Here comes Homewood
   
    Here comes Homewood
John Homewood: "The reason the car had 'Here comes' and 'There goes' on was because my Dad ran a haulage firm for livestock
and that was on all the lorries."
 

The Imp Site

John Homewood ('48) - Impmeister

John Homewood was the man to beat at Brands Hatch in the mid 70's in the class up-to-1000cc. Brands Hatch ran the Kent Messenger 1000cc championship from 1972-76. The Imps of John Homewood and Ray Calcutt were fairly dominant in those years. Homewood and Calcutt had been sponsored in 73/74 by Kent Messenger (the local Kent newspaper).

He came to racing from Rallycross in 1971. By 1976 the 1-litre Special Saloon competitors were used to chasing him. His success was such that in '76 the Kent Messenger championship series introduced a regulation banning all past champions (i.e. Homewood).

He owns a farm in Kent and raced purely for pleasure.

From: John Homewood
Date: Mon, 23 & Thu, 26 & Sun. 29 Apr 2012, also 8 May 2012

Have been looking through some old copies of Autosport and Motoring News and pulling out some interesting bits and pieces.
Also have some old photos of the Fraser cars, as I used to cut them out and put on my bedroom wall, long before I started racing. I recall they used to run a 1001cc Imp in the 1001 to 1300cc races, driven by Tony Lanfranchi.
All my racing etc has always been in an Imp.
I first started in Autocross in 1967 using my standard road-going Californian with dirt tyres on it.
It was my road car, bought new in 1967 for £465. Once it had done 500 miles for its first service, I sprayed it bright yellow and did a few autocrosses with it. The reason for the yellow was because when I went to watch racing, all the cars were common colours, so I picked one that at that time nobody else had.
After I had built the off-road autocross car, I sprayed my Californian back to its original colour and sold it to one of my friends.
For 1968 I built an Imp with a roll-cage. It had a bored out engine (60thou) and one single Weber carb - not very quick, but it still managed to beat cars with proper engines. I used to run a 1 inch thick rear anti-rollbar, because I didn't have a limited slip differential (LSD).
Then I bought a Hartwell tuned engine with an R20 cam in it and got a 4-speed gearbox with an LSD in it, which enabled me to get rid of the rear anti-rollbar. In that, my first season with a proper car, I used to be able to win my class most weekends and even get a couple of FTDs. Also, I won the Kent and Sussex Courier Championship against known rallycross drivers.
FTD = Fastest Time of the Day (overall classes in autocross)
I wanted a gearbox with a LSD in it, so that I got drive on both rear wheels (or one, if the car had one rear wheel off the ground). I just took a normal gearbox up to Jack Knight's and they fitted the box with a straight cut gear set and the LSD. Once that gearbox was fitted, there was no need for the rear anti-roll bar, because it was only fitted in a vain attempt to try and keep both rear wheels on the ground. That didn't really work, but must have made some difference, I suppose.
Did Rallycross at the end of the Autocross season that same year.
My farm is situated between Brands and Lydden at Charing Nr Ashford Kent.
The drive is only about 500 yards long, and not level enough to run the race car on. But it had plenty of fields to play with the auto/rallycross car
I kept a scrapbook for a while (when autocrossing), but then it went by the wayside.
I used to do the televised Rallycross at Lydden and Cadwell Park. Lydden was on the BBC and Cadwell on ITV.
You may well know that Peter Harper won the first televised series in an Imp 998cc, which was in fact a converted Fraser Imp - and that was an unoffical works car.
Peter built a 1220cc Imp with a special gearbox (because the standard one used to strip the differential at the starts). When his new car was built, I was offered the 998cc car for a small amount of money - and if I didn't purchase it, the car would have gone out to Tenerife, where all the old Fraser cars went. Needless to say I bought that car, even though I had my own, which had a Hartwell engine. The Harper car had one of the special Heron heads on it.
If ever Harper couldn't drive his car, it was sent to the meetings and I was told I had to drive it, which I did.
Ian Carter built Harper's 1220 engine, as he did my 998cc engine. After I bought Harper's old 1 litre car (I paid £1500 for his old car), and ran that in rallycross. Harper meanwhile played with his bigger engined car, which he made into a mid-engined car with a Hewland gearbox, to overcome his diff problem.
I don't know what happened to that car. It went to Teneriffe, I expect.
