This is about the time that I realized that my old 62 XKE street car was faster than the Sonett on long courses, and I knew nothing about Corvettes and a lot about Jags, so the choice was obvious. The used XKEs were cheap at that time too.

This brings us to photo number 6. This is how the XKE started out. It was very stock, except for Webers, cams, etc. Its first race was late in 1973 at Indianapolis Raceway Park. I finished 21st, but not without many handling problems, mostly caused by rubber in the suspension. You have to realize that all of my testing and track time with race tires was the two 20 minute practice sessions and qualifying before the race. That’s it. I called this situation “racing it into shape”. Back at the shop, I thought I had everything sorted out pretty well and headed off to the IMSA Daytona Finale race in the fall of 73. Photo number 7 was taken just after turn 1 in the infield. That big block Corvette could not stay in front of me. He was in and out of the pits too much. Click here for the race results. At IMSA races in those days, you would be assigned a pit to use. Since I never had a pit crew, I would always check with the pits on either side of me to see if they would help me during a fuel stop and make a point of not going in if their car was in the pits. Over the years, everyone was always helpful. Photo number 8 has Tidewaters own John Sealey in the paddock area with me, probably checking spark plugs. At that time, John’s 67 Corvette was the fastest Vette in Tidewater, and he still runs it today with his son. Notice the Jaguar logo that my sister painted on the hardtop. I ended up finishing 32nd that weekend. For the results, click here. The major discovery was that sustained high RPM caused ring flutter, causing blow by and a great power loss, after only twenty minutes or so. The cast pistons and cast iron rings would no longer be used. I also needed to make a spoiler to keep the nose down.

6 Jaguar XKE

7 Jaguar XKE

8 Jaguar XKE

In March of 1974, IMSA could not guarantee gasoline at Sebring, I was told, so they held a 6 hour race at Road Atlanta instead. I was very disappointed at missing Sebring because the Jag was working pretty well. I had defended Jaguars honor all my life and really wanted a top ten finish for the XKEs swan song in Manufactures Championship racing. The 6 cylinder XKE would only be eligible to enter for one or two more years, because it had been out of production so long. I invited the late Al Taylor to co-drive 30 minutes or so as required, and then I could take over again. When he left the pits, I sat in a lawn chair and fell asleep, in pit lane! When he came in, someone told him to go back out another half hour, and he did. They woke me up just before he returned. For the full race results click here. We finished 20th overall. I had air leaks behind the Webers that cost me time while driving trying to figure out the problem, and more time to fix it in the pits. This would never happen again either as I stopped using the rubber flex mounts behind the Webers. The next three races I skipped to improve the car. I gutted the interior, removed the door glass and frames, stripped the hardtop etc. getting 200 lbs. off the car. At the same time, I installed a 4.5 liter engine, built by Forward Engineering in England, instead of the old 3.8 engine and adapted the same Girling calipers and rotors up front as used on a 917 Porsche. I painted the new car red and white so it would make better photos too. See photo number 9. It was a greatly improved car, neutral handling and great brakes.

9 Jaguar XKE

The fifth race in 1974 was a five hour run at Mid Ohio. My high school buddy John Hastings, co drove with me. He attended Bill Scott’s school in his Weberized, lowered, etc, XKE roadster. He surprised everyone there by having a reliable E Type that ran well and handled. This IMSA race was his first race of any sort. IMSA had a strong list of entries and making the grid was a victory in itself, because a lot of cars went home that were too slow. After a joyful afternoon, we finished 15th overall and John was really hooked. The car ran fine all day. Click here for the race results. The next race was at Daytona and I guess I skipped it because of the lack of time and wanted to improve the car. The race after that was at the Talladega Motor Speedway. I had cleaned up under the Jag to reduce air drag and fitted a full belly pan, installed a 2.88 rear gear with 28 inch OD rear tires, and shortened the primary pipes to raise the power band. This should give a top speed of 165 to 170 MPH coming off the banking. The closed course land speed record for Jaguars was around 150 MPH at Monza, set by D Type Jaguars in the fifties. Tires were the limiting factor then. I was pretty sure that I had maintained 140 MPH in turns 3 and 4 at Daytona, so a 150 MPH lap at Talladega was possible because the car had reached 165 MPH without the belly pan etc. See photo number 10. This was the same weekend that Mark Donahue set a new world record for a closed course in the incredible Turbo Panzer Porsche. As for me, I was not so lucky. The day before, while drying out the track after a heavy rain, someone started sliding all over the back straight at 100MPH or so and I swerved to miss him. I must have slid a half a mile, it seemed like forever. Finally, I hit some rained soaked bails of straw in the infield, bending all of the front sub frames from the firewall forward. Again, I loaded up and went home. See photo number 11.

