The Bahamas Speed Week was a sports car race held in Nassau, Bahamas from 1954 to 1966. Winners of the race included Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney, Innes Ireland, Roger Penske, Hap Sharp and A.J. Foyt. The first race in 1954 was held on old airport runways in Nassau, won by Masten Gregory in a Ferrari. By 1957 the race was moved inland to a 5-mile (8.0 km) track, with Stirling Moss winning in ‘57, and Dan Gurney winning in 1960. The event however was ultimately doomed – due to the need for track repairs and the associated lack of additional funding from the Bahamian government, as well as competition from other races, the race discontinued in 1966.
This exceptional, matching numbers, 1965 Lotus Type 26 Elan S2, chassis 26/4143, left the factory equipped with engine LP 2545 LBA and body number 3778. Finished in Cirrus White with Black interior and a grey hood, it was invoiced to East Bay Service Ltd., Nassau on February 2nd 1965, for John Gordon of New Providence. Mr. Gordon was a respected privateer who raced numerous examples of the Lotus and OSCA marques, his most notable performances having come at the Sebring 12 Hours in 1960 and ‘62, where he won his class on both occasions in a works OSCA.
Ordered specifically for racing, Mr Gordon immediately set about preparing this Elan for competition use, removing the bulky intake pipes, windscreen, passenger seat and hood. A cut-down Plexiglas screen was installed, along with a driver’s roll hoop and repositioned rear view mirror. To illustrate how seriously Mr Gordon took his racing, even the apertures around the headlights were taped up to improve airflow!
Throughout 1965 Mr Gordon cleaned up in every club race he entered, but the headline event of the Bahamian racing calendar was of course the end-of-season Bahamas Speed Week. The week attracted grids worthy of a world championship calibre event, thanks to the huge prize funds and party atmosphere. For the 1965 Speed Week, Mr Gordon contested three of the twelve events.
The first, the Island Residents’ race, fell to Hans Schenk in his new Porsche RSK Spyder, 26/4143 finishing in the runners up spot. Mr Gordon went one better in the second race, his Elan winning after Schenk retired on lap two with a broken fuel pump. In the Bahamas Cup event, Gordon finished tenth.
For 1966, he set about further improving 26/4143 by having the rear wheel arches flared to accommodate wider JAP Magnesium wheels, these being shod with the latest Goodyear tyres. Other upgrades included a more aerodynamic rear view mirror, and that year his domination continued. During the 1966 Speed Week, Gordon took a clean sweep of victories, winning both events for Island Residents’ and also the Bahamas Cup. Mr Gordon retained the car until December 1988, taking it with him when he re-located to Florida in 1971. Thereafter it went through the hands of three more American-based owners (Henry Grady, David Willer and Ian Fitz-Simon).
Since its repatriation to the UK, 26/4143 enjoyed a major restoration between 2009 and 2011, and with further development was granted a FIA Appendix “K” Historic Technical Passport (HTP) in August 2013. Importantly, the car retains its original chassis, engine, body and gearbox and even comes complete with two sets of the original JAP Magnesium wheels from 1966, plus the original grey hood.
In its current ownership since October 2011, this exciting Elan has been part of a private collection, and has been successfully campaigned at Goodwood, comfortably winning its class.
Presented in quite superb cosmetic and mechanical condition throughout, this wonderful little car is described by the vendor as being “on the button”. EFX 276C is UK registered and is offered with a current MoT, also a detailed history file containing historical documents from its early and contemporary competition career, invoices for restoration work, an original Lotus Elan Brochure and the aforementioned FIA papers.
A very interesting and a cost-effective entry for some of the best events in the classic car world.