Simon Taylor and his famous “Stovebolt” racer

From Simon Taylor Sept 2014 005

Simon took this photo on the way from London to Scotland and back, to compete in a hill climb. I can’t imagine the startled looks he must get driving this spectacular machine on the road.

See Scuderia member Simon Taylor run a Gurston Down hill climb  in his historic racer

The video is courtesy of Simon Taylor and videographer Tony Bray.

Simon is a well-known British motorsports publisher, announcer, and monthly columnist for Classic & Sports Car magazine (a publication he founded). He’s also the current custodian of the famous HWM Stovebolt racer, which he races and drives on the street (That alone makes him our hero!).

About the hill climb shown in the video, Simon writes: “The finishing straight at Gurston Down is not a straight, it’s a deceptive S-bend.  The championship single-seaters go through here at 155mph (on a road 12ft wide), but because of their downforce it is no problem to take it flat.  With the HWM it’s a serious corner, and that day I couldn’t quite get it flat. I was trying to, which is why you see me briefly get my right rear wheel on the grass as I approach the line… to try to get that flat next year.”

Note the Alfa Romeo connection in Simon’s account of his car’s history: “My HWM is one of the three-car works team run in 1950 by Hersham & Walton Motors, designed by John Heath and built up over the winter of 1949/50 by HWM’s legendary mechanic Alf Francis.  Some background in case you want it: my car was raced during that 1950 season by the 20-year-old Stirling Moss – it was his first ‘proper’ race car, and his first-ever works drive – and he had several excellent results, including third in the Bari Grand Prix behind the Alfa Romeos of Farina and Fangio (a remarkable achievement as it was a Formula 1 race, and this was a Formula 2 car). That season it also won the Grand Prix des Frontieres, driven by Johnny Claes, and was also driven by Rudi Fischer and Raymond Sommer.

” In 1954 it went to Hollywood to appear in the 20th Century Fox movie The Racers, starring Kirk Douglas, who drives and crashes the car in the movie.  Then it was sold off to Tom Carstens, who radically rebuilt the car and fitted it with the then very new Chevy V8. Press reports at the time gave it the name that has stuck with it ever since: The Stovebolt Special. On its debut on the old Pebble Beach road circuit in the hands of Bill Pollack it became the first road circuit car in the world to use the small-block Chevy – the first of many.

“This car has enough history to fill a large book. It has been raced by all its owners over the past 56 years, and has had many adventures. It has been totally rebuilt for me by Peter Denty Racing into pretty nearly exactly the form it was when Carstens finished it in 1956, in his colours – black with white wheels.”

See more about the Stovebolt by clicking here.

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