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Jupitour 2000 - the world's first Jupitour

June 2000 and there were 40 Jupiters at Le Mans

(a world's first and only)

This was the Jupiter Commemoration run to Le Mans in June 2000. It celebrated both the birth of the Jupiter and its first and greatest race win when, at Le Mans in June 1950, the third Jupiter built comfortably broke Aston Martin's 1½-litre record set 15 years before...

The majority of our Jupiters drove to the specially booked hotels, but there were seven Jupiter crews camping. They travelled from Portsmouth essentially for the race itself, the celebration get-togethers, and the scenic run on the Monday following the race. They were joined by Jupiter owner Ib Rasmussen and his friend Claus Olsen from Denmark in a modern car.

There is another page of photos on the same subject. Many thanks to Jaak Jacobs for sending the photos.

It was miserable weather when we set out for Dover (as it was when we returned 10 days later), but it improved as the day progressed, and it didn't actually rain! In fact, from the Thursday onwards the weather was really hot with cloudless skies and there was no trace or chance of rain.

Twenty-five Jupiters arrived at Arras including two from Holland and one from Belgium. Some of the UK Jupiters came via Hull-Zeebrugge, but the majority (14) crossed from Dover by Hovercraft: see picture (taken at the Dover Hoverport) where I think 12 Jupiters can be made out.

Jowett Jupiter FHC

 The white Adams & Robinson saloon Jupiter (above) was driven by Andy Stevens and Philip Dingle. Three Jupiters took the chunnel. Although Jupiter HAK366 was basically drivable, engine bothers meant that the 1951 Le Mans race car arrived on the trailer behind our recovery vehicle generously provided by Jupiter owner Tom Chapman at his own expense. (Tom owns the surviving saloon Abbott bodied Jupiter and is about halfway through its thorough restoration). 

Backs of 20 of the 25 Jupiters at Arras Grand' Place

June 14th

Front ends likewise

White van is our support vehicle - it was needed now and again! Building with stepped gable was one of our hotels.

Astonishingly one Jupiter was restored (enough to get it to Le Mans - painted but no bumpers or trim) beginning only in January this year, and was got running, received its MOT and its registration number (it is a USA import) on the day before departure. Well done John Blankley and indeed well done his local Vehicle Registration Office (VRO) too - no petty bureaucracy here. Another Jupiter, chassis 5 and one of the original prototypes, only appeared in the UK one week before departure and it got its MOT, had an engine overhaul and a respray all in 5 days! In its case we needed to get its original 1950 registration plate back and once again Pat Lockyer's local VRO did the business! Civil servants were with us in the good old UK it seems! This was one of three Jupiters in existence before the Le Mans race 50 years ago - truly a 50-year-old Jupiter celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The staff operating the public car park beneath the Grand' Place took it upon themselves to hold spaces for our Jupiters - decent folk! Far from disapproving, they looked on admiringly as Dennis changed the prop-shaft's layrub coupling on his borrowed Jupiter NAT146. It gave no further trouble on the tour.

Drummond Black in kilt. Tim Wise in blue top. Car is the Harold Radford special bodied Jupiter. Owner Gordon Cooper in white top with back turned. Only two other special bodied Jupiters made the trip - can you spot one above? Who owns it?
This is the Jupiter that needed a replacement layrub coupling, fitted by Dennis Sparrow in the car park beneath the Grand' Place.

Pete Dixon on right. Simon Wood with black beard

Evening meal in Arras.

L to R:

Three more beards. Pete Dixon, Ed & Ghislaine Nankivell, Andy Stevens, Simon Wood, and a clean-shaven Dennis Sparrow.

On Thursday morning (June 15th) when I awoke and looked out of my hotel window, it was as if the pixies had visited us! There was a large banner stretched right across the front of the hotel proclaiming the Jupiter 50th Anniversary tour to Le Mans! Later, when the 25 Jupiters in the underground car-park fired up their engines, the place was filled with the glorious rumble of exhaust note that only Jupiters can produce. A few of us visited the nearby Canadian memorial to those who fell at Vimy Ridge. Most decided to visit Monet's garden at Girverny on the 200+ miles run down to Chartres. The sun came out and it got hotter...and hotter...and hotter!

