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Harry Lester’s TA

MG TA Midget (TA 2460) UK Reg no KJH 114

An extract from Stewart Penfound’s book ‘Harry Lester and the Monkey Stable’. You can purchase Stewarts award-winning book priced at £25 by simply emailing him.

 

Harry Lester took the (almost) standard-bodied MGTA KJH 114 to second place in the 5 lap race for cars up to 1500cc at Lulsgate on 16 April 1949.

With very few gaps, KJH 114’s competition history spans the decades from 1949 to the present day. It was originally Harry’s everyday car, and the only alterations he made to it to make it go a little bit faster were to change the engine to a standard XPAG unit, and lighten it by fitting cycle wings and smaller headlights. He competed in it at least twice in 1949, before selling it to the young and enthusiastic Jim Mayers. As recounted above, the lightweight Lester body previously fitted to George Phillips’ MGTC MG 7185 was available and Harry fitted it to KJH 114 ready for 1950, which was Jim’s first full season of racing. Harry designated the car HL/9.

Jim Mayers concentrating hard in KJH 114, on his way to second place at Goodwood on 12 August 1950 and becoming the first winner of the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy.

For Jim’s first race, at Lulsgate on 15 April 1950, the car still had its 1250cc engine. By the time of his next race, at Goodwood on 6 May, Harry had changed it for the first ever 1466cc XPAG engine, a bored-out 1250 with cylinder liners shrunk to fit by spending a few days in the freezer of Harry’s local butcher…
Jim had a very successful season with the car, with numerous wins and fastest laps, and gained enough points in a series of races at Goodwood to be the first recipient of the Brooklands Memorial Trophy, put up by Motor sport magazine.
Towards the end of the season Jim lent the car to Peggy Lambert, perhaps with a view to selling it to her, but eventually sold it to newcomer Pat Griffith. He, like Jim the year before, was keen to take up motor racing, and he and Jim were good friends. Pat never raced it, as he and Jim had commissioned Harry to build them a new car each for the 1951 season, based on Harry’s prototype T51 Lester MG, KUR 4.
Pat passed KJH 114 on to Dick Threlfall, who campaigned it with much success in 1951 and 52, mostly in speed trials and hillclimbs, but also the occasional race. The car’s next owner was Don Marsh, who shipped it to Columbus, Ohio, in early 1954. He modified the body of the car, replacing the trademark Lester nose with wide-mouthed front it still has today, presumably to aid cooling. Marsh raced the car briefly, retiring with brake trouble after a spirited dice with the only other Lester MG in America at the time, KUR 4, at the Cumberland Sports Car Races on the Andrews Air Force Base circuit, but winning his class in a 15 lap race at Brynfan Tyddyn in Pennsylvania. Also competing at that meeting was experienced TC racer Chuck Dietrich, who was so impressed by the little Lester MG he bought it. Dietrich raced the car in at least seven events in 1955, and with much success, with class wins at Cumberland, Put-in-Bay and Fairchild, a fine 3rd place at the inaugural Elkhart Lake meeting and second at the Wisconsin Grand prix and the Giant’s despair hillclimb.

Ted Jayne, of the Funny Face Auto Racing Team on his way to a second place at Put-in-Bay on 8 June 1957. Note the modified nose, streamlined front wings and rudimentary roll bar.

For the next three seasons from 1956 to 59, KJH 114 was raced by Ted Jayne and Charlie Ellmers, who entered the car under the guise of the Funny Face Auto Racing Team, or FFART for short. They had a few modest successes, but by this time the car was outclassed by more modern machinery. Frank Diaz raced the car occasionally in historic events in the mid 1970s, after which it lay unused until being bought by current owner Marvin Primack in 1986.
Marvin restored the car, still with the nose put on by Don Marsh and has raced it regularly ever since.

Marvin Primack at speed in KJH 114 in practice for the Collier Cup Race at Watkins Glen, September 1994.

