Jon's 1999 Race Dates

1999 TSSC Champion!

Mallory Park - 5th July 1998

In 1999 I competed in the Triumph Sports Six Club (TSSC) race championship which was held together with the TR Register. With a good end to 1998 and a few more demon mods, I was again hoping for a good season. This year, the best 8 scores counted towards the championship and I came away with 78 points and the TSSC Championship.

Venue Date Club Result
Silverstone, Northants 20th March Peterborough MC 1st, lap record
Cadwell Park, Lincs 28th March MGCC DNF, lap record
Snetterton, Norfolk 25th April Jaguar Car Club 1st, lap record
Brands Hatch, Kent 2nd May Aston Martin O C 1st, lap record
Pembrey, S. Wales 13th June Jaguar Car Club DNF, lap record
Mallory Park, Leics 4th July Aston Martin O C DNF
Anglesey, N. Wales 17th/18th July Jaguar Car Club Did not race
Cadwell Park, Lincs 1st August Jaguar Car Club 1st, lap record
Croft, N. Yorks 21st/22nd August Aston Martin O C 1st, lap record
Oulton Park, Cheshire 4th September Jaguar Car Club 1st, lap record
Zaandvoort, Netherlands 18/19th September HARC 1st, lap record
Brands Hatch, Kent 2nd/3rd October MGCC 1st, lap record
Donington, Derbyshire 10th October Aston Martin O C 5th

Round 1 - Silverstone

'If it wasn't for bad luck I wouldn't have no luck at all', from 60's band Cream and equally from the pages of the Jon Wolfe racing at Silverstone saga. Or so it seemed. Race cancellations and mechanical problems have always played their part for me at this, our closest circuit, so 1999 could see an end to all that. It did, with an easy class pole, followed by a class win and fastest lap.

It wasn't simple though - a fairly major mechanical problem with the car the Wednesday before the race lead to the whole day being spent up at my engine builders premises sorting out the ignition timing unit. Problem solved but not plain sailing on race day. A few running repairs between practice and the race (we had to re-attach the timing unit again) ensured reliability and out 4th win in a row.

About 7 spitfires and GT6s turned up for the race along with 15 TRs and I ended up 7th overall. A good start to the season especially as my parents had come to watch (first and probably last time ever) as well as several other supporters. Even the weather stayed dry if cool.

Thanks to CES Power, my engine builders and, as ever, Martin Stackpoole for being mechanic and on the timing board.

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Round 2 - Cadwell

Less successful than Silverstone with another ignition failure, this time about half way through the race when charging hard to catch a group of 4 slower TRs which were only slightly ahead. I coasted to a halt after the engine stopped abruptly following the total disintegration of the ignition timing disc. I was less than happy, being in the class lead and having just posted the fastest lap. Martyn Adams went on to collect his 1st ever class win (after 7 years trying) and Andy Jowett came in 2nd just in front of Andy Vowell and Alistair Pugh.

I didn't even manage class pole after a cylinder head gasket failure in practice...perhaps Cadwell is now my unlucky circuit.

Interestingly, in this race the yellow and black quartered flags were used after a TR6 crashed on the exit of Barn - this flag signal means the leader should slow to around 50mph and everyone else should follow on in a single line. The two TRs out in front (Miller TR8 and Churchill TR6) failed to slow and were penalised by an enforced and protracted visit to the pits where the clerk of the course indicated his considerable displeasure to them. They both finished further back than expected such that the winning TR driver was so surprised by his position that he missed his chance of a lap of honour and an interview over the PA, by pulling off into the paddock not realising he had won.

We went home with 2 points (1 for starting and 1 for fastest lap) instead of the 10 we needed. I'm still leading the TSSC championship but only by a couple of points now. Luckily Steve Crane, my main rival, did not race that day otherwise he may well have been ahead by now.

Round 3 - Snetterton

We were greeted by unbelievably heavy rain on the Saturday before the race. The downpour started as we arrived at Snetterton and continued as we set up the tent, then well on into the evening. There were a number of cars at the circuit for testing but the whole thing was a complete wash-out and testing was eventually abandoned, even for the brave soul in a Caterham 7 who was boldly lapping in a mixture of torrential rain and hailstones. However by about 8 o'clock it was getting brighter and in fact heralded a marvellously dry and warm race day.

