One of the great British sports cars and much loved , the `big` Healeys enjoyed alot of succes in what became Modsports , 1968 in particular a pinnacle year with both of the major `production sports car championships` being won outright by Healey drivers , Hands ( BARC ) and Gott ( MCD ). The introduction of a 2-litre class for 1967 helped distance the 3-litre Healeys from the rapid Midgets and other smaller engined cars. This new 2001cc to 3000cc was almost completely the domain of big Healeys for the next few years.
Here are the main cars rom that golden era....
John Gott was an experienced former BMC Rally driver , a senior steward of the RAC and a retired Chief Constable of Northamptonshire and all round stalwart to modified racing.
His Healey 3000 `SMO 746` was one of the first 3 works `big Healey Rally cars built and Gott rallied it in 1959 before purchasing it for himself to rally and later track race.
It was a long association and Gott would win 2 notable championships in the car. The 1968 MCD `Amasco` Production Sports Car Championship as it was known as then. The phrase Modsports coming in for 1970 to reflect the increasing modifications . The wide wheel arches on the Healey pictured show the level of competiveness that was going on to gain an advantage. That 1970 season was another very busy one for Gott with 22 class wins (the most for any modsport racer that season) winning his second title ,the NSCC `Dick Protheroe`championship aswell as the class in the BARC series.
Still campaigning in both until the last .Gott sadly died of a suspected heart attack whilst racing at Lydden on september 3rd 1972.
The car passed into the hands of Tony Elshof and now having been restored back to its Modsport spec as a tribute to Gott is up for auction this december at Bonhams from its long time owner Arthur Carter.
Gott also raced this back-up Healey 3000 `BMO 93B` during the 1970 season having bought it over the winter. It had been modified and raced by Nigel Kerr in 1969. Another former works car this one had won the 1964 Spa-Sofia-Liege marathon rally in the hands of Rauno Aaltonen. Note the twin side exhausts .This car later bought by collector Arthur Carter in 1975 and sold at auction in 2005.
John Chatham is probaly the leading Healey specialist in the world and his long career and colourful life is documented in his Biography in `Mr.Big Healey`.
John has raced this car exstensivly since aquiring it in 1964 , `Thoroughbred + Classic Cars` Mag reported the number of races was 500 even back in 1988 when it was track tested. Originally a works race car for Riley and Sears for the 1960 Sebring and Le Mans races. Then sold first to George Humble and then David Dixon who re-registered it `DD300` before onto Chatham. The combination were soon winning and by 1967 had 8 outright and 9 further class wins in all races helped Chatham win the newly introduced 3-litre class is the BARC Marque Championship. In 1968 only Tim Schenken in single seaters took more wins in British club racing , John`s 12 outright and 16 further class being his best season tally.Though suprisingly he didnt win either of the 2`Production Sports` championships as his 2 Healey rivals Gott and Hands concentrated their efforts more to win respectivley. Chatham held 10 UK lap records at the end of 1968.
The car was featured in Autosport ( 21-02-1969 ) with a track test by Simon Taylor having sprouted wider arches as rim width went up from 8 1/2 to 10-inch Pearce alloys ,the maximum allowed for the 3-litre class. Chatham have not found a buyer for her during 1969 at £1450 gave the car a break from racing after another 8 class wins as he concentrated on his MGC GT lightweight project in 1970.
That was only one part of the history of the car as it eventually de-modified back to be eligiable for Thorougbred races in the 70s and Historic races since and has been returned to its original green colour .
Stewart Hands was another to take a former works Rally car to the tracks and spouted wider arches as time went on. XJB 876 had won the won the 1961 Coupe des Alpes in the hands of the Morley brothers.
Converted to track spec by Gary Bristow of Marlow.
Hands raced it regulary from 1965 to 1969 recovering from a roll in it at Mallory in 1967. In 1968 he won the BARC Fred Dixon Production Sports title outright after 8 class wins
The car later passed through expert Syd Segal`s hands so to speak and has since been restored back to rally spec. The car was featured in `Motor Sport` in 2002.
Hands also used`67 ARX`during 1969 ,the ex-Hopkirk rally car.
Syd Segal is a BMC Specialist from Redbourn , Herts and has owned several big Healeys over the years including the Hands car.
This car was built in December 1959 and sold as a rally car to its first owner Liz Jones. It passed onto to Syd for wife Thelma Segal who used it both for rallying nad as shopping car before being converted to a track car.
Distinctive in dark blue the car re-registered `SID 1`didnt quite have to track success of the other 3 but did feature on the cover of CCC in 1971 for a track test. Syd retired from racing in 1974 and sadly passed away in 2000 but as a tribute the Austin Healey Club UK compete yearly for the Syd Segal Memorial Trophy.
The car ended up in Sweden , and had a tough life by the look of it but has been restored to FIA Historic spec ( pic right ) and is raced by current owner Anders Lotsengard and is featured via the link below :
A second former Morley brothers rally car joined the number of big Healeys on track in the form of `DRX 258C` ,from 1965. Lionel Mayman had converted to a track car and then it passed on to Robbie Gordon ,an ex-pat from Canada who had worked with Gerry Marshall at the Barnet motor co and became a lifelong friend. Marshall guest drove it for 2 rounds of the Nottingham SC run'Dick Protheroe' modsports at Silverstone .Ron Collings had previously won the class in a drive in it at the Snetterton BARC round. Gordon ,who owned a variety of race cars at that time sold the car around October 1970 ,the same time Marshall raced her for the second time ,see photo dicing with John Gott ,who came out top on both races.
Later this car was featured in Octane Magazine , May 2006.
Bill Viney recorded 7 class wins in 1970 ,one more than Segal as second fastest remaining Healey behind Gott`s 22 class wins.
Viney used to tow his Modsport Healey 'HAS 2' to races using his Healey 100 'HAS 1'.
Real number plate of this car not known at this point.
These wernt the only drivers to have raced modified Healey`s in this era and amoungst others were : JAMES OGIER , PETER SMITH, DEREK ALANSON ,GRAHAM BRYANT,STEVE STATES ,PETER TIPTON and TONY GABRIEL.
Finally TED WORSWICK who campaigned 2 Healey`s in the World Sports Car Championship and used the club races as preperation for his adventures such as 3 consecutive Targa Florio races ( 1966-68 ) first in silver car '767 KNX' and later squeezed his red car 'ARX 91B' onto the back of the grid for the epic sports car shoot-out that was the 1967 BOAC 6-Hours at Brands Hatch with works Ferrari , Chaparal ,Lola , Alfa and Porsche Prototypes with star Grand Prix drivers of the day.
Ted had previously raced 'PJB 828' a 1958 100/6 built up to works spec for the 1964 season in Marque races and the 1965 Brands Hatch 500.
Like other Healeys 'XJB 876' was originally built for Rally stages in the first half of the 1960s, in this case it was the Morley Brothers. Below : Hands chases Chatham on way to eventual victory at Crystal Palace in a 1969 BARC Chevron Oils race.
Peter Smith chases John Chatham`s MGC GT during a modsport race in 1971. Smith shared his car with John Gott.
Gerry Marshall raced the Gordon Healey twice in 1970
Again Silverstone 1970 as Bill Viney overtakes another venerable modsport car the TR3 of Reg Woodcock.