The CSCC (and a few others) calendar is as follows -
Bold means the day that Dave and I will be racing
Swinging Sixties and Classic K series races are always on the same day
Expect to see that pesky Falcon more than the GT6!
Where a date is bold that's the dates we know we are racing
|2011 Race & other dates and results|
Club & Series
|Car||Result o/a||Class result||Weather|
|A||18th Feb||Goodwood||Masters track day||Ford Falcon
|Show||25 27 Feb||Race Retro show||Loads of them||Defender 110||I was there before Dave.||Wet (so what!)|
|B||31st March||Snetterton 300||CSCC test day||Ford Falcon
|1||9 10 April||
|CSCC Swinging Sixties & Classic K||Ford Falcon
|Warm and dry|
|2||7 8 May||Brands Hatch Indy||CSCC Swinging Sixties||Ford Falcon||11th||1st||Warm and dry|
|3||14 15 May||Silverstone GP||
|Cold and dry|
|4||28 29 May||Donington||CSCC Swinging Sixties||Ford Falcon
TVR Grantura (Dave)
|5||10 11 12 June||Spa Francorchamps||CSCC/Roadbook||Ford Falcon||39th
|6||22 - 24 July||Silverstone GP||The Silverstone Classic HSCC||Ford Falcon||DNS
|7||6 7 August||Anglesey coastal||CSCC Swinging Sixties||Ford Falcon||14th||1st||Warm, dry|
|n/a||25th Sept||Bottisham Airfield||n/a||Dodge Weapons Carrier|
|8||1 October||Castle Combe||CSCC Swinging Sixties||GT6||9th||3rd||Very hot and dry|
|9||2 October||Snetterton||MGCC 4 Hour||GT6||23rd?||Who cares?!||Very hot and dry|
|10||22 23 October||Snetterton||CSCC Swinging Sixties||Ford Falcon||DNS||DNS||Cool, windy|
|11||5 6 November||Silverstone National||HSCC Walter Hayes||Ford Falcon||14th & DNS||1st & DNS||Cold, damp
Class structure for CSCC Swinging Sixties for 2011...this moves the GT6 from the old C to new class D of Group 2
The 64 Falcon in the Goodwood pit lane, 18th Feb 2011
1964 Ford Falcon Sprint, FIA Appendix K Ready for the 2011 season
The weather was our major concern as Thursday (31st March) approached; as ever the different forecasts were predicting different conditions but all suggested rain for the early morning. It was indeed pretty wet travelling up and also for the first few sessions.
I had made some transmission gear linkage changes since Goodwood, a new propshaft and revised the steering geometry; I was very keen to see if it was any different.
The car was pretty awful in the wet but I suspect that’s the weight and the rather over-used tyres on it. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience and combined with the revised (now 3 miles) circuit layout I was slower than a lethargic sloth. The track was also pretty busy with about 40 cars out at a time which makes it tricky finding track space. Once the rain abated and as the track dried out in the strong wind the laps became quicker and quicker and I made sure I was early out on track fopr each session to assure myself of some space.
Mid afternoon Dave and I swapped cars and which was right at the time the day became ‘open pitlane’ and the red flags became even more prevalent. During my second TVRing session and on the out section from the pit lane a Caterham slapped straight into the side of the TVR bending the steering, badly damaging the front wing and breaking the front and rear suspension uprights. I was off onto the mud in very short order and pretty hacked off. The flag marshal came running over and was most sympathetic; there was clearly nothing I could have done about the accident.
It has done a lot of expensive damage to the car and made it pretty unlikely for Snetterton. We’re pretty hacked off about it really. It was a totally avoidable incident and happened on the warm up lap out of the pits on a straight section of track! I can only assume from the massive skid marks on the track that the Caterham driver was driving way too fast and locked up his brakes and skidded sideways into the TVR.
To make it worse the incident has cost us several thousand pounds, a mass of work and compromised the start of the season. Dave has always been very anti having hot hatches and Caterhams on the track at the same time as the historics/classics and I think he’s probably right. I think we’ll stick to HSCC and Masters test days from now on.
So in summary, the whole day was a bit of a red-flag-fest.
Photo: Andy Kitson
To be honest, this was the first proper race for the Falcon. The Silverstone Classic was rubbish (perpetually overheating) and the Walter Hayes all-comers race was test of reliability more than anything else; added to that only one rear brake was working which added to the fun!
The CSCC Swinging Sixties is open to any cars in production prior to 1970 and picks up FIA Appendix K cars where their engine capacity exceeds the 2 litre limit that is set for the CSCC Classic K Series. Does that make sense? I hope so. This meant I would be in the ‘historic tyres’ class for the Group 2 race. Yes this really is complicated, sorry. Group 1 is for smaller engined cars, Group 2 for the bigger cars!
