The Lotus of the North
In 1965, Derek Bennett, a self-taught engineer and amateur race driver, started his career as a mechanic, building and maintaining racing cars for Midget speedway racers. “He started with a winning JAP- powered midget speedway racer on the Northern dirt track circuits.” It was from there that he fell into the road racing scene, taking part in local stock car events. Eager to get behind the wheel, Bennett began racing at a clubmans level Ford series. After gaining some success on the track, Bennett founded Derek Bennet Engineering, later Chevron, and began building cars.
In 1965, Bennet built the B2 to rival the Lotus 7. The Chevron B2 was a Ford-powered, open-top purpose-built racecar designed specifically to compete in the Clubmans formula. The B2 was very innovative for the time, featuring an independent rear end and unmatched chassis strength. The frame and chassis were stiffened with pieces of steel plates welded to the sills, taken from Bennett’s days in aeronautics, “the boxed in sills led many to believe that the chassis was monocoque:” integral with the body. Likewise, Bennett used duralumin for its chassis, an aluminum alloy with copper for added strength.
Although not the lightest car on the track, the B2 was known for its superior handling ability, often called the “Lotus of the North.” The B2 earned its handling capabilities from its direct rack-and-pinion steering and almost perfect 50/50 weight balance- which was an ideal set-up for the fast corners of Clubman’s races.
After much success in the clubmans division, winning races at Kirkistown among others, the demand for replicas of the B1 and B2 became so large that Bennett set up shop and began building bespoke cars. Four more Clubmans cars were built. Howard Heeley, a 23-year-old racer, was the recipient of one of these cars, taking it to 21 Clubmans race wins and the BRSCC National Clubmans title in 1967; other notable drivers include John Love, Geoff Temple, John Carden, and Edward Carden.
Although Bennett gained unmatched success in the Clubmans division, his lack of resources kept him from progressing into Formula One racing and later led to the company getting dismantled.