In the 2003 TR/TSSC championship I was 2nd overall and 2nd in class F behind Graham Miller with Simon Knowles in 3rd.
Class F entry for 2004
|3||Jon Wolfe||64||Mike Cowing|
|6||Steve Crane||71||Graham Miller|
|7||Martyn Adams||72||Colin Pendle|
|42||Hugh Maund||85||Malcolm Chapman|
1st Miller - loads
2nd Wolfe - fewer
3rd Maund - less
4th Adams - some
5th Crane - not many
6th Cowing - several
(no show in 2004 from Chapman or Richards)
o/a & class
|1||April 10th||Silverstone||MGCC||p (wet)
|5th / 3rd||3rd||3rd||click here|
|2||April 17th/18th||Croft||CSCC||p (dry)
|1st / 1st||1st||1st||click here|
|2nd / 2nd||2nd||2nd||click here|
|4||July 3rd||Oulton Park (Fosters)||MGCC||p(wet)
|3rd / 1st||d.n.f.||d.n.f.||click here|
|5||July 31st||Donington Park||BRSCC||p (dry)
|2nd / 1st||d.n.f.||d.n.f.|
|6||August 8th||Snetterton||MGCC||p (dry)
|2nd / 2nd||2nd||2nd||click here|
*** Not Racing ***
|8||August 29th||Mallory Park||MGCC||
*** Not Racing ***
|9||Sept 12th||Cadwell Park||MGCC||p (dry)
|4th / 2nd||4th||2nd|
|10||Sept 25th/26th||Brands Hatch||MGCC||p (dry)
|4th / 2nd||d.n.f.||d.n.f.|
MGCC = MG Car Club, BRSCC = British Racing Sports Car Club, MSCC = Morgan Sports Car Club, AMOC = Aston Martin Owners Club
July 10th/11th TSSC International Weekend featuring the Le Mans
Spitfire celebration. £17.50 for the weekend.
July 24th/25th TR Register International show at Malvern - the aim is to celebrate 21 years of TR Register racing however this does clash with the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans
Points are awarded as follows:
4 or more starters in class - 1st = 8, 2nd = 6, 3rd = 4, 4th = 2.
3 starters in class - 1st = 6, 2nd = 4, 3rd = 2.
2 starters in class - 1st = 4, 2nd = 2.
1 starter in class - 1st = 2.
Plus 1 point for each of: pole position in class, taking the start and fastest lap in class. The Championship is decided on the best 8 results. The TSSC has a slightly different points system.
|Top 6 grid positions||1. Miller (1.22.778), 2. McDonald (1.24.531), 3. Hughes (1.24.872), 4. Crane, 5. Wolfe, 6. Maund|
|Top 6 result (class)||1. Miller (F), 2. Crane (F), 3. Wolfe (F), 4. Maund (F), 5. Knowles (E), 6. Hughes (E)|
|Class F result||1. Miller (1:06.813), 2. Crane (1:09.395), 3. Wolfe
(1:08.874) 4. Maund (1:09.067)
The run-up to the first race of the 2004 season was more hectic than usual. Problems with the engine dynamometer meant that the engine was returned to me just one week prior to the race and not fully set up. To add to this, on the Saturday prior to the race Steve Adams' crashed his Class C Spitfire in a warm-up race at Silverstone and the only way he would be able to race was if Dave Thompson and I spent time in the intervening week bashing it back into shape and fitting a complete new front right suspension set up. Time was against us but with Stacky's help we got Steve's car up and running and mine into a reasonable state of preparedness for the season opener.
Having spent a lot of time getting Steve's car ready disaster was to strike. During the accident a push rod must have jumped off a rocker and got lodged on the end of it. As the car ticked over on the drive, it slipped off causing a valve to get bent - no chance to fix that for the following morning and Steve instantly became a dns. With Baby Blue still in dry dock, Dave and I would be on the grid without Steve and Stacky.
Practice Very wet with light drizzle making for a cold and miserable start to the year. Cars were spinning off everywhere and nearly everyone took at least one pirouette at some point or another. Dave McDonald was going extremely well but spun just in front of me and clouted the Armco barrier pretty hard. He had climbed to 2nd on the grid but thrown it all away in an instant and would be a non-starter that afternoon. Mike Hughes qualified in 3rd slot but came in from practice trailing smoke but later diagnosed it as nothing more that a missing sump bolt which was soon repaired and epoxied in place. Miller was on pole with some impressive lap times and I was back in 5th with Steve Crane just in front. The rapidly improving Hugh Maund was alongside me in 6th and Dave Thompson was pleased to be second quickest of the Class C cars after an extensive winter rebuild.
Dave McDonald's ignominious return to the paddock.
2nd on the grid to dns in one easy slide...
The race With McDonald a non-starter I was effectively 4th on the grid; I had a good get away and blasted my way to 2nd by the first corner with Miller in the lead. Over the next 8 laps or so Miller pulled away and I opened out a good gap to Steve Crane who was running a comfortable 3rd. Within 3 laps we were lapping slower cars (it does feel a bit risky lapping some of the slower guys as the speed difference is immense) with most of them being very good at keeping an eye on what's coming up.
On one lap about mid race I caught up with the battle for the Class A lead between Barry Blakeley and Richard King; they were side-by-side coming onto the club straight. Barry drifted right and Richard left and I slotted up between them at about a 40 mph speed difference...I hope I didn't surprise them too much!
On about lap 8 I had a major problem set in; the clutch pedal went to the floor...no clutch. I subsequently found that the clutch slave cylinder had fallen off. With Steve Crane getting closer I was crashing the gears through the 'box and it was making the most awful noise. An LT77 will change up nicely without the clutch but it is nigh on impossible to change down. Luckily Silverstone can be driven with just 4 gear changes per lap, but even so I could not keep Steve at bay. Two laps from the end he sped past as I battled to get into any gear at all. On the last lap coming into the complex (just before the end of the lap) the gearbox cried enough and the stick just jammed in the middle - nothing doing - no gears at all, just one big, fat neutral! I rolled over the finish line in 3rd place and had just enough momentum to get half way round the lap before coasting to a halt.