The Heron head (or deep head) was built by Fraser, and as far as I know only 6 exist. At one time I had 3 and knew where the others were, but have no idea where they are now. David Hall had one on his 1212cc engine.
The head itself, when you look at it, is higher on the inlet exhaust side of it, so the head wasn't as slanted as the standard one. This allowed a semi-down draught effect, as the inlet manifold was higher up the head and the exhaust lower. But it had a problem in that it was very limited to 9000rpm, or 9500 if used for a short burst, whereas the standard head could go up to 11,000 rpm with little problem.
Found out why I called the special head a Heron head: it's because it is mentioned in a book called 'Tuning Imps' by Willie Griffiths. It's also referred to in the book written by Nick Brittain (who sometimes drove a Fraser Imp) as 'rarer than hens teeth'.
I did build all my own cars and some for other people. Also used to fit some cars with all the fibreglass panels that I had made for me. I didn't build the engines or the gearboxes, I am a farmer and never had a mechanic to help at all.
I helped build Imps for Mike Chapple, Roger Horne, Fred Hendy, Roger Skippen and did some work on a space framed Imp for Jon Worster, that had one of the plastic pig bodies on it.
Did the fibreglass panel conversion to Ray Calcutts car.
I started circuit racing with the rallycross car with secondhand tyres and different springs and disc brakes fitted to the front. At that time I used to race mainly at Lydden, because the gear ratios in the gearbox were OK for that circuit.
I built a complete new car for the start of the 1972 season with a 5 speed gearbox and a 4 speed as a spare or to use at Mallory Park, because you needed 1st for the hairpin and going from 1st to 2nd used to take too much time because 1st was where reverse used to be on the 5 speed box, but I managed to race at all the other circuits using the 5 speed box.
I only started being backed by the Kent Messenger paper, when Ray Callcutt had to take a break from racing for awhile. I was beating him all the time, anyway, and he only used to do the KM rounds in his car.
Can't remember when the KM thing started, but it was partway though the season. They weren't too happy with the contract they wanted me to sign, because I wanted a clause put in so that I could tell them to get stuffed if I wanted to.
I think Ray lost his road license for a while and in those days, one couldn't race unless one had a road license.
I think Ray only did a few races, because that was probably all the sponsorship paid for - whereas I used to race every weekend come what may.
I wasn't sponsored by anyone one before the KM, and wasn't really interested in being sponsored by them. But because they were running the Championship I took it on. Not that it made any difference to me. I did sign up for the Shell Sport Gold Star award scheme, whereby you got 10 for every win. Did OK one year, because I won 35 races, I think, so that came to a few quid.
That 1972 car changed over the years as and when I thought of different things to do to it. I held the lap record at every circuit I raced at, except Mondello Park, because the class was for up to 1300cc cars and David Hall's car held the record there.
All I used to do to my cars was things to lighten it - and I did move the rear shocker mount to further back on the suspension arm. Apart from that, it was tighten the shockers right up and play with the tyre pressures. I used to run quite low tyre pressures for track racing and fairly hard for auto and rallycross.
I never had the time during the week to test my cars. Which is more than likely why Rob Mason complained about the brakes on the plastic pig, because I set them roughly in my workshop and altered them a bit in practice for a race. They were discs all round and should have been OK, but I never had time to play with them.
I never had a space frame car. Mine were the steel bodies with panels added on it.
The Davrian-based Imp was designed by me with Adrian Evans on the back of a cigar packet in the cafe at Brands one day. The thing was that - although it was cut down, when fully built - it was not much lighter than the steel one with the panels on it.
Rawlsons of Dover made the fibreglass panels for me, which we sold to anyone who wanted to buy them, to help cover the cost of making the moulds in the first place.
I autocrossed and rallycrossed from 1968 till July 1971. I raced the Imp from that time till end of 1978. I stopped because it was becoming apparent that to carry on I would have to build a really lightweight car and didn't consider that it would be safe, especially as someone got killed at Thruxton driving such a car.

