JOHN ALEY

A Lifetime in Motorsport

 

 

CHAPTERS


Introduction

My Way

Abarth

Infrastructure

The French

Nurburgring

Racing Small Saloons

Re-start

The Serious Side

The Changing Years

The Chimp

Makes You Think

Memories That Stick

Rollover Bars

Mini Racing

 

Gallery

 

Updates

Downloads

Contact

 


GALLERY

Two racing hydroplanes of the period when John was racing. No 282 is powered by the latest type of Mercury outboard and is one the modern 3 pointer hulls while no 113 is one of the old breed of single stepped hulls  propelled by a flat twin Johnson originally designed in the war to engine assault craft.

Nurburgring. The Le Mans start of the 500 Kms race in 1966 where we can see John’s white Mini JRA85 getting away well.  This race was held every year for touring and GT cars up to 1300cc. A great event where it was possible to have one or two drivers and usually dominated by the Abarth factory who ran cars in every class.

1962 Nurburgring 6 Hours where Jean co drove JRA.  This is she at the wheel going round Brunchen ( All corners at the Ring had names) where a year earlier I had lost a front wheel.

1961 was the year of the Mini 850.  This wa taken at the old Sear corner at Snetterton during a club meeting.

In 1965 I was managing Snetterton so wasn’t able to do much racing myself but not wantig to miss the Nurburgring 6 Hours, I bought a secondhand Mini Cooper for the purpose but this failed in practice so not wanting to be out done I used my competely standard Mini Traveller.  The organisers were so impressed with me finishing 6th in the class that they made a special little cup.

Not a Mini!  1962 was the fist year of the Mini Cooper which promised to have a walk over in the 1 litre class of the English championshp.  As the two stroke DKW had performed well the previous year we, backed by Esso, thought there was an outside chance of success. Alas it had 200 cc less than the Cooper, while weighing much more and I was not driving at my best still suffering both mentally and physically from my testing shunt at the start of the season.  It only really came into its own when we took it Spa for the May meeting and it really got going on the long straights with its engine really howling,

Snetterton again, this time 1956 and marked the year when I gave up open cars and turned to small saloons.  Althought the Renault 750 was never very successful it introduced me to International racing and moulded my future. Note Oliver’s new sleeper fence which he though might restrain the crowds but was rather hurt when we pointed out that it was exactly the right height to decapitate a driver who ran wide. This is the meeting where I had to run wide at the hairpin to avoid a spinning driver and the bump did something to my back which has never been right since

Whitsun 1956 at Cadwell Park, my racing partner Sir Tom Beever driving the Cooper 500.  My only real foray into the world of single seaters and I hated it.

Dik van Yperen, my trusty assistant for many years.  Son of a Fiat garagiste in Holland  there was not.  much he didn’t know about the marque As well as looking after our Fiat Abarth interests he often codrove with me.

The ill fated Falcon Climax which I drove for friend at the CUAC speed trial spinning off  on every run.  As a car it was badly over powered with a Climax in a chassis designed  for a Ford 10 and a few days later while testing some mods the brakes failed suddenly spinning me into the infield where a bank threw me into the air with me and the car parting company.  No seat belts or rollover bars in those days.   As a result I spent the rest of the season walking on crutches and the damage to my hips and back still trouble me today 50 years later. If only I had stuck to my decision of 1956 not to drive open cars!

In 1967 we took on an Abarth agency and to publicise them in this county we took a “595”, a model based on the Fiat 500, to Snetterton where we ran it non stop for 7 days and nights inviting friendly pressmen to take turns for a hour or two, we keeping it going when we had no visitors. It was great fun and as everyone who drove wrote something about it , gave us good publicity.  Even Mr Abarth in far off Turin, had a special Scorpion trophy commissioned for us as he did for any race driver who had won something notable.

My first Citroen taking part in an autotest.  It was a black Light 15 with yellow wheels looking exactly like those of the French police and started my long love of the marque and fwd which all made me a “natural” for the Mini when it appeared a few years later

Not me this time but my old friend Tom Threlfall making stately progress up Blue Hills 1 in the Lands End Trial in his old Ford Model A under the watchful eye of Clerk of the Course Tucker Peake.