THE MINI MAG. Volume 2 No.5
  May 2000

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BMC Lightweights.
with Darryl Osborne.

Back in 1966 when the Surfers Paradise Raceway held a 12 hour race for sports cars, BMC decided that they would like a car to mix it with the best. The idea came from Brian Foley who sought the help of BMC to build a lightweight Mini, however, the competition department went ahead and built the car itself for the 12 hour and gave it to Foley to drive.

The factory support was a more practical way to go as the competition manager Alan Kemp followed the car down the assembly line and had things such as carpet clips, jacking points, passenger seat belt anchorages, battery box, etc., deleted from the shell to save weight. The rear seat and bulkhead were taken out and a 25 gallon fuel tank installed, all metal was drilled where possible and holes flanged to increase rigidity. Lightweight doors, bootlid and passenger seat were done in fibreglass, the dashboard was replaced by one inch pipe and the steering column attached to this with a plate carrying the gauges for the driver.

During construction of the vehicle the aim was to have the end product appear like a Mini, as the class of Sports Racing (closed) was supposed to allow a variety of modified sedans to compete with sports cars. Problem was that the Minis, like the car featured here and the Broadspeed, blew the sportscars away. Prior to the 1966 12 hour, the Surfers promoter had reservations about little Minis not being able to see big fast Ferraris coming. Not a major concern to the drivers, Foley and French, who eventually came home in fifth position outright, not bad for a car built in two weeks.

In the 1967 race at Surfers the car was driven by a bloke called Bob Holden who had only just won the race around the mountain and was also making a name for himself as a very versatile driver able to compete in both rally and circuit cars. His co-driver, Don Holland, was also able to punt a Mini quickly, in this race the car ran second in the two litre class for Sports Racing Cars which could have produced the winner had the Porsche Spyder not had problems. As a matter of interest the Porsche was third outright.

For the people who like figures, the specs at the time were 1330ccs, a compression ratio around 13:1, lightweight one piece flywheel, Heppolite pistons, DCO42 Weber carby along with a full balance job, the gearbox was the tried and true close ratio straight cut variety in use at that time. The handling was considered extraordinary by Bob Holden, who likened it to an open wheeler. This was a great car and had good drivers to explore its capabilities and keep the Mini flag flying.

Darryl O.