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Francis John (Frank) Tiedeman 10th October 1920 – 2nd July 2013


Frank Tiedeman, the notable founder of the Monoposto Racing Club, has died at the age of 92. He was born in Tottenham North London with, it would seem, motor racing in his blood. When a young man his passion had been enlivened by seeing the likes of Prince Bira. Dick Seaman. John Bolster, together with many others, racing at Brooklands and Crystal Palace. Frank aspired to do the same. However costs were prohibitive so he had to wait to realise his dream.

Frank left school at 16. At the age of 19 he joined the Royal Army Service Corps and served from 1939 - 1947, having attained the rank of corporal. Not until the age of 30 could he afford to realise his aspiration. The front cover of Motorsport showed the Austin Seven "Blood Orange" driven at Silverstone by Holly Birkett, the Seven Fifty Motor Club's Chairman who had created the the 750 Formula. It struck Frank that this must be the answer as Austin 7's were relatively cheap. He joined the club, and subsequently purchased an Ulster (DV9602) for £150. Race preparation was minimal, lightening being achieved by removing the heavy steel wings and replacing with light alloy ones. Smaller 15" wheels were fitted. Extra power was found by fitting twin SU's and enlarged valves.

His first race was in June 1951where he gained a fourth place. The Ulster took him to third in the 1953 750 Championship. A year later the car was sold, only to be repurchased ten years later as a kit of parts! It was then totally re-furbished along with Peter Moore's blown Ulster, with Peter carrying out the work. Frank raced the Ulster again in 1965 to a VSCC first.

Around 1956 he started to build a real "Special" with the intention of challenging the growing supremacy of Colin Chapman's Lotus Mk7. The special was dubbed the "Maftan". However, it was never finished and was sold on to Ray Lowe who installed an MG engine and for a number of years enjoyed a considerable measure of success with it.

Frank used an MG YB saloon for a short while. Its performance was improved with the fitment of a Laystall Lucas Alloy Cylinder Head together with a pair of 1 1/2" S.U. carbs, to very good effect. This was used for circuit racing as well as sprints, gaining a F.T.D. for saloon cars at Blandford.
A Mk4 Cooper F3 car was purchased and converted to sports car specification fitted with two seater bodywork. A Vee-twin JAP engine detuned from running on methanol to run on petrol was installed. However, when the car was tested the vibration was such that the car gradually fell to pieces. It was intolerable to drive so the project was abandoned.

Next "Milli·Cent" was created for use in the 1172 Formula. It was the first rear engine 1172 Formula car, based on the Mk4 Cooper 500 chassis with a spartan two-seater body and using an inverted, self modified VW gearbox. This combination proved to be much more civilised to drive. It was not only used in 1172 Formula events but also in many other circuit races and hillclimbs in which numerous class wins were achieved.

Between 1956 and 1957 Frank expressed his view in the motoring press that what impecunious racing enthusiasts required was an inexpensive single seater formula similar to the 750 MC's 1172 formula which was encumbered with regulations to enable legal use on the public highway – for example lighting equipment and mudguards etc. His views found support from notables such as John Bolster, Dennis Jenkinson, Freddy Mathews, Gregor Grant, Paul Emery and many others. The Board of the 750 Club were upset, so summoned him to a meeting to air and explain his views. His ideas and opinions so impressed them that he was offered a seat on the board, and was formally elected in June 1957 to take over the administration of the 1172 Formula affairs of the Club. The Formula was restyled with the difficulties to which Frank, and others, had been opposed, gradually disappearing.

After much discussion. it was agreed that a single seater racecar formula be devised. An open meeting was organised for interested parties, including the above mentioned John Bolster, Denis Jenkinson, et al. Thus in 1958 the Monoposto Register was formed. It was run under the wing of the 750 Motor Club until 1965 when it became the Monoposto Club, an independent entity registered with the RAC.

The first Monoposto race in 1958 at Brands Hatch was won by Scott Mac Arthur in his Saxon Special with "Milli-Cent" taking second place. Subsequently Frank won the first Monoposto Championship.

Frank, together with Ted Garbut built “Milli-Doppio" a Monoposto with an 1172 engine in a Mk6 Cooper chassis. A third car in the series was "Milli-Mono", also, as its name implies, built as a Monoposto car which could also be used as a Formula Junior by using the Ford 105E engine. This time the chassis was a Mk8 Cooper. Due to financial constraints a standard 3 speed Renault gearbox was used which rendered the car uncompetitive.

A Sebring Sprite was purchased and was used for a while, gaining 3rd or 4th placings. A Deep Sanderson FJ was obtained from Chris Lawrence. An 1172 engine was installed and run in Mono class 'B', again with little success. In 1974 the ex Peter Ashdown Mk2 Lola was purchased from Norman Davis who had fitted a 1500 Il6E Ford engine, having been raced in Monoposto Class A. In 1975 a Lotus 20 was acquired. Later, after the 1976 season, it was replaced with a Lotus 22, both cars being campaigned in the newly instigated Monoposto Club's Historic Formula Junior Championship. 1976 saw Frank at Phoenix Park, Dublin with the Lola, where due to a broken steering arm he crashed during practice, badly damaging the car. It took until 1982 to rebuild. His best year was 1976, with 3rd in the Championship.

After 14 years under a dust cover, the Ulster was brought out and raced in the 1982 Austin Diamond Jubilee Race at Mallory Park. It was also at the Donington Park 50th Anniversary event.

At the Monoposto Racing Club's 25th Anniversary Meeting at Brands Hatch in June 1983 he drove the Ulster and secured a first in the Austin 7 Trio Championship race. Also at this meeting he entered and drove his Mk2 Lola in the Front Engined Formula Junior event. Later that day he competed yet again in another FJ race this time in the Lotus 22.

Frank continued to compete each and every year into his late eighties, either on the circuits or in hillclimbs. Living near to Prescott, it was one of his favourite events. Latterly he mainly campaigned 750 MC and VSCC events. The Ulster was his mount of choice, being light and easy to handle.
Frank Tiedeman was a born organiser. Apart from competing, he officiated at both Monoposto and 750 MC race meetings either as a Steward, Clerk of the Course, Meeting Secretary or what have you. He did it. He mastered them all. He was known as "Mr Monoposto" to everyone and rightly so. In the beginning he proposed the concept of a club level single seater formula and organised it into a Register. He acted as secretary, treasurer, and edited and produced its news letter until others were found to carry out the tasks. When Monoposto gained independence as a Club, Frank variously served as an officer, standing at times as Secretary, Chairman, Vice President, President and lastly, when he stood down from the committee, he became President Emeritus.

Both the Monoposto Racing Club and the Seven Fifty Motor Club awarded him Honorary Life Membership in recognition of his contribution to the success achieved by the respective clubs. All done with the impecunious club enthusiast in mind.

Not surprisingly, motor racing was not all consuming, for he had other interests including animal welfare and Free Masonry of which he was a Grand Master.

Frank's occupation was that of Estate Agent and Property Developer, so the location of the family home changed from time to time, always with space to keep animals and to house his collection of cars. Frank' first wife Billy died some years ago. He is survived by his second wife Sue and their son Joe.

Bob Mitchell

 

Engine bay of DV9602, Bonham's Auction

MG YB catalogue. 50's equivalent of a BMW 3 series

Frank's Lotus 22

Frank's Deep Sanderson DS104, now restored in Formula Junior

Kieft, also in FJ.

At his last race in 2006 at Lydden, in his Austin 7 Ulster