The CSCC, HSCC (and a few others) selective calendar is as follows - Green highlight means an event we intend to do and bold means the day that we will be racing.
2012 Finale; The HSCC annual dinner dance at Whittlebury Hall was excellent and the following morning at breakfast Noreen and I were able to sit with and chat to Jack Sears, 1950s and 60s touring car and rally legend; he was the guest of honour on Saturday night which was great as he did a double act with HSCC commentator and motoring journo, Marcus Pye. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Sears
|2012 Race & other dates and results|
|#||Date||Venue / Event||
Club & Series
|Car||Result o/a||Class result||Weather/comment|
|24-26 Feb||NAC Stoneleigh, Warks||Race Retro Show||n/a|
|1||17 18 March||Donington||HSCC - Guards Trophy||TVR Grantura||13th||5th||Cold and horrible|
|2||8 April||Donington||MGCC Ecurie GTS||TVR Grantura||15th||12th||Cool and dry|
|14-15 April||Snetterton (300 or 200)||CSCC||Entry oversubscribed so not able to race!!!|
|3||21 - 22 April||Cadwell Park Wolds Trophy||HSCC Historic Touring Cars||Ford Falcon 2 races||5th
|Cold and damp|
|4||7 May||Brands Hatch Indy||CSCC Swingers||GT6||DNS||DNS||Engine failure in practice|
|5||19 20 May||Silverstone GP International Festival||HSCC Guards & Historic Touring Cars||Ford Falcon||9th HTC||5th HTC||Cold and dry|
|26 May||Silverstone National||CSCC||GT6||withdrawn - engine not ready|
|6||9 10 June||Snetterton||HSCC Guards 3 Hour & Historic Touring Cars||
& Ford Falcon
||Warm and dry
|7||30 June||Brands Hatch GP||HSCC||Ford Falcon||4th||2nd||Warm and dry|
|8||21 22 July||Castle Combe||CSCC Swingers||GT6||9th||2nd||Hot and dry|
|9||4 5 August||Croft Nostalgia weekend||HSCC||Ford Falcon||7th
|Warm and dry
Warm - raining
|10||21 23 Sept||
6 Hour support races
|Roadbook or HSCC||Ford Falcon||3rd||Warm and dry|
|6 October||Oulton Park International||CSCC||GT6 or TVR Tuscan||not racing|
|20 Oct||Silverstone National, HSCC finals||HSCC||
|3 4 Nov||Silverstone National, Walter Hayes Trophy||HSCC||Not racing||not racing|
CSCC Swinging Sixties Class structure for 2012
The owners of “Simply Sausages” Donington seem to be enlarging the paddock by demolishing everything in sight. Gone is the lovely old Redgate Lodge, gone are the old army depot buildings and now the factory building is being flattened by a huge mechanical nibbler!
I hope it’s all going to be improved because whilst it’s a decent track the spectator and driver facilities are not so good. Most of the grandstands are gone, there are no mains power hook ups and the scrutineering bay is more like a cow shed with a fence round it. Plus the infield still looks like a complete disaster area following the somewhat foolhardy attempt to wrest the British Grand Prix away from Silverstone a couple of years ago.
It’s many-a-year since we raced this early in the season. It was cold, really cold and jolly wet too. Standing there in the rain with its freshly rebuilt engine and drive train the Grantura was poised to take on all comers like a giant blue duck. We were entered into the HSCC Guards Trophy (a name obliquely referring to some 1960s series sponsored by a ciggy company) but it had been split into 2 races. The format is normally for sports racing cars and road going sports cars combined but this time they were split out so we were up against a swarm of MGBs, a couple of TR4s, a few Lotus Elans and some other stuff, most of it big.
I went out first in our 30 minute practice session onto a rather wet and slippery track. It had stopped raining but an engine failure in the previous session had left a thin film of oil all around the circuit and it was quite a nervy few laps as a few people took a closer look at the grassy bits ! A dry line was just starting to form as I came in to hand over to the mighty Dave T. He did a great job and was nearly 10 seconds a lap quicker than me as the surface improved and the tyres warmed up. We finished up 22nd out of 34 cars which was fine. In the race however Dave would start and I would take over for the final laps.
We then had 3 hours of mostly talking rubbish to people who came to look at the car and there were lots of them! Despite the front looking like a mallard’s face and the rear like the droopy arse on a school dinner lady it attracts much attention and I must say admiration. One chap who came over seemed particularly interested in the flexibility of the front inner wheel arches, which was more than just odd it was disturbing.
The weather improved all afternoon and the track was completely dry by the start of the race. Unfortunately we (I) had forgotten the pit board numbers but I had brought the board...oops, but we were lucky enough that Martyn Adams was able to bring his over for us to use. Within 3 laps Martyn and I on the pit wall had no idea what position Dave was in so I counted cars in front of him and showed him P23. We suspected he was actually higher than that but we figured he needed the encouragement. My lap timing using the watch was all over the place as I kept forgetting to press the button and kept using different markers; so I guessed and put the times out!
