The CSCC, HSCC (and a few others) selective calendar is as follows - Green highlight means HSCC/Historic & Blue is a CSCC event we intend to do and bold means the day that we will be racing.
|2013 Race & other dates and results|
|#||Date||Venue / Event||
Club & Series
|Car||Result o/a||Class & result||Weather/comment|
|22-24 Feb||NAC Stoneleigh, Warks||Race Retro Show||n/a|
|1||30 31 March||Thruxton Easter Revival||HSCC Guards||TVR Grantura||27th||B1/5th||Very cold but dry|
|2||13-14 April||Snetterton (300 and 200)||
CSCC Swingers &
Sports vs. Saloons
|TVR Tuscan||dnf dnf||dnf dnf||Major fueling problems|
|3||6 May||Brands Hatch Indy||CSCC Swingers||GT6||7th||2nd||Warm, dry and sunny|
|4||18 May||Silverstone GP International Trophy||HSCC Guards GT||TVR Grantura||26th||B1/5th||Overcast, cool and dry|
|5||2 June||Anglesey coastal||CSCC Swingers||TVR Tuscan||dnf dnf||dnf dnf||Very warm and dry|
|6||14 15 16 June||Spa Francorchamps Summer Classic||Roadbook FISC||GT6||4th FISC
|Very warm and dry|
|7||29 June||Cadwell Park||CSCC Swingers||TVR Tuscan||dnf||G / dnf||Hot and dry|
|8||14 July||Castle Combe||CSCC Swingers||TVR Tuscan||dnf||G / dnf||Hot and dry|
|9||26-28 July||Silverstone Classic||Masters TC65||Ford Falcon||10th / 15th||Warm and dry|
|10||3 4 August||Pembrey||CSCC Swingers||TVR Tuscan||3rd / 5th||1st / 1st||Hot Sat / Wet Sun|
|11||19 22 Sept||
6 Hour support races
|Roadbook||TVR Tuscan||37th||6th (?)||Wet then dry|
|12||19 20 Oct||Snetterton 200||CSCC Classic K||Ford Falcon||3rd||5/2nd||Dry then wet|
CSCC Swinging Sixties Class structure for 2013
TVR Tuscan on the rolling road was a huge success! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UORX1ohb-y4
The TVR Grantura's first outing of 2013 following our withdrawal from the Donington round; the weather looked cold but dry and we were hoping that there would be some RV hook-ups but there weren't and it was jolly cold. We had a pretty nasty journey down with the indicators packing up as soon as we set off which cost us an hour to repair by jury rigging a length of speaker wire from the front indicator circuit to the rear. Not sure how it happened but suspect the wire is broken under the front left wheel arch because that's where the camera cable had been cut when the vehicle was in for its service. The company I use for the RV maintenance is OK but it's always a bit back-street and the quality of their work can be variable. Hey ho. On the up side they fitted new front springs and air helper bags which has transformed the whole way it drives.
Anyway on the Saturday morning Dave was out first for 7 or so laps then I did about the same and managed to go slightly quicker but not very much really. The car seemed pretty bad to me with the back trying to overtake the front all the time with a classic lack of rear grip and traction. The suspension has been changed quite a bit since last year and it certainly didn't feel any better. I had one of the fastest 'offs' of my racing life when I lost the back end on a tiny bump approaching the complex resulting in a 100+ mph 360 degree spin. It'll be up on YouTube shortly. I also had a very near miss when being passed by a Chevron; not impressed given it's timed practice not the race. It's an amazing circuit and really just a sequence of fast corners. Who needs F1 circuit designer Herman Tilke when you can just race round an airfield perimeter road? Look on Google Earth and you'll how little its shape has changed since it was a wartime airfield.
We were way down the grid as we always are with the Guards Trophy - even our class is terribly difficult as it's for fibre class bodied cars and is therefore full of Lotus Elans and Marcos 1800s which are far superior in performance to the Grantura. In the Sports Racer class there are loads of including the Chevron B8 which is a mighty car but not a Pre-66 car so I am not quite sure why they are not in the Martini Trophy rather than Guards which is where they would fit better really. This is where it went wrong for me, just at around 2pm I began to feel very unwell and was sure I was about to have a sudden bout of vomiting, I felt really rough and decided not to race for fear of soiling Dave's car... Dave did the full 40 minutes and was delighted that we had managed to cure the wayward rear end by putting new tyres on. I think the rears had got a bit too hard and were just not gripping sufficiently. He was much happier with the car and was significantly faster than he has been in the morning and finished 27th overall which was reasonable given the opposition. Silverstone GP circuit next time out. One other thing was that the PA/commentary was truly hopeless. I would have been a bit annoyed if I had been a spectator; basically it didn't work all day and even the paddock PA packed up too.
Start of the Guards Trophy race at Thruxton 30th March 2013, Dave in car 63. (Photo: Nicholas Jackson)
The airfield control tower at Thruxton just behind the spectator viewing area at the chicane March 2013
So I think I might have to give Thruxton a miss from now until eternity. This was only the third time I have been and it went, err, badly. The car was good but the weather and some other things were not. Firstly the flippin' indicators on the right hand side of the bus packed up which meant an hour at the side of the road in about 2 degrees C, running 15 metres of speaker cable from the front right unit into the trailer wiring loom which also made the light on the RV work. It was a bad start to the weekend but at least were were trucking. Alas the traffic on the M1, M25 and M3 was shocking and it took us well over 3 hours to get there and it's only about 100 miles and on arrival we were reminded what a bleak and windswept place it is. There was masses air activity as we arrived which was pretty much the highlight seeing all the single-engine prop aircraft doing circuits and bumps.
Actually that's not quite true, we cooked a very nice dinner and that was the actual highlight. Given the cold we then repaired to the bar - hmm, not really a hive of fun and activity but we did usefully prop up a radiator for an hour-or-so. Took a look at the food bar; glad we cooked our own dinner!
The highlight of the Friday evening of the Thruxton HSCC weekend.
