09 Jul R.I.P. CLARRY TAYLOR
Clarry Taylor, who passed away this week at the age of 82, was one of the unsung heroes of Killarney, a man who, rather than achieving lasting fame for himself, was content to help others achieve it – notably Willie Meissner and Denis Joubert.
His racing career started in the late 1950s with a home-made special called the Taylorette and over the next 36 years Clarry raced in single-seaters, tintops and sports cars – especially GSM Darts and Flamingos.
Clarry and Denis Joubert were endurance racing partners for a number of years. They won the 1965 Cape Three-Hour endurance race at Killarney in Denis’ Dart, finished fifth the following year behind David Piper and Dickie Attwood’s Ferrari 365 P2/P3, Roy Pierpoint and Doug Serrurier in a Lola coupé, and Ben Pons and Gijs van Lennep in a Porsche 906.
They finished eighth in the 1967 Cape Three-Hour, which was won by Piper’s Ferrari from Paul Hawkins’ thundering Chev V8-powered Lola T70. Two years later Clarry and Denis took a hard fought win against a top-class field in the Pietermaritzburg Six-Hour at the iconic Roy Hesketh circuit in Denis’ Chevron B8.
Clarry later went on to race ‘Cinderella’, an indecently quick Ford Escort with a 1,300cc engine almost entirely hand-built by Willie Meissner, based on a bored-out 109E block (which made it legal for national Saloon Car racing).
X134 could rev to a screaming 9,000rpm and beyond, but Clarry made a practice of changing at 8200rpm and later proudly noted that in all the years the car was raced the engine never let go.
Despite some creditable Class X results in the Escort, however, Clarry never achieved the stature of Team Meissner team-mate Peter Gough in the outwardly similar two-litre Y151 Escort, and in later years he was content to have it so.
After the demise of the SA Saloon Car championship, Clarry raced, among other things, a Datsun 1600 SSS in the regional production car series, with support from the manager of a local Datsun dealership, one Adrian Pheiffer, a Mazda Capella under the Pat Coles Racing banner and even an RX-7, with support from Eddie Roux Motors.
His first love, however, always remained the GSM Darts and Flamingos; he was a life member of the GSM Club, incredibly knowledgeable on the marque and always ready to help members restore their cars.
He will be sorely missed at Killarney by all who remember the Team Meissner Escorts and, especially, by those with a soft spot for Darts. Our thoughts are with his wife Madge, daughter Cheryl, sons Adrian and Jeffrey, and his extended family at the GSM Club.