There were about 25 cars in the Group 2 race but only a couple on Dunlop historic tyres, so I stood some chance of a class win if not an epic one! As we had travelled up on Friday I also entered the all-comers race for Saturday to get a bit of track practice in...that qualifying session went well but I could not get quicker than a 2:32 lap which was a bit disappointing; I was getting out-dragged by everyone on the straights and the corners were embarrassingly slow with no front-end grip at all.
After the qualifying session a quick inspection of the car revealed that it was not getting full throttle opening when the pedal was to the floor. A quick mod had that fixed but made it near impossible to toe-and-heel as the gap to the brake pedal was now too big. Unfortunately the actual race was abandoned before even starting as the Caterhams had experienced another eventful race with 2 red flags (one for a bad start and one for an accident) and used up all the slack in the timetable.
Come Sunday, we had a 40 minute practice session in the morning so that everyone could get to know the new 300 circuit properly. I did about 15 minutes then came in to swap front tyres onto brand new ones and wound up the rear shock absorbers to get more front grip; I subsequently managed to get down to 2:29. The car was noticeably better and a vibration I had suffered at the Snetterton test day was completely cured. Unusually the race was a rolling start behind the pace car; this was done to get through the programme more quickly as there were so many races and I was placed 18th on the grid, a bit further down than I normally like to be!
The race was pretty uneventful however; I came in for the mandatory pit stop as soon as the window was opened (now after just 10 minutes and open for 15) and we did a super-speedy one despite now having a 6 point harness in place of the 4 point one I had before (yet another new FIA rule). That slick stop ultimately made us a place up as on the last laps I was being chased down by an MGC who was closing in at over 3 seconds a lap and I beat him by under half-a-second to 10th overall.
The lap times were better again after winding the rear shocks up to maximum and I became more comfortable with the car’s size and weight. I was pretty consistent with 2:27 laps. I gained a class win by beating the only other historic tyres car by 2 laps and was happy with the car but for a few issues; I think it needs stiffer rear springs, it needs a better radiator as cooling was marginal, the throttle and/or brake pedal needs refining as it’s impossible to toe and heel and it needs new rear tyres too. Roll on Brands Hatch for the next outing!
Brands Hatch has really grown on me since the ‘old’ days of the TSSC Championship with its stupidly short 12 minute sprint races! The short (1.2 mile) Indy configuration and the Grand Prix circuits both have their merits and both incorporate the truly awesome Paddock Hill Bend at the end of the severely sloping start/finish straight. If you’ve never been there you really should; it’s past its heyday as a top flight venue because of local planning and use restrictions but it is still an impressive place.
The days preceding a race weekend is the only time I take any detailed interest in the weather and it then it becomes intense! Not that I can change it you understand but because it affects my mental state for racing...the Falcon shares none of the characteristics of a lithe and nimble machine that can cut through the rain so I was duly concerned for my first wet outing in it.
Torrential rain was expected for Friday night and it pretty much came along on time; it rained for much of the night and I was grateful for the new (watertight) roof on the RV but was slightly concerned for the lack of tread on the back tyres of the Falcon! I had fitted new ones on the front for Snetterton but despite ordering a full set of new ones 6 weeks in advance of the meeting, none were forthcoming. There is over-demand for my chosen size for some reason!
Practice was most slippery and due to some foolish installation by my chief mechanic (that would be me) of a pressure reduction device in the rear brake line, my rear brakes were far too effective and made the car undriveable again (See 2010 Silverstone Classic). I qualified last but one on the grid, that being in 19th place alongside the only other Class F (historic tyres) car. Excuse: The track was wet and I was very cautious especially with the unbalanced brake setup and that led to very slow lappery.
Spinning at Druids during practice...sorry about the turf everyone... Picture: Nicholas Jackson
Come the race we had found and rectified brake imbalance problem and the weather had cleared too and it was now bright and sunny. I had much more confidence in the car immediately. I made a great start off the back of the grid and was up 2 or 3 places by Druids on lap one then held that place until 10 laps later when there was the first of three safety car incidents. Judging that I could get into the pits and back out again before the safety car came round again I dived in for the mandatory pit stop and the guys (Mark Hadfield assisting Dave) gave me another super-fast stop. I was out again and rejoined the back of the back of the safety car train. As others dived in too it was clear I had made up about 4 more places.
The incident had been caused by a big smash on the run up to Druids on about lap 10; it involved a Reliant Scimitar which left the track and rejoined directly into the path of a Lotus Elan 26R and a Lotus 7. All 3 cars were well mashed up and it took a good 5 minutes for the track to be cleared of debris and gravel.
There was another safety car incident some laps later (can’t remember why) and that cost me all the places I made on the first one! I was in very close contention thence forth with a TVR Tuscan V8 which was lapping at a very similar pace to me until he chucked it into the sea of gravel at Paddock Hill. Another place and another brief safety car period. By the time that ended it was only 5 more laps to the end of the race and I had a good scrap with a MkII Jaguar and an early E-Type; none of it was for position as we were all on different laps but good fun none-the-less.
On the way to 11th overall at Brands Hatch Picture: Nicholas Jackson
I finished 11th overall and first in class thus collecting my first ever trophy for the Falcon and with a best lap of under 60s. I was very happy.
