Peter Brock
Peter Brock
2/25/20 8:17 a.m.

Story by Peter Brock • Photography as Credited

Back in the golden era of SCCA “amateur” racing, before the rise and demise of the club’s money-laden Can-Am and Trans-Am series, there was little professional road racing in America. In spite of the fact that club events were supposed to be about sport and not money, there was in fact some real factory-backed competition among those few manufacturers who profited from the realization that success on the race track was an important marketing tool for the sale of their cars. 

Production-class race cars were just that, with the emphasis on “production,” so the fans could believe that what they were watching on the track was very close to what was sold on the showroom floor. Little visual modification was permitted to the production bodies, but almost anything was legal under the hood, provided it was modified using the car’s actual production components with no metal added. 

The big money in those days was in C-Production, that crucible of performance where the faster sports cars from the industry’s biggest names fought it out to the limit of the rules. Leyland-Triumph, Porsche, Datsun and even Toyota were the main participants. 

With the obvious advantage favoring those teams with the fastest, best-engineered cars, the directors of motorsports for each marque involved were all wisely looking far ahead to make sure they’d have the raw equipment to succeed whenever the opposition upped the ante with the introduction of a new model. 

Perhaps the most visionary leader of that early tumultuous period was Triumph’s R.W. “Kas” Kastner. His carefully developed Triumphs had dominated the SCCA’s Production classes for years, but by the late ’60s he could see that manufacturers in Japan and Germany were improving their offerings at a faster rate than his slower-moving, conservative English masters. He decided he wasn’t going to get left behind.

Because of the sheer size of the United States, the SCCA had wisely divided the country into regions, making it more practical for privateers who didn’t have the budgets to travel long distances to earn points for their regional class championships. The goal for all these top amateurs was, of course, to win one of the SCCA’s national championships.


Photography Credits: Peter Brock

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wspohn
wspohn Dork
2/25/20 11:26 a.m.

I remember when this car was built and appeared on the track.

At the time, Triumph had become a bit of a joke having lost about 40 bhp over the home market edition and the car in stock form also had certain handling quirks that had to be addressed  before considering competition (this situation would become even more glaring when the first 240Z showed up in 1969).

This car did brilliantly on the track, but even if it had finished and won the class, it would probably have been nothing more than an embarrassment to the factory who were stuck producing lacklustre  models that were about to be eclipsed by the Japanese.  

On the track, the Japanese invasion was spearheaded by...Pete Brock!  Who created many Japanese race cars including the beautiful Toyota 2000 GT, the Hino Samurai, and more mundane cars like the Datsun 2000.

bkwanab
bkwanab
12/4/20 7:00 p.m.

Pete Brock is looking at this from the wrong end of a telescope.  As usual.

The British economy was in the tank when Kas Kasner was trying to get Triumph to spend money it didn't have on new car designs.

The Conservative government had artificially kept the Pound Sterling value high while trying to get a better conversion ratio against the European currencies as it was negotiating entry into the EU (nee EEC).  This had killed the export markets for British goods, especially to the USA.  The export of British sports cars suffered so Triumph was in dire straits financially.  The lack of sales resulted in massive employee layoffs followed by serial strikes and a general election won by the Socialist Labour Party.

The US had no interest in Britain joining the EU and was manipulating bank rates to reduce the value of the Pound by dumping Sterling in the finacial market.  Additionally it was not in favor of supporting a Socialist government in Britain and had the CIA playing dirty tricks against Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister, to the point he resigned after being undermined by their accusations that he was a Russian asset.  The US also ensured that the IMF and World Bank refused loans requested by Britain to reinvigorate the British economy.  So Triumph was just struggling to survive.

If Pete and Kas had paid any attention to events outside their very narrow perspective they would have understood and not bothered to build the TR250.

The design of the TR7/8 had nothing to do with the style of the TR250, pretty though it may be.  The late arrival of the TR8, the British sports car that would have best replaced the TR6 as early as 1976, was delayed because of US regulations that implied that convertibles would not be saleable in America for safety reasons plus the advent of ever more restrictive emissions regulations just added more costs at a time when British car companies could not afford the investment.

The TR7's reputation was almost completely ruined by British government interference, forcing manufacturers to locate new expensive factories in areas with little or no manufacturing skills.  Then, just to make things worse, the high pound, low dollar ratio meant exports were impossible.

