The full summary of the 2001 season is is the roar of a V8

The new car for 2001, a full-house, class G TR7V8....

7th May

Castle Combe, Wilts.

2nd in class C

Spitfire - Good race.

10th June

Pembrey, South Wales.

2nd in class C

Spitfire - Gearbox broke during race, lost 3rd gear.

16th June

Silverstone, Northants.

4th in class G

First race in TR7V8. 3 Spins in practice. Good debut.

7th/8th July

Croft, North Yorks.

3rd in class G   

Bonnet came off after 3 laps of practice & broke windscreen. Left rear tyre punctured during race.

21st/ 22nd July

Rockingham, Northants.

3rd in class G

Stuck in mud during practice & would not restart. Not quick during race. Major starting problems.

12th August

Cadwell Park, Lincs.

d.n.s. & race abandoned

Race oversubscribed so TR7V8 entries merged into Morgan Challenge race. A very slow practice with an horrendous misfire. Did not start the race – ignition problems. Race results voided after meeting was cancelled due to rain.

19th August

Snetterton, Norfolk.

2nd in class G

Practice rained off. Lottery grid by class. Dry race. Good result.

25th/26th August

Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Meeting cancelled


9th September

Mallory Park, Leics.

2nd in class G

Major oil breather and oil surge problems. Race oversubscribed, so TR7 entries merged into Sportscar race. Race stopped after 7 of 15 laps following huge accident between the V8s of Jeffery Eatough and Andy Baker.

23rd September

Cadwell Park, Lincs.

Race abandoned

Red flag during a very wet practice. Race abandoned after 2 red flag incidents on the start line.

20th October

Croft, North Yorks.

d.n.f.   Fastest lap

Spun lap 1, recovered to 3rd o/a by lap 8. Spun into gravel at Clervaux lap 9 chasing Colin Elstrop.

21st October

Croft, North Yorks. (non-champ)


Stalled on grid. Spun and stuck in mud on infield on lap 4.


The 2001 season...

21st March - testing at Bruntingthorpe.

Not so much the start of spring, more the end of winter with about an inch of snow covering the Mallory Park circuit. Testing was cancelled for the day and we were none too pleased having just travelled the 2 hours from Luton; however the disused RAF base at Bruntingthorpe beckoned. It's only about 20 miles from Mallory, but we figured it was worth a shot and a quick phone call confirmed it was open, if very wet.

We were most fortunate that a corporate day had been cancelled (due to the weather) and we had the whole 4.4 mile 'circuit' to ourselves for 2 hours. The idea of the test was to shake the car down and make sure everything was working OK ready for the season - it was and we made number of successful runs. The most significant problem was losing the bonnet at about 130 mph! It disappeared over the roof at high speed and was quite a shock to the system...more secure fixing needed. Also the brakes need some work as, although they work well, the bite is too far down the pedal travel. We'll be back up there soon...


Rounds 1 & 2 (Oulton Park & Brands Hatch) - missed


Round 3  - Castle Combe

The TR was still not ready, so it was out in the Spitfire still with its body damage from Donington in 2000!

Practice. I had a relatively good practice having never raced at Castle Combe before and practice times suggested a duel between local lad Andy Vowell and me was looking pretty likely. Super-fast Paul Lucas was ahead of us both on the grid by some 2 seconds and would be able to run off and play with the TRs while Andy and I battled it out.

The Race. As expected, Andy and I had a great 6 lap scrap and I had just got in front of him when his cylinder head gasket let go, sidelining him at Avon rise. I went on to claim 2nd in class, but quite some way behind Paul. This is one of the last fast circuits left in the UK although it has actually been slowed down over the last couple of years for safety reasons by the addition of a couple of chicanes. 

Uniquely at Castle Combe, the outright winner and the class winners are paraded round the circuit in the back of an open-backed car, so after the final flag I sped back to the paddock, parked up then hoofed it back to the grid to drive Paul’s car while he rode in the parade. Paul is possibly the shortest driver in the register and I am one of the tallest. I nearly suffered a hernia just getting into his car, I hope he appreciated it!