At Chartres the Arras group met up with the second group, the eight Jupiters and their owners who had come just for the four days at Chartres. This group included Alfred and Melanie Keller from Switzerland. Phill Green, who worked in the Jowett Experimental Dept, joined us at Chartres ably transported by John Blazé in his Jupiter. We all fraternised at the group meal put on by the Novotel on the Thursday evening, rather delayed to let the latecomers catch up.

On Friday June 16th we were joined at Le Mans by the third group, the campers. One of the camping group - Mike Allfrey - has this to say about the crossing from Portsmouth "The huge concrete paved assembly apron was a smorgasbord of British sports cars. There were about 20 vintage Bentleys celebrating their 70th anniversary of their last win at Le Mans. There was a host of Morgans, Jaguars, Healeys, MGs, all types of Lotuses and their derivatives, and TVRs were in abundance. There were four other Jupiters besides mine. It was a very social evening as we waited for the 22:15hrs sailing time. Our P&O ferry had a very special load this trip!!".

An all-time world record total of 40 Jupiters appeared at the Novotel Le Mans Est for the pre-race get-together. The 10-car display outside the ACO club-house and the 2-car display inside which included the 1951 race car HAK 366 (see photo below) created a sensational amount of interest. 

This photo shows on the left Gordon Wilkins, who at 87 is the last survivor of the Le Mans campaigns having co-driven with Marcel Becquart the class-winning Jupiters in '51 and '52. He drove to Chartres himself on his tod! The green Jupiter is owned by the Nankivell's with Ghislaine far right.

The red 50/2000 tee-shirts arranged for us by Keith Rumsey were highly appropriate and much appreciated.

This shot shows the two Jupiters brought to Le Mans by Pat Lockyer. Left: NPO133 first owned by George Dudley and raced and rallied by him. The Jup was restored last Autumn by Pat himself.

GKU 764 is the factory prototype and is actually 50 years and 3 months old although it doesn't look it.

Two Jupiters failed to reach Le Mans, one losing oil pressure near home the other blowing a head gasket at Esclavelles near Dieppe. At least two owners were well tucked up by a certain Birmingham based "engineer" and had to come in moderns. We could easily have hit 50 Jupiters because another 15 running Jupiters attended the JCC annual get-together at Pitlochry in Scotland 3 weeks earlier but their owners had long before decided not to come to France. Sadly a Jupiter visited us at Arras at the start but its owner & Jupiter took no further part in the proceedings.

There were actually two 1950 Jupiter cars present - chassis 5 registration GKU 764 of Pat Lockyer which must have a genuine ERA-built frame, and chassis 42 registration JKW 264 (see photo below) of Mike Allfrey from the second batch of 5 standard-bodied Jupiters and actually the 10th standard Jupiter constructed. The rest of the touring group were from 1951 to 1954. The three special bodied Jupiters present were the open Jupiter built in Hull for the 1951 RAC Rally, the early Radford-bodied drophead of Gordon & Wendy Cooper, and the Adams & Robinson saloon of Edmund & Ghislaine Nankivell.


Lunchtime buffet June 16th at the Novotel Le Mans Est. First time our red Tee-shirts were worn in earnest. Far right - Mike Smailes talks to Ed Nankivell.

Dark glasses are worn by Geof Butterwick (extreme left) and Californian Scott Renner.

Prototype Jupiter at Le Mans in 2000
Jim Miller, Simon Buckmaster, and Dennis Sparrow (L to R) advance on the 1950 Jupiter prototype.

Jim is holding his copy of the Le Mans 50/2000 Road Book in his right hand.

Novotel Chartres evening of Friday June 16th. Aperatif by the pool before the Dîner d'Anniversaire.

Gordon Wilkins making his amusing and well-received speech at the Dîner d'Anniversaire. In 1951 he managed to close the team hotel (Hôtel du Saumon) briefly, with the help of the local gendarmerie, until the the management pulled its socks up! Thereafter the Jowett team were wined and dined behind a screen to block the prying eyes of other guests!
Whilst the guests were getting themselves seated, Ed Nankivell met Gordon Wilkins at the hotel bar for a long chat. When Ed eventually brought Gordon to the banqueting hall and showed him to his seat, there was a spontaneous round of applause for the man who had co-driven the Jupiter class-winners in 1951 and 1952. One hundred and seven of us sat down for the celebratory banquet.

