Originally Posted by nabs
thanks for your reply Gerry. Yes i should be speaking to him this week, i will mention you asked after him. in fact you were one of the drivers he mentioned when i was out in cyprus with his family in september and october last year. many of the others he asked about was tony lanfranchie who had died only months after going to cyprus to see him. and he did not know he had died of cancer.....was totaly devestated when i told him. micky chittenden who lives up the road from me. Ginger Payne...Rod Birley..ken dawes...ken costello (was zaks niebour in sidcup)..gerry amatto...George whitehead..John homewood...Martin Birrane..Rob Mason he bought our BDG engine for his imp...Mike Crabtree he bought our ex broadspeed 1594 twin cam to race in south america...and finally his bigest friend Roger Taylor who he is desperate to know if he is still alive..Sorry about getting carried away with the nostalgia. by the way if you go on the internet zaks track is shown on there. zet international cyprus....
I have very, very fond memories of Zak. How I came to meet up with him, I can't now remember, but I was an aspiring racer in 1965 but hadn't a clue how to proceed. I had gathered a couple local mechanics to join my cause, and we travelled down North London to chat with Zak one evening. To say that he was generous with his time is a massive understatement. He gave us many ideas and suggestions, and showed us around his workshop, and sent us away with many things to think about.
We ended up purchasing quite a lot of the bits and pieces we needed from him to build the Anglia I raced for 4 years. On it's initial shakedown at Brands on a Saturday afternoon, he joined us and, even though I was going to be competing against him, he helped set the car up. If anyone does speak to him, please pass on my warmest regards.
I also have good memories of Roger Taylor. Although I competed in the Redex Championship for Special Saloons, I raced at Snetterton a lot as that track (and Alton Park) suited my cars handling (or my lack of driving skills) best, and we often raced against Roger there. As I remember it, I had mechanics whilst Roger had engineers who worked in pristine white overalls and coats, and his service van was like a pandoras box. What they didn't have in it, nobody could possibly need or want.
But, yet again, his crew were just as generous as Zak even to a competitor; my first race at Snett, during practice/quali I had a constant misfire. Roger's guys came over and suggested that I ran with some special Autolite Racing spark plugs, that they just so happened to have, instead of the Champion "tractor plugs" that I was using, and gave us a big box of them; enough that I never needed to buy sparking plugs again.
In another post, somebody was commenting on the first Escorts being used for competition, and said that they thought that they came from Germany. My memory, from a club racing point of view of racing Special Saloons, is that the first Escort was the plain white one raced by Roger Taylor. It may have been built in Germany, but it was certainly prepared in Boreham; whether that was official or not, I can't say, but I seem to recall that Roger's father was on the board of directors of Ford UK, hence the connection to Boreham.
However, it was Roger's car that precipitated the end of my racing career, and I would guess that of a few others. Up until then, the racing was on a fairly level playing field; the reasonably ordinary cars such as the Anglias could hold their own against the more exotic machinery such as the Janglia, etc because they handled better and were on the whole more reliable. Then Roger's Escort came on the scene, and it had the attributes of being a) fast, b) a good handler, and c) reliable.
I would guess that my 4 years of racing cost me a total of about £2000, but in '69/'70 I was being quoted telephone numbers to replace my tired old engine, and as I was about to get married and buy a new house (a replacement engine would have cost almost double that of the new house), racing was no longer a priority. But there were some really good times, like when Gerry Marshall, Tony Lanfranci and I had a competition in the bar in the paddock at Brands about who could consume the most alcohol and still remain standing; the next day, I became tee-total and have remained so since.
Oh, the good old days.