In order that Timo would recognise me at Nice Airport I had to have a Motoring News tucked under my arm.
After a weeks recceing I flew home and was then invited by BMC to Silverstone the following week where their Works Mini Coopers were being tested on various Dunlop tyres, I travelled down with John Wadsworth and I had three stints driving where I experienced for the first time the fantastic adhesion of racing tyres. John and I were scheduled to go on the first 1964 Spa Sofia Liege reconnaissance to make the Works Tulip Road Book and were caught having a light discussion at the side of the Silverstone track.
This was Barrow Bros, Plumbers Ltd, on another successful mission in securing another win with brother Pete - 'And he drove the fastest Blowlamp in the West'.
Have no illusions, Super Stars today get paid megga bucks, I was paid a miserly fee of £50 plus a few Trade Bonuses for the 1964 RAC Rally ! Gratefully received, of course.
I was very proud to be a member of the Works Factory Rootes Group Rally Team.
The Team consisted of Tiny Lewis & Robin Turvey, Ian Hall & Don Barrow, Rosemary Smith & Sheila Taylor and Peter Harper & Mike Hughes.
We all had T shirts with the ' Sunbeam Tiger Powered by Ford ' logo both front and back.
I then had the misfortune to be teamed up with Peter Harper on the 1965 RAC Rally in a Works Sunbeam Tiger, thankfully ending in retirement at Bristol Airport Main Control with a cooked engine. There's no way I could have endured the abrasive atmosphere in the car much longer. It must be rated as my most hated memory of ever being in such company.
Just to put you in the picture - I collected the Sunbeam Tiger from the Competition Dept in Coventry and drove to the house of PH, he was all very courteous saying cheerio to his wife but as soon as he got in the car he completely changed, he was very sarcastic about everything that we discussed.
We started the event with the homologated carburetor fitted, which at a pre-arranged meeting point was to be changed for the ultimate carburetor. The engine started playing up about 2 miles prior to the rendezvous and I had to push the car for the last 100 yards off the highway, PH was not best pleased and decided to take it out of me, and from that point onwards he queried every route instruction I gave him. On SS1 he overdrove the car and at the spectator point had a monumental high speed nosedive immediately followed by an overshoot where the engine stopped. It took ages to start the V8 engine and we limped off the stage with steam coming from the front end and the temperature gauge in the red. Thankfully, where at the pre-event meeting I had pushed very hard for a service crew to be stationed at the end of SS1, they discovered the fan blades were still embedded into the radiator which was all replaced and topped up. Just prior to entering the Quantocks special stage we were the last car in a convoy of other works cars and I said we turn right into the forest in 200 yards, all the other cars went straight on, he refused to turn right insisting that I check the M.R. (Map Reference). I assured him I was right because I had been through the same stage just weeks before, he would not budge. Minutes later the convoy arrived back and turned into the junction, he then followed them in, no apology was offered, at the stage start he shouted, 'pass my crash hat' he was in a right rage. Halfway through the stage the engine started to misfire, signalling the failure of a head gasket, brilliant I thought, let's hope it expires on a road section far enough away from a service point.
Up to this point in my rallying career I had always enjoyed the company of all my previous drivers, and then I was paired with PH, I had never experienced such a total disregard for a fellow crew member, he was so argumentative, arrogant, ill mannered and pompous, I hated his company and I was simply hoping the engine would fail. However we managed to limp into the Bristol Airport service point, where, hallelujah! the engine was declared cooked and done for. Tiny Lewis who was in the Rootes Team driving a Hillman Imp allowed us the use of his house to stay overnight near Bristol. Unbeknown to me PH had telephoned his girl friend - no names that would be unfair - so lets call her Sally and she apparently arrived overnight which then provided us with transport to get back to London. On the way we stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant and the pair of them created an awkward situation by canoodling with one another and ending up with Sally sat on his lap kissing and cuddling. Highly embarrassed, I topped up the wine glasses, at which PH looked away from Sally and said 'and you poured the wine just like a plumber too', I could have hit him over the head with the wine bottle.
Many years later at a Ecurie Cod Fillet re-union, I visited the Rootes Group table and spoke with Ian Hall, Rosemary Smith and Peter Procter and I ventured round to PH and asked if he remembered me, he said 'NO' and immediately turned his back on me. So there you have the answer to my abhorrent feelings to such a distasteful individual.