The British government, aided by the CIA and MI5, planted people in the British unions to create problems so many strikes ensued, which was what the by then Conservative government wanted.  The fields around the factories were full of (20,000) unsold cars that could not be sold overseas due to their poor price competitiveness.  The overnment didn't need more car production.  The British worker strikes took the blame for the effects of UK and US government policies in their mutually exclusive plots for the UK to enter the EU and the US to keep the UK out of the EU.

I love reading how the US is whining about foreign intervention in domestic politics when they have been doing that all around the world since WWII.  Yea reap what yea sow.  Eat it.

Kbrady
Kbrady
1/3/21 4:30 p.m.

I  saw this car sitting in a small room beside the large hanger that Shelby was using at Sebring For the 12 hours. It made enough of a impression on me that I still remember it after all these years.I worked for a British Leyland dealer in South Florida when the TR7 came out,it was poorly assembled and very unreliable. Not nearly good enough or soon enough to save Triumph.

tom austin
tom austin New Reader
1/3/21 7:36 p.m.

Pete,

Great story. I really appreciate it.

All the best! Happy 2021,

- Tom Austin

RustBeltSherpa
RustBeltSherpa New Reader
1/6/21 9:01 p.m.

In reply to bkwanab :

I'm not here to pile on Peter Brock; but your comments are helpful in understanding that there were other things afoot in the late '60s that contributed to the demise of the British auto industry. Just my $0.02.

dougie
dougie Reader
1/6/21 9:24 p.m.

In reply to bkwanab :

Thanks for the historical political insight. Were you on the grassy noel as well......

frenchyd
frenchyd PowerDork
1/11/21 8:56 a.m.
bkwanab said:

Pete Brock is looking at this from the wrong end of a telescope.  As usual.

The British economy was in the tank when Kas Kasner was trying to get Triumph to spend money it didn't have on new car designs.

The Conservative government had artificially kept the Pound Sterling value high while trying to get a better conversion ratio against the European currencies as it was negotiating entry into the EU (nee EEC).  This had killed the export markets for British goods, especially to the USA.  The export of British sports cars suffered so Triumph was in dire straits financially.  The lack of sales resulted in massive employee layoffs followed by serial strikes and a general election won by the Socialist Labour Party.

The US had no interest in Britain joining the EU and was manipulating bank rates to reduce the value of the Pound by dumping Sterling in the finacial market.  Additionally it was not in favor of supporting a Socialist government in Britain and had the CIA playing dirty tricks against Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister, to the point he resigned after being undermined by their accusations that he was a Russian asset.  The US also ensured that the IMF and World Bank refused loans requested by Britain to reinvigorate the British economy.  So Triumph was just struggling to survive.

If Pete and Kas had paid any attention to events outside their very narrow perspective they would have understood and not bothered to build the TR250.

The design of the TR7/8 had nothing to do with the style of the TR250, pretty though it may be.  The late arrival of the TR8, the British sports car that would have best replaced the TR6 as early as 1976, was delayed because of US regulations that implied that convertibles would not be saleable in America for safety reasons plus the advent of ever more restrictive emissions regulations just added more costs at a time when British car companies could not afford the investment.

The TR7's reputation was almost completely ruined by British government interference, forcing manufacturers to locate new expensive factories in areas with little or no manufacturing skills.  Then, just to make things worse, the high pound, low dollar ratio meant exports were impossible.

The British government, aided by the CIA and MI5, planted people in the British unions to create problems so many strikes ensued, which was what the by then Conservative government wanted.  The fields around the factories were full of (20,000) unsold cars that could not be sold overseas due to their poor price competitiveness.  The overnment didn't need more car production.  The British worker strikes took the blame for the effects of UK and US government policies in their mutually exclusive plots for the UK to enter the EU and the US to keep the UK out of the EU.

I love reading how the US is whining about foreign intervention in domestic politics when they have been doing that all around the world since WWII.  Yea reap what yea sow.  Eat it.

Thank you.  I wasn't aware of any of that. But if you put two and two together you can't arrive at any other conclusion.   
   So England was willing to trade her auto industry for better terms in joining the EU?  Then decades later willing to trade her banking industry to get out of the EU?  

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