Author Topic: Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"  (Read 26677 times)

aex125

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 381
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« on: May 24, 2013, 17:49:04 »
All, I have been helping Tim Isles in trying to fnd history on the Ace Bristol campaigned in Southern California by Rene Pelladini. After its racing career it seems to have vanished and so Tim (with some input from myself) has penned the information below in hopes that someone may know something about the car which was named Beware1.
   
   There is an Ace-Bristol that has defied attempts to identify it so far. Not a Sebring car or one with other international history, but nonetheless during its short time in the limelight on the West Coast (1959 and 1960) it pretty much cleaned up the 2 litre production class and became very much the car to beat. In addition, in its second season of racing, it was driven by arguably the most capable driver ever to race an Ace. This was Ron Bucknum, who went on to race Formula 1 cars for Honda.
   The car was owned by Rene Pellandini, a successful entrepreneur who included a Morgan dealership in his portfolio. Using the driving talents of Lew Spencer and the mechanical expertise of the Brun brothers (Claude and Pierre), Team Pellandini Morgans (called ‘Baby Doll’ I, II and III) always gave a very good account of themselves on the race track.
   In 1958 Rene Pellandini decided to add the AC marque to his British car dealership ‘World Wide Imports’ (I assume in doing so he took over West Coast AC distribution from Michell and Pauli?). The story goes that he ordered a race prepared Ace from the factory, but ran out of patience waiting for it to arrive and so bought a well used 1957 example (one contemporary report has it down as having covered 56,000 miles) from a serviceman returning from Europe.
   This car was then meticulously race prepared by the Pellandini workshop (a third mechanic, Stu Haggard, had joined the team by this stage) and it emerged in time to contest the 1959 California Sports Car Club (CSCC) series, and would run under SCCA rules. This meant the Ace would have been in the ‘E’ production class. The car was placed in the capable hands of Lew Spencer and Barbara Windhorst. A glance at the Racing Sports Car website here:
   http://www.racingsportscars.com/chassis/Ace-Pellandini%23.html
   documents 24 races and only one DNF during the 1959 and 1960 racing seasons - a very good pointer to the high standard of the car’s preparation. In addition it should be noted that not only did the car usually win its class, it often placed 1st overall, beating much larger capacity cars.
   In early 1960 Ronnie Bucknum took over the driving duties from Lew Spencer; Lew had decided to try his hand as a professional racing driver having attracted some sponsorship. Incidentally for this year the AC Ace-Bristol was elevated to
   the ‘D’ production class nationally as it had proved unbeatable during 1957 – 1959 National SCCA seasons.
   
   A quick aside here regarding the racing situation in Southern California at this time. In Southern California the CSCC was king, but as the national SCCA series grew in popularity it moved in on the CSCC and they became direct competitors, with drivers contesting both series. This resulted in something of a feud breaking out between them during the years of 1959 and 1960 with drivers being blackballed from either the SCCA or CSCC races if they competed in the other organizations races. This could be the reason why the successes of both Spencer and Bucknum in the Ace are not reflected in the national SCCA results, but there were also other issues at work. In addition to the CSCC and SCCA feud that had developed, there were internal conflicts within the SCCA. The So Cal Chapter and the National SCCA were in conflict due to the SoCal Chapter reportedly not following the SCCA defined classes and point structures. This led to the national SCCA not accepting some of the race results posted by the SoCal SCCA, and the winning drivers not receiving national points. The internal conflicts within the SCCA and the feud between the national SCCA and CSCC continued until late '61 when the national SCCA organization revoked the charter of the SoCal SCCA chapter. In place of the SoCal SCCA Chapter, the national SCCA appointed the CSCC as the SoCal SCCA chapter and called it the California Sports Car Club of the SCCA. From this point all was well.
   