Round 4 - Pembrey

In the Spitfire again but a very low turn-out of cars; only 10 made it this 1.5 mile airfield circuit in South Wales. I was quickest Class C car in practice, but only just. Unfortunately, the gearbox broke in the race leaving me without 3rd gear again (see Croft in 2000) and it was just impossible to catch Martyn Adams, even after a 2 lap ‘safety flag’ period following John Thomason’s early departure from the race, stalled on Honda curve. Not a great event.

Result : 2nd in class C and fastest lap too!

Most annoyingly for Larry Jeram-Croft (TR7V8) and Simon Knowles (TR6) they had an accident on the ‘last’ lap and spun off letting Martyn and me go through. Their cars were not seriously damaged, but enough to be very annoying when we all found that an extra lap had accidentally been added to the race and the ‘final’ lap didn’t count!


Round 5 - Silverstone

The first trip out for the new car and very poor weather to go with it! Preparing the car had been a 15 month effort, ever since picking it up from Leicestershire where its previous owner had kept it garaged for its entire life! In fact it's a one family car since new, the previous owner's father having purchased it new.

It was originally  4-speed, 2.0 litre of 1976 vintage which was converted to a 5-speed 3500cc V8 during the 80s and was used in various Midlands based hillclimb events. Stacky and I originally saw it as a quick way into V8 racing but it turned into a much longer, more complex and much more expensive project than anticipated. However, there we were, finally ready to race.

Practice. The 15 minute practice session was very wet although not actually raining and I was really quite careful, not wanting to embarrass myself by crashing 1st time out! The car had more grip than I expected and I qualified 6th on the grid without trying too hard. Paul Lucas’ 1300cc Spitfire was on pole (well done to him) followed by five TR7V8s! Alas, I did manage to spin 3 times in practice whilst trail braking into corners and was duly summoned to see the Clerk of the Course to deliver an explanation. The cause was simple, my own adjustment of the brake bias; I had moved the bias lever 3 clicks towards the rear after 7 laps or so and it was evidently far too much! Once I had returned the lever to full-front I was stable again!

The Race. Off the line well and up into 5th as all five V8s muscled past the pole sitting Spitfire, but Paul was soon back up at the front as the wet track played into his hands. I had a minor coming together on lap 1 with Mark Richards at the end of the club straight which took off half my front bumper (a thin plastic item) and I settled in for the race, happy to stay 5th or 6th. By the end I had passed a few cars and been passed a few times but managed to get up to 5th by the close of the race, still well up with the lead group of cars.

Incidentally, I kept my left hand well clear of the brake bias lever all race! 

All-in-all a very good and pleasing result given that we only picked up the motor on the Thursday afternoon and spent that entire evening and all day Friday fitting it and plumbing it in. Stacky essential as ever.


Round 6 - Croft

The first trip for the new American RV! It’s a 29 foot Fleetwood Flair with a 7.5 litre Ford V8 motor of approx 300 BHP. It tows well but being left-hand drive, has taken me some time to get used to. Real luxury compared with the tents and the converted LDV 400 van we have become accustomed to.

Practice. The weather was quite changeable and cold for the Saturday practice which was marred by my losing the bonnet again (3rd time this year). On the 4th lap, as I passed down the start-finish straight, it just popped off at the front and wrapped over the windscreen. I could just see through the vent slots and was able to pull up safely off the track. The impact also cracked the windscreen but not enough to worry about too much!

Losing half the practice session put me back to 11th on the grid and I felt that 5th or 6th would have been more likely without the bonnet problem.

The Race. 11th is not an ideal starting place, but I wasn't about to risk being involved in the first corner barging that often occurs at Croft, so accordingly  had a very conservative start, dropping to 12th by Tower on the 1st lap. Over the next 3 or 4 laps I slowly moved up the field to 6th place behind Mark Richards in his similar V8, but noticed that the handling was becoming worse. I could feel that the car was being steered by the rear wheels and speculated that a rear suspension rod was loose, especially following 3 consecutive trips across the grass at Tower. By about lap 8 the handling was so bad and I had been over-taken by so many other cars I decided to retire next time past the pits, however as I turned through the final hairpin I could see that the chequered flag was out and the race was over, so I slowly passed the finish line in 11th place. The final result wasn't too bad as I was 3rd in Class G behind Mark Richards and Geoffrey Eatough. Back in the paddock, the problem was obvious; a flat left rear tyre!

