Morning Qualifying – HMS Jaguar meets USS Galaxie edition

The front row of the BSCC International Production Touring Car Race at Silverstone, 1963.

The early years of the British Saloon Car Championship were dominated by Jaguar’s Mk1 and Mk2 saloons.  Raced by privateers like John Coombs Racing, Peter Barry Racing and Equipe Endeavor, and piloted by the cream of the British racing community, the Jaguars took the top step of the podium in 33 consecutive BSCC races between 1959 and 1963.  For John Willment, owner of the largest Ford dealerships in the UK, this was unacceptable.  Seeking to break the Jaguar blockade at the top of championship, Willment, and fellow privateer Sir Gawaine Baillie, contacted NASCAR constructor Holman Moody seeking the latest in American heavy artillery….the 7 liter V8 powered, “lightweight” Ford Galaxie 500.

Jack Sears at the wheel of the Willment Galaxie during its BSCC debut at Silverstone in 1963.

When the car debuted at  the Silverstone International Trophy Race, I’m sure the other racers didn’t quite know what to make of their giant new playmate.  How on Earth would this 2 ton behemoth ever negotiate twisting corners like Priory, Luffield and Copse?  Even after Jack Sears and Gawaine Baillie qualified first and second, the  Jaguar armada, time tested and racing trim, thought they’d easily outmaneuver the Yank tank.  As the green flag fell, three Jags, led by Roy Salvadori, jumped to the front of the pack ahead of Sears’s Ford and led coming through Copse Corner.  As the front runners entered Hangar Straight, Sears put his right foot down hard and the Galaxie roared by the Jags like a Great White Shark slicing through a school of tuna.  By the time he reached Stowe, Jack Sears dispatched the last of the Mk IIs and took the lead.  By the 6th lap, Sears held a 20 second lead over Roy Salvadori and he would not relinquish it.  After setting a new lap record of 1:51.6, Sears backed off and cruised to an easy victory.  Notice had been served to the fleet.
Jim Clark and Graham Hill's Galaxies lead the pack at a very wet Brands Hatch.

The rest of the 1963 season, the Willment Galaxie, masterfully prepared by John Wyer (of Gulf GT40 fame) and expertly driven by Jack Sears, Bob Olthoff and Graham Hill, cruised to victory after victory.  The only car that could stop Willment’s Galactic onslaught…was the Alan Brown Racing Galaxie piloted by Jim Clark, Dan Gurney (the only American to win in the history of the BSCC/BTCC) and Jack Brabham.  Gawainne Baillie took his Galaxie to the Southern Hemisphere, where he terrorized the South African and Australian touring car championships.  The following season, the Willment, Baillie and Brown Galaxies would duel with Jim Clark and his Lotus Cortina in one of the greatest David vs Goliath matchups in racing history;  While Clark ultimately triumphed in the BSCC driver’s championship standings, delivering one of his most iconic performances, the mighty Galaxie always remained the one to beat, wherever it raced.


[image source]

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  1. muthalovin Avatar

    Badass. I lurves me some 7 liter V8 racin'.

  2. P161911 Avatar

    Left and right turns, hills even. Sounds like a moonshine run for the Galaxie.

  3. Lotte Avatar

    YES. h-hhhmmm…
    So what finally took down the almighty Galaxie? Not the Cortina, surely?

    1. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      Falcon Sprints and Mustangs.

  4. Joe Btfsplk Avatar
    Joe Btfsplk

    Nothin' like 600+ Ford horsepower to juice up the party. Ford goes by VRROOM…pause… Cortina goes by WHEEEE-O! Both great race cars.

  5. McQueen Avatar

    Mmm that right there is true car porn , now I will sleep well tonight .

  6. SajivW Avatar

    Didn't Jim Clark, Graham Hill et al drive Galaxies for Alan MANN racing? Far as I know, Alan Brown racing is a horse racing outfit. (Sorry to be a pedant by the way, loved the post as always)

    1. Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr. Avatar
      Jennings R. Scroggs, Jr.

      According to Frank de Jong's excellent touring car history site, no. At least, not in 1963.