Swingers on the 300 Circuit And so it goes on for the first race meeting for the new TVR Tuscan race car. More unreliability in the Wolfitt Racing camp. We had a horrendous weekend of fuelling problems and didn’t finish a single session in the car which is a bit of a pain to say the least. In Saturday's CSCC Swinging Sixties race Dave managed about 5 laps of practice and then handed over to me. I did another 5 but then I lost all fuel pressure and the engine just would not run properly. Back in the paddock it was clear that the pre-filter for the pump was absolutely full of aluminium filings and some grey sludge stuff. We cleared it and the engine fired up straight away so we thought it would be ok for the race. Alas it wasn’t.
I had a great start and was running really well moving up from 16th on the grid to 10th overall and 2nd in in the big engines Class; I was getting more and more confident in the car despite an earlier spin at the Bombhole in practice and it was looking good as I handed over to Dave at 21 minutes for a pretty good pit stop. As I came in there was some incident on the track and the safety car was deployed (not sure why) and Dave followed that round for about 3 laps before racing resumed but only for half a lap when he lost power and rolled to a halt at the back of the circuit on the Bentley straight. No fuel pressure again.
After the race we chucked a cover over the car as the rain set in and retired to the RV for a weird dinner concocted from cans and packets of stuff in the cupboard and some less weird Rioja. I reckon the French, Spanish and Italians are really the only proper wine growers in the world, I can't be doing with all this new world nonsense I'm afraid. We later retired to Tyrell's bar to talk rubbish and drink some fairly nasty keg beer. We were joined by Martyn Adams who had just fitted a new gearbox to his TR7V8 and was looking forward to Sunday's Future Classics race; alas no amusing turbine blade stories were forthcoming.
Snetterton CSCC Swinging Sixties practice, soon followed by fuel delivery nonsense...see race report. (Photo: Howard Wolfe)
Sports vs. Saloons on the 200 Circuit For Sunday I was up pretty early and clearing the crap from the fuel lines again and it was running like a dream again. Practice seemed really good until 'bang!' the top of the windscreen came in on the fastest part of the circuit! At the same time I lost fuel pressure again so would have been out anyway. So back to the paddock again, at least it was much warmer if windy and a really pleasant day; the first of the year for us in England. So we made some tap straps to fix the top of the screen to the car and tied them into the cage loop while we cleared more shite out of the filters and I shortened the pickup pipe by 25mm to try to pull only crud-less petrol.
Sunday in the Snetterton paddock - note the screen tab straps on top of screen; might need to paint them to make them a bit less obvious
Come the race it hadn't worked - the fuel thing that is. I lasted 3 laps and was out...poo...poo..crappy...rubbish. Loaded up and came home. Basically four DNFs in one weekend just because of a bad fuel tank.
See the first lap of Sunday's Sports vs Saloon race http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46TwYjOQdl0
The following Monday I took the rear screen out and cut a 100mm hole in the top of the fuel tank and dragged out all the foam and in the bottom of the tank was masses of debris. I think that when the tank was welded the foam caught light and burned a bit part of it into ash which was all sitting in the bottom of the tank and being sucked up the pickup pipe. Really annoying but at least I think we found the problem.
Pictures of the inside of the TVR Tuscan tank showing a mass of grey debris at each end and burn marks under the filler.
Before and after TVR Tuscan front suspension modification (different sides just to make it confusing!); this mod was made just prior to the Snetterton CSCC meeting,
It feels like a very long time since I had a really decent race meeting without some drama or bizarre and annoying malfunction.
Brands Hatch was a goody for once! In fact it was a bit weird; there were no delays at the Dartford crossing on the way down, we had a superb place in the paddock (from which we could watch the racing without even getting out of the RV) and then as a bonus had no delays at the crossing on the way home either. Added to that the car worked without a hitch like it always used to. I had made a few changes to the car since its last outing at Castle Combe in July 2012 where it had over heated during and after the race. The new Mass engine which was installed earlier in 2012 is developing more power than the previous engine so is probably producing more heat and the cooling was only just good enough even before the upgrade; the newly installed Subaru Impreza radiator would have its first test.
Unusually and arguably oddly, we had a Spanish evening in the RV on Sunday with paella, Spanish beer and Spanish wine. All very Iberian.
Unlike Spain, the CSCC is going from strength to strength. With continually rising grid numbers, as at Snetterton three weeks earlier, the Swinging Sixties series was split into bigger (Group 2) and smaller engine (Group 1) classes which does result in a smaller grid for Group 2 as there are fewer cars above the capacity line. At the meeting there were the two sets of Swingers, Magnificent 7s, Tin Tops, Future Classics, Modern Classics and a Jaguar XJ-S race all being 40 minute pit stop jobs except the Jags at 30 minutes.
On the Monday, amazingly the sun came out. It took a bit of working out why it was so warm and light but we eventually solved the conundrum having not seen it at a race meeting for a very long time. We had a gloriously sunny morning getting ready for 11:30 practice and had just a few jobs to finish off such as fitting the seat belts (I use the same set as in the Tuscan) and the in car camera. Dave had declined the invitation to share the drive and was paired up with Stack as the dynamic pit crew who chugged off to the pit lane, which must be about half-a-mile from the paddock, on the pit bike laden down with the pit board and the timing TV.
Brands Hatch Swinging Sixties race 6th May 2013 (Photo: Howard Wolfe)
Practice went very well with no car problems to report! It was 20 minutes, which is the same as 20 laps at Brands Hatch on the Indy circuit and I was pretty hot and tired by the end! I would have to relax into it a bit more for the race. I was happy to be overall 13th on the grid and 4th in class D with all to go for in the race. During practice I was circulating pretty much with Malcolm Johnson’s newly acquired Lotus Europa so it looked like I’d have someone to race against. I am not sure I fully understand the revised class structure now but I’m not too worried about it; it’s possible I should have been in the small engine group but no matter.
There were a few minor things to do on the car before the race; one of the new radiator hose joints was weeping fluid necessitating a new jubilee clip sourced from Simon Lane the driver of a very rapid ’67 Camaro. That was about it for maintenance though.
The race was excellent, from 13th on the grid and it was car mayhem into Paddock Hill bend for the first time especially as one of the Class D competitors stalled on the grid in position 10. It was a Marcus Miller’s TR6 which stalled and that granted me a promotion to 2nd in Class. Unfortunately Mark Campbell's super-rapid Triumph TR5, who had qualified in 2nd slot, had not made the start due to a possible gasket problem. All I had to do was keep Marcus behind me for 40 minutes to get my first trophy for what seems ages.
