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November 19, 2019
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BMC Competitions Department Secrets

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BMC Competitions Department Secrets
Back in stock 2nd November 2016

By Marcus Chambers, Peter Browning, Stuart Turner
About the Author

V4994 • 25x20.7cm • 192 pages

ISBN: 978-1-845849-94-8

£ 24.99 Postage + P&P (eBook prices vary, and delivery is free)

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• Be prepared! - much of this is sensational
• The truth behind the Mini's Monte Carlo disqualification in 1966
• Never before published photos and internal memos and documents
• An insight to the politics of BMC and its movers and shakers
• Details of planned prototypes


For the London to Sydney Marathon, team instructions included the recommendation that a firearm be carried by the crew of each car ... "A small pistol which can conveniently be located under cover in the car is what we have in mind" ...


The revealing and surprising inside story of the legendary BMC Works Competitions Department told by the three Competition Managers of the highly successful BMC/British Leyland race and rally teams based at Abingdon. The book reveals the inner workings and machinations of one of the most successful motor sport teams Britain has ever seen. Based on previously unpublished internal memos and documents, and the recollections of the prime movers, the book describes the ups and downs, and the politics of big time competition in an exciting era. An excellent and entertaining read and an important factual documentation, no motor sport enthusiast should be without this book.

Independent Reviews

A reprint, perhaps, but this softback contains lots of materials for those interested in what rallying (and some racing) was like in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Motor Sport

This freshly-reprinted, warts-and-all reproduction of official documents provides a fascinating insight into the policies and politics from 1955 to 1970, when the doors of the department sadly closed for good.
Motoring Classics

This is both a fine historical reference and an entertaining book.
Kieron Fennelly

…this was a ‘must have’ book eleven years ago and if you missed it then, it remains a great purchase in reprinted soft-back form.
Old Stager

…an informative and interesting view of what went on behind the scenes ... It is worth the read, and a different take on how to describe the rallying world and teams.

If you are into British rallying in the ’50s and ’60s, you may want to give this book a look.

The more you read this book the better it gets.
Dove Publishing

Reviews for the previous edition

From Australian Classic Car, July 2006

The book is laden with hundreds of contemporary photos but reading the inter-departmental memos and letters are even more revealing, especially the minutes of Departmental meetings. The lists of instructions to teams competing in the rallies of the day, even detailing their accommodation, are also intriguing.

This book will fascinate anyone interested in the halcyon days of the BMC Competitions Department.

Review from British Car Mechanic, July 2006

'BMC Competitions Department Secrets' is a very descriptive title of a book written by the three men who knew what was involved to obtain the memorable successes that such a small department at Abingdon achieved in Motorsport, even beyond Europe. Philip Young well deserves the credit for pulling together the very interesting documentary evidence that makes this book such a compulsive read. The three managers describe their involvement, satisfaction and frustrations in less than one third of the book whilst the remainder comprises letters, internal memoranda and particularly interesting and previously unseen photographs.

Stuart writes an excellent resume' of his period, the 'Middle Years' as he calls them, from 1961 to 1967. He recounts how he drafted the agenda for the annual Competitions Committee meetings and then had discussions with fellow members John Cooper, Donald Healey and John Thornley to ensure they were on his side when facing Chairman George Harriman and Alec Issigonis. He then wrote up the minutes over John Thornley's name and was left to get on with the decisions. His development of comprehensive pace notes is probably one of the most important actions taken during his period, alongside getting Board level agreement to use Scandinavian drivers brought up amongst roads covered in snow and ice for long periods. Unlike an engineering mind Stuart claims "Pace notes are like sheds in that they should be cleared out every so often, otherwise they become unnecessarily complicated".

Review by Baird Foster for the Austin Healey Club of America, April 2006

Secrets! Here's your opportunity to go behind the scenes with the former managers of the British Motor Corporation (BMC Competitions Department to learn extraordinary and surprising facts, exploits, policies and politics, all documented with some information and photos never before published.

For the true enthusiast who is interested in the Austin Healey's historic role in the success of the BMC Competitions department, and who wants to learn more about other BMC competition machines and the team effort behind them, this book is a must read.

