0/0/1938 - 10/6/1967
Boley Pittard was a racer renowned for his vibrant character as much as his driving skill. But in a deadly era of the sport, he was never to fulfil his potential. Boley Pittard died 55 years ago, he was 29 , He would have been 84.
Boley "Bo" Pittard was was a cheerful, casual character, born just before the war in St. Hellier on the island of Jersey, the son of a fisherman. He started racing motorcycles on a one-mile sand circuit at St. Ouen's Bay.
He first raced cars in 1958, competing with an old Lancia and a straight-eight Hudson special. Boley entered the Hudson for a big 50-lap end-of-season race, led for 40 laps, then lost a tyre valve. Out came the black flag, which he ignored for a couple of laps, then rushed in to look for another rear wheel. There were no other 19-inchers around so he settled for a 15-inch off an Austin Healey, and lurched off back in the race, still first. Out came the flag again—'too dangerous'—and so he stopped for the other Healey wheel. Back into the race he went. Still in first, but now hopelessly undergeared, he tried his best to coax the car to the finish but the engine finally blew up, but not before his '£10 lot' had really shaken the establishment.
He left Jersey and travelled to the UK in 1960 determined to get into motor racing. He went to work as a car salesman in Warren Street where he met Bobby Day, who was the British kart champion. Boley thus took up karting before graduating to racing a Ford Anglia for John Willment. He won his debut race, the Brooklands Memorial Trophy, and was first in class and second overall in the 1964 Spring Grove Championship. He also came third in the Slip Molyslip Championship, winning about 20 races in his first season.
At the end of the year he won a Grovewood Award and was given a test drive by Ken Tyrell.
For 1965 he signed for Walker-Day Racing. They had just aquired two new red Alfa Romeo TZ1 Zagato from Alfa Romeo, one for Tony Hegbourne, the other for Bole. The cars were prepared in Bristol-Siddeley Engines Ltd. workshops in Hendon, London, and their first racing meeting was the Goodwood Easter Monday meeting.
They then took the TZ1s to Europe for the 500 km of Spa on 16 May 1965, and then on to the Nürburgring 1000 kms the following Sunday. There were only five entries in their class at Spa, 4 TZ1s and a Lotus Elan. Hegbourne was the fastest in qualyfing, with a best lap of 4min36.49s. Pittard was the next in class, over a second behind Tony. Hegbourne got away slowly and dropped back to third. By lap twenty-six he had caught up with Pittard and the pair were running flat out down the Masta straight when Tony's TZ1 somersaulted and landed in a field. Tony suffered a fractured spine and a broken leg and was taken to hospital in Belgium. Later he was transferred to England but died six weeks later. Pittard won his class at Spa but is was a hollow victory. He had a number of good outings in the Alfa Romeo TZ1.
In 1966 went to Italy to join Chris Craft and Jonathan Williams in Italian F3. He got a drive with BWA in Milano along with Chris Craft, while Jonathan Williams joined De Sanctis in Rome.
Pittard won his class in two Italian rounds of the European Hillclimb Championship, the Trento-Bondone and the Cesana-Sestriere and in 1967 moved to Tecno to help develop a new F3 car. Unfortunately following a disagreement with the team early in the season he left and ended up buying a Lola T60.
On May 21 Boley won his heat at Monza’s Fina GP driving the Lola T60 but retired in the final. A fortnight later, at Monza’s Coppa dell’Autodromo, the Jerseyman had taken pole position and contested the lead in the second of two heats, before inexplicably dropping back and finishing 10th. He started the final from the centre of the second row of the grid but as his car moved off it burst into flames. To avoid endangering other cars and drivers, Pittard drove the blazing Lola off the track, sustaining severe burns in the process. Pittard was taken to the Saint Gerald’s Hospital in Monza before being transferred to Milano. Sadly his burns were too severe and, despite being conscious, he passed away six days later following kidney failure.
In the ensuing enquiry it was suggested that Boley could have caught the fuel line with his foot as he got into the car, dislodging it and causing the leak. Another report mentioned that the front of the car had been lifted while fueling was taking place to get an extra couple of litres in. When the car was placed back on all four wheel some of the fuel escaped and it was that which ignited. However Chris Craft, Jonathan Williams and Robs Lamplough were adamant that a quick-release Monza fuel cap had either not been clicked shut or knocked open. Under acceleration the fuel sloshed over Boley and onto the cockpit floor, where the battery beneath his legs provided the cruel spark.