Brands Jubilee; 3rd July – Rear Drum braked Grid
As with the other FJ races, there was a splendid entry for the drum brake race, varying from the slim-line Elva 300 and Lynx to the rather dumpy Tojeiro and Britannia. Outstanding was the presence of no less than four Envoys – Nick Finburgh’s black prototype JR 59, Andy Harrison making his debut in the red ex-Charles Cook car which has a long history of Historic FJ in Germany in the 1980s/90s, Ian Simmonds’ blue ex-Jon Gross car and, in Class D2, the Mk2 of late entry Andrew Hayden. As far as can be ascertained from the Record Books, “in period” there were never more than three Envoys entered in any race (and it is not certain they all actually appeared).
Thirty one cars came out for qualifying. Missing were Andrew Wilkinson’s Lynx – Andrew having a problem getting the engine back together – and, disappointingly, Will Mitcham’s Volpini. Two others failed to come out for qualifying, though happily both made it for the race; Pierre Guichard (Faccioli) had an oil leak, and Jeremy Deeley (Cooper T52), whose car was all ready to go but the pilot had not arrived at the circuit. Greg Thruston stopped on lap 1 and Sir John Chisholm reported that he was losing the top end of the throttle movement the Gemini 3A. The culprits were suspected to be the grandchildren who liked playing racing drivers with the two Geminis. The 3A had not been used since Pau 2015. Sir John commented that it “had been shamefully neglected in the back of my garage for over a year and then asked to go out and beat the world with no tune up of any sort. In the circumstances she performed remarkably well.”
Fastest time was set by Chris Drake’s Elva 300 in 1’45.107”, a clear 1.5” faster than James Hicks (Caravelle) with the Gemini 0.8” further down. Ivo Göckmann was outstanding first time out at the circuit in the Jolus to be fourth, just ahead of the quickest C2 car, Nick Finburgh in the afore-mentioned Envoy. Comment must also be made on the appearance of four cars in D1. Fastest of these by a huge margin was Peter de la Roche in the ex-David Hall BMC Mk2 in ninth overall. The others were the Lynx of Vern Williamson (celebrating his 65th birthday and retirement from full time work), Greg Thruston’s 20 and Bob Birrell, making a welcome return from ill health, in his new Lotus 20. He said that his first drive in the car had been from the trailer to the scrutineering bay.
The race was due at 14.50 and the cars came out on time on a dry track following a heavy shower at lunch time. First in to Paddock Bend was pole-sitter Chris Drake, followed by the Caravelle, side-by-side with Chisholm’s Gemini. At the completion of the lap Drake had a significant 3 sec lead, with Hicks, Chisholm and Göckmann nose-to-tail with a gap then to Finburgh. At Paddock for the second time, Chisholm nipped by Hicks. Second to fourth continued to have a good scrap, joined by Stuart Roach (Condor SIII) who had only qualified 12th. The order was unchanged until lap 8 when Ivo overtook the Caravelle, then on lap 9 Chisholm suddenly lost time and fell to the rear of the group. The throttle problem had returned together with difficulty getting gears. So, at the flag, Drake won by the very convincing margin of 17.3” from Göckmann, with Hicks third 3.9” back, just ahead of Roach and Chisholm. Laine Martin had a rather lonely race to sixth, with Alex Morton seventh from Finburgh’s class-winning Envoy. In fact Nick was under considerable pressure for C2 as Andrew Taylor crossed the line only 0.7” in arrears, with Crispian Besley third.
Perhaps the best battle was to be found in the mid-field between Chris Alford (Elva 200), Gil Duffy (Kieft) and Kim Shearn (Lotus 18), joined for a while by Andrew Hayden’s Envoy as he progressed up the field from his lowly grid slot. In the end Kim broke away but Chris and Gil continued their struggle right to the flag, both drivers saying afterwards what a great race it had been. Other retirements were Noel Woodford’s Gemini which broke a radius arm on the first lap and ended in the Druid’s gravel – Noel saying that this was not due to contact with another competitor as the commentator speculated, Peter Knöfel (Emeryson) who spun and Michael Ashley-Brown (Britannia).
In D1 de la Roche retired with head gasket problems, as at Cadwell; Vern Williamson (steering rack broke) whilst Bob Birrell non-started with gearbox problems. All this resulted in Greg Thruston getting the trophy in 21st overall. In C1 Simon Durling was the easy winner from Lorraine Gathercole, both in Lotus 18s. New (unofficial) lap records were set by Simon Durling who knocked 10” off the C1 record and de la Roche who pruned a second off Greg Thornton’s D1 record.
By Richard Page