The South African 6 Hours Winning, Ex – John Abrahams, Richard Scott 1971 Chevron B19

The South African 6 Hours Winning, Ex – John Abrahams, Richard Scott

1971 Chevron B19

Chevron is the true British motor racing story, the talented engineer who started in a lock up garage and went on to be one of the worlds leading names in both sports car and single seater formula racing. No fewer than six former Chevron drivers went on to achieve World Champion status.

An extraordinary talent, Derek Bennett was a brilliant and mainly self taught engineer with an impressive aptitude for repairing, modifying and sculpting race cars. Like so many of the great race car producers of his era, when he was not working at the track he could be found behind the wheel racing mostly custom built racing cars.

Competing himself in a number of cars and considering purchasing a new race car, with the ever changing racing regulations he felt he could produce a better example himself. Created on a space frame chassis and powered by a Ford Kent engine and carrying the Chevron name the B1 made its debut at Kirkistown in 1965 and won the race. This was to be the first of many victories for Derek Bennett and his impressive Chevron cars. The success of the Chevron marque became closely intertwined with its customers worldwide, buying and racing their Chevron cars most notably in 2-litre sports car competition but also single seater Formula 5000, Formula 2 and Formula 3.

In sports cars, Bennett had found great success with the B6 and B8 2 litre BMW engined chassis, before going on to develop the B16. Work had started on the prototype B16 in early 1969, building on the knowledge and experience gained over the previous years. The B16 featured a space frame chassis with steel and duraluminium sheeting added to form a monocoque centre section, along with tubular frames to carry the front suspension, mid mounted Cosworth FVC, BMW M10 or Mazda rotary engine, gearbox and rear suspension. The bodywork turned out to be another masterpiece by Jim Clark of Specialised Mouldings, a man responsible for the look of many of the great sixties and seventies racing cars.

In the late part of the 1970 season following feedback from driver Brian Redman about the limitations of weight caused by the bodywork, Bennett trialled an open top version of the B16, dubbed the B16 Spyder. Literally a B16 chassis with the roof removed and lightweight, short aluminium body, the B16S proved to be successful with Redman winning the European Championship’s Belgium qualifying round at Spa Francorchamps before going on to clinch the inaugural European Sportscar Championship for Chevron. This led to the development of the B19, a model which attracted many orders resulting in 35 cars being constructed by Chevron. As with the B16, the production B19s featured a similarly constructed chassis with fibreglass bodywork and typically an 1,800cc Cosworth FVC engine.

Chevron B19 71-30 was bought in 1971 by wealthy South African commodities broker Ray Abrahams for his son John to race in the Springbok Series. As part of the agreement to buy the new B19, Abrahams had Chevron provide a mechanic to look after the car. It was Derrick Worthington, the man responsible for running John Lepp’s B19 in the European series, who made the journey to South Africa. 71-30 was painted in yellow with a blue centre stripe between two white stripes either side and sported ‘RAYS’ sponsorship, which was one of a pair of restaurants which Abrahams Snr owned.

For the ’71 season, John Abrahams joined forces with veteran Dirk Marais to complete the six race series. Entered under the Ray’s Racing banner, the first race for the new B19 was at the Kyalami 9 Hours on the 6th November where the pairing finished 8th overall. The proceeding races yielded more solid results, with them taking 5th in the Cape 3 Hours, 8th in the Lourenço Marques 3 Hours, and 5th in the Bulawayo 3 Hours before retiring from the Goldfields 3 Hours.

For the last race of the Springbok Series, the Pietermaritzburg 3 hours, just two days after Christmas, co-driving duties were taken on by André Verwey after Marais had retired from racing, and a result of 4th overall was achieved. Twice Abrahams was the highest placed local driver, with a number of international drivers making the trip down south for the series and meaning the pace was fast.

On Saturday 1st April 1972, Abrahams shared the Chevron with Lucky Strike backed Peter de Klerk for the South African 6 Hours, probably South Africa’s biggest domestic sports car race, at circuit Roy Hesketh. Around this time, Abrahams Snr had received an offer from the U.S.A. for 71-30, but the offer required it to be shipped by the 1st April. Abrahams Snr, keen for his son to compete in the 6 Hours, declined the offer. After qualifying second to John Love in a Lola T212, a close race developed.

De Klerk took the start, and tucked under the back of Love for the first corner before taking the lead at the fourth corner. The B19 then showed dominance, with Love in close succession for 76 laps while the pair diced and de Klerk retained the lead. Love was the forced to retire with engine maladies leaving Abrahams and de Klerk to win the South Africa 6 Hours in 71-30 by six laps from a Chevron B8.

After the victory in the South Africa 6 Hours, Worthington took 71-30 back to England with him in order to sell it on behalf Abrahams Snr. At this time, 71-30 was based at engine builder Geoff Richardson’s premises and then entered by Richardson for the Martini International Trophy round of the European 2-litre Sports Car Championship. Held at Silverstone on the 18th June 1972, it was young star Richard Scott who drove 71-30 under the Geoff Richardson Engineering banner, entered as a B19/21. Scott ran well, qualifying 5th ahead of Jean-Louis Lafosse and Guy Edwards in their Lolas, and maintained the 5th position at the finish of Heat 1. Heat 2 came to a premature end when tyre problems forced retirement.

Following the strong showing at Silverstone, Worthington advertised 71-30 from his parents’ home in Blackpool. Apparently selling very quickly, 71-30 then went to Emile Elias for French national sports car events. Racing at Montlhéry near Paris, Elias took a 3rd place in Coupes de Paris in September ’72 before going on to win there in October. Over the ensuing winter, Elias brought 71-30 back to England where he part exchanged it with Mike Rawling’s Rawlson Ltd for a new Rawlson CR10 sports car.

