Classic Team Lotus – First Quarter Review 2012

It’s been a varied start to the year for the guys at Classic Team Lotus, with Autosport International, the Goodwood Press Day ahead of this years Goodwood Festival of Speed and filming for ‘Rush’ – a film documenting the struggle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda for the 1976 World Championship.

You can read the full report below, or on the Classic Team Lotus website.

The New Year started with the best possible news of a baby boy, Max (as in Maximillian), born to Classic Team Lotus merchandising and events coordinator Sapphire and husband James on New Year’s Day. Splendid! For the time being Sapphire’s role is being ably fulfilled by Harriet Edelston.

The team made its annual January pilgrimage to the NEC for the Autosport International Racing Car Show. Nick Yallop and Tim Gardner did a great job to get the truck in and the cars unloaded, ready for Steve Allen, Greg Chandler, Harriet Edelston and Clive Chapman to pitch in and get the stand looking good in time for the Thursday morning opening.

On behalf of the family of Peter Warr we were very pleased to make the stand available to host the launch of the excellent memoir written by Peter before his untimely death. During the day a lovely group of Peter’s friends and colleagues gathered, in time for a champagne reception together with the media. Peter’s son, Andy, made a fine speech, under the watchful eyes of mother Yvonne and sister Susie plus various PEW grandchildren. Both a happy and poignant occasion.

The stand featured 97T/2, in honour of Peter Warr, Nick Fennell’s 26R, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Elan, the Chapman Family Eleven, recently restored by Bob Dance, and the prototype 12, unrestored and en route to the CTL workshops with the intention of making her run for the first time ever. In particular the unrestored 12 drew a lot of attention.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the CTL crew have been busy with regular winter overhaul work on customer cars plus various special projects. Bob Dance has made a start on assembling a sequential box for the type 12. Nick Yallop has been getting started on 81B/5. Kevin Smith is restoring Nick Fennell’s type 23B. Lewis Cullington has been focused on type 76, type 30 and type 97T/2 issues. Tim Gardner continues to sort out Paul Dezelsky’s Cooper and has been giving 72E/5 a welcome overhaul. Recently we welcomed 98T/3 back to the workshops after many years away. New owner Zak Brown has asked us to prepare the car for a run at Ricard in May.

Emerson Fittipaldi is now officially an ambassador for the Lotus brand – as if he was not in any case – and we were pleased to welcome him to the CTL workshops during a recent goodwill trip to Hethel. Emerson made a particular point of visiting Hazel Chapman for tea at East Carleton Manor; what a gentleman.

Lotus Cars is the principle sponsor of the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2012. As a result Goodwood invited CTL customers Andrew Morris (type 102), Dan Collins (type 88B) and Andrew Beaumont (type 76) to attend the Press Day, with their cars run by Chris Dinnage, Nick Yallop and Lewis Cullington. The day went well, with Dan in particular making lots of new friends…..

Actor Paul McGann (a former Doctor Who, amongst many other significant movie and TV roles) was given his first taste of single seat racing cars when he got to drive the CTL type 18 Formula Junior around the Hethel test track as part of a documentary currently being aired on Sky, namely ‘The Petrol Age’. He acquitted himself well and genuinely seemed to enjoy his adventure.

‘Rush’ is the working title of a major Hollywood movie about the battle between James Hunt and Niki Lauda for the 1976 F1 World Championship. Directed by Ron Howard this is going to be one of the biggest ever motorsport themed films. CTL has been involved at various stages, including facilitating some recent research filming at the Hethel test track. Subsequently 72/9 from the Works Collection was despatched to the film set under the ever watchful eye of Greg Chandler. Happily Greg was able to capture some evocative shots which captured the spirit of the era. Nice!

The race season started with Kevin Smith running Nick Fennell in his type 27 in the opening round of the UK FJ Championship at Donington. On his first visit to the circuit Nick acquitted himself well, qualifying 9th out of 29 and raced well to hold his own and finish 9th. A good result after quite a lot of engine work over the winter.

Meanwhile a number of other CTL customers participated in the second annual ‘blow the cobwebs away’ couple of days at Croix En Ternois; many of them, happily, with an eye on the forthcoming Grand Prix De Monaco Historique. Dan Collins (type 21), Andrew Beaumont (LDS and type 76), Andy Middlehurst (John Bower’s type 25) and Andrew Morris (type 102) all enjoyed relatively trouble free and worthwhile testing. Excellent preparation for what is looking like another busy season for Classic Team Lotus.

Please visit the CTL website to get a better idea of what CTL will be up to during the forthcoming season and, if anyone ever reads these quarterly reviews, please make a point of finding Clive and telling him. Please! (Yes, Dan. I know you do.)

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