Bruce Webster and Rob Lyme – 1953/59 Cooper Porsche

Bruce Webster and Rob Lyme – 1953/59 Cooper Porsche

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NZ Festival of Motor Racing celebrating Porsche – January 2016

Porsche Racing Cars in New Zealand

By Jim Barclay

Bruce Webster’s Early Cooper Years – In 1955 Bruce Webster of Havelock North purchased the ex-Ron Frost/Arnold Stafford/Syd Jensen 1953 Cooper T26 Mk VII -JAP 500cc, a motor cycle-engined single seater racing car, from Ecurie Pomme, a racing stable set up in Levin by ex-pat Brits, Ron Frost and Arnold Stafford.  Bruce raced the little 500cc Cooper in the Inaugural Meeting at Levin held on 14th January 1956, and thereafter all of the meetings held three times each year at Levin until late 1959 when he made changes to his Cooper. In addition to other race meetings he may have run in, he also raced at the Ohakea Trophy meetings on 3rd March 1956 and 28th February 1959.

Bruce Webster 1953 Cooper T26 Mk VII Jap 500cc–Levin 28 Nov 1958
Bruce Webster 1953 Cooper T26 Mk VII Jap 500cc – Levin 28 Nov 58 – photo Jim Barclay

The Cooper-Porsche– By mid-1959, Bruce’s little Cooper had become dated and with only a small 500cc engine, compared to the later and more powerful Coventry Climax 1.5 and 2.2 litre cars, he was no longer competitive. Accordingly, in the winter months of mid-to-late 1959, he fitted a Porsche 1582cc engine to the now 6 year old little Cooper. In his ‘Pooper’, as he now called his car, he was to be competitive again -especially on tight and narrow circuits where the power to weight ratio of his car was excellent. The nimble little racing car in Bruce’s capable hands was especially quick around the small and tight Levin track, as well as in hillclimbs that he favoured so much in his native Hawkes Bay.

Angus Hyslop Driving Cooper T26 Mk Vii
Bruce Webster’s good friend, Angus Hyslop, driving Bruce’s Cooper T26 Mk VII - Porsche 1582 cc photo ‘Off the Record’

On 21st November 1959 Bruce raced his Cooper-Porsche at the Ahuriri Road Races in Napier City scoring three 5th placings and a 4th place behind Denny Hulme and George Lawton in their 2-litre Cooper T45 Climaxes, Lenny Gilbert and Brian Prescott in their 2 litre Cooper-Bristols and Angus Hyslop in his Jaguar D Type sports racing car of 3442cc.


1960 brought a busy season for Bruce as events below indicate:-


9 Jan 60 – NZIGP Meeting, Ardmore.  Bruce entered the Cooper-Porsche in the Ultimate Ecko handicap event for New Zealand Drivers  at the NZIGP meeting at Ardmore on 9th January 1960. He finished runner up to Ron Butler driving his Porsche 356 Super – two Porsche engine cars in the first two places!


16 Jan 60 – Vic Hudson Memorial Meeting, Levin.  #16 Cooper-Porsche 1582 cc. Success for Bruce included Race 9 for ‘Formula Libre Sports & Racing Cars’, a scratch race over 8 laps. Bruce’s tiny Cooper-Porsche finished 3rd to Pat Hoare’s big Ferrari 625 Special 2900cc and Allen Freeman’s even bigger Lago Talbot 4733cc.  In Race 22 for the ‘10 Fastest Racing Cars’ over 8 laps, Bruce finished in 4th place to George Lawton and Denny Hulme in their Cooper-Climaxes and Allen Freeman in his Lago Talbot.


27 Feb 60 – Ohakea Motor Races – Bruce raced in Event 6, a ‘Racing Car Scratch Race’ over 7 laps/14 miles in his #12 Cooper-Porsche – he was in the 1101cc to 1500cc class. His next race was Event 9, the ‘Ohakea Trophy Race’ over 50 miles and this was won by Syd Jensen in his Cooper T45 Climax 1500cc from Pat Hoare in his Ferrari 625 Special. Bruce’s final race for the day was Event 12, a ‘Racing Car Handicap’ over 14 miles.  Unfortunately, no results are available to show where Bruce was placed throughout the day.


2 April 60 – Levin Championship Meeting – #16 Cooper-Porsche. Results for Bruce included Race 8 for ‘Racing & Sports Cars’ where Bruce was 3rd to Syd Jensen in his Cooper T45 Climax 1500cc and Len Gilbert in his Cooper T23-Bristol. In Race 16 for the ‘Levin Championship’ over 10 laps Bruce was 4th to Syd Jensen, Ross  Jensen in a 2 litre Cooper, and Len Gilbert. In Race 20, a Handicap race over 8 laps Bruce was 3rd to Brian Prescott in his Cooper T20-Bristol and Doug Lawrence in his Cooper T39 ‘Bobtail’ Climax sports. The final event for Bruce that day was in Race 22, an ‘Invitation Race for the Fastest 10 Racing Cars’ over 8 laps where he was placed 2nd to Syd Jensen in his Cooper-Climax.