10 Jaguar XKE

11 Jaguar XKE

This was the only time in my racing career that I worked day and night to get to the next race, which was the next weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. See photo number 12. That was a hood from a 69 XKE with the larger air intake. It was all I had at the time, and that is still on the car today. The car ran fine, as I recall, but the right rear wishbone was apparently bent the week before, causing toe out, and instability at speed. Anyhow, I soldered on and finished 11th overall. Click here for the full results. That was the first infield road course event at Charlotte and they had just finished paving it. There was much concern about the infield pond with nothing to keep a car out of it, so the powers to be decided to park the motor graders, bull dozers, and other equipment in the runoff areas so the racers would hit them and not go into the water and drown. Sounds like a good idea, right? Photo number 12a shows some machinery and Phil Currin and me on the back straight. There were no incidents that weekend. There were several more races that year, but I did not go to them because of time and money, and demands at work.

12 Jaguar XKE

12a Jaguar XKE

There were many improvements made to the 6 cylinder car, but it was not raced again until Sebring in 1975. Before the race, I sold the 6 cylinder car to John Hastings , a high school buddy of mine, so I could prepare a V12 XKE. The car was really working well at Sebring. With a 2.88 rear and 27 inch OD tires, gear it would pull 5500 RPM down the long straights. It was so dark out on the concrete runways at night that regular headlights looked like running lights. Nothing gets reflected. That is why these night race cars have lights that seem to be able to burn the paint off of the rear of your car. The car was working perfectly, and I really wanted a top ten finish for the marquee. I drove the first 2 hour stint, one tank of fuel, and came in for a driver change. The car was fine. No tire wear to speak of and everything was running cool. I had moved up several places already. John went out and over did it at turn 9, going backwards into the grass hitting a Winnebago in the rear axle. No one was hurt, except John. He spent the next 6 months in traction. From the doors back, the car was a mess. Photo number 16 shows it back in the shop. I never put it back together. To this day, I have the engines, gearboxes, and all the parts needed to restore the IMSA E Type. Click here for the final results.

16 Jaguar XKE

In the meantime, being impressed by Forward Engineering’s well done 4.5 liter engine and their domination of Mod Sports racing in England, it made sense to buy their recently completed V12 Mod Sports XKE. It made 500 BHP, but as it turned out, was woefully undeveloped. Photo number 13 was taken at Silverstone in the summer of 1975. On the full Grand Prix Circuit, the V12 XKE, on its fifth lap,  turned a lap of 1.38.6 seconds which I believe, is still the fastest lap ever turned there for an E Type. The car was light at that time. I rearranged the body with steel to suit IMSA, and built an approved roll cage, which added lots of weight. The next constant problem was the lack of low speed torque, and low oil pressure in long races. Its first race and the first time I had ever driven it, was at Mid America in the summer of 1975. Photo number 13a was taken there. Note that the car was right hand drive. It was hot that day and so was the car. The differential got so hot that the side seals melted and gear oil got on the rotors and started a fire. I was on the back side of the course at the time, and when I slowed down, smoke filled the car and I could not see. I also could not see any fire extinguishers out there either, so I sped up some and headed to the pits. When I arrived, I bailed out of the car and the fire marshals turned the whole car white with powder! Click here for the results.

13 Jaguar XKE

13a Jaguar XKE

Back at the shop, I made a different set of headers and exhaust pipes for the car, changed all the crankshaft bearings and put smaller ventures in the Webers trying to cure the fuel rejection problem. Also, a pair of ventilated rear disc brakes, better rear fender ducting, and a dry sump system were added. The red, black and white colors were Beck-Arnleys, since we had become one of their distributors, it seemed fitting. The next race was a 100 mile sprint, on June 6th at Mid-Ohio in 1976. See photos 13b and 13c, taken there. Problems with the home made dry sump tank cost me my practice sessions and I was lucky to qualify, as IMSA had a large entry list. I finished 21st out of 40 starters, and scored 4 points for my 5th place position in the GTO class. Since this race was on the FIA calendar, those 4 points are believed to be the only manufacturer’s points ever scored by a V12 Jaguar E Type in an FIA race ever. Click here for the full results. Photo number 14 is of the V12 engine.

