One of the really cool things about vintage auto racing involves meeting really great people who do tremendously cool things. Since factory supported race teams don’t, as far as I can tell, exist in this endeavor, all participants wrest time and treasure from their day jobs to get and keep vehicles on the track.
From a spectator standpoint, vintage race fans may find cars about which they know little or nothing. Such was the case when I saw a name plate completely unknown to me at my last race photo assignment. Having photographed the last 3 Vintage Grands Prix at Watkins Glen, NY, vehicles and faces appear with regularity from one race to the next. Sitting at the top of turn 9, my favorite place to shoot at The Glen, I noticed and shot a green machine unfamiliar from previous races. Evaluating images from the day’s shooting post race, I enlarged the frame to get a better look: Frazer-Nash.
A glance through Google’s listings on Frazer-Nash reveals Wikipedia’s omnipresence and their thorough description of the brand’s early days. Other listings describe the company’s evolution into high technology including hybrid vehicles today. No on line listings exist of the raced version’s recent history or its owner’s extensive involvement preserving, showing and racing this rare automobile. I asked owner, John Kerridge of California, a few questions arising in my mind when I see such a rare vehicle on the track.
Me: How long have you owned the car?
John: I acquired the car in 1961.
Me: In which events do you race it throughout the year?
John: In most years: VARA British Extravaganza; General Racing Sonoma Historics; HMSA Monterey Motorsports Reunion & Prereunion and any other prewar races in California.
Me: Which engine choice does it have, Anzani or Meadows?
John: The engine is the AC 2 liter, straight six, SOHC.
Me: Is it supercharged?
John: No supercharger.
Me: Concept Carz shows your automobile at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on their website. How do you transport it from California to Watkins Glen?
John: The car was transported to Watkins Glen by Tom Malloy.
Me: Is it chassis 1126 as described on Concept Carz’ website?
John: I believe that 1126 is the correct chassis number.
Me: Is it considered long or short chassis?
John: Short chassis
Me: Is it chain drive?
John: Yes, it has chain drive.
Me: What if any restorative work have you performed on it during your ownership?
John: I totally rebuilt the car in 1997-1999, which included making a new body (which is at least the sixth since the car was originally made).
Me: Who does this work?
John: Except for big jobs such as line-boring, I do all the work myself.
Me: What is your current “day job?”
John: I’m retired.
Me: How did you happen to acquire this automobile?
John: I heard about it through “the grapevine.”
Me: What made you feel the Frazer-Nash Boulogne the best vintage auto for you?
John: Strictly speaking, the car is no longer to “Boulogne” specifications. Better to think of it just as a Frazer Nash. The reason its right for me is that it’s fast enough to be interesting but not so fast that it’s out of my league.
Me: What is the full technical model name and /or number for this automobile?
John: See previous answer.
Me: What racing plans lie in the future for you and the Frazer Nash?
John: I hope to continue to participate in prewar races on the West Coast.
After reading John’s answers I added more questions to which he promptly and kindly answered in short order.
Me: When you need parts, where do you acquire them?
John: Where to obtain parts? No easy answer to that one. The Frazer Nash Club in the UK maintains a spares collection, which they add to from time to time by having batches made by machine shops that specialise in small quantities. Also a couple of shops in the UK are now producing parts for AC engines like mine. And one can sometimes find parts for other cars that either fit or can be modified to fit. Finally, I can make my own parts, if they’re not too demanding, and a machinist friend of mine can tackle the more demanding pieces.
Me: When you need repair help and advice, where to you get that?
John: Advice is relatively easy to obtain as the vintage network is very supportive. In particular, members of the Frazer Nash Club are good at relaying helpful information.
Mr. John Kerridge wrote a detailed history of his Frazer Nash Boulogne (as listed in race day documents by SVRA) and typifies the “Can Do,” attitude present in many vintage auto enthusiasts, competition and back yard versions notwithstanding. If I need a new screen for my front door, I hire someone to do it. Can’t imagine rebuilding and racing a ‘20’s era car.
Jon McKnight and my friends at the SVRA, recently published 2013 schedules featuring the newly merged East and West divisions. As a Salt Lake City resident, my lament over lack of vintage racing events in the west is no longer required. The race is on! Now, deciding which events to attend can take the place of the event lament.
See you at the track.