Features Historic

The perils of racing an Alexis Mk14

Cormac Flanagan’s dark-orange car has been a regular presence at the sharp end of the HSCC Historic FF1600 field in 2019, although its driver was thwarted by a parts issue at last weekend’s Silverstone International Trophy.

Flanagan qualified his Alexis Mk14 in seventh place and was running comfortably there for the first half of the Saturday race before a spin sent him into retirement. In the spirit of FF1600, fellow competitors rallied round to help him repair the car for Sunday’s race, but they ran into an unexpected problem.

“I took that back offside corner off. Not too bad actually, I was quite lucky because it was one of those rubber tyre walls,” explains Flanagan.

“Unfortunately, when I put it back together again the next morning, the second to last job I needed to do which was the caliper – it turns out that my upright was not the correct upright. Hence I didn’t get back out for the Sunday race.

“I had the correct upright. But I needed to get the upright machined to suit the caliper and I hadn’t done that.

Flanagan had already put in over four hours of work into the repair job, which to his frustration was now rendered void

“I had got through the harder jobs that I thought would have been a problem like changing hubs, things like that.

“Peter Alexander was an absolute star. He got that done and literally took 15 minutes, he pressed out one and pushed in another. Absolutely fantastic.

“That was the job I was dreading most, I thought that would actually stop us, not the caliper.”

Flanagan, who lives in the Midlands but hails from Ireland, is next out at Anglesey. This is the closest thing he has to a home round; English-based Irish people are familiar with Anglesey from travelling on car ferries home.

“I was very lucky from the point of view that that is a job done there that’s one job less for when I have to get ready for Anglesey,” he says.

The caliper story highlights the challenges of racing a more unusual car like the Alexis. While spares for Merlyns and other more common chassis are quite easy to buy or borrow, this is not the case for Flanagan’s car.

Built in 1968, the Mk14 is one of the earliest FFord chassis. Many famous drivers, mostly of the 1970s, have cut their teeth in Mk14s, particularly when the Jim Russell Racing School ran a fleet of them to train aspiring racers.

The chassis plate of Flanagan’s Mk14 corresponds with an Alexis raced in period by James Hunt, which ended up upside down in the lake at Oulton Park at one point in 1968. There are several people who claim to own this car but Flanagan is not one of them.

“If it was, it would be in a museum somewhere, not being raced by me.”

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