A CHAMPIONSHIP winning racing car has found a new home in Huddersfield.
And its new owners want to see it back in action.
Retired engineer Tony Tait has bought the former British Touring Car (BTCC) Vauxhall Astra Coupe in a bid to launch his own racing team.
Mr Tait, 67, bought the £200,000 car, which propelled top racing driver James Thomson to title glory in 2004, for just £2,500 from Vauxhall’s 888 Race Engineering team in Banbury.
He said: “I wanted a car to develop power ideas on and that’s obviously a good one as it’s got a record of success.
“It only ran for three races as James Thomson wrote off his previous car at Knockhill so it’s in very good condition.
“I just went down there and I asked them if I could have it. The car’s no longer current so all this stuff would have been scrapped.”
Mr Tait, who was once offered a job with prestigious engine tuners Cosworth, now intends to return it to the track.
But not satisfied with the mere 280bhp under the bonnet, Mr Tait, who is an expert at turbo charging car engines, has spent two years developing it to boost its power to 500bhp.
Together with his colleague John Usher, he has designed, machined and built numerous parts and assembled a hand-made engine with nearly twice the power of Vauxhall’s professional team.
Testing now suggests the car could reach a top speed of 172mph and hit 0-60 in less than three seconds.
Said Mr Tait: “I’ve doubled the horsepower for a sixth of the price of a professional team.
“I’ve done the majority of it myself. It’s all home-grown apart from the bodywork.
“It’s a passion, I’ve always done it and I will do until my brain stops working.
“I left it alone for about 30 years while I worked at ICI and BP but as soon as I retired I thought I need to get back into circuit racing and give something back to the youngsters.”
Mr Tait, who helped develop turbos for the Skoal Bandit Porsche team at Le Mans in the early ‘80s, has donated another BTCC Astra chassis to Kirklees College and is helping the students to learn motorsport engineering.
He his now searching for a team and a talented young driver to take the car into club racing.
He added: “The Astra XE Turbo is destined for club level (BARC/BRSCC) saloon car races with a team competent enough to make good use of it and be part of a power train development programme.
“The operating team has yet to be selected but consideration will be given to a younger driver in need of a helping hand but with proven capability and resource necessary to manage the car.
“We will provide powertrains and upgrades free of charge but will maintain ownership of the engines.”