Closing stages of the HSCC Guards Trophy race at Donington, 18th March 2012 ... JW driving L'anatra blu Photo: Howard Wolfe
After 19 minutes we gave the signal to come into the pits for the driver change. The change-over went well and I was ready well inside the one minute allotted minimum for the pit stop by the HSCC in Guards races. The track was nice any dry by the time I went out and I was able to shove along a bit and gain a couple of places. The car is much better than before and I was able to do some slightly better lap times than Dave had been able to achieve. There were, however, cars chucking themselves into the gravel left, right and centre; it was a spin-fest of great magnitude as we climbed the rankings to 13th place. The track was slippery throughout and there was a distribution of coolant and oil aplenty as engines grenaded and radiators burst. It was great fun though and really nice to be back behind the wheel of l'anatra blu after 18 months away.
We were delighted to be 13th and pretty much mid-field for the class with more MGBs behind us than in front. The chances of beating a reasonably well driven Elan or Marcos is pretty slim so with those up front we were happy.
In fact Dave was so happy he did a little dance with the car to celebrate. You dancin'? You askin'? I'm askin'. I'm dancin'.
The second race of the year and the second trip to Simply Sausages Donington; it did not end as well as we had hoped. This was the first of the MGCC meetings for 2012 and they now have Ecurie GTS as one of their series following its demise last year as an independent enterprise and it was represented here as a one or two driver 50 minute race. The MGCC is a bit like the CSCC in that it has some races for older cars and some for newer ones. The Metro race seems to be the push-and-shove series judging by the state of some of the cars which, for the first race of the year, was pretty poor with some very rough looking machinery.
Prior to being let into the circuit we had to wait for the Saturday track day event to finish. We had the delight of being regaled by truly fabulous stories about tyres by the chap in the queue behind us. It was so exciting that in the end I just walked off leaving Dave to the entertainment; he followed on swiftly.
JW looking pensive and worrying about the price of barley and tractors.
The Ecurie GTS series is for 4 cylinder cars up to about 1970 and whilst not strictly appendix K, it’s pretty similar and with the main opposition comprised of MGBs,TR4s and a couple of Morgans as well as three other Granturas. Added to that, Dave was feeling pretty ill with a bad cold. In this series there is no engine overbore limit like in Appendix K and the heavier cars can use Avon historic radial tyres which are considerably better than the Dunlops we have to use. This means the MGBs often have 2.2 litre engines and radial tyres which easily overcomes their weight disadvantage.
For practice we only had 20 minutes which really limited the number of laps we could do, Dave went out first and warmed the car up doing just 3 laps before handing over to me. I managed to get about 6 laps in and brought us up to 4th on the grid out of 29 cars which we were really pleased with. It was mostly event free apart from an errant MGB spinning right in front of me on my first lap out – I made the decision to dump the car in the gravel rather than have any body contact but luckily was able to steer round him as he recovered.
In the collecting area, the car had not started and Dave had to get a push start; that was the beginning of our problem! After the session back at the motor home we could not see anything wrong other than a bit of oil out of the top of the engine which was quickly dealt with by re-sealing the rocker box studs.
For the race, Howard and I push started the car to avoid using the starter and Dave took up his 4th slot on the grid; at that stage we thought the starter motor was the problem. Despite being Tom-and-Dick He had an excellent start and managed to make up a place (contrary to what we normally do) and was 3rd into Redgate Corner. He then drove really well for 18 minutes and we showed him the ‘in’ board, coming in to the pits in 6th place.
We had a superb change over, less than 30 seconds I reckon, and I was out into clear space. I then had a great drive for about 28 minutes, passing a number of back markers and making up a couple of places. With 2 minutes to go a massive misfire set in, I lost fuel pressure and the car coasted to a halt down the Craner curves. The battery was flat.
Subsequent investigation showed that the ignition warning light cable had come loose and that stops the alternator from charging; a simple thing but that cost us 11 places and we were classified in 15th position due to laps completed. We would have been 3rd in Class 4 and would have collected a trophy but it wasn’t to be!
Once home I recharged the battery overnight and it fired up instantly. Alternator voltage was restored by reconnecting the warning light circuit. Poo.
Next race in 2 weeks for the Falcon at Cadwell following its extensive winter mods and repairs.
