JD Classics to run Jaguar's historic racing programme


Jaguar Heritage Racing was launched to a packed press conference in London yesterday.

As well as parking a D-type on Pall Mall and having a C-type in the foyer of the RAC Club, special guests were flown in from across Europe.

They included Sir Stirling Moss, John Coombs, Win Percy and Ian Callum, while Norman Dewis sent a video message.

John 'Noddy' Coombs and Sir Stirling enjoyed a chat

Win Percy recounted tales of racing with and for Tom Walkinshaw

The new branch of Jaguar is being set up to formalise a programme of events at which "works-backed" cars – principally XKs, C- and D-types – will be campaigned across the globe.

There are 12 events lined up for 2012, including the Mille Miglia (where a special start-line celebration will be staged marking 90 years of the Swallow Sidecar company), the Oldtimer GP at the Nurburgring, the Goodwood Revival, plus every round of the E-type Challenge.

The "works" aspect was played up, but the cars will be prepared by the JD Classics team, which Jaguar's spokesman said would have "total control" over them over event weekends. Plus, Jaguar said that none of the actual Heritage Collection cars would be raced.

Derek Hood, managing director of JD Classics, said: “Jaguars have been at the heart of our business for many years, and the opportunity to work with Jaguar Heritage Racing and ensure that the company is as well represented in historic motorsport today as it was when those same models competed in period is one we were only too happy to accept.”

Jaguar design chief Ian Callum added: "We are now building the best cars that we have ever built and we have got to have the confidence to go and shout about our heritage louder than ever before."

Mike O'Driscoll, chairman of Jaguar Heritage, also welcomed the move. He said: "My dream was always to have a Heritage racing team and it's taken a German [Frank Klass] to come across and get it started."

Hood and Callum were speaking after presentations from Jaguar's Ken McConomy and Frank Klaas, explaining the programme and why Jaguar has embarked on it.


Chris Martin

Good luck to Jaguar Heritage with their wish to promote their racing history. From early race and rally successes with the XK120, through the C-Type until the last of the Le Mans group C monsters they have a lot to be proud of.
But there is a small, now insignificant, chapter that I bet they would rather forget. And I know Ian Callum for one was there.
I am talking about the ill-advised attempt at Formula One by Jaguar Racing between 2000 and 2003.
I was there, and painful it was. Following the success of the Stewart Grand Prix team up to 1999, (and of which I was a member from the beginning in late '96) it was no surprise that Jackie decided to sell out to Ford, but immediately it was obvious trouble lay ahead.
First we had then Ford CEO Jac Nasser tell us all how wonderful we were for our specialised team etc, blah, blah, blah, and how Ford were the best at making F150 pick-ups etc and how Detroit would not interfere etc blah blah. Then we had a similar speech from Neil Ressler, then head of Ford's so-called 'Premium Brands' ie Lincoln, Volvo and Jaguar, who also said much the same and planned to be hands on a.s.a.p.
Unfortunately, very soon after, Ford found worldwide business took a downturn and the board got the jitters at the same time as Neil Ressler had a serious family health issue which necessitated a return to the USA.
So, what happened? Ford initially threw a lot of money at everything and painted it all green to call it Jaguar, but then lost interest. In fact I flew out for the first race for Jag in F1 at Melbourne, and it was already apparent all was not well - the PR folks had painted a Melbourne tram in Jaguar green as a promo for the week, and Eddie Irvine later joked, "we should have raced that, it would have been quicker".
Ian Callum I had already met when he was at TWR Design while I was at TWR when Tom W took over the Arrows F1 team in '96, but he was called in to advise on, I believe, the design of the 'Growler' (full face with bared teeth) and the 'Leaper' (leaping cat in profile) Jaguar decals as well as a lot of time spent deciding the exact shade of green.
Anyway, the rest is known, a slow decline down the grid, the revolving front door quickly replacing Bobby Rahal with Niki Lauda as team boss, followed by many others with a lack of results roughly commensurate with the number of shiny suits flown in from Detroit, until Ford finally decided to unload the whole shebang.
I conveniently took the redundancy package as the offer coincided with our plans to move to Australia, but at the end of 2003 they managed to sell the remains of a once successful team to a little known Austrian soft drinks company. That must have been a relief back in Detroit, but how, I wonder, did the Ford board feel when Red Bull quickly started to turn it around to become a front runner, and then championship winning team?
So well done Seb, Mark, Adrian and Christian for all they have acheived, but I bet Jaguar and Ford would rather forget that little episode.
Chris M.


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