Brian Prebble raced regularly at Castle Combe, but also ventured east to Brands Hatch.
Homewood: "As for Prebble, I went down to his local track at Castle Combe and beat him. He thought he had it in the bag, because I hadn't been there before, but he was wrong. Found the review of that race - I finished some way ahead, although we both shared fastest lap that day." And for a while it was a close race, but then Homewood didn't bother looking in the mirror anymore.

Homewood did not often race outside of Kent.

John Homewood: "On the bit about that I only raced at Brands and Lydden - correct in part. But I did venture up to Snetterton in 1972, when it was the old long circuit and had the long rivet straight, I think they called it. After that I raced all over the place, even went over to Ireland in 1976. That dry summer meant that I had finished harvest early and with some help did the trip. Only went over to do the Pheniox Park event, but missed the ferry home, so flew home and went back the next weekend, and raced at Mondello."
"Held records at Brands short circuit and the GP circuit Oulton Park, Mallory Park, Donnington, Silverstone, Snetterton, Thruxton and Lydden. Some I don't think will ever be beaten, because the tracks have changed."

David Hall and John Homewood comissioned the first two Davrian Imps in '76. Homewood won many races at Brands Hatch. He sold it in 1978 (Kevan thinks to Simon Sable, a Brands Hatch FF1600 front runner). Rob Mason drove it in one race (after John sold it to Simon?) and said the brakes were terrible and he could not understand how John drove the car. (Kevan remembers Mason telling his dad about how bad the brakes were).
David Hall had the lap record at Brands Hatch (GP circuit) for the 1300cc class for a couple of years.
Hall brought his to Homewood's circa '80/81 (Kevan thinks earlier than this. He thinks '77/78 when John still had his car), and they sold the car for him to Vivan Candy who raced it for 2 years before selling it. Hall's had a 1212cc Carter engine and Hewland Box and was white; Homewood's was yellow originally. Hall's car still had flat 'sidepods' (for want of a better word!) when it left Ireland, but Homewood's (and most others,) seems to have gradually developed various bumps and curves to stop tyres wearing through.

John Homewood: "I did sell David Hall's car to some one who wanted to put a twincam Ford lump in it, but it was not sold with the 1212 engine, just the Hewland gearbox."

Kevan: "Davrian built an Imp for Homewood using Davrian floor pan and Imp body. Later Fred Hendy had a space frame car built with same body (similar to the body shape of a Richard Wallinger space frame) with 850 motor. I don't recall who built the chassis.
Homewood and Hendy shared the same sponsor Godfrey Hill Gearboxes. I'm sure Hendy was a garage mechanic and dealt with them."

John Homewood regularly drove one of the fastest Imps at Lydden in the 1970s. He had placed stickers on the top of the car's windscreen and rear window - 'Here comes Homewood' on the front and 'There goes Homewood' on the back. ;-) That car regularly beat many of the Minis, but it was always short of cc's. [source?]

In UK club racing the Imp variants became highly successful in the Under 1000cc Special Saloon category. Notable exponents of the Imp in racing include: Ian Forrest, Harry Simpson, Ricky Gauld (these 3 gents were in Scotland), John Homewood, Roger Nathan, Gerry Birrell, Ray Payne, Chris Barter (Hillclimbs only) and many others.