The first time for either of us on the new GP Circuit was a big appeal so both Dave and I put in entries for the HSCC International meeting. I entered the Historic Touring Cars race and Dave the Guards Trophy for pre-66 sports cars which we would run as a two driver race. This was the first time out for the TVR since its altercation with a loon in a Caterham.
The previous weekend we were at Brands Hatch and it was pretty clear that the back tyres on the Falcon were getting pretty worn out with none available from the dealers. We needed a plan B and I managed to get some second-hand 500 M 15 tyres from TR4 racer Neil Howe as a backup in case we couldn’t get the ones we needed. As it transpired the Dunlop van was at the meeting with a couple of 550s available so why I could not get any earlier in the week makes no sense to me.
Saturday was Guards day and we qualified in 38th place from a 55 car qualifying session, Dave did most of the 30 minute session and I just did the last 2 laps to get to see where the track went. The car was good; it’s very ‘pointy’ compared to the Falcon and really different to drive. Everything was working well and we seem to have set it up very much as it was before which was a relief at it has had lots of new suspension parts front and rear. Even the paint job was good; we went to great lengths to get the right colour (it’s not a standard one). We ended up mixing it ourselves and you can’t even see the join despite it being 2K which is notoriously difficult to match cleanly.
The rolling start was awesome with 55 cars allowed to start on the new circuit layout. It was a good race and we did a good pit stop. The down side is that HSCC make you wait a minimum of a minute for the stop and we must have been ready to go for 30 or more seconds due to our practices we do for the CSCC quick-as-you-can driver changes. We finished in 29th place, well down in class but really happy with the result.
On Sunday was the HSCC ByBox Historic Touring Cars race which is Appendix K saloons mixed in with modified HRSR cars which are modified cars running to a minimum weight and on Dunlop Historic tyres. The car suffered a terrible intermittent misfire the whole way through and I only did 20 minutes of the 30 minute session but still managed to get up to 10th on the grid, it even contributed to a spin at Maggots when it popped and banged mid-slide and pitched the car round. On the up side the race the day before had really helped me with lines, turn-in and braking markers. We quickly swapped to the alternative distributor which immediately solved the problem ready for the race.
The weather held off all day and the race was cold but completely dry. I had a good start and was up into 8th when after 2 laps a car lost all its engine oil at Copse (turn 1) and caused a safety car session. Oddly about 5 cars in front of me dived into the pits but because the pit stop window wasn’t open they were all waved through and out the other end again! Very odd but suddenly I was in 2nd place behind a Mini! Two laps later the safety car peeled off and we were racing again and I quickly dropped back to 5th or 6th as couple of super-rapid cars came by before I came in for my stop.
HSCC pit stops are a bit rubbish really. Just sit in the car for 1 minute stationary. In CSCC we have to get out and get back in again as quickly as you can, typically 25 seconds stationary if you’re quick. The one minute rule is some safety thing but I don’t really get it as everyone is very careful in CSCC otherwise the organisers are very liberal with stop-go or drive through penalties.
I loved the race, it’s a superb track and the car is soooo much better than it was at Snetterton. I finished 7th overall (4th in the Appendix K1 class) after running 5th for a short while. I had a tremendous race with a non-appendix K Lotus Cortina for half the race which was really, really good and my lap times were pretty respectable too. Came away very happy with another bunch of changes to make for CSCC Donington in just 2 weeks time.
Donington is now pretty much back up and running properly after the abortive Grand Prix efforts two years ago. The old (and very attractive) Redgate Lodge has now completely gone and has been replaced by a much bigger gravel trap and reprofiled spectator banking. Shame really, I really liked that old house and it was part of the old Donington feel.
I had entered the Swinging Sixties Group 2 race and Dave was in the Classic K, we are not sharing at the moment as we each need more seat time in our own cars; also the Falcon is really rapidly improving and it’ll be easier for Dave to get to grips with a car that fundamentally works properly.
For Donington I had made quite a few changes to the car; I fitted a new steering box (the old one had about 10mm of free movement at the wheel rim) and a bigger and better engineered anti-roll bar which was something that was clearly needed at Brands Hatch; easy to see when you see some of the photos from trackside. I also reset the camber again as it had somehow settled into more camber than it had before! I also fitted Mikalor style strap mounts on the fire extinguisher in place of the over-centre ones that have just been outlawed by the bloody FIA. Yet another pointless rule from those esteemed fellows who seem to have no grip on reality. They have also decided to spend a million (of our) Euros on some stupid archive of motor racing history; that, to my mind, is not the role of the FIA; there are hundreds of books on that very subject and we really don’t need more expense. I am sure this is part of why HTP now expires every 5 years; it’s another way for the FIA to fund itself. Maybe FIFA and the FIA are both in need of disbanding and a complete new approach.