Over the next 10 minutes I caught up with and passed Malcolm’s Europa and had a terrific battle with a couple of Lotus Elans who were lapping at a very similar rate to me. I dived in for my mandatory pit stop at exactly the same time as Malcolm and he followed me into the pit lane at about 11 minutes into the race. He had a better stop than me; his get-out-and-get-back-in was about 24 seconds compared to mine at 31 seconds so he was out of the pits a good 6 or 7 seconds ahead of me.
Brands Hatch Swinging Sixties race 6th May 2013 (Photo: Howard Wolfe)
It then took me 20 laps to slowly chase him down along with the two Elans and I caught and passed Malcolm about 5 minutes before the end of the race. As soon as I was passed I was nearly off after running over the bonnet of Mike McBride’s MGC which had come adrift at Graham Hill bend. I just saw it as an Elan jinked to the side but had no chance to avoid it and a I ran right over it, praying I would not get a puncture. At one stage I had been up to 5th overall due to varying pit stop strategies and a couple of notable retirements and finished up 7th after the race was suddenly shortened by 2 or 3 laps when a Mark 2 Jaguar lost a wheel. I even have a video of the wheel bouncing across the track in front of me.
Earlier in the race on about lap 7, Simon Lane’s Camaro had the centre of one of the wheel rims rip out leaving him stranded on three wheels plus five alloy spokes on the way up to Druids hairpin. The other Camaro retired too as did Derek Drinkwater in his 4.7 litre Mustang which he is hoping to convert to FIA Appendix K spec. Interestingly Derek is the guy that built the well known American Fire truck mobile bar that is often seen at historic race meetings as well as his similarly unusual tow truck.
It was a great meeting and the first time for ages that nothing really went wrong.
Some of Howard's photos from Brands Hatch are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/howard_wolfe/sets/72157633449176506/with/8719831719/
Last time I drove the Grantura I was poorly so I was really looking forward to getting behind the wheel again and hopefully seeing the benefits of the changes that have been made over the past few weeks. The weather (always a major worry for us in that car) was looking pretty dreadful for race day but as the week progressed it dried out and in the end we had a cool but dry day on the Saturday which was double important because we did not have the RV for this weekend as it was just a day trip for us.
The Grantura in the paddock at the HSCC International at Silverstone - May 2013
Regarding the blue duck, since Thruxton Dave had been testing up at Silverstone on the proper GP circuit (not the historic one that we would use for the HSCC meeting) and it had suffered a vertical link failure while Chris Conoley was driving it. The nearside link broke at the same place they always break, that being the acme thread broke off resulting in the wheel moving back and damaging the body in exactly the same place it has been damaged twice before! Dave was able to replace the link and jury rig the anti roll bar mount in the paddock so was able to test a few more changes and by the end of the day was able to say it was hugely improved.
Back at the workshop and after a significant amount of fibre glass and suspension work it was back together again in time for the race albeit with the reserve gearbox in place. The race 'box finally mashed its synchro rings and is in for a refresh. Anyway, the difference to the car is amazing, it's now totally chuckable and can be driven hard through corners without it trying to spit you off the track as had been the case for the past 3 years! I really like it now.
As is our way, we ignore the Guards class system as we are in the GRP bodied class up against the Elans and Marcoses which is daft. There is no way that the Grantura is comparable and we think we should be in with the MGBs which is a much more like our type of car. So we always set ourselves the target of beating as many MGBs and other Granturas as we can.
Practice went extremely well and we were able to do about 4 laps each in the 25 minute session and qualified in 33rd place and were very pleased with the way the car was driving despite the less good gearbox and a problem with the clutch bite point.
For the race we gave the car a quick check over and bled the brakes; Dave took the rolling start in a truly huge and impressive field of GT cars. There were, as ever, some mighty quick Jaguar E-Types and TVR Griffith 400s at the front of the race. I really like the Jaguars but don't like the bulgy Griffith 400s which just don't look like 1960s cars. We had a great race and the change-over at half way went very well and I rejoined with a couple of MGBs ahead. I was able to get ahead of one of them and had a superb race with standard looking E-Type which was great fun. We finished 26th overall and 5th in real class but 2nd in our made-up class which was a great result for us.
There was a very lengthy post-race scrutineering session where we, along with loads of others, were found to be very slightly too low; by 2mm in our case and were asked to raise the car for the next race which is fine. What makes me laugh is that they spend ages checking this but loads of cars are running with brake ducting which is really obvious and not allowed in FIA Appendix K! Apparently at the Cadwell meeting loads of fuel samples were taken and at signing on we had all had to sign a declaration that we were using pump fuel.
So the car was great but oddly I am struggling to get the car into 3rd on the downshift whereas Dave was struggling to get it into 4th on the upshift! Next race for this car is in Dave's hands at Spa and it'll have its race spec 'box back in by then.
After four DNFs at Snetterton in the Tuscan (two in practice two in the races) we were hopeful that we had modified the Tuscan's fuel system sufficiently to cure the problem of the filter clogging up. As you may have seen from the post-Snetterton report we found masses of debris in the tank and had to fit new foam in the hope that we would have a new start and would be able to put Snetterton down as a horrible dream!
As well as the fuel tank work we also fitted some AP CP2361 race/rally brake calipers to replace the Girling Type 16s that were on for Snetterton. This was an old pair that has been kicking round the workshop in a sorry state for over 5 years and they came off Stack's Gulf Spitfire but he took them off as they were pretty knackered and were weeping fluid. I bought all the parts we needed (from Techcraft in Warwick) to bring them back to life and amazingly they bolted, pretty much, straight on and not a leak in sight! We had to do some tricky mods as one of the bleed nipple threads on each caliper was severley damaged but we were able to re-drill, tap to M10 x 1 and fit Wilwood bleeders which have a the nipple inside a brass plug. One one caliper we had to weld up the lower bleed holes and fit the hose in through the lower piston backing plate which is actually how all the newer ones are made.
