The following article was originally published in Powerboating International magazine.
51 year old Jim Peverelle’s motto in the past has been ‘racing for fun’ and in his 20 year long racing career he has never hit the big time. However, he has become rated as one of the most respected drivers on the circuit.
His name may not be Seebold, Molinari or Velden, but he does have one thing in common with these guys – he does design and build his own boats and has done right from the start, without having won a World or European title. His greatest achievement was in being the first non-sponsored driver past the flag at the 1975 Windermere Grand Prix, which gave him third place overall at the meeting where the Wankel rotary engines were making their very first appearance.
In the past, Jim has raced purely for fun and he just designed and built his own boat but is still held in high regard by boat builders and drivers alike. During a busy race season, Jim has been known to repair boats between his own races for other drivers. But, this year things will change.
At last, he has set up a full-time boat building company called Peverelle Boats and has moved into larger and more accessible premises which can offer the three services of boat building, glass fibre work, and painting.
In 1984 he was quoted as saying that he would very much like to see a Peverelle boat be given the opportunity to prove itself with a top engine on the back. This wish was to come true last year at the London Docks race when he was loaned a Mercury EFI, just for that meeting. At speeds that were unknown for a Peverelle designed hull, he was lying 4, after just 20 minutes racing and he had 19 of the world’s best Formula 2 drivers behind him. The boat was really proving itself when he flew high into the air and broke his shoulder. He admits it was his own fault, not the boat’s and was partially caused by his own excitement. However, with the right engine on the back, the boat could give 100% and this was probably the turning point in his career.
The last 6 to 8 months have seen him dedicating everything to set up Peverelle Boats and to prove once and for all that his boats are amongst the most competitive. He is anxious to point out that he is still happy to repair all makes of boat as well as proving that there is a market for his own boats. He says, ‘boat building is a strange trade, it is impossible to employ anybody to follow in your footsteps, you have got to have the feel for it.’ This is why he feels he will be successful.
Racing was Jim’s hobby, and for that matter – so was boat building. He is a carpenter by trade, but earned his living doing other forms of woodwork. But now he is a professional boat builder, a step he wishes he had taken ten years ago. He already has an order book for 2 Formula 2 boats, a Formula 4, Hydros and Juniors. He has just completed a Formula 4 for Bob Fitzmaurice and a Formula 2 for Harry MacNeil in Ireland. Paul Blackburn will be running his re-furbished Peverelle hull.
JBS are putting 3 boats on the water this year and Peverelle Boats have refurbished two of them. A Seebold and the Burgess of ex-Laing Homes driver, Steve Kerton. They are also building a 2-seater which will travel around the FONDA circuit and Jim hopes that this will bring him some overseas orders. Peverelle will also be building a new boat for himself as he has been promised a works engine for it. There is also a possibility that he will attend a couple of European FONDA races but club and National racing will have to take a back seat.
As you enter the new workshops, you might just get the impression that it is a one man band, but you are wrong. There is 24 year old Jim junior – running under JJ Autos, who has recently done all the paintwork for the Osprey Boat and Ambulance, as well as his father’s boats. He also resprays cars and motorhomes and does a lot of work for the MG and Sprite Owners Clubs.
20 year old Lee hopes to be setting up under the Peverelle Plastics name during this year. He does all the fibreglass work for his father and brother as well as specialised one-offs. Young Mark (17) is very interested in mechanics and does all of father's engines as well as servicing and repairs on ski engines. Jim is anxious to help him build up this side of the business so that Mark can set up on his own. Under one roof they can design and build a boat, paint it, rig it, service the engine and also test drive at the nearby Bodymoor Heath circuit.
Jim also has a personal aim before he retires from racing, which will probably be next year with this year being his final season in FONDA. Next year he is already committed to going back to his roots – standard class racing in the form of SZ class. He is putting a rig on the water for 1987 and is looking for four other drivers to get the class off the ground. He explained that price is prohibiting Formula 4 and 5 drivers from moving into Formula 2, and SZ is the way to go. A second hand 2.5 litre motor will cost about £1500/£2000 and with new rings and a good service will give you a reliable engine for 100mph racing. A brand new boat for £3,000 and you are on the water for £4,500 as against £12,000 in Formula 2. Even Formula 4/5 are costing £5,500 new.
Once Jim has got the class established he would like to manage and promote it and hopes that the engine manufacturers will support it as standard racing sells standard engines. He feels that the general public can relate to standard engines they can buy from their local dealer and standard engines could keep the engine manufacturers politics out of the sport if everyone is running standard equipment and not works motors. He accepts that some bending will take place but is even willing to take inspecting on board to try and keep the class straight.
Here, we have a man who is clear in his mind as to how racing should go and through the columns of Powerboating International may we wish him every success, and we are sure that through his dedication and love of the sport his dreams and prosperity will come to fruition in the next few years.