The CSCC (and a few others) selective calendar is as follows - Blue is a CSCC event we intend to do and bold/underline means the day that we will be racing.
|2018 Race & other dates and results|
|#||Date||Venue / Event||
Club & Series
|Car||Result o/a||Class result||Weather/comment||Best lap & results|
|23 -25 Feb||NAEC Stoneleigh, Warks||Race Retro Show||n/a||The V8 Tuscan was on the CSCC stand.||n/a|
|1||8 April||Snetterton 200||CSCC Swingers||Tuscan||4th||3rd||Damp, overcast, drizzle. Wet practice||Results|
|2||5 May||Silverstone International||CSCC Swingers||Tuscan||4th||3rd||Hot, sunny and dry||Results|
|3||19 - 20 May||Pau, France||FISC Legendary Circuits||GT6||6th and dnf||n/a||Warm/hot and dry|
|4||2 June||Oulton Park||CSCC Swingers||Tuscan||3rd||3rd||Damp to dry and warm||Results|
|5||21 - 24 June||Spa Francorchamps Summer Classic||Roadbook / CSCC Classics||Tuscan||4th
|Windy, warm and dry|
|6||15 July||Brands Hatch Indy||CSCC Swingers||Tuscan||2nd||1st||Mental hot||Results|
|7||18 August||Brands Hatch GP||CSCC Swingers||Tuscan||dnf||dnf||Warm and dry||Results|
|8||15 Sept||Donington||CSCC Swingers||Tuscan||2nd||2nd||Warm and dry||Results|
|9||7 October||Mallory Park||CSCC Swingers||Tuscan||2nd||1st||Cool and dry||Results|
CSCC Swinging Sixties Group 2 class structure for 2018
Class D - All 6 cylinder cars up to 3000cc (Triumph GT6)
The Team Wolfitt Racing class win for the 2018 series; thanks everyone!
The Team Wolfitt Racing 2018 trophy haul; thanks everyone!
2018 CSCC Awards dinner at Chateau Impney; Jon W with Darren Turner collecting the Class G winner's award.
CSCC Race Retro stand from February 2018 Photo: CSCC
TVR Tuscan troubles in 2018
Snetterton TVR; gearbox broke 5th gear costing a place
Silverstone TVR; differential broke free in chassis costing a place
Pau GT6 race 1; engine misfire towards the end
Pau GT6 race 2; engine failure when camshaft gear came off the camshaft
Oulton Park TVR; lifter and camshaft failure
Spa qualifying/race 1; lost 3rd gear
Brands Hatch Indy; broke the bloody engine again - another lifter and camshaft failure and the RV broke down on the motorway on the way home
Brands Hatch GP - taken out by back marker while in the lead - gravel and bent front suspension
Donington - Off track excursion on lap 1 which bent n/s anti-roll bar mounting bracket
Mallory Park - amazingly, nothing bad happened!
As usual the CSCC started the race season at Snetterton with a two day meeting but, in a change from recent years, on the shorter 200 circuit which is much preferred by many. Norfolk is normally cold and damp...and that's how it looked on the forecast and how it transpired too.
After the winter recess, both TVRs were fully prepared for their respective races and both drivers in peak physical fitness. Well sort of; it was all a bit rubbish really. Early Saturday afternoon Noreen and I set off with the Tuscan for Norfolk leaving Dave to follow on with his car a little later. Less than ten minutes from leaving Race HQ, Dave called to say he'd really hurt himself and could we please go back...Noreen called her mum and arranged to get a lift from our location (about 5 miles away) back to help Dave while I headed off towards the circuit.
Anyway, Dave had snapped his Achilles tendon in his left ankle while trying to manoeuvre his trailer which he keeps at our place! Noreen took him up to Bedford hospital where his lower leg was plastered in ballet pointe style while it settles down for a few days before seeing a specialist. Anyway, there will be no Classic K for us for a few months we think! Agony for him and terribly disappointing to miss the start and possibly the rest of the season.
