Barry Westmoreland Trophy; Cadwell Park 4th – 5th June
Silverline Championships Rounds 4 & 5
Duncan’s collective of Global gypsies convened at Cadwell Park on Jubilee weekend in celebratory mood. The entry whilst predominantly from the UK, encompassed representatives from Spain, Belgium and America. That net broadens further when you consider the heritage of the cars being raced, then you have to look to the organising team. With Duncan’s daughter Sarah Mitrikė coming across from Lithuania to join the summer party making this a truly International event.
Well, it was almost summer for one day of the weekend, the Friday, but after that conditions deteriorated to feeling like winter on Saturday, and rain finally trying to spoil the fun on Sunday. From tee shirts to thermals all in the matter of three days. Oh the joys of English summer. A true initiation for Rich Spritz who with his wife Diane were having their first visit to race in the UK coming in from Colorado. I am sure he was questioning his plans as the rest of Europe was reporting a heat wave that weekend with temperatures up into the 30 degrees Celsius.
The woes of the weather were nothing compared to the trip that John and Jonathan Fyda faced, when their tow truck lost its clutch by the time they reached Scotch Corner. The question was do they turn around and go back to Dundee or press on and hope to get the parts to repair the clutch before going home? The answer was Cadwell here we come and in the early hours the weary pair arrived at the circuit.
The reason for everyone heading to the circuit early Friday, was not to test their cars but to get everything ready for the Friday night Fish and Chip Supper organised by Tony Pearson. This was probably why Sarah flew in. They are reputed to be the best Fish and Chips money can buy and a great way to welcome Rich and his wife to these shores, with a sample of our great gourmet delicacy. At least the chips were guaranteed to be hot even if the evening was cooling down in preparation for the following morning.
Friday testing did claim two of the entries from the rear engine grid, with Clive Richards having a broken crank shaft and Syd Fraser picking up damage as the innocent victim of a tangle with a Formula Ford 2000 on track. Otherwise however we had two representative grids from both the fronts plus class C, and the rear engines. Ned Spieker’s Brabham BT6, now in the ownership of preparer Mike O’Brien and raced by his son Michael, was out again this weekend, after victory at the Brands Indy opener, which had followed a two year layoff for the car. The Brabham was fielding new body work, with no final thoughts on the colours it would be finished in, the car was sporting primer grey. The colour scheme meeting with a lot of approval as those offering opinions felt it was closer to how cars would have been raced in period.
Mike’s Speedsport team were fielding a number of cars at the meeting, including three Formula Ford Merlyns, but also Geoff Underwood’s Brabham BT2. Geoff is something of a Brabham enthusiast also having a Tasman Brabham and a very pretty BT5 sports car.
Saturday qualifying whilst dry, was very cold. A keen north wind swept across the paddock and many were looking to blank off their radiators to keep the engines warm, whilst Duncan was reporting overheating, an issue which was to hinder him over the weekend.
Tony Pearson was another of the front engine runners to experience problems in qualifying when his Fire Extinguisher broke loose in the car and set itself off. Syd Fraser kindly lent his to Tony and it was mounted in time for him to go racing. Bernard Brock had made a number of changes to his car since its last appearance and now had his quick engine in. Minor problems in qualifying were being rectified and a good race was anticipated.
Adrian Holey came in at the end of the session with a lack of clutch, an issue that would finally rule him out of the event for the weekend. Pete de la Roche was a little disappointed with his time and the team set about changing the ratios to give him a longer second gear.
As we waited to get the racing underway consideration was given to lighting the candles a day early on Robin Longdon’s birthday cake, to help warm up the gathered entrants. With one unkind soul suggesting it would have too great an impact on global warming igniting that many candles at once.
The Front engine grid, which included the pre-61 rear engine drum brake cars from Class C, was the first group to race. Nic Carlton-Smith in the Kieft had a lights out to Chequered Flag untroubled win. Nic is very much at ease with this rare car, but Trevor Griffiths in the Emeryson and Keith Pickering in the Britannia gave fair chase and kept him honest around the demanding track. 4th place was held for most of the race by Justin Fleming in the blue Lola Mk2 but he slipped down the order late in the race.
All of the excitement was further down the ranks. Jeremy Bouckley, in his Cooper, demonstrated how to perform a standing start by blitzing past the opposition to move from 8th to 5th in the course of a lap, following in Jeremy’s wheel tracks, Duncan in the flying carrot zipped past Richard Bishop-Miller to engage in an entertaining fight that would last almost all race.
Jeremy, despite his 59 years of experience on the Cadwell circuit, had to relinquish 5th place to Simon Hewes in the Lotus 18, but he was able to stave off the very close race-long attentions of Graham Barron in his Gemini MkII. With the late excursion by Justin Fleming, Simon eventually finished 4th with Jeremy 5th from Graham Barron, Richard Bishop-Miller and Duncan Rabagliati who eventually slowed when his overheating returned late in the race. Rich Spritz completed his first race at Cadwell in a creditable 10th place only a lap down on the leaders. Throughout the field there were friendly duels, with Peter Edbrooke keeping a watching brief on Roger Woodbridge towards the rear of the field. Bernard Brock retired early in the race with Clutch problems and was the sole non finisher.
The Formula Junior classes D-E Rear Engine race winner was never to be in doubt, Michael O’ Brien like Nic Carlton-Smith was in a league of his own with the Brabham. He put in some quick laps early in the race to throttle back so he could pick the right spot to pass slower cars during the lappery without impeding his or his fellow competitors’ enjoyment of the event. On the Friday evening he was asked what his plan for the weekend was, he said simply to enjoy the pleasure of driving this car.