Anglesey feels like a seriously long way from Bedford...and that's because it is. It is 245 miles there and 250 miles home; we have to come home a slightly different route as I can only turn into my house from one direction due to the angles at the junction. It was a proper lads weekend with Howard "the photo" who has just turned 18 along with Stack and Dave "the spanners" as they might say in Wales. The nice thing with travelling a long way in the RV is that passengers can move about a bit and make the tea! It took about four and a half hours to get there and we had a late supper given that Saturday was just a fun/down day with scrutineering arranged for those that arrived that day. All went well including Stack and Dave's scooter trip to the shop while they left Howard to cycle! I was brought a couple of traditional holiday gifts; another nice mug to add to our fine collection and a Welsh love spoon fridge magnet! Saturday's lunch consisted of Champagne, strawberries with cream and ice cream and then some crisps. Anyway, enough of this domestic nonsense; Sunday was the big day.
We were full of hope for timed Practice however that was short lived. John "the mad doctor" Davies had severe water seepage and spilled the contents of his radiator on the track causing me to spin off onto the infield grass. I was soon going again but soon out with no bloody fuel pressure!
Back at the paddock we had all the fuel hoses off again and checked that all was OK; which it seemed to be so we changed the fuel pump and pressure regulator anyway as we have changed pretty much everything else! Meanwhile Stack made a couple of minor changes to the brakes as the pad retainer plates were just touching the discs but that was quickly sorted out.
This was (unusually for CSCC) a two race weekend; there was a 15 minute race then two hours later a 40 minute pit stop race with the grid for race 2 being the finishing position from race 1.
For Race 1, despite my fuel problems, I was in 8th grid place and very happy to be up there in such a big field of cars. By turn two I was up to 5th after what was pretty awesome start even if I do say so myself! I then had a four lap scrap with a very nice 289 Cobra in FIA spec. until that same bloody fuel problem happened again. I was out on lap five with no power but then suddenly race was red flagged and was ended on lap eight when a car caught fire on the infield. My 6th DNF in a row with this car...but it was about to get better!
We made a few fuel tank breather changes for Race 2 but it didn't help. I started in grid slot 28 (finishing position for race 1) and had a fantastic race for just over ten minutes, moving up through the slower cars and passing them one after the other until I was up to about 10th place. At this stage I thought all was going well until the same again resulting in my 7th session DNF in a row! I had, at least, managed to come in and do the pit stop which is good practice although I did apparently run over someone's foot as I exited the pits! Not sure who it was but sorry about that.
Ignoring the race results, it was still a brilliant weekend, the weather was good, the food was good and Howard bought his first ever round in the bar which was great; he was about 3 weeks old when we first took him to a race meeting (at Lydden Hill in 1995) and now he's grown up and is one of the adults.
Back at the workshop (and following a thought from Hugo the CSCC event organiser) we established that the problem was, and probably always has been a collapsing fuel hose. We are sure the issue is that the pump which is a pretty powerful Holley one is sucking the hose flat between it and the tank filter which is why it gets worse; the pipe runs over the diff which gets hotter and hotter throughout the race and eventually the hose becomes soft and collapses. I have now bought and fitted all new Aeroquip hose and unions and a different filter which more-or-less replicates what I have on the Falcon which has never suffered any such a problem.
Hell's Angels in the paddock at Anglesey - June 2013
A massive thanks to Stack and Dave for being spanners for the weekend and for being great mates.
Roll on Spa for the GT6, Cadwell for the Tuscan and the Silverstone Classic for the Falcon!
The Spa Summer Classic was very strange this year as it seemed to have very little by way of variety in the types of cars taking part; pretty much every race seemed to include 1960s sports cars of different types. Dave and I had entered the FISC Legendary Circuits which used to be a very controlled series with specific Bridgestone tyres and rev limiters but now seems a lot more liberal in its entrants. There were about 15 cars with FISC so we were amalgamated into two other similar grids being Asave and Maxi 1000 which lead to about 50 cars on the grid.
Dave had his TVR Grantura whilst I had the venerable old Triumph GT6 which had already had a successful outing at Brands Hatch earlier in the year. The only annoying thing had been the change of timetable; when we entered the meeting the schedule showed qualifying practice on Friday night then both races on Saturday meaning we could get away home on Sunday however it was all moved so we had practice on Saturday evening then both races on Sunday, first race and last race so we would have to stay over to Monday to travel home.
We arrived on Thursday evening to torrential rain but to a thankfully a largely empty paddock so we were able to set up in a very nice but steeply sloped place (nice apart from the occasional unpleasant whiff from the toilet block!) so had to jack up the corner of the RV by about 20cm to get it level. Once set up were soon in the Brasserie Bar talking nonsense.
By Friday morning the always excellent FISC hospitality tent was fully set up and we were lined up for a day of doing nothing! Around mid morning our old mucker Richard King arrived from his home in France in his Land Rover having suffered a puncture the day before; it was great to see him again despite his continuing resemblance to Oscar Wilde in a gillet.
Eventually the practice session arrived and we had 45 minutes of totally clear and dry track; the rain had stopped overnight and all had dried out by 10AM. I was keen get up the lap times but it took me three or four laps to remember how to go through Eau Rouge and Rivage properly and also to recall how quickly you can go through Blanchimont. The car felt great with everything working well and I managed to do a 3.09 lap which I was pretty pleased with.
There were plenty of cars up ahead on the grid but only a few FISC runners some of whom were lapping at 3.03 including FISC organiser Pieter Bakker. Unfortunately Pieter's racing was over with a broken engine; very frustrating for him but far from the lousiest performance of the weekend. That accolade went to Chris Dear who turned up late Friday after his tow vehicle had broken down on the way and had been taken by the Belgian equivalent of the AA to their compound to try and repair it once the trailer with race car had been deposited at the circuit. In practice on Saturday evening the engine failed necessitating an engine swap but the spare was in the van and was inaccessible until 09:00 on Sunday which is when Race 1 was to take place. They collected to engine at 09:00 only to discover that the van was not in a locked compound and in fact was not even locked so they were very annoyed about that plus they could have collected it Saturday evening after all! Anyway, the engine was duly swapped over after a huge effort but just before the race the 'AA' turned up again with a low loader to take the van back to Calais and to tow the trailer. The 'AA' would not wait for the race to run so they loaded up the repaired car and headed off having completed no racing at all. What a truly terrible weekend!