We learned early on that Alistair Pugh had withdrawn from the race due to being sick and that a new racer was not able to complete his car in time, however there were still about 20 Triumphs in all. Practice was steady and uneventful following a hectic week of getting the car ready. The ignition failure which had caused withdrawal at Cadwell, proved more difficult to fix than had been anticipated and the car was not ready until the Friday prior to the race. However, a fairly major modification to the pickup system looked much better than the previous set up which we had always known was not ideal. I was lapping at about 1m 30s which was enough to be placed 11th on the grid and about 3 seconds clear of the next Spitfire.

Most unusually (in fact we can't remember the last time this happened) Stacky and I had nothing to do on the car between practice and the race other than check the oil, water and petrol. I hope this becomes the norm rather than a novelty.

Mark Field (Spitfire IV) was suffering an intermittent misfire but it seemed to clear prior to the race and all the cars took to the grid with only 3 Spitfires being present (where were they all?), the third being Steve Adams in the ex-Bob Moseley MkIV now showing in dark blue.

I had a good, clean start off the grid and was up to 9th within two laps and 8th one lap later. I kept up with a group of 4 TRs for 5 laps, but was in danger of throwing it all away so let them go. I was lapping just on 1m 27s which is the quickest I've ever been at Snetterton, hitting about 115 mph on the Revett straight. Two TRs in front of me retired, promoting me to 6th overall and class winner by a good margin. I had a couple of 'moments' near the end of the race, including a trip across the edge of the gravel trap at Russell which I was just able to control with a bit of wild see-sawing on the wheel, apparently I got quite a cheer from the spectators!

We arrived as championship leaders and with 8 more points, came away still in the overall lead with 20 points, one more than Bert Smeets in his TR4. We also set a new lap record, the 3rd this year.

Round 4 - Brands Hatch

Hot, hot, hot at Brands Hatch with a mixed grid of Triumphs and MGs from the Flemings championship. With about 30 cars on a one mile circuit there wasn't much room for clear laps and I had to settle for a 59 second one. I'm sure there's more in the car as I've been that fast at Brands before, however that was with the old Graham Hill bend which was quicker than it is now. I was still much faster than the next Spitfire, that of Alistair Pugh.

Stacky and I had fitted an experimental front splitter/air-dam for this meeting but as the temperature was so high and I didn't want to risk engine or brake overheating problems, we removed it for the race.

I was only 12th on the grid (6th fastest Triumph) and then had a terrible start losing about 6 places, however one lap into the race and it was red-flagged due to their being one TR7 in the new, huge gravel trap at Paddock and another in the trap at Clearways. There was a 10 minute delay to the re-start when I had a much cleaner get away and made up a couple of places. On lap 2 of the re-start the red flags were out again as a couple more TRs tangled and slipped into the gravel at Druids and out of the race.

Yet another delay on the grid for the 3rd start; now a reduced distance race of only 5 laps. I had a relatively good get away but on lap 2 was punted from behind into a spin and into the Druids gravel with a stalled engine. Miraculoulsly the engine re-started and I managed to get out of the gravel and back onto the track, now in last-place-but-one. Nothing to lose I went for it! with only 3 laps to catch the other class C cars it would not be easy. On the entry to the last corner of the last lap I had already passed several cars and was up with the leading class C Spitfire (Alistair Pugh) and had a do-or-die dive up the inside. Pugh already had 2 MGs on his outside and we went round Clearways four abreast with my whole passenger side slamming into his car as I drifted into him. I just got passed and sprinted to the chequered flag for my 3rd class win this year.

Sorry Alistair, but that's racing. I think that was his first taste of the push and shove that can inadvertently happen at times. With 6 weeks to the next round at Pembrey, we have time to repair the rear (quite severely damaged) and paint and polish Alistair's tyre marks out.

I'm still leading the championship with 7 more rounds to run.

