The way it was , George `Doc` Shepherd`s highly-tuned 994cc Austin A40 neck and neck with the big boys. At Brands he and Jack Sears
( Jag ) both set joint fastest lap such was the parity of performance.
What was SupaTura ?
The BRSCC launched the British Saloon Car Championship for 1958 , the beginning of we now call the hugely popular British Touring Car Championship. The first 2 seasons were for 4 classes of race-prepared Saloon and in line with `Appendix J to the International Sporting Code` for Group 3 `Special Touring Cars.
For 1960 however the rule book was thrown out of the window for the Championship with the most liberal set of `rules` ever used in its long history to date. For 1960 only 1-litre Saloons would compete and could run any modifications apart from having to retain the cars original engine block and no supercharging.
The result was remarkably fast small family saloons performing giant-killing acts on the non-championship 1959-spec bigger saloons that were allowed to compete in the same races. It was just a one-season wonder as for 1961 the BRSCC brought the rule book back in and adopted Group 2 homolgation rules. The rest was history once the Mini Coopers and Lotus Cortinas followed but the 1960 season had sparked off a new era of modified Saloons that would develop at club level as the decade worn on.
How modified was Doc`s A40 ?
`This year Doctor Shepherd`s Austin A40 has been modified as far as the regulations for the BRSCC SupaTura Championship allow - which means that apart from outward appearance
it bares very little resemblance to the standard model. Aluminium doors , a glass-fibre bonnet and Perspect side and rear windows effect a considerable weight saving...in the engine department about the only thing standard is the dip-stick ! The crankcase has been machined to take a special BMC `Formula Junior` crankshaft and cylinder head `back ported` by Harry Weslake is used. extensivley modified and lightened valve gear is operated by a special BMC `Formula Junior` camshaft. Special pistons giving a capacity of 998cc ,connecting rods and SU carberettors and oil cooler all play their part in a unit which produces over 80 bhp at 7300rpm and gives this 12 1/2 cwt A40 a maximum speed of 110 mph.` ( the engine having been tuned by Don Moore , who was also the cars entrant )
from `Modified Motoring` Autumn 1960.
The stats mean the car weighed 635 kgs and gave 126 bhp per tonne. To put that into perspective the standard A40 gave only 44.5 bhp per tonne ! with a modest 34 bhp and 0 to 60 mph time of over 35 seconds.
"Taking Paddock faster than the Jaguars and then outbreaking them at Druids hairpin and nipping past on the inside...yes i saw the crowd waving...they do seem to like that sort of thing"
What happened in the 1960 season ?
Of the 8 rounds Doc Shepherd won 6 that were in the 1-litre SupaTura championship. 6 Rounds included non-point scoring larger engined Saloon cars but only the very fastest 3.8 litre Jaguars were able to stay ahead of the SupaTura cars snapping at their heels. The climax being at round 7 when Shepherd was able to match the fastest lap by top Jaguar driver Jack Sears.
STAR IN A REASONABLY PRICED CAR...
What happened next ?
For 1961 the BRSCC adopted Group 2 Saloon car rules and the golden era of Lotus Cortinas and Mini Coopers followed . The Supatura cars of course were too modified to be eligiable but continued at club level. Doc Shephard did one more season in the British Saloons in a Mini , his A40 damaged in a roll in the final SupaTura round. The Superspeed Ford Anglia boys of brothers John and Mike Young went on to win back-to-back BRSCC `Molislip` Saloon titles in their Anglia in 1962+63. Another Doc , Derek Merfield had debuted in 1960 and he would win back-to-back BARC `Cibie Cup` titles in his Anglia in 1961+62 before going on to race his famous Cortina V8.
The catalyst had sparked the tuning revolution for club saloons , looking at the races for 1960 there were alot fewer Saloon races than for Sports cars but that would change as the decade worn on.
The tuning boom for the new Mini was taking off and companies like Speedwell and Downton were at the forefront racing their own cars to advertise their tuning parts. Speedwell had already tasted success with John Sprinzell`s A35 and one of its Directors was works BRM Grand Prix driver Graham Hill ( future world champion and all round legend ) . He raced this deceptively modest looking Mini ( pictured in miniature version ) at Brands Hatch round 7.
( fastest lap Shepherd 1m 06.0 ) 9 SupaTura starters
Round 1 - April 18th 1960 - BRANDS HATCH - 10 laps
Round 2 - April 24th 1960 - SNETTERTON - 10 laps
Round 3 - May 8th 1960 - Mallory Park - 10 laps
( fastest lap Bailey) 13 SupaTura + 8 larger engined Saloon starters
( fastest lap Young ) 16 SupaTura starters
( fastest lap Bailey) 10 SupaTura + 3 larger engined Saloon starters
Round 4 - June 6th - OULTON PARK - 27 Laps
Round 5 - June 19th 1960 - SNETTERTON - 10 laps
( fastest lap Sears ) 11 SupaTura + 9 larger engined Saloon starters
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Round 6 - August 1st 1960 - BRANDS HATCH - 10 laps
( fastest lap Salvadori ) 11 SupaTura + 12 larger engined Saloon starters
Round 7 - August 29th 1960 - BRANDS HATCH - 10 laps
( fastest lap Sears + Shepherd ) 14 SupaTura + 11 larger engined Saloon starters
Round 8 - October 16th 1960 - BRANDS HATCH - 10 laps
( fastest lap Powell 1m 05.6 ) 5 SupaTura + 7 larger engined Saloons
points awarded for top 3 were 7-4-2 plus extra point for fastest lap
SupaTura drivers in bold