Through the woods at Cadwell Park in the HSCC Wolds Trophy Historic Touring Cars event Photo: Howard Wolfe
Mud, mud glorious mud...or Cadwell in the rain as it’s also known. With very little hard staning in the paddock the fields were full of racing cars and by Sunday morning it was like a pop festival out there but without the rubbish music! The HSCC Wolds Trophy could not have chosen a wetter weekend and it chucked down with rain most of the drive up. We went up via Boston (Lincolnshire not Massachusetts) so as to avoid have to climb the enormous hill just before the circuit and Mrs Satnav was not happy, she got very confused at one stage and Dave ended up doing the navigation from a map book of Europe which pretty much devoted just one page to England! It was quite a circuitous route and we did go right through Boston (not so easy with a 60 foot rig) which does look like a very lovely place and worth of a day trip.
By luck the rain had just stopped as we arrived at the circuit and we, that’s Dave, Howard and I, managed to get the easy-up shelter erected in the dry and got the car under cover just before another deluge. Once the rain let up we scrutineered and get ready for the scheduled practice session which was at 6:15 PM. Alas the rain dancers had been uber-effective and the contents of the black clouds dumped itself on our heads. The track was flooded at a couple of points and the organisers had to call a halt before 2 races and our practice session had taken place.
All we could do was hope that Sunday would be better. In true racing style the rain stopped almost immediately the day was abandoned and it was then dry all night until Sunday’s programme resumed at 09:00. The HSCC had managed to rearrange the day and move the missed sessions from Saturday into Sunday. The lunch break was reduced to 30 minutes from 60 and a number of races were reduced from 20 to 15 minutes.
So to the Historic Touring Car races. The entry had been so good that the HSCC had done a split at 1600cc. Each group would compete separately with the sub 1600cc race consisting mostly of Minis, Imps and Anglias. In the bigger cars it would be the Falcon and Mustang gang and then the Lotus Cortinas, a Triumph 2000, a BMW and some bigger engine (non-appendix K) Anglias.
The Historic Touring Car series had two main sections, one is for Appendix K cars (like mine) and the other for more modified cars (not unlike the CSCC Swinging Sixties really) but with everyone on Dunlop historic tyres. Also, most of the races are 15 to 20 minute sprints.
The bigger engine cars had two races as did the small engine cars and amazingly we practiced in the dry; I did a bit of a banzai lap right at the end and moved up to 8th on the grid. It’s a very twisty circuit with two awesome straights (see plan) but what you cannot see from the picture is the enormous height changes. It’s known as the mini-Nurburgring for good reason. Amazingly, as we came out for our first race the weather cleared and the track dried out again; I had tremendous fun wrestling the car round the twisty, mountain section of the track and tried to ignore the noise every time the rear axle hit the bottom of the car. I had a great dice with a blue Anglia for a few laps but he got 100 metres ahead I just could not catch up. A number of cars chucked themselves at the scenery and there were a couple of breakdowns so I was very content to finish in 5th place behind two Cortinas, a Mustang and the Anglia.
Because there were a few drop outs for race two and the small engine cars had a similar fall out rate, both race grids were combined for race two which made for and excellent 26 car grid. I was in 5th place on account of finishing race one in 5th.
I had an awesome start (slightly unusual for me), saw a gap in front and got through; clearly it must have been a pretty big gap given the size of the car. I was in 3rd place up the hill towards Charlies with two Cortinas ahead of me and a big red Mustang in the mirror. It did not stay like that for long and the Mustang was soon past.
Awesome start for race 2 ©andrewkitson.com
I then had a tremendous race, trying to defend 4th place from a snapping Cortina and that devilishly quick Anglia. For several laps I kept them behind me and I am told by Dave and Howard that I was the main focus of attention for the commentators with, at one stage, the line “Wolfe is keeping his place by simply driving down the middle of the track and going sideways through every corner!”
After a few laps the Anglia dropped away after having a minor impact with the Cortina so I was reduced to keeping one car behind, unfortunately this is harder as they don’t have the irritation of the other protagonist. After a couple of laps he passed me on the rise up to Charlies but I had a go back on the under-cut at the top and we went down Park Straight door handle to door handle. It was certainly exciting from where I was sitting! He was, however, through and I had to settle for 5th place again but very happy with the car and delighted with the lap times. It’s not really an ideal car for Cadwell but was better than I expected, the car in 6th place was a Hillman Imp just showing how important handling is over power at this place.
Through the trees at Barn Photos: ©andrewkitson.com
The changes that have been made to the car over the winter have had a major impact on the way the car drives. The front tyres actually feel like they are working now and it turns in so much better than before. I do need to make some changes to the rear though because over bigger bumps the axle is really thumping the body of the car. I think I need to stiffen the rear shocks a bit and put slightly longer bump stops into them. There is a witness mark under the car where the prop and axle have been rattling into the floor!
The rain was bad, the mud was bad but the racing was ace!
Pretty useless really. Despite a huge amount of preparation for the meeting the GT6 engine lost oil pressure during the 30 minute practice session. Dave went out and did half a dozen laps (he had been racing the Grantura with the MGCC on Saturday and Sunday) and then handed over to me. I did about 10 laps and it was going very well and we were up to 10th on the grid competeing well with the E-Types. Back in the paddock it was clear that the engine had lost oil pressure and that the top end of the engine was overly tappety so I called it a day, loaded up and came home. Very disappointing.