   It appears that the car was probably a victim of its own success, and whether the car was protested by another driver or just a random check was made to inspect the engine is not known. It is a fact that ‘Beware 1’ was superbly prepared and driven, and it was certainly the fastest Ace-Bristol in California - perhaps not surprisingly this rankled with drivers of larger machinery, who found themselves beaten to the flag on a regular basis.
   The rules for 1960 SCCA season remained strict, and very few modifications were allowed. Choices could be made over the type of tyre and shock absorber, but otherwise cars had to be ‘showroom stock’. This meant that cars could be meticulously prepared – ‘blue printed’- within the original factory specifications, but no further.
   It is understood that when the car’s cylinder head was lifted 9.5:1 pistons were found to be fitted, plus the cylinder head had been lightly skimmed. The pistons were deemed ineligible, and the bans mentioned earlier were imposed.
   This ‘ineligibility’ was protested, and a letter from AC cars was obtained stating that a 9.5:1 compression ratio was a factory option, but this was to no avail.
   The reason for the ban merits closer examination. My understanding of Bristol 100D engines in either D (engines made from # 500 – 799), D2 (engines made from #800 – end of production) and D2 Stage 2 is that they are all identical save for the compression ratio. In the case of the 100D this was 8.5:1, and as better fuel became available the CR on the 100D2 was standardised at 9:1. My understanding of the ‘Stage 2’ engine is that it retained the original 9.1 pistons but the head was given a light skim to increase the CR. So just what rule the car fell foul of is not fully clear to me, but it appears the 9.5:1 CR Bristol engine was not sanctioned by the So Cal Club, and hence the ban.
   The car appeared once more in 1960, at Pomona in November, and so it is assumed that the bans were announced soon after this event. The car was apparently sold on soon afterwards (early 1961) when it became clear that further protest was pointless. Others before me have spoken with Lew Spencer who confirms this sale in early 1961. Lew thinks (but cannot be sure) that the car may have been sold to Bob Cole, for it was Bob Cole who took delivery of the race-prepared Ace that Rene Pellandini originally ordered in 1958 but could not wait for. Incidentally the number of this car is not known either, and rather interestingly a search for Bob Cole on the RSC website reveals him to have been an active driver over a period of 10 years in California but there is no mention of him ever having driven an Ace. Can anyone add anything here?
   But back to ‘Beware 1’; the trail certainly goes cold from the moment the car was sold in 1961.
   Interestingly, and despite the ban it is recorded that Rene Pellandini prepared another Morgan (Baby Doll IV) for the 1961 season, to be driven by a returning Lew Spencer. But in this same year Rene was to sell the Morgan side of his business, and he moved to Europe for a time.
   So is ‘Beware 1’ still around and if so is it possible to identify it?
   There are a number of clues. The car is believed to be a 1957 model – certainly from pictures it can be seen that it is a ‘short boot’. The car was red with a black interior when bought, and remained with this colour combination when being campaigned in 1959 and 1960. It was fitted with a distinctive roll over hoop that was rather ‘shallow’ in its protrusion out of the car but was made of thick diameter tube. The car used AC’s small ‘wrap round’ single screen for the driver. The driver’s mirror in the centre of the scuttle was hooded. The car used a Nardi style woodrim steering wheel. The filler cap was of the ‘Monza’ type.
   The optional oil pressure gauge was fitted, as was the factory oil cooler. The optional electric fuel pump was fitted in the boot. And as befits its time in Europe, it was fitted with both the optional heater, together with the windscreen de-misters.
   In closing it’s worth noting that this car was the subject of several contemporary articles during its racing seasons, including – ‘The Leading Ace’, Sports Car Graphic (March-April 1960); ‘Competition Tuning; AC Bristol’, Car and Driver (April 1961 - I can only assume this article was written the year before, for it make no mention of the ban); ‘You Get A Lot To Like In An AC Bristol’, California Sports Car Club Notes (May 1960).
   Ironically all the articles mention the 9.5:1 CR. Equally ironically, for the 1961 season the Ace was once more raised a class in the SCCA series (to ‘C’ production) due to its all conquering ways, but for this year the rules on tuning were much more open. Pierre Mion still managed to win the class in his Ace-Bristol, but it would be the last time an Ace was seriously campaigned in the series.
   This is my understanding of events, but I appreciate it leaves a number of unanswered questions. Can anyone add anything?

nikbj68

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2177
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2013, 19:18:47 »
Keith's archive photos, of Lew Spencer in "Beware 1" & Barbara Windhorst.
   
   
   
   

AC Ace Bristol

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1511
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2013, 19:51:07 »
.
   .
   Nik
   
   Thank you for posting  the above two pictures.
   
   Jay & Tim,  A well penned intro to a fasinating piece of AC Racing History,  Hopefully these two pictures of BEWARE 1 contribute to this thread and help generate new material to confirm the true ID of The Pellandini Ace Bristol..[;)]
   
   
   Two pictures from my pictorial reference library of the Pellandini Ace Bristol, one of Barbara Windhorst who also competed successfully in the Pellandini team Ace. along with Ron Bucknum and Lew Spencer
   .
   
   Keith..[:)]..[:)]

jrlucke

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 188
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2013, 19:59:02 »
Walt Peterson was involved with the AC dealership in Northern CA (Palo Alto near Stanford University) in the 1960's, I'm wondering if he might have any insights as to this Ace.
   
   John

aex125

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 381
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2013, 01:59:37 »
Nik, Thanks for adding the pictures. They definitely add to the thread.
   
   John, Is Walt still around and do you have contact information for him? That could be a good path to go down if Walt is available for consultation.
   
   Jay

AC Ace Bristol

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1511
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2013, 11:48:21 »
Jay.
   
   Re:  Stu Haggard
   
   Please find below, Extract from email sent to Tim Isles earlier this year.
   .
   .
   
   Tim
   
   Whilst reading through AC General Instruction Supplement ( The ACOC Ltd .  American Centre ,  3630 East 56th Street. Tulsa 35, Oklahoma)
   
   Amongst nine addresses was the following:
   
   Stu Haggard Automotive
   10429 Washington Blvd.
   Culver City.
   California

   
   Not sure if this might help with Pellandini  research.
   