Awards ceremony.

Standing L to R: Phill Green (from Jowett Cars Ltd), Drummond Black, Andy Stevens. 

Drummond and Ruby drove the greatest distance to Le Mans (as distinct from coming the greatest distance - this awards was won by Mike Allfrey from Australia).

Dutch and Belgian contingent. 

L to R:

Bas de Bruyn, Gerda de Bruyn, Jack Jacobs, Chris van der Vaart, Clara van der Vaart, Hilde Jacobs.

Beige Jupiter belongs to Bas en Gerda. Red Jupiter belongs to Chris en Clara. Jack's and Hilde's Jupiter is off camera.

Jupiters in the hotel car-park, Chartres. L to R: Phill Green, Andy Stevens, Philip Dingle. White car is the only saloon Jupiter on the tour - it was built in Surrey.

Refreshments at Chartres in the Place de la Cathédrale. We will all remember the heat!

The cathedral tour, with English language guide, was excellent, in fact gripping - no-one wanted it to end. Highly recommended. Afterwards we visited the stained-glass workshop of Monsieur Picot, also most excellent. Both events were organised for us by the Chartres Tourist Office.

Le Mans campsite. Nose of a red Jupiter, tails of two more Jupiters, and the banner prepared by Ib Rasmussen to mark the Anglo-Danish site.
Another view of the campers with some Jupiter owners wearing their red 'Footman James' tour Tee-shirts.
The display of Jupiters at the ACO clubhouse. Ted Miller from California provided the repro yellow poster which Jowett produced in 1951 to celebrate their second victory at Le Mans. Mike Allfrey from Australia left his mark!

Another look at some of the Jupiters at our Chartres hotel. John Rutter in front of the Harold Radford Jupiter. Blue skies and heat with a breeze to stretch out the flags..
Scene outside the Hôtel du Commerce, Pont d'Ouilly, on the lunch-stop on the Monday following the race.

The 5 pictures that follow were nicked from Keith Clements' website. Go there to view the other 75 pictures.

For us, the star of the event was the amazing  Gordon Wilkins, who with Marcel Becquart drove the class-winning Jupiters at Le Mans in 1951 and 1952. Simon Wood is on his left.
Part of the  10-car display of Jupiters outside the Auto Club de l'Ouest clubhouse at the Le Mans circuit. They were there for the duration of the race

A great deal of attention was attracted by theses cars.

Gordon Wilkins in Mike Stout's Jupiter all the way from Vancouver, Canada.

Copying a remark (about someone else) from his excellent after-dinner speech  "The years have been kind to Gordon - it's the weekends that did the damage!"

Simon Wood seated in his 1951 Le Mans team car.

Grateful thanks are due to the ACO for their willingness to display our cars. 

Thanks to the efforts of Mike Smailes and owner Simon Wood this car was restored in less than 5 months specifically for the tour. 

Another view of HAK 366 with Gordon Wilkins at the wheel. The Jupiter is in the foyer of the ACO clubhouse.

Keith Clements' Jupiter in the background.

There were a number of road-side repairs carried out but only two participants had to be repatriated (Note: one before and the other after the jollifications at Le Mans, both were Jupiters that were got ready just days before the off) very good really considering that most Jupiters are home-maintained with variable skill levels and time availability. Well done everyone but especially Dennis Sparrow, Simon Wood, Keith Clements and Tom Chapman for the time freely given to help the Jupiters compete the tour.

Saturday tour for the non-racegoers began with the tour of Chartres cathedral, and continued with a visit to the workshop of a stained-glass artist. Here from L to R are Mrs Nankivell, Mrs Cope and Mrs Rutter - photo by Mrs Kennedy.

The ladies are seated by the edge of the river Eure which flows through and under Chartres.

Sunday tour for the non-racegoers. By coach to the Chateau de Maintenon (first stop) where lunch was taken in the Orangerie.

Here are a couple of pictures of the 1951 Le Mans entrant HAK 366 taken in England. Unfortunately last minute mechanical bothers meant it was trailed to Le Mans but as the pictures show it has been restored to authentic Le Mans trim...

...even to the detail of the filler caps (there are three of 'em: two petrol and one water). Restoration began in earnest in February 2000. A number of later modifications to the bodywork had to be undone to achieve full authenticity in what amounted to scholarly industrial archaeology followed by sensitive restoration.