It was a full complement of crew too, we had Howard, Tash, Benton, Jared, Roger and Lisa too as well as some miserable Norfolk weather. I did manage to get the car through scrutineering and get new tyres sorted before everyone else arrived which was really useful. Noreen arrived about 9pm by when we had decamped to Tyrells bar with the full (Martyn) Adams Family, all very pleasant. Really great having both full families back together at a race meeting again.
The old bus is still going - had it about 14 years now! 6.5 litres of Chevrolet V8 turbo-diesel lethargy.
Practice was a waste of time; heavy rain onto a severely oil-contaminated track meant just a handful of laps behind the safety car. The grid was derived based on a best-guess by the CSCC folk and it was OK by me; it's a 40 minute race with a mandatory pit stop so despite its vagaries it's the best that can be done and as good as any other system. I was in 9th and right behind Ray Barrow's Camaro.
The race was much less wet; track still damp but not too bad. Unusually, I had a pretty dreadful start and lost a couple of places having decided that I just needed to make sure I made it round the first lap cleanly but managed to get past a couple by the Esses at the end of Bentley Straight. By the end of lap one I was in class 4th and 7th overall. I had managed to overtake the Absolom/Eckford Sunbeam Tiger when it crashed heavily on the start-finish straight into the pit wall showering our pit signalling team in glass, luckily no harm to anyone although the car was a bit of a mess.
It took a few more laps to get up to 4th place but the race leaders were, by then, disappearing into the distance and could just about see 3rd placed Malcolm Johnson in his Lotus Europa twin cam. As the track improved I was able to catch a little but he was still a good way ahead at the mid-point pit stops but that was about to improve due to our super-fast pit-lane perormance and I was out on track ahead of Malcolm and was able to hold a decent distance.
Mandatory pit stop during 2018 Snetterton CSCC Swinging Sixties Group 2 race Photo: Howard Wolfe
Two laps later, however, minor-disaster at 100mph on the Bentley Straight as 5th gear sheared right off with an almighty racket. The car coasted down and I thought it was all over but tried 4th and it went straight in (4th isn't really a gear - it's direct drive through the 'box) and I decided to just leave it for the rest of the race and ignore the horrible noise. Malcolm had, by now, long since re-passed and I was in amongst some cars I had already lapped so I had a bit of a fake-dice with a few cars until the end of the race. The Tuscan has huge torque so having 4th gear only is not so bad but no 5th means limited top speed on both straights which costs a couple of seconds a lap.
I was comfortably 4th overall and 3rd in Class G which gained the team a trophy. Not great but way better than Dave's day and the car should be back together for Silverstone in a few weeks.
A super hot day for a change and lots of space in the newish Silverstone International (F1) paddock. There was still a requirement to move trailers to the trailer park despite there being loads of room and the rule only be selectively applied; we counted over 50 trailers in the paddock and masses of empty concrete! Hey ho...
Stack, Roger and Jared were crew for the day with a fully repaired car after its gearbox failure at Snetterton four weeks previously however there was lots more competition in class G this time so it really wasn't going to be easy. The gearbox failure at Snetterton in April cost me a place when 5th gear and reverse stripped out so all to play for at the Silverstone International meeting.
Due to a lack of marshals, the race was changed from a standing start to rolling one and I was gridded in 5th place, but by turn one I had passed three Lotus Elans and was up into 3rd. The leading pair (TVR Griffith 400 and Morgan +8) started pulling away quite quickly but I had a decent battle for 3 laps before dropping the 5th again behind the super handling of the Elans see it on YouTube. We made a very early mandatory pit stop at bang-on 10 minutes (first car in by a long way) and that dropped me to 12th overall before the climb back up.
By 30 minutes I was back up in 3rd because of our super-speedy pit stop and the massive V8 in the front of the car, however it was about to go slightly wrong.