Anyway to the mundane world of the track activities! Practice was very early and quite cold as I trundled out onto the track. The new steering box was instantly repaying my investment and the car felt different straight away. Any small movement of the wheel resulted in a slight change of direction; gone completely the vagueness of the old steering mechanism. Just to add that the old box was not worn out, it’s just how they used to be and that the new one is set up with zero back-lash and is giving a response more akin to a rack and pinion system.
I managed to get up to 12th on the grid right alongside Wayne Langridge in his 5.4 litre Mustang. His extra torque is counteracted by the extra weight of his car compared to mine. His also has modern Yokohama radial tyres compared to my Dunlop cross-ply historic ones. Everything seemed to be working well on the car and I was able to lap consistently at or around 1:30.
Dave’s old GT6 was there too but only managed a couple of laps of practice and a couple in the race; it’s a bit of a shame because it was uber-reliable when we raced it. It was a quite a bit cleaner in those days too...
I lined up for the rolling start on the outside of row 6 and had a very good start making up a couple of places by the right-hander at Redgate; it was then pretty hectic and great fun for about 9 laps at which point I came in for my mandatory pitstop. It wasn’t our finest stop as the seat belt would not click back in to place and that cost me 5 to 10 seconds as I mucked about with the thing. It finally came good and I went back into empty space on the track. I had some fun with a TR6 and an MGC and basically chucked to car about to see what it would do, ultimately I finishing in 7th place overall after a drama-free race apart from one trip over the kerbs at the chicane on the way into the start-finish straight which was caused by a lapse in concentration on my part.
Getting it wrong in the Falcon at Donington chicane in 2011!
The tyres seem to be working OK but I can’t see them lasting like Yokohamas and I reckon it’ll be using a full set every 3 to 4 races, not ideal given the price tag of 900 quid a set!
Dave also finished 7th overall and 1st in class mirroring my result. In the Swinging Sixties Group 1 race Kevan Hadfield (sharing with TR7V8 racer Martyn Adams) won outright in the former’s TR4 after a mechanical problem struck the erstwhile leader; to finish first, first you have to finish!
It was a tremendous end to a great day of CSCC racing and, as ever, we are hugely grateful to the marshals who give up their free time, unpaid, to allow us to race!
The Spa meetings usually produce a variable set of weather patterns and the Summer Classic was no exception. There were periods of intense sunshine and periods of torrential rain and by some amazing fluke I was only on track for the dry times!
Both Dave and I had individually entered the CSCC Swinging Sixties in the Classic K class (V8s allowed for this one meeting) and also in the Belgian Historic FIA Appendix K championship which was running two 30 minute races, one Saturday evening and the other on Sunday evening. Given that I really needed to be back in the office in London on Monday there was no way I could do the Sunday race and still make it back in time; Dave, however, decided to do all three races in his mighty Grantura.
There was near disaster the Sunday before leaving for Spa when I was fitting the points distributor; I foolishly left a socket wrench on the front pulley as Dave hit the starter switch and as it spun it took the lower radiator hose connecter off the bottom tank. Fortunately Dave was able to drop the radiator off at Kempston Radiators for a high-speed repair. Mr T collected again on Tuesday and even fitted it for me as I was stuck at work (again)!
Come Thursday morning we had a very uneventful journey over (Dave using his own tow car as we had to take both cars) and me in my venerable TD5 Defender in the back of which I had constructed a proper bed so as to make up for the lack of RV. The Channel Tunnel is really great – straight on at Folkestone and then off onto the motorway at Calais; it’s then about 200 miles to Stavelot, the village just outside the main circuit gates.
That evening loads of people had a terribly frustrating time with the scrutineers. For some reason they had decided to enforce the FIA rules despite it not being an FIA event. Dave and I were fine as both our cars fully FIA compliant but that’s not the case for all the CSCC machines. For instance it’s pretty common in the UK, under MSA rules, for seats to be non-FIA or out-of-date which is fine. Under true FIA regulations it’s not allowed but the scrutineers were being thoroughly inconsistent in their approach and rulings. Martyn Adams had a terrible time with his seat and we even tried fitting the one from Dave’s TVR but gave up around 10pm. In the end Martyn was able to persuade the scrutineers to give him a ticket to race with his original seat!
Incidentally, a properly conducted test in Australia has proved that seat belts over 5 years old are no less capable in an accident than newer ones. The FIA has gone really daft with some of its rules, seats and belts have to be no more than 5 years old for some cars but can be any old rubbish in other cars. They are becoming a bit of a joke to us racers and I really don’t see the value they add to us in terms of safety or event organisation. I suspect it’s just a way for a bunch of people to make living off us.
The Swinging Sixties practice was early on Friday morning and the track seemed very slippery, I think the fastest lap I managed was around 3:15 which is well off a good, dry race pace but I had 2 more sessions in the Historics to look forward to. The Falcon was running well but did develop some severe brake judder during the first Belgian Historics un-timed session and I decided to change the discs before the second (timed) one but did get in a 3:10 lap, much better. I only managed about 3:15 again during the latter session which was no better than before and still about 10 seconds off where I wanted to be.