Round 5 - Pembrey

Outright pole position at Pembrey, in front of a pair of 3.9 litre V8 TR7s which develop over twice the power of my 1.3 litre Spitfire, was a very satisfying situation. I had managed to get out at the front of the practice session giving me 8 clear laps to get a good lap time in and I managed a 1.10.6, just 6 hundredths of a second faster than the position 2 TR7.

The drivers of the 2 TR7s were so surprised that they even came over to see Stacky and me to suggest that the time keepers had made some mistake. However, we knew no mistake had been made; Martin had been keeping an eye on the TR7s' times too and when I came in from practice, Stacky already had the feeling that pole was ours. 'We'll find out in the race', the race controller was overheard saying to one of the disgruntled TR7 drivers in the race admin. office who had loudly stated, 'I know he's fast, but he's not that fast'.

I have not been so keyed up for a race for years, first ever pole and a real chance of my first ever overall win. Both TR7s had me on acceleration off the grid but I re-passed one on the brakes into the hairpin. I then set to catching the sole car in front of me but over the next 6 laps he slowly pulled away, building up a 3 second lead as we left the rest of the field behind us. I knew that the TR7's brakes and tyres are marginal, they have to use the same wheels and tyres as the Spitfires and they weight about 250 kilos more, all I had to do was keep as close as possible and wait for his brakes and tyres to fade. By lap 9 of the 12 lap race I was right up behind him again and starting lap 11 I dived past at the hairpin. Unfortunately Andy Vowell in the modified Spitfire didn't see the battle behind him and turned in right in front of us. The TR7 jinked to the side but I ploughed straight into the back of Andy's all steel Spitfire. The front of my car was a total write-off with heavily bent steering, smashed bonnet and a mangled radiator.

I was unhurt and jumped from the car to stand on the tyre wall where a small group of about 10 spectators were very sympathetic and agreed it was just rotten luck. I easily had that TR7 and he knew it, even acknowledging the same after the race, which he went on to win. At last we've shown ourselves and the other racers in the TR/TSSC championship that a Spitfire can be right at the front and there'll be no stopping us now.

Back in the paddock, several spectators came over to sympathise and a couple were really quite angry about it. It wasn't all Andy's fault, it's up to us go round slower cars, but there were blue flags waving like mad and he should have known we were there. A typical 'racing incident'

Roll on Mallory Park.

Round 6 - Mallory Park

Mallory Park might as well be wiped from the Jon Wolfe Racing history files. Although the practice time wasn't too bad, it was set early in the session, prior to a dreadful misfire setting in. On investigation back in the paddock, we found a broken roller rocker tip and I decided that enough was enough and that I'd withdraw from the race. However, after much discussion we decided to borrow and fit a standard set of rockers (wrong ratio) and remove the sump pan to clear away any debris from the broken component. Once complete, the engine fired up and sounded OK. Andy Jowett even double checked our rocker clearances and we hoped for the best. Needless to say and as usual, Martin Stackpoole was instrumental in getting the job done on time.

We were 2nd race on a 10 race programme so it would be an early afternoon for a change! Despite the problems I was still fastest of the Class C cars in practice, but about 2 seconds slower than last year and formed up about half way down the grid with the Spitfires of Steve Crane and Andy Jowett not far behind. I had a terrible start and very little power compared to normal and after 4 laps (by which time I was down to 4th in class) decided to call it a day rather than suffer the ignominy of being lapped. Steve Crane and Andy Jowett had a tremendous scrap for the class win with Steve just getting in front at the end. Mark Field finished 3rd with Steve Adams not far behind.

It could have been worse however as just 2 races later a Morgan Plus 8 hit the safety barrier on the start-finish straight and wiped out about 30 metres of Armco and catch fence. The damage was so great the meeting was abandoned.

Once back home we stripped the engine down completely and found wear throughout; hence it went back up to CES in Buckingham for a full check and rebuild, requiring a new rocker, new cam shaft and new followers. For various reasons we would not compete at Anglesey but have a few engine modifications up our sleeve for Cadwell! Amazingly I'm still leading the TR/TSSC Championship, but it's getting tight now and I really need a string of good results.

