In 1967 I took the opportunity to indulge myself on my 21st birthday… I gave myself a 1947 MGTC while in Malaysia serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. This present had a twofold purpose — it was a teaching aide for my industrial arts classes showing the interrelationship between woodwork, metalwork, engine mechanics and electricity all in one finished product and it provided me with a focus for my after‑school hours which seemed endless! Little did I know how this would change my life!
So while I was working on the project, I learned as much as I could about the MG marque, performance tuning, post successes, etc. Although there weren’t many MG cars in Malaysia, I was able to find a few Brits, either plantation managers or in the Army, who helped me with spares and connections. I used mostly the local suppliers for engine parts and other things to facilitate the restoration project. Another Peace Corps volunteer helped me with the fabrication of the wooden pieces inside the metal body. Almost all the work was completed in my school workshop.
As I approached the completion of my Peace Corps service in 1969, 1 used a police officer in the port town of Port Swettenham as a connection to see about shipping the car to the US. I left the car with him and he got it packed into a suitable container (a left‑over Mercedes‑Benz parts crate) for shipment to Los Angeles.
I returned to the University of Minnesota to continue my studies in International Relations, unsure of when I would see my TC again. Fortunately, a friend in Los Angeles cleared it through customs and kept it in his garage until I could arrange to come and get it. I planned a trip that summer with my brother. We drove the car from LA, up the coast to San Francisco, stopped in Lake Tahoe for the July 4th party at a friend’s house, then ventured east across the desert, through Salt Lake City and homewards. It took about a week but was an unforgettable experience!
Back home again, I used the car for transport while continuing studies the next fall at the University. I remember driving the car through 2″ of snow to get to my parent’s house that year for Thanksgiving dinner. I got active with some other car folks, and the word went out that I knew how to fix MGs! It wasn’t long before I had plans other than my studies. My dreams about performance tuning caused me to hunt around London while traveling abroad in 1971, to try to find a Shorrock super charger. At that time, the superchargers were still being manufactured as speed equipment for some production models. The difficulty was finding the adapters and manifolds for the TC engine. My inquiries led me to Glynn Giusti, an avid vintage racer who actively used a blower on his car. He helped me find the additional parts to complete my package. I couldn’t wait to get home to try the bolt‑on horsepower!
Everything worked out just about as planned. I put all the pieces in place, hooked up according to the book, and VROOM! BIG POWER INCREASE! Of course, it said in the fine print that the blower may cause additional stress on the crankshaft and the engine should be prepared accordingly. I hadn’t done my homework, and it wasn’t long before the clunking sound in the motor was an omen of something terrible! Yes, I had broken the crankshaft, but it hadn’t caused any further deterioration to the other parts of the engine. I rebuilt the engine that winter, using a crankshaft which I tuftrided and balanced to withstand the additional power.
My next goal was to race my TC at Watkins Glen in 1975. I had met George Morgan, also a TC owner from New England, and I set about going through the paces to get my car ready to meet the rules of the V.S.C.C.A. The vintage race was the noon hour entertainment during the Formula 1 Grand Prix that was run annually at the Glen.
I did what I could to race — prep the car. But since the engine seemed to be standing up to whatever abuse I could give it, I focused on appearance. I mounted cycle fenders on front, replaced the windscreen with Brooklands racing screens, repainted the car black, left the top off and bought the necessary driver’s gear for my first outing. I towed the TC behind my 1936 Dodge Brothers humpback panel which become our camper for the weekend at the track. In spite of the cold and rainy weather, I had a good time on the track and I was hooked. The 19 inch wire wheels were what scared me the most — so I made a mental note to do something about that at the next opportunity.
About this time, late ’70s, vintage race was beginning to become a reality in Minnesota. I joined ~.‑ C.C.A. and tried some other race classes to get experience. out took the TC to the track every time there was an opportunity to run. We developed quite a field of T‑series cars, including about four TDs, a TF and my TC. It was more fun than any of the other race groups.
Having gotten a little experience and found some 16 inch wire wheels, I began to dream about going further with my vintage racing career. I wanted to race at some of the famous race tracks around the country. I applied to S.V.R.A. to run at Sebring in 1981. I decided to do away with the supercharger, and build a “big block” motor. I had found a 1500cc motor that had a damaged cylinder. I was able to repair it by sleeving the block back to standard. I balanced the rods, fitted some racing pistons I had purchased in England, ported ‑‑d the head and installed a racing camshaft and clutch assembly which had also been “found” in England. I was ready the big time!
I got to Sebring just in time! Fortunately, there were other MGs there, and I soon got acquainted with the “locals” who had been going there for years. We developed a good rivalry, but on race day, I was able to beat Beau Gable in his supercharged TC. I couldn’t have been happier! We sort of became a family that weekend, and the other MG racers provided their infamous “Southern Hospitality”. I went down to Road Atlanta a couple times that year to continue our contest!
Everything was going so well with the TC, I thought I would shoot for some other activity on the West Coast. I applied to H.M.S.A. to run the Monterey Historics at Laguna Seca in 1982. I was accepted to run one of the most prestigious events in the U.S. at that time, I was elated!
The trip out was great! It was the first trip with my new love, Eileen, and my new tow rig — a 1938 Dodge Brothers Sedan Delivery with late model running gear. We arrived with little time to spare. The TC ran well and I beat the locals to the finish! Another first in class!
So now, what next? I keep returning to Watkins Glen because I enjoy the track, the people, the memories, and the competition. I’ve had great races there with my MGA as well as the TC. The Collier Cup has provided a focal point for the enthusiasm of MG racers from across the country. Last year’s sixty car field was awesome! I’ll be back with my TC‑20 years of racing and still going strong!
P.S. I won the Collier Cup!