From Motor Sport magazine, December 2005

This is a fun read, detailing the underbelly of BMC's competition department. Written by a triumvirate of former managers, it gives an insight into how they functioned within - and despite - BMC and Leyland. Including many never seen before documents, it paints a refreshingly honest picture. It's especially interesting to learn how much the drivers were paid and the terms of their contracts: some of them really couldn't negotiate.

The images are wonderful, too. We particularly liked the one of Nancy Mitchell door-handling an MG Magnette saloon. Entered in the 1956 Tulip Rally, her event was over before it started after a scrutineer ran a magnet over the, ahem, standard car and discovered the body panels were made of aluminum. Excellent stuff.

Review from Classic Car Mart, January 2006

For fans of the various individual BMC marques and followers of the Corporation's political ups and downs over the years, this latest volume from Veloce is an absolute must. Within its 192 pages can be found some of the best stories, some of the most fascinating facts and some of the most intriguing images we have seen in recent times. And that's no exaggeration.

This is the inside story of a legendary works Competition Department told by the three competition managers of the highly successful BMC/British Leyland race and rally teams, based at Abingdon. The book reveals the inner workings of one of the most successful motor sport teams Britain has ever seen, and makes full use of previously unpublished internal factory memos, photographs, documents and the recollections of the prime movers of the time. It describes the ups and downs, highs and lows, and the politics of big-time competition.

Chambers, Turner and Browning each took their turn as managers of the BMC/British Leyland Competition Department between 1955 and 1970, and between them accumulated a vast collection of archives and memories. And they can all be found here.

At almost £25, this book isn't cheap. But never before has such a complete and fascinating version of the BMC Competitions Department story been told. It's a story of human endeavour, engineering ingenuity and political upheaval. And we can't recommend it too highly.

From Mini Cooper Register, December 2005

This book retells many of the familiar stories, but where it differs from previous books on the Department is that the original documents of the period are reprinted in full.

For the serious student of all things Classic Mini this will be a valuable addition to your sources of information. The Department's three Competitions Managers, Marcus Chambers, Stuart Turner and Peter Browning tell it like it was; fascinating stuff!

Review by Basil Wales

The book is a mine of new information and a 'must' for every BMC enthusiast's Christmas list. A few owners of cars bearing ex-works registration numbers were known to be concerned that too much technical detail of necessary marketing and 'carnet' changes might come to light in this 'book of revelations' but I think they can rest their consciences for a while longer. As more claims are made over allegedly 'original' cars, the few who really know are concerned to see that subtle changes keep being made between presentations in a vain attempt to try to authenticate a hybrid that has metamorphosed from a genuine sump-guard, chassis plate or similar scrap part ! The enthusiasm for this Classic era of British Motorsport will only be increased by this unique publication.

Basil Wales knows the three authors well, having done a Liege-Rome-Liege Rally with Marcus Chambers whilst still an apprentice in 1956, worked under Stuart when appointed as Special Tuning Manager in 1964, and then continued alongside Peter Browning after Stuart left. When Comps was closed Basil inherited a number of competition responsibilities until the department was reformed as Leyland ST in 1973 when Basil left to join Unipart.

From MG Drivers Club

This is the revealing and surprising inside story of the legendary BMC Works Competitions Department as told by three Competitions Managers of the highly successful BMC/BL race and rally teams based at Abingdon.

Their book reveals the inner workings and machination of one of the most successful motorsports teams Britain has ever seen. Based on previously unpublished internal memos and documents and the recollections of the prime movers, the book describes the ups and downs, and the behind the scene politics of big time competition in what some call the most exciting era of British motorsport.

Each of the author begins his section of the book with a personal history of his time with the Comps Department.

Following the pages of personal reminiscences are reproductions of internal company documents and photos (some never before published). The real treasure trove of information for the enthusiast ''BMC Competitions Department Secrets'' is an excellent and entertaining read and an important factual documentation. No MG and British motor sport enthusiast should be without this 192 page book.


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