Come Saturday, in the Swinging Sixties race I had a really bad start; after just one lap the clutch linkage detached from the clutch fork meaning it was impossible to change gear so I pulled into the endurance pits. Fortunately there was a chap there with a big trolley jack and some tools so I was able to effect a fairly decent temporary repair using a R clip. This lost me about 2 laps but at least I rejoined the race...sort of. Because I had bodged the clutch, the pedal was right up in the air making it terribly difficult to change gear!!! Anyway I finished the race way down in 39th place out of 52 cars but had some fun; best lap was about 3:12. Enough said.
For the Saturday Belgian Historics race in the evening I fitted a plate to stop the pedal coming up too high...the start was fine but 2 laps in the clutch pedal came off properly and a lap later the gearstick came off in my hand...really. I completed the race in 3rd gear only but still managed to get a 23rd overall 3rd in class with a best lap of 3:15.9...apart from the podium celebration it was pretty rubbish. I loaded the car back on the trailer and we drank some beer, went to bed then went home on Sunday!
Dave had a terrible weekend in the TVR too...just masses of problems with the fuel system, it was as though the foam in tank was breaking up and clogging up the fuel filters and pumps...he hardly did any laps all weekend and unsurprisingly came home with me on Sunday, neither of us bothering to do the second Historics race. Not a great weekend for him!
Classic for some but not so classic for me...not as bad as 2010 but not brilliant. It’s a superb event and has become one of the top 4 historic race events in the world (along with Classic le Mans, Monterey and the Goodwood Revival) and there were some truly excellent grids and superb cars. For example, I was sharing a garage with a genuine ex-Le Mans, lightweight Ferrari 250 GT SWB which is the most perfectly proportioned car ever made in my view, even better than a GTO in my humble opinion.
It’s a 3 day event with qualifying on Friday then racing Saturday and Sunday but in addition I did the two 30 minute test sessions on Thursday. The first one went really well, the car was great with its new front springs and I was pleased to be 5 seconds a lap quicker than I had been at the HSCC International meeting earlier in the year. The second session was less good as it was curtailed after just 15 minutes when a Lotus Cortina broke its front suspension in the pit lane entry road and could not move; very annoying as it was so expensive to take part in these tests.
We had very little to do for Friday other than a check the car over and add some fuel. I was pretty much first out on track for the 25 minute qualifying session and all went well. I was delighted to be 12th quickest out of 32 cars with a lap of just under 2:41s. There was quite a gap to front of grid where Leo Voyazides had placed his new (and very lightweight) Falcon on pole with ex BTCC racer Patrick Watts in 2nd in his very heavy Mustang. Under FIA Appendix K period F regulations the minimum weight for a Falcon is 980Kg but 1200Kg for a Mustang...so quite a difference even given that a typical Falcon actually weighs in at around 1200kg. Voyazides’ car is well under that weight.
This lead to a nice relaxed Friday evening (completely unlike 2010 where we had the cooling system in bits!) and were able to watch the Queen tribute band which I thought was great; apparently the Rolling Stones tribute band was very good too but I didn’t stay to see that. Just prior to the bands we watched the Group C qualifying in the pouring rain; it was fabulous with Bob Berridge putting the Sauber Mercedes C11 on pole by a country mile. His wet lap time was over 35 seconds faster than my best lap in the dry!
Race 1 - Saturday
The bloody car would not start and was popping and banging very badly in the collecting area. There was a mad, near-panic while we swapped the condenser, rotor arm, coil, dizzy cap and even swapped the petrol! All a waste of time, the battery was now flat, the car would not start and we pushed the car back in the garage as the other cars streamed past at the start of the race.
Later on, having charged the battery, we swapped everything back as it was and then changed the distributor body; the engine fired up just fine. Bugger. I was flippin’ upset and it felt like 2010 all over again.
Race 2 - Sunday
Back of the grid as no-finish in Race 1 – right alongside Leo Voyazides who lasted for one corner in Race 1 before his fuel pump crapped out. A few other top-flight racers were at the back too as they had also had problems.
I had a great start and began charging up through the field and was up to 13th by lap 5. Everything was going well...until...I selected 4th gear going onto Hangar straight and it locked there. I just could not select neutral or any other gear so despite several attempts, finished the race stuck in 4th. There are worse tracks for this to happen but it did cost 5 seconds a lap and I dropped back 5 places as I slowed down. I did manage to finish without being lapped and was fairly happy with that but still annoyed that I had not had a decent run. I reckon I would have been 11th overall had that not happened. Elsewhere, Voyazides went on to win with Patrick Watts in 2nd place. Westley Harding took 2nd fastest lap of the race in his new Falcon but failed to finish after collecting a back marker when lapping him; I think there was some bad feeling over this one but it is the lapping car’s responsibility to get past cleanly and not the lapped car’s responsibility to get out of the way. It’s not like F1 where the slower car has to pull over or make way.