Benn Simms in Jim Blockley’s Caravelle, proved once again how quick this car can be in the right hands. The Richard Utley designed, Bob Hicks built, car has often shown its true pedigree not reflected in its period history. Benn got the jump on Tim Child from the start to move into second with Tim having to hold off the BMC Mk2 of Pete de la Roche. As the race progressed steady gaps opened up. After a good start Geoff Underwood slipped down the order, being passed first by Robin Longdon, then James Hicks, with Hicks, Underwood and Chisholm forming a tight train. Underwood finally getting past James in the Caravelle MkIII.
Events would shortly start taking a dramatic turn, first Tim Child retired with gearbox problems, which would have elevated Pete de la Roche to third place. Unfortunately though Peter was then parked on the mountain rise at the side of the track when his rear wishbone broke. Component fatigue rather than anything worse. This briefly elevated Robin Longdon to third place, but this was to be short lived when he was black flagged for a loose fastening on his FHR device. Whilst Robin returned to the track, the race was Red Flagged, because Peter’s car was in a dangerous position and would need lifting to move it. A disappointing end to what had been a splendid race.
Two drivers had encountered problems in the assembly area, Jonathan Fyda in his U2 had an oil spillage and had to leave to get the problem resolved not returning until after all cars had left on their formation lap. Jonathan managed two laps before pulling off the circuit, after wrongly thinking he was being flagged in. Adrian Holey, despite the team’s best efforts, drove down to the assembly area, before the clutch failed again and the car was towed out of the assembly area prior to the start.
Peter Anstiss had a narrow miss in his immaculate Lotus 20/22 when he found his brakes suddenly going very spongy on him pitching him into a spin on lap 3. His front brakes had disappeared and he only had rear brakes. The spin taking him from 9th position to 12th. Peter continued to finish the race with a lot of early braking into the corners.
The final result was a well deserved win for Michael O’ Brien who set a new lap record with his well judged run in class E1 1’34.855 bettering the previous fastest lap set by Cam Jackson of 1’35.124 in 2018. An equally well earned second place for Benn Simms also established a new lap in class D2 of 1’38.180 previously held by Chris Drake with a 1’38.778 from 2015. Geoff Underwood made up for his earlier slip down the order to achieve his first ever podium finishing third, with Robin having a rotten end to his day being accredited with a DNF due to the lap count back from the red flag stoppage.
The evening prize giving as always hosted by the irrepressible Duncan, aided expertly by both Mair and Sarah, was full of fun as ever. There were poignant references to Barry Westmoreland whose widow Margaret sent a lovely message thanking everyone for remembering her husband, sadly she could not attend as she was hosting a Jubilee party at home. The more recent loss of Simon Diffey was also mentioned as Duncan recalled the race in which Barry Westmoreland passed away linking in the drivers and cars who took part in that event 14 years ago, Simon being one of them.
Whilst Saturday had been cold, Sunday was a real dampener. The threatened rain arrived at 7.00 a.m. on Sunday morning delaying the start to any racing until 10.30 which was halted after an hour to finally recommence at 12.15.
With conflicting weather apps giving different variations of the forecasts, many competitors decided to break camp and head home early. For others their cars had cried enough for the weekend, Adrian Holey’s clutch could not be repaired on circuit, neither could the Tim Child gearbox, or Peter de la Roche’s rear upright. Peter Anstiss whilst having repaired his braking problem was not too keen to test it in the slippery conditions on track. Sarah took an early decision on arrival at the circuit to propose a combined grid for the day, and with all in agreement, this concluded the Formula Junior programme for the weekend. Eventually 17 cars took to the grid on what was now a damp track with a drying line in parts of the circuit.
For this race, because of the conditions, the race would have a rolling start rather than a standing start, with two formation laps behind the safety car. The second lap would be part of the final race time. Being a rolling start Jeremy Bouckley was not able to leap through as he had before but was able to get the jump on Richard Bishop-Miller, in front of him on the grid. Benn Simms did give Michael O’Brien a race into Coppice corner but after that they settled into an orderly pattern as Michael eased a comfortable margin between himself and the remaining pack. Benn settled into second with Geoff Underwood looking comfortable in third to possibly take his second career podium.
However, Geoff had not taken into account Nic Carlton-Smith who had been behind James Hicks in 5th on Lap 1 but was through into 4th on the following lap. Geoff appeared to be safe with a 5 second gap, but as the race progressed Geoff eased off as Nic consistently lapped 3 seconds faster. On lap 7 Nic made his challenge and sped through into 3rd place. Extending his lead to three seconds Geoff made a final lap charge setting his fastest lap to reduce the gap to just over two seconds at the end.
Further down the order Sir John Chisholm slipped past James Hicks into 5th place on lap 5, which brought James into the range of Keith Pickering and Martin Aubert who had swapped positions on lap 2, on lap 7 Pickering slipped past James Hicks, potentially whilst passing Bernard Brock. James certainly put in a slower lap. On lap 9 James attempted to close the gap and lap times were see sawing across the group of four cars, which also included Martin Aubert and Trevor Griffiths.
Down the order Duncan Rabagliati had renewed his fight with Richard Bishop-Miller, with Duncan passing Richard at Coppice on lap 5 holding the position on lap 6 before retiring towards the end of the lap.
Despite the long wait and the wet, it was another superb clean race throughout the order. Michael O’Brien won the race, his two excellent wins awarding him the Barry Westmoreland Trophy for the aggregate win.
Who would you award the driver of the day to? Benn Simms really does get the best out of the cars he drives. Some of the scraps lower down the order certainly merited comment, my personal shortlist would share it amongst two drivers. Nic Carlton-Smith for taking a podium with the Kieft and Duncan for sheer determination in his fight with Richard Bishop-Miller. I regret I will not be around for the Gold Cup, but I will be at the Classic and look forward to seeing everyone then.
By Alan Jones