After a rain-soaked practice session the class F field rather dominated the results at Silverstone. I was never a challenger for the lead but was pleased to finish so high after such a hectic 10 day effort to get the car ready.
Thanks to Team Wolfe for turning out to support and for everyone else who helped get the car ready. Lastly, what the hell has Andy Winterton done to the front of Steve Crane's old Spitfire? Sorry but it looks awful and must have the aerodynamics of a garden shed...all it needs is a coat of creosote and we'd all be fooled...
Photos: James Carruthers' picture gallery Alex Moore's picture gallery
Results: click here
|Top 6 grid positions||1.Wolfe (1:40.337), 2. Henderson (1:41.849), 3. Crane (1:41.859), 4. Cowing, 5. McKenna, 6. Bailey|
|Overall/class result||1st / 1st|
|Top 6 result (class)||1. Wolfe (F), 2. McKenna (E), 3. Crane (F), 4. Cowing (F), 5. Bailey (D), 6. Dandridge (C)|
|Class F result||1. Wolfe (1:39.828), 2. Crane (1:42.118), 3. Cowing (1:44.781) no other class F cars|
Another busy run-up to the weekend with the kids being off school but I managed to swap the gearbox over for my spare race gearbox and did all the normal pre-race checks on the car. Everything was looking OK although I did not get a chance to improve the brake cooling or repaint the bonnet as I had planned to do. We were very lucky to have a dry practice and a dry race in the midst of a wet and sometimes very blowy weekend.
Practice The format for the Croft meeting was such that practice was last thing on Saturday morning with the race being late afternoon on Sunday. All went OK for practice except that my car was emitting smoke from the underside; fortunately I was not flagged for this (although apparently the marshals did keep checking the track after I had passed). I had some good space and despite the gearbox jumping out of 3rd managed to get pole position by about 1.5 seconds from Joe Henderson (TR6) with Steve Crane in 3rd. Mike McKenna managed to wreck his diff after only a few laps but would turn out a strong contender come Sunday.
The smoke turned out to be simply the result of a blown valley gasket, which we fixed on the Saturday afternoon. Graham Miller was a no-show so it gave me a more than good chance of taking the top slot for the race too although I knew Joe was quick when he wanted to be.
Mike Cowing was the other Class F runner in his recently finished car - he did very well for a first time out, putting the car on 4th place on the grid and finishing the race in 4th too.
On pole. First one for 2004.
The TSSC guys were going well if a little thin on numbers - Karl Dandridge posted the fastest Class C time in his green and yellow GT6 with Dave Thompson and Kev 'bread van' Hadfield the only other 2 starters in that class.
The evening too much sherry, beer and chain saw action.
Not too dodgy looking (!?) Me and Stacky modifying a pallet..
The race I had a good start and lead into the first corner, out on the the old start-finish straight and through Tower. By the end of the lap Joe was in the lead and we continued to swap the lead for about 5 laps. It was very, very close racing and there was body contact on a number of occasions. On about lap 6, Joe had a poor exit from the Jim Clark Esses and I jumped down his inside at Sunny-in; I was right alongside him when he turned in and we both spun off the track. I managed to keep it going and rejoined the track about 40 metres further on after a 360 degree spin across the grass. Joe, however spun off and hit the tyre wall on the outside of the circuit damaging his car enough to not be able to continue. I was still in the lead.
I went on to take a comfortable win with Mike McKenna in second; he overtook Steve Crane on the penultimate lap after Steve out-braked himself and went straight on a Tower and duly let Mike through.
After the race there was a meeting with Joe, myself and the clerk of the course. There was some suggestion that I had somehow rammed Joe off the track from behind but this did not happen and the official observer's reports confirmed that no such thing took place; I was right alongside Joe when the collision took place. It's not a good way to win a race and it did take the edge off the victory but after seeing the clerk and the reports I felt happy that I had not done anything untoward and was not to blame for the incident.
This does mean I am currently leading the Class F championship...but for how long!?
My car was not 100% however as the engine had started over-breathing on about lap 3 with plumes of steam coming from the engine bay at over 4000 rpm. Power did not seem affected although several spectators subsequently told me that the car did not sound quite right. There's definitely a problem somewhere which needs to be sorted out before Rockingham.
Elsewhere, Steve Chapman had a heart-stopper when he stalled his TR4 on the grid and Mik Davies was a DNF when the water pump on his Class A Spitfire broke up and left him stranded on the infield.
Results: click here
|Top 6 grid positions||1.Miller (1:18.632), 2.Wolfe (1:19.832), 3.Henderson (1:19.856), 4.Maund, 5.Hughes, 6.Crane|
|Overall/class result||2nd / 2nd|
|Top 6 result (class)||1.Miller (F), 2.Wolfe (F), 3.Baker (D), 4.Maund (F), 5.Vowell (C), 6.Andon (E)|
|Class F result||1.Miller (1:18.165), 2.Wolfe (1:18.176), 3. Maund (1:21.724) 4. Cowing (1:22.583) dnf: Crane|
Rockingham photo montage
A huge 30 car entry for our annual trip to the superb Rockingham oval which is used extensively for ASCAR racing as well as pop concerts. No music for us however and only one of the four banked turns for our lappery; we use part of the oval and a section of the infield to cross over from just before turn 2 to the exit of turn 3.
On walking the track you can see just how unforgiving a place it can be; the outer wall is decorated with bizarre car imprints which look strangely artistic, but for their sinister cause. Hopefully we would not be adding to the display.