Post race and back in the workshop it was clear that the gearbox issue was caused by a bent external selector rod; that has now been rectified and should not happen again.
Ignoring the race issues, the weekend was great and the weather pretty much behaved. There were some fabulous cars there and the new Wing pits complex is very impressive. I really like the new track layout although lots of people dislike the new corners of Village and Loop; they are both pretty slow but are good for spectators and a challenge for the drivers to get through quickly.
Highlight of the weekend was the battle for first place in the Saturday evening Group C race between Alex Buncome in the Jaguar XJR9 and Katsu Kubota in the Nissan R90C. The Sauber was off the qualifying pace as it was being driven by the owner rather than the hotshoe, Berridge. It was just fabulous and we watched while consuming a bottle of champagne from right at the top of the new stand that overlooks the Copse, the Becketts complex and the all new corners that lead onto the Wellington Straight. The lead swapped a dozen times and it was just tremendous!
Hopefully the ‘Big Engine Touring Cars’ will feature again next year and I’ll be back and further up the grid again. We have made massive improvements on the car since Snetterton earlier this year and each meeting sees some significant change to the engineering or setup; it’s getting quicker with each outing and I’m getting better at driving it. I was disappointed not to go faster in the Sunday race that I had in Qualifying but that does mean I have some consistency which is good.
As is only natural, thanks to Dave, Stack, James and Howard for pit crewing for the weekend and for Noreen and Natasha for the support from the grandstands.
Silverstone Classic 2011 - Saturday evening sunset just as the Group C race finished
Stack, Jon and Dave just prior to Race 2 - Silverstone Classic 2011
250 miles each way at 50 to 60 mph is not the greatest fun however it’s worth the trip as Anglesey is such a lovely circuit; I really like it’s location on rocky southern coast of the island at an ex RAF missile base.
The trip up on Saturday afternoon was hugely improved by a one hour stop near Sandbach to view another car. It was a nice little TVR which I like the look of but more on that soon.
It was the CSCC’s annual 2 day pilgrimage to the North of Wales and I was really looking forward to trying the car after making a number of changes since the Silverstone classic 2 weeks beforehand. In that period I removed the gearbox/transmission hump and sorted out the gearbox linkage. I discovered that the as well as being jammed in 4th gear there was a major problem with the actual remote linkage mechanism. There is a short, hardened steel rod that engages on the external levers which then drive the selector rods and this had sheared at both ends leaving just enough grip to move the levers. The whole lot had to come out and be re-made. The gear change is now so brilliant I think there must have always been something wrong with it. This was many hours work but I also managed to find time to lighten the bonnet and boot hinges and change the brake master cylinder too.
The weather forecast looked very mixed and Saturday night was very wet and windy but by 6 on Sunday morning it was cool but dry and I had a short walk down by the sea which resulted in very wet feet!
Anglesey Paddock - Ford V8 and Chevy V8 together!
The grids at Anglesey are rarely excessive and again so. The Classic K race was cancelled earlier in the week through lack of entries so Dave had chosen not to take the TVR up (the CSCC had offered a transfer to the historic tyres class Swinging Sixties Group 1 race) and I was the only historic tyres (class F) car in the Group 2 race which wasn’t ideal either. It now looks like the CSCC Classic K race series is dead as it seems nobody wants an Appendix K series where the rules are actually enforced. If you want to see how far non-compliance with rules can go, take a look at any Masters race!
I had forgotten that the Anglesey circuit is basically corners, separated by other corners...probably the least suited circuit for the Falcon; it was terrible and a complete handful from the moment I went out on track. At least the slip angles I achieved provided considerable entertainment for onlookers. So practice was fun but hopeless and I was even accused of showing off; I was right near the back of the grid.
In the break before the race I did meet someone whose family owns one of the original 1964 Monte Carlo cars and it has just been restored. Hopefully he can be persuaded to get it out on the track!
The race was actually really great fun, I could not get round any faster and plenty of stuff happened. There were cars spinning off, crashing and breaking down galore. There was a minor coming together of 3 or 4 cars on lap one, turn one, according to onlookers it was started by the ex-Tommy Entwhistle TVR "Grantura" ramming the back of Mike Hughes TR5 and sending him in to Dave McDonalds TR6. Both Triumphs went off onto the grass where the TR6 hit the TR5 hard and was out of the race for good. Mike in the TR5 made it back to pits for a serious taping up job!
That lead to 3 laps of safety car and as soon as the restart came I pitted for my mandatory stop. I was very surprised 2 laps later to be penalised for speeding in the pit lane and given a drive-through penalty. We are sure that was a mistake; Wayne Langridge (Mustang) pitted right after me and went out of the pits like a bat out of hell by all accounts and we think they called the wrong car in! Luckily it made no difference to my position as I was so far back anyway...and Wayne got a post-race telling off by the Clerk of the Course.
I ended up 14th overall which was fine. The car is much better than it was at the start of the season and is better even than it was at Silverstone on account of the revised gear change linkage and the new brake master cylinder. Incidentally I am going to start selling some items soon that either I don’t need or I bought thinking I would need them but now don’t! I also still have a few Triumph items to dispose of.