Dave driving the GT6 in practice at Brands Hatch Photo: Howard Wolfe
Jon driving the GT6 in practice at Brands Hatch Photo: Howard Wolfe
After the annoyance and disappointment of Brands Hatch where the GT6 engine let us down we had high hopes for the annual HSCC International Trophy at Silverstone which takes place on the historic GP circuit. The only difference between the historic GP circuit and the one used by the F1 cars is use of the rather less severe chicane before the right hander that leads onto the new start-finish straight.
Dave was racing in the 40 minute Guards Trophy (GT cars) on Saturday and I was in the 20 minute Historic Touring Cars on Sunday and both cars were as ready as we could make them. The only change I made from Cadwell was slightly longer rear bump stops on the shock absorbers to try to stop the prop shaft bottoming out on the floor of the car whilst still allowing enough rear axle movement.
Dave’s practice session was very wet and cold whilst not actually raining although it might as well have been and there were a handful of cars going extremely quickly and coming through Woodcote scarily sideways in the wet conditions. The Grantura is not the easiest car to drive in anything but dry conditions but Dave did improve from the first half dozen laps and got up to 27th on the grid from 38 cars. By the time of the race it was a lot drier and Dave managed to get up to 21st overall having caught and passed the other Grantura in the race about 3 laps from the end. Notably, Dave's lap times were significantly better than at the same race the previous year.
By Sunday the weather had improved and the track was completely dry if still very cold. In practice the car felt pretty good and the winter improvements have certainly done some good. I managed a 2:39:4 lap which is about 2 seconds quicker than last year at the Silverstone Classic but still 8 seconds off the quickest couple of Falcons. This placed me in 12th from 41 cars. There are also some fabulously slow cars in the HTC championship and the closing speed on the straights is scarily fast at times.
I had a great first few laps and had some fun with a gaggle of Mustangs, Cortinas and Alfas. By just over half distance I had managed to get in front of them all but also by then a few cars had managed to spill oil onto nearly every corner of the circuit. There was a Cortina off at Luffield and a VW Beetle off at the end of Hangar straight. The Maggots complex and the entire Hangar Straight were very slippery and I had a huge moment half way down the straight at well over 100mph when I lost all traction on the oily surface.
There seemed to be waved yellow flags and red/yellow slippery surface warnings everywhere and I was even overtaken by a Mustang under a waved yellow at the end of the Wellington Straight; not good observation or driving. I did manage to get him and another Mustang later on when they were being over-cautious on the slippery track and I opened out a good gap securing 10th place. Then Andy Yool (Ford Anglia) gifted a lot of people an extra place as he lost it big-style coming onto the Wellington straight and managed to go off both side of the track in quick succession.
I kept going as quickly as I could despite my race laps being much slower than in practice and very nearly caught Neil Brown’s Lotus Cortina at the finish line; he beat me to 8th place by 0.2 seconds.
So despite masses of changes to the car since the same time last year it’s not really much quicker and is showing nothing like the improvement that I actually expected; maybe I just wasn’t driving well enough or there were other factors at play. It’s always hard to compare when the track surface is different but I would have expected to be consistently 2 to 3 seconds a lap quicker but wasn’t. I need to analyse what happened there and keep looking for improvements. One thing I did learn was the gaping difference in engine output between mine and the top cars; I’ll need to do something pretty exceptional engine-wise next winter!
The highs and lows of motor racing all in one weekend.
Saturday – Autosport 3 Hour race
The HSCC’s annual trip to Snetterton in Norfolk was host to the normal HSCC races but also to the Autosport 3 Hour endurance race for Sports Racing and GT cars. This year that race also counted as a round of the Guards Trophy and Dave decided fairly late on that we should do it in the Grantura and what a fine decision that was.
The grid comprised about 30 cars with an even mix of Sports Racers (Chevrons etc.) and GTs (E-Types, Lotus 26R, Austin Healey etc.). The added the complexity for us was that refuelling was allowed and we would need some dry-break equipment that actually worked...Dave already had a dry-break churn but it didn’t actually fit inside the filler neck on the Grantura! Thirty minutes with burr in the electric drill soon had that sorted and we practices refuelling from the churn a few times.
The car can hold 60 litres which it consumes at 0.5 litres per minute.
The race rules mandate 2 pit stops of at least 30 seconds each.
The fuel churn holds 20 litres and takes 90 seconds to fully discharge (gravity only). So we would need 1.5 churns to complete the race.
That left us 90 seconds for the driver change and any other work the car needed.
So the following strategy was adopted:
Stint 1 - JW: Full tank; 45 minutes; Pit Stop; Change driver and add about 12 litres.
