|THE MINI MAG. Volume 2 No.8|
Vol.2 Home Page | Index Page
Our column this month looks back at the man behind the BMC competitions department in the UK, Stuart Turner.|
Turner had considered being a doctor early on in school but had a problem with dealing with blood and took a detour to accountancy instead. Initially a public servant, he worked in local government prior to serving in national service in the RAF. Following his release, he worked for a subsidiary of Triplex in the accounts department while studying for a degree, it was at this time that his future would be determined by a casual club rally with a member of his family.
The first car Turner was involved with was a 1937 Rover that taught him the basics and because the car was so slow it was imperative to not make a mistake as time could not be made up!
In 1956 he came third in class win in a VW in the RAC rally, in 1957, 58and 59 he took out the Autosports navigators trophy, it was during the 1958 RAC rally that Turner first met Paddy Hopkirk, later to become partners in the BMC rally team.
Turner shared a TR3 Triumph in the Tulip rally in 1958 and won his class as well as coming in tenth outright, while leading the European Rally Championship he was dropped from the team! An offer to navigate a semi-works Austin A35 was accepted and it led to a meeting with Marcus Chambers, the head of the BMC competitions dept, this happened while Turner was writing rally reports for Autosports magazine as well as navigating. A job as editor on Motoring news was accepted in 1960 and a win in the RAC rally with Eric Carlsson added to his resume, he wrote a book called Rallying at this time, this became a best seller in motoring circles.
Marcus Chambers retired and Turner had been suggested for the job, the offer was accepted and luckily for him the Mini Coopers were starting to be considered for rallying, Hopkirk had been steering a Healey 3000 and once installed in a Mini became a legend.
In 1964 the Monte Carlo rally was won by Hopkirk in a 1070cc Cooper,1965 saw Timo Makinen win in a 1275 Cooper S in deep snow, the Coopers won again in 1966 but were disqualified in a fiasco which resulted from the dislike of the Minis by the officials. Rauno Aaltonen won again in 1967 in a 1275 Cooper S and what a sweet victory for the team and revenge for the injustice of the previous year. Turner had a policy of pairing British and Finnish co- drivers to even out the exuberance of the Finns!
Stuart Turner had worked in the background of the rally effort and racing program during his time at BMC, which saw the Mini dominance of motorsport evolve into a challenge to unseat their superiority, four wheel drive and turbo/s were the antidote.
Turner left the job for a position at Castrol in 1967 and it was through this connection that he scored an organising role and marshalls job in the London to Sydney Marathon. A move to Ford meant that his achievements did not go unrecognised.