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


MEMORIES THAT STICK

 

In a long life there must be a few moments that will always stick in the mind. 

Racingwise it has to be my first win at Nurburgring,  When I first went there to race in the six Hours of 1961, I was not too successful and I remember the father of a German friend saying condescendingly of my usually very successful Mini that although I hadn’t done badly, How could I expect to win, in such a car!

This rather hurt, especially coming from a German so soon after the war, so when the next year we won the 1 litre class in the 12 Hours Race I couldn’t resist a little smirk when my New Zealand co-driver and I stood on the rostrum while thousands of Germans stood dutifully to attention to the strains of OUR national anthem. 

Cornwall provides another long lasting moment when a few weeks after my first wedding my wife and I found ourselves at the cliff top Minack Theatre for a performance of MacBeth That the play opened with the witches appearing on the cliff top rather than the stage was wonderful but when half way through a newly commissioned “Queen” sailed by close into shore all lit up on her maiden voyage it was a moment to remember. 

Although I am not specially musical I shall never forget one afternoon in Port Grimond.  Following an over night drive from Salcombe where  on the spur of the moment we had decided to get away from the bad English summer weather that year, we were relaxing .  – over the usual bottle of red I expect - when from the open window next door came the strains of The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves. Clearly the record had just been added to someone’s collection as it was played over and over all that afternoon.  How better to spend an afternoon I have often asked myself since – my favourite music, Port Grimond , a French summer afternoon and (several) bottles of something red. 

Another lasting musical memory was driving up to London from Devon one evening in the father and mother of all thunderstorms that kept pace with us and vied in noise with the Last Night of the Proms on the car radio. 

Surprisingly there have not been many memorable journeys that have stuck in my mind although I have been motoring all my long life. I will always remember one evening on the autoroute south of Paris in my Renault 16TS when without trouble or drama I actually covered comfortably over 100 miles in the hour.  Speed on the road has never ranked very high with me although I do remember one occasion when it came to the fore, By coincidence we had a tuned Ferrari GTB in for a rollcage fitting when a young NZ mechanic arrived straight from his native country and was mesmerised by the sight of the Ferrari.  My wife took him for a run down the road and he came back white faced and muttering about doing 130 mph.  Was that all?  I said quickly, bundling him into the passenger seat again, coming back a few minutes later with him even more white faced and now muttering about 140 mph.  The next day a friend took him , aerobatting in a Tiger Moth but even after this introduction to England he still Emails me from the other side of the world where, now over 60, he sends me pictures of himself performing in track days on two wheels at quite indecent speeds.