Road Racing Sunbeam Tigers

By Bill Martin

US Road Racing Tigers

To road race a production sports car in the United States from the 1940s on through the end of production sports car road racing one had to be a member of a club or sanctioning body like the Sports Car Club of America or SCCA. Production car racing was amateur racing as in there was no prize money for winning or placing. People don’t road race production cars anymore although they do run them in the SCCA autocross classes, also for no prize money. In the mid 60s pro racing (as in prize money) classes began to take over the majority of the public conscience with regard to the SCCA. Can-Am and Trans-AM from 1966 on was where all of the best drivers migrated. Some drivers would still run in the Amateur production car classes but hey if you could get paid to drive with the big boys why not?

Tigers that road raced in the US raced in the SCCA’s B Production Class from 1964-1966. In 1967 the SCCA disallowed most of the performance options (i.e. LAT) and reclassified Tigers to C Production where they were still competitive with the proper setup and driver. The early sixties was the heyday of production sports car racing and all of the top drivers ran in several classes. Lots of Tigers raced in BP from 1964-1966, probably more than 20 throughout the US, it was amateur racing so records are difficult to come by.

 

 Not to many people have a copy of the FIA homologation papers for the Sunbeam Tiger so I thought I would share page 92 of the 1965 SCCA Production Car Specifications. This little green book was published by the SCCA each year and included all production sports cars specifications and allowed options. The 1965 Sunbeam Tiger approved optional equipment included:

LAT26 Oil Sump – 9 qt.

LAT28 Intake valve 1.88”

LAT29 Exhaust valve 1.63”

LAT27 Exhaust manifold

LAT30 HD Radiator – 14 qt.

LAT25 Hood air scoop

LAT42 Fan – 6 blades

LAT33 Fuel tank – 37 gal.

LAT41 Heat vents

LAT40 Rear stabilizer rod

LAT39 1 Holley 4-barrel carb #C4AF-9510-DA  1.69”

LAT38 Intake manifold

LAT35 HD Axle shafts

LAT36 Differential cover

LAT42 Knock-off hubs – 1” track increase

LAT31 Alloy wheels 13” x 6” 13” x 7”

S233305 Rear safety hubs

LAT43 Rear housing ends

LAT44 Fender skirts – rear

LAT45 Fender skirts – front

1206307 Rear shocks – Adj. Lever type

LAT46 Rear disc brakes – 10”

 

 There are some discrepancies in LAT #’s as compared to other Rootes documentation but this is what the SCCA published and it is what Ian Garrad provided to the SCCA at the outset. I have been asked many times to describe the modifications that Doane Spencer did to the Hollywood Sport Cars Tiger but that’s another story. Suffice it to say that it was and is a racecar and they changed every race, as I am sure that all of the other Tiger racecars did. The important thing to note is that Ian Garrad was doing what Shelby did, provide customers with everything they would need to build a racecar, for a price of course. The Ken Miles #50 Tiger, the Shelby #45 Tiger The #55 Hollywood Tiger and the Sports Car Forum #74 Tiger were no doubt factory sponsored by Ian Garrad, I know for a fact that Rootes Motors owned the HSC Tiger until Ron Dykes purchased it in 1968. This is significant because it lets you know that factory money went into the LAT and other options. Lots of stuff that Doane did never made it to the LAT brochure so that the factory cars could maintain an advantage sound familiar? I have been told that Doane bristled at having to provide his custom parts to other factory teams but that was what Chic Vandagriff (Owner Hollywood Sport Cars) and Ian Garrad (West Coast Manager of Rootes Motors) had him do for the most part. Some stuff did not leave his shop.

 

 Ian’s father was the Competition director at Rootes Motors back home in England where they ran their many different cars in various European races trials and rally’s, they had works teams and factory prepped the cars for competition. Ian set up the same system here in the US, granted the distances are much larger between distributorships but based on the evidence I have found it rings true. Rootes owned the HSC Tiger, loaned it to Hollywood Sport Cars and Jim Adams signed on as the driver. I have all of the documentation to support this, which was given to Dave Stone by Cris Vandagriff after he purchased the car. It floored me that Ian/Rootes owned the car through 1968 but when you think about it it’s a formula that Ian grew up with at the foot of his father. If you extrapolate that to Ian and Ken Miles were good friends, Ken Miles worked for Shelby, Ian gave the wrecked #45 car to Sports Car Forum then another chassis for $800 to fix the wreck it kind of says that Ian had a works US effort with the Tiger. The old adage win on Sunday sell on Monday was as true then as it is now. Now think about the F Production championships that Alpines won and how many thousands of Alpines Rootes sold all over the world.

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