13b Jaguar XKE

13c Jaguar XKE

14 Jaguar XKE

One month latter, Aug.7th, I took the E Type to Talladega. It was hot and steamy down there then. Before the race, my hero, the late Peter Greg came over and asked if he could sit in the E Type. Certainly I said and he crawled in. He asked what transmission I was using, I told him it was stock. When I explained that the V12 had never been homologated by Jaguar, he was surprised and delighted. Then he pointed out that IMSA was in no position to tell me how Jaguar would have prepared that car for racing! He thought I could use any engine or gearbox I wanted, or body material. It was a good point. Somewhere in this timeframe, he showed up with a 2 foot longer tail on his Porsche, giving it an awkward look. He said they were trying to increase the top speed on the speedway tracks where the BMW cars were outrunning him. The long fenders did help the top speed, but Peter said the supprise was that the car was faster on road courses too! The next thing you know, Porsche was not happy with the whale tail and neither was IMSA. They ended up in court over it. I believe it was at this Talladega race with the V12 that Charlie Rainville, the head tech inspector and rules enforcer came over to me and said that I had cost them 10,000 dollars defending themselves against Peter Greg over the fender issue because of me. He was not in a good mood. Their rules said fender shapes were free. This meant you could do anything to a fender like I did on the V12. Peter Greg argued that just because his car was a race winner and mine was not was no reason for him not to have the same rules freedom. I guess he won the suit, but I never saw those fenders again. This is also about the time he switched over to BMW for a season. He really wanted to win. Anyhow, the results show that I completed only six laps. That’s because on the back straight, someone changed lanes onto someone else and I caught a large piece of fender in the windshield. I was spitting glass out all the way to the pits. With no spare windshield, again I went home. For the results, click here. The very next weekend I went to the IMSA race at POCONO . The oil pressure would drop to nothing for a second or two, and then be alright for a minute, then drop again. I did not attempt to qualify, for fear of blowing the engine because I could not find anything wrong. Again I went home. After a tear down inspection, a small washer was found to be trying to enter the oil pump which would snag it and then release it when being spat out again and again by the pump. This caused the belt to slip, with the loss of pressure. This was to be the last race for me with the V12.

During the next couple of years, I built several V12 high compression street engines, learning two things. One was that with stock crankshaft bearing clearances, I would not have had oil pressure problems with the stock pump. The other was that the larger, straighter ports together with larger intake valves, doomed me to have rejection problems, except for at peak RPM. I put some used camshafts, 11 to 1 Cosworth pistons and Webers on a street car with stock heads and a stock exhaust system and had more power than my racer ever had. A friend of mine had a 427SC Cobra, a real one, side oiler, two four barrels, Halibrands and all. One evening, we went out and ran the V12 against his Cobra with old Firestone slicks up and down Jefferson Avenue in Newport News. To 90 MPH it was a matter of who hooked up first. He was a bit faster off the line, but before the E Type was out of second gear, around 90 MPH, we were side by side. With his 3.77 rear gear, he could only do 130 MPH, and even with all of the rear toe in I could dial in it, at much over 100 MPH, the car felt very unstable, because of all of the rubber bushings flexing. The V12 was really a strong engine.

One day in 1975 or 76 the phone rang and it was the late and great Brian Fuerstenau, of Group 44. He was interested in the Webers for their XJS. I told him what I had learned and if they had any quirks. I gave him my jetting sizes as a good starting point for him. The rest is history. I wish I had not bought that Mod Sports V12 E Type. I would have been better off developing one on my own, but time was always a problem and I was always in a hurry. After 5 years of being out of production, you could not run IMSA races with any production car. In 1979, a car collector came to my shop to buy the 427 Cobra, and ended up buying the V12 too. We agreed that I would freshen it up and paint it any color for $20,000. I had $25,000 in it, but could really use the money on my current racer, the Hemi Challenger. A few weeks later, he calls from Wisconsin, explaining that he would rather have it in SCCA trim, and would pay for the changes. This would require redoing the roll cage, removing the windshield, flaring a steel hood assembly, redoing the rear fender flares, exchanging Webers for Stromberg carbs, etc, etc. By the time I had cut the car up making the changes, I realized from something his mechanic said that I was not going to get paid for the extra work, and I did not. It was too late to turn back. My heart and wallet were not in the job, and the result is picture number 15. Even when I delivered the car to Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, he said he did not have the check and I should leave the car and he would mail it. I started to leave and he went in the house and got the check. If the current owner ever hears of this article, I have recently found my folder with all of its history from England and the data sheets on the V12. He is certainly welcome to them.

15 Jaguar XKE