1967-1971

"My competition life began back in 1967, when I started doing Autocross and Rallycross events in my road-going Imp. Needless to say I wasn't very competitive. So when 1969 loomed upon me, I prepared a rallycross car and by the end of the season had several wins to my credit." [CCC, 1976]
"I bought that first Imp from well known rallycross competitor Peter Harper, and I remember him telling me not to worry about tyre pressures and things like that. "It's all psychological," he told me, "just stick the tyre pressures up to 40 psi," he said, "and go out and give it some stick". So I put the tyre pressures up to 40 and went out, and went straight off the track at the first bend! It seemed to work OK for him though." [CCC, 1976]
"I really learned to drive quickly with that car. I had to push it really hard to keep in the running. But I definitely think that this - and the previous rallycross experience - was really valuable.
I'd never go back to ralIycross now though, it's a muddy filthy job. Every week I'd carefully knock all the dents out. Then at the weekend, I'd go back and get it all smashed up again!" [CCC, 1976]

1971

"By July 1971 I'd had enough of rallycross and decided to go into circuit racing instead. Again I didn't have the best equipment for the job, as I was using an ex-rallycross Imp, but I used to go to the Saturday practices at Lydden and soon found myself within four seconds of the lap record - still on knobbly tyres!
I soon got hold of some slicks of course, and had shorter front springs fitted, but it took me ages to get that other four seconds off." [CCC, 1976]

 

"The thing with Des O'Dell came about when I was rallycrossing. He used to turn up at some of the meetings, and stay at the same hotels as I did, and used to give me some tips on how to strengthen up some parts on the Imp.
When I changed to circuit racing, he was at Brands one day. My car always cut out going round Paddock Bend. Anyway, he came down, and asked me why it was doing that. I told him that I didn't know. He looked at the engine and told me that 38DCOE Webers were no good for circuit work, and told me it needed 40DCOEs. To which I told him that I couldn't afford to buy them. Just like that. So he invited me up to the Competition Department and found me a pair of used carbs for the Imp, which were already jetted etc. When fitted, it cured the problem."
"Chrysler were not allowed to sponsor people, but whenever I wanted anything, I just used to go up and get it."
"When I wrote off my car, I rang Des and asked how much a new shell was without underseal, but just primered. It was £100 and I rented a van and went and picked it up, when it was ready. Then cut all the steel panels off and put my fibreglass ones on. So you could say that I was semi-works-backed."
"I won the Private Entrants cup one year and still have it, even though it was awarded yearly. Had to go up to a luncheon to pick it up and met a few Chrysler drivers of the past, but they were mainly rally drivers."
"I was never allowed to let on to anyone at the time, of the advantages I got by way of parts etc. I remember the bloke on the gate inspecting the paperwork I was always given to allow me to get out of the complex, saying one day 'I have never heard of you, but suppose I might do one day...', which I thought was amusing at the time..." [message Fri, 18 May 2012]

1972

"In fact I had a fair amount of success with that Imp in my first season's racing, and eventually ended up with six wins." [CCC, 1976]

7 wins in 1972 (says TEAC)

1973

21 wins in 1973

1974

18 wins in 1974

1975

30 (says TEAC) or 31 (says Coleman of CCC) wins in 1975.
Coleman: Racing mostly in the Imp, but also in John Pope's V8 Supersaloon and a Mexico celebrity race, he notched up 31 race wins in 1975.

John Homewood - Kent Messenger Imp 75

The Kent Messenger Imp of John Homewood about 1975, before it was written off.

 

Homewood Kent Messenger Imp accident
photo supplied by John Homewood
 
source: According to 'Siggy' it rolled into a ball at Paddock bend [JSHSnetters1.jpg]
Kevan McLurg says it was never written off - it was sold to Ireland in the end. Correspondence between Simon Dobier and John Homewood confirms that it was written of and destroyed.
So... was there another succesful Imp, likely with a specific name, too, that was sold to Ireland?
 
John Homewood - Kent Messenger Imp - accident
photo supplied by John Homewood
   
John Homewood - Kent Messenger Imp - accident
John Homewood - Kent Messenger Imp - accident

 

1976

    Homewood Imp in 1976
"After I got banned from the KM championship, I did the Hitachi Championship and won that in whatever year that was."

Gary Coleman of CCC writes in the April 1966 issue: "[...] until recently he was sponsored by the Kent Messenger"

 


Homewood Imp racing 1976 CCC
CCC 1976 Apr.
   