Spooky images are left on the retaining wall by high speed impacts
After the engine problems I had experienced at Croft I had decided to change both head gaskets and replace the valley gasket for this meeting, a few other changes were effected at the same time and a trip to rolling road showed an improvement in mid-range torque. The car felt better but only a few laps of a circuit would show if that was the case.
Practice 28 cars rolled out of the collecting area for 15 minutes of Rockingham fun; I was last car out and found plenty of space as I sped through the slower cars to post the second fastest time of the session. Rockingham has a great timing tower which shows spectators the current situation and my number slowly climbed the tower until resting just below Graham Miller who was on top by just over a second.
Joe Henderson (see Croft report) was 3rd in his repaired TR6 with getting-far-too-fast Hugh Maund in 4th. Joe was a dns for the race however, after he discovered his cylinder head gasket had failed and headed home.
Unfortunately the race date clashed with a Thoroughbreds' race at Brands Hatch so some of the TR regulars were absent, but to make up there was a huge TSSC turnout with just under half the cars being from that club. John Thomason was back on track after his big crash last year at Mallory Park and although he qualified well was another dns with engine problems. Steve Adams (Class C Spit) was delighted with his car - I have been helping him repair the car after he crashed at Silverstone in a non-championship race earlier this year and have set it up for him more like my championship winner of 1999 and it seems to be working for him.
The race A rolling start and Graham Miller edged ahead into turn 1 (the first lap uses turn 1 whereas subsequent ones use a chicane on the inside of the turn). As we rounded the hairpin we could see a car buried in the wall at turn 1 - at first I thought it was one of the TR7s but it turned out to be Andy Winterton's Class C Spitfire. It appears he had a huge engine blow-up which spread hot oil down and he piled backwards into the wall taking the unfortunate Paul Madden with him. We were all pulled up with red flags and waited for 20 or so minutes in the pit lane for the restart. I have since seen the crash on video and it's pretty sobering although both drivers were OK.
On the restart I tried to go high to turn 1 and would have been first one there but thought I had crossed the start line ahead of Miller, so backed off to let him through. I was right - my action saved a possible penalty for a jump start. I then tucked in behind Miller and waited for an opportunity to pass. The race had been shortened to just 8 minutes so I knew I did not have long, but was happy to wait for the right time. On the last lap I got right up behind and went high round the outside on turn 4 but couldn't quite make it and he beat me by less than 1 car's length. A good race though and my best ever result at Rockingham. My water pump belt came off on the last lap and on the slowing down lap the contents of the radiator sprayed onto the windscreen. I was lucky really, had the race been the full 15 minutes I would have been out. Oddly, one of Miller's head gaskets blew on his last lap too so he'd have been out as well!
Elsewhere, Steve Crane blew his engine up on lap 4 and span off into the gravel on his own oil, Mike Hughes then went off on Crane's oil and Kev Hadfield chucked the bread van off at the end of the last lap. Steve Small was the only other dnf. John Andon was delighted to be 6th and Andy Vowell's 5th (1st in Class C) reinforces his intention to win the TSSC Championship sooner rather than later.
Graham has now sneaked back into the class F championship lead by 1 point. It's Oulton Park next...should be fun
Postscript Steve Crane's engine blow-up was huge and catastrophic. On inspection, one of the con rods was found under the valley gasket having punched its way up through the casting, taking the camshaft and some of the pushrods with it. It's very comprehensively destroyed and could see Steve out of racing for a very long time, but hopefully not for good. Steve Small also suffered an engine failure
#3 piston and #4 big end from Steve Small's 16v sprint engine
Results: click here
Photos: James Carruthers' picture gallery
|Top 6 grid positions||1.Hughes (1.21.648) 2.McKenna (1.21.732), 3.Wolfe (1.22.164), 4.Miller, 5.M Cowing , 6.Maund|
|Overall/class result||d.n.f. / d.n.f. Fastest lap = 1.12.420|
|Top 6 result (class)||1.Miller (F), 2.Vowell (C), 3. M Adams (F), 4. Andon (E), 5. Maund (F), 6. Thomason (C)|
|Class F result||1. Miller (1.10.665), 2. M. Adams (1.15.797), 3. Maund (1.14.893) Wolfe & Cowing d.n.f.|
A mixed bag weekend with the highs and lows that come so often with motor racing and indeed with any sport.
The weekend started early with a Friday afternoon test session and ended with a rather bent car being rolled into the garage on Sunday evening.
Although I had been 2nd at Rockingham, all had not been well; the water pump vee belt had jumped off completely and the alternator belt had inverted. Another lap and I would have been sidelined with a cooked engine. I decided that the only solution was to swap the vee belt system for a more robust and modern system known as a poly-vee; this is fitted to most new cars these days so I figured it would not be too difficult as I already had a number of poly-vee pulleys for a Rover V8. It was supposed to be full a kit but as Rover V8s differ quite a bit at the front end I knew it was not going to be a simple bolt-on job.
My plan was to use the existing alternator by fitting a poly-vee pulley, but the one supplied with the kit was not only too big but it didn't fit either; to make things worse I could not get hold of the correct one from anywhere. I trawled eBay and saw a new Rover MGF alternator which had the correct front pulley and was a good price so bought it, so far so good. I then had a local machine shop fabricate a pulley spacer for the crank to ensure that everything lined up and made an alternator bracket from bits around the garage. It was all a bit of a fiddle but it was all ready for the test although the final cost was rather more than I had anticipated.
In case that wasn't enough, at Rockingham I had been pulled up by the scrutineers on a couple of other small issues which I also resolved; notably I had to relocate one of the seatbelt mounts and get the fire extinguisher serviced, something which often get forgotten.