There was a horrible sense of Snetterton again at about 33 minutes when there was an horrendous noise from the back of the car and a really bad vibration set in which I initially thought was a chunk of tyre delaminating. Later however it was clear that the flippin' diff mounts had failed again! The diff was being held in by the front mount, the drive shafts and the exhaust. I slowed down slightly and lost a place and ended up finishing in 4th. I would have been 5th but for Powell's slightly optimistic overtaking manoeuvre which sent him spinning off right in front of me at the start of the complex. I had been hitting 140mph on Hangar Straight but the final drive issue dropped v-max to about 120 which cost a couple of seconds per lap.
3rd overall would have been good but 4th from a possible disaster was fine especially as it was 3rd in Class; see trophy below. Ray Barrow and his Camaro were back in Class 4th after struggling with tyres and brakes all day - you can see his enormous throttle-stuck-open lock up on my YouTube video of the race.
Great pit lane support from Stack, Roger and Jared and fabulous weather too.
A truly historic and amazing annual event held in the Pyrenees city of Pau with true racing through the streets. Much longer than the similar Angouleme circuit but also much more like a proper race track but with very little run off or margin for error and used extensively for modern races. Once again we were with FISC for another excellent Legendary Circuits event.
For this event it was Martin 'Stack' and me driving down in one day from Caen having travelled overnight from Portsmouth on the Thursday night. Richard King met us there with his hugely improved 1500 Spitfire and we were all set up and scrutineered by early evening on the Friday. The weather forecast was really changeable but as it transpired the sun shone all weekend and the rain stayed away until all the racing had finished on Sunday.
Pau paddock in 2018 with the good ole GT6 (and Stack in the background!)
Saturday was free (i.e. untimed) practice in the morning with actual race qualifying early afternoon - the car had truly dreadful brake shudder and we fitted new discs after free practice; from memory I was 13th fastest. There were some pretty quick cars and I was happy to qualify 10th on the grid from 29 cars. The whole race is on YouTube and you'll see I had a pretty close race with Pieter Bakker until a minor contact got me by. I crossed the line in 8th but was elevated to 6th after one disqualification and one time penalty was applied although the car had developed a horrible misfire about three laps from the end.
For the second race we changed everything electrical - plugs, cap, rotor, coil, ignition module but no difference; someone suggested checking the timing an it was 8 degrees retarded from where it should be so we corrected that. An amazing difference and the start of race 2 was very promising but it wasn't to last. After only three laps there was a bang and a total loss of power and I coasted to a halt while battling for 4th place. Second race is also on YouTube.
Subsequent investigation showed that the timing gear wheel had sheared off the camshaft and luckily there was enough clearance to avoid valve to piston contact. Relatively straightforward fix and could have been way worse. Coincidentally I had also lost the clutch - the piston had pumped right out of the master cylinder when the circlip (snap ring) came free and was forced into doing clutchless gearchanges. Not such a great race but such a brilliant event, cannot wait to go again.
Damaged camshaft in the suddenly not-so-mighty GT6
Wikipedia entry for the history of the circuit click here
We raced the Triumph GT6 here in Pau (South of France) in May 2018 - it was sublime (except the bit when the engine broke)
Let down for the first time ever by the RV. When we came to leave for Oulton Park on Friday afternoon it simply wouldn’t start and it was nearly a Basil Fawlty style moment of giving it a damn good thrashing. Instead Mrs W prevailed and we transferred all the necessary kit into to BMW X3 (including some camping gear!) and set off about 90 minutes behind schedule.
As it turned out, we had a great evening with an outdoor meal along with John Davies (Triumph Vitesse) and the snores of an incredibly noisy sleeper about 50 metres away. Luckily Dave decided not to come and probably just as well with his gammy leg still causing gip.
It was damp for qually/practice and I was struggling to get into the top ten when I got in the groove and slotted into 3rd spot just before the rain worsened and I came in 5 minutes before the end of the session. I was surprised to see just a few minutes later that Chris Petch (TR5) had sneaked from 18th to 3rd, dropping me to 4th! How the flip did that happen, but hey-ho, still no disaster given that about 40 cars started out. I had spent the practice session in tandem with Malcolm Johnson (Lotus Europa) and I was just a shade quicker.
