Tuesday 3 September 2019

Oliver Winterbottom – August Bulletin


2 August  I agree to give Club Lotus Avon a talk on 7 April 2020. Now I have to work on
the subject, as this will be my third or fourth evening with them. “People Wot I Knew” is the theme I am researching, including Sir William Lyons of Jaguar and Colin Chapman of Lotus.

5 August  A copy of Lotus reMarque, the magazine for the Lotus Ltd Club in the USA, arrives through my letterbox. Kindly sent by William Taylor (Coterie Press) it features a superb article by Tom Smith, the owner of the Lotus M90 / X100 prototype. It describes the restoration of this unique vehicle and generously mentions my book. I particularly liked the comments on the exterior mirrors which are totally realistic, although made of wood, as we could not tool up for just one car! Supported by lavish photographs, Tom has done it and me proud - thank you Tom.

The opening page of the reMarque article.
6 August  Amazon UK appear to have sold two more books recently. Every one counts!

7 August  This is the big day! I leave Wymondham to drive to Kent, to see the JCL Mamba boat I designed in 1976. This visit was postponed from 31 July and I reached the meeting place, a few minutes early, for our 11:30 rendezvous. Once parked by the railway station, I managed to fail to download my text messages, so, as there was no Kevin off the train, I called him. He was so apologetic. Upon reaching Victoria Station in London to travel to meet me, a fire at the station had closed it. He was so apologetic but it was outside his control. I returned to Norfolk in time for a late lunch. We will try and arrange attempt Number 3.

8 August  We arrange a new date to go and see the Mamba boat I designed in 1976. Third time lucky, hopefully, on 22 August!

9 August  I am absolutely amazed to read that the Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police collided with an oncoming car because she had strayed to the wrong side of the road when trying to find the Bluetooth telephone control in her car. Hardly hands-free, then. She was awarded £1,460 in fines and costs, and had seven points added to her licence. When will people understand that mobile phones are not compatible with driving. Why not telephone BEFORE driving off? Yes, I know I am old fashioned!

13 August  Following my supplying details of the talk I will give to the Bourne Motor Racing Club, I now have the overnight accommodation reserved at the Angel. Bourne, Lincolnshire has family connections through my mother's family and was the home of a distant cousin, Raymond Mays, who was behind the ERA and BRM racing cars. The talk is to be presented on Thursday 10 October.

15 August  Amazon UK appear to have run out of stock with more due in 3 or 4 days. That's good news for me.

17 August  I visit Malcolm Ricketts' race workshop open day annual charity barbecue at Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire. Malcolm has been a long time racing driver of Lotus cars. After a good drive down from Norfolk, I arrive at 11:30. There are a large number of interesting cars, with at least eight 1970s Lotus Elite type. Malcolm was very complimentary on my designs and was tireless  in organising the event. A superbly restored Lotus 38 race car dominated the cars on show, and after lunch was started up after Malcolm had received the OK from the local residents.

The Lotus 38 was the first rear-engined car to win the Indianapolis 500, in 1965, driven by Jim Clark. It was run by Lotus at Indianapolis from 1965 to 1967; a total of 8 were built, most for use by Lotus, but several were sold for use by other drivers. I met a number of people including Mike Hamlin, onetime pilot of the Lotus aircraft, Richard Woollaston, champion of the Lotus Elite, and various other interesting people. There was just about every Lotus road car-type represented and all done as
a sociable event. Hopefully the tickets raised plenty of charity money from this delightful event.

 General view of the Malcolm Ricketts' event, there were many more Lotus of all types around the venue.
22 August  I drive down to Kent to be reunited with a project I last saw in January 1977. The JCL Mamba was a design I did in 1976. I had never seen a production boat, as I left the company after the prototype was built. I'd been contacted by Kevin, the current owner, on 27 June and this visit is the third attempt to meet up, following various postponements. The vessel has been neglected for about 15 years but in general looks better than one would have expected. Kevin and I discussed what he would like to do and I hope I gave him some tips on what could, or could not, be technically feasible. This design was about half the weight of similar sized boats, achieved by utilising the furniture and bulkheads as a unitary structure. The two diesel engines are totally corroded and the cost of restoring them is prohibitive.

Myself with the Mamba!
We discussed various opportunities to get her back in the water and I am currently thinking these through! We repaired to good local pub and had a pleasant lunch before I volunteered to join the massive queue for the privilege of using the Dartford River Crossing and the return home. Interestingly, Kevin has yet to buy my book – but plans to do so immediately!

 Mamba needs a bit of a clean after 15 years of neglect.
25 August  A friend brings a copy of my book to the pub. Expecting a signature request I find its a Norfolk Library copy. I am very grateful the library holds a copy. We discussed various aspects of my story in it.

26 August  I am driving on the B1108 Norwich to Watton Road and when I reach Kimberley I find the railway crossing gates closed. Very slowly, the huge steam locomotive Union of South Africa crosses hauling a Mid Norfolk Railway train. One of six surviving Gresley A4 engines built in 1937; I was amazed and excited by this huge piece of superb engineering.

27 August  I am delighted that Club Lotus and the Lotus Elite/Eclat/Excel Clubs post information on the Hinckley Classic Car Show, on 15 September, to their websites. It is possibly the biggest town centre show in the country. I will attend and have copies of my book available.