Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix; 4th – 5th August 2018

Only in June we were in Sweden, and, five weeks later, we are back in the Nordic Countries for the Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix on the familiar street Circuit around Bellahoj camping park.

Jac Nellemann has been long hoping for Formula One in Copenhagen and this year offered a very appealing package to attract two grids of HGPCA cars: with longtime supporters, Formula Junior able to enjoy their breakfast and lunch hospitality, as well as two special evenings at the Ostergro roof top restaurant which Jac most generously hosted personally for his FJ friends from around the World, with a FJ grid double in numbers since 2017.

With an MSA Historic meeting at Colnbrook on the Tuesday, Duncan and Mair headed for Harwich and the overnight Stena Ferry to Hoek van Holland after enduring miles of queues for the Dartford Tunnel where everybody seemed to be breaking down or catching fire that evening!

Wednesday evening was spent in the sun with Cooper T56 owners Claus and Heinke Myhr at their lovely farmhouse in the Dithmarscher region north of Hamburg and then via the Puttsgarden -Rodby Ferry (where we met up with Iain Rowley and Paul and the Alexis in the Delta truck) to Copenhagen. Most FJs were motorhoming in the paddock with some at Hotel Sct Thomas, as last time with Barrons and Pearsons, and others at the Avenue Hotel, where we had stayed a few years previously. That night we found an amazing Italian staffed, but allegedly Danish Restaurant, called FAMO with four course set menu and 4 wines to go with it!!

The traditional race car drive with police escort to the Town Hall was no more: apparently Police time being needed for real criminals, although Denmark appeared as always to be a most peace loving country, but Jac in his XK 120 did lead a few Classic cars before we were greeted by the Mayor and Chairman of the DK ASN with warm speeches in front of HKH Prince Joachim (also Vice President of the FIA HMSC) and his family. Interestingly ex FJ Condor S I owner Jo Fairley has a cousin whose son’s wife’s sister was once married to the Prince: they met once before, twenty years ago!

After a somewhat ‘Alice through the Looking Glass’ scenario of having to be scrutineered before signing on, Friday afternoon was a free practice session for all FJs who were not familiar with the track to run with a slightly reduced field of HGPCA front engined cars. Chris Drake (Elva 300) who had turned up to discover that he had forgotten to enter his FJ (also running the ex Alan Baillie Cooper T71 in F1) came in after one lap with oil everywhere.

Friday night was the first of Jac’s dinners in the Lift, with a strong Antipodean flavour: guests that is, not food!! As they only serve food grown or bred in the roof garden, so for things live, only bees, hens or rabbits not kangaroo!!!

9.20 Saturday morning and qualification: poor John Neel making his debut in the bright yellow Lova/DKW Mk 10, once owned by Duncan, still working on the car, and Nigel Russell’s Sadler expiring on the second corner. It had not been specifically stated in the briefing that the field would be led by the safety car, so when Andrew Beaumont (22) came out near the end of the field, seeing green flags, he began overtaking, only to realise the error of his ways, disc braking sharply, leaving Lars-Goran’s Swebe with no chance of stopping with his drums, so broken chassis and bent radiator for the Swebe, ending it’s track weekend, while Andrew made a hasty pit stop for tape but then ground to a halt half a lap later.

To add to the fun, Niklas Leed in the earlier Lova also stopped on Circuit, with blown head gasket, so by the time the SC had pulled in, there were only a couple of laps left in which to score a time, Drake being comfortably ahead of Iain Rowley in Ian Robinson’s Lola 5 and Reine Bergström’s Spider with Robin Longdon (Lola 2) the leading Front engined runner.

The Qualifying race was somewhat delayed, the weekend’s timetable being rather optimistic as to the time taken to remove cars after each race, on a circuit that has very few “escape hatches” from the concrete lined track.

Chris Drake led from start to finish, but for most of the 15 minutes plus one lap, he was chased hard by Iain Rowley, only for the latter to lose a little time as they moved through the rear of the field, sometimes twice, with  the speed differentials of early front and late rear, even though the 300 is nominally a 61 car, it having the latest engine that Geoff Richardson can supply and an experienced driver!!

Reine Bergström, in David von Schinkel’s Spider was not far behind, harried at the end by Andrew Beaumont, also benefitting from HGPCA track time in his Lotus 24,moving up swiftly from the back of the grid in his Lotus 22 after his practice mishaps.

James Hicks was next up in the Caravelle III, after wheel contact with Nick Taylor’s Elva 100 saw Nick sidelined, and last of the lead runners, but delighted that his engine maladies appear over was Petter Huse from Norway in the Focus IV.

Larry Kinch was an early pit visitor after dropping his oil at the last corner, which sent Phil Foulkes into a lurid spin in his 20/22, fortunately without hitting anything but crossing the yellow line to exclusion, at least for this race: several others, too, had anxious moments, including Duncan, with no oil flags being shown. Poor John Neel, who has credit for founding Historic Racing in DK some 30 years ago, did at least get on track but never made it round to the start line.

That evening many of the FJs gathered around the Longdon Motorhome for a splendid barbecue, Petter and Elisabeth Huse having the cutest of Historic mobile home /vans and “Doc” Lindberg, helped by Lars Fritz eventually emerging from under the Elva; Ulf not having a good week after a long battle with Coys to get his money from their May Monaco auction, still not over.

For Sunday, the Juniors were the mid-morning attraction. Reine Bergstom had found that a bearing in the steering had seized after R1, but working with EBA FJ owner, Kent Boe, they had this fixed in time after a complete strip down. This time Drake had a more comfortable win, with the battle behind between Rowley and Beaumont. Petter Huse got slightly squeezed by Hicks, but it was gears that terminated his run, with Tony Olissoff’s Elfin Mk 1 following down the same escape road to exclusion. Front engined honours developed into a great Longdon/Taylor battle, with Taylor actually getting ahead at one point but Robin was back when it mattered to win the front engined Tissot watch with Colin Nursey, guesting in Jac’s Volpini in 3rd in the front class ahead. Next in class were Duncan and Jens Nilsson, in the ex-David Grant Elva 100, locked in battle the whole race, Duncan still heading the down on power Elva at the flag. Christer Larsson seemed to be under his T52 Cooper all weekend, but obviously to good effect as he completed his second finish. Both John Neel and Nicklas again failed, but it was great to see Reijo Heurlin from Finland, driving the RV Special, as the Elhoo was still awaiting vital parts, bringing the car home to a finish in both races, albeit completely without brakes in race 2.

Chris Drake, too, received his watch with acclaim with Andrew and Iain in 2nd and 3rd on the podium.

After all the packing, it was a final evening for those FJs who had not participated on Friday to join Jac and Birgitta, at Ostegro.

A terrific four days in Copenhagen: and we never saw The Little Mermaid!