By grid time it was evident that Chris's practice time was a mistake and he was actually back in 18th, elevating me to 3rd again. It suddenly became apparent that the ole sitting Ginetta was missing and that I was now 2nd on the grid behind the super-rapin Datson 240z. I am unsure what happened to the Ginetta but understand there was a disagreement over cars passing under double waved yellow flags and the upshot was: no Ginetta on pole or indeed anywhere.
Oulton Park 2018 scrutineering; TVR Griffith and TVR Tuscan
I knew was going to be a tough ask to keep the car at the front as the track dried and the rapid TVR Griffith 400 and 7.4 litre Chevrolet Corvette were not far behind on the grid. I had an awesome start and was clear into the lead by turn 1 but with just a lap in that position despite a lurid slide as I came onto the start-finish straight for the first time. The Corvette passed me by mid lap 2 and the Griffith 400 just a wee while later leaving me nicely in 3rd as the pit stops started. I was first car in and it dropped me to 12th on the track but with everyone else yet to stop. By lap 13 I was back in the lead and trying to get away from the Griffith and the Corvette but wasn't to be.
The Reuben father and son team in the TVR Griffith won with Daniel Williamson in the Corvette in 2nd place but I was very please to be 3rd especially as the engine had gone sick right at the start of the engine (I'm not sure it would have made any difference if it hadn't) and delighted to have the first podium place of the year. James Keevill in the very lovely non-FIA Lotus Elan came in 4th and sadly Malcolm Johnson was disqualified for (I am told) making his pit stop outside the allowable time window. It was a brilliantly entertaining race from where I was sitting with lots of cars to pass and general on-track action. Thanks to Mrs W, Stack, Jared and Lisa for helping out.
At time of writing, the V8 engine is in bits again and we need to get the thing back together for Spa in 2 weeks! Backup plan is to get the GT6 fixed!!! (Afterword - with a massive effort we got both fixed; about 100 hour work)
Always the best race meeting of the year even if things go badly; it's such a wonderful place and unlike any UK circuit especially the dull airfield ones. Masses of history, 7km of track and huge, varied grids for the whole weekend. The only down side was that we (Swinging Sixties and Classic K) had swapped places with the Future Classics on the regular race schedule meaning we'd be much later back to Calais Eurotunnel on Sunday.
Incidentally, Eurotunnel was crap again, late going out and big delays coming back too. Annoyingly we don't really have any viable alternative because the RV is very expensive on the ferry and even with delays at Eurotunnel it's still quicker than a boat on the blue stuff. Also Stack barfs quite a lot when he even sees the sea from a boat.
Anyway, as is now the norm, we set off on Wednesday afternoon and arrived at the circuit at about 01:00 Thursday, way better than travelling on Thursday with its normal lunchtime delays on the Brussels ring road. There is very light traffic that late in the evening which also helps with the horrible hills on the final 30 miles of the journey and whilst you have to park up in the trailer parking until 07:30 it's great to be there.
We'd had an incredibly busy run-up to the meeting because of the engine failure at Oulton Park; I'd had a new camshaft made in the USA and sent overnight along with a pair of roller lifters and it took the best part of three full-on days to strip the engine, fit the new camshaft and get the car operating and ready again. Thanks for everyone who pitched in to help, especially limpy Dave who came and kept me company for the day on the Monday. I had also needed to get the Triumph GT6 engine repaired (from the Pau failure) just in case we could not get the TVR ready, so that added to the huge effort. In all I think we spent 100 man hours getting the two cars back into action.