Richard Bull (TR5) and Malcolm Turnbull (TR6) had a race-long battle for overall victory which made some good coverage in Motorsport News and Autosport.


Round 7 - Rockingham Motor Speedway

An all-new, American-style oval race track near Corby in Northants. The circuit is built using US CART/Nascar tracks as a model with a 1.5 mile banked oval as the main layout with various infield circuit configurations possible. We were to use the 'Sportscar' configuration. This is going to be one of the UK's leading circuits before too long and I really hope it is able to attract top international race series and strong spectator numbers to keep it a viable business. The spectator facilities are the most impressive of any British circuit and the main stand must tower well over 100 feet above the main start-finish straight.

Back to the car - new windscreen fitted (rather more expensive than anticipated). I had planned to pull a screen from one of my spares cars but it just wouldn't budge (they are bonded in) and eventually I broke one trying to lever it out with a screwdriver. The only available plan in the end was a brand new one from Auto Windscreens.

Practice. Not too good again really. I had just completed 3 laps of the rather twistier-than-expected course when I had a gentle spin into the mud at the hairpin. The engine stalled and just would not restart so I ended up causing red flags to be displayed and was towed back to the paddock with the wheels and tyres covered in thick brown mud. Even if the engine had restarted I'm not sure I would have got out of the sticky goo anyway.

The Race. 15th on the grid - actually much better than anticipated following my early off, with John Thomason in his 1300 Spitfire alongside me. Most unusually we had a rolling start with all 30 cars holding grid position behind a pace car until the last corner where it pulled off to let us loose down to turn 1. I made up 7 places throughout the race finishing 8th, but still well off the pace of the leaders. I just need more lap time to get used to the car and to sort the brakes out; they're still not quite as I would like them. We also seem to have a problem restarting the engine once it's hot. Following the race we were all directed to parc ferme and following our release from there the car failed to start until a whole group of people shoved it down the exit ramp of the circuit and under the centre access tunnel!

(Later note: the problem with the engine failing to restart was actually caused by wear in the gears which drive the distributor. This was causing monumental spark scatter and put the timing out by many degrees. This was also probably the cause of my three spins at Silverstone).


Round 8 - Cadwell Park

Back in 2000 I implied that 'If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all'. It's still true. We arrived at this most picturesque circuit on Friday night, with all of Saturday to relax and prepare the car for Sunday's practice and race. Unfortunately, come Saturday afternoon the car just would not start (although it started OK to put it on the trailer on the Friday). Following the problems I had at Rockingham where the car failed to restart after a spin, there was definitely a problem we needed to rectify!

We had the air box off to see if we could find a problem, but the car just kept popping and backfiring through the Holley four barrel carb as we tried to start it. At one point the carb was flooded with petrol and quite a lot had spilled into the vee of the engine, when we had an enormous backfire and the whole lot ignited, resulting in the rapid use of the AFFF fire extinguisher from the RV! Luckily, no damage was done.

We had everyone-and-his-wife coming over to offer solutions and advice and to be frank, it was getting on our nerves a bit. By mid afternoon we had contaminated the oil with petrol very badly, so an oil change, compression test and carburetor float chamber reset all took place and amazingly the car started, very rough, but running.  At this point the plastic clutch pipe burst, but by amazing luck Colin Pendle had just bought a spare one. We fixed that and then left well alone until Sunday.

Come Sunday, it wouldn't start again so we opted to try towing it up the road behind Colin Pendle's van which got it going immediately. I then left it parked on a shallow hill so I could bump start it later, which I did need to do. We got the car into and through scrutineering (had to tow it back as it would not restart again) and prepared for a very wet practice.

Practice. I was push started out onto the track as the last car of the practising group with the engine already sounding somewhat rough. The TR/TSSC race was over-subscribed so class G (us lot in the modified TR7V8s) was running in with race 3, The Morgan Challenge and I plodded round in the rain for 4 laps with a very bad misfire. I'd had enough so came in, put the car on the trailer and reluctantly withdrew from the race. Even with the misfire I had qualified mid-field.

The Race. For the record, only 2 of our cars made the start; Colin Pendle and Alan Price who has a superb race-long battle for 5th, then 4th, then 3rd as they battled through the Morgans. Pendle finished 3rd overall with Price in 5th (i.e. 1st and 2nd in class G). I watched for a change!

