TEN RACERS YOU NEVER KNEW RACED IN THE BTCC

When the BTCC was in its infancy, racers from all walks of the sport wanted to race and here are ten racers who tried it out you may not know about...

3y ago

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Hardcore BTCC fans will obviously know all of the names here who competed in the early days of the "British Saloon Car Championship" as it was then known, but when racers would hop in and out of Formula 1 cars, motorbikes, sportscars and saloons, you never knew who was going to show up in Britain's premier category. So here's ten racers you may not realise who once rocked up on the grid at BTCC races in the early days.

MIKE HAWTHORN

1958 Formula One world champion and 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Mike Hawthorn won in the BTCC too

1958 Formula One world champion and 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Mike Hawthorn won in the BTCC too

During his 1958 Formula One championship winning year, Mike Hawthorn competed in the non-championship event organised by the BRSCC British Saloon Car Championship at Silverstone on May 3rd and won the Class D category, on the same day that the next man in the list won in Class A. Mike probably would have found a way on to the grid again in the future for Jaguar, had he not died tragically in January 1959 shortly after retiring from Formula One.

GRAHAM Hill

The only man to win the triple crown of motorsport, Graham Hill, was also a touring car race winner

The only man to win the triple crown of motorsport, Graham Hill, was also a touring car race winner

That same day at Silverstone on May 3rd 1958 saw Graham Hill win the Class A race, but he would emerge sixth in the overall standings in 1961 driving a Jaguar Mk II for Equipe Endeavour competing against fellow F1 pilots Mike Parkes and Roy Salvador in similar Mk II Jaguars. Hill was then Class D runner-up to Jack Sears in 1962 and 1963, before returning to win three Class C victories on the trot in early 1967 before switching focus full-time to Formula One again.

Colin Chapman

As the man who masterminded Jim Clark to greatness, Chapman also raced in the BTCC in its early days

As the man who masterminded Jim Clark to greatness, Chapman also raced in the BTCC in its early days

We all know that Jim Clark became BTCC champion in a Ford Cortina Lotus, but not many know that Colin Chapman raced as well! During the 1960 season, he entered the over 1000cc class and took victory in the non-championship event at Silverstone. It was a rare outing for the man who had retired from driving following his 1956 French Grand Prix clash with Vanwall team-mate Mike Hawthorn during practice, and turned his attention to his own team - Lotus.

DAN GURNEY

Dan Gurney raced nearly everything - Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR, Le Mans and even the BTCC

Dan Gurney raced nearly everything - Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR, Le Mans and even the BTCC

As motorsport's true eclectic, Gurney was almighty at pretty much everything he ever competed in, including the BTCC where he took his only win at Oulton Park in 1963. In fact there are many fascinating things about Dan Gurney that you may not know, such as the fact that it was he who first sprayed champagne in victory after winning the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hours and he was also the first Grand Prix racer ever to wear a full face racing helmet in 1968.

SIR JACK BRABHAM

Australia's finest Sir Jack Brabham was a regular BTCC competitor and race winner during the 1960s

Australia's finest Sir Jack Brabham was a regular BTCC competitor and race winner during the 1960s

Following his maiden win in the 1963 finale at Snetterton in Class D, Sir Jack Brabham would win five more Class D races over the next three seasons to establish himself as a true racer of world class distinction. His final win in the BTCC came just a month before his final F1 championship winning year began, at Snetterton in April 1966. But it was clear that the BTCC was a great way to stay handy for the Australian three-times world champion.

STEVE McQUEEN

Whenever his schedule allowed, McQueen emulated James Dean, Elvis Presley and Paul Newman as a racer

Whenever his schedule allowed, McQueen emulated James Dean, Elvis Presley and Paul Newman as a racer

Steve McQueen was one of many actors in Hollywood obsessed with cars and racing, and several years before he filmed "Le Mans" he raced in anything he could. But he also competed with cars, and brilliantly took a podium finish in the BTCC at Brands Hatch driving a Mini Cooper in 1961. He was also a class winner and second overall at the Sebring 12 Hours in 1970, and almost raced Le Mans in the same year alongside Jackie Stewart before the film's producers forbade it.

SIR GAWAINE BAILLIE

One of the most amazing characters in the sport's history, Baillie was a regular 1960s BTCC race winner

One of the most amazing characters in the sport's history, Baillie was a regular 1960s BTCC race winner

The 7th Baronet of Polkommet, Sir Gawaine Baillie was a philatelist, industrialist, engineer and keen amateur racing driver, but most of his greatest successes were in the early days of the BTCC. He won the John Davy Trophy in the first season of the championship in 1958, and by 1966 he had become runner-up in Class D to Roy Pierpoint. Following his death, it was revealed he had amassed arguably the greatest and most valuable stamp collection in the British Empire.

JACKY ICKX

Jacky was one of many Formula One drivers who also competed further afield with three Class C wins

Jacky was one of many Formula One drivers who also competed further afield with three Class C wins

The Le Mans legend and Ferrari Formula One hero Jacky Ickx also found success in the British Saloon Car Championship, with victories in Class C during 1965 and 1966, at Mallory Park, Brands Hatch and Crystal Palace all of which came before making his Formula One debut at the Nurburgring during that 1966 season. He would go on to win in F1, take the top step at Le Mans five times, and win the Can-Am Championship in 1979 as well as the Paris-Dakar Rally.

HANNU MIKKOLA

Rallying legend Hannu Mikkola made a one-off appearance at the British Saloon Car finale in 1969

Rallying legend Hannu Mikkola made a one-off appearance at the British Saloon Car finale in 1969

The British Vita Racing team ran a Ford Escort TC for rallying legend Hannu Mikkola alongside their regular ace Barrie "Whizzo" Williams, in the 1969 season finale at Brands Hatch. Hannu was just about to break into a run in the world of rallying, and during the 1970s he took a string of victories including the Rally of Morocco which he shared with FIA president Jean Todt. Mikkola would go on to win 18 WRC victories and the World Rally Championship in 1983.

BARRY SHEENE

The motorcycling legend Barry Sheene was a fairly solid BTCC racer during his outings in the 1970s

The motorcycling legend Barry Sheene was a fairly solid BTCC racer during his outings in the 1970s

Whilst still at his height as one of the greats of motorcycle racing, the ever popular Barry Sheene competed in various one-off car races during his career, including the BTCC as a guest driver for Tom Walkinshaw Racing at the season opener driving a Mazda RX-7 in 1981 at Mallory Park. He would return to the series in 1986 at the Silverstone finale driving a Toyota Corolla GT alongside Team Toyota GB racer and eventual champion Chris Hodgetts.

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Comments (1)

  • Colin Mcrae also had a one off drive! Didn't do well though.

      2 years ago
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