The Tuscan V8 tucked away in its blue fabric garage at Spa Francorchamps, June 2018
Team Wolfitt at Stavelot in 2018; Martin (aka Stack), me and Jared (aka Pit Boy)
Practice (Friday) Not perfect; due to a misunderstanding on my (and others') parts we stopped on the grid when the red flags came out at the start of the practice session; we should have gone to the pits but instead we had a one hour telling off/caution from the clerk of the course. Other than that the car was good except very stiff changing between 3rd and 4th gear on some shifts and some initial slow laps bedding in new front brake pads. I qualified in 5th from 70 cars so was pretty happy given what we'd been through to even be there. Otherwise, a pretty uneventful session.
In front of me were the Reubens in their re-engined TVR Griffith 400 (even faster now), the Vermast TVR Vixen (?), the Keevill Lotus Elan and the Halsey Datsun 240z,. Right alongside was the ever-present and stupid-fast Ray Barrow in his white and red Chevrolet Camaro.
In case the gearbox issue was a dragging clutch we bled the clutch hydraulic system, fixed a minor engine oil leak and cleaned the car again ready for Saturday afternoon's race. And then had some beer...and some wine...oh, and some gin.
Race 1 (Saturday) I had a cracking get away from the rolling start and was quickly up into 2nd place behind the Reubens' Griffith 400 as we all charged down past the old pits, through Eau Rouge and up past Radillon. It wasn't very long however before Ray Barrow (Chevrolet Camaro) blasted past on the Kemmel Straight just one lap later and I was back in a reasonably comfortable 3rd place. At this point the gearbox started getting worse and I was unable to cleanly change gear from 4th to 3rd; highly symptomatic of a failed synchromesh ring. From that point on I could only use 3rd when going up the box and had to use 4th for most of the lap. The engine has phenomenal torque so that's actually not such a problem at Spa but necessitated 5th-4th-brake-2nd at the chicane on each lap. Also, I was fortunate not to be damaged by a side swipe from Chris Blewett (Ginetta G15) when he thought the blue flags were being waved for him so pulled over to pass the MGB in front of him but I was already there and passing at a significant speed difference. The only damage was paint scuff.
The pit stop was fine but I got really stuck behind some slower cars a number of times when yellow (slow down and no overtaking) flags were displayed and I lost contact with Jamie Keevill (Lotus Elan) who had taken 3rd place. I caught him about 10 metres before the finish line with one lap to go but...the chequered flag was being displayed. Due to some race timing issues the race was flagged a lap early which cost me an opportunity to get past Jamie which I am pretty certain I would have done on the final lap then, to add more annoyance, the Reubens Griffith ran out of fuel before getting back to the paddock so basically wouldn't have completed the race had the flag not been early. Lots of annoyed people (I would have been at least 3rd, probably 2nd) but the results stood; 4th overall and 3rd in Class.
Race 2 (Sunday) The start was great again and I was running 3rd again; however the pit stop is where it went wrong not long after the Safety Car period (see below). The flipping starter motor had come apart again so the car would not restart without a push from Stack, Jared and a couple of the CSCC organisation team. Really annoying that so many people in the pit lane wouldn't help; they just stood and watched.
That delay cost me about 30 seconds and dropped me from comfortable 3rd to distant 5th. I set about catching the two cars in front and caught 4th place (Lotus Elan) about 3 laps later but just could not get to 3rd placed Malcolm Johnson (Lotus Europa) by the end of the race. Unfortunately, right at the start of the race, Paul Keevill (sharing the Lotus Elan with son Jamie this time) had a colossal crash at Eau Rouge and very severely damaged the car. Paul was fine but the car was in a very sorry state when we saw it on the way out of the circuit.
Race 2 restart from the rear camera click here
In summary we could have got a 2nd and a 3rd but ended up with a brace of 4ths which actually is pretty good despite it meaning we just missed the podium twice (in races with about 65 cars). Given the state the car was in just one week previously it was a strong outcome and great teamwork from the Wolfitt gang.
A seriously hot day following a seriously hot week, one of the hottest periods on record in the UK. The venerable RV was being particularly tricky and wouldn't start when we came to move from the outside camping area to the paddock (and broke down on the M25 on the way home too!); however I think it's fixed now thanks to the RAC recovery man who helped clean out the fuel filter. New filter unit coming soon...