Stint 2 – DT: 90 minutes; Pit Stop; Change Driver and add 20 litres.
Stint 3 – JW: 45 minutes.
That’s what we did and it was ace! Refuelling had to be done by two nomex-suited crew so Kevan Hadfield and Martyn Adams we co-opted to do that. Robert Adams (nice fireplaces) was pit stop time keeper and Jo Adams was chief pit wall monitor. Everything worked well and we finished with just about spot-on the minimum amount of fuel we needed at the end of the race.
Practice The schedule showed that we had 40 minutes but there was an horrendous oil spill in the previous practice session so it was cut to 30 minutes. Unfortunately none of us knew until 20 minutes into the session so Dave ended up doing 23 minutes and I did about 8 which was far from ideal but showed that some changes Dave had made to the car had really improved things and we qualified in 20th place.
Incidentally, our new timing screen (a cheap telly from Argos in a flight case) is excellent and became a bit of a focal point for a number of teams; it’s really useful to know what’s going on in the race and where everyone is running.
One problem we did have was a recurrence of one that Dave had experienced at Brands Hatch a few weeks previously. There were signs of a small fire under the forward carburettor and some of the wiring into the alternator was badly burned. We made up some new wires and Martyn and I made an alloy deflector plate to fit below the carbs and above the alternator in case the alternator was igniting small amounts of fuel dripping from the front Weber. I also resealed the main gaskets on the carburettor just in case one of them was weeping under vibration.
The Race I took the rolling start and just kept out of trouble for a couple of laps while ensuring I stayed up as close as I could to the lead GT group; you can really feel the full fuel tank and 60 litres weighs about 48 kilos which is a fair lump hanging out of the back of the car. Within a few laps other cars were having problems and started coming in and out of the pits so by about 30 minutes I was up to 12th then up to 10th just before my scheduled pit stop at about 50 minutes. There had been 2 safety car sessions so my fuel usage was modest and I had benefitted from several cars doing early stops so it was a unfair reflection on how high up we were really running. The car was good though and the hand over to Dave went very well with him having to wait a minute in the car before pulling away to rejoin the race.
Dave put in lap after lap without making any mistakes and without any problems and came in after about 90 minutes following a bit of confusion between our pits and him. We sorted it though!
After a full churn refuel I climbed aboard again for the final 40 minutes. Both lead Lotus 26Rs had suffered problems and were now actually behind us but were flying, and gaining at about 7 seconds a lap quicker. A few laps later Lotus number 50 was out and parked on the left of the Bentley Straight; one fewer to worry about but the mighty yellow one was gaining. I reckoned I could do it though; keep on at the maximum speed I could do, make no mistakes and I could lead the class home.
Darn it! One of the Sports Racers was out and parked half way across the track at Oggies and they brought the flippin’ safety car out for 2 laps while it was pulled clear. That allowed the 26R to gain another whole lap on me leaving him only 40 seconds or so behind with about 8 laps to go. He got me on the last lap of the race; bugger. Alas, against a Lotus 26R a Grantura is completely outclassed but reliability and consistence brought us to 2nd place in our class. Back at parc ferme I was a bit miffed at losing on the last lap but that changed later when we realised we were not only 2nd in Class but 10th overall and 2nd in the GT Category! A win would have been superb but getting a really decent trophy at a proper awards ceremony was fabulous and we were both delighted with the outcome.
Post race we looked under the bonnet to find quite a lot of evidence of that fuel fire again. The deflector plate was black from soot as were the HT ignition leads, the bottom of the front carb was blackened and I think we were lucky to finish. The result was fab and the pit crew were ace, thanks again!
Sunday – HSCC Historic Touring Cars
Practice The car was fine apart from a whining noise from the front which I guessed was a wheel bearing; we changed it before race 1 and that worked. That was the bit that went well that day. There was a shunt of some sort in practice so it was red flagged; that meant I actually only did 3 laps and because of the wheel bearing decided to call it a day and came in. The restarted session was an out lap and an in lap so glad I didn’t bother.
Race 1 I was 9th on the grid and made a good start, however, there was a crash-and-a-half on turn 1 and cars were sliding and spinning off the track all over the place. I avoided most of it but received damage to the front left wing from a Lotus Cortina. There’s actually quite a lot of work to fix it but that wasn’t the bad bit.
We then had 2 very, very slow laps behind the safety car and the engine just got hotter and hotter; as we gridded up for the restart the thing boiled and chucked all its water out of the header tank. I was out; I pulled off the track and shut it off. After it cooled we refilled it and it did it again instantly – a pretty sure sign of at least one failed head gasket. We loaded up and came home.
All ready to overheat at Snetterton in 2012 in the HSCC HTC races!
Basically that’s 2 DNS following the DNS from Brands Hatch in the GT6, not a very consistent year so far.