Friday practice Dave Thompson, Steve Adams and I had decided to get up to Oulton Park on Friday morning to do a few laps of the circuit ready for Saturday. The weather was changeable and we were lucky to have a mostly dry afternoon. I did a 20 minute session in my V8 and everything was OK, the new belt stayed on and the car behaved well. I was a bit off my 2003 pace but it's difficult to compare year-on-year as the track surface on the day can cause a couple of seconds difference one way or the other.
For the second session I went out in Dave Thompson's GT6 for half a dozen laps. I really enjoyed it and found the car to be much better than I expected although the office was a very tight squeeze as I am rather larger than Dave. It's a very torquey, has loads of grip, even balance and a really nice gearbox but even so there are a few changes I would make to the car and I think Dave might consider those over the coming months.
I then went out in Steve Adams' Mk IV Spitfire which was interesting again. I had forgotten how nice they are to drive although I did find Steve's 'reclining chair' approach to the seating position slightly odd. Also it was impossible to toe and heel due to the pedal position - that's one thing he changed that day!
Thanks to those guys for trusting me with their valuable machinery!
Saturday A good attendance from the TR/TSSC crowd with about 24 cars entered for the race. The weather was changeable again but was looking likely to be wet.
Practice Really wet as we rolled out onto the track with quite a bit of spray and some very slippery sections. My V8 has a superb torque curve so I was able (as is often the case in the wet) to drive the whole session without changing gear at all. I just stuck it in 4th and left it there! I had a few sideways moments but never really came close to spinning the car and was happy to be 3rd on the grid (class pole) with the faster laps coming at the end as the track dried. The smaller TRs are often quicker in the rain and so it was that day. Mike Hughes put his TR5 on pole with Mike McKenna 2nd in his beautiful blue TR6. Graham Miller was 4th just half a second behind me and Mike Cowing and Hugh Maund were 5th and 6th respectively.
In the collecting area prior to the practice session, we were (as is common) usual subject to an MSA noise test. I was surprised to be recorded as 108 Db which is far louder than normal and 3Db over the permitted level. Post practice it was evident that over half the cars in the meeting, let alone the TR/TSSC race, had failed the noise test. Fortunately common sense prevailed and the scrutineers declared that the test meter must be faulty! Phew!
We were also subject to trip to the weigh bridge. I was closest at just 2.5kg (about 5 lbs) over the minimum!
The Race Miller and I had good starts thanks to the weather drying out and leaving the track clean and dry. I went right off the grid and down the inside of Mike Hughes into the lead but Miller came round the outside at the first turn. We charged round the first lap nose to tail and down Cascades at high speed for the second time. As I turned in on the left kink I dabbed the brakes and the car spun off (subsequently I heard from Colin Pendle who was watching that the rear brakes locked). I was dumped to 4th as I did a full 360 but rejoined! By Druids, just half a lap later I was back up to 2nd place.
On the third lap the same thing happened again but this time I was in the gravel trap! Because of the rain the gravel was heavy and clogged so was able to crawl out of it and back onto the track in 8th place. How many times have I done this now?
Over the next 5 laps I got back up to 4th with Hughes and McKenna visible in the far distance but I was still on the pace and decided to turn up the heat. I knew I could never catch Miller but as he was out of sight the thought crossed my mind that he could be out and it was worth the chase for the outside chance of a victory. I closed in lap after lap and got within about 3 seconds of the 2nd/3rd battle when I truly cocked it up coming through Lodge and the car went very sideways. I decided to try a late correction (normally I would make it spin) as I did not want to lose time but got it wrong and speared the car into the tyre wall…well it would have been the tyre wall if there hadn't been a car there already.
A couple of laps earlier Mike Cowing had parked up his V8 after a problem and I piled straight into it at about 30 mph. There was extensive damage to both cars as can be seen in the pictures. At first mine looked like body damage only but on inspection I found that my front left suspension was broken and both front tyres were damaged (a real bugger as they were new ones).
Mike Cowing's TR7V8 after I 'nudged' it!
My car after being taped up and dragged onto the trailer with broken suspension...
Two laps later the 2nd place tussle ended when Mike McKenna suffered complete brake failure and collected Mike Hughes on his unscheduled trip to the Old Hall tyre wall. Mike M's car was severely damaged and I suspect he's going to be out for a very long time and although Mike H's was less so, it was still pretty bad.
Miller went on to win by nearly a minute over second placed Andy Vowell and 3rd placed Martyn 'very happy' Adams.
Elsewhere, Steve Adams was suffering from a misfire and pulled into the pits not realising it was the last lap anyway - we all called it a finish anyway even if the officials didn't. The TSSC race was won by Andy Vowell followed home by John Thomason and Karl Dandridge.
As an appendix to the race, Dave Thompson, Nigel Gibbins and I all headed for Santa Pod in Bedfordshire to the Retro Car action day. In my case the 'action' was limited to drinking beer and then bodging the broken suspension enough to be able to get the car off the trailer. A shame really as I had been looking forward to trying the car on England's premier drag strip (I'm talking drag racing here rather than the transvestite scene in Brighton by the way).
Results: click here
Photos: James Carruthers' picture gallery
|Top 6 grid positions||1. Henderson (E), 2.Wolfe (F), 3.Hazelwood (E), 4.Miller, 5., 6.|
|Overall/class result||d.n.f. / d.n.f.|
|Top 6 result (class)||1. Miller (F), 2. Hazelwood (), 3. (), 4. (), 5. (), 6. ()|
|Class F result||1. Miller (), 2. Maund (), 3. Cowing Wolfe & M Adams d.n.f.|
Quite a substantial repair job was required after the Oulton shunt and it was fortunate there were a few weeks between the crash and the Donington round. The car required a front wing repair, new front spoiler, new track control arm, two new front tyres and a new bumper. The track control arm was the tricky part; adjustable ones are no longer made so I had to get one specially fabricated which took a couple of weeks.
