by John Watson
Tim Goss’s first experience of racing was when, aged just 18, he borrowed his brother’s Lotus 7 and won his class at Brands Hatch on the 26th. April 1964. At the end of 1966 with the help of £1,000 left to him by an aunt, he bought the Lotus Three-7 from Peter Deal who was going into Formula 3. Tim’s three year ownership of the Three-7 culminated at the end of the 1969 season with him winning the 1600cc class of the BRSCC Clubmen’s Championship.
LOOKING FOR A NEW CAR:
Selling the car to Peter Valdar, Tim was now looking for a new competitive racer. He confided in his friend Simon Taylor of Autosport who suggested that he write to Lotus. The result was positive as Lotus were looking for a project to promote Lotus Components, their production race car arm, and the 7X Clubmen’s car was born.
THE CLUBMEN’S RACE SERIES:
The BARC/BRSCC Clubmen’s Race Series for 1970 was to be contested over 12 rounds and there were to be two classes. The cars competing in these national championships included small makes such as Rod Mansfield’s Dino, Ian Bracey’s Ibec, Sid Marler’s 1600 Ellova, Noel Stanbury’s 1000cc Gryfon, Rob Cochran’s Bladon, Clive Santo’s Haggis and Keith Howe’s Centaur as well as a number of Mallock U2s and Lotus 7s including the previous years winning Lotus Three-7.
THE LOTUS 7X:
Designed by Mike Pilbeam (now of hill climb fame) who was then working at Lotus, the 7X bore little resemblance to any of the previous Seven models. Made of square and round tubing with stressed aluminium panels, the car featured independent suspension all round with double wishbones, Triumph Spitfire uprights and a roll bar to the front and an Elan differential driving the wheels via double jointed drive shafts to the rear. On each side, the rear suspension utilised a top link, bottom wishbone and a radius rod with a Lotus 61 Formula Ford upright. There were disc brakes to all wheels with 8 inch wide front and 10 inch rear rims shod with Firestone YB11 rubber. Aluminium was used for the body and the front wrap-round cycle wings. The 1600cc crossflow Ford engine tuned by Holbay produced about 140bhp and was mated to a close ratio Elan gearbox.
A WIN RIGHT FROM THE START:
The building of the car was completed at Lotus’ Hethel factory on Christmas Day 1969, only just in time for the race meeting at Mallory on Sunday 28th December; the Brands Hatch Boxing Day event being cancelled that year. Despite no previous track time and therefore no time to set the car up properly, Tim had a convincing win in the opening 10 lap race, coming home some 35 seconds ahead of Jeremy Lord in his Mallock U2 Mk 8. Later, on January 25th. at Brands Hatch on just their second outing further laurels were gained making the score two wins from the first two races. However as the season and the championship itself progressed Tim and the 7X weren’t to have it all their own way by any means as competition from the likes of Ray Mallock in his U2 Mk 8b and Rod Mansfield in his Dino 6 was stiff.
By the end of the season, after all the rounds, Tim and the 7X had produced 13 victories 4 second places and a third and the final results table looked thus:
1970 Clubmans Championship sponsored by Gregor Grant.
Final Point Positions
1001cc – 1600cc.
Driver and Car
Tim Gross (Lotus 7X Ford)
Ray Mallock (U2 Mk 8b Ford)
Rod Mansfield (Dino 6 Ford)
John Wingfield (U2 Mk 8 Ford)
Ian Craddock (U2 Mk 8 Ford)
Jeremy Lord (Dino 6 Ford)
During the season Tim and the 7X took lap records at no less than five race circuits:-
Brands Hatch Club - 52.6secs 84.87mph (1.24 miles), Castle Combe - 1min 07.6secs 97.99mph (1.84 miles), Mallory Park Full - 50.2secs 96.81mph (1.35 miles), Oulton Park - 1min 45.6secs 94.13mph (2.76 miles) and Rufforth - 1min 18.2secs 78.26mph (1.70 miles).
The lap time at Castle Combe was just 0.2secs outside Carlos Pace’s Formula Three record of the day.
THE ST BRUNO ROUGHCUTTER:
During the season the car was looked after by Team Lotus mechanic John Robinson who later worked in Formula One for the company. Much of the hours that John spent on the car were unpaid and Tim made some of this up by splitting any prize money won 50/50 with him. At the end of the year Tim had the chance of buying the car from Lotus at a favourable figure which he did and then sold it on to Barry Foley, the “Catchpole” cartoonist, at a profit. Barry, who had been runner-up to Barry Flegg in the smaller under one litre Clubmans Class that year went on to campaign the 7X with sponsorship from St Bruno, the pipe tobacco company, calling the car “The St. Bruno Roughcutter”.
Tim went on to race in Formula Three in an uncompetitive car and also raced Minis for many years. The car has been with a Lotus collector in the UK since the late 1970s.
Sources and further reading:
Lotus Seven by Jeremy Coulter (1986/1995)
Autosport & Motorsport (1970)
I am very grateful for Tim Goss’ generous help in compiling this article. John Watson, January 2006.