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Mechanical Ingenuity at the 1951 Watkins Glen Queen Catherine Cup
By Larry Watts
(The cartoon featured here was drawn by family friend and racing enthusiast Phil Miller, and depicts the event in satire. Phil was a talented artist)
In an earlier story, I wrote about competitors in the early post war years driving their cars to the track, taping over, taping over headlights and racing all weekend. If something mechanical broke during the weekend, you had to fix it in order to drive your race car home on Sunday night. Some creative repairs were made in order to get home after the weekend.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, MG TCs were a popular race car. Teggie Ogilvie, Postmaster General of Ottowa, Canada was an MG TC owner/racer. In the 1951 QUEEN CATHERINE CUP at Watkins Glen, Ogilvie dropped a valve during the race in his TC. The damage was limited to the one cylinder but the piston and valve were destroyed and no replacements were available that weekend.
With no means of towing the car back to Ottowa from the Finger Lakes, the engine had to be repaired somehow. The solution? The boys from the “Wire Wheel Team” in Columbus (principally Harley Watts, MG specialist) helped Ogelvie remove the piston, rod, valves, and pushrods from the damaged cylinder. Next the rod was wrapped in heavy gasket paper held in place by hose clamps. The engine was then buttoned back up and fired up on the remaining three cylinders . Even though the engine vibrated badly, the car was driven back to Ottowa, Ontario without further incident.