I was also part of the Rootes Group 'Ice Note' crew on the 1966 Monte, this was as near to competing on the event as I ever got.
Ian Hall and I in his works Hillman Imp, competed on the Jeans Gold Cup rally, also entered were Jim Bullough and Mike Sutcliffe, my intention was to get in conversation with Jim at the finish and hopefully team up with him for 1966. Well half way through the Jeans Gold Cup event, the Imp started to give trouble, Ian new about my plan and so we limped to the finish at Charnock Richard Services on the M6. We sat at a table opposite the entrance and as soon as Jim and Mike came in I asked if they would like to join us and during the breakfast conversation, Jim asked who I was navigating for in 1966, needless to say the rest is now history. So for 1966 we were both over the moon at teaming up together in Jim's immaculately prepared - Peter West - 'Westune' MK 1 Lotus Cortina (JB 222).
The colour picture shows the line up of Works IMPs prior to the start of the Rally outside the Royal Scottish Automobile Club in Blythewood Square, Glasgow, Scotland.
Car 8 is Tiny Lewis & Robin Turvey in 4526 KV, Car 6 is Andrew Cowan & Don Barrow in FRW 307C, car 5 is Rosemary Smith & Valerie Domleo in 4525 KV.
On Special Stage 13 ! of the 1966 Scottish International Rally. Andrew Cowan & Don Barrow set off from the start of the stage, where Andrew remarked about the worrying noise from the transaxle, sure enough it got worse and eventually cried enough, we pulled over, which co-incidentally was exactly 13 miles into the stage. Low and behold his brother and his then girl friend were spectating at that very corner. We eventually got recovered out of the stage and headed off back to Glasgow in his brothers car, we eventually stopped for lunch at a hotel. During lunch a Wallace Arnold coach pulled up outside and to add more to the co-incidentals, my Mother, Father & Auntie Annie walked into the restaurant, unbeknown to me they were touring Scotland at the time. Whenever my Auntie shook my hand there was always a Five pound note (£5 in 1966 was a nice little windfall) to be had from the hand shake, very much appreciated as times were hard in those days. So after the grief of retiring from the event, the day did not not turn out too bad after all !!!!
£5 was more than a days pay in 1966. When I spent weeks/days making road books for International events, the Rootes Group Competition Department, very generously paid me £20 per week, which was more than my normal pay packet at that time!
As a further story about the 1966 Scottish International.
Harry Skelton (He had a big haulage Company in the Midlands) entered in his Imp with a Swiss guy called Henri Ziegler. Harry had all the prep work done at the customer service Comps Dept, and they were obviously going to service his car throughout the rally. So you can imagine the night before scrutineering, Harry takes all twelve of them out for dinner and drinks.
Our small group had just arrived back at the Rootes Group rally hotel to see them all arrive, Harry was fussing around taking their drinks order for a night cap, Jim who was the service foreman said, "No Way, I've had enough drink for one night" Harry would not take no for an answer and kept insisting he had a brandy, "NO WAY" was the answer again, Harry not to be outdone, pestered him once again with, "Come on Jim your letting the side down, you have got to have something to get you off to sleep" Jim replied "Well go on, you've twisted my arm, I'll have 20 Woodbines then !! (Cigarettes)
Jim Bullough and I were in big trouble with sump shield problems and after leaving the Turnberry Main Control we deviated off route to a local garage to effect emergency repairs. After welding into position a piece of steel off a farm implement - I remember one of the guy's saying it was now as strong as a 'brick shothouse' or words to that effect - this deviation delayed us by about 40 minutes and was followed by a long road section which I drove through the centre of Glasgow and on to the next Special Stage. From previous experiences in Scotland I was adhering strictly to the speed limits especially in the 30 areas, because the Police were using new roadside Radar units. However on the outskirts of Glasgow I became very aware of large crowds of people waving flags and hats as we approached, which I thought was most unusual. As we neared the centre of the City the crowds of people became stronger all cheering and shouting. As we travelled down the main street in Glasgow between the numerous traffic lights, something caught my eye in the rear view mirror, this was a full blaze of two headlights and four spotlights travelling at a fair rate of knots coming down the outside lane of the slow moving traffic. As I was pulling up at the red traffic lights, a policeman positioned himself in the middle of the road stopping all traffic and waved this fireball through which was of course Jim Clark in his Lotus Cortina, as he passed us at