frenchyd SuperDork
5/15/18 6:53 a.m.

In the Mid 1970’s I’d restored my MGTD in The Navy Base Hobby shop and Got out of the Navy August of 1974. I waited a day to be the Best man for my Buddy Joe and started a Non-stop cross country test of my build quality. From San Diego to Minneapolis with a brief stop in Kansas to do a little Sprint car racing. 

Later that year Joe and I went to our first Vintage sports car race and when we pulled in they asked me if I was there to race.  I was shocked. No roll bar no anything racy and they were sincere about the possibility of me racing. 

For a gear head the pits were a wonder. Bugatti type 35’s ( 3 ) a Prewar Alfa Romeo  formula 1  Those little Fornula 3  Cars with the 500 cc single popper motorcycle motors That Sterling Moss got his start with., a field of delectable cars some Towed by properVintage cars themselves. Pre war Bentley and Duisenberg towing a J2 MG  

aaaggggghh the sounds and smell of Caster Oil.  life can be very good. Especially shared with a best friend on a nice day.  Plus Joe had asked if his TF 1500 would be eligible.

No, it’s too new !   We just allowed MGTD’s and we’re worried the fields will get over crowded.      ( Joe’s a better driver than I am and we’ve shared a lifetime of Friendly competitive rivalry) When he beats me I complain that his car is too modern, too aerodynamic with the headlights flared into the fender instead of separate like God and Her majesty the Queen intended a proper sports car to be !   

More to follow. 

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
5/15/18 7:00 a.m.

Good stuff! Keep it coming,

frenchyd SuperDork
5/15/18 7:56 a.m.

In reply to Tim Suddard :

The following spring a notice appeared in the Newspaper ( pre internet ) about a Vintage sports car race up at Brainerd  in conjunction with the Trans-Am.  When I attended  they announced they’d gotten members of the Local SCCA club to lend drivers gear and other stuff like seat belt ( nope, no shoulder harness since we wouldn’t have rollbars) and fire extinguishers.  I was in!  No discussion about entry fees or medical etc. just show up with a pre 1960 sports car and either remove  or cover your license plates.  

Later at the event,  sitting around the campfires we all agreed to put $10. In the hat to formalize the Start of VSCRI but before that I had to race prep the MGTD.

 I had a secret dyno.  Actually it was just a steep hill 150 feet from  to my garage.  I drew a chalk mark on the road at the bottom expansion joint and one more at the expansion joint just before the top.  ( there I go bragging, it was just a piece of Sheetrock I’d grabbed out of a neighbors trash pile). 

I did have a stop watch though. Once the MG was properly warmed up I would start rolling and try to hit the mark at 2500 RPM  mash the throttle wide open and try to reach 5000 RPM  just as I crested  the hill.  I kept adjusting the timing until I was a quick as I could get it. Then I adjusted the fuel mixture until it was as fast as it would get and went back and checked the timing.  By opening up the valve clearance I saved a full second in my time but to give credit where due that came straight out of the Bowers book.  

 The next day a low pressure front came through and I readjusted for those conditions. By keeping notes I was able to adjust the fuel mixture Up so many “flats” for hot low pressure. Down so many flats for cold,  dry, high pressure etc.  Because a MGTD is driven pretty much flat out in modern traffic every trip to work was a testing session. Freeway cloverleafs  helped set up the handling. 26 f 28 rear tire pressure seemed ideal with a 1&1/2 pound split between left and right. 

The event itself turned a surprise.  Practice and qualifying had me more than a second and a Half slower than Mark Brandow in his Supercharged MGTC .  There were 5 MGT series and we decided before the race to stick together in a pack.   To put on a good show and then on the last lap it would be everybody for themselves. 

We started off letting the slower cars get to the front of the pack. Then slowly relegating them to the back. Only to let them work their way to the front again.  But during this I noticed the  TD could out brake to TC  and had a faster corner speed.  But he’d truck away on anything where power was an issue. 

I began a strategy by braking with him or slightly less than he did. Same with cornering.  

And yes I sandbagged acceleration as well.  So well In fact that he stayed with the pack on the long front straight. I went to the high side of the banking on the last lap and using the downhill momentum I’d gained-speed on him  Which got me even with him going into the the  over 90 degree turn 3. Even but with me on the outside. That meant he had to brake harder because of his track position and By taking a high energy line, That put me ahead and on the outside in turns 4-5-6-7-8-9-10. But by now he had the bit fully in his teeth and used his  power advantage  on the straight between 10& 11  he wound up beating me  into turn 11. The last turn before the main straight and checkered flag.  

