Ivan Tighe – Racer to the End

Ivan Tighe, a three-time winner of the Australian Hill Climb Championship, passed away recently. He was a racer to the end and CAMS’ website paid him this tribute:

Ivan started his love affair with motor sport on two wheels and while he raced in many four-wheeled categories, he was a regular Formula 2 driver, having also raced Formula 5000 machines and competed in the Australian Grand Prix on more than one occasion.

He excelled in hill climbing. He was CAMS Australian Hill Cimb Champion three times. The first of his three titles came in 1964 behind the wheel of a car of his own making… a Tighe Vincent.

Also winning the championship in 1985 and 1991, he made the remarkable feat of having claimed three titles in three different cars in the space of four decades.

Born in Melbourne on 22 September 1931, Ivan had the mind of an engineer and was involved with the Repco Research team in the 1960s under the late Sir Jack Brabham. In 1966 he set up Ivan Tighe Engineering in Brisbane, a business that specialises in cam shafts and is still in operation. Ivan was 83 and a racer to the end… having competed in motor sport until just a few years ago.

Terry Wright adds: I got to know Ivan a little when I visited him to try and sort out some cams for the JAP I was  building from scratch for the Walton Special. I had been to several well known camshaft companies overseas wanting something developed and they all said they could copy something but couldn’t start from scratch.

I asked Ivan what to do and he said there was a bloke he used in Chicago who could work it all out by computer for a few thousand dollars. He said you could get nearly as good by working off something that worked already and modifying it to suit the new application and that’s what he did for me.

I asked him how they did it at Repco and he said they plotted and adjusted a profile on the full height of the drawing office wall and worked off that.

He had a ‘private’ workshop above his main factory floor which seemed to be very quiet when I was there.  I understood he had made and sold a lot of cam grinding machinery as well as doing this work
himself. I wish I had known him more − but I do have the cams he made for me and they seem to work very well.

59-11 Ivan Tighe Tighe Vincent

Above: Ivan in the Tighe Vincent