Tigers United XXII
The After-glow (Installment Five)

It seems I always forget the special sounds of Tigers Uniteds. Way before anyone should have been up and about, some soul managed to inaugurate Thursday morning's calm by firing off the familiar sounding, rapid explosions of a Tiger engine. Those first notes of action signaled the beginning of Eureka - day two. How does this sound as an itinerary: Breakfast with Rosemary Smith, Ian Hall, David Duncanson and "Oh my honey-oh my baby"; A quick ten minute drive to Redwood Acres Raceway for the once-in-a-lifetime reunion of all three Lister creations; Four hours of Le Mans coupe rides that participants will never forget; An intimate review of one lovely lady's historic driving career; All followed by tall stories and elbow bending into the wee hours. For my part, that's about as good as it gets. If you needed more, factor in unbelievable, sunny coastal weather, a parking lot full of Tiger antiquity, loads of local points of interest and three more days to enjoy it all. The doings out at Redwood Acres were like nothing that has ever happened at a "United". With the whole place to ourselves, you couldn't have picked a more fitting location to reunite the Le Mans coupes, or a better playground for a bunch of "ex-factory" drivers. Within minutes of our arrival, Ian and Rosemary were champing at the bit to take the "Rootes1" loaner out on the track for a little circuit evaluation. In short order, they were joined by Duncanson and then Rosemary switched into ADU 180B, letting Ian have a little fun in a standard car, before strapping himself into ADU 179B.

To say it's exciting to see your car being driven by one of the all-time great Rootes rally drivers, is pure understatement. Watching both Ian and Rosemary have a go with my wheels was just a blast.

AHP 294B chasing ROOTES1 into turn three. It's a little hard to tell in this picture, but Rosemary just taps the brakes on this corner. It was the only place on the track she didn't like, not that it slowed her down much. By the end of the afternoon and without really trying, she was only one second off the sprint car track record.

While we waited for the "mule", Ms. Smith and Mr. Hall entertained the troops in grand style by reenacting a part of the 1964, 24 hours at Le Mans. If you get the chance, ask one of the lucky passengers what it was like to be chauffeured at speed by these unforgettable, marque champions.

"Need a ride little boy?" Rosemary poses with Concours chair, Bill Martin, just before teaching him a thing, or two about driving.

A rare picture that proves there is a David Duncanson. Left to right, ADU 180B, Rosemary Smith, D.S.D., AHP 294B, Ian Hall and ADU 179B.

The two racing rigs, side-by-side for the first time since 1964. Big Thanks to both Sid Silverman and Tony Eckford for making this reunion reality.

Once both of the coupes commanded the track, the ride-sharing program got underway in earnest. Rosemary set the pace, with Ian right behind. The first delighted riders spent days inside the dream machines compared to later commuters, as we sorted out the logistics of reliving history. Believe me, there were kids on both sides of the fence - those waiting to don a helmet to join the ranks of, "I've been there," and those beckoning from behind the controls, inviting each hand waver to grab a seat for the ride of a lifetime. Somehow, I managed to suspend the revelry long enough to allow for another amazing diversion. Who could argue against pairing these incredible machines for some historic tintypes. The chance to do such a thing again would be a long time coming, if ever. It's hard to fathom the odds against seeing a display to equal the collection of Rootes competition department representatives, whether cars, or people.

For the better part of an hour, vehicles and VIP's were moved into various configurations to help emphasize the occasion. But, everyone was secretly waiting for the arrival of Dick Barker and his Le Mans development car. At last, there they were. After a little judicious detailing, you know, snapping on a set of headlight rims and the like, the "mule" was brought to life and transferred from the pit area to the track. As Dick crested the entrance lane to begin a slow lap toward his place along side the other Lister legends, the crowd started cheering and applauding. When he pulled to a stop, we could all see that Dick's wife, Anne, had been riding with him, sharing what must have been a very special moment. The sight of all three coupes parked within inches of each other was absolutely unbelievable. We had been talking about that possibility for over three years and on the 19th of June, 1997, it had happened in, of all places, Eureka, California. As soon as the photo frenzy died down, Dick could hold back no longer. He just had to open the hood to show off his handywork. The ensuing stampede threatened to postpone the mid-afternoon rocket rides indefinitely, but Dick willingly agreed to transplant his show back into town. We no sooner restarted the transit program, than Ian and ADU 179B were forced to retire. One of the two boosters insisted on applying breaks, even without encouragement. The final straw equaled open flames from the front pads and some humorous attempts to "blow-your-house-down" by the pit groupies. Rosemary picked up the pace, finishing the last of the thrills at just a little past our scheduled out time. With a full evening program still to come, the track-brigade headed off toward the Eureka Inns to freshen up, get something to eat, hit the parking lot and assemble for the "Mary Mary Quite Contrary" presentation. More about that in the next installment.

A dream collection and a dream come true, in more ways than one. The entire Le Mans coupe history on parade as never before.

As soon as the "mule's" hood went up, Mr. Barker had center stage.

A staggering example of historical correctness. Few could find differences between period photos and the in-person demonstration exhibit.

1997 After-glow Series

Installment One

Installment Two

Installment Three

Installment Four

Installment Six

Installment Seven

Installment Eight

Installment Nine

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