You are currently viewing A tribute to all-round racing driver ‘Quick’ Vic Elford.

A tribute to all-round racing driver ‘Quick’ Vic Elford.

Earlier this week, information broke of the passing of ‘Fast Vic’ Victor Henry Elford, on the age of 86. Vic Elford was a type of drivers that just about raced something that had 4 wheels, an engine and a steering wheel. With a profession beginning in a Triumph TR3A, he’s most identified for his successes on the wheel of assorted Porsche automobiles, each on and off-road. Mainly, in case you would have put Vic Elford right into a racing automobile, probabilities would have been he’d be competing for the win. And with that in thoughts, I really feel it’s becoming to pay the person a bit of tribute in right this moment’s Petrolhead Nook.

‘Fast’ Vic Elford – 1935-2022 – Picture by Total911.com

Victor Henry Elford began racing on the age of 26, which was thought of fairly late on the time. Throughout his profession, which spanned greater than twenty years, he raced in every thing from Mini to Triumph, Ford, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari, Lola, Cooper, Chaparral and extra. He was a Porsche-works driver for five years, which noticed him obtain his largest successes.

‘Fast’ Vic Elford – Porsche 911 – Picture by Porsche.com

Amongst his accolades are successful the 1968 Rally de Monte Carlo, and successful the 24 Hours of Daytona solely per week later and on his first-ever try. This may additionally mark Porsche’s first total victory in a 24-hour endurance race. The primary of many, as we now know. Vic Elford additionally competed in Formulation 1, CanAm, Rallycross and NASCAR, with various outcomes. His greatest “work” was in endurance racing, as his information present. He gained the 1971 Sebring 12 Hours and a number of long-distance racing on the Nürburgring.

The next video covers lots of his profession, together with a lot of his race wins and achievements.

What’s additionally fascinating is the actual fact he was requested by Steve McQueen to do the high-speed scenes within the 1970 cult-classic film “Le Mans”. Throughout his profession he managed to set a number of lap information at nearly each circuit he raced on. This included information at Sebring, the Targa Florio, the Nürburgring, Le Mans, Monza, Laguna Seca and extra. A few of these information stood for a number of years even,

The Inexperienced Hell

The Nordschleife format of the Nürburgring was dubbed “The Inexperienced Hell” by Sir Jackie Stewart, as it’s situated within the German Eiffel forests, and regarded probably the most difficult (and harmful) race tracks on the planet. It’s right here the place quite a few drivers (nearly) misplaced their lives in accidents, in a time period the place security measures meant placing on a primary helmet and that’s it.

The undulating observe runs by means of thick woods and has a size of round 23km and consists of 174 corners, kinks and bends combined with quite a few lengthy straits. It’s extraordinarily tough to grasp as there’s so much to soak up on such lengthy tracks.

It is usually the venue the place Vic Elford rose to greatness, actually, as he gained right here a number of occasions in numerous courses and racing totally different automobiles. He gained the 1,000km of the Nürburgring, which mixed the Nordschleife and an additional south-loop finish-straight into one lengthy observe, thrice in a Porsche 908/3. With a complete of 6 wins underneath his belt on the well-known Eiffel-venue, Vic Elford is simply bested by Rudolf Caracciola and Sir Stirling Moss.

‘Fast Vic’ Victor Henry Elford – McLaren M7B – German Grand Prix 1969 – Nürburgring – Picture by Motorsportmagazine.com

Right here’s footage of the ADAC 1,000km Nürburgring of 1971, with a heated rivalry between Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, ending in a win by Vic Elford.

Targa Florio

The Targa Florio is without doubt one of the biggest highway racing occasions ever conceived. It’s proper up there with the Mille Miglia by way of status, and it attracted all types of prolific racing drivers and among the quickest prototype sports activities automobiles and racing automobiles within the day. It was held on the Italian island of Sicily, between 1906 and 1977. At first, it was principally a single 148km lengthy lap of the island, however by means of its years it has seen quite a few configurations run in a single or a number of concessive laps. Via cities and villages, on dusty, bumpy public roads lined with individuals and the occasional livestock getting in the way in which.

‘Fast Vic’ Victor Henry Elford – Porsche 907 – Targa Florio – Picture by Autoweek.com

There are many Targa Florio tales to be informed, however one yr, particularly, involves thoughts when Vic Elford is anxious. It was 1968 and Vic Elford was on the top of his profession, principally operating in numerous Porsche race automobiles. Right now, the Targa Florio was a 10-lap race of the 72km lengthy “Piccolo” circuit. Fast Vic was competing in a brand new Porsche 907, with co-driver Umberto Maglioli, towards automobiles just like the Ford GT40 and Alfa Romeo Tipo 33/2.

