Alan Hassell made his first foray into motorsport in 1968 when he “borrowed” his father’s Mk1 Ford Cortina GT to enter his first rally. Despite his best efforts to hide the evidence of the Cortina’s double-life as a competition car, Hassell senior soon became wise to these little outings. In 1970 Alan began to use the car for Sprinting to dove-tail his rally career. Sprinting became a fun family event for the Hassells and Alan was becoming quite the pilot behind the wheel, winning his first rally event in 1973. The following year saw Hassell racing on the circuits. The Cortina had developed a Lotus Twin Cam power unit and sported lightweight, fibreglass bodywork.
The Cortina’s days came to an end at the close of the ’74 season when it was extensively damaged in an accident at Brands Hatch. For 1975 Alan built a space-framed Mk1 Ford Escort utilising many of the surviving parts from the Cortina. The Escort awarded Alan his first race win.
Alan supercharged the Escort’s engine for the 1976 season which awarded Alan numerous wins. Alan’s hard work at becoming a talented race car engineer as well as a talented race car driver, was really paying off.
In 1979 the Volvo dealership for whom Alan had been working, approached him to build and drive a racing Volvo. Alan was presented with a budget which he used to create an awesome racing machine. Hassell used a Volvo 343 as his base, with an all aluminium V6 engine mated to a Hewland trans-axle straight out of a Formula 1 car. Alan won the Sprint championship with the Volvo that year, and again the following year.
In 1981 Alan started competing in Rallycross. He took some time out for some Autotesting, finishing second in the local championship using his wife’s Austin 1300 GT. His Rallycross car was a slightly more serious piece of equipment, however: a Mk2 Ford Escort powered by a BDA unit. The car won him the Off-road championship that year.
Slightly niggled by his second place the year before, Hassell became Autotest champion in 1982 using a Mini 1275 GT which he “borrowed” from his dad. Again.
In 1985 Alan Hassell built the first Mk3 Ford Escort XR3 to be used in the British Rallycross championship. He won the Sprint championship with the car, and the Castrol Oils Grass Track Championship although he converted it to BDG power for the latter.
1988 was the beginning of Alan Hassell’s long association with the Cosworth brand as he returned to the circuits to do battle in the Production Saloon Car Championship. Alan’s uncle acquired an ex-Ford Motorsport Sierra Cosworth and Alan began plying his trade. It soon became apparent that Alan could probably build a car better than the one Ford had provided. Alan received driver of the day awards on countless occasions for his spirited performances, but it was when he built his own car that the race wins arrived and in 1990, Alan was crowned Mintex driver of the year and finished second in the Firestone Production Car Championship. Soon other drivers and teams wanted Alan to build their cars and engines. Alan found himself managing a race team and tuning firm: Alan Hassell Motorsport was born.
Aside from a steady stream of Cosworths being produced at the AHM base in Eastbourne, Alan was approached by Rover to build and evaluate a Metro for the Saloon 2000 Championship in 1992. In 1993 the team diversified into Karting when Alan’s son, Kelvin joined the team.
AHM stayed with Cosworth power for its Production Car and Saloon 2000 campaigns through the nineties until the end of the homologation run of the Escort Cosworth. By now AHM was involved in all aspects of racing, building cars for Porsche Cup and rallying whilst still keeping an eye on the old Cosworths who had made a new home for themselves in the Modified Ford Championship. AHM became more involved in the Modified Ford Championship in 2000 when Alan built the first Ford Ka the championship had seen. The Ka used a normally aspirated Zetec engine from which Alan had managed to wring 271 bhp. The Ka was supported by a team of two Cosworths, two Fiestas (one also sporting a 2 litre Zetec engine) and one twin cam RS2000.
Later in the year Alan would take time out to personally oversee the running of his friend of the last thirty years, Jim Tiller, in a 200mph attempt in his Chevrolet-powered Allard J2 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA. Alan has always played a part in keeping the Allard in tip-top condition through the years and has contributed to many a success with the legendary vehicle.
Alan is still competing today, driving a MK1 Ford Cortina GT in the CSCC Swinging Sixties Series.