top of page

Duncan's latest report from his racing exploits in the USA

One of our members bought a Unipower GT a few years ago now, that had been converted from a road version for competition many years ago soon after it purchase from new in Spain. Being LHD on track typically does not cause any problems, although the gearchange is on the left hand side of the LHD drivers seat. Duncan has replicated and re-installed the standard LHD gearchange on the drivers door sill, as a previous owner had installed a centrally located cable operated gearchange.

Chassis 367.13 was built in early 1967 and fitted with a 1275cc Cooper 'S' engine (currently now fitted with a 1293cc Cooper 'S' engine) and sold by the Spanish agents in Madrid. Never really used as a road-car (although it is still fully road registered and legal), one of its early owners raced the car in the 1968 Six hours of Barcelona at the Montjuich circuit (see photo below) but failed to finish. Its next owner, a Spanish politician hill-climbed the car in numerous events before selling it on to its next owner in Sweden from whom Duncan acquired the car.

Some of Duncan's race exploits have previously been featured in the Club's Blog pages and the following is the latest from Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia over the 19th-21st May this year.

I'd spent many hours attending to weaknesses found during the previous race weekend, which had ended early due to failure of the newly installed crankshaft pulley. I removed the engine and gearbox, resealed everything, replaced the clutch, which, although fairly new, had begun to slip at high rpm in top gear. I added an oil-to-water heat exchanger and fabricated an air scoop to channel under-chassis air to the oil cooler in order to deal with very high oil temperatures.

The starter motor failed on the first day but thankfully there were several Mini racers parked nearby in the paddock who generously offered to lend me a spare, which got me through the weekend. The oil leakage, which had occurred at high load and high rpm, had not been completely resolved, so I attached absorbent pads below the left side of the engine to prevent dropping oil on the track. An experienced Mini competitor suggested that the standard oil filter mount was probably flexing at high rpm, but this repair would have to wait.

My race sessions on this 2-mile, 10-turn track included primarily sedans and sports cars under 1300cc but also Formula Juniors and Sports Racers, with as many as 32 competitors on the track at one time. Finishing order determined grid placement in the subsequent race. Unipower GT #13 competed well with several Spitfires and Spridgets as well as a fast Turner Mk2 and an Alfa 1300 GTA Jr, moving from a 6th place finish in F Production class (19th overall) in Race 1 to third in class (5th overall) in Race 2. I didn't do as well in Race 3, having gone off course under pressure from a very fast Mini, dropping to 5th in class (15th overall), however in the final race, a small-bore sprint (up to 2500cc), I finished first in class (with the clutch beginning to slip again, limiting acceleration and top speed in 4th gear) and 10th overall behind a pair of MGBs, three Mazda MX5s, two sports racers, a TR3 and a Datsun 240Z but ahead of 11 other cars on track, including Spridgets, MGAs and MGBs, the Turner, a Vitesse Sports Racer and a lone Porsche 356.

Overall I was quite pleased with how the car performed, and I gained a 3 second improvement in my best lap time compared to the last time I had raced at this track. Since that race I've made a few changes that should resolve the oil leak and slipping clutch.

Duncan Charlton

62 views1 comment

1 Comment

Kelly Wittenauer
Kelly Wittenauer
Aug 23, 2023

Congrats, Duncan! Sounds like a successful outing. Hope we'll see you & your Unipower at the Can-Am Mini Challenge at Hallett in October 2024.

bottom of page