Almost as bad but not quite was Paul Castaldini whose E-Type failed on the first corner (La Source) of the first lap of the first race when a universal joint on one of the drive shafts collapsed. Also the Robert & Niall Campbell MGC which crashed heavily on the second or third lap of practice; it looked to me like there had been no heat in the tyres and that some over-excitement in the early stage of the session might have been the cause...
So practice for Dave and me was good. I think Dave was a bit disappointed with his lap times but was able to improve significantly in the races which was great; alas his engine started breathing heavily in practice and by the end of Race 2 it looked like a kettle as it vented excess oil vapour.
In Race 1 I finished 4th in FISC having been up to 2nd for quite a while but the GT6 slowly lost grip after about 30 minutes as the tyres became a bit too hot, Dave finished 6th. I had one of those races where I was racing the whole time and it was really what Spa and motor sport is all about, tremendous fun. In Race 2 I was a darn DNF after 3 or 4 laps when the engine just stopped working and I coasted to a halt after sneaking through one of the exits at Double-Gauche. I thought the engine had failed but it later (once back home) transpired that the distributor had failed and retarded the ignition about 30 degrees. Dave charged on in his kettle-wagon and completed Race 2 in 4th place so nearly on the podium but not quite. In fact the organisers thought he was 3rd until the mix up was corrected as the podium celebration was about to take place.
On the organisation, FISC was, as ever, excellent with a great paddock club setup and with a super selection of food and drinks. This compares to the rolling starts which are often a total mess at Spa. On race two one of the Porsche 911s sneaked up about 3 rows during the warm up lap and was about 40 meters ahead of me at the start line rather than alongside me as he should have been!
After the race we moved to just outside the circuit with a jolly bunch of others and had a very pleasant evening under the stars before heading off home early on Monday morning. A great weekend despite the problems.
This will hopefully be the shortest ever race meeting report.
It was rubbish. The Tuscan was fine in practice for 30 minutes then crapped out again after 10 minutes of the race - I am losing the will to live with this one. So for Castle Combe we'll be changing yet more stuff in the hope that eventually we'll have a whole new fuel system!
Actually, I did have a great start from 4th on the Grid and was up to 3rd but span out at the top of the gooseneck on the first lap dropping me to last! I made up loads of places then spun off again then came in with no fuel pressure.
Fuelling problem fixed but during practice (Dave went first) masses of oil burped out of either the catch tank or the dipstick tube and covered the engine; Dave came in after only 3 laps. I went out for a few sighting laps, and it seemed OK so I came back in and sent Dave out again for a few more. We qualified in 14th which was fine given the problem. On the up side I think I have now fixed the fuel pickup problem! It was a fracture in the actual pickup pipe near the top of the tank!
In the race I started and had a great get away and was soon up to 4th place when there was a horrendous noise from the rear of the car and masses of clonking so I had no choice but to pit. It was inside the driver window so Dave jumped it but it was clear that the exhaust was off so I ran back to the RV and wired it back up. Trouble was that was just a symptom! The final drive unit had ripped out of the chassis! Game over. Yet another DNF!
At least we had passed a pleasant hour or so in the village of Castle Combe on the Saturday night!
For me, the best race meeting of the year. Over 600 cars and over 1000 drivers take to the track to battle in some of the finest racing machinery. From 1950s sports cars to 1980s Group C missiles they are all there in significant numbers.
I didn't race in 2012 as there was no suitable race for the Falcon but the pre 65 Touring cars were back for 2013 this time run by Masters rather than HSCC and it was 48 car grid with a huge array of types present. Added to that it was the first time I had been in the new Wing paddock rather than the old National paddock which is the one normally used by us clubbies. It was billed as the Transatlantic Challenge but was actually a round of the Masters TC65 championship.
All ready to rock! The mighty Falcon in the wing at the Silverstone Classic 2013
The whole event is great. A fun fair, a trade village, loads of car clubs and a great array of bands on Friday and Saturday night. I felt like a 16 year old propping up the fence at the front of the stage area waiting to see Boot Led Zeppelin who were actually pretty good despite only drawing a few hundred people being first act on stage. There was then a Commitments Tribute band which we thought very funny - a band playing tribute to band that never really existed! They were OK but then Pink Floyd Reloaded came on and although I am a huge fan of Pink Floyd I thought they were tremendous. The crowd loved them and they put a more modern twist on Floyd rather than slavishly copying the records as most of the other tribute bands do.
Added to that was being 7th on the grid in Qualifying that day; as compared to 48th 3 years ago! I had been running around 15th on the grid until my last lap when I sneaked up the extra 8 places with a decent hooked-up lap. A really great day.
The SC attracts some top cars and really decent drivers so despite being 7th on the grid I was way off the pace and around 8 seconds off pole position! There were, however a whole gaggle of us around the same lap time which promised well for the race. Stack and Dave were on the pit wall positioned directly opposite a huge display screen and Noreen was up in the main stand at the start of the Wellington Straight from which you get a great view of the Becketts complex too.
The front group all disappeared off into the distance leaving me leading a huge gang of Minis and Cortinas and that was how it stayed the whole race. We had mode of the video coverage and most of the commentary as we all battles for places, Falcons vs Mustangs vs Minis vs Cortinas. In the end I was narrowly beaten by Bill Shepperd's mighty Galaxie 500 which had come from the back of the grid having failed in Practice and by Rob Huff (current World Touring Car champion) in a mighty little Mini who got me on the last corner of the last lap of the race. I finished 10th and was delighted; it had been a proper battle for the whole 20 minutes and was mentioned in Autosport and on a variety of web sites.
Silverstone Classic Transatlantic Touring cars - Race 1 about half distance with Rob Huff in hot pursuit
That night the rain came down and we watched the one hour Gentlemen Drivers/Sailors race from our favourite grandstand with a couple of bottles of champagne, half a dozen umbrellas and a huge plastic sheet over our legs. Unfortunately the rain was so bad that the feature Group C race that was supposed to run into the night was cancelled.
