Record-breaker Vic Phillips at speed
On Elvington Air Base, October 1966. Vic Phillips and Mike Pearce were at the end of 2 years preparation (sponsored by the Rootes Group) to set a new world record for 1,000cc three-wheelers. They called their machine Impetus. The 998cc Imp engine was prepared by the Alan Fraser Racing Organisation. The rest of the machine was built by Vic and Mike.
Impetus is one of the few top class sprint machines to run on petrol. Many sprinters today are using highly volatile, and very expensive, vitro methanol fuels.
Vic's first record attempt was for a British National Record for the flying quarter mile - a class which is not contended on a worldwide basis.
Smoke billowed up from the rear tyre as the tremendous power from the Imp engine was channelled to the rear wheel at the standing start line. Vic's technique was to rev the engine to the limit and then let in the clutch immediately, causing the rear wheel to spin. The technique paid off. After the official timekeepers from the National Sprint Association had worked out the times and speeds they were able to announce a new British record of 119 '86 m.p.h.
The rest of Saturday was spent preparing Impetus for the all-important attempt on the standing mile record the following day.
Gearing had to be changed to fit the much longer course. "Sprinting", Vic explained, "is very much a matter of selecting the right equipment to suit the occasion." A slight change in gearing could mean the difference between a ncw world record and complete failure.
Next morning Impetus was once again wheeled on to the Elvington runway. The morning was spent adjusting and practicing. Then, just before the record attempt, power began to drop inexplicably.
The engine was checked. Nothing which would account for the drop in power could be found. Eventually trouble was diagnosed in the motor cycle's electrical system. So Vic quickly stripped the battery from his Imp van and strapped it to the sidecar in place of the two small suspect batteries.
Impetus was wheeled out to the starting line.
The rear wheel was coated in oil to induce even more wheelspin to enable maximum power from the moment the clutch was let in. Too much grip would have meant that the revs would have to be dropped to compensate and this would have resulted in the loss of vital fractions of a second. But both runs were perfect. Impetus shot off the line trailing blue smoke from the burning mixture of rubber and oil off the rear tyre.
Timekeepers and course marshals consulted; the engine was stripped and measured; then a new world record was announced: Impetus, powered by a Hillman Imp engine, was the new holder of the world one mile standing start record for three wheelers up to 1,000 c.c.
The average time for the two-way run was 36.99 seconds, bettering the previous record by almost two seconds. And from a standing start they had averaged 97.3236 m.p.h.
"We chose an Imp unit because it was far lighter than any comparable engine of similar capacity," explained Vic.
The Rootes Group heard about the success Vic and Mike had been having in club races, sprints and other motorcycle events and decided to back them in their world record bid.
The new record was broken again by George Brown on a disused airfield near Newbury, Berkshire just before the December 1966 issue of Modern Motoring and Travel went to press.
There's an Imp in our motorcycle : story of a world record bid. - Modern Motoring and Travel 1966, September. - p.?
Add an Imp engine to a motorcycle and what do you get? A world record. - Modern Motoring and Travel 1966, December. - p.31-32
Vic Phillips and Mike Pearce set a new world record for 1,000cc three-wheelers.
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