Racing the Record Breaker

by Ken Lyon

7 VML around the Goodwood chicane.

Pole at Goodwood, May 7, 1960.

Lynton Garage, East Finchley.

Smaller wheel and Appendix C windscreen.

Mark on Twyford Avenue, 1959.

Ken and Lotus at the dock. The white sticker on the canopy is the address label.



I purchased my Eleven (in bits) from the factory in Hornsey in April of 1959.  The ‘junior’ salesman who sold me the car was Peter Warr.  It was, in fact, the 1957 world record car driven by Cliff Allison at Monza where several records were set and I believe some still stand.  It was a Series Two deDion car with wobblies, flush rivets, and even included the streamline bubble canopy.  It was chassis no. 318 with Climax engine no. 6963.  I put the car together at Cornwall Garage in Finchley, North London and raced it for two seasons in England.  Results were mixed.  My favorite course was Goodwood where I did quite well.

I raced the car all during 1959 pretty much as supplied by the works.  I never did change out the Le Mans type long-range fuel tank; we just didn't fill it very full.  The tank ran clear across the scuttle and down one side.  I removed the original BRG paintjob and had Dave Warwick in Hampstead paint it white.  The works redid the fascia, seats and side panels for me.  The motor was a sort of ‘hack’ works job but always ran very well.  It would pull close to 7500 with the 4.5 diff. at Silverstone, Snetterton, and Goodwood.  Goodwood was far and away my favorite course, mainly because I so liked the atmosphere of a B.A.R.C. meet.

During the winter of 1959-60 my friend, Mark Perry, and I made it into a full Appendix C car with Webers and stage three internals.  A guy sold me the Webers for about $84.00.  They were 40 DCO's and we choked them down to work with the 1100 Climax.  I understand a pair of these carburetors today would cost a lot more!! Oh well.  The Appendix C changes did away with any semblance to the record car.  Lights, air intakes in the bonnet, full screen and silencer all were added.  By the way, flush rivets were used throughout the front and rear body sections.  We even had to add a windscreen wiper for the International Whit Monday meeting in 1960.  The big time!!  One of the more exciting moments with the car was a real Le Mans start at Goodwood in 1960 during the Easter meet.  All good fun for a young guy 6000 miles from home.  Racing was not cheap even then but I had job in London with an American company (Fluor Engineering) that permitted certain luxuries. At a time when racing cars were usually pretty tatty in the UK, especially club racers, I kept mine very clean.  An American tradition.

As you can see from the slides, I was attempting to make the car more of an Appendix C racer and not trying to maintain it as a historic vehicle.  Such were the times.  In those days there was nothing so old, and unwanted, as last years car.  When I purchased this car from the factory it had been sitting outside for almost two years and had many parts cannibalized, with the balance of it rusting nicely. Lotus was so busy it had no time to mess around with old record breakers. 

I sent the car back to the states where my Father sold it for me to David N. Reilly on 26 July 1962.  David subsequently sold it to Steve Matchett (but not the one on TV) on 5 July 1963.  Both of these guys live in America.  David told me that Matchett wrote the car off at a race in Santa Barbara, California.  That is where my info stops.

A number of the slides of the car were taken in various paddocks and on the street.  There wasn't a fraction of the cars on the roads in England in 1959 and 1960 compared to today.  Everyone tested their race cars on the roads.  We had the North Circular and Lotus had the A10 out of Cheshunt.  It was a different time, indeed.

I stopped racing at the end of 1962.  For several reasons I came home (to the USA) at the end of 1969.  Historic racing still intrigues me.  I can relate to those fantastic days of the late 50's through the 60's in England and on the Continent.  I believe I have heard them called the "Golden Years" of motor racing.  Hence, going to Goodwood for the Revival Meeting was over the moon for me.  My old, 7 VML license number is on my pickup truck today and is also my e-mail address.  Anyway, I find it most enjoyable to converse and relive a little of the ‘old days.’  I sure hope I haven't bored anyone.