Frank Aikens

Frank Aikens portrait.jpg (9916 bytes)Wing Commander Frank Aikens AFC and Bar, was one of the leading lights of the early years in his special. Frank's eponymous car was powered by a Triumph twin engine driving through a Norton gearbox to a Fiat rear axle, with the differential opened up to enable a sprocket to be fitted, all mounted on a Fiat "Mouse" chassis. Legend has it the car was constructed whilst his wife went to visit her mother - when she left, she had owned a Fiat, but when she returned she... didn't. With the aide of a German POW, at Aikens' RAF base, he extracted considerable power from the engine, helped by connections to the Triumph factory but the driving position was less than ideal.

Frank attended the Prescott practice meeting in April '47 and seems to have played a significant part in the so called "White Hart" meeting, somewhere in Oxfordshire, in May. He enjoyed some success in 1947 with a third at Prescott in May, second at Shelsley in June and third again at Prescott in June. He failed to finish at Gransden Lodge (along with almost everybody) for the first post war motor race in July but achieved a fourth at Prescott in the same month and then second there in September. At some point during the year, Frank substantially changed the bodywork on his car, improving the seating position at the same time.

The Aikens car, minus bodywork, possibly between the original and later versions.

How a gentleman dresses for competition, note the "Knees up Mother Brown" position.

Frank Aitken 1.jpg (168902 bytes)

Report on the Aikens from Iota May 1947

Now with modified body at Shelsley in June 1948

Aikens advert 1248.jpg (16645 bytes)1948 proved more difficult, not helped by a posting to RAF Swinderby in Lincolnshire and the arrival of the first production Coopers; a fourth in June at Prescott and a DNF at the Grand Prix Meeting in October and by the '49 season the car was completely outclassed. Iota noted, in early 1950, that the car had passed to Miss Joan Heyward (daughter of Charles Heyward), though she may have sold it on within a year.

For 1950, Frank appeared in first production Iota P1 which he fitted with a special Triumph engine, allegedly good for over 50 horsepower. He gave the car it's debut at Easter Goodwood and by lap two the engine was in pieces. Frank's, and Iota's, finest hour came at "Royal" Silverstone in May when, after finishing fourth in his heat, he enjoyed a race-long dice with Moss in the final to win from Stirling and Peter Collins. All three were presented to the Queen.

He followed this with a fourth in the heats at Goodwood in May and a DNF in the Commander Yorke 100 miler then a third in Heat 4 of the Daily Telegraph Trophy in August then tenth at Silverstone for the Express meeting. Frank led at Croft in September until suspension failure gave the win to Alan Rogers and that appears to be his last race in the Iota. In June 1950, Frank was awarded a Bar to his AFC.

Franks Aikens' moment of triumph, ahead of Moss in the Royal Silverstone Grand Prix d'Europe, May 1950.

 

Aikens realised that the Iota would never be the most competitive car so for '51 he switched to a J.B.S, again Triumph powered, which he shared with Allan Moore. With this, Frank took a fourth in his heat at Brands in April, failed to finish in the Daily Express International, then managed twenty-fourth in the Grand Prix in July but it seems his racing was curtailed by RAF commitments and the car passed full time to Allan.

At some point Frank was prompted to Group Captain.

Leading at Croft in September 1950

Frank messing about at Boreham May 1951

and his portrait from December 1951

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