   Cheers
   
   Keith.
   
   Maybe someone  on the West Coast or better still in the Area can follow up this lead and post on the Forum or email Jay. .[;)]
   
   Keith..[:)]

jrlucke

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 188
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2013, 19:01:36 »
Walt lives within a couple miles of me. We talked by phone for quite a while a couple years ago while he shared stories of his AC days in the San Francisco Bay area and living on a boat in the San Juans.
   
   As an aside, his son has his Aceca in the north Seattle area awaiting restoration.
   
   I can see if I can get in touch with him.

aex125

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 381
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2013, 07:28:24 »
John,
   Thanks for checking with Walt and as stated above there is some info that points to a potential buyer of the car named Bob Cole. Additional information on Bob is that he may reside in the Bay area and  may be a member of one of the Yacht clubs up there so if Walt does not remember the car initially, maybe the additional info might help.
   
   Jay

BBK

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 337
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2013, 17:22:42 »
quote:
Originally posted by aex125
   
John,
   Thanks for checking with Walt and as stated above there is some info that points to a potential buyer of the car named Bob Cole. Additional information on Bob is that he may reside in the Bay area and  may be a member of one of the Yacht clubs up there so if Walt does not remember the car initially, maybe the additional info might help.
   
   Jay
   

   
   I believe that the Bob Cole referred to is the owner of Cole European, a British new car dealer in Walnut Creek, CA just 20 minutes from me.  Walnut Creek is in the San Francisco Bay Area about 20 miles east of San Francisco.   Bob sells Jaguars, Land Rovers and Aston Martins and is a car collector and has raced cars too.  I do not know him but have heard much about him over the years.  Below is a link to some information about him from his dealership web site with contact information at the bottom of that page.  Hope this helps.
   
   http://www.coleeuropean.com/about-us/

AC Ace Bristol

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1511
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2013, 22:23:00 »
.
   Jay
   
   Whilst reading through AcecaRacer thread on " Spark Plugs for Racing"  , I note  reference to Stu Haggard and Bill Rudd being two main Bristol Engine tuners in LA during the 1950s & 1960s.
   Bill Rudd is also associated with Pellandini & Lew Spencer... World Imports and Head Honcho at Harrah's collection..[;)]
   
   Hopefully this is another Lead that might generate more racing data on Team Pellandini with the bonus of throwing light on various other Ace Bristol's raced in Period in California & NW USA.
   
   Cheers
   
   Keith..[:)]

aex125

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 381
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2013, 16:13:20 »
Robert,
   Thanks for the lead. It looks like there is an e-mail link at the Coleeuropean site so I will send an e-mail later today and see if I can get directly in touch with Bob Cole. Hopefully he will be ale to fill in some holes.
   Keith, I am collecting the other potential leads and will also follow up on them.
   
   Jay

BBK

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 337
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2013, 01:49:01 »
quote:
Originally posted by aex125
   
Robert,
   Thanks for the lead. It looks like there is an e-mail link at the Coleeuropean site so I will send an e-mail later today and see if I can get directly in touch with Bob Cole. Hopefully he will be ale to fill in some holes.
   Keith, I am collecting the other potential leads and will also follow up on them.
   
   Jay
   

   
   You're welcome.  Hope it leads somewhere.  I'm not sure how active Mr. Cole is in the day to day running of his dealership but I imagine they can put you in contact with him.  It is a first class dealership and have worked on a couple of Jaguars I've owned and my Land Rovers too.

bex316

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 204
    • View Profile
    • BEX316
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2013, 22:34:37 »
Here is a screen capture of the race results of the Pellandini Ace Beware 1 that was already linked in Jay's post that started this thread. To keep this subject active, in sight and not to slip off the radar, in Keith's words.
   
   Jerry
   
   

nikbj68

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2177
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2013, 00:45:27 »
Another photo from Keith`s archive, showing Ron Bucknum driving the Pellandini Ace at Santa Barbara in 1960:
   
   

aex125

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 381
    • View Profile
Searching for Pellandini Ace- "Beware1"
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2013, 21:54:44 »
I sent an e-mail last week to Cole European but am still waiting to hear back from Bob Cole. Hopefully I will hear something soon, but in the meantime I did some more searching and found Bob and another gentleman created a place called the "Candy Store" in the late '70s as a place to house their collector cars.
   
   http://www.candystoreclub.com/
   
   Doing a quick perusal of the cars shown in the pictures does not show any cars that are identifiable as an Ace, but on the contact page of the web site, the pictures that cycle show an AC Bristol badge. I went back to the photos and while I cannot identify an Ace, it looks like there is a red Aceca in the back that is in  "La Carrerra Panamerica" livery so maybe it is the car behind the badge on the contact page. Are any members of the forum familiar with, or have been to the Candy Store? Maybe there is an Ace just out of view of the pictures. I have tried calling the contact number, but no one has answered the phone yet.
   
   Jay