It was another mad preparation period refitting the gearbox after another strip down to fit new blockers which were preventing 3rd gear selection; at least it was a simple fix although quite a job to swap the box out and back in again in time for the race meeting.
Practice was all to brief - I did 10 minutes and, while comfortably on pole position, came in for a practice pit stop but the car wouldn't restart - for some reason I thought I had been out on track for at least 15. Anyhow I decided not to go for a push start (the trigger wire was off the starter) and called it a day ending up 5th overall on the grid. The Wheeler/Curnow Lotus Elan was on pole with Ray Barrow's Camaro in second place. Then came Steve Hodges' Lotus 7 and the Bryan/Taylor ex-SVRA TVR Griffith 200 and I was right alongside the Halsey/Arif Datsun 240z which was in 6th.
POS NO CL PIC NAME ENTRY TIME ON LAPS GAP DIFF MPH
180 H 1 WHEELER / CURNOW Lotus Elan 1600 54.284 14 23 80.10
297 G 1 Raymond BARROW Chevrolet Camaro 5700 55.373 15 31 1.089 1.089 78.53
387 H 2 Steve HODGES Lotus 7 Series 2 1998 55.691 18 23 1.407 0.318 78.08
461 G 2 BRYAN / TAYLOR TVR Griffith 200 4700 55.827 11 28 1.543 0.136 77.89
513 G 3 Jon WOLFE TVR Tuscan V8 5000 55.891 8 12 1.607 0.064 77.80
6240 E 1 HALSEY / ARIF Datsun 240Z 2997 56.338 26 28 2.054 0.447 77.18
7149 H 3 Malcolm JOHNSON Lotus Europa 1700 56.737 18 18 2.453 0.399 76.64
The race I had a really cracking start from the rolling getaway and was up to 2nd place by the end of lap 1 and into the lead by lap 5 then in for an early pit stop at just 10 minutes and a few seconds. Quickest pit stop of the race again and out into about 10th place. After a few laps the safety car was deployed after Malcolm stuck his Lotus Europa in the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend and that closed it all up again. After it all shook out I ended up about 3rd and made my way back up to the lead again for a while until the faster (2nd driver) in the Elan caught me and I just couldn't safely stay in contact. I finished in 2nd place but first in class G which is ideal for overall positions in the series and for not collecting a winners stop/go penalty for the rest of the year. It was one of the hottest race weekends ever and the car went sick at the end, later to be diagnosed as another failed lifter which wiped out the camshaft again. hey ho, that's racing and we'll be back for the Brands Hatch GP round in a few weeks.
There was much post-race argument over unsafe pit lane exits etc. but our position was unchanged and we came home happy with a class win.
Brands Hatch race start from rearview camera click here
Like so many races at so many meetings it went from great to terrible very, very quickly. From leading the race with just a few lap to go to stuck in the gravel up to the floor pans because of someone else’s oil on the track.
We rarely get to race on the legendary GP circuit at Brands Hatch but I have done it quite a few times and do know my way round it pretty well actually. The car had undergone yet another big-effort rebuild with a new camshaft and followers being required after another annoying failure at Brands Hatch a month previously; we’re really racking up a long series of issues this year.
There was however a really nice surprise at signing on, I had been given driver of the day for that previous Brands Hatch race along with a £50 Adams and Page tyre voucher. Very nice.
I used the most worn set of Yokohama tyres for practice and despite the ten minute safety car period mid session, I was reasonably happy to be 7th fastest from about 50 cars. There were lots of reserves and I was 6th on the grid with the slightly quicker Arif/Halsey Datsun 240z being 1st reserve and did not make the grid. They did race however because of drop-outs on the formation lap!