I did the first two races of the year with the car in much the same spec as in 2003, however since then I have been using fuel injection in place of the Holley; when it's working OK it's good, but has not been so simple to set up correctly with a couple of very lengthy trips to the rolling road being required. The system is based on Jenvey throttle bodies with a DTA P8pro ECU taking care of the fuel and ignition maps. The engine is now distributorless and uses a pair of Peugeot 205 coil packs to provide the sparks.
Mapping the ECU - about 12 hours work in 2 sessions.
Pre-Donington I also investigated a stalling problem I have been having and found it to be caused by a part of the linkage not being secured properly on one of the throttle bodies. The engine is still over-rich on startup and is very prone to fouling spark its plugs, but when it's on song it's superb. It needs a tweak on the cold start map and I am loathe to try it myself.
Baby Blue: This would be the first race ever for Martin and after a gap of 8 years my first race car was ready to roll again (its last outing in 1995 resulted in a big crash at Brands Hatch). The car was good with over 300 road miles on the clock and two pretty respectable practice days at Mallory completed.
Practice A damp morning (the weather forecast could not have been more wrong) and only one scrutineer had turned up leading to a rather lengthy queue for inspections! No problems though and the car was soon lined up in the collecting area, ready to rumble. Out on the track the weather had made a serious change for the better and the newly resurfaced circuit was good.
Lots of drivers were complaining of lack of grip, but it seemed OK to me and after finding some good space I was delighted to be 2nd on the grid behind Joe Henderson in his 2.8 litre TR6 but ahead of Graham Miller again. Remember, in 2004, class pole gains an extra point.
Baby Blue just before practice (photo: James Carruthers)
Baby Blue: Not too good - a misfire was setting in at 5000 rpm making progress very difficult - after 5 laps Martin came back into the paddock to investigate. After a major fuel system clean (everything off and cleaned) Martin took the car for a blast up the road and it seemed OK. Martin was on the back row of the grid but not last and with everything to gain!
The Race I had a terrible start. This year the start procedure has changed and the red lights going out means 'go'. I sat there waiting for the green and it cost me! I was 3rd into Redgate (turn 1) behind Miller who had a great start and Henderson in 2nd.We were nose to tail for the next lap or so and I got past Joe on the final section of the 3rd lap.
Suddenly I felt a very slight jolt from the engine bay and within 5 seconds the temperature gauge went from 100 degrees C to over 150. The bloody fan belt had come off. A gush of hot, steamy water jetted through the bonnet slats and all over the windscreen and the car filled with acrid white steam. As I slowed and turned into the chicane I span off on my own water which was spraying everywhere; I recovered to cross the track and pull into the pits with steam emanating from everywhere.
I bailed out of the car and legged it over to the pit wall where I was retching from awful smell of the hot anti-freeze. That was the end of an easy podium place and a very possible outright win especially as 1 lap later Joe was out too.
Back at the paddock the problem was obvious - my home made alternator bracket had fatigued through and allowed the alternator to twist very slightly resulting in the belt losing tension and jumping off. The belt was sitting on the inner wing taunting me.
Baby Blue: I did not see Martin circulating at all - he had managed just 1 lap before retiring with that terrible misfire again. Double bugger!
Elsewhere there was some good racing but I'm in a bad mood so I'm not telling you about it. Nah!
A very bad outing for 'Team Wolfitt', with Martin being the first retiree and me being the second. Baby Blue is out next at Snetterton and then Mallory, whereas Big Blue will be at Snetterton then sat in the garage until the Cadwell round in September. School holidays and the '4-races in August' calendar mean having a week away with the kids has cost me two races. Roll on 2005.
|Top 6 grid positions||1.Miller (1:21.106), 2.Wolfe (1:22.701), 3. Adams (1:24.091), 4. Files , 5.Knowles, 6. Maund|
|Overall/class result||2nd / 2nd|
|Top 6 result (class)||1.Miller (F), 2.Wolfe (F), 3. Knowles (E), 4. Adams (F), 5. Thomason (C), 6. Files (E)|
|Class F result||1.Miller (1:21.394), 2.Wolfe (1:24.667), 3. Adams (1:26.066) 4. Maund (1:26.776)|
I don't fully know what it is but some race weekends are what right up there when it comes to having a great time. This weekend was one of those with a Saturday afternoon at the circuit just chilling out, a really enjoyable social evening and a solid day of top track action!
With two races being on the cards for Sunday and one of them being in Dave's GT6, I was very careful not to be over tired on Sunday morning so we had an afternoon watching the practice sessions, rehearsing our driver change for the pit stop race and generally lazing about. It was mighty warm and we had a massed perambulation of the circuit in the early evening followed by a musical recital from Dave 'JJ-Muddy-John-Lee' Thompson.
Some very important staring going on here. Clive is winning.
Practice (TR/TSSC) Very hot and possibly too hot, but with 21 cars taking to the track it was not a bad TR/TSSC turnout. I circulated pretty much on my own and was keen to see if Stacky could stay out longer than he managed at Donington where he had been plagued by the gremlins. I was 99% sure that Baby Blue's problems were electrical and duly the coil, leads, rotor arm, distributor cap an condensor were changed. We're not totally sure which component fixed it but suspect it was the coil; whatever it was, the problem has gone away.
I was not as quick as I have been in the past and I am beginning to think the engine may be down on power as my straight line performance against some of the other cars was not so good. Anyway I managed a comfortable 2nd on the grid but over 1.5 seconds off Miller who took pole. Stacky completed the whole session and was gridded in 20th slot.
