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Motor Racing Casts Its Spell on Number 38

It’s been a while since I posted the first episode of Roy Jacobson’s adventures in motor racing – definitely time we heard more. So here is an account of how it all began for him:

Roy and an Old M.G. Make Their Entrance

In 1971 I entered my M.G. TD in a hill climb, a small M.G. club event. I won outright and that was the spark that lit the fire.


Lime Rock, Connecticut VSCCA All-comers scratch race 1973 – (I finished a distant 2nd)

Early the next summer I entered an SCCA autocross event. The TD was considered “H production” and that meant running with Austin-Healey Sprites and Fiat 850 Spyders. The first run was really difficult; the M.G. barely made it through the pylons and it’s turning radius… well, driving a bus might not have been much different. Four runs per car and I’ve botched the first – a walk around, study others’ mistakes and plot a new strategy. It may have been the last run but I eventually won the 3rd in class award and a nice ceramic coffee mug. Considering the little cars on gumbo tyres I ran against, I gave myself a pat on the back as some displaced Fiat owner gave me the boot! 1972 and 1973 were mostly club events and my first try at road racing at Lime Rock Park.

No hero driver am I – the first thing I learned was to stay out of everyone’s way.

An old sage, a Ferrari driver, took me aside once and taught me… enough! The last race that day found me gridded in the second row behind a Formula Jr. and a Lotus XI, and ahead of a pair of OSCA MT4s. The sight was profound, my lorry among these streamliners.

The Lotus ran away, the Formula Jr. broke, but I managed to confound the OSCAs so much in the esses and up the hill that their superior speed couldn’t make it up on the straight. With a head as big as a blimp, I sent my entry in for the first “vintage car race” at Watkins Glen, a 10 lap affair just prior to the US Grand Prix, October 1973.

Number 38

To be continued…

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Number 38 and the Spirit of Racing

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned Number 38 and his comments on the F1-Fanatic site. Since then, #38 and I have been in correspondence and it turns out he is actually Roy Jacobson, a man with long experience of motor racing and the occasional brush with F1. Roy is 62 years old now and still races his kart locally in Virginia – you can’t keep a good man down!


Roy and his M.G. at the Christie Sprints, Hamilton, Ontario, CANADA 1996

In talking with Roy about his experiences, it occurred to me that readers would be interested too and so I will be posting a few of his stories in these final few days before the season commences in Australia. Here’s a taster from early on in our correspondence:

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix of 1983

“I had entered an M.G. powered car called a Lester-MG and was assigned to a class filled with Lotus XIs, Lolas, Porsches and Ferraris.

“In practice, I qualified well but was gridded last as the stewards didn’t know what a Lester was and didn’t expect much performance.

“Just prior to the race someone asked if I was in the right class – after all the entire field, about 20 cars, had alloy, overhead cam engines and the M.G. engine was just a ‘push-rod , lump of iron’. I replied, ‘That’s why I’m starting from scratch, don’t want to embarrass anyone.’

“In the race, I went from last to 6th. No champagne, no trophy, no ribbon but I always get a time sheet! It was a personal victory.”

Roy Jacobson

Against that sort of competition, a victory indeed. Roy’s exploits range from kart racing, amateur events driving his MG TD and hillclimbs to racing in F1 GP support events and even helping out in the Lotus pit for the 1979 US GP at Watkins Glen. Through his eyes we can glimpse not only the history of motor sport going back almost fifty years but also get a feel for the vast sweep of motor racing that goes on every year, unrecorded, unsung, and yet the scene for deeds every bit as heroic as those we see in F1.

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