GRR

The first car to win a Revival race has a centenary of victories

28th August 2018
Charles Goddard

The English Racing Automobiles B-Type voiturette racer, chassis R5B, affectionately known as ‘Remus’, is one of those magnificent, rare beasts that combine history, speed, spectacle, drivability and success. As we reflect on 20 years of the Revival it seems fitting that this very special racing car won the very first Revival race, the Woodcote Cup, in 1998.

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R5B was bought by Siam’s Prince Chula in 1936 for his ‘White Mouse’ racing team, for his debonair cousin, Prince ‘Bira’ Birabongse, to race alongside R2B and R12B ‘Hanuman’. Tony Rolt bought the car in 1937 and added some notable wins before the war, including the British Empire Trophy at Donnington in 1939. Following Ian Connell’s stewardship, John Bolster campaigned the car after the war, scoring a creditable sixth at the 1948 British Grand Prix at Aintree, not at all bad for a 12-year-old car. John had a big ‘off’ in ‘Remus’, ending his Grand Prix ambitions and putting R5B out of service for a year, one of only four years – bar the war – that it didn’t compete in an 82 year-long career. Successes came thick and fast with Bill Moss, scoring 17 VSCC and BOC wins in three years, which set the scene for the Lindsay family’s long and triumphant ownership.

The Hon. Patrick Lindsay bought R5B in 1959 for an eye-watering £695 and it stayed in the family until 2010, when it was bought by current owner Charles McCabe. Cars come and go, and there was no shortage of cars coming and going in the Lindsay household: the 24-litre Napier Railton, a few Maserati 250Fs, John Cobb’s Alfa Romeo Monza, an Ecurie Ecosse D-type, the V12 Sunbeam ‘Tiger’, a Type 59 Bugatti and P3 Alfas all passed through his hands.

Despite the line-up of cars that he had piloted, it was ‘Remus’ that he used as a yard stick, holding true to the promise that it would be the last car that he ever sold. Indeed, he never did. ‘Remus’ was passed onto his son Ludovic, who campaigned it for another 25 years and, just like his father, was never far from the front.

When Ludovic sold R5B in 2010 it had scored 164 podiums from 384 starts and 113 race and class wins. Six of those were scored at Goodwood in 11 events.

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Despite inauspicious beginnings, Ludovic came to love ‘Remus’ as much as his father. “Remus’ remains by far the best racing car I’ve driven," he told GRR. "Or rather, it gave me more pleasure than any other car. Owners of ERAs tend to keep them for a long time and they teach you a lot about racing. If you master an ERA, you can win in anything.”

Early drives, though, left him battered and bruised, and modifications were needed to make things more comfortable. ERAs need a confident driver. “Their natural tendency to understeer means," he added. "That if you go into a corner passively, you’re going off and ‘Remus’ is no different. You have to show it the turn and blip the throttle, the tail comes out, and you fidget the car around the corner. A lot of steering input is required, but what’s better than spending the day sideways?

“My favourite racing memory in the car is definitely the first Revival. Not just because it was clear that Charles [then Lord March, now the Duke of Richmond] had created something unique, that there was a sense of history being made, but because it was a bloody good race. I led the race early on having qualified second behind Willie Green in the Alfetta. Roddy MacPherson and Gregor Fisken, both in Cooper-Bristols, were on my tail for the entire race, and I never pulled out any sort of lead. At the end of the race I was knackered, the pedals were covered in oil and I was desperately trying to hold everything together!”

Prompted by a growing sensitivity to the dangers of driving a pre-war racing car at 140mph hour toward the Super Shell building, Ludovic took the difficult decision to stop racing R5B. Of course, he won his last race, at Goodwood. He didn’t, however, want the legacy of ‘Remus’ to be eroded by disuse and so chose to sell the car to McCabe, an enthusiastic collector and active historic racer who has raced the car every year since. Based in America, though, Charles laments not being able to get more seat time in R5B to get that essential familiarity and confidence, but says that he “wouldn’t dare take ‘Remus’ off the island”.

Paddins Dowling, the experienced owner of R10B, who put ‘Remus’ on pole in the 2017 Goodwood Trophy associates R5Bs refinement and balance with the long periods of time it has spent with one owner. Going further still Charles and Ludovic point to David Morris’ intimate knowledge of the car, having fixed, fettled and raced against R5B for nearly 30 years, for it’s innate driveability. If further qualification of its pace and reliability is required, Paddins scored a memorable win in the pre-war race at the 2018 Monaco Historique.

In an address to the ERA Owners’ Club, on his retirement from racing, Ludovic Lindsay described the experience of Goodwood in ‘Remus’. “Goodwood really shows the car’s ability," he said. "There’s nothing more exciting than trying to take Fordwater flat, there’s no other circuit where you have your heart in your mouth three or four times a lap. And when you’re a part of that event, you really feel there’s something special going on. A couple of fast laps around Goodwood is one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

R5Bs history is still being written, and at Goodwood we feel fortunate that we can play some small part. At the Revival this year, as well as competing in the Goodwood Trophy with Charles at the wheel, ‘Remus’ will be reunited with Ludovic for the 20th anniversary Winners’ Parade. Delighted at the opportunity to be back at the controls, Ludovic contemplates the parade: “It’s going to be difficult to resist going fast, I think I’ll probably have to give a squirt… just to keep the plugs clean, of course.”

Photography by Tom Shaxson, Jochen van Cauwenberge and Motorsport Images.

  • Revival

  • ERA

  • R5B

  • Remus

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