Racy Reverend to make historic debut in Jaguar C-type

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A velocity-fuelled vicar is to make his historic racing debut next weekend in a 1952 Jaguar C-type that is being campaigned for the first time in a more than a decade.

Reverend Simon Butler, Associate Rector of Ashtead Parish, in Surrey is to drive the car in the Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy at the Donington Historic Festival (5-6 May) and then in the other rounds of the competition at Brands Hatch later in May, July's Silverstone Classic and the Spa Six Hours in September.

The drum-braked C-type that he has been invited to drive by a generous parishioner, chassis XKC 016, was supplied new in 1952 to the French Jaguar importer – hence its French racing blue paintwork. 

It competed in European events in 1953, until it crashed on the Mille Miglia, killing Pierre Gilbert Ugnon – who was at the wheel at the time – and leaving his team-mate and lead driver, Luc Descollanges, badly injured.

It then sat idle for 20 years until being restored in the 1970s and then campaigned a bit in the 1990s before being returned to original spec for 2012.

Like the car, the Reverend does have track experience having started karting at an early age and driven modern single-seaters. He said: "I think I’m the only Anglican clergyman who has ever driven a modern F1 car, but this will be my first experience in historics. 

"The C-type is owned by one of my parishioners, Tony Allen, and he invited me to share the car with Jonathon Crouch for the full series of Woodcote Trophy races."

So how does the C-type compare with the modern single-seaters Rev Butler has piloted? "Historic cars have no brakes," he said. "Seriously, though, I’ve really enjoyed the transition to historics, so much so that I might not go back."

Of course, he is just preaching to the converted there!

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