Andy Vowell (Spitfire) had thrown an engine together from old paper clips and household waste after he had severely damaged his engine at Donington when the flywheel sheared off the crank. His 'new' engine was not delivering oil to the rocker gear, but after a bit of paddock scrounging he found the required parts and was ready in time for the race. John Thomason (Spitfire) had been testing on Friday and was all set to take Class C honours with some good lap times.
Keith Files was out in his superb TR6. Keith had just returned from Virginia where he won the VIR/SVRA Triumph race and was looking to take some silverware home from Snetterton too. John Andon (TR4) was unlucky to destroy his differential and was on his way home before the racing even began.
The Race (TR/TSSC) Not a bad start at all as Miller and I charged down to turn 1, but by turn 2 he was pulling away and I was never to see him again really. Martyn Adams briefly passed me going down the Revett straight but I out braked him into the Esses and I was away. Over the following laps as Miller opened out a gap from me, I opened out a gap behind me. That was about it really until lap 8 when Clive Gimson (GT6) span off on Andy Vowell's oil and the race was red flagged just 3 minutes from the end. At least I had finished after two consecutive d.n.f.s.
The down side to this was that although Dave Thompson had just made a couple of moves to get up to 3rd in Class C from 5th, the results dumped him back to 5th as they are taken from the end of the lap prior to the lap when the red flag incident took place. He was not best pleased.
Through the Bomb Hole - slowing down lap after the race was red flagged. (photo: James Carruthers)
Stacky did well as he managed to get into the Class A lead for a few laps eventually finishing 2nd to Barry Blakely with Mark Hadfield coming home 3rd. Lastly, not one bent TR/TSSC car; what happened there then?
Photos: James Carruthers' picture gallery
Abingdon Trophy pit stop race Rather generously (stupidly?) Dave Thompson offered me a drive in his Mk II GT6 in the 2 driver, 40 minute pit stop race which often rounds off the day in the MGCC meetings. The problem though was fuel - there would not be enough! Cunningly, in the weeks prior to the race a plan was conceived; a metal petrol can (probably bought in Halfords in about 1975!) was carefully adapted as an additional fuel tank and securely strapped to the bottom of the GT6. An additional fuel pump would, at the flick of a switch (bizarrely labelled 'micey'), transfer the fuel from the tin to the main tank in about 2 minutes.
Practice I would do the first stint of practice and hand over to Dave during the pit stop - we had to practise our driver change which was essential to getting a good result. All the cars had to make a pit stop between 5 and 35 minutes of the race. For solo drivers a 30-seconds-stationary pit stop was required but for two driver teams it was as quick as you could do it and we had got our swap down to just 21 seconds. Dave is quite a bit smaller than me but I was determined to jam myself in; the trouble was that getting out was not so easy. By loosening the belts and pushing myself hard back into the seat as I approached the pit, I could be physically pulled from the car quite quickly. See the linked .avi. files for a demo!
Practice came and went without event and we were gridded in 12th slot - not at all bad really. The GT6 is really nice to drive and has a surprising amount of grip for a car with such a heavy engine so far forward.
The Race It was quite a change to be mid-grid (I've kind of become used to being top 4) and was well aware of the problems associated with being that far back. Duly, Keith Files (slot 4) made an horrendous hash of the start and nearly stalled, whereas I, by contrast, had a great get-away but then had to brake again to avoid Keith's car and I was passed by about 5 cars.
I then had 5 laps of big fun as I made my way back up the field one-by-one. Within about 6 laps I was into the Class A lead and hassling some of the bigger engined cars. I was very conscious of not throwing away the position so settled into 25 minutes of lapping at about 1:32. I was getting pretty hot and tired when I finally saw the 'T' board shown to me by the team on the pit wall. This board is a simple, blue biscuit tin lid with a large white letter 'T' on it. I've had it for ages, having improvised it for a race where a special pit signal was required. In the original race, 'T' meant, 'You are driving like a Tw*t, get on with it!' however in this race it meant 'pit next lap'.
I was relieved to be called in and undid the belts and got ready to disembark as the car slowed into the pit lane. Once stopped, Dave grabbed my ankle to pull my right foot over the door bar and Stacky grabbed the epaulettes on my race suit and hoisted me out of the car. Dave was in, strapped in place and away within 20 seconds. Dave rejoined in second place in Class A. The leading Class A car had pitted early (hence how I got to the class lead so quickly) and was flying, however the 3rd place 'A' car was a decent distance back.
Dave took on the role well and was lapping at much the same speed that I was. Subsequent to the race I discovered he was a bit surprised at how much I had abused the front tyres! On only his second corner the car washed right out as the tyres were just too hot! Perhaps I should have mentioned it.
Dave was comfortably holding the 3rd placed MGB behind him until the last lap when the engine coughed and died and allowed the MGB past. The GT6 immediately recovered and Dave brought the car home in a very creditable 7th overall and 3rd in class A. On inspection there was about 1/8" petrol left in the tank, one more lap and we'd probably have been a d.n.f!
It was a superb race and we both really enjoyed it, maybe we'll do it again sometime. Notably Keith Files and his co-pilot John Wood won the race with the Mike Hazelwood/Dave MacDonald car in 2nd place.
|Top 6 grid positions||1.Vowell (), 2. Thomason (), 3. Hadfield (), 4. Chapman , 5. Baker , 6. Thompson|
|Top 6 result (class)||1.Miller (F), 2.Vowell (C), 3. Baker (D), 4.Thomason (C), 5. Chapman (), 6. Thompson (C)|
|Class F result||1. Miller () Adams DNF|
Stacky won Class A in Baby Blue!
** Did not race **
|Top 6 grid positions||1.Miller (), 2. Hazelwood (), 3. Maund (), 4. Thomason, 5.Vowell, 6. Andon|
|Top 6 result (class)||1. Miller (F), 2. Cowing (F), 3. Thomason (C), 4.Vowell (C), 5. Bailey (D), 6. Andon (E)|
|Class F result||1. Miller (), 2. Cowing () No other starters|
Stacky won Class A in Baby Blue!