Broken down after over heating in the HSCC HTC race one at Snetterton in 2012
On a plus point I did avoid major damage; we counted 11 damaged cars after Race 1 at least 4 of which were seriously bent, not a good day for the HSCC HTC Championship. A couple of Anglias has severe damage as did 2 of the Falcons, Harry Wyndham’s especially with a crunched up front and rear wing. A Mini had been on its roof and several cars had bent doors and wings. I think it was more than one incident that caused it all...
Anyway...onwards to the Brands Hatch HSCC GP meeting...
Note: Subsequent investigation showed that I had connected the electric radiator fans the wrong way round so they were blowing air rather than sucking so during the slow laps there was probably stalled air in the radiator which will have either caused or significantly contributed to the overheating.
The year was beginning to feel very polar. In the good result/bad result sense and also the temperature. Seven race meetings into 2012 with the ambient temperature just about troubling double digits now and again and our race results looking very patchy, some good but far too much inhabiting the wrong end of the grid.
The HSCC’s annual opportunity to drive the Brands Hatch GP circuit offered another strike at disaster or glory and with its use limited to only about 12 days a year (due to the stupidly close position of a housing estate added back in the 1990s) a rare chance to crash or blow up somewhere new.
The usual HSCC races were entered, Dave in the Guards Trophy on Saturday and me in the Historic Touring Cars on Sunday and for once the weather actually looked acceptably warm with a promise of just a few showers at night.
We arrived Friday night to a not-too-packed paddock and set up ready for a weekend of fun(!?), unfortunately Dave’s cold was getting quite bad and even beer wasn’t helping. The Guards race was very busy with 49 cars going out to practice; our new pit lane telly is brilliant and really easy to set up so now it’s easy to tell where you are on the grid or in the race. The race was a combined one so Sports Racers and GT cars all in together, Dave qualified in 38th amongst a gaggle of MGBs.
The Grantura being GRP is in the same class as Marcoses and Lotus Elans so a decent class result was unfortunately out of the question unless there was a mass drop out of cars in the race! Dave had a great race with an MGB and finished 28th overall which was pretty good really.
Sunday was forecast to be the sunnier of the two days however it was very patchy with short, sharp showers interspersed with periods of warm sunshine whilst all the time quite windy. Following the malaises of Snetterton I was very keen to keep out of trouble and hoped the car would perform better and not overheat.
Practice was just 15 minutes and was great; I had forgotten just how brilliant the Brands Hatch GP circuit is and really enjoyed being first car out on the track and having a good opportunity to put in a decent time. I qualified in 5th position and very pleased to be so far up in a 30+ car grid. As had been predicted in the chat on the forums before the meeting, the Hillman Imps were very high up the field with gaggle of them behind the V8 and Lotus Cortina dominated front rows.
Of the K1 cars, Mike Gardiner was on pole in his Falcon with Warren Briggs in his Mustang next. Greg Thornton was there too, but a bit further back, in a newly acquired Ford Mustang rather than his Falcon which had unfortunately been destroyed (along with a number of his other cars) in a workshop fire earlier in the week. Greg’s Mustang was not as sorted as it could have been and was unfortunately a DNF in the race when it overheated. The race start was great and I was away very well and moving to the right when I had to back out of the throttle due to Mike Gardiner’s terrible start. We all momentarily backed up allowing one of the Imps (Simon Benoy I think) past me placing me 6th for the run out of Paddock Hill bend and up to Druids. It took a few corners to get past the Imp as we were all so bunched up but once past I was away and after Tim Davies’ Lotus Cortina.
The HSCC Historic Touring Cars has two main categories, Historic Road Sports Register (known as HRSR) and Appendix K. Both the quick Cortinas were HRSR cars which gives them quite a bit more development latitude than the Appendix K versions hence why they can keep pace with the Falcons; one common factor is that we all have to use Dunlop Historic CR65 tyres which does keep it sensible. Any car on modern Yokohama or Toyo rubber would be well away.
I tried as hard as I could to pass the Cortina, getting very close on a number of occasions but was thwarted when red flags were displayed following a major oil spill at Druids that claimed front-man, Gardiner. The race was stopped and restarted after about 15 minutes with erstwhile leader Gardiner gridding up right at the back. Warren Briggs had suffered some problems and retired leaving me 3rd on the grid behind two HRSR Cortinas of Dan Cox and Tim Davies. I knew it would be a tough job to keep Gardiner behind over the 4 laps of the restart and I was away well despite a huge number of cars jumping the start. The cars behind and next to me had moved a full car length before the red lights went out!
On the restart I could not keep as close to Davies as I had before and half way round the last lap the recovering Gardiner blasted past to take 3rd place away from me which was darn annoying but not really much I can do against that sort of power output; I understand he has over 70 BHP more!