the red lights he must have been doing about 50 - 60 mph and continued on the opposite side of the road right through several traffic lights in the same fashion. This was a sight to behold and he was in a right flapping state, because someone had given him an eiderdown to stuff in the gaping door hole of his MK1 Lotus Cortina and naturally about a third of it was flapping outside the car. As soon as he had passed us the policeman simply disappeared leaving me to wait for the green lights. Later in the afternoon on the Newcastlton Stage we went off the track and slide into a ditch, this delayed us for about 30 minutes and badly damaged the cross member and steering handlebar, we emerged in the dark with our front wheels pointed outwards. As we left the Stage Finish Control, I caught a glimpse of a Ford service vehicle - their service cars were all adorned with a red fluorescent stripe down their sides - amongst the shrubbery, I dashed across and discovered Ginger Devlin and crew who were pretty reluctant to assist at first. However they managed to pull our wheels in a bit but they were still toeing out a mile. During this operation I asked Ginger why they were still waiting at the Stage Finish, he confided in me that Jim Clark's car was still in the forest, but added that the Road Book and Time Card were still on Time !! And that we have not seen them !! Did we, of course not !!! We eventually arrived in the Newcastleton Service area, much to the distress of Peter West and crew, who upon examining the damage had to change both struts, cross member, steering handlebar and other bits and bobs. I was due to book in at the Town Hall Control in about 15 minutes time when Peter said, "no chance mate, we will be at least another 40 minutes yet". There was only one thing to do under the circumstances, I hailed a Taxi, travelled to the Town Hall in my Dunlop Racing overalls with my Road Book, dashed in and booked in on time and returned to the Service area, I thought to myself, what's good enough for the goose, is good enough for the gander.
However on the British Club scene, competition was getting tougher, and although we won numerous events in the 'MN' series, we finished off the season 2nd overall in the 'MN' Championship and 25th overall on the 1966 RAC Rally.
Months later I found out that Chris was courting one of Jack's daughters ! - Whom he later married.
This car was presented to Jim by the Ford Motor Company as a prize for winning the 1967 Motoring News Championship, they then had the damn cheek to invoice him for the full amount some 6 months later. Eventually we finished 2nd overall on the 'MN' Championship and a magnificent 3rd overall! on the RAC Rally of Great Britain as private entrants, in the same car that we had used all year, which by this time Jim had reluctantly paid for. This 3rd overall RAC Rally position enabled Ford GB to clinch the European title in 1968.
Some Prize, some reward!
Having damaged our exhaust system on the very first stage of the Rally on a horrendous gulley and ridge, in fact a lot of cars sustained damage here through landing on their noses and our exhaust system got bent downwards like a banana from the manifold backwards causing the exhaust pipe to hang very low. In the previous forest up in Scotland we seemed to have been dragging the exhaust on occasions and about 22:00 hrs with Twiglees 1,2 & 3 Stages approaching, which I remembered always had very high cambered roads I was desparate to try and make emergency repairs. On the main road we were catching a Lancia service van and I told Jim to pull alongside them, I leaned out and flagged them down. We could not communicate so I waved them to the back of their van and acquired 2 long welding rods from them. Prior to the Stage Start I jacked the car up on my side and with a hammer and posidriver knocked two holes straight through the carpet and floor pan either side of the exhaust pipe, Jim was most miffed at my actions and said "You've just damaged the Carpets" - Crikey! I thought that was the least of our troubles - I bent one of the brazing rods into a U shape, gave Jim a big spanner so that when I pushed the two rods ends up through the floorpan he could start to twist the rods trapping the spanner as a reinforcing bar. So I pushed the hot pipe upwards and told Jim to start twisting the rods, this gave us about 2" more ground clearance. After dropping the car back, removing the jack and opening the door, I couldnt beleive it, Jim had partly rolled the carpet back and had it trapped under the spanner. Anyway it worked and we shot through the highly cambered roads with no problems at all, in fact it stayed like that till the finish of the Rally.
Don Barrow the 'King of the Navigators' [Eric Bailey - Motoring Correspondent - The Daily Telegraph 16/12/95] © 1999 - Copyright Don Barrow
© 1999 - Copyright Don Barrow
However, other Copyrighted images used, are the sole Copyright of their rightful owners and are used as 'Free use' images.