  
Homewood Imp March 1976
CCC 1976 Apr.
   
  
Homewood Imp March 1976
CCC 1976 Apr.
 
   
John Homewood
CCC 1976 Apr.
 

 

1977

John Homewood's Imp-bodied Davrian in the Mallory Park paddock, October 1977. Another view of John Homewood's Davrian-Imp at Mallory (sponsor: Godfrey Hill Gearboxes)

Shell advert in AutoSport 1977:
Why John Homewood has changed the body but not the Shell
Why John Homewood has changed the body but not the Shell
Kent Farmer John Homewood has been racing Imps since 1971.
He's won the Kent Messenger Championship four times, the ShellSPORT Gold Star Award for the most wins in a season, currently looks like winning the Hitachi Championship and has gained nearly 200 outright or class wins in all.
To keep in front, he had to continually modify his cars; you can see the latest version on the right.
What's never changed though, has been his choice of oil. Shell Super Multigrade. "The secret of modification", he says "is knowing when to leave well alone."

Autosport of January 5, 1978 states (p.46) that Homewood, at the Christmas Car Races of 1977, recorded his 70th win at Brands Hatch.

These two I found here: www.ingliston-circuit.co.uk/photos/Imps - go have a look !!!  
John Homewood's Imp-bodied Davrian in the Mallory Park paddock, October 1977
John Homewood's Imp-bodied Davrian in the Mallory Park paddock, October 1977
John Homewood's Davrian-Imp at Mallory
John Homewood's Davrian-Imp at Mallory
 
John Homewood: "Godfrey Hill Gearboxes was a local firm that came to me and asked about sponsorship and being an entrant, so I took it on. They never did my gearboxes, but did road going cars boxes. The guy that owned the company was interested in how the racing scene worked, plus he was a helping hand at times."
 

 

1978

    John Homewood - December 1978
Battle between Ginger Marshall and John Homewood - Homewood scored his 70th win here at Brands Hatch at the 1978 Christmas Races.
   

Christmas Cup Race for Special Saloons

author: Marcus Pye, in Autosport, 5 January 1979
Peter Baldwin's familiar Mini-Allen sat on pole position for the Christmas Cup special saloon car race with the quickest 1-litre machine. Ginger Marshall's Mini Countryman Imp alongside. Ginger was hoping that testing maladies had been sorted and was pleased to be a fraction quicker than John Homewood, whose Davrian-based Imp occupied the other front row berth. Homewood proved again that there is more traction available from the flatter outside starting position and duly made the best start to lead the other front row men, then Terry Harmer's Mini and the Imp of John Schneider into Paddock.

Marshall absolutely revelled in his inside line down the hill though and he catapulted past Homewood into Druids, immediately opening up a sizeable lead. Baldwin also took the Charing farmer before the lap was out, setting his sights firmly on the pristine blue Minivan having accomplished this feat.

Behind the top three the pack were beginning to sort themselves out with Harmer and Schneider holding off Steve Phillips's Escort and the slow-starting John Davies in the Transpeed Cooper 'S'. Marshall held on tenuously to his ever-decreasing cushion and slowed slightly on the 6th lap, allowing both Baldwin and Homewood through. With Harmer's car in the pits Schneider now held 4th, although he was rapidly being caught by Davies, who was really flying now, having forged past Phillips on the 4th circuit. John Worster was also going well, being sandwiched on the road by the Escorts of Phillips and Eddie Punt, his immaculate BDG-powered example having an 'off' day.

The leading 850cc car, the superb green Bevan-Imp of former Mini-campaigner Monty Guildford, was making good progress, George Bevan himself watching with interest from the pit lane. On lap 8 Baldwin and Homewood locked in combat, came across some backmarkers, John reading the situation beautiful1y and hurtling into the lead with a couple of seconds in hand over his adversary. This he held comfortably until the end, to record his 70th win at the Kent circuit!