Cooper Porsche Te Onepu Hillclimb Hawkes Bay 23 April 1960
Bruce Webster Cooper-Porsche Te Onepu Hillclimb Hawkes Bay- 23 April 1960

2 Nov 60 – Fred Zambucka Memorial, Levin – #16 Cooper Porsche. Although he had a number of races throughout the day, the best result for Bruce was in Race 20 over 8 laps where he finished 4th to David Evans in his Cooper T43 Climax 1960cc, Duncan McKenzie’s Cooper T41 Climax 1500cc and Len Gilbert with his mighty 1954 Maserati 250F 2493cc.


1961 also proved to be a very busy season for Bruce:-


14 Jan 61 – Vic Hudson Memorial, Levin. #16 Cooper-Porsche. In Race 9, a Formula Libre scratch race over 8 laps for Racing & Sports cars, Bruce was 3rd to Jim Palmer in his Lotus 18 FJ 948cc and Jim Boyd in his HWM Alta 2000cc.


18 Feb 61 Ahuriri Road Races, Napier – Cooper-Porsche


In Race 2, a Formula Libre scratch race over 10 laps, Bruce was 8th to Pat Hoare’s Ferrari Dino 256 3 litre, Angus Hyslop’s Cooper T45 Climax 2 litre, Tony Shelly’s T45 Cooper Climax 2 litre, Len Gilbert‘s Maserati 250F 2.5 litre, Doug Lawrence in his Cooper T39 ‘Bobtail’ Climax 1.5 litre, Brian Prescott’s Maserati 250F 2.5 litre and Malcolm Gill’s Lycoming Special 5.3 litre. Bruce’s ‘Pooper’ 1.6 litre was followed by four others.


Bruce’s other races at Napier were Race 9, a Formula Libre scratch race over 12 laps where he finished  8th; and Race 11, a Formula Libre race, where he was classified in 4th place when the race was stopped after 2 laps.


15 Apr 61 Levin Autumn Meeting #48 Cooper-Porsche. Success for Bruce at Levin was limited to Race 16, a Handicap event over 6 laps, where he finished 4th to Ron Rutherford in his Zephyr 260M Special, Howden Ganley in his Lotus 11-Climax and Bob Eade in his  Maserati 250F.


22 Apr 61 – Te Onepu Hillclimb, Hawkes Bay – Bruce gained 1st place with Fastest Time of the Day (FTD) in the local Hillclimb.

Bruce Webster Cooper Porsche Te Onepu Hillclimb 18 Nov 1961
Bruce Webster Cooper-Porsche Te Onepu Hillclimb – 2nd place, 18 Nov 61

2 Dec 61 – Bridge Pa Sprint, Hawkes Bay – Bruce was equal 1st place and equal FTD.


25 Nov 61 – Fred Zambucka Memorial, Levin – #16 Cooper Porsche. In Race 4, a ‘Sports & Racing Car Scratch Race’, Bruce was 3rd to Tony Shelly in his Cooper Climax and Forest Cardon in the Lycoming Special. In Race 8, a ‘Formula Libre Scratch Race’ over 8 laps, Bruce was 2nd to Tony Shelly.


1962 – The Final Year for Bruce in the Cooper-Porsche


13 Jan 62 – Vic Hudson Memorial, Levin – #16 Cooper Porsche. Results for Bruce are not known – but the meeting was abandoned after Race 14 due to heavy rain.


24 Feb 62 – Ohakea Motor Races –#27 Cooper-Porsche. Bruce raced in Event 7 ‘Racing & Sports/Racing Scratch Race’ over 3 laps (approximately 6 miles) and Race 13 ‘NZ Drivers Ohakea Championship’ over 25 laps. Race 13 was won by Pat Hoare in his Ferrari 256 Dino 2955cc from Rod Coppins in the Tec Mec 4600cc V8 sports racing car.


17 Mar 62 – Te Onepu Hillclimb, Hawkes Bay – Bruce once again took 1st place.


24 Mar 62 – Levin Championship – #16 Cooper Porsche – The best result for Bruce was Race 17 ‘Racing & Sports Handicap’ over 6 laps where he took 1st place ahead of Bob Eade in his Maserati 250F. 


This may well have been the last race meeting for Bruce in the still competitive little Cooper-Porsche for soon afterwards, he sold the Cooper-Porsche to Roy Lyme of Rotorua


Roy Lyme in the Cooper-Porsche 1963/64 & 1964/65 – the Cooper-Porsche, now owned and driven by Roy Lyme of Rotorua, won the NZ National Gold Star Hillclimb Championship in both the 1963/64 and 1964/65 seasons.

Ray Lyme Cooper T26 Mk Vii Porsche 1582cc
Roy Lyme Cooper T26 Mk VII-Porsche 1582cc NZ Gold Star Hillclimb Champion 1963/64 and 1964/65

The little 1953 Cooper gained a new life in 1959 when it was fitted with a Porsche 1582cc engine. Many successes and much enjoyment were gained by the respective owners, Bruce Webster and Roy Lyme.

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