Sunday, 3 April 2011

From My Library .... A Big Cat!

Sorry if you've arrived here through a search engine looking for big cats with fur and tails - but we're talking about the Broadspeed Jaguar XJ12 Saloon, seen here at Mallory Park in the Top Hat Historic Racing series.  It was an awesome beast when it first hit the tracks, and it hasn't changed much since ...!!

I saw this car at it's debut race in 1976.  It certainly made a big impression (well, it was a big car!) so I was delighted to see this example racing at Mallory in 2009.

A bit of history:  Ralph Broad's racing team 'Broadspeed' had excelled in touring car competition running Ford Anglias, Mini Coopers, and Triumph Dolomites.  Leyland subsequently contracted the team to prepare a Jaguar XJ12 to challenge BMW and Ford in the European Touring Car Championship.

The XJ was huge and heavy, but it had 200 more horsepower than its rivals, so making it go fast wasn't the issue. Making it perform on the track was.  The car finally made the start in September 1976 at Silverstone where Derek Bell took the pole from BMW by almost two seconds, a huge margin!

However, while the Jaguar proved to be capable of simply overpowering the BMW competition, surviving a race distance proved more difficult.  In this first race the car was out with a broken axle by half distance, and in the end, the cars were simply too brutal to survive what they did to themselves - steroid-pumped athletes with weak joints and hearts.  Leyland pulled out at the end of the 1977 season, the cars only finishing two of the races, second the highest position.

This example is run by the Chris Scragg Racing Team and this was the car's first outing with the team!  Here's Chris' report on the meeting (reproduced without permission - hope you don't mind Chris!): -

"Qualifying was early on and went reasonably well with 4th on the grid.

At the start of race 1, Shaun Lyn from pole led away strongly with the 2 hairy Escorts behind him and then me in the Broadspeed.  On lap 4, feeling more comfortable, I moved up to 3rd and on lap 8 into 2nd.  But as I began to concentrate on closing the gap to Shaun Lyn's big Capri it expired and suddenly I found myself in the lead!  But not for long as on the next lap Mark Wright forced his way past in his Escort and for the next 5 laps I reduced the gap from 0.7 seconds to 0.1 and on lap 16 regained the lead to eventually take the chequered flag after 28 laps some 23 seconds clear.

What an amazing feeling, the first race the car had done since 1976 and a win, also the first win ever for a Broadspeed Jaguar!

Race 2 was a bit of an anticlimax, a damp track and then a little gremlin meant caution early on and then unfortunately retirement when running a comfortable third.

Qualifying: 4th in 51.585 (94.21mph)
Race 1 Result: 1st in 25.08.807 (90.18mph)
Best Lap: 51.248
Race 2: DNF "

This picture shows Chris just having retaken first place from Mark Wright's BDA powered Mk II Escort, going on to win the car's first race ever!  Only took 33 years!

ps - for those who have read my post on the Sigma 150-500mm zoom, this was taken with that lens fitted to my 40D (ISO400, f11, 1/800th, 500mm) and it's PIN SHARP.  Under the right conditions this truly is a superb lens.

pps - if you're a regular reader of my blog (I know there's at least one!) sorry for the gap in posts but I've been reworking my family photo business website .  Having read this far you must be keen so do me a favour and click on the following link to boost my search ranking!  Thanks.