Round 7 - Anglesey

Did not race.

Round 8 - Cadwell Park

Back to the front again at Cadwell for our 2nd visit of 1999 to the best race track in the UK (according to me!). We had been told by the organisers that for this meeting, if enough TSSC racers were present, we could have our own race without the TRs. However with only about 10 TSSC cars we were merged into the Jaguar XK challenge race comprising a very motley selection of Jaguars including a 1960's style S-Type, a 420, three XJ6s, numerous E-Types with various degrees of modification and German driver Eike Wellhausen's ridiculously fast Knobbly Lister. Even so I managed 3rd on the grid with Eike 8 seconds a lap faster and a highly modified 3.8 litre E-type 1.5 seconds faster. Interestingly a beautifully prepared, if rather slow, E-type was being driven by Mike Wilkinson, the person I bought my E-type off about 15 years ago! Mike is a novice, but the almost standard spec. car is the very one which Formula One legend, Jackie Stewart, drove back in the 1960s!

Problems always abound and I suffered my second rocker failure in succession with a roller tip being the problem again. Prior to the race we removed the entire rocker assembly and replaced it with a standard unit from Steve Crane's spare engine. Steve wasn't racing due to recently undergoing a tendon operation on his elbow, but fortunately his spare engine was in the back of Andy Jowett's Transit van! After the problems of using a standard rocker assembly at Mallory Park four weeks earlier, I wasn't too optimistic about the race.

The ambient temperature was 33 degrees centigrade so we all roasted in the assembly area although the new radiator (a John Kipping special 3 core unit) worked admirably even though it has a surface area only 66% of the TR7 unit which was damaged in the Pembrey shunt. Even flat out, the temperature stayed steady at thermostat level. I had a clean start and highly conscious of getting class honours allowed the 4th placed XJ6 past and then set to opening up a lead over Martyn Adams and Colin Elstrop in his invitation class GT6.

The next 5 laps saw me following the XJ6 closely and in all honesty I could have caught and passed him a dozen times, but I was being Mr Circumspect and remembered last year at this circuit when I made to overtake Russell Munn in his TR7, for no reason other than pride (I was already comfortably leading the class), and ended up crashing into Russell's car due to his gearbox failing as I accelerated up behind him.

After 5 laps there was no other car in my rear view mirrors and I backed off the throttle to preserve the car and take a very comfortable class win. Martyn Adams made it in 2nd with Andy Vowell in 3rd. Andy Jowett suffered a massive engine failure and John Davies (modified Vitesse coupe) failed to finish too. Adam Bagnall and Andy Winterton followed up in 13th and 18th overall respectively. Mark Field was a no-show due to sickness and John Thomason was on the entry, list but did not appear all weekend.

Round 9 - Croft

The management at Croft did another good job of getting he crowds in; we had about 2500 spectators for the race day, ten times what we get at other circuits. They're obviously doing something right.

Practice was pretty standard and I managed to get out onto the circuit first again. It's a long circuit with plenty of corners so I managed to avoid all the traffic and got 8 laps in before the session ended. I was fastest TSSC car by over 3 seconds a lap and 7th on the overall grid with long-time racing companion, Colin Elstrop in 8th. Colin races a non-TSSC GT6 and was running in guest class and notably his wife was racing in her modified Spitfire.

I had my usual 'bad' start and lost 4 or 5 places by the first corner. To explain why this always seems to happen you have to consider all the factors, which are as follows. (1) Spitfires run with about 3.5 degrees of negative camber (i.e. the wheels lean in at quite a severe angle) at the rear which means that in a straight line, the contact patch (area of tyre on road) is quite small. Spitfires also use 185 mm wide tyres and this leads to the potential for huge wheel spin off the line. The TRs seem to have about 1 degree at the rear and have 205mm wide tyres, giving them a much larger contact patch. (2) The TRs have much more torque from their larger engines than a Spitfire and that's what gives the car a shove up to speed. Most Spitfire engines come on at 4500 - 6000 rpm (mine comes in at 6000) so spinning the wheels off the line is also all too easy. (3) We have 1/3 the engine capacity of the TR8s and half the engine capacity of the TR5s and 6s, hence much less power. (4) Spitfires are lighter and make up the lap times on braking, cornering speed and corner exit speeds which has no effect until we're up to speed and the track is clearer. (5) Some of the TR drivers are bloody mad. You cannot win a race on the 1st corner, but you can loose it by being shoved off by some twat in a big fat car.

