Steel Wheels, Lotus Cortinas and CJ Motors

by Robert Winkelmann

"Here's a thumbnail story behind the picture (above) which, by the way, came from an ad in the SCCA's San Francisco Region club magazine, "The Wheel". I was prompted to send it to you by a remark someone on the Cortinalist made to the effect that 'no-one raced with the steel wheels'. I don't remember the track but this was one of John Bolander's victory laps when we ran SCCA Nationals in 1966. Note the wheels."

"John Bolander was Sales Manager and part owner (with CJ Felt) of CJ Motors, an English Ford dealership on Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, California. I had opened my own shop in 1963, Chequered Flag Racing Cars, Ltd. in nearby Sausalito, California specialising in engine development and service for English Ford powered cars. As such we maintained John's Lotus 23B during the '64 - '65 season and in fact with my own 2 Liter Lotus 23/Climax we travelled and raced together as a team up and down the West Coast. We were evenly matched and ran very close competition with each other, and I like to think we brought a bit of entertainment to town. John won the National Divisional title for Sports Racing cars that year which resulted in the offer by Ford to run the works Lotus-Cortina in '66. It was an obvious move for John to switch."

"The car came from Ford AVO at Boreham Field with a BRM Phase 2 engine. Delivered to John by Dearborn based Ford Competition Manager Peter Quenet, it was one of six team cars brought to the USA in 1966 by Ford of Britain, managed by Allan Mann and driven by a number of well known drivers in International races."

"It came with 5.5" steel wheels and had a black band on the nose, one of the colors used by Allan Mann's pit crew to identify the guest drivers which included all the 'shoes' of the period, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Mike Spence, Mick Beckwith, Peter Arundel, Tony Hegbourne, Pete Lovely and Dan Gurney, to name a few. Because the black band had appeared on one of Clark's cars in the UK we liked to think we had his car. When I took over the maintenance for John I painted in the white chequer-board squares, as at the time my company was still called Chequered Flag Racing, Ltd and it seemed an appropriate low key advertisement."

"His goal now was to win the National title for B Sedan and we hit every National on the West Coast with that in mind, winning three or four and placing in several others. At that time SCCA allowed points from two "out of Division" races to count towards the total and we took the car to Oklahoma City for a nine point win and I think Denver or Salt Lake City for another victory. Toward the end of that '66 season Ford supplied us with a special set of American Racing Libre wheels and an uprated Phase 3 BRM cylinder head. The wheels were cast in real magnesium by a subsidiary of Boeing in Seattle, Washington and weighed only 10 lbs, an overall saving of 12 lbs of unsprung weight. (The picture below shows those wheels, on the car in 1967). It had been a very good move for John, he did win the SCCA Western Division, and also he sold a lot of Cortinas as a result. I seem to remember him winning a trip to Hawaii as top salesman in the US!"

"The following year, we entered a 3 car team in the Trans-Am Series, being 2 Lotus-Cortinas, painted in Winkelmann Racing colors of green with a gold stripe and roof, and just for the fun of it, a screaming class C Anglia Super 1300 which many times finished in front of the slower B Sedans. Pictured below, the year is 1967, but the track name is un-remembered."

The year is 1967, but the track name is un-remembered.

"Yup, that's me in the center with the beard, and red-headed Tom Rust behind the Anglia. Below are the 3 Winkelmann Racing team cars entered in the Trans-Am Series."

Winkelmann Racing team of 1967.

"I recently saw John Bolander just last year, as he and I attended the Fontana Race dedicated to the memory of Riverside Raceway. CJ Motors (always known locally as "CJ's Garage") eventually closed. In later years, the building became a restaurant known as "CJs Old Garage". Don't know what is there now, that restaurant closed years ago and I haven't done the 'Far East' (Berkeley/Oakland) for years. Below, the ex-factory car, still in my yard".

Number 95


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