** Did not race **
|Top 6 grid positions||1.Miller (1:42.906), 2. Henderson (1:43.074), 3. Knowles (1:45.146), 4. Wolfe , 5. Cowing, 6. Adams|
|Overall/class result||4th / 2nd|
|Top 6 result (class)||1.Miller (F), 2. Knowles (E), 3. Henderson (E), 4.Wolfe (F), 5. M Adams (F), 6. Thomason (C)|
|Class F result||1.Miller (1:43.110), 2. Wolfe (1:44.263), 3. M Adams (1:47.431) Mike Cowing , DNS|
The most picturesque circuit in the country; very narrow and with some great corners and huge changes in elevation.
Dave Thompson had made a couple of changes to his GT6 during the week, so Stacky and I agreed to help him test the car on Saturday. It was a very productive session for Dave, getting him back in the Cadwell groove and sorting out one or two little set-up problems.
There was a typical barbeque evening, finally ended by the inclement weather at about midnight by which time a large box of wood, some logs from the trees and half a pallet had been consumed by the fire-tray! Thanks to whoever left their plywood caravan stabiliser supports, they kept us warm for quite a while!
Practice Given my championship position (i.e. no hope) Stacky and I decided to perambulate the circuit in a fairly sedentary style to get some good Team Wolfitt photos. As that came together, Mik Davis (Class A Spit) broke a rear half shaft and stranded himself at the bottom of the Mountain causing the red flags to be displayed.
On the restart I found myself in clear space and was able to put in a few reasonable laps to get up to 4th on the grid behind Graham Miller, Joe Henderson and Simon Knowles. The engine was pulling better than at Snetterton but it's still not quite right - I fitted a larger electric radiator fan and that helped keep the engine a bit cooler but it's still running too warm and fouls its plugs continually.
The Race Miller and Henderson both had awful starts (one of the worst I've seen Miller do for ages!) and both Knowles and I, who had good get-aways, were completely baulked. Knowles tried to go between them both and I went to the right of Henderson's TR6 which looked like it had a grass fire under each rear wing such was the volume of white tyre smoke emanating from them.
I sneaked up into 3rd behind Henderson who was right on Miller's tail until the Mountain at which point Henderson completely misjudged the turn-in and wiped out all the corner posts and spun off onto the grass. I was up to 2nd. Over the next 6 laps Miller pulled out a 100 metre gap while I created a smaller gap between myself and Knowles. During the next few laps Knowles began to regain some time and on the penultimate lap he out braked me into Park; I just could not hold him off any longer as my tyres got worse and worse and I did not even try to defend the corner. On the last lap I tried to retake him going up Charlie's but I over cooked it and went off onto the grass. It took me about 5 seconds to get back on the track by which time Joe Henderson had got past. I finished 4th overall and 2nd in Class.
Elsewhere, Stacky had a good race for Class A honours, finally winning over Mark Hadfield again - that's now three class wins in a row. As a consolation though, Mark got fastest lap and set a new class A lap record. Kevan Hadfield was a dns in the bread van after his newly rebuilt engine failed in practice and newcomer John 'JY Classics' Yarnell acquitted himself well in his first ever race.
Steve 'Northern Ninja' Adams finally finished a race this year and Dave Thompson finished 4th in Class C behind John Thomason in 1st, Andy '2004 TSSC Champion' Vowell in 2nd and Clive Gimson in 3rd. John Thomason had a terribly torrid time getting to Cadwell after a wheel broke off his trailer on the way up forcing him to return home to borrow another - his troubles were compounded then by the winch breaking as he was loading his car; the car rolled back off the trailer and smacked into a lamp post causing some minor but very annoying damage.
|Top 6 grid positions||1.Miller (), Henderson2. (), 3. Hazelwood (), 4. Wolfe, 5., 6.|
|Overall/class result||d.n.f. / d.n.f.|
|Top 6 result (class)||1. Miller (F), 2. Henderson (E), 3. Hazelwood (E), 4. (), 5. (), 6. ()|
|Class F result||1. Miller (), 2. Cowing () no other class F finishers.|
The final round of the 2004 TR Register/TSSC championship and more TSSC cars than TRs again! For some reason the number of TRs seems to be in decline whereas the number of Spitfires and GT6s etc. is increasing with several new drivers making regular appearances this year.
Practice (TRs) The first session of the day was for the TR/TSSC race and I was out on the track about mid-field. I led Stacky and Dave Thompson around for a couple of laps just so they could see the line and then shot off to get a grid position. The track was not 100% and was particularly tricky on the exit of Graham Hill bend where I had a couple of very sideways moments as the rear of car kicked across the track under power. My lap timer was showing all sorts of weird numbers as the session went on and I was not sure that it was telling the truth. It wasn't and I was slower than the timer showed and was gridded in 4th slot right behind Joe Henderson in 2nd; getting past him and up to the front would not be easy.
Stacky needed every point possible to clinch the newcomers title and was a bit disappointed to be slightly slower than Mark Hadfield in the other Class A car.
Practice (40 minute, pit stop enduro) After quite a few trial seat fittings and driver change rehearsals, Dave went out first in the V8 to practice for the 40 minute enduro race. All did not go too well as he was having difficulty seeing over the dashboard because the seat insert we had made for him compressed down too much. He had a bit of an off and did some minor damage to the front bumper and decided to come in for the driver swap. I went out and managed to get the car up to 6th on the grid in a pretty impressive field of V8 powered cars.