‘Fast Vic’Victer Henry Elford – Porsche 908-3 – Targa Florio – Picture by Hagerty

On the opening lap, Vic misplaced a wheel and misplaced 18 minutes towards the opposite opponents. Not deterred, and utilizing his expertise as a rally and racing driver, he soldiered on and hunted down the main Alfa Romeo automobile lap after lap. After 7 out of the ten laps, he handed over the wheel to Maglioli, who continued the pursuit, took the lead on the ninth lap and ultimately gained with a margin of three minutes. It’s an indication of the sheer expertise of Elford, and to an extent, Maglioli, to beat an 18-minute hole and nonetheless have the ability to take the victory. And setting lap report after lap report within the course of, by the way in which, one thing to speak about in a bit.

Whereas there’s little or no footage of the 1968 version of the Targa Florio, I did come throughout this gem of a video of the 1971 race (see above). This consists of footage of Vic Elford behind the wheel of the No.8 Porsche 908/3 in Martini-sponsoring (the silver/gray automobile), teamed with Gérard Larousse. This yr he was up towards the Alfa Romeo boys but once more however sadly, Elford and Larousse crashed out within the third lap.

There’s additionally this brief clip, the place Vic is interviewed concerning the occasion, dubbed over on-board footage of the 1972 venue.

Le Mans

Primarily based purely on statistics, it doesn’t appear his run-ins with le Mans have been all that profitable. Out of 8 begins within the gruelling endurance race, he completed solely twice. Nonetheless, the occasions he did come throughout the end line on the well-known 24 Hours of Le Mans he managed to win in his particular class.

He raced at Le Mans from 1967 to 1974, and instantly got here in first at school (seventh total) with a Porsche 906K Carrera 6 race automobile, with Dutchman Ben Pon as a co-driver. What adopted have been 5 consecutive DNFs, all with Porsche automobiles, earlier than making the swap to Alfa Romeo in 1972. A yr later he got here in first at school once more (and sixth total), driving the Ferrari 365 GTB/4. He was again in a Porsche once more for his closing outing however failed to succeed in the end line.

‘Fast Vic’ Victor Henry Elford – Porsche 917K – Picture by Autocar.co.uk

Two outstanding tales revolving round Vic Elford at Le Mans will not be proven by pure statistics as I mentioned. In the course of the observe runs of the 1971 race, he was clocked doing a monstrous 380kp/h on the lengthy Mulsanne straight (keep in mind, no chicanes again then!) in his Porsche 917LH, the longtail model of the automobile he drove in 1969 and 1970.

‘Fast Vic’ Victor Henry Elford – Porsche 917LH – Le Mans 1971 – Picture from Stuttcars.com

After which there’s the tragedy of 1972, the yr his colleague Jo Bonnier misplaced his life in a horrific crash. Behind the wheel of his Alfa Romeo Tipo 33TT3, he got here throughout the burning wreckage of a Ferrari 365 GBT/4, an analogous automobile he would drive a yr later. He instantly stopped, fearing the driving force was trapped contained in the automobile. He opened the door, found there was nobody there, and went on to seek out the crashed Lola of Bonnier. This was all caught on digicam, and Vic Elford was awarded the Nationwide Order of Benefit by French president Georges Pompidou.

The Sucker Automotive

Regardless of this tragic chapter in Elford’s immensely spectacular profession, we’re ending it on a excessive notice. One of the crucial uncommon automobiles he’s ever had the possibility to drive is the Chaparral 2J a.okay.a the Sucker Automotive. This radical idea used floor results aerodynamics and an engine from a snow-blower to suck air from beneath the automobile and create a vacuum. This may end in unbelievable cornering speeds, and an uncommon, fairly boxy formed automobile. Powered by a monstrous 7.6 litre Chevrolet V8 pumping out 650bhp.

It ran within the bonkers Canadian-American Problem Cup Collection (or CanAm in brief) in 1970, was initially suffering from reliability points however proved mightily quick when it labored. It was outlawed as rival groups feared it might dominate the championship and pressure different groups out of competing. It may be seen right here in a montage of the 1970 CanAm race at Highway Atlanta, alongside different beasts from McLaren, Porsche, Lola and Ferrari.