71-30 was advertised in Autosport on 7th December 1972 by Rawlings as “Chevron B21 driven by Richard Scott in Martini Trophy”, and then again on 8th February 1973. It is believed that 71-30 then went back to Emile Elias after the Rawlson was not accepted for the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Elias is then recorded as having raced a Chevron ‘B23’ at Nogaro in September 1973. Elias also ran the ‘B23’ at the Le Mans 4 Hours in March 1974. Whether this ‘B23’ is 71-30 or whether Elias had acquired another more up to date car is not certain at this time.

In August 1974, Elias was entered by Chuck Graemiger in a Cheetah 01G at Le Castellet, France. The Cheetah 01G did not arrive for that race, or indeed any of the other races that Elias was entered in it for, but Elias did appear driving with Graemiger at Le Mans in 1975 in his Cheetah 501. As part of this deal, the Chevron ended up with Graemiger, who in late 1974 or early 1975 sold it to French hill climber Lucien Rossiaud. Rossiaud still has the invoice from Graemiger, which carries note of the chassis number, 71-30.

Rossiaud first appeared with a Chevron ‘B23’ at the start of the 1975 season, and is also seen during 1976 before a fairly full season in 1977. Pictures show that the car was white initially and repainted orange later, acquiring a later style nose at the same time. The 1800cc Richardson FVC was later updated to 1850cc. In 1978, Rossiaud joined the R.O.C. (Société Racing Organisation Course) team and swapped over to one of the team’s Chevron B36s, selling his B19 to R.O.C. at the same time. Rossiaud recalls that the B19 was then sold to Jacques Berenger, presumably for use in the 1978 season, before it was then sold back to R.O.C.

Next, 71-30 went to Gerard Piroux who appears with a Chevron ‘B23’ 1600 in French hillclimbs mid way through the 1979 season. Piroux then continued to race the car through 1980 and 1981 before Chevron enthusiast Richard Budge bought the car from France in 1981. The history that came with the car at the time claimed that it had raced at Le Mans in Yacco livery. Yacco was R.O.C.’s main sponsor in the late 1970s when Rossiaud sold 71-30 to R.O.C., but it seems unlikely that R.O.C. would have used a B19 at Le Mans when they had at least three B36s.

Budge then raced 71-30 in Thundersports races between 1983 and 1985, driving himself and sharing the car with Vin Malkie and Helen Bashford-Malkie. Despite being 12 years old, the Chevron was by no means out paced in Thundersports. Budge and Malkie took a victory at Oulton Park in June 1983, after the Can-Am Lola T530 of John Foulston and Sigi Brunn’s Porsche 908/03 Turbo had retired.

Budge continued to race 71-30 in 1986 and 1987 in the HSCC Atlantic Computers Historic GT Championship, although less so in ’87, just competing at Donington Park on the 19th July. 71-30 remained in the care of Vin Malkie Racing during Budge’s ownership and in 1999, Mike Wilds was recruited to campaign the car throughout the season. Having been unbeatable in historic racing over the previous six seasons, ex F1 driver Wilds was similarly impressive in 1999. Wilds took victory at Croft in May, Donington in June, and was only beaten by a 3 litre Lola-DFV at Brands Hatch in July. 71-30 and Wilds won again at Spa in September, at Snetterton and at Silverstone in October, taking the title for 1999. Wilds also competed with 71-30 at the Australian Grand Prix support race at Melbourne in March 2000 and in historic racing during 2000.

In 2002, Budge finally sold 71-30 after a 21 year tenure. It was experienced racer Richard Piper who bought 71-30 and proceeded to race it in European Supersports in 2003 and 2004, winning the 2-litre class championship in 2003. From Piper, 71-30 went to Steve Hodges later in 2004, who ran the car in Supersports during 2005. In late 2005, 71-30 was bought by the current owner. For 2006 he competed in Supersports securing 2nd in the non-winged class, and he continued in Supersports in 2008 and also raced at the HSCC Orwell Cup race at Brands Hatch in July 2009.

In subsequent years, the current owner competed in the Martini Trophy series for under 2-litre sports racers. He has enjoyed success, which included becoming champion with 71-30 in 2014. Since then, 71-30 has participated in select races over the years, all the while being carefully maintained by Loaded Gunn Racing. Since 1982, it is understood that 71-30 has contributed to winning the HSCC’s Bellini Trophy for best Chevron 11 times; five times with Richard Budge, five times with Mike Wilds, and once with the current owner.

As 71-30 currently sits, the 1840cc Cosworth FVC engine is 0 hours having been rebuilt by Ridgeway Racing Engines in 2016. Previously the FVC was built by George Wadsworth at Racing Fabrications. The chassis has been maintained in excellent condition by Loaded Gunn Racing. The spares package accompanying 71-30 includes a spare nose, two sets of spare wheels, wishbones and various running spares. The latest FIA HTPs for 71-30 were issued in 2015 and are of the new style, with older sets included in the history file.

It is worth noting that although currently unproven, it is believed by the current owner that 71-30 ran at Le Mans in the early seventies around the time brought back to Europe with Worthington, a link which has cropped up from several people associated with 71-30 from the past.

Accompanied by the all important dossier by Allen Brown of outlining the clear and complete history which you read above, 71-30 offers the rare and important opportunity to acquire one of only a handful of no-questions Chevron B19s. A giant beater at a fraction of the cost of a Lola T70 Mk3B, the Chevron B19 is a fantastic, super competitive entry to many top line series including FIA Masters Historic Sports Cars, Peter Auto’s CER1, Pre ’80 Endurance and of course an excellent candidate for the upcoming 2018 Le Mans Classic. Presented from it’s current tenure of 12 years in well maintained condition while still showing some character, 71-30 is ready to take on the great circuits of Europe with a new custodian.