A disgruntled Baldwin finished in the runner-up spot, still winning his class. Although he rather ungraciously, some thought, punted Homewood amidships on the slowing down lap. Marshall soldiered on to 3rd place, conserving his car, but still ahead of the impressive Davies who, much to his pit crew's delight, usurped Schneider on the final lap. Phillips Worster and Punt were next up, ahead of John Mowatt's amazing road-going BMW.

Christmas Cup for Special Saloons (10 laps)
- Overall:
1. John Homewood (1.0 Sunbeam Imp). 8m 52.5s. 81.37mph;
2. Peter Baldwin (1.3 Mini-Allen). 8m 53.8s;
3. Ginger Marshall (1.0 Mini Countryman-Imp). 8m 55.5s;
4. John Davies (1.3 TranSpeed 'S'). 9m 35.5s.
1300-25OOcc:
1. Steve Phillips (1.6 Ford Escort). 75.34mph;
2, Eddie Punt (2.0 Ford Escort BDG);
3. Jon Mowatt (2.0 BMW 2002 Tii). Fastest lap: Phillips, 55.9s. 77.51mph.
100l-13OOcc:
1. Baldwin, 81.17mph; 2. Davies; 3. Tim Swadkin (1.3 Ford Anglia BDA).
Fastest lap: Baldwin. 52s. 83.33mph.
851-1000cc:
1. Homewood; 2 Marshall; 3. John Schneider (1.0 Hillman Imp).
Fastest lap: Marshall, 51.9s. 83.49mph.
Up to 85Occ:
1. Monty Guildford (1.0 Bevan Imp): 70.53mph;
2. Steve Mole (BLMC Mini CM7), 9 laps.
Fastest lap: Guildford, 58.8s. 73.79mph.

March 1978 - John Homewood's Davrian-Imp leads Basil Dagge's Imp through Silverstone's Copse Corner.

"I think Rob Mason drove my car while I stilled owned it, because I remember him ringing me, to ask about how to set it up for the wet - which he was well pleased with, telling me that it drove like it was on rails.
He also called me a show-off, because at a wet race at Donnington, I was coming through the Chicane on opposite lock, facing the pits, lap after lap. Don't think he was amused with me for doing that. Told him that I was just having fun."

Simon Dobier (NZ, 'Siggy') sent me a message (15-Apr-2012). He wrote that

"[...] the Kent Messenger Imp was indeed written off and it's remains were buried in a hole and burnt with other rubbish on John's farm. When I visited John in 1978, upon hearing the story from him, I retrieved the only piece I could find left of it and brought it home to New Zealand, and it is now attached to the back of a framed picture of the car."

1980?

On the web is a forum where an entry list is given for the 1980/1981 Wendy Wools, which mentions John Homewood. But he says: "I finished with the Imp in 1978 so no I didn't do the Wendy Wools Championship."


Engine

"My engines are done by Ian Carter and have only caused trouble once, when a bearing ran dry and broke a rod. We never did find out why that happened, but it's very rare anything does go wrong.
The rods and crank are standard items Tuftrided, and Ian uses Hepolite pistons and Vandervell bearing shells. The main bearings are held by studs running from a stiffening plate, which also acts as a baffle for the 11 pint sump.
The real demon that makes it go is the Heron semi-downdraught head. The inlet ports are separate and inclined down at 35 degrees, and the twin 40 DCOE Weber carbs have an airbox matched to the length of the carb trumpets, so there is no loss of power. In fact the airbox (originally from the Avenger Tiger) actually gives an increase in mid range torque. The air intake is under the rear wheel arch." [CCC, 1976]
"The worst problem with the Imp engine is oil pressure. Ian solved this by running a high pressure pump off the five bearing cam and it runs at 75-80 psi normally, or 65 when it gets really hot. Oil surge has also been solved by modifying the pickup, so that, as long as there is a ½-inch of oil in the bottom of the sump, no air is taken in.
The clutch is sintered bronze and has only broken once in four years." [CCC, 1976]
"This engine will run to 10,000 revs, or so Ian assures me, but I usually change at 9,000 -or occasionally 9,500 if I'm really being pushed!
Maximum power is 119½-bhp (including running the water pump) and maximum torque is 188 lbs/ft at 7,500. The engine is very flexible throughout its range, so all the power can be used to best effect." [CCC, 1976]