He beat me but I was still on the outside..  I did the absolute minimum braking I could and tried desperately to keep my momentum up.  He had to turn tighter and use more braking. I  was able to-exit the turn significantly ahead of the TC  and able to squeeze just enough speed to cross the finish line maybe 4 inches in front.  

The announcer  was going crazy and I had a big stupid grin on my face for days afterward.   Mark came up and congratulated me like the Gentleman he is  and we both enjoyed the accolades we got from fellow racers and spectators who thought the MG T series race was the best one of the weekend.  Not  bad for finishing something like  17 th on the field.  

The best part is sitting around the campfire

APEowner HalfDork
5/15/18 10:11 a.m.

This is great Frenchy!  Thank you for sharing.  I'm really looking forward to the next installment.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc HalfDork
5/15/18 10:44 a.m.

I'm going to love following this. 

Apexcarver PowerDork
5/15/18 10:45 a.m.

any pictures?


keep it coming!

Sine_Qua_Non SuperDork
5/15/18 10:54 a.m.

Interesting use of your secret dyno. 

frenchyd SuperDork
5/15/18 2:42 p.m.

In reply to Apexcarver : please someone help me post pictures 

I follow the easy instructions repeatedly without success  


AaronBalto Reader
5/15/18 2:48 p.m.

I happen to have a '53 TD. I was buying gas at a station near my home in Baltimore last summer when an older gentleman--late 70's?) came up to ask me about the car. (These cars attract more attention than anything I have ever driven). He told me that he had attended the Naval Academy many years ago and, after graduation, he had ridden shotgun in his buddy's TD as they drove to their first posting in San Diego.

Annapolis to San Diego is a haul in a new S-Class Benz. I cannot imagine what that trip would have been like in a TD.

Any chance this has any relation to our hero Frenchy?

frenchyd SuperDork
5/15/18 3:54 p.m.

In reply to AaronBalto :

In some ways but no.  I flew from Texas to San Diego in a  C47   I have driven across the country in my TD. But even in my youth 6-800 miles per day was all I could do.   

You are absolutely right, no other car gets as much positive attention as a T series MG. Men envy them women admire them and everyone has stories to tell.  

If you want to meet countless women drive a MG T series with a puppy. ( although a St. Bernard is a close second)  Because the car is so open and accessible plus it just looks cool and innocent women will talk to you at a stop light and right along  side of you on the freeway.  Honest!!! 

No I’m a fat old guy and at my youthful best no one called me handsome.  

It may not be fast or have the latest gadgets but wow is it a chick magnet. 

frenchyd SuperDork
5/15/18 3:57 p.m.

In reply to APEowner :

Darn I spent a lot of time writing the next installation and it’s gone. 


APEowner HalfDork
5/15/18 4:07 p.m.
frenchyd said:

In reply to APEowner :

Darn I spent a lot of time writing the next installation and it’s gone. 


Oh man!  That sucks.  I'm sorry.  You might want to write in a word document or something that you can save on your computer and then copy and paste to the forum.  That'll give you better writing tools, a backup and protection from weird internet stuff.

As far as pictures are concerned; what are you using for a computer?  PC, Mac, Android tablet or phone or some kind of iThingy?

frenchyd SuperDork
5/15/18 4:58 p.m.

In reply to APEowner :I use my phone because I only have a few minutes of waiting time between loads etc.  

dont know how to save on a phone other than hit done and post


759NRNG SuperDork
5/15/18 6:24 p.m.

Thanks frenchy that was a hair shirt and gold chains don't do it anymore???

Tom1200 HalfDork
5/15/18 8:51 p.m.

I've been told similar stories like this from guys who were involved in Rally in the 70s. Drive the car to the event, wander round the hotel park lot and look for a navigator, sign up and go through tech. Spend the next two days flying down dirt roads, no fuel cells, roll cages or even helmets. When it was all done drive home in a car that was turning 5000rpm at 70 mph due to the 4.80 rear gear.

frenchyd always great to hear your adventures. Much simpler times, a whole lot more dangerous but definelty more laid back.

frenchyd SuperDork
5/16/18 5:54 a.m.
759NRNG said:

Thanks frenchy that was a hair shirt and gold chains don't do it anymore???

