In 1971 the then Managing Director of Brands Hatch, John Webb,
organised a race that pitted F1 Grand Prix drivers against their team managers racing Ford
Escort Mexico's. The event was a great success and, in February 1973, led to Ford loaning
Webb 20 mechanically identical Mexico's.. After sponsorship had been obtained from Shell
and Avon Tyres, the cars were known as the ShellSPORT Mexico's and were used for
pro-celebrity support races at the weekend and racing school duties during the week.
Running on Avon cross-ply tyres, inflated to 45 psi in order to give
progressive breakaway characteristics and very spectacular 'sideways' racing, they led a
hard life. Only sixteen of the 20 were raced at any one time, in order to allow time for
damage repair. Modifications to the cars were carried out at Ford's AVO facility in Aveley
and were limited to the fitting of Britax three-point harnesses on both the standard
low-back front seats, Bilstein shock absorbers, roll cage, battery cut-off and four-spoke
RS alloy wheels.
This car, XNO 272L, survived the front line for two years and after
its racing career was retained by MD John Webb, and was even used as his wedding car. In
the early 1980s it was garaged for several years before being given a mechanical overhaul
in 1988 by its former chief mechanic. The body and paint are as it finished the 1974
season and it was put on display at Brands. Because of this, it survived in its original
form and is the only ShellSPORT Mexico to do so. During its racing life it won only one
race, at Brands Hatch on May 6th 1973
The present owner purchased the
vehicle in 1992 and uses it to attend shows, etc. After speaking to him at the AVO Owners
Club national day, we hope to have some more info and period pictures in the near future.
Thanks for your time Andy!