Ignition system

"The ignition system is the Chrysler competition item, we have tried both Lumenition and Opus systems but found no appreciable increase in power." [CCC, 1976]

Gearbox

"I use a Jack Knight five speed gearbox, with first gear where reverse is on an ordinary Imp. So I made up a little separate lever for reverse and mounted it behind the proper lever. The LSD is Jack Knight as well.
I find the one set of gearbox ratios good enough for every circuit I've ever raced on, except for Mallory hairpin, which calls for a lower first." [CCC, 1976]

Parts that will last

"I tend to punish the car with my driving style. The only thing which doesn't get much use, is the braking system. Take Brands, I only brake twice round the club circuit: once for Paddock and once at Druids. The DS 11 pads on the front haven't been changed since 1972.
Tyres last pretty well. They're Firestones on Revolution wheels. The rear last for a season and a half and the fronts go on virtually forever." [CCC, 1976]

Handling

"I like the car to oversteer, in fact I hate understeer and if it does I just let the front tyres down until it stops, no messing around with suspension settings -it's never been necessary." [CCC, 1976]
"The suspension is still very much Imp, still with shortened springs. But there are also Spax adjustable shockers and a rear anti-roll bar." [CCC, 1976]

Management

Coleman, CCC: He does all his own preparation with the exception of the engine, about which he claims he knows very little, leaving that to Ian Carter in Buckinghamshire, who knows a great deal.

"I do all my own preparation now, and the body and suspension is surprisingly standard compared to some of the spaceframe jobs around. The car is still basically the same one that I started with.
But I used to find that Jeff Ward stormed past on the straights, and so I went in for some lightening. The whole front end is now in glassfibre, as are the rear wings and valence, and the roof and bootlid are also glass. All of the inside trim has been removed. The whole thing only weighs 10cwt now and I didn't have so much trouble with Jeff after doing that." [CCC, 1976]
"I'm a great believer in keeping the car basically Imp, I reckon if you're going to use a Ford engine in a saloon then it should be a Ford car." [CCC, 1976]
"The car really is reliable, the only spares I have are an engine and gearbox and a spare Varley battery." [CCC, 1976]
"If the car has run well at a meeting I don't even bother to take it off the trailer when I get home -it just sits there until next time." [CCC, 1976]
"Brands is my favourite circuit now. It used to be Snetterton, until they altered the right hander under the bridge. But I do more Brands races than any.
During harvest time in particular, I try to do only the more local events, because I don't have much time to spare." [CCC, 1976]
"For this year, in fact perhaps by the time you read this, I'm planning on running a 1300cc Imp. Ian will be doing the engine again and I understand he is already getting 130 brake from a 1212cc engine, so I expect it will be pretty competitive, particularly with the demon rolling chassis I'm building - but I'm not saying any more at the moment." [CCC, 1976]
"I race mostly for the fun of it and I don't have any big ambitions. But I would be tempted by two litre prototype sportscar racing. It's an awful lot of money though, so unless anyone wants to give me one I think 'Here Comes Homewood' will still grace the front of an Imp." [CCC, 1976]

 

Back in the early 70s, Group 2 and Special saloon Imps driven by men like John Homewood, Jeff Ward, Rob Mason and Bill McGovern ran rings around the opposition and frequently beat larger engined cars.

Fred Hendy was a friend of John (not his cousin).

John Homewood wrote [15-Apr.-2012], in reply to Simon:

"[...] we will have to sort out a real up date that is true, like I held the lap records at every circuit I went to."
John Homewood - Rawlson spaceframe Imp 75? 76? 77?
The Kent Messenger Imp was replaced by this Rawlson space-frame Imp.

