A Shell 4000 Triumph TR4 Works Rally Car

This past week I was quite pleased to get a message from Ed Homsey who participated in the 1964 Shell 4000 Rally as the navigator in one of the three Triumph Works Team TR4 cars that were entered.  Ed also sent along some contemporaneous pictures of the car both before and after the rally.  I was pleased that some of these pictures were in color rather than the more commonly seen black & white pictures of that era.

Triumph Shell 4000 finish Montreal 1964

The Triumph TR4 Rally Car In Montreal After The Shell 4000 In 1964

I mentioned to Ed in a message that the TR4 looked “tired” after the event.  He said that he and his driver, Gordon Jennings, had decided to leave the dirt on the car as they had hard-earned that dirt during the course of the rally and felt that it deserved to be there.  There is no doubt that this was a challenging event which left a lot of well-know drivers, including some top European rally drivers, finishing well down the field or not finishing at all.

Triump Shell 4000 finish Montreal 1964 (2)

In Montreal At The Conclusion Of The Shell 4000 in 1964

The Triumph TR4 Team won the GT Team Prize in the 1964 Shell 4000 rally. While Ed Homsey was the navigator of Car #131, the driver was Gordon Jennings who was writer for Car & Driver magazine.  Later Jennings would be with Cycle magazine.  In Graham Robson’s book, “Works Triumphs In Detail“, Gordon Jennings is portrayed as an inept rally driver, but Ed Homsey says that Jennings was a passable driver from California who simply lacked experience on snow & ice-covered roads.

Triumph Ed at back of his and Gordon's TR-4 in garage in Vancouver

Ed Homsey With The Triumph Before The Shell 4000 In Vancouver

The final preparations for the Shell 4000 were done in Vancouver.  One major change to these cars was that the steering was changed from right-hand drive to left-hand drive for the North American rally.

Triumph TR4 Shell 4000 1964

Note That The Cars Were Fitted With Halda Speedpilots For The Navigator

The initial preparation of the Triumph TR4 cars for the Shell 4000 Rally was done by Kas Kasner, Triumph USA’s Competitions Manager, at his workshop in Los Angeles.  During the 1964 Shell 4000 rally he also drove the Standard-Triumph service vehicle behind the cars from Vancouver to Montreal accompanied by Graham Robson.

Triumph Robson Kasner

Standard-Triumph Team Manager, Graham Robson, And Triumph USA’s Kas Kasner With Their 1964 Shell 4000 Chase/Service Vehicle

Standard-Triumph entered three TR4 cars in the 1964 Shell 4000 rally.  Their prime team was Jean-Jacques Thuner with Roy Fidler as the navigator.  While this was the fastest of the TR4 cars, they found the timing and navigation much more challenging than they were used to in England and in Europe, as a result, road penalties caused them to finish last among the three team cars.   No doubt that Gordon Jennings was selected as a driver of one car to hopefully get some post-event publicity as he was a writer for “Car & Driver”.  Ed Tomsey, as an expert North American navigator was likely selected to look after Jennings, who had little rally experience.  The third team car was driven by Bert Rasmussen who was a technician employed at the Toronto headquarters of Standard-Triumph (Canada) and who was an experienced local rallyist, eventually finishing highest among the Triumph TR4 works cars.

Triumph Cars Shell 4000 1964

The Three Triumph Works Cars With Oregon State Registration

The car that Jennings/Homsey drove in the 1964 Shell 4000 rally first began to be rallied in 1962.  The 1964 Shell 4000 rally was the last event for this car as part of the Standard-Triumph team.  The car was sold in the USA after the Shell 4000 rally, but I understand that the car is now back in England and converted back to its original right-hand drive.

Triumph TR4 RAC Rally 1962

The Same Triumph TR4 During The RAC In 1962

The original Triumph TR4 registered as 6VC was in a wreck and written off during the 1963 Alpine Rally.  Mike Sutcliffe who was the driver was OK, but his co-driver Roy Fidler was badly injured, but soon recovered.  Back at Triumph, a new 6VC was created from a new TR4 using many parts from the original 6VC.

Triumph TR4 6VC Wreck

 

The Original Triumph TR4 6VC Was Written Off After The Bad Accident

Ed Homsey also sent me a copy of the letter that he sent to Neil Revington in which he describes some portions of the Shell 4000 rally.  It is great reading and with Ed’s permission I have attached it to this post.  Click on the attached file to read the tale.

Personal account of segments Shell 4000 1964

It is very enjoyable to hear about this rally from someone who actually competed in it.  For more information on the Triumph TR4 Works Team cars read Graham Robson’s books “The Works Triumphs” and “Works Triumphs In Detail”.

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2 Responses to A Shell 4000 Triumph TR4 Works Rally Car

  1. edhomsey1930 says:

    I am just a bit troubled by the notion that I thought of Gordon Jennings as a “passable” rally driver. Though spending 6 long days cooped up together in the small cockpit of a TR-4 left us a bit cranky withj each other, I never thought of Gordon as anything other than an outstanding driver. The manner in which he handled that first special stage through the Cascades was sufficient evidence that I was in safe and competent hands. His driving on subsequent special stages, and other difficult sections of the rally, reinforced my confidence in him. Gordon’s problems with the icy/snowy/rutted road northwest of Calgary did not diminish that confidence.

    My thanks to Steve for this Shell 4000 post, and to those who still find it of interest.

    • Hi Ed,
      I value your comment highly. You sat with him – I did not. Perhaps I did chose an incorrect adjective and I will defer to you on this matter. I am reluctant to change what I’ve posted as I would rather take responsibility (slings and arrows) for what I did write. My intent in using the word “passable” was that I interpreted the overall image that Gordon Jennings was certainly worthy of driving in an event like the Shell 4000. I did not mean the word in a derogatory sense.
      Thanks for providing all of the information about this event!
      Steve McKelvie

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