebuilt by Brian Lewis. Henry won first time out in it, at Oulton Park in March 2011, and went on to win that year’s Pre-66 Masters series. “Dad was so happy,” he recalls. “It was the last race he went to. He claimed he wasn’t worried about it as he’d won so many things before, but he was over the moon.”

While Ford’s ‘Total Performance’ ethos made its loudest noise with big American metal, Mustangs, Falcons, Cobras and Daytonas, the Cortina waved the blue flag over here and Alan Mann waved it fiercer than most. From the first GT in Andrews colours through the works GT, which AMR secretly improved for Henry Taylor in ’63, and the class winner at Bridgehampton that led to the Holman Moody and Falcon connection, the Dagenham dustbin turned into a demon once Lotus had wafted the pixie dust over it. Through AMR’s first year the cars were fleet but fragile (though Jim Clark took the British saloon title in the works car), but ’65 was John Whitmore’s year, sweeping the ETCC before him with Peter Proctor and Jack Sears equally vital to the task. (The British title went to Roy Pierpoint’s AMR-prepped Mustang.)

While AMR focused on sports cars from 1966, the red and gold Cortinas raced on in ETCC, hillclimbs and the US Trans-Am series, with some decent results, and then enjoyed a late flowering in ’68 fitted with F2 FVA lumps until the Escorts were ready, winning four ETCC track and hill climb rounds under Whitmore. Though the car pictured is on the disposal list, the team retains one of the 1966 works entries – not for racing. The team’s no2 car that year, it was raced, and crashed, at Brands Hatch by Jackie Stewart on the day of England’s World Cup victory. “Then,” recalls Brian Lewis, “he rushed off to appear on Juke Box Jury”.

“The Cortina is a really light car,” Henry says, “and you have to preserve every bit of speed you can. It’s harder to drive than the Mustang!”

 

 
 


"It handles amazingly, I even got into the Goodwood shoot-out with it."


Ford Escort FVA

The most special of our gathering – Frank Gardner’s 1968 British Saloon Car Championship-winning Escort, built up by Brian Lewis: “We collected six plain 1100s off the line at Boreham,” he says, “and brought them back to Byfleet [where the team was then located]. It’s never been got at. Ken Shipley restored it after finding it in Scotland with the Birrell brothers. It’s a Group 5 car but retaining its trim and seats, even the sun visors. The big arches were shaped by Peter Bohanna [who helped the team with wind-tunnel testing]. He first made rubber tools to press out the steel arches. At the time a roll cage wasn’t required, though you can see it has had one at some point.” It also carries a 1968 tax disc. Wonder how the insurance company felt about that...

Frank Gardner had already collected the ’67 BSCC title in AMR’s Falcon Sprint, but the Escort was the way forward – compact and wieldy, with enormous potential from various Ford engines. In ’68 the BSCC ran to Gp5 regulations, allowing Mann to use the fuel-injected 16-valve FVA Cosworth offering anything up to 230bhp. Initially fitted to the Cortina until the new car was homologated in May, it transformed the Escort, helped by serious suspension mods involving Morris Minor torsion bars. It was a blissful season, Gardner finishing well ahead of Brian Muir’s Falcon despite the 3-litre deficit, and even setting a new saloon lap record at Brands Hatch. AMR also entered Roger Clark, Peter Arundell, Graham Hill and Jackie Oliver in a sister car that still exists.

For ’69 the series ran to FIA regs banning the FVA and AMR reverted to Twin Cams fitted with a non-functioning ‘supercharger’ to bump it up a class, aiming for outright wins without undermining the rest of the TC category. Despite reduced power, Gardner took three outright wins plus the over-2-litre class. The following year Ford’s focus switched to rallying, but Mann chose not to follow.

This is the car that scored most of Gardner’s 1968 victories. It’s too historically important to race, according to Henry, but he has driven it up the Goodwood Festival hill. “It’s small and nimble and handles amazingly,” he says. “I even got into the Goodwood shoot-out with it. If there was a suitable series that fitted with the Mustang, I’d love to build one up to race.” 


Ford Anglia 107E

Built to contest the 1950s St Mary’s Trophy at the 2012 Goodwood Revival, this 1959 machine utilises a lot of Cortina elements underneath, though powered by an extremely hot 1300 pre-crossflow engine. With its box of electronic instruments for a dash it looks more radical than the Escort inside, but then it isn’t aping anything from the period. Even in his Alan Andrews team days, Mann never raced one of these little machines. Shared by Henry Mann and BTCC driver Mat Jackson – Jackson called it “a bit of a handful” – it placed seventh.