Jim Miller and Scott Renner from California and their Jupiter joined us at Arras from Paris, while Derek & Iris Chambers from Florida and Mike Stout from Canada with his co-conspirator Ron Coutts joined us at Dover before the short run to Arras. Mike & Sue Allfrey from Australia with their early Jupiter (chassis 42) are with the camping group.

We are very grateful for the sponsorship received from Footman James. This company insures UK classic cars at reasonable rates, and included is breakdown and accident recovery. Repatriation from most European countries is also included. Free green card insurance extension for up to 34 days if you are a member of a recognised car club. For more information telephone (UK) 0121-561-4196.

We are also grateful for the sponsorship received from Shell UK. Financial assistance has also been given by and gratefully received from Bill Lock and John Blazé.

One hundred and four Jupiter owners and spouses joined Gordon Wilkins (co-driver of the class-winning Jupiters for the Le Mans of 1951 and 1952) Phill Green from the Jowett experimental department and Mr & Mrs Peter James from our main sponsor for the celebration banquet. Gordon and Phill were in fine form with amusing and interesting speeches. Gordon had joined us at Le Mans on the Friday lunchtime and was driven about in a Jupiter. See the current (July) issue of Classic & Sports Car magazine for a half-page article on Gordon.

Special prizes were handed out after the banquet as follows:

Peoples choice for Best Jupiter at Arras - Mike Stout (Canada)

Organisers' favourite Jupiter at Le Mans - Alfred Keller

Jupiter driven the greatest distance to Le Mans - Drummond Black (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Jupiter brought the greatest distance to Le Mans - Mike Allfrey (Victoria, Australia)

Jupiter Owners' Auto Club Founder's Trophy (awarded annually) - Huntley Perry

I never did hear whether the English-language Radio Le Mans carried news of our attendance at the circuit but it may well be that the swine ignored us. 


After Le Mans (Monday June 19th) we set off on the scenic run through the delightful Suisse Normande. After the group lunch stop at the Hôtel du Commerce at Pont d'Ouilly we arrived at Caen in the early evening for refreshments, car maintenance, and more chinwagging.

On the Tuesday, the campers set off for home whilst the rest toured Bayeaux and the surrounding countryside before returning to Caen for the second night there. Many visited the abbey, saw the famous tapestry, and took in the Musée de la Bataille de Normandie and the various beaches and the Pegasus bridge.

On the Wednesday the group set off for Fécamp where the Palais de Bénédictine was visited. After a casual lunch the cars headed for Amiens and the last night of the tour. Here the Campanile Hotel did us proud with plenty of delicious food and wine and an impromptu party.

On Thursday the weather broke and storms prevented the UK party from crossing on the Hovercraft. Various ferries provided the transport and the group separated and headed for home, but not before vowing to come again in any repeat adventure should one be arranged.


More photos of the tour to Le Mans have been placed on another page. These photos were taken by our keen Belgian participant, Jack Jacobs.

The Event: Jupiter 50/2000 tour to Le Mans June 2000

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Please E-mail me with your queries.


The Event. The nine-day tour of Northern France for Jowett Jupiters and friends taking in the annual Le Mans 24-hour race coincided with year 2000's 24-hour race. Three Jupiter owners from North America and one from Australia brought their Jupiters over, to join Jupiters from the UK, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. 

The Race. Race date was June 17th - 18th 2000.

flag2.gif (4766 bytes) The Tour. The full tour (in France) was from the Wednesday prior to the race (June 14th) to the Thursday after it (June 22). The British-based Jupiters crossed from Dover on the Wednesday morning. Some British Jupiters crossed from Hull a couple of days early to take in some Belgian touring first - dodging the more unruly 'football supporters' along the way...

Night Stops. The four night stopping places were: Arras (1 night), Chartres (4 nights), Caen (2 nights) and Amiens (1 night).

Race Headquarters. We stayed at Chartres for four nights covering the race and the celebration banquet. Chartres is no more than 90 minutes from the circuit. Our 2 hotels are very close to the Chartres exit from the motorway to Le Mans, and that is where the Friday evening banquet was held, so communications with Le Mans were as good as we could possibly expect! 

Day 0. Tuesday June 13. Some Jupiter owners booked into a hotel at Dover. for those who need it on the Wednesday morning.