Even so it was my best HSCC result ever; 4th overall and 2nd in class K1 at a great race meeting with loads of spectators and lots of close racing. One last thing is the cameras! For the first time I had 2 cameras, one forward and one on me in the style of star-in-a-reasonably-priced-car. The one facing me is hilarious; my facial expressions are amazing and I basically look like Mr Bean! I might even put some on YouTube...
Wow it was actually hot! The first sunny race day of 2012 and about time too. It was the first proper CSCC race meeting at the Wiltshire circuit and all the grids (bar Deutschemarks) were pretty full. There were 39 cars for practice and 36 for the race which made for a pretty busy 1.85 mile circuit. It must, now, be the most dangerous circuit in the UK (possibly alongside Goodwood) with very little run off and some pretty fast corners. The two chicanes added some 12 years ago have really slowed it down but it's a great place and really draws in spectators by the thousand. There are only 8 racing days there per year so I guess when there's an event the locals, ooh-arr, come to support it.
The car has just been refreshed since Brands hatch with a few minor changes to resolve its low oil pressure problem and it was running very well if a little hot. the standard radiator could cope up until this new, uprated engine was fitted and I think it now a struggle and especially on a hot day like Sunday was. I managed to be first out for practice as I had been in the Falcon at Brands hatch and there was loads of space for 5 or 6 laps until I caught up with the slower cars; I managed to get to 11th on the grid and second in class which was pretty respectable really. Clearly I would have liked to be a bit further up but 10 people went quicker! We did a quick car check and bled the brakes ready for the 4pm race start. As I was doing this race alone the pitstop would be a simple in and out job and I planned to do it as soon as the pit window opened at 10 minutes into the 40 minute race.
Alas Dave Bailey, ex TR Register regular, was unable to take the start after his TR4 engine starting making very nasty noises after practice and was emitting copious amounts of white smoke. No pope was announced however.
Castle Combe mid-race GT6, TR6 and Turner action Photo: Howard Wolfe
Well the race was just awesome; for the whole 40 minutes I was racing someone. I had an amazing start and was up to about 7th by Quarry, the scene of many a crash. It was then a mad race for 10 minutes to keep my place and I was in about 9th when I came in for the mandatory pitstop. I cannot really do justice to the next 25 minutes, it was just hectic. I span off twice which was very annoying, both times the rear just snapped away on the exit of the first chicane and each time I found myself on the grass going sideways. The car was fine and I was able to carry on however although on both occasions I lost places. On the second spin I dropped back a couple of class places and with just 3 laps to go had a real struggle to get back to second in class (the class leading, ex-Joe Henderson TR6 was well away and the 3.0 litre Marcos was out with a broken lower wishbone). I chased down the Class C Volvo P1800 of Goran Nyberg and then caught the Baker/Barnett Ford 3.0 litre Capri at Tower Corner on the last lap and just sneaked by on the inside to take the place. I don't think he saw the chequered flag as he then zoomed past both me and the Lotus Elan in front of me at high speed after we had already crossed the line. I suspect the Robert MacVicar in the Aston Martin DB4 had the same problem but unfortunately he piled into the back of two leading cars that were slowing down and caused a lot of damage to his own car and the other two.
It was a terribly tough race for me but I was nearly 2 seconds a lap quicker than last year which was really pleasing but I was pretty much done in. The car was not without problems and it now definitely needs a bigger radiator which will be fitted by the time it takes to the track again. Andy Vowell beat me (again) in his 1300 Spitfire at his home track which I really must do something about...
Chasing hard in the GT6 at Castle Combe with two wheels in the air Photo: Howard Wolfe
This year continues to be mixed with some good parts and other really annoying bits. The car was quite badly damaged again this weekend – the same rear wing as last year. It was a totally avoidable accident and has created an awful lot of work to do on the bodywork again; basically a mini punted straight into the rear wing at Sunny In corner during a heavy shower of rain and the impact was so hard it shunted the firewall sideways which cut through the wiring loom and cut off power to the fuel pump.
The weekend however was great. It was the 3rd annual Croft Nostalgia weekend which has a 1940s theme with loads of vehicles from the Military Vehicle Trust (MVT) providing a tremendous display of jeeps, trucks, half tracks and tanks.
By 'eck, the Maquis were on hand to keep the Croft marshals on their toes
I would bet that not a single French man or woman has ever dressed up as a person from North Yorkshire
The weather had threatened to be biblically awful (apparently it was atrocious in 2011) but turned out to be mostly warm and sunny with the odd shower which was fine. Dave’s Guards Trophy race went well and he was 18th from about 30 cars and went well the entire race. We're not quite sure how he lost a place to Mike Bell's Morgan as he was leading before the pit stop and behind afterwards.