A gold chain?  Never, the money for something like that is better spent on race car parts.  My shirts tend to be those with the least grease and holes. 

frenchyd SuperDork
5/16/18 6:43 a.m.

As I said the Best part was sitting around the campfire, catching up on what happened during my 7 years in the Navy. 

Chief among them was someone knew where the old Black Jack special was. The following week I spent $300 for the remains to be delivered and didn’t even need cut down the tree that had grown up through it. 

This was a car I’d worked on in my early teens right up to going in the Navy. I tried to buy it from Jack Baker when the price was something I could afford but he kindly turned down my money.  He said the car was hopelessly obsolete and good only for drivers schools. Since that couldn’t be until I turned 18 he didn’t want to saddle me with it.  

I was determined to race it the next year but it was a lot more not there than there.  

It had No

Engine Trans driveshaft wheels hubs brakes rotors steering wheel throttle floorboards trans tunnel seat belts shoulder harness gauges wiring radiator etc. the rollbar was at least the 5th iteration and this one was crooked and I suspect made from plumbing pipe.  Not to mention the bends showed clear signs of “ just heat’er up and bend it!  

The body was fiberglass nose and tail with an aluminum center section. However it had been built as a “single seater” like the DType it was patterned after and when that rule had changed a chisel had been used to open it up all the way. ( and looked about as pretty) The  fiberglass nose weighed a ton from all the bondo caused by repairs to the damage over the years.  The tail section had the headrest crudely cut off and poorly patched over which gave it a lopsided leaning look. 

More to follow

frenchyd SuperDork
5/16/18 6:52 a.m.

In reply to Tim Suddard :

As I said I was determined to get it race ready for the next year.  Please forgive me! I have erred in my ways. I bought a Jaguar XKE roadster with minor rust in the rockers just for the motor, trans, 4 wire wheels and a drive shaft

Yes a car that if restored today would sell well north of $150,000 I scrapped for parts.  I realize ignorance is no excuse. I have sinned!  

Finding other parts Pre internet was difficult. The right front hub came from California and the left hub from Florida.  Rotors from all over the country ( used of course, there weren’t places the specialized in reproduction parts like there is today).  Piece by piece I found parts and did the work to get it ready.  I wanted a good radiator so I selected the aluminum radiator out of a L88 Corvette and started the hunt.  This was pre computer days. You’d show up at a dealership and ask at the parts counter. He’d then go back into the parts warehouse and look.  I’d ask and check all the Chevy dealerships in the area.  In theory it was available but reality was proving different.  

I finally found a guy who would work with me and eventually one was found but the drama wasn’t over yet.  Naturally some fabricating is called for to install a Corvette part in a Jaguar  The night before I’m supposed to  leave for the race I’m doing that fabricating and the drill slipped. A big hole right in the top of the radiator.  Justice Bros makes an 2part aluminum weld which I mixed up and put in the hole. Then a long pop rivet and let it sit overnight.  Still holding over 40 years later!  

One of the hardest parts to find was  a brake master cylinder rebuild kit for a Jaguar XK120.  The tandem master cylinder kit. One of the real tricks that make the Black Jack so great at stopping was that master cylinder.  As a tandem it’s self bias adjusting.  It uses a tilt valve to open brake fluid into the chamber when needed and shuts off at the right moment.  However those Tilt valves used to be hens teeth.  They’d wear and wouldn’t activate.  I went to junkyard after junkyard looking for a tandem  master cylinder to pull apart and see how long the stem was.  As luck would have it A friend knew the widow of the StPaul Jaguar dealer who’d gone out of business sometime in the 60’s his basement was filled to the rafters with New Old Stock.  As a favor to the friend I’d gone over and search her parts to set up a value.  However the few pieces with any market value had long sense been sold off.  All that was left were brackets and odd engine pieces etc.  3 dusty dirty weekends later I stumbled on a pair of those tilt valves.  I paid her retail!!! 

Toebra HalfDork
5/16/18 3:23 p.m.
Apexcarver said:

any pictures?


keep it coming!

You mean like pictures carved on stone tablets?  That is the tech we are talking about here dude.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
5/16/18 4:59 p.m.

The Black Jack Special showed up on Bring A Trailer a few years ago, for those who want pictures.

frenchyd SuperDork
5/16/18 10:42 p.m.
stuart in mn said:

The Black Jack Special showed up on Bring A Trailer a few years ago, for those who want pictures.

Thank you for posting it here.  Stop over and check out it’s replacement 

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