Post-Race. In a bizarre twist, subsequent to that race the whole meeting was abandoned due to the very bad rain and the excessive amount of standing water on the start/finish straight. The cancellation occurred prior to the full TR/TSSC race and hence no points were awarded, making Colin's win null and void. The benefit is that although I was officially a DNS, the race result does not count towards championship positions.


Round 9 - Snetterton

Prior to even turning up at Snetterton we had to find out what the Cadwell problem had been, so it was off to Redline Tuning in Iver for a professional opinion. We arrived at the industrial estate at about 9 O'clock, but as we pulled into the site the cable holding the front of the car down, broke and left the car slide backwards and then smash forwards into one of the stowage boxes on the trailer, demolishing the box, severing the spoiler in two and bending the bottom of the radiator! I was none-too-pleased. 

The good point however, was that Tony, a well experienced race car mechanic, found the problem in about 15 minutes. The gear on the lower end of the distributor which also drives the oil pump had worn very badly and hence was giving very vague ignition timing and immense spark scatter. A quick trip to Real Steel (just round the corner) to get a new gear soon had the distributor in tip-top condition again. By noon the dizzy had been fixed and a couple of power runs on Tony's rolling road confirmed that we were back on song! The Redline rolling road is only rated to 200 bhp at the tyres (approx 250 bhp at the flywheel) and the car just blasted the needles off the end of the scale!

I quickly tested the car down the private road at the estate entrance and left 30' black lines from the point the clutch was engaged!

Practice. Rained off! Immense amounts of water fell on our heads all morning and the awning on the RV became a welcome refuge for many damp racers. To comply with MSA regulations all cars must complete 3 practice laps, so at the end of the morning we all had to file around the circuit behind the pace car at about 60 mph in the hope that the afternoon's weather would be kinder.

The start grid was formed by arranging all the cars in reverse class order, G at the front to A at the rear then drawing lots within each class. Unfortunately I was drawn 4th of the 4 class G TR7V8 cars present. Others were:

Colin Pendle (pole)
Alan Price (2nd)
Jeffrey Eatough (3rd)

Bizarrely I was gridded up in 5th slot as a phantom TR7V8 appeared in slot 4 on the organisers sheet! This was actually better as it meant there was a spare slot right in front of me.

The Race. Amazing sunshine and a warm wind for about an hour before our race gave us a 100% dry track. Perfect. I had a superb start getting up to 3rd by turn 2 and up into 1st by the end of the Revett straight where I was immediately out-braked by Pendle and Richard Bull (very fast TR5). I then set to chase for 4 laps with them about 5 seconds ahead of me and no-one at all behind me.

The race was beset with yellow flag incidents and I decided to settle for consolidating my 3rd overall which would be my best ever finishing position. The car pulled well and everything seemed to work just fine giving me a comfortable 2nd in Class G just 17 seconds behind Pendle and Bull. I have a new electronic lap timer on-board and I could see I was gradually slowing down as the end of the race approached. It'll be interesting to see the result from Mallory in 3 weeks.


Round 10 - Mallory Park

High hopes of a good class and overall result following on from our improved Snetterton experience. We had a very hectic week-or-so getting the car ready; new cam and distributor gears were fitted along with a new SD1 oil pump and a Moroso oil accumulator. The accumulator is fitted into the oil lines and acts by filling up with pressurised oil when the engine is running, then in the event that the oil pressure drops due to oil surge, the oil is forced back out of the accumulator to keep the engine lubricated. See Moroso's comprehensive web site for more detail! These bits of kit are becoming far more common over here (UK) especially on V8 motors where dry sump systems are banned in the regulations. I also re-set the front suspension geometry, having discovered a problem with the way I had fitted the front compression struts (90 degrees twisted the wrong way!). This has cured the vaguely curious way the car had been steering and wandering around on the straights. I'm still not happy with the fit of the quick release steering wheel and may change it to a full professional unit over the winter.

Yet again the TR/TSSC race was oversubscribed (see 1st Cadwell race) and the V8s and modified 2.0 litre TR7s were moved into the sportscar race, up against some pretty mighty Yank iron! This was more than a little annoying as it scuppered the chance of a good overall result.