This all means that TSSC drivers in the TR races have to be patient and let them go off the line and then pick them all off again during the race. In this race, I gridded 7th, dropped to about 12th by the 1st corner and was back up to 8th again by lap 8. I spent the 2nd to 8th laps chasing a group of cars in front of me and slowly catching them up. I had real problems with a TR8 which was quick on the straights and then held me up through every corner, once I'd passed after stalking him for 3 laps, I was off and away by over 3 seconds a lap. One other fell by the wayside (Jonathan Ellison's TR4) and a TR3, which was being held up, suddenly sped away into the distance. I caught Colin Elstrop by the last lap and for some unknown reason I went a bit mad again. I was leading the class by 40 seconds but still had a go at Colin by going around the outside entering the complex at the end of the lap. I just squeezed past him but couldn't hold it for the right hand portion and did a 360 degree spin to let him by again. I regained the circuit and finished well in the lead of the class and 8th overall.

Andy Jowett had another disastrous engine failure leaving him sidelined after only a handful of laps. Following Andy's engine failure at Cadwell he rebuilt the engine from parts in his and my garage only to destroy the cam again on the rolling road. He's still planning to be out for Oulton Park on the 4th September. Steve Crane got shoved off by Chris Burberry (TR5), but recovered to come home 2nd of the TSSC cars. Other TSSC racers were, Martyn Adams (3rd), Steve Adams (4th), Dave Thompson (1st Class A), Clive Gimson (5th) and Adam Bagnall (6th). John Thomason, although entered, was a no-show again.

Round 10 - Oulton Park

I had a bad case of Dehli-belly for 2 days prior to Oulton Park and nearly wasn't well enough to get there but with will (and some Imodium) I just about got up there. Stacky and I arrived on the Friday without Noreen and the kids for a change, it was just too much hassle for one night away.

On arrival we learned that my long time rival Kevin Ginger had decided to race with us. He normally confines himself to the 750 Motor Club Roadsports championship, but decided to do our races at Oulton Park and Brands Hatch later in the year too. The morning dawned bright, cloudless and still, which is how it stayed the entire day with temperatures approaching 30 degrees C, which, combined with feeling fragile, made the whole concept of racing far less appealing.

I had a good practice, getting out on the track early giving lots of free space on this near 3 mile undulating circuit. There are some great corners on this track including the long, banked Shell hairpin which I'm sure can be taken much faster than I was managing! I didn't see much of the other cars, but did manage to pass Kevin at one point after he made a bit of a mistake coming out of the Foulstons Chicane and ran very wide onto the grass. I had a couple of 'moments', but despite feeling grim managed to get the class pole by a couple of seconds.

Kevin's clutch release failed at the end of the session and he was threatening 'not to bother' racing, but he was sent off to find a new slave mounting unit from a local Triumph specialist!

The grid line up showed a load of TRs (11 to be precise) in front of me. It's that old power problem again. The full Oulton Park circuit has five power straights where grunt counts for much more than handling, so us weedy if nimble Spits don't have a chance. I was followed on the grid by Steve Crane, Martyn Adams then Kevin Ginger and Andy Jowett.

Other TSSC runners included Steve Adams, Adam Bagnall, Clive Gimson, Andy Vowell and Andrew Winterton.

I had a terrible start (just for a change) and was baulked by Larry Jeram-Croft's TR8 and by the first corner had been passed by both Steve Crane and Kevin Ginger. By lap 2, Steve, Kevin and I were three-abreast through Cascades, I wish I had a photo of it! By lap 3 I had passed Steve and was chasing Kevin and passed him coming out of the Shell hairpin; he tried to stick to my tail but I shook him off through Druids where he disappeared from sight very suddenly (I think he lost it). Kevin retired a lap or 2 later with mysterious gearbox problems.