TA2460 Racing History

1949

16 April

BMC & LCC Lulsgate, 5 lap race for cars up to 1500cc

Harry Lester (18)

2nd

23 April

VSCC Silverstone speed trial

Harry Lester (28)

1st in class

1950

15 April

BMC & LCC Lulsgate, 5 lap race for cars up to 1500cc

Jim Mayers (8)

2nd

06 May

Goodwood, 3 lap race for cars up to 1500cc

Jim Mayers (2)

1st & fastest lap

Goodwood, 3 lap handicap race

Jim Mayers (2)

1st & fastest lap

07 May

Gravesend Speed Trials

Jim Mayers 

1st in class

14 May

Beechwood Speed Trials

Jim Mayers  

2nd in class

20 May

BOC Prescott hillclimb

Jim Mayers

1st in up to 1500cc class

27 May

Goodwood, 1st Whitsun handicap race (5 laps)

Jim Mayers (18) 

6th

Goodwood, 2nd Whitsun handicap race (5 laps)

Jim Mayers (18)

7th

17 June

Goodwood, 5 lap race for cars up to 1500cc

Jim Mayers (3)

3rd

Goodwood, 5 lap handicap race

Peggy Lambert (17)

29 July

WH&D Blandford hillclimb

Jim Mayers

2nd in up to 1500cc class

12 Aug

Goodwood, 5 lap race for cars up to 1500cc

Jim Mayers (3)

2nd

02 Sep

Brighton Speed Trials

Peggy Lambert (1)

Entrant: Jim Mayers

Harry Lester (172)

Entrant: Jim Mayers

1951

18 Aug

Goodwood, 5 lap race for cars up to 1500cc

Dick Threlfall

4th

08 Sep

BOC Prescott hillclimb

Dick Threlfall 

1st in class

23 Sep

H&DC Westwood Park speed trial

Dick Threlfall (44)

1st in class

06 Oct

BMC&LCC Castle Combe, 10 lap race for cars up to 1500cc

Dick Threlfall (22)

3rd

27 Oct

Peplow Airfield Speed Trials

Dick Threlfall  

2nd in class

1952

12 April

Llydstep hillclimb

Dick Threlfall  

1st in class

14 Sep

BOC Prescott hillclimb

Dick Threlfall

1954

16 May

Tri-state Trophy Race, Cumberland Sports Car Races

Don Marsh (124)

DNF (brakes)

24 July

Brynfan Tyddyn, race 5 (15 laps)

Don Marsh (22)

8th

1955

15 May

Cumberland 1 hour sports car race

Chuck Dietrich (25)

7th, 1st in class

18 June

Put-in-Bay 10 lap race

Chuck Dietrich (31)

5th   1st in class

03 July

Wisconsin Grand Prix, race 4

Chuck Dietrich (51)

2nd

22 July

Giants Despair Hillclimb

Chuck Dietrich (51)

2nd in class

23 July

Brynfan Tyddyn race 4 (10 laps)

Chuck Dietrich (51)

6th, 4th in class

11 Sep

Elkhart Lake, race 6 (45 minutes)

Chuck Dietrich (94)

3rd

16 Oct

Fairchild, race 1, 17 laps

Chuck Dietrich (19)

4th, 1st in class

1956

20 May

Cumberland Sports Car Races

Ted Jayne (84)

9th

09 June

Put-in-Bay

Ted Jayne (84)

1st

24 June

Road America

Ted Jayne (84)

6th

19 Aug

Marlboro

Charlie Ellmers (16)

DNA

15 Sep

Watkins Glen

Ted Jayne (84)

DNA

1957

19 May

Cumberland Sports Car Races

Charlie Ellmers (143)

DNA

01 June

Lake Eyie, race 2 (15 laps)

Charlie Ellmers

6th, 3rd in class

02 June

Dunkirk 1 hour race

Charlie Ellmers/Ted Jayne

DNS

Dunkirk

Charlie Ellmers (5)

6th

08 June

Put-in-Bay, race 5

Ted Jayne (10)

2nd

01 Sep

Akron, Ohio Grand Prix

Ted Jayne

3rd

21 Sep

Watkins Glen, Queen Catherine Cup race

Charlie Ellmers (39)

19th

1958

07 June

Put-in-Bay

Ted Jayne (29)

10 Aug

Harewood Sports Car Races

Ted Jayne

18 Sep

Watkins Glen, Queen Catherine Cup race

Ted Jayne (58)

DNF

1959

30 May

Lake Erie, race 10 (40 laps)

Charlie Ellmers

DNF

05 June

Put-in-Bay race 5 (12 laps)

Charlie Ellmers (37)