Most of pre-practice time was spent fixing Steve Adams' Spitfire IV. He had fitted a new steel flywheel and full-race clutch and it just would not disengage - we stripped out the gearbox and fitted some custom built spacers (aka washers) between the cover plate and the flywheel and normal service was resumed! Just in time, but that's soon was a great effort by everyone involved (too many to remember and/or mention). He subsequently went on to have a great race too which made it all the better!

Practice. A very successful session (apart from some oil spilling from the catch tank onto one of the exhaust manifolds, causing masses of white smoke behind me) and I was 2nd quickest TR, about 1 second a lap behind Colin Pendle and just 3 thousandths of a second quicker than Alan Price! Larry Jeram-Croft was a second-or-so behind with several other TR7V8s behind him.

Class G line up: Pendle, Wolfe, Price, Jeram-Croft, Eatough, Maund.

The Race. A fantastic start saw me blast past the GT350 Ford Mustang in front of me and I found myself squeezed between two Aston Martin DB4s. I generously gave way and by mid-Gerrards found myself a couple of positions behind Colin with Larry and Alan together in my rear-view mirror. I chased Colin hard for about 7 laps and no matter what I tried, I wasn't really gaining on him, but at least Larry and Alan were dropping behind nicely. On about the 8th lap, Jeffery Eatough and Andy Baker (both in TR7V8s) had a huge coming together at the Esses resulting in the race being red flagged and a result declared. I finished 9th overall and a comfortable 2nd in Class G.

Class G result : Pendle, Wolfe, Price, Maund.    
Jeram-Croft - dnf - alternator fell off.
Eatough - dnf - accident

In the main TR/TSSC championship race, Paul Lucas had put his 1300 Spitfire on pole position again! Sadly though, come the race he was taken out in the first corner on a coming together with Charles Gillett's TR3. The cars did not touch, but the wheel spinner on Charles' car took out a wheel and tyre on Paul's car, James Bond style. Paul was not a happy racer and most of us felt pretty sorry for him to lose out in that way. Andy Vowell (Spitfire III) had a big off on the first tour and spent 10 laps catching back up to the other Class C cars, but he was not able to stay in front of the ever-improving John Thomason (Spitfire III). Post-race words were exchanged in the paddock, but I think Andy is going to have to get used to battling with John Thomason who is no longer a push-over. Andy has a very aggressive style and it appears he wasn't keen on getting it dished back to him. 

Elsewhere, a battling Adam Ealand (TR3) took Phil Lambe (TR6) off at the end of the Stebbe straight and put Phil into the tyres at what must have been close on 80 mph. Phil was unhurt but pretty fed up with Adam and his car was very badly damaged down the left side. Mark Field (TR7) gave us a most entertaining race and has shown what a 2.0 litre Sprint-engined car can do (when he was actually on the track!).


Round 11 Cadwell Park

Prior to our second trip to Cadwell for 2001 we made a few more changes to the car. The oil accumulator fitted for Mallory Park did not seem to be working correctly in that I was still experiencing some oil surge, with the oil warning light flickering on at times. During the week I spoke to one of the guys at Mocal who explained the problem: The oil pressure drilling on a Mocal remote filter adapter is on the outbound oil pipe, not the inbound one, so even if the accumulator was working correctly it would not be possible to tell. The oil pressure would still show low because the non-return valve in the filter would prevent pressurised oil reaching the sender. This meant blocking off the existing oil pressure drilling and tapping into one of the oil pipe unions on the correct ‘side’ of the filter/cooler assembly. Once done, the apparent oil surge problem was cured.

If you read the Mallory report you’ll know we had also been experiencing severe engine breathing problems, whereby huge amounts of oil were being deposited into the catch tank despite a number of pipe and tank configuration changes. We must have had 5 different explanations cast at us by differing racers, engine builders and alleged experts! In the end I decided to buy two new Rover SD1 oil breather traps (only about 12 each) and fit them to a pair of SD1 rocker boxes which I had kicking around the garage. A number of racers had insisted to us that breathers must be fitted at the front end of the rocker boxes, but when we did this the bonnet was fouled, so we fitted them a the rear! They work perfectly; following 8 laps of Cadwell, there was not a single drop of oil in the catch tank. Topping up the engine oil is now a little trickier as we have used the oil filler hole to mount one of the traps, so one of the oil breather pipes has to be removed when extra oil is needed.