Noreen and Connor went on to see the Saturday night bands (including the Hollies) which were good but it was pretty much washed out and with very modest numbers in the audience.
Bill's mighty Galaxie 500 (it went on to star in the Goodwood Revival in September)
Sunday's Transatlantic Challenge race was just as exciting if slightly less successful. I managed to get up to about 5th or 6th by half way through the race but then fell off at Copse trying a bit too hard to keep a Mustang behind me. I lost about 20 places although I recovered about 10 of those by the end with 15th place being recorded. I was a bit annoyed with myself but delighted that the car had been good all weekend and that it was far quicker than before with its new engine and gearbox. I am now really hoping that there is a similar race next year as it's such a brilliant weekend; the organisers have since reported that over 90,000 punters attended making it the biggest ever and the biggest classic car event of the year.
Not since 2005 have I taken to the track, that time being in the mighty TR7V8. It was the next chapter in the story of making the TVR Tuscan actually work for a whole race after its multitude of fuel issues and its detached final drive unit at Castle Combe.
Since the Wiltshire DNF a mass of work had been done on the car (as well as the huge amount of prep that needed to be done on the Falcon for the Silverstone Classic). Work included a new bespoke aluminium radiator from Radtec (www.radtec.com) and a specially fabricated bracket to hold the front of the final drive unit in place. Its a slightly strange looking thing but it means I did not have to weld anything to the chassis which might have been the root cause of the original problem. I also had to straighten the rear bracket as that was badly twisted during the failure and also make new exhaust mounts for the same reason.
For Castle Combe but not mentioned before is that I fitted a smaller brake master cylinder to get more brake feel and what a difference it has made. The brakes are actually good now and not dissimilar in feel and performance to the ones on the GT6 which have always been one of its strong points.
Practice Fine weather and Dave was raring to go. The race was combined (Group 1 and Group 2 Swinging Sixties combined together) so we were hoping for a reasonable overall performance. We took it pretty steady and finished up in 7th slot which was a bit lower than we expected but with 40 minutes of racing that wasn't an issue for us. The great thing was that we finished practice with no car problems!
We did a good check over and re-tightened all the diff bolts and all seemed well for the race.
Race 1 Really superb conditions and I started the race and was up to 4th by the first corner and back to dead last by the second after putting a wheel on the marbles then onto the grass. I was lucky (again) that nobody hit me but that was the beginning of yet another recovery drive. I made a conscious decision not to over drive the car and gradually made my way up the field and by the pit stop was in 6th place. The hand over to Dave went well and he was out and away.
The next 20 minutes was all drama as cars spun off and broke down and Dave was able to keep out of trouble and move up to 5th then 4th and then, right at the end, 3rd. First finish for the Tuscan and first podium; to say we were delighted would be an understatement and we celebrated hard in the paddock bar that night. For once reliability had been on our side and against everyone else; it would be a stretch to claim it was our sheer speed that claimed the position but we were fast enough.
Race 2 By contrast the weather for Sunday was truly appalling. Torrential rain all night and it continued, if slightly less heavily, all morning. The car was changed to wet settings and new tyres fitted; generally, brand new tyres are better in the wet than partially worn ones. I took the start again but was super careful not to chuck it away so drove a very safe 20 minute stint in monsoon rain that started just as the race began. We actually started under the safety car and as the winner from Race 1 had gone home I was in 2nd slot. I was soon down in 7th but holding place and happy to hand over the white duck to Dave which we did under Safety Car rules. He went a bit better than me as the rain backed off and was able to hold station. Unfortunately, up ahead, Steve Adams had a big crash in his Spitfire which has severely damaged it.
We were very happy to finish 5th overall and with a second class win of the weekend it was trophies galore. Really happy that the car behaved well and we did have a great weekend again despite the slightly dodgy singer that performed on the Saturday night in the paddock bar; if you want a crowded bar cleared of people in under one minute, he's your man. The suspicion is that might be why he's called "Just Jonny"...
Rapidly becoming my favourite circuit; it has hills fast corners, slow corners and the Eau Rouge / Rivage section which is as good as it gets. Fast and perilous. The long Blanchimont curve tests handling and bravery and La Source puts the brakes through perils that an MOT tester would be scared of.
It has a unique odour caused by the open drain nature of the toilets and a dampness all its own caused by the mountains, woods and the open drain nature of the toilets! It's still the best track we go to although I do wish it was a tad closer. 120 miles to Folkestone, a train journey sous La Manche then 50 miles of smooth French motorway and 170 miles of bone-jarring Belgian austerity.
On arrival we are always welcomed by cigarette-smoking gate guardian who undertakes a cursory inspection of paperwork and then points you in the general direction of the paddock. We didn't even get the latter part this year; as we approached the gate he asked "Barry race?" and the nod was enough to let us through and into the outer paddock which is situated outside the track by the old start/finish straight. As ever at Spa, the facilities are probably the worst of any circuit we go to. Really bad toilets and the showers away in the middle of the inner paddock and shared by most of the assembled teams so not ideal but at least they are kept clean.
Practice was at 09:00 on Friday so we had a fairly relaxed evening once we had set up involving going up to the pit brasserie which I really like; it's right on top of the F1 pits building and during racing has an excellent view of the exit to Blanchimont, the chicane and the F1 start/finish straight. You can also see Eau Rouge and the drop down towards Double-Gauche. Oscar Wilde joined us again with his witty one-liners but had unfortunately forgotten his smoking jacket, sorry I mean Richard King who has plans of a cunning nature for Classic Le Mans 2016...although I think they may involve being dead last.
Anyway, as is oft the norm for the Ardennes, the low cloud greeted us as Dave went out for the start of the test session; he did about 4 laps and came in for the swap; I then got told off for doing the driver change in the Endurance Pits (the old ones) although we had been told by the collecting area and pit lane marshals that it was OK to do so! Oh, those hilarious Belgians. Anyway it was all pretty slow and we qualified 43rd from 78 cars; rather lower than I had hoped for but in one piece and with all of Friday and Saturday to plan our tactics (and drink some beer and eat some chips).