I lapped Andy Winterton in his bog standard Spitfire IV on lap 6. He was nearly 1 minute a lap slower and all credit to him for having a go. Maybe he'll go modified class for 2000.

Unfortunately Andy Vowell only lasted 3 laps when his engine overheated and he pulled over on Clay Hill. Steve Crane broke down with an electrical failure when his main, live battery cable shorted out after the insulation wore through after rubbing on the bodywork. This was Steve's 1st d.n.f. for over a year. Andy Jowett only lasted a couple of laps before his engine problem from practice got worse and he had to settle for 1 point, spending most of the race in the pit lane shouting me on!

Well deserved 2nd in modified class went to Steve Adams after having terrible problems in practice and needing to change the head gasket over lunch. Just 5 minutes before the race he and Dave Thompson were still trying to get the car running properly!

I'm now 27 points ahead and bar Martyn Adams winning the next 3 races with fastest lap without me even starting, I should clinch the championship. Martyn says he's not racing at Brands...but who knows...look out Zandvoort.

Round 11 - Zandvoort

My first ever race outside the UK and the chance to win the championship. 10 points for a win with fastest lap would put me beyond the reach of any other competitor. In the event I was on class pole and won the class by a large margin although, for a change, I was not the first Spitfire home.

Without going into too many details, the weekend was a series of problems from beginning to end although none were to do with the actual race. The car behaved well and the change of differential to a 4.11 ratio paid off. I was fastest in practice and within 3 laps was quicker than Steve Adams who had spent the Friday learning the circuit and doing about 30 laps at race speed. However, only 1/10th of a second slower was the MkIV Spitfire of Harald Hummel, a fellow Spitfire racer from Germany and although beating him had no bearing on the championship, there would be a degree of competition! The next TSSC cars were Martyn Adams about 5 seconds slower with Andy Vowell and Steve Adams just behind him.

Harald and I had a superb race with him just behind me for 8 laps of the 10 lap race. Half way through lap 9 we came up on a couple of back markers and I made a complete hash of getting past them. I went too wide, missed a gear change and ended up on a sandy part of the track. After a trip across the gravel I was back on song but Harald was 20 to 30 metres ahead and I set to catching him. After a huge 'moment' some 200 meters later when I ran straight across another gravel trap (sandy tyres and trying too hard) I had to settle for the class win and just drove smoothy to the end (astonishingly, this last lap was my fastest!).

Martyn Adams was a distant second, followed by Andy Vowell in 3rd. Steve Adams and Dave Thompson had a bit of fun further back having what can only be described as a mock battle for position. Disappointingly, only 5 TSSC cars attended this international meeting, maybe we'll get some more out there next year.

There now follows a list of events and problems we had over the weekend:

1) Took us 10 hours to get there (much longer than we anticipated). We had been told it was 2 to 3 hours drive from Ostend in Belgium to Zaandvort. In fact it was nearly 400Km and took over 5 hours.

2) The Hotel was 25 Km away from the circuit, not 3 as we had been told

3) Following Henk (local TR owner) to the hotel was like a replay of the cannonball run and only half of us got there. Two cars didn't even see which way he left the circuit! I had to drive flat-out in the van to keep up.

4) Henk got lost on the way.

5) Rooms were not available for an hour after we arrived at the hotel (at 23:00) and I had my kids aged 2 and 4 and my mother with me!

6) We had to pay for the rooms in advance but they didn't take credit cards.

7) We had to put our own camp bed in the room so the family could sleep together (my mother got the best room though)

8) On Arrival at circuit on the following day (Saturday) they wouldn't let us in as we had no tickets. This took 10 minutes of arguing to get in.

9) The paddock was guarded by the Zandvoort equivalent of Stalin and he wouldn't let us in either. A huge row ensued, eventually calmed down by Mike Hughes the TR Register race organiser. Someone nearly got thumped and it wasn't me.