The only other work we did on the car was to remove the inlet manifold and carburetor assembly to reseal the valley gaskets which had been seeping oil onto the gearbox.

Practice. Quite wet and lots of traffic on the track; it took me about 5 laps to get used to the power to grip ratio, at which time the red flags came out. The session was stopped because Ralph Jane’s Spitfire IV had shed its inside rear wheel at the hairpin and left him stranded half across the track. Bizarrely, on the 2nd lap of practice Paul Lucas had also lost a rear wheel at Barn, however it had flown off and over the tyre wall straight into the lake from where a brave marshall rescued it during the lunch break!

Once the practice times were issued there was much muttering as it just didn’t look too right! However I was quite happy to be 4th of 26 cars on the grid, behind the TR7V8s of Alan Price (1st), Colin Pendle (2nd) and Larry Jeram-Croft (3rd).

The Race. A very wet race start and I had a very good one, taking Larry on the way to Coppice (turn 1) and Alan going through Charlie’s (turn 2) and right up behind Colin going through Park and round to the Gooseneck. Colin does not like the wet at all and I was about to capitalise on this when the red flags came out…damn. There had been a huge smash on the start line when an over-ambitious TR driver had tried to go round someone by putting his wheels on the grass. He spun across the track in front of a charging pack, taking out Paul Lucas (Spitfire II) in a big way. A couple of other cars also got tangled up and the race was halted.

20 minutes later came the equally wet restart and I had another cracking get-away. Half way round lap 1 though and red flags again following another start line crash. Again a TR driver had brain fade and tried to push past Martyn Adams (Spitfire IV) where there simply wasn’t enough room and spun Martyn into the tyre wall at the narrowest part of the start line. The MG Car Club decreed we’d had enough chances and we were all sent back to the paddock. We all hung around hoping to get the race re-run at the end of the afternoon, but they simply ran out of time and we never did get to race.

Post Script. In 13 years of racing I have never know such madness at the start of a race; wet means potential trouble and some drivers need to get their thinking heads on. Everyone was blaming everyone else and tempers were running very high. The TR Register/TSSC is getting a bad racing reputation and deservedly so, the standard of driving from some of the participants has been pretty bad recently and everyone needs to take a look at themselves and ask what they could have done to avoid the accidents.

Hopefully Croft will be incident free racing.


Round 12 Croft

Very wet (again) and our second trip of the year to England's most northern circuit. We really had very little to do to the car as we had been ready to roll for the aborted Cadwell round so it was a simple case of load and go!

Practice. Absolutely fantastic - 2nd on the grid just a fraction of a second behind Keith Files in his TR6. I was easily the fastest of the TR7V8 runners and was delighted to be so far up!

The Race. Terrible start! Masses of wheel spin on the wet track and I was demoted to 5th by the first corner! There was some chance of recovery as Alan Price (TR7V8) spun coming through the chicane and sent the field scattering as we all charged down to Tower. By Sunny In I was back in my stride but was over zealous on entry to the corner and spun off onto the infield (coincidentally Colin Pendle spun off exactly the same time - without us even touching) and was soon back in about 20th as nearly everyone got by before I could rejoin the track.

There then ensued one of the best drives of my racing career as I recovered 17 places over the next 10 laps. By the start of the penultimate tour I was just behind Colin Elstrop in 2nd and about 20 seconds adrift of Keith Files up in the lead. However, coming into Clearvaux I lost control and planted the car into gravel at about 60 mph. To say I was upset is an understatement! At least I got fastest lap of the race (1st time ever in the TR) and still managed to secure Championship 3rd in Class G behind Colin Pendle and Larry Jeram-Croft.  

Croft non-championship

A round of the DDMC Northern Saloon and Sportscar Challenge and a rash decision to stay at Croft with Colin and Alan an extra day! Practice was a pretty poor performance really other than being the quickest of the TR7V8s in practice again (in this race Graham Miller was driving Colin's car).

I was about 8th on the grid and had an even worse start - it was pouring with rain and I stalled it! Last into turn 1 and after about three laps I was moving back up the field only to be taken off by a Ford Mustang whose driver really wasn't looking. I regained the track only to spin off onto the infield on lap 4 and get stuck (well and truly) in the wet, soggy mud. End of race. Very muddy car.


Roll on 2002...