My races were split with one on Saturday and one on Sunday; the Saturday one was great fun even though I was slower than I expected and finished 7th after gridding in 10th. A highlight was that Warren Briggs (Mustang) beat Mike Gardinder (Falcon) to a class win for the first time this year and was delighted despite receiving a bit of damage when the two came together at some stage in the race. That made me 3rd in class which was OK but not as far up the results table as I need to be.
For the second race (Sunday) I was gridded up 7th and made a terrible start and lost about 6 places! Added to that it was raining quite heavily by then but I was surprised how much grip there actually was and I recovered a few places pretty quickly. Half way through lap 2 it was all over when the mini shunted into the rear of the Falcon spinning me onto the infield and cutting the electrics to the pump. I limped back to the pits and it was game over.
Damage suffered at Croft in HTC race 2...resulted in DNF as the bent body cut the wiring to the fuel pump;
In the main race Warren won the K1 class again but not without controversy; there was quite a bit of body contact between the him and Mike again and Warren’s car seems to have damage all round it now. He was quite rightly very upset about it.
So with the bad damage to the Falcon I think that might be it for the year in that car, it’ll take a lot of time to get it straightened out and get new trim strips. It’s really annoying as the HSCC really tries hard to keep it non-contact but this year seems to have been a bad one.
Dave was so cross about my crash he decided to get the bus home
The annual Spa six hour race meeting is a tremendous event with racers
travelling from all over the world (even Americans are let out for the weekend)
to take part. The feature race is of course the Six Hour of Spa for Historic
cars which takes place on the Saturday evening from 16:00 to 22:00 so well into
darkness. As well as that race, however, there are plenty of support races and
that’s where Dave and I were playing. The HSCC was running a pair of 30 minute
closed wheel races with practice on Friday and a race on each of Saturday and
Sunday. Additionally Dave entered the 61 minute British Sports and GT race which
took place early Sunday.
Whilst there were some highlights there were plenty of troubles too. On the way to Folkestone early Thursday morning the M20 was closed just before Folkestone which meant a really nasty diversion through some local town and through road works which cost us a lot of time so we missed our scheduled crossing. We did get across ok however and arrived at Spa around 15:00 local time and were allocated what must have been the very last paddock space. There was a bit of unpleasantness with an Australian Mrs Bucket who was adamant that she had some friends joining her and we could not park too close! Anyway we got sorted and zoomed off on the new scooter into Stavelot for a Kriek (cherry beer) in one of the numerous bars in the town centre. The scooter is only a 49cc machine (3.6 awesome Honda horsepower) but takes two adults pretty well so long as you’re not in any hurry!
Come Friday all was well and the weather was good and the track was dry despite
some overnight rain. It was the first time at Spa since all the suspension
changes I made over winter so was hoping to circulate quicker than last year. As
it turned out the car was as good as it has ever been and I was able to lap 7
seconds quicker! I have to say that after just over 2 years of driving the
Falcon it was the first time I felt that car was actually really good. It’s
still too fat and heavy plus it’s under power compared to the quick Falcons and
Mustangs but it’s really getting much better now. So my best lap was around 3:05
compared to 3:12 last year and that placed me 2nd fastest of the Touring Cars (TC)
class. That contrasted to Dave in the same race in the Grantura who was
disappointed to be a bit slower than in 2011 but everything to go for having 3
races in the weekend.
Lamb chops for dinner that evening. Excellent.
I had a good start in the race and was gridded for the rolling start right behind Henry (son of Alan) Mann in his superb Mustang and in amongst a gaggle of E-Types including Miles Castaldini’s beautiful low-drag one. For 25 minutes of the 30 minutes race I kept within sight of Henry and pulled the gap that had opened up to 5 seconds back to 2 seconds by the penultimate tour. Then minor disaster struck when the gear selection linkage came away from the gearbox so that I could not select 4th gear. That limits top speed by quite a lot as 7000rpm in 3rd is quite a bit slower than 7000 in 4th! Greg Thornton in his newly acquired Mustang just managed to get ahead on the last lap and beat me to the line by just a second or so placing me 3rd in class.
Despite the disappointment of losing a place I was delighted to have been so much quicker than in 2011 and although we could not fix the ‘box and hence did not race on Sunday I came away from the meeting very happy and with a pretty decent trophy too. Dave struggled a bit for pace all weekend but kept it on the island and came home with a 100% intact car, unlike me, and that was after three hours of faultless running on the track; by comparison I managed one hour.
We had a horrible journey home on the Monday after staying over in the camp site on Sunday and were stuck in traffic round Brussels and then again on the M25. We missed our crossing again and that cost us an extra hour of waiting at the terminal in Calais too.
Thanks to Tony and Nick for helping out, especially helpful when we were loading up the gearless Falcon and all the attendant spares and tools that we seem to take now.
Ready to roll on home after Spa 2012
It was a Wolfitt workshop disaster area in January 2012!
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