For Saturday's big race, the Six Hours of Spa, I had agreed we would be pit crew for the Alan Tice / Chris Conoley Marcos 1800 which was good although it did mean we didn't get to do our normal trip round the circuit on the scooter to watch the cars in the dark going through the far side of the track which is pretty cool really. The Marcos was ace and they both drove exceptionally well coming home 11th overall from 106 starters and winning the GTS11 class. Really hope we can do this race one year.
There were some added attractions at this year's Six Hours of Spa...I think it's the front wheel of a Lotus or Brabham, shame those girls were in the way.
Oscar Wilde and the beer monster have clearly spotted a number of classic racing cars too.
Interestingly cars seem to drop out at a huge rate from this race underlining how hard it is to run a single car for 6 hours. The Falcon driven by Frankel / Frankel / Harris was in the pits next to us and was out after about half distance with a clutch linkage problem which they didn't seem inclined to try and fix which I didn't really understand especially as a Falcon can lap Spa just using 4th gear in about 3:12 so I am surprised they didn't just struggle on. Also the Martin Stretton team on the other side seemed to be in a bit of a stress the whole time with their Cobra in and out far too many times and lots of shouting going on. All good to watch however as were the GT40s and the Corvette Grand Sport which are all just fabulous.
So for our race which was first thing Sunday I took the start which was delayed to about 09:15 and was very wet by the time we actually got out on the track. I did 35 minutes of relatively modest lap times but I made it more interesting for myself by falling off at Double-Gauche on the first lap letting 8 cars get past me although I did get them all back by the pit stop. It was a very odd spin in that the car was unloaded and not really under any stress; very like at Cadwell and at Pembrey and on looking at the in car video and doing loads of chassis analysis over the past week I think we know why it does it. It will be sorted for the next race...which may well be 2014 unfortunately.
On the start line grid for the "Barry race" in 2013 Photo: Nick Jackson
The track dried out nicely for Dave's stint and he was able to put in a 3:10 lap which was great and was the benchmark we had wanted. The engine isn't really all that powerful and the handling is pretty evil at low speed so we really have something to go for for next season. We finished 37th overall which was fine and we were well ahead of some potentially much better machinery.
The awards ceremony then took forever (in that special and very entertaining Barry SS stylee) so we missed the train and had to wait 2 hours for another...other than that we had a great run back and I'm now concentrating on the re-born CSCC Classic K series which starts as a taster at Snetterton on 20th October. Thanks go to Stacky the beer monster and to Oscar for helping out.
Classic K was reborn on 20th October and the CSCC had attracted a truly eclectic mixture of 21 Appendix K (ish) cars for a one-hour pit stop race on the shorter (and arguably better) 200 circuit. The weather forecast did not look the finest but I was really hoping for a dry race as that's when the Falcon is at its best by a long way. Following a number of minor changes since its previous outing at the Silverstone Classic I was very keen to see how it would go so I booked testing for Friday and arrived there at around 7 PM on Thursday ready for a day of learning to drive the car better as much as anything else. It was just me and Howard so I knew I'd have plenty to do!
The weather turned out fine on Friday morning and I did about 15 laps to get the feel of the revised car and it was much more stable and easier to drive and so in the second session I circulated quite a bit quicker but was losing the brakes by the end. A quick check during the lunch break showed excessive brake shoe wear at the rear so I decided to change them. Alas that was the one thing I had forgotten!!! I am super careful about bringing spares and I think I was disturbed by a visitor at home just as I was putting the last few bits in the RV so realised I had forgotten a few items; this was the important bit. That was game over for the day so we packed up and moved to a different part of the paddock to wait for Sunday when Dave would be arriving with a new set of brake shoes.
Although annoying to miss out a few more laps, on the up side the car was significantly better than it had been at Silverstone and has truly excellent straight line speed with superb pick up from corners; Sunday would be the true test however.
That evening Howard and I had a very pleasant meal at the The Angel Inn (in Larling just off the old A11) to which we travelled on my little 49cc Honda scooter which is actually surprisingly good even with two of us on it. The pub's restaurant was a bit time-warp 70s style but very nice and is apparently very popular with people using at the circuit and is a well known pub for the real ale types.
Saturday was pretty relaxed and we went to Attleborough on the scooter to buy a few grocery bits. We then visited Snetterton micro-brewery on the way back which is situated in the old airfield operations room and we came away with half a dozen bottles of various ales; all very good and I can highly recommend it. We also paid a quick visit to the absolutely huge toy and model shop near the circuit gates. I did manage to get the car scrutineered by putting a jubilee clip round the off side brake slave cylinder which was pretty important given that there were no shoes to stop the pistons popping out! On the track, both Ian Everett (Saab 9000) and Kevan Hadfield (Honda) were racing on Saturday so we did see their respective races which were both very good too. That evening in the bar Ian was very enthusiastic about his duties that afternoon as the driver of the Daimler safety car; we retired from the bar to Commentator, Mark Werrell's motor home for some more lying about racing.
Sunday was a fairly early start as Dave arrived just before 8 AM with the new brake shoes which were quickly fitted; there is definitely some problem still with the rear brakes as the right hand ones wear out much quicker than the left ones for some reason. There must be something bent or out-of-true somewhere.
Practice was very wet, lots of standing water and continuous drizzle kept the track very slippery especially through the bomb hole section. Of the 21 cars I qualified in 9th place which wasn't too bad but I was way behind some of the lead cars. I was mid pack with a bunch of cars around me including various Lotus Elans and Elites, a couple of Alfas, a replica Le Mans Spitfire and Luke Wos' freshly rebuilt Reliant Sabre.
