Press Release (ePRNews.com) - BURTON ON TRENT, England - May 09, 2017 - 28th to 30th April saw the 7th Donington Historic Festival where over 400 historic race cars from the 1920’s to the 2000’s competed in 19 races.
Denis Welch Motorsport fielded 4 cars in the GT and Sports Car Cup, of which 3 were ex-works cars in this highly competitive race. Familiar Austin Healey 3000’s, DD 300 and 767 KNX were joined for the first time by the 1959 Austin Healey 3000, SMO 746 of Martyn Corfield and Jeremy Welch. The car proudly wore the Number 1 following Welch and Corfield’s winning 2016 season.
The first round of the GTSCC at the Donington Historic Festival was the first event that SMO 746 had competed in for some 45 years. The car had remained hidden from view for much of that time, with many even questioning whether it existed at all. Originally a BMC works car, it possesses a fascinating history even before the return to competition was made.
A brief history of SMO 746
SMO 746, the 1959 Austin Healey 3000 was originally built for the BMC Competitions Department to compete in rallying. It served as a works entry competing in a number of events including the Alpine, RAC, Liege-Rome-Liege and the German Rallies in 1959 and 1960. During this period the car was driven by names including Jack Sears, Pat Moss and John Gott.
At the end of 1960 John Gott retired from the BMC Works team as a driver to concentrate on his role as Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police. The car was sold to him for his personal use and he continued to develop SMO 746 over the next decade following the introduction of the Modsports category, taking part in a number of events. By the early 1970’s SMO 746 with John at the wheel had achieved a start record from 184 competition events of 112 firsts, 42 seconds and 13 thirds, a fantastic record by any standards.
The car’s final race would be in 1972, where at Lydden Hill with John Gott driving, he crashed. After receiving emergency treatment John was rushed to the nearby hospital but sadly passed away shortly after arriving. John’s mechanic could not find any evidence of mechanical failure that may have contributed to the accident and it was thought that John may have suffered a heart attack. Following his death the car was sold and restored to its Modsports specification and remained part of the Arthur Carter collection, Carter agreeing with Gott’s widow never to display or race the car during her lifetime. As part of a thinning out of his collection, Carter offered SMO 746 for sale in late 2016 along with a wealth of history and the original works engine.
The new owner wished to return the car to competitive motorsport and entrusted it to Denis Welch Motorsport to completely rebuild the car. The 1970’s Modsports specification is no longer eligible for racing so the decision was made to return it to a track specification in-keeping with the period in which it originally competed. The extensive restoration and preparation included all aspects of the car from bodywork, engine, gearbox and a number of safety modifications to bring it up to today’s required standards. Hundreds of hours were spent not just on the build but also meticulous research to ensure that the car matched where possible the correct specification as used by the works team in the 1960’s.
The end result is a stunning car which is a real testimony to the hard work and dedication of both the car’s owner and the specialists at Denis Welch Motorsport to return the car to competitive motorsport.
Sadly SMO 746 suffered a technical problem and was unable to finish the race. Despite this disappointment the car was welcomed back to the track by enthusiasts and received a number of interested visitors in the paddock. The GT and Sports Car Cup moves onto Silverstone 20th-21st May for the second of the four round series.
High resolution photographs of SMO 746 at the Donington Festival are available for download HERE (https://www.bighealey.co.uk/catalogue/Press/SMO746.zip)
Denis Welch Motorsport