14 days

Hey You!


Scrutineering Bay

Not that it's any of my business

Notes from the Cellar

Across the Border

Focal Point







Mail  to a friend

Penalty Box

Family and friends

Postcards from the edge



The Elise Garden Party

With the news headlines dominated with stories of politicians fiddling the expenses, lining their pockets at the taxpayers’ expense whilst mere mortals worry about whether or not they are going to get a wage packet at all, or be able to pay their own mortgage let alone buy a duck house, how about a good news story? Yes, there really is one out there!

Starting in 2004, Michael Hipperson has run an annual event called the Elise Garden Party to raise funds for Little Haven’s Children’s Hospice in Essex. He’s been remarkably successful over the years, his combination of charm and powers of persuasion helping to cajole people into contributing to the cause in various ways. The event has taken different forms in different years, 2008 being a high point when no less than £52,000 was raised from two days of activity.

For this years’ event, Lotus Cars generously donated the use of the test track at Hethel for the day, so the focus became a track day organised by Lotus- on-Track, themselves no strangers to charity fundraising over the years. As one of the biggest track day organisers in Europe, they lost no time in filling all the available places, again with the entry fees going to the charity. The majority of the entrants were running Elise, Exige or 2-Eleven variants, but provision was also made for a Heritage class and that enticed along some very unusual and interesting machinery.

Earliest cars in action were a pair of Lotus 6’s, but a pair of single-seaters from opposite ends of the success spectrum attracted a lot of interest. Lotus 25/R5 was a chassis used by Jim Clark during the early part of his World Championship-winning campaign in 1963, before being written off by Trevor Taylor at Spa in June that year. Lotus mechanic Cedric Selzer salvaged the remains and over the years he rebuilt it into the beautiful machine we see today. A rare site at Hethel, the Type 25 predating the company move to Norfolk, the car was driven last week by Lotus collector Nick Fennell.

The Lotus 58 Formula 2, by contrast, never raced in anger. The model was designed in parallel with the Formula 1 Type 57 over the winter of 1967/68, with both models utilising the same tub. The Formula 2 was built first and serious testing was planned for the spring but the untimely death of Jim Clark disrupted plans and Lotus not unreasonably lost interest in F2. The car was eventually converted to F1 spec. and then was destined for the following winters’ Tasman Series, but Graham Hill tested the car without enthusiasm and the Team took 49T’s ‘down under’ instead, and that was that. The sole car now exists in F2 trim, owned by Classic Team Lotus and was given an outing at the Elise garden Party by Malcolm Ricketts.

Aside from the representatives of Little Havens, probably the most emotional moment of the day at Hethel belonged to John Bolding. Some years ago he acquired a pile of wreckage that purported to be one of the original Team Lotus 47A race cars from the 1968 season. However, such was the state of the car nobody could be certain of exactly what it was – until by good fortune Bolding was able to get former Team Lotus driver John Miles to look at it. Miles immediately spotted that it had a seat mounting unique to his race car, necessary in order to accommodate his lanky frame.

That was all Bolding needed to know, and he embarked on a seven-year restoration to recreate the Gold Leaf Team Lotus Type 47A, chassis number 47/69, raced by John Miles to a variety of successes in 1968. Anyone who has seen the car will know just what a stunning job Bolding has done and upon completion he had just one wish remaining – to see Miles back behind the wheel. That wish came true at Hethel, making Bolding a very happy man as he described the occasion as his best day out ever.

The 47A was not the only Lotus sports racer in action, for Classic Team Lotus have recently completed the restoration of a Type 30, and Fennell was the brave man to take this on the track. It has to be said that the 4.7-litre Ford V8-powered machine was not one of Lotus’ more successful efforts in period, but it nevertheless looked and sounded gorgeous as it warmed-up under the watchful eye of Team Lotus stalwart Bob Dance.

Amongst those on static display was ex Team Lotus Cortina Mk1 PHK 614D, brought along by JD Classics who currently have this and other ex works Cortinas on sale. This particular car was built for the 1966 season and mostly raced by Peter Arundell, its best result being a first in class at the Brands Hatch British Grand Prix support race.

One or two non Lotus products sneaked in under the radar too, most notably Terry Hoyle bringing along a totally unique Ferrari 268SP, this car having raced at Le Mans in 1962 when Giancarlo Baghetti/Ludovico Scarfiotti got it up to third place before gearbox gremlins forced a retirement at the 18-hour mark.

Lotus themselves put several examples of the new Evora on show, including a crash-test chassis, and there was at least a chance to try the cockpit of Lotus well-received new product, if not put the car through its paces. Lotus Sport threw their workshop doors open and Nick Adams and his colleagues were kept busy giving Elise passenger rides in return for a donation to the cause.

So, there was plenty to keep the 272 guests entertained, whether they took part in the track day, enjoyed a fast ride or simply basked in the warm sunshine and enjoyed the barbecue lunch put on by Essex dealers Castle- Lotus. Amongst the guests was World Land Speed Record holder Andy Green, who had just stepped off a ‘plane from South Africa, where he had been inspecting a possible venue for the Bloodhound SSC 1,000mph record attempt. Another guest of note was Hazel Chapman, arriving in the 1965 Ford Galaxie Indianapolis Pace Car, driven by son Clive, the car having been in the family for many years.

 There was an auction too, star lot turning out to be the Lotus 72 ‘anvil’ airbox in JPS livery that auctioneer Clive Chapman knocked-down for £750. ‘Mm, - perhaps we should make a few more of those! he was heard to say. The auction raised £5,250 towards the days’ total of something over £13,000, a figure that pleased Michael Hipperson as it took the grand total raised for the Hospice since 2004 past £100,000.

Quite an amazing achievement.

John Elwin
June 2009

Top of Page
sportscarpros Tool Box

Features from John Elwin