New Zealand Classic Car
Lotus has been beautifully restored and is an absolute credit to him. Roger purchased the car from well-known Cantabrian racer Ian Bisman in 1997, and has restored it to the livery it ran in when owned by Graham Baker — the Christchurch driver who ran a variety of cars carrying the number 67. Roger went to the trouble of tracking Baker down in the US to ensure that he got the correct shade of red — and discovered that a gold pinstripe borders the red from the white nose and stripe. Bisman — the 1973–’ 74 New Zealand Sportscar champion — tells me he has, “Kept in touch with Roger since he and Paul Stichbury [Ashley’s dad] arrived down in Ohoka [just north of Christchurch] in their truck to pick up the chassis and [a] heap of bits.” He also said that payment was by way of “a wad of folding stuff stored under the seat of his truck”.
More thoughts on colours
While I have no problem with owners of Formula Junior Coopers wanting to paint their car in dark green with the famous white ‘ fore and aft’ stripes, or Lotus owners in green and yellow — after all, it’s their car, and they can paint it whatever colour they want — there is generally a story behind the liveries of famous brands painted in ‘something else’. Incidentally, the story as to why Collier’s BMC is pale blue is because that was the colour of his first car (an MGA coupé). However, I know of two more Lotus Juniors whose owners have resisted any temptation to dress them like miniature Formula 1 cars.
The black-and-red car is a Lotus 22 that will be subject of a major feature in an upcoming issue, but, in brief, it was imported by Roly Levis in late November 1963, and was raced in the livery it arrived with — it was the car driven by future Ferrari Formula 1 driver Jonathan Williams. Roly died in October 2013, and Williams passed away in August 2014, and, as a tribute to both men, Noel Woodford — the car’s current custodian — has restored it using the same colours in which it was first seen here over the summer of 1963–’64.
Now, if I presented two cars — one black and the other green with a silver stripe — then asked the question as to which is in New Zealand’s official racing colours, most people would naturally answer black. Of course, readers of are a more knowledgeable lot, and would doubtless say that our national sporting teams might perform in black, but the answer is actually green and silver, and they’d be spot on. Clevedon racer Phil Foulkes decided our official racing colours would be the perfect choice with which to paint his Lotus 20/22, which looks stunning with its matching green wheels.
Howden Ganley used dark green and silver when racing in Europe with his Formula 3 cars in the ’60s and the Formula 5000 Mclarens in the early ’70s. Phil’s colours are a nod to Howden’s lead — and, in case you’re wondering, I’m not pulling your leg — these really are our official racing colours.
In the early days — like 1900 and the Gordon Bennett races — colours were allocated to nations. France had blue, Germany white, Belgium yellow, and the US red — yes, red, that is not a misprint. Italy initially had black, but, by some sleight of hand, ended up with red, then the US adopted white and dark blue.
The whole British Racing Green (BRG) thing was dealt with some years ago when I went through so many shades of ‘vert’ that I concluded that, technically, Kermit the Frog was BRG.
Anyway, back on topic. Eventually, all nations were allocated colours — some were connected to their sporting strips — for example, the Netherlands was allocated orange — while others had nothing to do with sporting colours, or their flag, such those of Mexico, which was allocated gold. Perhaps the strangest situation concerns countries that had no racing history at all — for instance, Egypt was allocated violet with red numbers — a most fetchingsounding colour scheme that I have long wanted to see on a racing car — perhaps one called ‘The Sphinx’, irrespective of whether its nose has been shot off.
Over many years, I have helped with the commentary at the Skope Classic down at Mike Pero Motorsport Park in early February. It remains one of the best meetings of the year, and a lot of that has to do with the enthusiastic Stewart family that sponsors the event and the organizing committee that runs such a tight ship. One year, there were three Bugattis present — all blue, but each a different shade. A question came up to the commentary box, ‘Which one is correct?’ At the lunch break, I made it my mission to find out and went and met all three owners — of course, each of them assured me their car was right, and the others were just slightly off.
I recalled that when I was at Elkhart Lake 10 years ago for the 40th anniversary of Can-am, I saw at least 12 different interpretations of Mclaren’s particular shade of orange.
Following on from the December issue’s tribute to David Oxton and his significant birthday, I received a letter from Australia telling how Oxo had been the writer’s boyhood hero — and this guy only really knew about the Ralt days at the very end of that long and successful career. And then there was the lady who told me — “You wrote about a significant birthday, but didn’t mention his age — of course I know you meant 60!”
Oxo roared with laughter when I told him that.