John Homewood wrote [15-Apr.-2012], in reply to Simon:

"[...] what he is calling my space frame car is in fact the steel one with all fibre glass panels on it, - that car was sold to Malcom Johnson, and it was me who designed the plastic pig and Adrian Evans built it"

 

John Homewood - Sunbeam Imp 1977, Brands Hatch
John Homewood on the front row, Brands Hatch 1977

Simon 'Siggy' (NZ) published these on the forum Atlas F1, March 2007 "British saloon car racing of the 1960s and 1970s"


"I would point out that of the friends that helped me build my cars one worked as a shoe repairer, another worked for the phone company, and the other worked for British Rail.
As for me: I left school at 15 with no qualifications whatsoever and worked on the farm all the time. Passed my tractor driving test when I was 16, as that was the earliest I would have been able to drive one on the road."

 

Literature

     

John Homewood -ImpMeister Extraordinaire

TEAC 25 years of Motor Sport
1951  -  1976

After a humble beginning, autocrossing his road-going Imp in 1968, he built up his own competition Imp, acquired a Hartwell engine and showed great promise with 3 FTDs and 10 class firsts. Another 4 FTDs and 26 class wins followed in 1970, before Peter Harper's 998cc Rallycross Imp was purchased, and this mount (with little modification) became John's first circuit racer.
Win after win came in the following years - 7 in 1972, 21 in '73, 18 in '74 and 30 in '75, gaining more wins than any other saloon driver in the last three years and walking off with the Kent Messenger series each year since 1972. 1974, however, was a mixed year for he missed several races after a farming accident and wrote off his car on someone else's oil at Brands. A new car was therefore needed for this past season and is to be retained for the next, when it will be joined by a larger yellow-and-blue brother to contest the 1300cc class.

Homewood having more than his door shut @ Brands Hatch
John Homewood having more than his door shut by Ray Calcutt at Brands

Remaining faithful to Imps was one reason for John quitting the grass for tarmac, for there was no way a 110 bhp Imp could compete with a BDA Escort. John was also unwilling to engage in any dubious tactics, and the final straw came when 'a certain gentleman stood on a chair at the drivers' briefing and told us bumping and boring would mean exclusion; he forgot to say this did not apply to Roger Clark and certain other drivers'.

A very interesting outing last August [1988] saw John in John Pope's turbocharged Aston Martin powered Viva when 'after a briefing on how the Quadrophonic stereo worked and the fact you get no engine braking, the pads are experimental and take no notice of the whistling and clonking, I set out to practice propped up with three blankets so that I could reach the steering wheel... It had a fraction more power than the Imp... and I was thinking that if I could get in front in the race, and keep it sideways, who the hell could get by anyway?' After missing second gear at the start, 'funny, I miss 2nd on my Imp too' he powered through to win.

John was most impressed by the Two-litre Sports Cars at Brands this year and would welcome the opportunity to race one of these, but the cost prevents him running his own. This 27 year old Kentish farmer likes to go shooting in his spare time in the winter, but the fact that his main hobby is definitely racing can be judged from the fact that his honeymoon following his marriage to Jennie, two years ago, was spent clinching the Lydden Masters Championship - although a fortnight in Tenerife later provided some recompense.

   

The Encyclopaedia of Motor Sport 1971, page 50
a photo of Homewood's Californian. It was his road car, bought new in 1967 for £465. "Once it had done its 500 miles for its first service, I sprayed it bright yellow and did a few autocrosses with it."

Here comes Homewood / Gary Coleman. - Car & Car Conversions 1976, April. - p.50-51
Interview. He is 28 then.

Thames Estuary Automobile Club (TEAC) did a feature on John Homewood for their 25 yrs as a motor club (1951 to 1976).
This is where his nickname Impmeister came from.

Simon Dobier wrote an article with a photo about the Kent Messenger Imp for Impressions that was printed in about 2007.

 



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© Franka
with help (comments/ amendments) from Kevan McLurg
and more help from John Homewood,
(in part via a friend of his, Simon Dobier)
File edition: 19 May 2012
File started: 12 May 1997