10) On the way back to the hotel after practice we got lost in the woods (!) and it took us over two hours to go the 25 Km to the hotel (we travelled over 80 Km) and all with the emergency fuel warning light on! We asked for directions on numerous occasions but no-one had ever heard of the place. We eventually found a fisherman by a canal who sent us to a youth hostel where the cook knew the place!

11) On arrival at the hotel at 23:00, all the staff had gone home and locked the reception, where we had left our room keys. After threatening to smash the door down, Jo Adams (Martyn's wife) found some room keys in another part of the hotel.

12) On Sunday (race day) we got lost on the way to the circuit and it took 40 minutes to get there (fuel warning light still on).

13) Turbo pipe on the van blew a hole in it. Terrible noise and no power.

14) Bloody hell they let us in......

15) Toilets in our area of the paddock were broken.

16) Kids were over tired.

17) Won class and championship (hooray)

18) Left to go back to the hotel, but trailer was missing from the trailer park!

19) Found the trailer about 200 metres from where we had left it. It had been moved with a crane and one light was broken and the wheel lock was badly twisted making it almost impossible to remove. Had to tow the trailer out on the winch as it was jammed in the sand amongst loads of others.

20) Couldn't get the Spitfire down the trailer park ramp from the circuit as it was too steep, so Martin went to drive it round on the road.

21) Martin (Stackpoole) had consumed a large amount of beer so went off to find a policeman to ensure that it was OK to drive an uninsured race car on the public highway whilst under the influence of alcohol. This was Holland so it was OK.

22) The repaired turbo pipe (good old tank tape) burst again. No power to go up hills, luckily Holland and Belgium haven't got any. (Dover has though)

23) Got back to hotel in 13 minutes, but there was no hot water. Kids were filthy so cold showers (screaming, yelling, shouting, crying etc.). Will they ever forgive us?

24) Had a nice evening!!!! Sat in the van with Martyn and Jo Adams and drank loads of beer.

25) Monday, it took 12 hours to get home, most of which seemed to be going at 10 mph up the hills coming out of Dover and then through Kent which, with no turbo, took ages...I also came off the M20 on the wrong junction, but luckily that only cost us 10 minutes.

How everyone, Martin Stackpoole and my mother especially, coped with it, I do not know.

Round 12 - Brands Hatch

Our second race this year at Brands Hatch and it was pretty thin on the ground as far as Spitfires and GT6s went, with only five Spits and a sole GT6 being present. The meeting was quite an unusual format too, in that practice was on the Saturday and the race on the Sunday; which makes it more difficult with the family as there is no camping at this circuit. This meant Martin Stackpoole and I were without my wife and kids for a change. (NB: too much beer in the bar on Saturday night, much karaoke and dancing on tables ensued).

Significantly, however, both Kevin Ginger and Paul Lucas were entered for the race (see old race reports!). Kevin had just won the 750 Motor Club Roadsports championship after 16 years of trying and Paul was racing for the first time in 18 months. Both were apparently on form, but both were just slower than me in practice and in the race. Incidentally, Paul suffered a broken rear half-shaft (a real Spitfire weak point) during the sportscar race on Saturday when he was leading. Rather unfortunate and it also meant he missed the TR race practice, meaning he would have to start from the back of the grid.

I qualified 9th out of 26 behind five 3.9 litre TR8s and one each of a TR4, a 5 and 6. Stacky had been timing the other quick Spitfires during practice and I was able to establish how hard to push to ensure I had a fair crack at class pole. I just about did it and Kevin Ginger was next in 11th (i.e. right behind on the grid) and Paul with his repaired car had been relegated to the back of the grid. Andy Jowett, Andy Vowell and Adam Bagnell made up the rest of Class C.

As is often the case, the first lap of the race was chaos with Richard Bull spinning his TR on the exit of the first corner, sending cars scattering left and right to avoid him. I almost came to a halt avoiding the accident and Kevin managed to sneak through on the left. It was bloody annoying as I had just had an uncharacteristically good start for a change. We all made it past Bull but coming into the second corner (Druids hairpin) I was shunted very hard from behind by Mike Hazlewood (TR4) who, to be honest, was going too fast and had no chance of stopping. Luckily my car's handling was unaffected and I was able to continue.