Qualifying result for Classic K was:
POS NO CL PIC NAME ENTRY TIME
1 1 6 1
FLEMING / FLEMING Lotus Elan
2 20 6 2 HALSTEAD / McPHERSON Lotus Elan S2 1598 1:44.399
3 8 5 1 John DAVISON TVR Griffith 400 4700 1:47.254
4 38 3 1 Gary WESTON MGB 1840 1:50.087
5 3 3 2 Robi BERNBERG TVR Grantura 1840 1:50.595
6 27 4 1 Mark HOBLE Morgan Plus Four 2138 1:50.856
7 71 1 1 Brian ARCULUS Lotus Elite 1216 1:51.186
8 30 2 1 PEAD / WALSH BMW 1600Ti 1600 1:52.500
9 5 5 2 Jon WOLFE Ford Falcon Sprint 4735 1:52.693
10 999 1 2 Jim GATHERCOLE MG Midget 1293 1:53.012
11 126 2 2 David HOLROYD Lotus Elan 1600 1:53.451
12 76 1 3 John HILBERY Lotus Elite 1220 1:53.541
13 44 1 4 Chris BLEWETT Ginetta G12 1300 1:53.613
14 28 3 3 Paul WYBROW MGB 1840 1:54.360
15 321 3 4 SAWYER / LARK Alfa Romeo Guilia GTA Rep.1983 1:54.913
16 97 6 3 ATKINS / BATEMAN Lotus Elan 26R 1600 1:56.874
17 128 2 3 ERWIN / DICK Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super 1570 1:58.910
18 168 1 5 Brent FOWLER MG Midget 1098 2:01.786
19 53 3 5 Roy CHAMBERLAIN Triumph TR3 2000 2:02.666
20 65 1 6 CHISHOLM-BROWN/HANDLEY Triumph Spitfire LeMans 1300 2:02.777
21 6 4 2 Luke WOS Reliant Sabre 6 2500 2:04.505
The 60 minute Race was truly excellent and the track was 95% dry at the beginning. Following the start line accidents that have happened recently the CSCC decided to make all the races this weekend rolling starts. That means starting the green flag lap behind the pace car and then taking the start travelling at some speed already which can be safer. I had an absolutely cracking start which you can see in this video; for some reason the Pead/Walsh BMW had dropped back from the front pack leaving us quite a long way back from the main start group. I wonder if he did not realise it was a rolling start and was expecting to be gridded up. This gave us a gap to make up but with plenty of horse power under my right foot I was able to catch them into the first corner and pass 4 cars on the Bentley Straight (ex Revett Straight). I was then nicely into 4th place but with one rapid car still behind me somewhere; it soon caught and passed me but within just a few laps I saw it slow down and drop back. I did not see it again in the race but it did finish so must have had a problem.
I was now back up to 4th. Just a few laps later Dave signalled that I was up to 3rd! The Fleming/Fleming Elan S1 was out leaving just just the Halstead/MacPherson Lotus Elan S2 and the Davison TVR Griffith 400 up ahead. I had very little chance of catching them so was concentrating on keeping in 3rd and ensuring I preserved the tyres and brakes. I pitted as soon as the pit window opened and we had a reasonable stop; it was bit too slow as I had to reattach one of my HANS straps which took a few extra seconds. Interestingly Mark, the commentator, noted "the pit window is open which means we'll see Jon Wolfe in the pits very soon", and he was spot on.
The 1964 Ford Falcon at speed (Photo: Howard Wolfe)
At around 40 minutes there was a serious incident at Montreal corner where the Dick/Erwin Alfa Giulia rolled. That was followed very swiftly by the safety car being deployed which began to bunch the field up which would potentially move the Brian Arculus Lotus Elite right up behind me. This would be a disaster if it rained (and it really looked like it was going to) as there would be no way I could keep him behind if the track became even slightly wet. However by total good luck the "front" bunch of cars including me was waved past the safety car and sent off to join the back of the crocodile. As soon as the lead car reached the safety car they stopped waving past...and Brian in 4th was behind that leading TVR. That gained me about a minute lead on Brian so on the restart with just 10 minutes to go, I just had to pray for no rain! However it came on the penultimate lap and my lap times crumbled but Dave showed me the secret pit signal to drive slowly and I'd be fine! I came in comfortably in 3rd place as the heavens opened although the leader (the TVR) crashed out on his last lap but because he had lapped me was only dropped to 2nd place.
To say I was delighted would be an understatement. The race was pretty much in the dry and I was able to get the power down well and get the car drifting. With a few more minor changes it'll be better again.
In-car first lap is .... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLv3hQKk51w
Race result for Classic K was:
POS NO CL PIC NAME
LAPS TIME BEST
1 20 6 1 HALSTEAD / McPHERSON Lotus Elan S2 1598 36 1:00:07.820 1:26.512
2 8 5 1 John DAVISON TVR Griffith 400 4700 35 58:26.183 1:26.306
3 5 5 2 Jon WOLFE Ford Falcon Sprint 4735 35 1:01:15.822 1:31.629
4 71 1 1 Brian ARCULUS Lotus Elite 1216 34 1:00:43.483 1:33.868
5 27 4 1 Mark HOBLE Morgan Plus Four 2138 34 1:01:02.778 1:35.793
6 38 3 1 Gary WESTON MGB 1840 34 1:01:04.344 1:34.883
7 97 6 2 BATEMAN / ATKINS Lotus Elan 26R 1600 34 1:01:20.926 1:34.344
8 44 1 2 Chris BLEWETT Ginetta G12 1300 33 1:01:04.650 1:35.604
9 6 4 2 Luke WOS Reliant Sabre 6 2500 33 1:01:16.222 1:39.194
10 999 1 3 Jim GATHERCOLE MG Midget 1293 33 1:01:16.525 1:37.371
11 28 3 2 Paul WYBROW MG B 1840 33 1:01:22.580 1:39.270
12 76 1 4 John HILBERY Lotus Elite 1220 33 1:01:24.047 1:38.254
NC 128 2 DICK
Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Super 1570 19 39:07.309
NC 1 6 FLEMING / FLEMING Lotus Elan S1 1558 8 11:52.998 1:27.215
NC 3 3 Robi BERNBERG TVR Grantura 1840 5 8:20.733 1:37.697
Unfortunately the last race of the day, Future Classics, had to be cancelled due to the monsoon rain and hugely diminished light.
That's it for 2013 and 7 race DNFs from 16 starts was not so good but now it's time to get ready for 2014 which by my counting will be my 25th year of motor sport!
TVR Tuscan - Powered by Small Block Ford V8! Pre 2013 race season start. January 2013
DT and JW outside Mass after the successful TVR Tuscan rolling road session - January 2013
Look, no engine!
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