Firestone & Jim Clark - 1960's


Champion Elect
It was whilst I was browsing though some back issues of MX-5 Owners Club magazine 'Soft top, Hardtop',before throwing them out, that I came across an interesting article in February-08's issue. Racing memories from a golden age.

It concerns club member Chris Neville-Parry, how he came to be Firestone's World Competitions Manager and how he became close friends with Jim Clark, whilst working with him to win at Indianapolis. I was unable to find an on-line article, but most of it was lifted from a BRDC bulletin from a few years ago, and it is on line. Click here for a read. If you scroll down to page 8, you'll find the article.

I found it quite interesting. :)
Thanks for that, really interesting read. I'm impressed with Mr. Firestone's attitude too - wouldn't get that today. :)
I was impressed by Mr Firestone aswell!It's such a shame I couldn't find the article on the MX-5 OC website, as there's more to the article. Oh well, I'll have to type a snippet!

Soft top said:
Anecdotes tumble from his lips in quick succession, peppered with names from Jim Clark to Graham Hill... Chris even had weekly chats with Enzo Ferrari, in his role as Firestone's World Competitions Manager. <snip>

Chris' biggest contribution to the sport was developing the low profile racing tyre, and the chemistry which went into it. It became a winning formula for Firestone in the 1960's as the company strived to supply the tyres to win every major championship.

Chris said: "Frank Williams, Jackie Stewart and John Surtees still call me by my nickname,YV11 - the name of the magical chemical compound I designed. It had superb performance in wet weather, and completely annihilated Dunlop and all the others!" <snip>

Well before Lewis Hamilton gets a mention on the members' list, Chris' name pops up at number 765 (on the BRDC membership list).

It then goes into the article on the BRDC Bulletin...

Also, there's a rather fine photo of Chris Neville-Parry with Colin Chapman, sandwiching Jim Clark at Indianapolis. JC in Firestone racing overalls and CNP in his red Firestone jacket with black tie. Very smart. Colin Chapman look very dapper in his yellow cardy, too..!
"It had superb performance in wet weather, and completely annihilated Dunlop and all the others!"

Hmm, well, I'm not an expert on 1960s racing tyres, but I know that Jim Clark and others used to complain about their Firestones in the wet, particularly in F2 - in the race Jimmy died he was only running in the lower half of the top 10 I think. The tyres were so bad Max Mosley overtook Graham Hill's Lotus! But obviously things change so quickly in tyre development, hopefully this was the problem Chris was able to put right!
GordonMurray said:
The tyres were so bad Max Mosley overtook Graham Hill's Lotus!


Yes, I would hope that he was able to put that right! lol

There's one last bit I forgot to include on my previous posts, which is a funny story related by Chris...

Once Mr. Firestone had decreed that the mission for Chris would be to have a car win every major race with Firestone tyres - regardless of cost - "So I got the staff, and did just that; we got things done. One of the guys was Ernie Brawn, an ex regimental sergeant major and a wonderful man, whose son Ross Brawn virtually grew up in the back of our Firestone truck. I recall him playing Scalextric in the van. It was much more friendly and fun back in those days..."

"... we got up to some things in those days. One secretary I had was a gorgeous girl called Deborah, who had a fancy boyfriend but we played a practical joke and wired his brake lights to his hooter.
We were up at Croft for the British Saloon Car Championship when Roy Pierpoint (who built Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) offered to give her a lift home to London in his new Lotus Elan. Ernie said 'I'll deal with this'.
I overtook them on the M1 and that Lotus was vibrating all the way. Deborah was sick as a dog it vibrated so much, and Roy's sunglasses shook so much they cut his nose. Later he turns up with two 6oz weights and plonks them on the desk asking 'where did these come from?' Ernie had stuck them to the inside of his front wheels!"
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