There were a few too many accidents at this meeting than I was happy with. In both the Group 1 and 2 races there were cars damaged (some quite badly) through over zealous driving and it’s not good enough. The CSCC is normally a very safe place to race but this weekend the sea air seems to have got to a few folk.
Thanks to Dave and Stack for coming up to help out again. Fray Bentos pies delivered as expected but the beetroot I bought remained untouched.
Double trouble in the GT6.
For reasons which I cannot recall, I decided it would be a good idea to take part in two race meetings at different circuits in one weekend in a car which I have not used for a year. Whilst far from being a complete disaster it was not wholly successful and showed me that the engine needed a bit more than a wipe down with an oily rag!
Castle Combe on Saturday was a combined CSCC Swinging Sixties/Classic K race and I decided to give the GT6 its first run out since Brands Hatch in 2010. During practice the engine got very hot (ambient temperature was around 30 degrees C) which is very unusual as it normally runs at around 85 degrees C even on hot days; then started an intermittent misfire at high revs, probably related to the heat. It was as good as I could do to get up to 9th on the grid which was actually pretty pleasing given the car also needed new front discs; brake judder was quite notable! On checking the car over it had also lost about a litre of water into the catch tank, not good.
In the race I nearly jumped the start and had to brake to stop the car rolling, so once the actual start came I was late on the power and was passed by about 9 cars on the run to Quarry. It took about 5 laps to get back on song and I was up to 6th when the car started missing again and I could smell hot antifreeze. I lost 3 places over the next few laps but was helped along by 3 laps of safety car which let the engine cool again; the safety period was unfortunately caused by John Leslie’s huge crash in his Sabre at Quarry, the car looks pretty bad.
Somehow I finished in 9th overall and 3rd in class D after a couple of other, faster cars in my class dropped out and failed to finish. There was very little water left in the engine and we let it cool down slowly while I went off to buy a new radiator cap from Merlin Motorsport so I would have a better chance of finishing the race on Sunday!
Also of note, the oil pressure was alarmingly low unless at high revs so I suspect it needs bearings again and I reckon that last new oil pump I fitted over the winter was duff.
Anyway after a short break to collect a trophy we set off on the 208 mile trip to Snetterton unsure of the car’s general health but still determined to race.
The MGCC 4 hour relay is an attempt by that club to re-invent the racing spirit of the ‘old’ Birkett event (see many earlier reports). The 750 Motor Club’s famous 6 Hour Birkett has become the domain of sports racers and chavs; it now seems to be largely full of Radicals and Caterhams and in my view has been completely ruined from what was a superb and eclectic mix of race-prepared, road-going sports cars.
In the paddock, pre the 4 hour fiasco -- Apart from Neil who was great!
I was in John Davies’ team of 6 Triumphs, however 2 dropped out before we even got there which was a real pain as I had not really wanted to thrash the car that much! Les Congdon managed just 5 laps in his Spitfire before he was out with what looked like a failed head gasket, John Davies managed about 10 laps before the rear suspension broke and then Neil Revington did an excellent 75 minute stint in his rally prepared TR5. I then managed just 50 minutes before a rear brake hose burst and I had complete brake failure at the new hairpin, one of the fastest parts of the circuit. I pulled the steering right over to make it scrub speed off and nailed the throttle to make it spin before I hit the tyre wall. It worked and I lost all the energy going sideways across the grass. I managed to restart the engine and drove slowly back to the pits to retire. Neil did a fabulous job and completed another long stint although John did manage to get the Vitesse out for a few laps too having repaired the lower suspension link.
JW, mid-stint looking grumpy already! (Photo Kevin Rochford)
I probably could have repaired the brake line but chose not to as the front brakes and engine were suffering enough and I didn’t really want the engine to actually break.
The engine and gearbox are coming out this week for a professional rebuild over the winter. I had forgotten how brilliant the GT6 is to drive and the experience I have gained on historic Dunlop tyres on the Falcon and TVR Grantura has definitely made me a better driver and I really want it reliable again even if I only use it once or twice a year.
In other news, Dave won ‘Driver of the Day’ on Saturday for his superb performance in his TVR Grantura in the Equipe GTS race at Snetterton, moving from 9th on the grid to 2nd overall with some audacious overtaking manoeuvres. Alas, the TVR’s engine broke, only slightly but enough for him to withdraw from the Sunday GTS race and also from the 4 hour relay. That motor has done 2 full years of racing and is due a refresh now for sure.
Thanks to Martin and Jo for helping on Saturday and to Howard and James for helping all weekend. Also thanks for Dave for staying on Sunday without a car to use and being my pit signaller for my 50 minute stint. It looks like I’ll have to get the Falcon out again to finish the year!