Day 1. Wednesday June 14. Meet the Press and photoshoot at 0900hrs. on Dover Esplanade prior to the Hovercraft crossing. The first day in France was at Arras, a splendid Flemish city, where we parked on the Grand' Place, explored the old quarter, and the British contingent from Calais met Jupiter owners from other directions. 

Inside Les Boves (ancient system of underground tunnels) you can see hospitals, barracks, stables, chapels, radio stations. Most of the town centre houses have their own piece of Les Boves, now used as wine cellars, for cheese maturing, or in one case an excellent restaurant called La Faisanderie.

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Day 2. On Thursday most of us drove from Arras to the medieval cathedral city of Chartres via Monet's garden at Giverny. Some of us took the tour of the world-famous 13th century Romanesque/Gothic cathedral, and the medieval core.

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Day 3. Friday June 16. Forty Jupiters and their owners gathered at the Novotel Le Mans Est 5km from Tertre Rouge from 11:00h. many then visited the famous Le Mans race museum. We set up two static displays of Jupiters and interesting Jupiter-related material.  The celebratory banquet was in the evening, at Chartres at our three-star hotel there, when we were joined by the Jupiter campers. flag3.gif (3801 bytes)

Day 4. Saturday June 17th. Race-goers went to Le Mans to see the start and the racing. Cathedral Tour in the morning. Tourist events in Chartres for non-race goers including the Cathedral in the morning and a stained-glass artist's workshop in the afternoon.

Day 5. Sunday June 18th. Mystery coach tour for non-race goers including the Chateau de Maintenon. Race-goers stayed at or went to Le Mans to see the day's racing and the finish.

Day 6. For the Monday we had an excellent scenic run including a lunch-stop in the heart of the beautiful Suisse Normande (who said northern France isn't scenic?) then we stayed at Caen near Bayeux for 2 nights.

Day 7. Tuesday. Visit nearby Bayeux to see the 230 - foot long Bayeux Tapestry, which vividly depicts the most important single event in British history. Then there's the Musée de la Bataille de Normandie, Omaha beach, a preserved German defensive position, the old towns of Bayeux and Caen to explore, etc...William the Conqueror's castle is in Caen within walking distance of our hotels.

Day 8. Wednesday June 21st. We drove over the 2½ km suspension bridge to Fécamp to the Palais Bénédictine (an exotic building dedicated to the liqueur distilled from 27 herbs and spices). Did you know there are actually three versions of Benedictine? They all take 2 years to produce. It is also an eccentric museum of art treasures and curios and there will be a good art exhibition on at the same time.

Then we drove to Amiens for the final goodbye evening of food, wine, and entertainment.

Diners made good use of this bar of tempting wines...

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Day 8. Thursday - home! Amiens is less than 2 hours from Calais.

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This photograph shows a part of the circuit of Le Mans in the early fifties, on race day. This wicker-work fencing was constructed along much of the circuit and is often seen as a back-drop to period action-shots of the cars.

 

It provided a flexible barrier in the event of impact, and formed picturesque fencing and employment for skilled fencers along what were public roads for the rest of the year. It was re-built where necessary before each race. You won't see anything like it nowadays!

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On the left is a photo of the actual Automobile Club de l'Ouest plaque that graced the Jowett pit in the 1950 Le Mans race. It is quite large, from memory about 30cm in diameter.

As the Jowett team prepared to depart the pit after the race and post-race formalities, a mechanic jumped on the roof of a Javelin, screwdriver in hand.

It was believed to still exist, somewhere. Jupiter fan Annie Ozolins has an idea where it might be. More anon...


Here are a couple of excellent links concerning Le Mans.

The Club Arnarge website is operated by Dave Davies. It is an excellent independent web guide to the 24-hour race. All you need to know about attending is here.

The official Auto Club de l'Ouest (ACO) website is a must. Extensive, with photos, maps, video (if your browser has the right bells and whistles) you are presented with three waving flags. Click on the Union Jack (or French or Japanese flag) and enjoy! As just one example a map of the circuit with numbers allows you to see views of the circuit from differing vantage points.


Other Jupitours and like events:-

 Jupitour 2003

  The Le Mans Jupitour 2000 page.

  A Jupiter from England visits Hyères

  Jupiters from England visit Denmark



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