Standing start and another good one; up to 4th behind the two TVR Griffiths and the Chevrolet Corvette by Druids on lap 1. Malcolm Johnson in his Lotus Europa was there again and right alongside but I knew I could soon drop him and pull out a gap. Just a couple of laps later the Dan Williamson Corvette pulled off the track (with engine problems) and I was duly running in third in a nice train of TVRs with Ray Barrow (Chevrolet Camaro) not far behind me. We had an excellent pit stop at around the 12 minute mark (fastest of the race again) and I rejoined in around 10th place.
Three laps later and I was leading; tactics and a bit of good luck got us there with Ray about 100 metres behind. The super-quick Reuben-Reuben TVR Griffith 400 had a 60 second penalty because of two previous wins and I knew he’d be on a march to catch up.
With about 12 minutes to go disaster struck and an Alfa (apparently) shed its oil on Clearways resulting in Glenn Canning spinning his superb little NSU. A Mini took avoiding action and took me off the track and into the gravel; certainly not his fault and there was nothing to do other than swear a bit once it was obvious that I wasn’t going anywhere and it was race over.
The race went under safety caution because of the cars that needed to be recovered away from the track edge but that took a while and the race ended under the safety car a few laps later. Ray inherited the win with the two TVR Griffiths behind him. A very, very disappointing result for me.
The team were great (as ever) and everyone was present including Dave on his first visit to a circuit since his Achilles tendon problem back in April. He’s hoping to be driving again next year although it's still painful to at the moment.
As you may also have seen, I have bought another car, it’s a 1963 Lotus Elan built to 26R spec; it needs finishing off and the FIA papers but should be good for the a few races in the 2019 season.
Overhead shot from Howard's drone of the Wolfitt Racing (and others) setup at Brands Hatch
It was with the memory of the Brands Hatch GP mess foremost in our minds that we set off for Donington Park in Leicestershire. It's a great circuit with loads to commend it; history, fast and slow corners and newly taken over by Jonathan Palmer's MSV organisation. Already it's looking better with a huge expanse of paddock and good spectator facilities including shops and a super new cafe. The pre-war racers wouldn't recognise the place.
Dave was with us but not available to help because he'd been requested to help out as a CSCC Swinging Sixties representative/official because Chris Blewett couldn't make it. Hopefully Dave will be back racing with us in 2019 in an improved '63 Grantura and an improved left ankle.
The CSCC were due to use the longer GP circuit configuration for the weekend but as it turned out there were insufficient marshals on the Saturday and we were reverted to the shorter circuit with the chicane just before the start/finish straight instead of the Grand Prix loop to the Melbourne hairpin. It really made no difference to me; racing is racing.
The Tuscan needed quite a bit of work since the Brands Hatch gravelly off and the team did a great job on the car while I was on holiday in Spain and France - straightened the front right suspension mounts and corrected a slight curve in the lower wishbone which may well have been there since the Spa crash in 2017. I also brought with us a new, slightly larger oil cooler to try to address the overly hot oil issue I have had since fitting the new bonnet - we ended up installing that between practice and the race but it didn't help; it needs to be relocated.
Donington looks like a power circuit but actually it really favours cars with good grip and road holding. I knew that the Plant/Plant Morgan Plus 8, the Daniels/Gough Marcos and the Lotus Elans and Europa would be the main risk to a podium position. The Plant/Plant Morgan is seriously quick and I knew it would be tough to keep up with that car and pairing. As it transpired I was 5th in qualifying with just 0.1 seconds covering grid positions 2 to 5. I had been in various grid positions throughout the session and it was far from clear who would be on the podium at the end. We had couple of dreadful practice pit stops but resolved to try harder in the race!
The weather was good and I had a good getaway from the rolling start but was blocked by the rapid Malcolm Johnson Lotus Europa as the Marcos came down the inside. I made a decision (bad as it turned out) to try to over take the Marcos at the end of lap 1 on the brakes and over-ran the chicane which pitched me into a spin - that dropped me to 16th! The commentators were delighted; in their words it then gave them something to talk about! I then set about a steady recovery and started regaining places over the next 5 laps up to the pit stop which I came in for just 10 seconds after the pit window opened. That dropped me out into open space and I chased and chased. With about 10 minutes (of the 40) remaining I was up to 2nd overall and managed to maintain that to the end with no chance of catching the Plant/Plant Morgan which was romping away in the lead.