Andy Jowett sneakily tried to get past me on the way to Graham Hill bend but I shut him out and started chasing Kevin who was about 75 metres ahead by now. I don't know what happened to Kevin, but it looked like he just lost it on turn 4, gifting the class lead back to me again!

With no need to be careful regarding class points I then had a great race with a couple of TR3s which were marginally faster on the straights than me, whereas I was significantly faster in the corners, but I just couldn't get past them. If I could have got in front I could have pulled away but there was just no way by. By lap 5 Paul Lucas was sidelined, this time he'd virtually lost a front wheel caused by a snapped front vertical link - the other Spitfire weak point!

It wasn't until the end of the race that I realised quite how bad the back of my car was. The rear was about a foot shorter on the driver's side (really), with both wings, the boot floor and lid all smashed flat. Amazingly, that's the fifth time it has happened in 3 years!

The funny thing was that the other driver was so apologetic and, to be fair, a bit of panel damage has never worried me at all. However, one of the other drivers went really mad at him and I ended up having to calm it all down a bit!

Anyway that's 8 class wins so far this year (5 in a row now) and another lap record too. A win at Donington with fastest lap would mean maximun 80 points....we'll see.

Round 13 - Donington

Not such a good meeting as the rest of 1999, but rather this meeting than any other. Although the car was quick, the transmission started howling during the last lap of practice and it was very difficult to tell where the noise was coming from! I even tried the car up and down the car park but it wouldn't make the same noise at the relatively low speeds I could get up to.

After much discussion (and various opinions) as to whether the noise was emanating from the gearbox or the differential, we elected to swap the diff unit anyway. The diff in the car is quite an expensive bit of kit and seeing as the championship was already won, I couldn't justify making it worse if there was a problem developing. Duly we took out the 4.55 ratio and replaced it with the 4.11 non-slipper which Jigsaw had built for me for the Zandvoort race. We also checked the gearbox oil as there was masses coming out of the bell housing and found the level to be alarmingly low; maybe that was causing the noise. The gearbox was nearly at the end of it's life anyway, so I didn't worry too much about it and just topped it up.

As far a speed was concerned, the race was a disaster - although the diff worked OK, it screwed up the gearing completely and cost me over 3 seconds a lap. It was as much as I could do to stay in the class lead and then, on the penultimate lap, the gearbox finally let me down. It had been playing up for a couple of races and I was hoping it would last until the end of the season (I suppose it did nearly, but for 3 miles!).

I was relegated to class second when I couldn't get it into 3rd at MacLeans, then on the last lap I lost all the gears at the old hairpin (causing a slow spin) and with it lost another 3 class places. After fishing around for any gear at all I managed to jam and hold it in 3rd to keep 5th in class from 10 class C starters (I nearly got back up to 4th actually!).

Subsequent investigation of the diff unit showed a badly worn front bush, probably caused by using synthetic oil. It probably would have been OK to use it but that's hindsight for you. Investigation of the gearbox showed that it was completely worn out. The synchromesh rings on 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th were gone as were 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears! It was lucky it lasted this long at all. Annoyingly we did discover that the reason it wouldn't go into gear was that the linkage was damaged which we could potentially have fixed if we'd known it was on the way out.

The eventual class winner was Steve Crane, followed home by Andy Jowett, Andy Vowell and Martyn Adams. With 2nd in class and fastest lap, Andy Jowett clinched the 1999 newcomers award. Well done to him. I'll have to look out in 2000 as he's getting quicker in leaps and bounds! Sadly, Steve Crane is planning to retire now and sell his race car, I hope if he does sell that he makes sure whoever buys it, gets out and races.

I should mention that Steve Adams and Dave Thompson bought me a bottle of champagne for winning the TSSC championship, which was much appreciated by everyone who got a look in! Thanks very much.

1999 race record - 12 starts, 9 finishes, 8 wins, 9 fastest laps, 9 lap records = 78 points from a maximum of 80.

Please contact me before you come to check it's on


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