The Race (TR) The car was not quite right as I went to the collecting area and when I restarted the engine to join the grid, the engine dropped to 7 cylinders. There was nothing I could do about it but decided to carry on and hope the plug managed to clear. When the red lights went out for the start I had a great get away but was baulked by Henderson who covered to the left. We all barrelled through Paddock Hill end and through up to the hairpin at Druids but somehow came out of Druids in 7th place! How the heck did that happen? Paul Lucas and John Thomason had both sneaked their Class C Spitfires in front of me and I wasn't too keen on the idea!
Despite being on 7 cylinders I still had more power than a Spitfire on all 4 so was soon chasing them down. I'm not sure when but I had a minor coming together with each of them over the next lap or so and soon managed to dive down the inside of Paul Lucas at Paddock. I caught John Thomason at Graham Hill but he just lobbed his Spitfire off the track and into the gravel for me! I actually thought I was going to collect him but luckily he span away onto the grass. I was up to 3rd with Mike Hazelwood not far behind. One lap later Hazelwood got past and then a lap after that the race was red flagged after a Spitfire got stranded on the apex of Druids.
My engine was sounding rougher and getting very poorly; the oil temperature was up to 140 degrees C and I had lost some oil pressure - good signs that a big end bearing is on the way out. Even before the race restart I had retired to the paddock and put the car on the trailer. I was a bit pissed off to say the least as I have been beset by bloody annoying engine problems all year and this was the real dog poo on the cake.
Elsewhere, Stacky won Class A again (4th class win in a row!) and managed to win the 2004 newcomers title on equal points with TR7V8 driver Mark Humphries (who is generally known as 'Not Ian Agnew). Mark Bought Ian's car but we didn't know his name for ages so the alternative Monica has kind of stuck! Although they both scored the same number of points, Martin won the title as he had achieved more class wins.
Dave secured championship 3rd in Class C and was very happy; his best Class C performance so far.
The Race (40 minute, pit stop enduro) Well, it didn't happen - not with Dave and me in it anyway!
Just to cheer me up the RV engine wouldn't start and I had to ponce a jump start and then, on the way home, the engine back fired so badly it blew the bloody LPG system to bits and I had to go home on petrol. A really great weekend.
That afternoon I decided enough was enough and I am going to retire from racing. Yeah right! See you all again in 2005..eat my tail pipes you monkeys!
Another date change...Mallory now August 29th after the Morgan Car Club lost its place to the British Superbikes! This means a postponement of the '21st year of the TR Championship' celebrations to 2005, which apparently is the real anniversary depending how you count it (don't ask me what that means). This does mean a very busy August with 3 races in that one month.
Baby Blue now has an MOT. Very good for engine running in!
The annual dinner and prize giving was a really super affair and I think everyone who attended reallyb enjoyed it, thanks to Mike and Heather for organising it again. The only gossip was that Graham Miller intends to defend his title, Simon Knowles may be just an occasional runner this year as he intends to do the Thoroughbred Sports Car championship as they now allow vented brake discs, John Thomason is apparently building a Class C GT6 to replace his Spitfire and Malcolm Chapman should be out in his Class F TR7V8 after a year off. There are a couple of newcomers joining the fray too.
Read about Project Baby Blue
Cadwell, Snetterton, Brands hatch and Oulton bought by Jonathan Palmer's company. Click here for more. The only down-side is that he has hiked the circuit hire fees across all 4 circuits, and notably at Oulton by 14%. Circuit hire costs for one day for 2004 will be: Snetterton £9,000, Oulton 14,500, Brands Indy 18,000 and Cadwell £8,850. That's just the hire fee and does not include medical cover, marshals or insurance.
February 2004 news: Baby Blue's first test!
January 2004 news: Ex TSSC racer Martyn Adams has bought Larry Jeram-Croft's TR7V8; after selling his Spitfire IV he had been contemplating racing in the Ginetta championship but has opted to stay with the Triumphs. The V8 was re-shelled in 2002 following a huge start-line shunt at Silverstone and prior to that it was owned by Mick Richards, one of the most successful drivers ever in the TR Register.
Hugh Davies has also sold his V8 - hopefully we'll see it out with the TRs again...
Progress on my car is slow as my son, Howard, had a serious accident in early January and is stuck in a wheel-chair for a couple of months. This reduces the amount of time I can spend on the car and means I cannot work for that time either. Don't worry though, I'll still be there at the start of the season! And, by the way, project Baby Blue is progressing well! Details shortly.
December 2003 news: Some progress being made on the car although the engine rebuild is taking quite some time. The floor and axle location points are being inspected for cracks and repairs and improvements made where necessary. The dry sump oil tank has been relocated 10cm further forward to aid weight distribution and this will also allow fitting of a larger petrol tank. The car had the 5 gallon alloy tank from my Spitfire which is simply not big enough for 30 minute races, so an 8 gallon one is going in.
November 2003 news: A number of rule changes have been made across the TR/TSSC championship which mostly affect the Class A cars. I proposed the merger of Classes E and F, this was rejected as was my proposal to alter the additional point for starting to become a point for finishing. Changes as follows:
Class A: Porting of cylinder head allowed (must
use standard valves, springs and rocker gear)
Class A: Camshaft choice is now free
Class A: Lightening and balancing of engine internals allowed
Class A: May only use SU or Stromberg carbs, max of two at 1.5" - modification permitted
Class A: 6 cyl cars may now use tubular exhaust manifolds
Class A: Electric water pumps not allowed
Class D: 6 cylinder cars have their minimum weight increased to 950 Kg from 900 Kg.
All Classes: Use of the Yokohama A048 tyre is
All Classes: Additional point for pole position in class
In other news, Larry has sold his TR7V8 - the chap that has bought it plans to race it in the championship so hopefully we'll see the car out again very soon. Since then it's been sold again to Martyn Adams.
Take a look at November's issue of Retro Cars Magazine! Must be my favourite mag at the moment..
Return to main page