Total and utter frustration. I had made quite a few changes to the car, ready for the final CSCC race of the year but it all went wrong the evening before the race when the brakes would not bleed properly. We noticed a small fluid leak from one of the rear unions and decided to bleed the brakes, in the pit lane garage there and then. It all went wrong from that point onwards and we just could not get the rear or front brakes to bleed. After 4 hours Dave and I gave up; next morning we went home.
In the afternoon we fixed the problem but it took hours and hours to trace the problem down. It was two things: the brake bias valve was jammed which was stopping fluid being allowed through to the rear brakes and with the front brakes the rear seals on the brake master had failed! Once we cleared the bias valve and refitted a spare master cylinder all was well. What a bugger!
The Walter Hayes trophy meeting is the normal end of season HSCC round and is based on a series of Formula Ford heats and finals. Inside that there are a few open races for open and closed wheel cars. Following the disappointment of the CSCC race I entered the Falcon into the HSCC all comers race on Saturday and the two closed wheel all comers races for Sunday.
We had refitted the original brake master cylinder which was working fine although the track was terribly slippery for all of the 10 minute practice session because of the damp weather overnight. I qualified way down the overall grid in 23rd place from 37 cars with a 1:28 lap (pole was a Chevron B36 on 1:10) and, more importantly, way off the pace for the saloon cars. Class pole was Roger Godfrey in the Mini Cooper who did a 1:22. There was no way I would be anywhere near the Chevrons etc. So the 11 HSCC saloon and roadgoing sports cars were the folk I was up against.
By the time the race came the weather had improved hugely and the track was mostly dry but very cold and still quite slippery in various places, such as at high speed Woodcote kink. Unlike some of my recent races I had a really good start and exited Copse on lap 1 in about 4th place in class. I was most keen to be in front of the two FIA Appendix K Mustangs and that was looking likely as one was already behind me. The race was truly tremendous and I moved up the class over the first 3 or 4 laps and was soon up to 3rd, some way behind Les Ely's BMW 1800 in first place and the Mini Cooper in second. I slowly reeled in the Mini Cooper as the track dried and got in front just after half distance and could see the BMW about 100 metres ahead. It was like that for a couple of laps and then the BMW slowed slightly, I caught him up and he pulled into the pit lane never to be seen again so I inherited class lead.
Jon Wolfe mid-race on Saturday at the Walter Hayes Trophy meeting, Peter Lanfranchi in background. Photo: Howard Wolfe
For the remainder of the race I kept ahead of the Mini Cooper (only just about at times) and we had a tremendous dice to the end where I tactically let a quicker Marcos past to prevent Roger in the Mini Cooper having a go at me! It cost me an overall place but protected the class position. I was delighted; it felt like my first proper win in the Falcon and the glass trophy is really nice.
That night we dined at The White Horse in Silverstone village which was jolly pleasant and very good value. The mighty Dave Thompson was, as ever, pit/mechanic man and he deserved a better dinner than I’d have concocted in the RV although we have, in the past, had some pretty impressive meals in there too!
Sunday all comers Come the morning the air was clear and cold and the track was dry; it was a silly race to be in as there were some mega fast cars in it but all good fun. Nearing the end of the session I went a bit wide on Copse, lost the back and side swiped the car into the concrete safety wall on the infield damaging the car enough to be towed back to the paddock.
The upshot was that although the car took the impact well it was a heck of a thump into the concrete retaining wall. I suspect the whole front wobbled and shifted then moved back so there are small stress and paint fractures all over the place in the engine bay. Also the engine has shunted over to one side of the bay which needs investigating and the right rear tyre was rubbing on the wheel arch. That was the end of the weekend for me other than the mandatory visit to the medical centre.
Once home on Sunday evening we stripped the front wing, grill and bumper off then stripped out the radiator and header tank to inspect the front panel and inner wing. It’s all repairable but will be quite a lot of work.
The pins of the lower ball joint and the track rod end on the impact side were both bent so even if we had tried to fix it in the paddock we’d have been stuck as it’s not possible to straighten them. Also the tyres need to be stripped and refitted as concrete debris has been forced into the tyre bead area. Luckily one of the bonnet hinges burst which allowed the bonnet to ride up over the wings rather than crushing the wing and also the windscreen survived which is quite a surprise.
So it needs a new lower ball joint; track rod end; GRP repairs to the front wing, bumper, door and bonnet; inner wheel arch re-straightening; front panel straightening; new headlight, indicator and rear light lens; panel beating of the rear wing which is quite creased and some paint. We think the rear wing can be repaired and actually made better than in was before but it needs a skilled panel worker to do that.
I wasn’t too upset about as it’s part and parcel of racing and was bound to happen at some point. At least we have some time to fix it in between bursts of activity on the new TVR.
Oops - the 2011 season ended with a bvang at Silverstone!
So we now have four non-racing race cars in the workshop. Dave’s TVR Grantura engine is away being rebuilt (it was mighty close to failing in a spectacular manner); the GT6 engine is in with the same builder for a freshen up; the Falcon is as described and the TVR Tuscan is in a million bits...
See you all in 2012!
Return to main page