Vic Elford

Birthday : 1935-06-10

Biography Vic Elford

Vic Elford was born in London . His first real memories evoke nothing but the horror of World War II , when the family had to evacuated to get away as far as possible from the bombing.  Incidentally, the family ended up in a town close to what would later become the Brands Hatch race track. While his father was serving in the RAF and his mother ran a small cafe in London, Vic and his younger brother were looked after by family friends. After the war, his parents continued to run the tiny cafe. Regular visitors were truck drivers taking away debris from the war. Vic Elford liked to talk with these guys. Some of them took him for a ride in a truck.  One of them took Vic on his lap, and allowed him to take the wheel. And as soon as his feet reached far enough to touch the pedals, Vic drove the truck himself. 

1960 Liege – Rome – Liege – Vic Elford – Austin Healy

In the meantime, Vic attended school and had a talent for maths. Vic Elford’s passion for motorsport was born when his father took the young Vic to the 1949 British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Sitting in the grand stand,  Vic felt his  heart leaping. He immediately knew that was exactly what he wanted to do : driving race cars. At the age of 18 he enrolled in Westminster Technical College to start engineering studies, simultaneously with a job. Elfords father bought a car, and Vic started to learn himself heel-and-toe shifting. By the time Elford had take his practical exams, he mastered the technicque that good that he even did it during his exams. 

Rally of the Acropolis – Vic Elford – Mini 850

First steps in motorsports

When a good friend of Elford bought a MG sportscar, and started ralllying, Vic Elford became his navigator and continued doing so, with different drivers, for a few years. In 1960 Vic is team-member at the Monte-Carlo Rallye. The car expires even before Vic could take the wheel. The team rents a car to drive to Monte-Carlo for the finish, and Vic does the driving through the snow-covered mountains.  Elford as a navigator and his driver David-Seigle Morris got a works car of the BMC factory team to compete in several international rallies.

Later Elford changes seats and starts driving himself in rallies and manages to win some in his first active year. When his usual navigator resigns for a race, Vic Elford meets David Stone. And that’s where a succes story starts. The duo raised the knowledge of pace notes to describe turns and surface conditions to the level of fine art. Combined with Elford’s driving skills, that’s the way to succes.

His first experiences with Porsche

At the 1966 Coupe des Alpes, Vic Elford is brave enough to ask for a meeting with Huschke  von Hanstein,  race director at Porsche, to ask for a seat in a Porsche 911.   The factory lent a Porsche 911 to Elford and Stone for the Tour de Corse, but all expenses had to be taken for their own account. To their own surprise, they finish 3rd overall.  Succesful enough for Porsche to start a rallye program, even though that was on a rallye-by-rallye basis.  In 1967 Vic Elford drives his first Targa Florio in a Porsche 910 with Jochen Neerpasch, finishing 3rd. At the Nurburgring 1000km , a same result was put down. Teaming up with Ben Pon in a Porsche 906 Carrera 6 at the Le Mans 24H results in a 7th place overall. In the special version of the Porsche 911R, equipped with a Sportomatich, Elford, Neerpash and Hans Herrmann win the 1967 Marathon de la Route.

1967 Marathon de la Route

1968 would even surpass 1967, that was fantastic for Vic Elfords . Together with David Stone, Elford wins the Rallye of Monte-Carlo. Just a week later, Elford wins the Daytona 24H in a Porsche 907, together with Rolf Stommelen, Hans Herrmann and Jo Siffert. The succes continues when Elford, teamed up with Umberto Maglioli, takes checkered flag at tha Targa Florio after loosing over 15 minutes in the first laps.  In a Porsche 908, Elford wins the Nurburgring 1000kms, sharing the wheel with Jo Siffert. In 1968 Vic Elford competes in his first F1 race too, at Rouen in France, in a Cooper Grand Prix and finished the race 4th.

1967 Rally Monte Carlo – Vic Elford – David Stone

1969 didn’t start too well for Vic Elford. First he crashes his Porsche 911 at the Rally of Monte-Carlo. At Daytona he teams up with Brian Redman, but the car brakes down with camshaft failures and they don’t finish the race. 

Elford and the Porsche 917

Vic Elford saw the presentation of the Porsche 917 at the 1969 Salon d’Automobile in Geneva. Together with Siffert, Elford was one of the first men to drive a Porsche 917 at the track. Both felt the car was too unstable at the time. The next time Elford raced a 917 was that same year at Le Mans, with Richard Attwood. All went well, until about 3 hours before the finish : a burnt clutch made the dream of winning le Mans disappear.

1968 Brands Hatch – Vic Elford – Jochen Neerpash – Porsche 907-(C) Ted Walker

Porsche Salszburg

For the 1970 season, Porsche Salzburg hired Kurt Ahrens and Vic Elford for the Daytona 24H but a tyre puncture made them retire from the race. By that time, John Horsman had found the  solution to improve the handling of the Porsche 917, that finally led to the Porsche 917K. At the sebring 12H, Elford collided with another car and retires from the race too. The Targa Florio where Elford had a huge succes some 2 years before, he retires in a Porsche 908/3 after hitting a rock. In a Porsche 917, Elford and Ahrens end the Spa 1000km in 3rd position. At the 1970 Le Mans 24H, Elford quits the race with engin problems. Team mates Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood take checkered flag and bring the 1st overall Le Mans Victory to Stuttgart.

1971 Sebring – Vic Elford Porsche 917

Martini Racing Team

In 1971 Elford drives a Porsche 917 for the Martini Racing team that replaces Porsche Salzburg. At Daytona Elford teams up with Gijs van Lennep and spins of the road on the banking. The car is totaled and as a result just 1 Martini Racing Team car takes part at the Sebring 12H. Teaming with Gerard Larousse, Elford wins the race.  In a Martini Porshe908/3, Elford wins the Nurburgring 1000km that year too.  At the 1971 Le Mans 24H , Elford drives a Porsche 917 for the last time. The race was no succes for Elford. More luck for the other Martini Porsche 917,  with Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep, that won the race.

Later Elford gave it a try in Nascar Racing, and as a factory racer for Alfa Romeo. His heydays however were definitely with Porsche. In 1974,  Vic Elfords races his last race at Le Mans. He teams up with Robert Buchet and Claude Ballot-Lena in a Porsche 911 RSR but they don’t make it to the finish.

“Quick Vic” nowadays lives in South Florida, United States. On 25 January 2015, Vic Elford received the 2015 Phil Hill Award from Road Racing Drivers Club. It was presented to him by club president Bobby Rahal.

Pictures courtesy Ted Walker Archives, Louis Galanos and unknown.