Take a look at the in-car video on YouTube for the full race from the front and rear cameras. I was truly delighted with the result especially following the gravel trap ending trip from the lead at Brands Hatch. The wholeteam were great and the pit stop timing and execution were great too. Thanks everyone.
Also, and a great surprise, was the appearance of long-ago racer Paul Lucas who was super-quick in his early Triumph Spitfire in the TSSC Championship in the 1990s. It was really great to see him and his wife Liz and and hope we see them again soon.
The Wolfitt Racing crew at Donington Park in September 2018; Lisa, Noreen, Stack, Jared and Roger (Dave was on CSCC duty)
I have checked the notes and the last trip to Mallory Park was actually in 2003 in the Triumph TR7V8 where I recorded an outright win in the TR Register championship. Those were the days of 15 to 20 minute races and there are actually still a handful of folk from those days still racing with us. It was great to catch up with John Sadler (who was a successful Triumph Vitesse racer in to 1990s and actually built John Davies' car for John's erstwhile team-mate Mark Plausin) who is hoping to start racing again after suffering a heart attack two years ago. It was sad to learn of the death of Pete Whiteman who was another TSSC Race Championship regular.
The Tuscan was ready to go following the work we needed to do after the Donington race. The nearside anti-roll bar mount was straightened and we re-positioned the new oil cooler to be in front of the water radiator rather than fan-assisted but behind. The oil temperature was certainly lower in the race but it was a cooler day than previous race meetings. No Crew Chief (Martin Stackpoole) this weekend but with Dave feeling better and fitter, he and Jared were the able pit crew for the weekend.
Practice was a total mess. The track was very cold (there was a mega overnight frost and the trailer was a sheet of ice) and I just couldn't get any traction; the car was viciously trying to swap ends with any application of power. The rehearsal pit stops were a bit messy too and I was really slow through the whole lap, just about getting ahead of John Davies in his Vitesse by the final lap! I was 8th fastest, one of my worst practice performances this year but with the weather looking good I was much encouraged!
For the race we decided on a different approach. The track has a much better surface than it did 15 years ago but it's still terribly rippled although not as bad as the bump-fest that is Castle Combe. We softened off the bump settings on the shock absorbers by quite a lot and wow, what a difference! I was on the outside of the track in grid slot 8 and with the added benefit of pole-sitter Nigel Reuben starting from the pit lane due to gear selection problems caused by a failed clutch slave cylinder. I was slightly nervous about being on the grid directly behind Dave McDonald and Jon Ellison in their TRs 6 and 4 respectively given they both have a reputation for not always staying on the track; I was very keen to get in front of them as soon as possible to avoid any possible minor indiscretions they may be involved in. By turn 2 on the second lap I was in 2nd place overall; have a look at the video!
It was then a case of holding position for as long as possible as Malcolm Johnson in the mighty-quick Lotus Europa was gradually pulling out a lead. At bang-on 10 minutes I came in for the mandatory pit stop and we really nailed it this time; the fastest of the race by quite a good margin. I went back out in about 8th place but gradually reeled it back in and finished 1st in class and 2nd overall with Malcolm winning by a good margin and Jon Ellison in 3rd place a lap down. Nigel Reuben failed to finish after a good start but his diff failed after just 13 laps. Towards the end of the race I had an amusing dice with the Geoff Taylor TVR Griffith who had not realised I was already a lap ahead but just to prove a point I sneaked 'in front' again by the end. After only just pipping John Davies in practice I lapped him 5 times in the race. Sorry John.
That's it for 2018....let's do all again in 2019!
Jon and the pit crew at Mallory Park after a very acceptable 2nd overall and 1st in class result